‘Switzerland of India’ as described by Mahatma Gandhi


Mahatma Gandhi’s health condition was continuously deteriorating after he toured Andhra Pradesh from April 6 to May 21, 1929. Taking a note of his poor health conditions, Jawaharlal Nehru decided to get Gandhi Ji some rest and planned Gandhi Ji’s visit to the hilly region of Uttarakhand (a part of then United Province) in India. It was summers of 1929, when Mahatma Gandhi arrived at Kausani to stay for one or two day only but after falling in love with the pristine beauty of Kausani, he spend two weeks and wrote his treatise ‘Anasakti Yoga’ by enjoying the heartstrings of this beautiful land. Later he described Kausani as the ‘Switzerland of India’. The place he stayed, is now known as ‘Anasakti Ashram’ which still keeps his memory alive in its own special way by well stocked books, hand written letters and photographs of Mahatma Gandhi’s life..

Anasakti Ashram

I read this in one of my coursebook, may be in class 7th or 8th and since then Kausani was the place I wanted to visit. Only last year this long cherished dream of mine got fulfilled when I spotted a long weekend coupled with one day leave that gave me ample time to explore this heaven.

We started our journey in evening from our place in Kanpur to Lucknow, from where we had to board the train to Kathgodam, the nearest railhead and the last station on that route. Next morning we reached Kathgodam, which is a very beautiful city. We started our onward journey by taxi. Kausani is at a distance of 135 km from Kathgodam. Capturing the beautiful road and enjoying the vistas, it took us 5 hrs to reach Kausani.

We stayed there in a 1922 built big bungalow, the residence of former British Governors’ and now converted in State Guest House. In my opinion the State Guest House and KMVN’s TRH, which is located 200-300 mts ahead of State Guest House, are the best places to stay in Kausani, for an uninterrupted view of scenic splendour and a spectacular 300 km-wide panoramic view of Himalayan peaks like Trisul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli.

The State Guest house where we stayed

Next morning I woke up hours before the sunrise, so that I do not miss even a single moment of the mesmerising morning. It was still pitch dark out there. The wait seemed to be endless. Suddenly a flock of birds, chirping in the sky as announcing the new dawn, flown past from the east. And then, spreading millions shades of blushing red, washed in refreshing greens, slowly but steadily, the morning arrived. I greeted the morning with smile and eyes full of gratitude. In words of Jeannette Walls “If you want to be reminded of the love of the Lord, just watch the sunrise.” A sunrise is one of the most majestic spectacles we can ever witness. It’s beauty is powerful force, one capable of imparting its warmth on the most hardened of souls. It inspires, it energies, it renews, it gives hopes. The following pictures depict that wonderful gradual ascent of the sun on the majestic Trishul peak (23,360 ft).

Trishul (Trident) peak in it’s full glory

Different shades of that beautiful morning..

The snow turns pink
The Golden Hour
The sky turned orange
Birds know no boundaries..
Baijnath town under the thick cloud cover
A view of the mountain range from our refuge

Assimilating every single instance of the enthralling sunrise, we went for a morning walk. The morning breeze was so pure and we could actually feel the freshness of the air as our lungs were filled with pure fresh oxygen.

Its time for a morning walk
Yoga session post morning walk
Dil Dundhta hai fir wahi fursat ke Raat Din..
Sitting in mild warmth of the sun after shower was a surreal experience

Kausani is a small hamlet. There is nothing much to roam around. No traffic, no crowd, very few tourists, no shopping centres, no amusement parks but this is the charm of the place. Even now it is so quite, so serene, so beautiful that it is no wonder why Gandhi ji stayed here for two weeks instead of two days.

The manager of the guest house, Mr. Rawat, told us about a waterfall in nearby jungle. So we planned a short jungle trek. It was an amazing experience, a lot much excitement, a bit scary, full of uncertainties, unknown terrain, almost 2 km deep in dense jungle but certainly an experience of the life time. There were some moments when we decided to return because it felt us a little unsafe but at last encouraging each other we reached the waterfall. Reaching the waterfall was like successfully completing a challenge. Taking such small challenges always make you stronger, more confident, more positive and a bit more humble towards life.

During a Jungle trek
That was the waterfall.

Later in the day, we took a cab to visit Baijnath Temple in Baijnath town (at a distance of 16 km from Kausani). Baijnath Temple is a cluster of eighteen Hindu temples. The complex is located along the banks of Gomti river. The temples are supposed to be around thousand years old. These temples are renowned for being one of the very few temples in the world where goddess Parvati is depicted with her husband Shiva.

En route, we also visited a tea garden, a shawl factory, and the birth place of Sumitra Nandan Pant, a great poet and laureate. Visiting his home gives you a clear indication of why nature was the main theme of his poetry.

At historic Baijnath Temple
Baijnath Town as seen in night from the Govt. Guest House
At Tea Garden en route
Some peaks visible from Kausani
Garden Cosmos in the gardens of Govt. Guest House
Kausani is a bird watcher’s paradise

When to Visit

Kausani is a retreat in the summer months and may be visited during March to June and September to November. Summer (April to June) are very pleasant with temperature remains in the range of 25°C and 10°C. This is the best time for sightseeing and enjoying the nature. Kausani is known to receive moderate to heavy rainfall (300-450 mm) during monsoon, during which it is not advisable to visit Kausani. The winter begins in Kausani around October and lasts till February. In the core winter months of December and January, Kausani also receives moderate to heavy snowfall. The temperatures may dips as low as -5°C.

How to Reach

Kausani is connected to the rest of the country via Almora and Nanital through all weather roads. The nearest railway station is at Kathgodam which is 135 km far and the the nearest airport is situated at Pant Nagar, at a distance of 170 km. Cab services are readily available from both the places. Buses also operate on this route but they take more time in comparison to taxis.

Where to Stay

As I have already mentioned, Kausani is a very small place. Hence not many quality options are available. Hotel Buransh, Hotel Hill Palace are some good private hotels while Tourist Rest House Kausani which belongs to Kumaun Mandal Vikas Nigam, are few good options to stay.

And finally…

The two eternal Yayavars (nomads) posing in the jungle.
Categories:Heritage, History, Mountains, Nature, Sculpture, Temples, UttarakhandTags: , , , , , , , ,

6 comments

  1. Very informative and interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really it’s so nice, picture collection said everything. Exposure of site with full of perfection 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. information and it’s picture collection is so nice and it’s give me the more information and knowledge about the indian culture.
    Thank u so much sir

    Liked by 1 person

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