The bus had been honking for quite some time now. I am in the northern fringes of India and the big plan of this day was to travel from Chaukori to Kausani. I hopped aboard and the vehicle started rolling down the hills. It crossed the farms, villages, huts, shacks and finally stopped in the town of Bageshwar for a break.
The locals gave me the direction to the temple. The alley leading up to it was congested with shops selling various products like handicrafts, utensils, clay pots, stationery, sweets and snacks. But the more dominant items were flowers, incense, conch shells and deity offerings, thus indicating it is the right path to reach the temple. While walking it felt odd when frequently I found groups of men carrying bundles of wood over their shoulders.
The temple was clean and had numerous bells tied at different spots. The shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva. After I was done photographing, a fellow traveller informed me that the confluence of the two rivers Gomati and Sarayu is a mere 1 minute walk. Just as we emerged out of the backdoor of the temple the river became visible. As I moved closer to the river I saw something and a sudden burst of grief fell upon me. Far beyond in the bank were burning pyres, the Hindus performing the last rite of a deceased family member. My excitement of watching the confluence was overshadowed by the more powerful feeling of sorrow. I left.
Years ago I had been here and fed the fishes. I could no longer do it now. The water of river Gomati drew my pity; it is not hard to see why the fishes do not exist anymore.
The temple is adjacent to the shores of this river which once overflowed with water but now stands in a dejected state. Somehow very small fishes, barely visible to naked eyes, have accepted it as their home.
The temple’s architecture is beautiful particularly when viewed aerially or from a long distance atop a certain height. This temple complex houses various Gods and Goddesses important in the Hindu mythology like Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh. Made of stones the temple building and the sculptures are excellent examples of ancient art.
I came out of the temple and started walking up the soft slope to reach the bus. On a clearing in the slope adjacent to the temple a man was speaking in clear voice to the crowd, “The only way to lift this stone is by touching it with 9 fingers of 9 different men”. The stone is popularly known as Bhimshila. ‘Shila’ stands for stone and ‘Bhim’ is a character of the epic Mahabharata who is noted for his physical strength. I saw the 9 men trying to lift the stone by using their hands but it didn’t even budge. Only when they touched the stone with 1 finger each did the stone get lifted. The speaker again announced how this strangeness of the Bhimshila was covered by the Discovery team once. I shall find the logic of this magic in my next visit.
Anasakti Ashram, Kausani
It was time for the sun to set when I reached Kausani. The morning mist had cleared considerably. Kausani felt fresh. Somehow stacking my luggage in the hotel I set off to reach the touristy Anasakti Ashram. The Ashram is about 1Km from the main town. With shady pine trees and numerous baboons as my companions I trudged along the well maintained asphalt slope.
A statue of Gandhiji welcomed me in the Ashram. All around the ashram were preaching of Mahatma Gandhi. The prayer hall was thronged by tourists. To my dismay I found the buildings have lost its past glory and requires some urgent restoration even if it is minimal. I walked around on my own in the huge courtyard and the Ashram’s grassed garden. I seated myself in one of the garden benches, closed my eyes and let my mind wander. It was April 1999. In the mornings and evenings my only job was to search the garden here to find and collect pine cones. I remember painting them bright silver and golden. After 17 years I returned here and searched for the pine cones again, with the same childish enthusiasm. I found none. Alas, something must have changed.
Anasakti Ashram is mainly popular for viewing the sunset and sunrise. The sunset must have happened somewhere under the sheets of clouds that day breaking all the tourists’ heart including mine. Now as darkness descended upon the valley I started my journey to reach back to the hotel. I saw a humble little diary shop selling milk products in a secluded slope nestled amid the pine trees. My sweet tooth craved and soon I found myself devouring over Rabri. In those remote hill slopes covered under the dark sky and in company of the kind shopkeeper I had one of the best Rabri that I ever tasted.
In the valley I stopped by a random shop to buy something which caught my eye. Rhododendron Squash! Rhododendron is an alpine flower and the squash is prepared from the flower’s petals. It is also said to possess medicinal values. A bottle cost me about INR 100. After dinner I mixed the blood-red colored squash with water in the ratio 1:3, as mentioned in the carton and drank! It tasted somewhat like cough syrup. Confused if I love it or hate it I sank into the bed, stuffed myself up with blankets and drifted….
Trip Taken On- November 2015
Travel Agent Hired- Debi Tours And Travels (Biswanath Ghatak- 9051806469)
Hotel Booked- Hotel Pine Havens (+91 – 9717050562 )
This is not an advertisement but a recommendation. I paid for my own trip.
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