Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pithoragarh (Unknown Kumoun 5)

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)
From Lohaghat to Pithoragarh is about 62 kilometers. I usually walk down to Saryu River valley that is 32 kilometers but short cut is about 20 kilometers. First half of the walking is along the road and then trail separates and passes through abandoned stepped farms. People are abandoning stepped farms for various reasons like dried up water sources due to the diminishing forests or young generation go to cities to work or intense monkey damage etc. etc. At the village on the top I leave the road that makes a large bend over the mountain. I walk for several kilometers amidst the deserted stepped farmlands. Then last steep incline is pine jungle before we touch the road again. At the river I take bath and have a cup of tea at a tea shop always.

Pithoragarh Valley

There I catch the bus to Pithoragarh. After about ten kilometers where a road splits towards Sharda River valley, comes a small village where all buses stop for tea and parothas. Many small restaurants run by Nepalese serve parothas all the time. The funny thing is that they all use empty beer bottle to roll the dough to make parothas. Nobody uses belna here. Since I am hungry and it is way past noon so I eat my lunch of parothas here and then bus moves along. Road climbs forever and forever and comes Dhari village. This village is famous for cold, dry and whistling winds because it stands on a cliff. Once I spent a night at my friend’s home here and whole structure was shaking with the permanent howling winds.
After this village road climbs to cross Chandak Pass, then begins the area of Pithoragarh. This is a fairly large habited area spread out on the mountains for several kilometers. After a serious climb now we are in a high plateau.

Jhulaghat Road
Pithoragarh itself is a small town, it is a district. It lies in the centre of the western half of the Soar Valley which resembles the Kashmir valley on a miniature scale. It is beautifully dotted with villages all over in the valley, plateau and on the mountains. The view from some of the higher area in Pithoragarh presents the snow-capped peaks of Panch Chulhi, Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot. The town is set in a valley popularly known as “Soar” (root meaning is Cool) and lies in the centre of four hills Chandak, Dhwaj, Kumdar and Thal Kedar, and stretches in the southern edge to the mountain over Jhulaghat by the Sharda (Mahakali) River. It is surrounded in the folds of four kots – Bhatkot, Dungerkot, Udaikot and Unchakot.
In 1841 Pilgrim Barron, while passing through Pithoragarh, wrote : “… The first view of Pithoragarh is striking, in one instant, when you reach the top of the Chandak pass which overlooks it, a wide valley bursts on the view, with the small neat military cantonment, fort and scattered villages, and twisty streams, which distribute fertility to thousands of well cultivated fields…. I was apprehensive, too, that the beauties of Nainital had exhausted the store, and found that I was never in my life more mistaken.”
I myself also share the views of Pilgrim Barron about the beauty of Pithoragarh.

Pithoragarh area
Pithoragarh Fort is visible from all over, it is set atop a hill on the outer edge of the town. The fort was built by the Gorkhas in 1789. Another scenic place is Kapileshwar Mahadev (3 km): This Lord Shiva cave temple offers great view of the Soar valley and snow clad Himalayan peaks.
Maharajke Park was built by Indian Military in the memory of soldiers died in Kashmir and gives a superb view of surroundings, mainly small peaks covered with only grass and bushes having almost no trees, its a pleasing park with large area and a small canteen, many visitors from Pithoragarh and surrounding places visit there for picnics. Another beautiful site is temple of Kamakhya Devi, at the top of a small hill near the town. This place also offers the majestic view of surrounding valley and a peaceful place for one to leave the worldly up-downs for moment.
My favorite place to spend my good part of the day is a village called Bharkatia. This village is the last village after the road makes a brutal descent to again touch Sharda river that makes Indo-Nepal border. Either I walk 7 kilometers or catch a bus; I eat lunch at the village and then gaze at the river and the green, un-spoiled and Blue Mountains in Nepal. Mountains in this area of Nepal are still lush green. Nepali town and district headquarter of Baitadi (Nepal) is visible at mountains in Nepal. Scenes are spectacular from here and it is always tempting to visit Jhulaghat by the river at the India/Nepal border, and let’s go there tomorrow.

Pithoragarh town
In the evening it is a feast to the eyes to watch the dazzling lights of Baitadi in Nepal and also on the surrounding mountains. Pithoragarh is also a bit below so whole shallow valley is also beginning to light up. Bhrkatia village area has lots of stall selling goat paw soup (kharoda soup) and people from Pithoragarh flock here in the evening to enjoy their evening with a bottle.

Pithoragarh area
Pithoragarh’s history can be traced to the time of the Puranas when it flourished. It used to be an important stop en route to Kailas Mansarovar Yatra.
The first recorded document is from the time of the great Rajput King Prithviraj Chauhan who named the place as Rai Pithora. Under the Chand and Katyuri dynasties its name was adapted to “Prithigarh.”
Several kings and dynasties ruled Pithoragarh and perhaps one of the last was the Chand dynasty that built a fort to show their might and strength. This fort now is the girls hostel. Pithoragarh was taken over by the British administration, and they have left their impressions in the churches and cantonment area etc.
I am back in Pithoragarh and hotels are basic and inexpensive here because tourists hardly ever come here. Colorful bazaars are a joy to walk and there are all kinds of decent restaurants in the buzzing market, south Indian, Chinese, Nepalese, and Punjabi etc. to name some. On these mountains I prefer Chinese-Nepali type soups etc like momo soup, noodle soup, thukpa (mixed vegetable soup) etc.
It is a joy to be here.

1 comment:

  1. i wish i can ever go to this place.


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