Situated on the confluence of two sacred rivers, Saryu and Gomti, Bageshwar is an enviable hideaway and a Nature’s paradise. Surrounded with high mountains, beautiful valleys and scenic environs it attracting tourists from all over the world. It is an important centre for Shiva worshippers and according to tradition the sage Markandeya undertook penance in this sacred town. Lord Shiva used to wander here in the remote past as a tiger and this gave birth to the present appellation, Vyageshwar or Bageshwar.
How to reach Bageshwar
By Air: The nearest airport to Bageshwar is Pantnagar Airport situated 180 kms away in the Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand state. Four round trip flights operate between Pant Nagar and Delhi per week and taxis and buses are available from Pantnagar Airport to Almora and Bageshwar.
By Rail: The nearest railhead to Bageshwar is Kathgodam situated in Nainital district of Uttarakhand state. The distance from Kathgodam Railway station is situated at a distance of 149 kms from Bageshwar. Taxis and buses are easily available from Kathgodam to Almora and Bageshwar. Kathgodam is well connected with major destinations of India like Lucknow, Delhi and Kolkata. Trains are frequent to Kathgodam as it is the gateway of Kumaon region.
By Road: Bageshwar is well connected by motorable roads with major destinations of Garhwal and Kumaon region of Uttarakhand state. Buses from ISBT Anand Vihar are available to Almora, Nainital, Haldwani and many other destinations from where you can easily hire a local cab or bus to reach Bageshwar. Taxis and buses are easily available to Bageshwar from major destinations of Kumaon region.
BAGNATH TEMPLE is a tourists and pilgrims delight who find it more peaceful, more relaxing and serene. It’s a different experience altogether. The temple was constructed in 1690 AD by Raja Laxmi Chand of the illustrious Chand dynasty, which ruled Kumaon from the medieval period up to 1790 AD. The various statues in the temple date back from the seventh century AD to the 17th century AD.
VANESHWAR AND BHAIRAV TEMPLE
In close proximity is the old temple of Vaneshwar as well as the more recently constructed Bhairav temple which is visited by tourists and pilgrims alike. He is worshipped here as the fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva and is venerated as one of the most sacred deities.
Bageshwar is very famous for the Uttarayani fair which is held every year in mid-January and tourists, pilgrims and historians swarm to this holy town during that period from different parts of the country. It was in this town that the Coolie Begar (forced labour) Movement reached its peak and was abolished in January 1921.
Gandhi ji visited Bageshwar in 1929 and stayed in the Dak Bungalow across the bridge and after the formation of the State of Uttarakhand, it has assumed importance as a tourist centre.
Gauri Udiyar is a sacred site about 8 km from Bageshwar that ensures absolute mind of peace and soul. It has a large cave enshrining idols of Lord Shiva.
Chandika Devi is a beautiful temple which comes as a pleasant surprise to visitors and makes an ideal retreat away from the mundane world. It attracts a large number of tourists and pilgrims during the Nav Ratri festival. Chandika is worshipped here as Goddess Katyayani who killed the demon Mahisasura and the demons Shumbh Nishumbha. The great Goddess was born from the energies of the male Gods and spewed flames in all directions. Then that divine light, pervading the three worlds with its effulgence combined into one and assumed a female form. Chandi is the most spectacular Goddess and an epitome of cosmic energy. With her golden body blazing with the splendour of a thousand suns and seated on a tiger with her multiple arms holding auspicious and potent weapons she annihilates the demonic and evil forces.
Sri Haru Temple
Sri Haru Temple is an important shrine and very popular with pilgrims and tourists as it is believed that all the wishes of the devotees are fulfilled in this temple. During Vijaya Dashmi a popular fair is held here which attracts devotees from all over the country.
Bageshwar is the abode of Lord Sadashiva the redeemer of all sins, the eternal mystic and the eternal God. According to tradition Bageshwar is a highly charged place where one can achieve liberation by undergoing penance or through total surrender to the Almighty. It is also said on the basis of Puranic literature that with the east and west flanked by the Bhileshwar and Nileshwar mountains and surrounded by Suraj Kund in the north and Agni Kund in the south, this land of Lord Shiva is of great spiritual significance like Kashi and people visit Bageshwar as a pilgrimage centre also. There are several shrines here like the Bhairav temple, temple of Dattatreya Maharaj, Ganga Mai temple, Hanuman temple, Durga temple, Kalika temple, Thingal Bhairav temple and the Vaneshwar temple etc.
