The Queen's Meadow RanikhetTour Route - Delhi - Ranikhet, Jageshwar, Sitabani in Jim CorbettTotal No of days - 4Dated - October 2012
Behind the wheel & ContributorVinod Kumar...know more about me
Travelogue Photologue What to see in & around Ranikhet Travel advisor Route map
Dusshera holidays and we plan out a quiet outing in the lap of Himalayas, Ranikhet a quaint cantonment not much sought after by tourists though. The trip to culminate in Corbet after the Supreme Court's order to open up core areas for visitors, has our hotel and safaris pre booked as it was quiet a favoured time for vacations. Ranikhet was the ideal location to visit and pay respects to Mahavatar Babaji in the Dunagiri hill. The Jageshwar temple (one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India) is also accessible from Ranikhet.
A charming hill station at a height of 1830 mts above sea level Ranikhet is unique as it can be visited all round the year. The lush green forests, mighty Himalayas, flora and fauna, butterflies and the tranquillity, trekks, picnic spots and ancient temples all these attracted me as a first time visitor here. The headquarters of the Kumaon regiment of the army makes the place appear safe, neat and calm. The hotel staff were very friendly and courteous in pointing out the places to be seen analysing our tastes. Although we were in short of time and had our definite itinerary of visit, if time permits we could look out for
Chaubatia gardens has apple orchards but being a off season time it was no use being there. The 9 hole Golf Course would be visible in our trip tomorrow, and a game at this altitude would be surely challenging. The Jhula devi mandir and Ram Mandir nearby dates back to the 8th century which requires a flight of stairs to reach the top. Bells are hung here in reverence. Syalikhet is a picturesque spot of the mighty himalayas and the apple orchards.
The Katarmal Sun temple is just 24 kms away from Ranikhet and is dedicated to the sun god. Its the second sun temple after the one in Konark. Bhalu dham is a small lake fit for a picnic. The dam is open and has a garden nearby. The Kumaon Regimental Centre Museum established in 1970 displays rifles, treasures of World war II and also the Kargil war. We also visited the The KRC Community Centre, run by a welfare organisation for army widows, where shawls and other woollen accessories were hand woven.
Holmz farms is located in the lap of nature after lunch we had a lot to explore around this beautiful side of the mountain. The flowers, birds, the majestic snow clad mountains the tall conifer trees and much more. It was a wonderful way of exploring Mother nature so closely and living in a log hut. The cool breeze carried in the scent of the flowers and pines.
After breakfast around 10 we set out for Babaji's gufa. It is located in a place called Kukuchina after Dwarhat and on top of the Dunagiri hill. The people here regard the mountain very sacred. It is believed to be a part of the huge mountain that Hanuman carried to Lanka having sanjivani bhuti. There are still many rare medicinal herbs in the mountain. The walk to Babaji's cave is nearly a 1-11/2 hour walk climbing a mountain.
Mahavatar Babaji was first mentioned by Paramahansa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi (1946). Mahavatar Babaji in 1861, met Lahiri Mahasaya who was posted to Ranikhet in his work as an accountant for the British government. One day while walking in the hills of Dunagiri above Ranikhet, he heard a voice calling his name. Following the voice up the mountain, he met a "tall, divinely radiant sadhu." He was amazed to find that the sadhu knew his name. This sadhu was Mahavatar Babaji.
Mahavatar Babaji told Lahiri Mahasaya that he was his guru from the past, then initiated him into Kriya Yoga and instructed Lahiri to initiate others. Lahiri wanted to remain with Mahavatar Babaji, who told him instead that he must return to the world to teach Kriya Yoga and that "Kriya Yoga sadhana would spread through the people of the world through his (Lahiri's) presence in the world. Babaji's cave in Kukuchina is the spot where he gave Kriya initialization to Lahiri Mahasaya.
Now to our trip we crossed small villages like Kafda, the path takes you through the hills, climb and descent. Another small village Dudhdi turns up which has a very sparse population. Dwarhat is a fair town, and by 12.20 we were in Dunagiri. There Joshiji welcomed us with his usual warm smile and guided us the route and way to reach our destination. We took our vehicle a bit more further to the base of the mountain and parked it there. Its a rough track but we could avoid around 2 kms walk due to this.
The climb uphill was a bit tough due to the low oxygen levels. The route is marked by arrows by the YSS so no fear of getting lost. The unhabitated mountain is a treat in every step. It is very much natural and not much people trek here to the cave. The last climb is very steep and tough. Way on top when we reached the cave we met like minded people who were meditating. The main cave is now closed due to landslides and only the front part is open which is usually locked. Spent an hour here in meditation. The place is very peaceful, calm, serene, abounding in positive energy. Fromm here a further 3 km trek takes you to Pandukholi, there is a Swarg Ashram here. The Panch Pandavas seems to have stayed here during their exile.
Back down a hot tea and jalebis from Joshiji's stall and we further move on to Dunagiri mata temple. It is also perched high but this time by a flight of 409 steps (kids counted). The climb was a not easy, but we had to make it before 4 as the temple would be closed for cleaning. Its a small temple dedicated to the goddess, had puri alu and reached back our hotel by 6.30pm.
By 10 we start for Jageshwar temple. Again we climb and descend mountains to reach the jyotirling around 70 kms away. We cross many small villages, like Majhkhali, Chitai, Kosi, a temple Chitai Golu dham and by 1.20 we reached Jageshwar. The temple complex is built of stone and stands nestled in a thick deodhar forest. It is a cluster of 124 small temples and is protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The oldest and only Mritunjaya Temple in the world where 108 jap of the maha mritunjaya mantra can provide long life even to a dying person. Tarun Jageshwar is one of the principal temples situated in the temple premises. The temple has two dwarapalas (door guardians) in the form of the armed Nandi and Skandi. This is a west facing temple of Lord Shiva. Here, Shiva is worshipped in the form of Nagesh/Jageshwar. In the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, the Shivlinga is divided into two parts. The larger one depicts Shiva and smaller one his consort Parvati. An Akhand Jyoti, (an immortal flame) burns in the temple. We returned back to our hotel around 7.00 in the evening.
Morning checked out of the hotel for Corbet. We took the Bhojpur - Moradabad - Thakurdwara - Kashipur route. The roads are good. In the afternoon we took a drive to the Sitabani Reserve forest. Cancelled our safari as it was too much rush and had to be in queue early morning for an entry. Didnt spot anything except a few birds and deers, nilgais in Sitabani. We took to further see the ashram of Mata Sita deep inside the forest. The route can be covered by SUVs as we have to cross water passes, and there is no path. Rest have a look at the photographs in our photologue section to know more.