The many charms of Hippie Hill

The many charms of Hippie Hill

With summer having set in full swing, what, in your opinion, is the best way to beat the heat? Of course, escape to the hills! No, not the clichéd tour operator-driven hill stations like Shimla, Mussoorie or Nainital- loaded with too many stay options, too many sightseeing spots, too many things to shop and so on. 

Tucked in the serene valleys of Uttarakhand, Kasar Devi, which is situated on Kashyap Hills, is known for its ancient temple that date back to 2nd century and beautiful vistas, which will surely mesmerise you

With summer having set in full swing, what, in your opinion, is the best way to beat the heat? Of course, escape to the hills! No, not the clichéd tour operator-driven hill stations like Shimla, Mussoorie or Nainital- loaded with too many stay options, too many sightseeing spots, too many things to shop and so on.

For me, a perfect hill station is one that lets you be in nature's lap, beyond the daily rigours of routine life. For me, a perfect holiday trip is one where you are in no hurry to cover as many tourist spots as possible - to make the most of the money spent on the vacation!

I simply believe in reaching a place, unpacking and relishing the luxury of not following an itinerary or a “deadline”, a word which has become sinisterly synonymous with city life. My only activities should be hours of sun soaking and treat my eyes to the magical view of snow-capped peaks. And of course, endless cups of soul-stirring “Pahari” tea.

Well, Kasar Devi fits the bill – too perfectly. We had gone to Almora and met an acquaintance, who suggested that we go to this small and peaceful village called Kasar Devi.

And as we reached there, we realised that it is actually a jewel hidden in the crown of Uttarakhand, for it has everything that makes it a perfect getaway – no crowd, polite people, clean and green scenic environs, pocket-friendly accommodation and of course, the place is easily accessible.

Kasar Devi situated on Kashyap Hills is known for its ancient temple that dates back to 2nd century. Every year on the occasion of Kartik Poornima, people come here to worship and attend the Kasar Devi Fair.

Nevertheless, that is not the main reason why people know about this place; rather it is the abundance of foreigners here which attracts travellers to this quiet village. Many western travellers and mystics have visited and even settled down at Kasar Devi.

This place is of particular importance because the region around the temple is believed to have an enormous geomagnetic field as it falls under the ‘Van Allen Radiation Belt’. The causes behind the formation of this belt have been researched by NASA.

Two other famous places, which have been found to have a similar high magnetic field (Van Allen Radiation Belt) are Machu Picchu in Peru and Stonehenge in England. It is worthwhile to note that people who have meditated at Kasar Devi have expressed a degree of higher rejuvenation and hence the special importance attached to it.

Kasar Devi first became known in the 1890s, when Swami Vivekananda visited and meditated here and documented his experience in his diaries. Then in the 1930s, Danish mystic Sunyata Baba (Alfred Sorensen) came here and stayed put for three decades.

He was followed by a series of spiritual seekers from the west. And where there is Shanti (peace) there will invariably be hippies, because of which in the 1960s and 70s, it became a centre for the counterculture, visited by Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Cat Stevens, Western Buddhist Robert Thurman, and even writer DH Lawrence, who spent two summers here. Remember to carry your copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover when you visit here.

Also among the famous visitors was psychologist Timothy Leary, who was fired from Harvard University for advocating the use of psychedelic drugs. Leary is most famous for his experiments with LSD and the catchphrase “turn on, tune in, drop out,” The eccentricity of Leary and his followers, who experimented with nudism and smoked wild cannabis, gave Crank’s Ridge its name - Hippie Hill.

Fact File

Location: Kasar Devi a tiny hill station in Uttarakhand, is about 70 km from Kathgodam, the nearest roadhead.
Accessibility: Depending on your energy level and the amount of time you have, you can choose one of two ways - trekking enthusiasts can go for the 8km climb from Almora to Kasar or one can opt for a scenic drive through gorgeous terrain.
Accommodation: With foreigners still visiting the place in large numbers since the past few decades, simple but hygienic budget accommodation is easily available.

As you explore Kasar Devi on your own, you will realise how popular this rustic rural place is among the foreigners. The small tin-roofed cafe of the 'German Baba' lined with Buddhist motifs is replete with the hippie charm and serves delectable German pastries.

Locals say that the German Baba is a wanderer and a self-proclaimed Indian yogi who got the name after marrying a German tourist, who made Kasar Devi her home and bakes mouth-watering cakes even today.

From the days of the Beatles, some places have remained obscure, yet popular among foreigners. And Kasar Devi is one among them. Away from the hustle and bustle of north Indian travellers, who have earned the notoriety for transforming all spots into Karol Bagh and Chandni Chowk, Kasar Devi is delightfully different! You leave the crowd behind in Almora and travel for just a short while to reach another mystical world.

We initially planned to stay for a night at Kasar Devi but ended up spending more time. Although there is nothing much to do here, other than going for a stroll to Crank’s Ridge, (née Hippie Hill), this is one of those places where you go just got to get away from it all.

It was sunset time and I was standing on Crank’s Ridge, populated with armies of deodar and pine forests. The panoramic view of the snowcapped Himalayas from Bandarpunch peak on the Himachal Pradesh border to Api Himal in Nepal really stole my soul.

A little later dusk set in and slowly little lights popped up in the valley below, mirroring the stars twinkling in the sky. Looking all around, I realised that this “REALLY” is one place with magnetism strong enough to attract wandering souls from faraway places.

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