Kausani with its deep sense of tranquility and enormous mountains silhouetted against the sky is compared to Switzerland and presents an unobstructed view of the long snow ranges of the Himalayas. Several snow capped peaks stand stride in a stately row of about 340 km. in length. The view of the snow clad peaks of Panchchuli, Nanda Kot, Nanda Devi, Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Nanda Khat, Chaukhamba, Neelkanth and Kedarnath is awe inspiring. The scenic grandeur of the Katyur valley below and of the river Gomti is also marvellous. It is also called the jewel of the Himalaya, a term that epitomizes the essence of this hill station. There is plenty to see in and around Kausani. Pinnath 95km), Bhur Pinnath (5.5km) and Bhatkot (12 km) are the highest points near Kausani.
Gandhi ji eulogizing the incomparable beauty of Kausani, exhorted the Indians to patronize such places. He spent 12 days at Kausani in 1929 and inspired by the scenic grandeur and its mystic surroundings wrote his memorable commentary on Geeta-Anashakti Yoga. The guest house where the Mahatma stayed in 1929 is now known at the Anashkti Ashram and is a great centre of attraction for tourists.
SUMITRA NANDAN PANT MUSEUM
The great Hindi poet Sumitra Nandan Pant was born in the village Hudcheena in Kausani and a museum has been established in the house where he was born. The museum is very popular and has become like a pilgrimage for writers and poets. It also serves as a reference library on his life. The rich collection of photographs in the museum and the belongings of the great poet are very rare. Some of the photos of Sumitra Nadan Pant with Harivansh Rai Bachan’s family, with great poets like Ram Dhari Singh Dinkar and Maha Devi Verma are extremely rare. Harivansh Rai Bacchan had a very close association with Kumaon and his son the living legend Amitabh Bachan was given the name Amitabh by Sumitra Nandan Pant.
Laxmi Ashram was set up by Catherine Mary Heileman in the year 1948. The founder of the ashram who later became famous as Sarla Behn was a great disciple of Mahatma Gandhi. She came to India in 1932 to join his movements. The Lakshmi Ashram is now one of the active social organizations of Kumaon and thronged by tourists, visitors and social workers. It is also a centre for disseminating environmental consciousness and the founder Sarla Behn’s book on environment; ‘Revive our Dying Planet’ has achieved international acclaim.
ECO PARK KAUSANI
Eco Park Kausani has been developed by the Forest Department for promoting tourism. It is a sanctum sanctorum of biodiversity and a haven for bird watchers. Some rare species of butterflies are also seen there.
Below Kausani, on the bank of the river Gomati is the site of the ancient (12th to 13th century A.D.) temple complex of Baijnath. It is a splendid example of the grandeur of Chand architecture. Amongst the statues enshrined at Baijnath the standing image of Goddess Parvati about a metre and a half high is unparalleled and speaks highly of the impeccable, flawless sculpture of the region. On top corners of the image are seated Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesh on their respective mounts. According to tradition the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati was solemnized here.
kanda is a picturesque place where every inch promises a fresh song of nature. An ancient temple of Bhadra Kali emblazons the scenic grandeur of the place. According to tradition the concept of Bhadrakali came to this region with Adi Guru Shankaracharya. She is one of the fiercest form of Kali who protects the virtuous against the evil forces and is seen as the most auspicious and fortunate form of Kali. She was actually a local deity who was assimilated in the mainstream of Hinduism in the Shaiva mythology. She is also known as the Mahamaya Kali and according to Devi Mahatmyam she is associated with the tradition of Matrikas as well as the tradition of the ten Mahavidyas.
One can have a panoramic view of the snow capped Himalayan ranges from here. It offers a wide range of the Himalayan peaks, which appear extremely scenic during sunrise and sunset.
To reach there one has to travel by road from Garur to Jakhera. Beyond that there is a trek of 20 km. through the mountains, and at every curve the eyes embrace a new landscape more beautiful than the other. According to tradition it is believed that the Pandavas and Kauravas fought a battle here. The Himalayan view from here is marvellous. It also provides a window to Himalayan forests and biodiversity, which claim forests to be an entity transcendental in nature.
