The history of Kumaon region (Dwarahat) was ruled by Katyuri Kings from around 7th century A.C.E to 11th. They ruled the ‘Katyur valley’ with the capital in Baijnath town. Here’s a fascinating fact, their empire spread from Nepal to Kabul in Afghanistan and is even mentioned in the travelogues of Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang. Can you imagine the magnanimity of the Kautyuri Kings?
In the eleventh century it all fell apart for the Katyuri but what still remains in bits and pieces are their temples. Dwarahat which can be be broken to Dwarahat ( Dwara = way + Hat = Heaven ) = way of Heaven. A fair by the name “Sylade Fairis” is celebrated here on the first gate of Vaishakh month which is quite famous among natives.
I know that history, heritage and architecture are often swept under the carpet for being boring, dead, and things from the past. But all it takes is an archaeological site like Dwarahat which has as many as 55 ancient temples and a guide to put life in these pieces of art. I do admit that most of these temples are not in the “ideal” condition but they are a part of a not so glorified era of a great kingdom.
Places to Visit in Dwarahat?
It is a small hamlet. The valleys surrounding the place gives an island like feel. Like it is floating in the valleys.
Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram located in the same area is one of those places in which as soon as you enter you feel a sense of serenity.
I have read about the Mahavatar Babaji’s Cave in a chapter of “Autobiography of a Yogi” which was on top of the to-read list of Steve Jobs. I had great many expectations while going into the cave of self transcendence which didn’t really happen. It was still a humbling experience.
The extraordinary Shiv temple known as Vibhandeshwar which is 5 km from here was constructed in 1319. The remarkable thing about this temple is the temple was its Shalunka which was not in the usual Yoni form , but by beautifully created by a coiled cobra couple. “Bikhauti Fair” is celebrated here in which Lord Shiva is worshipped.
The “Dunagiri temple” which is located at a distance of 18 kms is again an amazing trek. Legend has it that when Hanuman was carrying the rock laden with ‘Sanjiwani buti’ to rescue Laxman injured in the batte of Ramayana, a piece of it fell here. This incident gave this place its name ‘Doonagiri’ (‘giri’ meaning fell). This temple was built in honour of goddess Vaishnavi. It is believed that the bronze plate inside the temple dates back to 1181 A.D.
What to do in Dwarahat?
Apart from the Heritage and Temples. Dwarahat is blessed with beautiful scenery. The time moves in different speed in this area. There are various small restaurants which offer regular nashta to anyone passing by. Dwarahat is also an educational hub as it hosts Kumaun Engineering College and a polytechnic. Don’t be to surprised to find terrace farming being practised here as it in Dwarahat.
Where to stay?
How to reach Dawarahat?
1. By Train:
The nearest railway station is Kathgodam. It is recommended to get off at Haldwani which is a station before Kathgodam.
2. By Road:
Haldwani is where the Bus station is located. There are also buses that leave from ISBT Anand Vihar to Haldwani (Check Uttarakhand Roadways website). You can take a bus/shared taxi/ private taxi to Ranikhet which is 85 kms. From Ranikhet there are buses/shared taxi/ private taxi that can take you to Dawarahat. If you are taking your own car its just 370 kms from Delhi. You can take the route to Almora while going back thus covering a lot of Kumaun region.