The Independence Day weekend was coming up and we wanted to get away to the hills nearby, but not to the crowded hill stations. After looking up for some offbeat destinations, we zeroed down on Kausani, which is tucked away atop a ridge at an altitude of 1,890 m in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Located about 460 km away from Delhi, it is a good over nine hours’ drive.
We set out around 4 pm, but as the long weekend was just coming up, the streets were jam packed. The traffic was not moving beyond Ghaziabad. It was a bad decision to start so late in the evening. Finally, around midnight, after dinner in Ghaziabad, we could resume our journey as the traffic starting easing. We drove through the mountainous terrain of Kashipur, Ramnagar and Ranikhet, for over 6 hours before we reached our destination.
As we entered the town, its greenery was refreshing. The terrain was laden with towering pine trees, emerald green meadows, streams and waterfalls. The silent valleys were full of beautiful cottages. We passed by vast expanses of pears orchards. It had rained the previous night, so the mist was everywhere.
Mahatma Gandhi had aptly called this place the “Switzerland of India.” He took refuge in this picturesque hill station to pen his Bhagavad Gita treatise Anasakti Yoga in 1929. The Anashakti Ashram (2 minutes’ drive from the main town) stands testimony to his presence in this place.
If the valley is not shrouded with mist, you will be lucky to see the glistering snow-capped peaks—Trisul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli—from several points. The tea gardens in this town are alluring. You can drive down or simple enjoy a walk through the valley to the tea gardens (5 km). Do not forget to buy some tea leaves that are exported across the world.
Next, you can head to the Rudradhari Falls and Caves, located 9 km away on the Kausani-Almora Road. However, if you are not up for trekking, then this place is not meant for you. The 2-km trek will not be an uphill task for those who are fit and up for adventure. The small brooks on the way make the landscape even more beautiful.
Bajinath Temples (16 km) can be your next stop. Legend has it that the Pandavas built the temples to honour Lord Shiva. You can spend some quiet time amidst the ancient rock-cut temples that are maintained by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). Shivaratri, celebrated in February-March at the temples, attracts a huge number of devotees from the town as well as from the nearby villages.
However, for me this is the place where you will simply love to just sit back and look at the darting clouds, changing every minute, till the evening sets in and the entire valley lights up. After a while, you will enjoy the game of hide-and-seek the entire valley plays as it gets engulfed in the mist.
For food, you will have to depend on the hotel you are staying in; you will get everything there from Chinese to Continental to Indian. There are restaurants in the town, where you can sample Kumaoni food as well.
Where to Stay:
Kausani might be an offbeat destination, but the town is full of budget as well as luxury hotels. Some of the options for you are Blossom Resort (Tariff – Rs. 1,700), Himalayan Village Resort (Tariff – Rs. 2,000 onwards) and Kausani Best Inn (Tariff – Rs. 3,000).
You can pick up some shawls and mufflers from the local shops here. There is a shawl factory in the town, where you will find really good handmade Kausani shawls. They are not up for bargaining, so you might as well avoid it.
You can buy some seasonal fruits, too. There were a lot of pears in the market when we visited the town.
If you are travelling from Delhi, you can hire a cab or take a bus. There are no direct buses to Kausani. The best option is to take a bus till Haldwani (over five hours’ journey) from where you will get a direct bus to Kausani. It will hardly take you four hours from Haldwani by state-run buses that cater to passengers travelling on this route. You can check out for bus tickets to Haldwani at www.ticketgoose
After spending three days in the pine-scented cottage, it was time to leave. It was pouring when we left Kausani around 10 am. Driving through the long winding roads amidst the rain-soaked pine trees, gushing waterfalls at every bend and lush green forests was not a dampener at all. Though we had to tread carefully, and there were long jams on the road, we were not complaining as we couldn’t take our eyes off from the beautiful surroundings.