The ancient pilgrim trail on the rock wall above the deep valley - on the way back from Badrinath. Himalayan India
The ancient pilgrim trail on the rock wall above the deep valley – on the way back from Badrinath.

On down the valley we travel

Today we have a long drive ahead of us as we make our way back down the steep, long, and winding valley, remarking on its beauty as we drive out of the high mountains, through Joshimath and head towards Gwaldam.

Rice terraces, slate rooved houses, hay stacks and village people, Himalayan India
Rice terraces, slate roofed houses, hay stacks and village people

Once we turn off this route at Karanprayag the journey takes much longer than expected due to the road being ‘remade’ which means the trip is very, very slow.

Unexpected roadworks near Gwaldam, Himalayan India
Creating rock retaining walls on the road to Gwaldam, Himalayan India

Once again we observe the road workers who labouriously break rocks on the side of the road. Some are women with children and this goes deep into my heart to see these women working so hard, for very little, living in polythene temporary housing on the side of the road – a hard life indeed.

The beautiful forest drive to Gwaldam, Himalayan India
Rice fields and mountain villages from the forest road near Gwaldam, Himalayan India

After an overnight stay in a guest house, we drive through beautiful forest and countryside towards Kausani, green with low grass, pine tress, and terraces of rice and grain.

Monkey's near the road on the way back from Babaji's cave
A colurful typical bus on the Himalayan roads, India

Baijnath temple’s

Along the way, we stop at the 1000-year-old temples of Baijnath. The feeling among the ancient stone temples is one of peace and tranquillity, along with the sacredness of the blessing bestowed by the priest from the small Shiva temple.

The ancient Baijnath temples, Himalayan India
Meditation time by the river at Baijnath, Himalayan India

The morning is hot but quite pretty by the river which quietly meanders around the edge of the temple complex.

Baby bath time near Baijnath
Kartik feeding the carp at Baijnath

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the main temple houses a large lingam stone which sits in an oval dish. Even after all these centuries, it is still used for rituals and celebrations. (A lingam stone is a symbol of the energy and potential of Lord Shiva, the large oval dish a symbol of the cosmic energy Shakti – masculine and feminine).

Kausani – Switzerland of India

From the balcony of our hotel Ski and Snow, Kausani, Himalayan India
Mountain flowers in Kausani, Himalayan India
Mountain flowers in Kausani 2, Himalayan India

We finally arrive at our hotel in a forest of tall pine trees and tea plantations. Kausani is a high hill station which usually offers an amazing view of the high Himalayas but, alas, the cloud is too low and the apparently spectacular views are hidden from us. At lunch, an American man who has lived in the area for many years tells us that the best time to see the great view is about October, unfortunately we will be long gone home.

A great place for lunch, the Garden Restaurant, Kausani, Himalayan India
From the balcony of our hotel towards the High Himalayas under the cloud, Kausani Himalayan India

After lunch and settling in we drive to a nearby tea plantation and, although it is closed that day, we spend quite a bit of time looking before we purchase our shawls, organic green tea, and other products at the shop by the road among the trees.

Phyllis matching colours and shawls near the tea plantation, Kausani, Himalayan India
Where the shawls are hand made on the looms - beneath the shop, Kuasani, Himalayan India
Phyllis matching colours and shawls near the tea plantation, Kausani, Himalayan India
Phyllis in the tea plantation, Kausani, Himalayan India
Tea Plantation, Kausani, Himalayan India
Visiting the tea plantations near Kausani, Himalayan India

We visit the Gandhi museum and ashram – a place where he spent a lot of time. It is reported that Gandhi dearly loved Kausani, calling it the ‘Switzerland of the Himalayas’.

Gandhi Ashram and Museum, Kausani, Himalayan India
Gandhi's bronze statue at his Ashram in Kausani, Himalayan India
The head on the Gandhi Statue Kausani, Himalayan India

The view over the valley is stunning. Resting for the rest of the day on the terrace of the hotel and in our rooms enjoying this beautiful mountain air is good for the traveller’s soul and we sleep well that night among the bird-song of the forest, readying ourselves for the remainder of the journey.

