Under the Hood in the Himalayas + India's Uttarakhand



This summer, I ventured deeper into my own home state Uttarakhand to explore its beauty, calmness, stillness, quietude etc. which made me feel proud of being a “pahari”. Uttarakhand or, formerly Uttaranchal, is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the “Land of the gods” due to the many Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state.

I shall share my journey of getting closer and comfortable to some not so well known destinations of Uttarakhand that fits into tourist’s map which in turn make it untouched and leaves you with some mesmerizing experience.


I once again absconded from to the beautiful valleys of Ramgarh (also known as the ‘Fruit Bowl of Kumaon’) in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand and also to my home ground for some travel inspiration. The short trip resurrected the travel bug which nearly was on the verge of collapse under the hectic work schedule.

I commenced my short Himalayan voyage on Friday night to reach Haldwani next morning from where I ascended deeper into the laps of land of uncountable gods. When I entered the bus with cramped leg space heading towards Ramgarh, I sighted many faces – some young, and some wrinkled- all waiting patiently. There was no hurry, no verbal arguments,and no abuses unlike the mornings in Delhi Metro. It was a refreshing dawn- the tiredness of night journey didn’t seem to exist. I was truly excited for this solo venture into the Himalayas.

Bhowali Market

At last after a wait of 30 minutes, the bus started moving up in the hills. Through the twist and turns around the rich fauna and numerous hoardings of summer cottages and resorts alongside the mountain roads, the bus reached Bhowali, a major halt for buses going on this route. As soon as the bus stopped in the market, my eyes scanned the nearby shops for a one special thing which was one of the many reasons to visit the area at this time.

It was the local fruit known as Kaafal available in the region during summer only. Soon my search was over as I saw a hawker selling these tiny and juicy mountain fruit across the road. I literally ran across the road to grab them before my bus moves. It was merely priced at Rs. 10 for tea cup full of tiny Kaafal sprinkled with salt which made it the best combination of the mountain.


It made me remember the old summer vacations, when we used to visit our villages in the region and how we went into the jungles to pluck them from trees. It had been a very long time since I had these and it was on the top of my to-do-list for this trip. The rest of the trip to Ramgarh passed with much ease and pleasure with the company of Kaafal. In between, there were pleasant views of orchards dangling with apricots, peaches and plums. The area is well known in India as well as abroad for it premium quality apricots, peaches, plums, strawberries most of which is obviously exported to the developed countries.


After a soothing journey of about 1.5 hours, I finally landed my foot on Ramgarh located amongst the one of the finest orchards of the region.  Besides the fine orchards, Ramgarh is also famous as Rabindranath Tagore commenced writing his famous work Gitanjali over here, although, the house where this legendary work started is in complete ruins.

There was a gentle calmness in the air- the time seemed to have slowed down as compared to my last morning in Delhi. The few tea cum grocery shops appeared on the both sides of the road appeared to be ‘shopping mall’ of the area.  The local men (specifically aged ones) gathered at these tea shops and discussed anything from political affairs of the country to glamour of Bollywood. The best thing was that everybody knew each other well except me who looked for accommodation like an alien.



As I walked ahead, the cluster of tea shops came to an end and I could see the beautiful river bed on one side and the orchards with local dwellings on other. I enjoyed every step I took making me merrier than the last one. While I rambled in search of accommodation, I inquired with one of locals and the conversation sparked between us. He was kind enough to allow me to his house to freshen up and also offered coffee which I had not expected from stranger. Later, he dropped me to the Narayan Swami Ashram down the road and even requested the people there to accommodate me.


The Ashram is located a bit away from the road among the woods and offers serene and apt surrounding for meditation and even escaping from the busyness of the metros. There was only one condition of stay in this elegant Ashram– you have to follow the rules of the house.

Rule No. 1- Every day in evening there was a “yagya” by Ashram residents and everyone had to attend it.

Rule No. 2- In evening, there were spiritual lectures (more specifically from Mahabharata or Ramayana) to be attended by all.

Rule No. 3- Everyone had to reach for morning yoga and meditation sessions by 4 pm sharp

Rule No. 4- The food was simple with negligible spices and it was strictly as per timings.

Rule No. 3 was the most difficult one to comply with but I managed to be on time for these sessions and I was fortunate to attend the same. When I interacted with the Ashram people, I came to know many of them were yoga teachers in China and Hong Kong. It was really great to learn some yoga and meditation techniques from these professionals.


After attending the morning yoga sessions, I wandered in the fresh morning breeze along with the river, in the fields and on the roads. I sat on rocks wherever I liked, took pictures of whatever pleased my eyes and loved the stillness of place. I don’t remember, when was I had such a great time with myself.

Although, I wished to explore more but time seemed to run with double speed and I had to unwillingly retreat back to from where I started.


Kaushal Mathpal
Kaushal Mathpal is an Advocate practicing in Delhi Courts in India but also has a flair for travelling. When he's not in a courtroom, he enjoys exploring various parts of India and the surrounding region. He also writes on his blog http://rediscoveryourdreams.wordpress.com/ and you can follow him on Twitter @KaushalMathpal.
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2 Responses to Under the Hood in the Himalayas + India's Uttarakhand

  1. flavorverse August 5, 2014 at 3:19 am #

    This was lovely, Kaushal! I’ve been to the Himalayan foothills in Himachal Pradesh and this looks exactly like that region, though I think where I was (Kullu, Shimla) looked a bit higher than this.

    – Jay

  2. Kaushal Mathpal
    kaushal August 6, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Thanks a lot jay

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