Off the Beaten Track

BY AJAI SINGH

I‘m not sure if this place is really hidden from tourists or not but this place certainly boasts of its own set of admirers both commoners as well as eminent personalities. The place I’m talking about is Kasar Devi.

Perched just 8 kms from Almora, a district in Kumaon division of Uttarakhand, Kasar Devi is a hushed hamlet situated in the silence of verdant Kumaon hills. One of the many hidden jewels in Uttarakhand, Kasar Devi village derives its name from the namesake local deity, Kasar Devi. A Devi temple erected in her reverence is a popular pilgrimage destination in the vicinity of Almora. The serenity exuberated at Kasar Devi is only superseded by the majestic panoramic view of the valleys, rivers and hamlets.

The temple itself, dates back to the 2nd century CE. A winding walkway from the gateway on the main road, right at the beginning of the village, leads up to the temple. The area is home to deodar and pine forests. It also provides views not just of Almora and the Hawalbagh Valley but also of the panoramic view of the Himalayas from Bandarpunch peak on the Himachal Pradesh border to Api Himal in Nepal.

A large fair, known as Kasar Devi Fair, is held at the Kasar Devi temple on the occasion of Kartik Poornima in the Hindu calendar, corresponding to November and December.

The temple consist of two different groups of temple one of devi and another of lord shiva and bairava. The main temple consists of akhand jyoti which keep on burning 24 hours for years. It has also a dhuni (havan kund) where wood logs are burned 24 hours. The ash of dhuni is said to be very powerful that can even cure any mental patient.

The Hill top provides beautiful scene of the valley and Himalayas that make it a place suitable for photography.

The main shrine of devi is situated inside a cave like formation by the huge rocks. City buses, taxis and cabs can take you there at suitable prices . But it can also be reached by hiking and trekking.

The peaceful environment that encapsulates Kasar Devi has drawn many eminent personalities, Swami Vivekananda, Bob Dylan and George Harrison are some of them.

Here you can indulge in various activities such as walking through the quaint pahadi (mountain) villages in and around Kasar and experiencing the low pace and organic lifestyle of villagers.

This place also offers a beautiful view of snow-capped peaks of Nanda Kot, Nanda Devi, and Trishul.

You can also notice lots of foreigners especially from Israel who are visiting this place to discover their inner peace. They can be seen smoking pipes and partying in nearby restaurants and lounges.

Kasar Devi is still somewhat untouched from commercialisation and surely it’s an apt place for those who are looking for some soul searching with hippie vibes.