A visit to Babaji’s cave

We don’t start ultra early but we take a very beautiful diversion up into Kukuchina, in the peaceful Dronagiri Mountains in Uttarakhand near Ranikhet, not far from Dwarahat, to visit the cave of Mahavatar Babaji. This is my third time visiting this cave over 14 years and while one visit was a privilege, now it feels like a privilege and a calling.

The welcome steps to Babaji's cave in the Kumoan Hills of Northern India
Two men pilgrims enter Babaji's cave to meditate.
Shoba with a flower for Babaji on the way to the cave
Amazing light play while men meditate in Babaji's Cave
Walking down from Babaji's cave near Kumoan, Himalayan India

So who is Mahavatar Babaji? An Avatar, an ancient Yogi said to have an eternal body and still experienced as physical by many, he has been written about in the famed ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ by Paramahansa Yogananda (first published in 1946) and through his first disciple Lahari Mahayasa who re-introduced Kriya Yoga to the world in 1861. Telepathically, Babaji summonsed Lahari Mahayasa to the cave which is now a place of pilgrimage and worship to the great Yogi and Avatar.

Phyllis and Shona helping each other on the walk to Babaji's cave
Phyllis on the steps to Babaji cave

We take the steep climb up the hill through the beautiful forest and once we arrive we sit and meditate for a short time in the quiet, reflective atmosphere of this remote cave. It is hard to leave again but, along with our photographs, we take the blessing of Babaji with us as we follow the path back down the mountain.

Sign to Babaji Cave
Sign above the door of Babaji Cave

I fondly recall and tell my friends about my first visit to the cave and my personal connection with Babaji at the ashram in 2003. The feeling of love, grace and bliss, unexpected, that spread through me at that time, without understanding the depth of Babaji’s power and wisdom until some time later when I wanted to find out more – when I had the question: who is Babaji?

The hills where Babaji's cave is situated
Shoba in deep gratitude to Babaji outside the cave

Following this wonderful visit to the cave, we drive on down from the hills and have an overnight stay at Nainital Lake.

The lights above Nanital lake and the reflection on the water, Nanital, Himalayan India

And so back to Delhi

With a wander around the evening market and local stores, we complete our shopping knowing this is to be our last chance on this leg of the journey.

Banana seller on the roadside on the way back to Delhi
Water buffalo on the way to market in Delhi
A bullock cart near the side of the road on the way to Delhi, India
School boys in the back of a small bus near Nanital, Himalayan India

The following day, heading ‘home’ we wend our way along the forested foothills, twisting and turning with the dizzying contours of the drive. We then make our way down towards the lowlands via Jim Corbet National Tiger Park – which is stunning as the road is lined with many kilometres of trees. It is the wrong time of year for tiger spotting so alas we drive across the plains to Delhi where we meet up with Manfred, say our goodbyes at dinner that night and fly home to our respective cities or countries.

Shona enjoying some relaxation in the hotel in Delhi
Suresh and Kumid in Delhi
Kartik and Anushi at the farewell dinner, Delhi, India
Shona, Shoba, myself and Phyllis at the end of the journey in Delhi

Shona and Phyllis take the 4 day ‘Golden Triangle’ tour out of Delhi to the Taj Mahal in Agra then to Jaipur in Rajasthan making the most of their time in India before heading back home also.

A fond farewell

Suresh is a magnificant tour guide and I highly recommend booking your Indian adventure with him.  Our grateful thanks to Suresh and Kartik for their supurb leadership and Kumud for looking after the home while we were having fun in the mountains:  Book your Indian adventure here

What more can be said but, once again, this was a very satisfying and fulfilling journey. As usual, Suresh and I have started talking about the next trip… Watch this space!

#babajicavehimalayas  #himalayanadventures  #himalayas #india #lettheadventurebegin #mistymountains  #travel #traveltheworld #worldtraveler #nanitallake #kausani #himalayanteaplantations #baijnathtemples #baijnath #jimcorbettnationalpark  #delhi  #gwaldam  #gandhiashramkausani


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