Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lohaghat and Advaita Ashram (Unknown Kumoun 4)

Unknown Kumon

Nanakmatta Sahib (Unknown Kumoun: 1)
Tanakpur (Unknown Kumoun: 2)
Chalthi and Champawat (Unknown Kumoun 3)
Lohaghat and Advaita Ashram (Unknown Kumoun 4)
Pithoragarh (Unknown Kumoun 5)
Jhulaghat on the India-Nepal border (Unknown Kumoun 6)
Baitadi Nepal (Unknown Kumoun 7)
Dharchula (Unknown Kumoun 8)
Ritha Sahib Gurudwara (Unknown Kumoun 9)
Basantpur village (Unknown Kumoun 10)
Last village on the mountains (Unknown Kumoun 11)
Most dangerous Nandour valley (Unknown Kumoun 12)
End of trail at Chorgalia (Unknown Kumoun 13)
Let’s leave Champawat behind and walk to Lohaghat. It is just 13 kilometers and views are great. Road is level for some distance and then rises and then descends. One can walk this distance in 2 hours but I usually make this walk in 4 hours along the road. From Lohaghat deodar trees begin. Lohaghat is 89 kilometers from Tanakpur.

Champawat area



Pilgrim Barron on his visit had said, “Why go to Kashmir, if there is heaven in the world, so it’s in Lohaghat”. The Kumaon Hills came under British rule after the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16), but the hill station town of Naini Tal was founded only in 1841, with the construction of the first European house (Pilgrim Lodge) by P. Barron, a sugar trader from Shahjahanpur.

Lohaghat
Lohaghat has a historic importance as well. There are also remains of the fort of Banasur, Varansur fort (Vanasur-Ka-Kila), nearby, who was killed by Lord Krishna.
In Lohaghat I always spend a good part of a day amidst tranquility in the famous Abbot Mount. Situated at an elevation of 6,500ft above sea level, Abbot Mount is a place 8 km far from here. This hill station is considered as an ideal place for bird watching, trekking, and photography. It also serves as a base camp for anglers. In addition, there is a church in the middle of these forests. Also one can see an old cricket pitch along with the scenic view of the mountains.
When we go to Pitthoragarh, we again hit the bottom before making a final climb to Pitthoragarh, in that valley is the river Saryu. The place of confluence of rivers Saryu and Mahakali is considered best to fish Mahseer at Pancheshwar. Other side of the river is Nepal. We can visit to the Nepal village, although it is not a designated international crossing. One can have a wonderful view of Deodar and pine forests in addition to the towering mountains in both Nepal and India. Snakes are in abundance in this region.

Lohaghat
The bustling market of Lohaghat is on the stairs from the main road to the top of the village. One long stepped straight incline serves as this main market. At the top we catch the road again otherwise on the road the top is further 2 kilometers. Damn it – I love this market. From the top I begin my daily walk.
It is my daily routine in Lohaghat to walk on the Pulla road that goes to the bottom at the Sharda River. I walk to the last village till the road makes a dive in the valley below. On the way one can see many snowy mountains and many famous peaks like: snow-capped peaks of Panch Chulhi, Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot etc, at a village. I always enjoy a cup of tea while watching this serenity. Valley side before the descent presents the views of the towns and stepped farms of Champawat area. This is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Lohaghat
Call it fortunate or call is unfortunate, Lohaghat stays quite unknown and secret place and not many tourists come here. Hotels here are basic and cater only the people who arrive late here so are unable walk to their villages in the dark. Nepalese come here to get to Pancheshwar in the morning and then to make a long and torturous walk to their villages in the mountains. There are no roads in Nepal so people travel in India as far as any vehicle may take them. I simply love this place. This place and people here always win my heart.

Lohaghat
So today let’s visit Mayawati. Mayawati is 9 km from Lohaghat this is famous for the Advaita Ashram which attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. There is a huge library with literature available about Swami Vivekanand, and a mission hospital. I love this place but don’t have much good experience about the ashram. I visited this ashram 4 times in various years but experience is always the same. I always walk to this ashram. There is no tea shop or food available on the way and ashram will not provide you even a cup of tea; even if they are having tea for themselves they will not share it with you. They have a neat and clean hospital but I doubt if they ever tended a patient there. It is all a show model. First time I arrived here at 2PM after 9 kilometers walk from Lohagaht and asked for food or tea or just anything edible because I was extremely hungry but I was denied. I stayed in the library for another 3 hours and when they were having tea. I asked for a cup but they said they don’t have enough. They all were aware that I was also there. Although they welcome donations and I offered the specific money for tea or food but was rudely denied. Many ascetics stay there, I met some people from USA also.
Why I keep coming to this ashram – Well, area is extremely beautiful and ashram itself is very pretty and surrounding is also pretty. It is the road terminal but one can walk in the dense forest to Champaway that is also at the same distance as Lohaghat.

Lohaghat
When I went to this ashram second time with my friend Harsh (also from USA), they behaved the same way as they did 4 years ago. Next year to that we both (I and Harsh) were driving near Watertown (Upstate New York in the beautiful Thousand Islands area, near Canada), they have an ashram branch there too but we didn’t go there expecting the same kind of treatment.
Well enough of this ashram. We walked to this beautiful place and spent some time in the library and made some donations and it is the time to leave this place, because we are always hungry here. We take a trail behind the ashram under the pine and deodar trees and for several kilometers we will not see any one. Then near Champawat vista will open up and we will see the valleys and then villages. If you are hungry then it seems like a long way and I am always hungry because last food I had was in Lohaghat in the morning. First 8 kilometers all upward walk to the Ashram and then they eat food in front of you, this makes you hungrier. Then you walk further on the un-chartered trails always apprehensive about getting lost (So far never got lost) and this makes you even more hungrier.
Now I make a plunge to the river near Champawat and I feel brutal pangs of hunger in my guts when I face a final ascent to the town. Somehow with my pounding hear I make it up around 6PM in the old town.

Lohaghat
Thank God that it is Samosa making time. After a a couple of Samosas with a cup of tea I walk to the bus stand and catch the bus or shared jeep back to Lohaghat.
What a day.

1 comment:

  1. very interesting. please read Sidh Gosht by guru nanak who addresses the gorakh nath yogis 500 years ago in exactly the same area!

    ReplyDelete

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