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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Padampuri – a nature lover’s delight

Padampuri – a nature lover’s delight
Resorts coming around Padampuri
           Every time I searched google for ‘Padampuri’ in Uttarakhand, it invariably launched a series of responses and mostly it showed up ‘Jilling Estate’, without much of help about the actual details of the destination.  Therefore, I thought of paying a visit to the place sans visiting the said estate, as everyone who is a bit tech savvy would be knowing about it by just surfing the internet.  I thus embarked upon the journey be encompassing Padampuri as a destination during my winter sojourn to my little abode in Ranikhet.  It was a wintery morning in Delhi and getting up at about 4.30 A.M in the morning in the cold January month was an exercise in itself and we reached the New Delhi railway station well in time to board the New Delhi-Kathgodam Shatabdi that leaves at 6.00 A.M in the morning and is scheduled to reach Kathgodam at 11.40 A.M.  However, the day had more agony stored for us, as on that fateful day i.e. 5th January, 2017 the train did not arrive at the platform even 10 minutes prior to its departure time and simultaneously the announcements of other trains being cancelled because of fog were being continually made.  Since there were no announcements being made in respect of our train, random thoughts that it too had been cancelled was gnawing inside the mind.  I started mentally contemplating an alternate arrangement for reaching the destination.  Just then an announcement was made informing the passengers that due to some ‘technical glitch’ the train would leave later, no further details were provided and this kind of announcement continued intermittently, until the train finally arrived at the platform at 8.00 A.M, albeit two hours late.   Thereafter, the journey commenced after about another 10 minutes and we braced ourselves for further delays en-route. 
Aerial view of Chanfi as one heads towards Padampuri
View of the famed 'Jilling Estate' from Padampuri
            The start of the journey appeared to be inauspicious and the train slowly chugged along and finally reached Kathgodam at around 2.25 P.M., the only saving grace for the journey being the considerate approach of the Indian Railways which provided for some Dal & Rice at around 1.00 P.M. to the passengers because of the delay, which is not usually not a scheduled meal during the journey.  Since, I had already pre-booked the taxi wallah, who drops me regularly at my pad in Ranikhet, we did not have to waste much time in either identifying a suitable vehicle or rate etc., as he had already done the needful at the pre-paid booth.  We started from Kathgodam and after travelling for about a Kilometer or so, we started our descent towards Ranibagh, on way to Bhimtal.  The distance from Kathgodam to Bhimtal is about 23 KMs and therefrom one has to reach Khutani, which is about 5 KMs from Bhimtal.  The roads bifurcates from Khutani and one has to take a sharp U-turn towards Champawat/Lohaght road to reach Padampuri.  After passing by Khutani, the next notable inhabited destination in Chanfi, which is 6 KMs from Khutani and is situated in a valley.  Having gone past Chanfi, the road again starts ascending, albeit steeply and after one covers a further destination of about 6 KMs, one reaches Matial village and the trek to the famed ‘Jilling Estate’ starts from here and as the road climbs down about another Kilo meter, one reaches Padampuri, situated in the valley below, where two rivulets conjunct.  It is small nondescript little hamlet situated in the lap of nature, as if ensconced in a timeless warp.
The ancestral home of Sh. N.D Tiwari ernstwhile Chief Minister of UP & Uttarakhand in Padampuri
Traditional farming methods being used to cultivate potatoes
Modern technology is also creeping in slowly to replace or methods of farming 
As we were already late, we headed directly for the Tourist Rest House (TRH in short) Padampuri, managed by the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd. (KMVN in short).  It is situated right on the State Highway heading towards Champawat district of the State.  Initially we decided to stay overnight at the destination, but decided against it as the rooms there were poorly maintained with seepage in toilets and rooms giving a shabby appearance to the entire structure.  However, the staff posted there were very co-ordial and helpful and especially the cook Mohinder, had excellent culinary skill and fed the famished souls with delectable pakoras, omelettes & coffee.  After having placed the order for snacks etc., we walked down the road upto the village square, wherefrom the ashram of famed Sombari baba is stone’s throw away and having visited the temple complex, we headed back to the TRH.  Padampuri is also known as the birth place of the mercurial but controversial Congress leader of yester years, Sh. Narayan Dutt Tiwari, who had been the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for quite some time, his ancestral home is still inhabited by his extended family.
The famed Sombari Baba ashram in Padampuri
A photo of famed Sombari Baba sourced from the net
Where the Vultures dare - Himalayan Griffon in flight in Padampuri
             Padampuri is a combination of tradition & modernity, perched at an altitude of 875 MSL or about 3000 feet above MSL (measured by me through altimeter inbuilt in my wristwatch), it has a moderate climate, but gets colder in winters as it is surrounded by high peaks that allows only minimal sunshine hours in a day.  The main economic activity of the village revolves around agriculture, as there is sufficient availability of water in its vicinity.  I found a lot of poly-houses and on enquiries found out that floriculture has become an important activity for sustenance and coupled with this many resorts on hill tops around Padampuri are coming up.  The river that runs up from the Sombari Baba ashram is a treasure trove of avian fauna and a famed water-fall is situated further ahead in the river, but the same is visible in its entirety only during the monsoon season.  I found out a link to the photograph of the said water fall, which may be accessed by my readers by following this link - https://tmi2-tourmyindiapvtlt.netdna-ssl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Padampuri-Waterfall.jpg.  
View from Tourist Rest House, Padampuri
A traditional Kumaoni home in Padampuri -
it had started raining as we were to commence with our journey towards Sitlakhet
It would not be justified if I do not mention a little about the famed Sombari Baba, who was named so because he used to launch a community lunch for the villagers every Monday i.e. Sombar/Somvar in Hindi.  An associate of the famed Haira Khan Baba, he was an ascetic of the famed cadre of saints who roamed the Kumaon Hills during the early 1900s.  The region still echoes with legends about them. Sombari Baba was also one of the teachers of Swami Rama whose master, Bengali Baba had sent him to Sombari Baba during his early days.  The present ‘mathadish’ or head of sect is Swami Parmanand Puriji Maharaj, born in 1889 AD, was not present at the Padampuri ashram, but was away to Gurgaon, Haryana on request of one of his disciples, who despite being about 127 years old and having had two major surgeries, he still appears to be going strong, although I was not fortunate enough to meet him.  Thus, ended our brief but pleasant encounter with Padampuri.
 Here is the link to the video for the destination -

© S Roy Biswas


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