A jewel hidden in the crown of Uttarakhand, is the small and peaceful hamlet of Kasar Devi which offers everything which would make it a perfect destination for backpackers. The place is home to pocket-friendly home stays, friendly locals who are very warm and also offers spectacular views of the Himalayan ranges.
Situated in the Almora district, Kasar Devi is majestically placed on the edge of a ridge which can be reached by the Almora Bageshwar highway which passes through the Kashyap hills. The tiny hilly retreat gained fame as a spiritual centre after Swami Vivekananda meditated here sometime during the 1890s and wrote about the place in his diary.
The search for spiritual orientated things continued well into the 1930s, with a large number of travellers and mystics visiting this place and also settling down here eventually at this peaceful village.
The Visitors And Residents
Amongst the people who chose to stay here are the well known Danish mystic Sunyata Baba, Tibetan Buddhist Lama Angarika Govinda, American poet Allen Ginsberg, American singer and song wrtiter Bob Dylan and many others.
Walter Evans Wentz, a pupil of Tibetan Buddhism who translated the Tibetan Book of the Dead had also stayed here for a brief time period. So did D H Lawrence who was the author of Lady Chatterley's Lover, who too came here in search of spiritual and creative inspiration from Kasar Devi.
If you head out of the village, you would come to a pine covered ridge area which is known as the Hippie Hill. This ridge is known as Crank's ridge ever since the American psychologist Timothy Leary streaked on the ridge in the 1960s during the peak of the Hippie movement. The ridge was indeed a very popular spot on the hippie trail as it was the perfect place for meditation and transcendental experiences.
In the year 1983, the classical dance maestro Uday Shankar set up his dance academy known as Uday Shankar Indian Cultural Center nearyby. During his stay here, he discovered a unique dance form which was a mixture of the Indian classical dance and the local ballet of Kumaoni Ramlila.
Jawaharlal Nehru had spent his vacations in this hilly region. Nehru lived at the Khali Estate which was owned by his sister Vijayalaxmi Pandit from where he would ride on a horseback to the Almora house of Harkishen Lal Shah Gangola.
Kasar Devi Temple
One of the most important places here is the ancient temple dedicated to Kasar Devi. The temple is said to have been built in the 2nd century and comes into the limelight every Kartika Poornima which also heralds the colourfull Kasar Devi Fair. A little up the hill one would find a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva which is said to have been constructed in the 8th century and also marks the highest point in the region.
The temple offers a brilliant view of the Hawabagh plateau along with the five snow covered peaks of Panchachuli which makes it a must-visit place. The temple has been given special importance as the region around the temple of Kasar Devi has an enormous geomagnetic field.
An interesting factor to be noted is that those people who meditate here have experienced a higher level of rejuvenation and this has made people to return to this place again and again.