If you are in search of Nothingness (Shunyata in Hindi), there are a small peaceful village 6 km to the west of Almora district in Uttarakhand. It spreads among dense rhododendron and cedar forest. Kasar Devi which has been nicknamed as ‘hippie land’ by the locals have been providing solace to wandering souls for over five decades.
Kasar Devi is a a perfect escape from the fast-moving pace of the city. The natives claim claim that it is that Kasar Devi serves the best burger and cakes in the state along with untrodden trails to beautiful sunsets and the scenery majestic Himalayas.
Kasar Devi has been on the famous Hippie Trail through which many famous westerners came to East in search of self-discovery. This significant movement from the east to the west has had the profound impact on the world as it is today
Why Kasar Devi?
Apart from being a hub for artist, poet, mystics, and hippies, Kasar Devi offers a panoramic view of the snow-capped Himalayas! The likes of Nanda devi, Trishul and Panchachuli peaks can be spotted easily on bright mornings. The village consist of as small as 300 homes.
In my experience, the hippie towns such as Rishikesh and Kasol has different energies. The synergy of the east and the west coming together as one. Kasar Devi has that. Also the place has managed to remain low profile.
Kasar Devi and Hippie Trail:
What might have attracted the hippies from across the world to Kasar Devi might be much more than the freely growing marijuana on the slopes. The village has an image of being radiation zone of high-energy particles along with the vistas of the majestic Himalayas. The place has been a mecca of attracting traveling souls.
The list of luminaries who’ve visited includes-
- Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan is might well be the biggest name is American Pop Culture. A songwriter, singer, artist, and writer. He contributed to popular music and culture for more than five-decade
- Cat Stevens – Cat Stevens is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian, and educationalist.
- Timothy Leary – Timothy Leary was an American psychologist best known as an advocate of LSD use for personal growth. He was fired out of Harvard for advocating the same.
- Ernst Lothar Hoffmann – Later came to be known as Lama Anagarika Govinda was the founder of the order of the Arya Maitreya Mandala and one of the first expositor of Tibetan Buddhism, Abhidharma, and Buddhist meditation as well as other aspects of Buddhism. He was also a painter and poet
Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsburg and Uma Thurman actually spent her childhood here. Lama Anagarika Govinda the Austrian Monk and his Parsi wife Li Gotami used to live here. They made a very colorful and theatrical couple as they went for an evening stroll rigged out in all the gorgeous attire. They were also visited by Anandamayi Ma.
Stever Jobs and Richard Alpert (Ram Das) resided within a radius of 50 km from Kasar Devi in what is called the temple of the Titans, Kainchi Dham. The Nehru, Gandhi, and Rabindranath Tagore among other famous people have found hideaways in Binsar, Kausani, and Ramgarh which are in proximity of Kasar Devi.
It maybe a The place is still ceremoniously visited by many Israelis. Many foreigners who ended up settling in the place can give a run for the money to the young natives when it comes to speaking Kumauni.
Places to visit in Kasar Devi?
Kasar Devi Temple –
It is situated at the height of 5,741 ft. The temple is located in the second chapter of the Skanda Purana and has developed as a pilgrimage site. Kasar Devi temple is more than 2000 years old and in the present form it was created in 1948 by Birla’s.
Swami Vivekananda meditated here continuously for three days. He said that “The place has some strong vibrations.”
Recently a team by NASA confirmed Swami’s claims with information that it’s a place with incredible magnetic fields(only two other places in the world have similar energy, as per researchers).(Amarujala)
Bright End Corner’s:
It is at a distance of 2kms from Kasar Devi. It is an excellent place for one see the bright side of life. You just cannot miss a sunrise from this point. The changing colors in the Himalayas would leave you craving for more.
Buddhist Tourist Centre:
It is affiliated to the Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. The place is a perfect place to sit quietly, meditate and inquire about spiritual matters with pleasing Lamas.
The path less traveled.This one km short hike to Crank’s Ridge offers a complete view of Almora City. The path goes through a dense forest of Pine and Rhododendron forest.
What can you do at Kasar Devi?
The answer to that is ‘Blowing in the wind’. When you are at Kasar Devi You be in the “Here & Now”. The local villagers are very kind and quite keen to chat. They would love to share with you the stories of Kasar Devi. These guys have seen it all – Dylan? Ginsberg? Just another hippy passing through. Expect heavy doses of philosophy in a simple word, and hot cup of Chahh (Tea in Kumauni).
You can always take small hikes to the forest around Kasar Devi. Gazing into the Himalayas is a full-time activity here, you can do it for hours. Other ways to unwind includes going for picnics or sitting in the vicinity of the temple.
