Kolkata – Lalkuyan – Tanakpur – Mayavati- Patal Bhubaneshwar- Munshiyari – Almora- Nainital – Kathgogam – Lucknow- Kolkata .
Kumayun is famous for its natural beauty and attracts tourists from different parts of India. One can see many peaks and ranges of Himalayas from many tourist destinations of Kumayun like Chaukori, Almorah, Kaushani etc. Mayavati and Almorah were the places I planned to go with my father many years ago. My father traveled Mayavati, Almora, Ranikhet, Kaushani, Nainital etc twice with my mother but unfortunately I could not join them. It was a long desired trip that I planned in 2017 March. I preferred Lalkuan Express than Kathgodam Express because it took less time though it was a weekly train.
I did not have any idea that to reach Tanakpur , Berily was the better option to get down from the train than Lalkuan. Buses ply in regular intervals from Berily to Tanakpur. When I was telling someone of my co passengers about my itinerary before reaching Lalkuan, the two TTE were doing some work in the next cabin of the train. They overheard the discussion and called me : ” Come here Madam. Sit here . You want to go to Tanakpur from Lalkuan? You are alone ? Why didn’t you get down at Berily? ” I expressed my ignorance. One of them suggested me to go to Haldwani Bus stand to get the bus for Tanakpur. Another passenger from the next cabin became interested and came to advise me. He was a local. He instructed me to go to Kichha by a tempo auto from where I could get the bus for Tanakpur. When I reached Kichchha bus stand I came to know the bus for Tanakpur would leave late. They asked me to go to Khatima and take another bus from Khatima for Tanakpur.
Khatima was a transit where two roads met and crossed each other. After getting down at Khatima I stood in front of a shop according to the direction of the conductor of the bus. A person was standing there. Seeing me with my rucksack, he asked me where I was going. When he knew my destination he informed that he was also going to Tanakpur and ordered me to follow him. He caught a car which was going back after dropping someone in Lalkuan, and I went with him. He directed the driver to drop me in front of KMVN guest house and asked me to pay the driver 30 rupees. I reached Tanakpur at 12-30 PM.
At Tanakpur I visited Punyagiri Mata temple which was 3+3 km trek from the jeep-stand, where the shared jeep dropped me. I visied the temple. The view of Kaligandaki was spectacular from the top. Next day I went to Lohaghat by a shared Alto which dropped me at Mayavati Ashram after dropping other passengers at Lohaghat for extra 200 rupees. Staying 2 nights in Mayavati Ashram was a unique experience. A local school teacher who was at that time staying there advised me to take bus for Gangolihat from Lohaghat and then to take a taxi for Patal Bhubneshwar would be convenient for me to reach there. I had accommodation previously booked in KMVN guest house at Patal Bhubneshwar.
Patal Bhubneshwar is a natural cave in the under-surface of the mountain. There are different formation of stalactite and stalagmite within the cave. It is said that there are many such caves in that region and many mythological stories are related with them. From Patal Bhubneshwar I wanted to go to Munshiyari. But in Kumayun local bus service or shared jeeps were not available everywhere like Garhwal. So I paid the same taxi driver to take me to Raiyagarh, a nearby transit town next morning. From Raiyagarh I went to Berinag by a shared jeep. From Berinaag a person who was going to Thal, a larger transit town, by his own car, gave me a lift instead of Rupees 100. Later I realized that this kind of service was common there because of the lack of public transport. Those who own cars give lifts in their cars while going to their work places and take few bucks instead, which is helpful for both parties. From Thal I got a shared jeep, and reached Munshiyari in the afternoon at 4 O’clock. There also I stayed in KMVN guest house. Munshiyari is a spectacular place with Panchachulli peaks visible from everywhere. I stayed there 2 nights and visited Nanda Devi temple, Maheshwari kund and Thamri kund. KMVN manager arranged my shared car to go to Almorah.
Almorah is a large and famous town in Kumayun. I stayed in R K Mission guest house being a member of Ramakrishna Mission disciples family. It is located at one end of the town called Bright End Corner. Maharaj arranged a car for me to visit Goludevta temple, Kasar Devi temple and Sarada Math near Kasar Devi temple. While coming back in the afternoon from Golu Devta temple I asked the driver how could I get a bus for Nainital next morning. He informed me that the morning bus would pass through Bright End Corner at 6 AM. He would inform the driver to pick me up. The next morning the bus came and picked me up for Nainital. At Nainital I stayed at KMVN guest house. I had to hire a car here also for local sight seeing. I did paragliding too here. It was a memorable moment of my life.
I went to Kathgodam by local bus from where I caught train. As Kathgodam Express was too slow and did not have pantry car so I preferred to make a break journey. I got down in Lucknow, stayed there one day, visited Bhulbhulaiya, Bada and Chota Imambara, British residency and museum, ate Galawati kebab and biriyani, bought few Lucknow chikon kurtis and caught Kumbh Express next day and reached Howrah.