Monday, December 26, 2011

Kumaon – the abode of the Himalayas

Kumaon – the abode of the Himalayas
View of the Himalayas from Munshiyari - just after sunset
My yearly sojourn this year was the hills of Kumaon in the Uttarakhand State. I have already traveled to the Gharwal region of the State and this year thought of having peek at the Kumaon region. Now having completed my journey of this sector, I do not have any other option but to agree to the tag line of the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam in their e-brochure which reads as and I quote – “Kumaon – simply heaven”. The tourist map given hereinunder is from the E-uttranchal site and I found to be very convenient during my tour and would like to share with all intending travelers –
With all its mesmerizing natural endowments of tree topped ridges, snow covered peaks, rippling & sparkling streams and famous mountain lakes, it is an embodiment of pristine nature reserve. Apart from the natural heritage, the region also preserves many ancient relics & customs, whose roots can be traced back to the time of Vedas, Upanishads & the Mahabharat era. Geographically the region of Kumaon, comprises of the districts of Nanital, Almora, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar, Champawat and Udham Singh Nagar. This region is bounded byNepal on the east and Tibet (China) to the north and thus strategically important region.
View of Sitla from Mukteshwar

Historically, this region in the ancient period was ruled by the Saka Dynasty whose sway held over the region extending over the hilly regions of central & western Asia. Thereafter, there were many small invaders who occupied the region from time to time till the region came under the Mauryan rule, after whose decay the region came to be ruled by the Kushans. Inference of existence of the Kumaon region since times immemorial can be traced back from ancient scriptures also like the Vedic word for mother, Nanda the main Goddess of Ur of Kassites fromCentral Asia. Seven Kilometers from Almora is the ancient inscription dedicated to the Goddess Kasar Devi, etched in stone dating back to the 2nd Century B.C whose correlation can be drawn to the same clan referred to above. The region has long been ruled by the Katyuri dynasty whose Kingdom stretched from the region near the source of rivers Yamuna & Ganga till right bank of river Sharada. In the olden days this region Bhrampura, near Bageshwar used to be the capital of the Katyuri Kings as per the inscription on the Thaleshwar Copper Plate. This place also finds mention in the travelogues written by the Chinese traveler Huen Tsang. As you pass by many a nondescript villages in the region, especially in the higher areas beyond Thal, you can still make out the distinctive cultural & traditional uniqueness of this region.
View of Katarmal Sun temple - near Almora

During my journey, I traveled through Mukteshwar-Binsar-Kausani-Chaukori-Munshiyari-Pithoragarh-Almora-Nanital/Sat tal and would narrate the round journey of 1500 odd kilometers, destination wise.

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