Restaurants in Kasar Devi:
There are not many big fancy restaurants in the place but what the Kasar Devi does promise are small joints that offer excellent Italian and Indian cuisines. Some of my friends who visited very recently loved Moksha Resturant.
Tara’s tea shop at Crank Bridge caters to a small community of backpackers and ex-hippies. A Tibetan restaurant called Sonam presents a Tibetan Cuisine which is quite famous among the locals. Baba cake is another small chai shop which is run by a retired holy man Baba – and his wife Isabelle, who is originally from Germany. They are a fab little family who make friends with people who stop by.
Kasar Devi Places to stay
Kasar Devi provides many budget friendly places that one can visit at. Some of these places show glimpses of the days of hippie trails.
One can easily find accommodation. Many of these hotels have a little online presence. Hotel Himsagar, Puran’s Cottage, Mohan’s Binsar Retreat, Dolma’s guesthouse, Kasar Jungle Resort and Imperial Heights are to name a few famous ones. KMVN is another option for those who are looking.
There are also many home-stays which are cropping this area. The hosts are welcoming, and a provide insight on traditional Kaumauni living.
Best time to visit Kasar Devi-
Kasar Devi remains approachable throughout the year. Although you will find different thighs in different seasons when you reach Kasar Devi-
In Summer: The pleasant weather of Kasar Devi provides much respite from the hot weather of the plain. The summer season is also the peak season in which you will see a lot of travelers around.
In Monsoon: In monsoon season although there are chances of road blockages which gets cleared soon. Hills look the most beautiful during monsoon.
In Winters: Kasar Devi receives snowfall during this season. The weather remains mostly clear during winter months. Therefore one gets panoramic views of the Himalayas.
How to reach Kasar Devi?
The nearest railway station is Kathgodam. It is recommended to get off at Haldwani which is a station before Kathgodam. Haldwani is where the Bus station is located. You can take a bus/shared taxi/ private taxi to Almora which is 90kms away.
There are also buses that leave from ISBT Anand Vihar to Almora (Check Uttarakhand Roadways website). From Almora, there are shared taxi/ private taxi that can take you to Kasar Devi. If you are taking your car its just 320kms from Delhi.
Kasar Devi Map:
The google map for Kasar devi is given below.
Kasar Devi Excursions:
If you ever had a visit to Kasar Devi, then we recommend these nearby places to include in your checklist. You can have a single day trip to these locations.
At a distance of 65 km from kasar devi, Bageshwar also known as the “Benares of North”. Located at the confluence of Saryu and Gomti rivers Bageshwar possess religious significance. Bageshwar is popular due to its tradition of being a place of a pilgrimage. A bath in the confluence is considered as purifying, that destroys evils inside you. Hindu pilgrims comes throughout the year to worship an ancient stone Bagnath Temple. Dedicated to “Mahadev” this temple features some impressive carvings and has bells of all the sizes.
It is the temple dedicated to lord Shiva and holds a strong religious importance among the locales. Situated around 45 km from Kasar Devi it takes about half an hour to reach there.
3. Baijnath Temple
Located in the lovely location shaded by trees alongside Gomti river is the Baijnath Temple. This is dedicated to Baijnatha or Vidyanatha ( names of Shiva). About 73 kms from Kasar Devi it takes 36 minutes to reach Baijnath Village which is popular for the 12th-century shikhara style temples. The only highlight of this village is the statue of Parvati which is made of the black stone.
Binsar is another name of lord “Shiva”. It is one of the most scenic spots in Kumaun Himalayas and offers a majestic view of some of the snowy peaks of Trishul, Nanda Devi, Shivling and Panchchuli.
It takes 35 min to reach Binsar from Kasar Devi and is about 15 kms route. A home to most of the rare animals Binsar is the encircled with the vast wildlife sanctuary protecting 45 sq km. Also birdwatching is excellent over here with 200 + species of birds.
Mukteshwar got its name from 350-year-old temple Mukteshwar Dham that is dedicated to Lord “Shiva” and is located at a distance of 59 km from Kasar Devi. Mukteshwar is derived from Lord Shiva which means one who offers Moksha (Salvation).
It is the tourist destination which offers a great view to our Himalayan range. Mukteshwar resides amidst fruit orchards and coniferous forests which are unpolluted and unaffected till date.
Ranikhet is the hill station which offers everything the nature admirers want. It is located in the Almora district of Uttarakhand state and is 50 km from Kasar Devi. Hill satation Ranikhet means Queens Land- and is the tourist spot. It offers a great view of the Himalayas, its green forests, fresh and cold breeze, singing birds these all adds to the beauty of this hill station.