TEMPLE OF KOT BRAHAMARI
Temple of Kot Brahamaari is located in the small township of Dangoli beyond Kausani. It is a great centre of Shakti worship and associated with the mythology of Nanda Devi the family Goddess of Kumaon and Garhwal. Temples dedicated to her are in different parts of Uttarakhand. According to tradition in ancient times she was venerated in Garhwal alone but later on her worship was initiated in Kumaon during the medieval period by Raja Baz Bahadur of the Chand dynasty. During one of his diplomatic visits to Garhwal he came to know about the might of the goddess and brought her idol. While returning the diplomatic delegation halted for the night at Dangoli in Bageshwar district. Here the image split into two pieces and as advised by the royal priest one piece was installed here in the temple of Kot Brahmari built by him in 1660 AD and the other in the same year in Almora in the ‘Malla Mahal’, the palace where currently the court is housed. Subsequent upon the splitting of the statue into two parts the goddess Nanda in Kumaon is worshiped in the two forms as Nanda and Sunanda. They are supposed to be two sisters from the ruling Chand dynasty and are actually the manifestation of ‘Shakti’, the female energy of gods. Shakti epitomizes the cycle of divine change and its cosmic existence is invoked for the welfare of the society, the nation and of the universe.
TREK TO GLACIERS
Bageshwar is a base camp as well as entry point for trekkers going to Pindari, Kafani and Sunderdhunga glaciers, the trekkers dream. Adi Shankaracharya who came to this part of the country arguably in the 8th century AD was the pioneer who introduced the trekking routes in the Himalaya to the world. The rugged beauty of these glaciers is a breath taking sight. Large chunks of ice moving down the slopes, floating downstream in their icy magnificence are a spectacular and panoramic sight. They are an integral part of the mountain landscape and have a life and beauty of their own.
PINDARI GLACIER (3820M)
It is one of the most easily accessible of all the Himalayan glaciers. Pindari’s rugged and pristine beauty is a breath taking sight. Ahead of Pindari the peaks of Chhanguj (6322 m), Nanda Khat (6611m), Pawali Dwar (6663 m), Nanda Bhanar (6236 m), Dangkhal (6050 m) and Baljori (5922 m) beckon the mountaineers. The Pindari Glacier is located in the Pindar Valley, which is a part of the buffer zone of the Nand Devi Biosphere Reserve.
KAFNI GLACIER (3800M)
Many breath taking views of the mighty Himalayan ranges are visible from the trekking route. The Kafni glacier lies left of the Pindar Valley. The valley as compared to the Pindar is broader and the rhododendron bloom here is a breath taking sight. The main Himalayan summits visible from the glacier are Nanda Kot (6860 m) and Nandabhanar (6236 m).
SUNDER DHUNGA GLACIER (3800 M)
The Pindar valley can be divided into two sub-regions of Pindari and Sunderdhunga. The Sunder Dhunga Col links the Maiktoli (6803 m) and Pawali Dwar peaks. Between Pawali Dwar and Nanda Khat is the Burhia Clacier. From Sunder Dhunga one can reach the Baluni Peak by crossing the Baluni valley. There is a thrilling view of the Kafni Glacier from Baluni; from here one can also reach the Sukh Ram Glacier.
The village Khati (2210 m) is the last village on the route. From here one route goes to Pindari, Kafni and the other to Sunderdhunga Glacier. The trek to Sunderdhunga is tough as compared to Pindari and Kafni. Sunderdhunga means the valley of beautiful stones.
To the west of Pindari Glacier, situated on the southern slope of the Sunderdhunga Khal is the Maiktoli Glacier. On the west of Maiktoli Glacier is the Mrigthuni Glacier.
The KMVN and the High Adventure Almora organizes treks to all the glaciers in the Pindari region. Bharat Sah of High Adventure conducts treks for senior citizens and has successfully taken people of 70 years age to Pindari. The KMVN has rest houses in Loharkhet, Dhakuri, Khati, Dwali and Phurkia en route to Pindari Glacier for trekkers and tourists to spend the night.
Traill’s Pass no description of the Pindar Valley and the glaciers can be completed without a mention of the Traill’s Pass. It is named after George William. Traill, the second Commissioner of Kumaon after the British occupied this region in 1815. For some time it was being considered by the British that if a direct and short route from Almora to Johar Valley could be found then trade from Almora to Johar and thence to Tibet would be greatly facilitated. With this object in view an attempt to cross the col, Pindari Kanda, later known as Traills Pass was made. Traill, the Commissioner of Kumaon entrusted this duty to Malak Singh Buda, the headman of the village Supi, who succeeded in climbing the Pass and crossed over to Johar in 1830. It is one of the biggest climbing feats of the century when mountaineering was in its infancy in India.