My itinerary 6

Uttarakhand( Kumayun)

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 different peaks and ranges of Himalayas from many destinations of Kumayun. 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 From Lalkuan or Berily was the better option to get down from the train. 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 Kichchha 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 there 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 where the shared jeep dropped me. 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. Staying 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. 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 a 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. 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 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. 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 peaksvisible 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 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.

Mayavati, an abode of serenity.

I had a strong desire to visit Mayavati ashram since a long time. My father visited the place twice and had unique experiences. I missed the chance to accompany him because of my personal problems. My family is influenced by the ideals of Lord Ramakrishna and were initiated into R K Mission. I am also not an exception. As soon as I planned to visit Kumayun I included Mayavati in my itinerary. To go and stay at Mayavati one needs to get permission from Advaita Ashrama ( Entally, Kolkata ) which is a wing of R K Mission.

I went to kolkata branch of Advaita Ashrama. Initially Maharaj, who is the assigned in charge of booking, was hesitant to give permission to a solo female traveler for stay and tried to dissuade me. After a long argument when the in charge was convinced that I am quite determined to visit the place he informed me about the procedure to book accommodation.

When I got down from Lalkuan express I came to know that the best way to go there is through Berily( UP ), but it was too late to mend. I felt puzzled for some time. Few locals rescued me by giving information. At last I reached Mayavati on time via Tanakpur and Lohaghat.

It had been a unique experience staying there. It was pretty cold in March after a thundershower. Within 3 kilometer periphery of Mayavati there is no village, only forest, leopards are often seen there. We were instructed not to walk alone. The guest house is half a kilometer walk from the ashram. One has to walk 4 kilometers daily up and down to have breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The ashram is self sufficient, they produce food crops, vegetables and there is also a dairy farm. They run a charitable hospital where local people come for free treatment. Normally guests are not allowed to stay there more than 3 nights but doctors are allowed to stay more on condition that they have to give voluntary service in the hospital.

Punyagiri ( Tanakpur)

It was 12 o’clock at noon when I reached Tanakpur. Tanakpur is a small transit town in the foot hill of Kumayun Himalayas. I went there for going to Mayavati Ashram. I had booking for a night stay at KMVN tourist rest house. As I lodged there and asked for afternoon meal, they said it was not possible for them to provide food without previous notice. They informed that the market area was not far away from the place and it would cost 20 rupees by tuktuk to go there where I could get lunch . So I hired a tuktuk, and reached the market area where there were few places for lunch. After having lunch I started inquiring about the places of importance there.

Mata Punyagiri

I heard that there is a famous temple called Punyagiri or Purnagiri. I wished to visit there and got a shared jeep for that purpose. After a long wait it filled up and started. When it reached in front of the temple gate the sky was covered with thick cloud. The taxi driver told me that he would go back as soon as he got required number of passengers, and there was no hope for next taxi. I came to know that Holi was celebrated there with great grandeur and a fair was organized during that time. The preparation was full on for the festival. I started walking, after few minutes I realized if I went to the top of the hill where the temple was, it would take at least 3 hours to come back. It was almost 3 km uphill trek. I decided to return because if I could not come back in time I would be in great trouble. As I turned I found the taxi driver standing there, I told him why I planned to return. He was very enthusiastic and devoted, he said he would accompany me, so that I would not miss the taxi, he forced me to visit the temple. It was a tedious walk for me, I felt tired, but he was persistent.

The driver

When I reached the last phase it started raining, but that part of the stairs was covered with tin shade. I reached the temple. I feel blessed, it was a beautiful sight of the Kaligandaki river that I witnessed from the temple. When I came down it was raining cats and dogs. The driver started his jeep. Lots of people were waiting under different shelters. As soon as he started they rushed into the jeep.

N.B. From Lalkuan I took auto-rickshaw to reach Kichchha. From Kichchha bus stand I took a local bus by which I went to Khatima. From Khatima I got a shared taxi which dropped me in front of the KMVN guest house at Tanakpur. Buses ply in regular intervals from Berily to Tanakpur.