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Uttarakhand: Mayawati, Lohaghat, Champawat and Shyamlatal - A Traveller's Guide
Mayawati, Lohaghat and Shyamlatal :
Two Swiss deciples of Ramkrishna, had taken the initiative to build an Ashram, dedicated to Shri Ramkrishna on his birth anniversary (19th March, 1899). The Ashram was built in a green manor which was once a tea garden. The place was popularly known as Maipet. Later on, Swamy Vivekananda had renamed it as Mayawati.
Vivekananda had come here for consoling Mrs. Xavier (one of the builders of the Ashram) after the death of her husband. He stayed here in the Ashram for few days during 3rd-18th January, 1901. The residence of Swami Vivekananda now houses a rich library and a meditation center.
Vivekananda used to sit for meditation amidst the serenity of Dharamgarh, located at an elevation of 300 meters. The beautiful place can be accessed climbing up the hill. It is not more than 4 km away from the significant Ashram of Ramkrishna. To recollect the old memories of Vivekananda, a commemorative, the meditation hall, has been constructed here.
The rippling water stream of the Sarda River moves slowly through the slender channel at the lower acclivity near the Ashram. It looks mesmerizing from the premise of the divine Ashram of Mayawati. The cremation of Xavier was held on the River banks according to the Hindu conventions on 28th October, 1900. Mayawati and its surrounding consecrated places are accessed by innumerable Hindu pilgrims every year.
Located at an elevation of 2073 meters, amidst the opaque and dense woodlands, the two storied Ashram is delimited by towering mountains. The panoramic view of the snow clad Himalaya, spreading across a straggling 250 square km from the land of Nepal to Chaukhamba, can be gazed at from the wonderful Ashram premise.
The territory of the Hospital, positioned adjacent to the Ashram, is covered up entirely with the multicolored and aromatic flowers. Neighboring stall and Mother Kitchen (Popular for farming) are the other coveted destinations.
Many nature lovers visit Mayawati a number of times to catch a glimpse of the elevated mountains, long-drawn-out woods and white hilly peaks. The heavenly paradise of Mayawati looks attention-grabbing with the pungent flower groves. Colorful and animated birds come out often from their own nests to enjoy the natural grandeur and sweet smell of the beautiful blooming flowers. Natural denizens often stroll on the valley of Mayawati as well. Lucky lot can even catch a glimpse of ambling tigers.
The Valley of Blood, Lohaghat, located at an altitude of 1706 meters, is spread on the banks of the River of blood (according to the language of Kumaon). Bounded by the range of mountains, Lohaghat, is a cool and peaceful tiny hamlet of Uttarakhand.
Lohaghat, nevertheless, is more popular as a connecting railway station of Mayawati which is located at a distance of 9 km away from Lohaghat. Towering Deodar, Oak, Pine and Fir trees are holding the umbrella together and are offering shelter to all the travelers who move through the road to Mayawati from Lohaghat.
Hire a jeep spending approximately 200 hundred rupees to Lohaghat from Mayawati for a comfortable and hassle-free journey. You would be able to witness the pretty nature on this route for sure. You can also hire a porter to give him the responsibility of your luggage while visiting Mayawati from Lohaghat through Pagdandi. The best time to visit Lohaghat is during 15th March- 15th June and during 15th September- 15th November.
Few notable hotels of Lohaghat are Tourist Bungalow of KMVN, Hotel Cedar Valley and Hotel Greater Kailash.
The Abbott Mount or the Orphanage of Mr. Abbott, situated at a height of 2001 meters, is not more than 8 km away from Lohaghat. It’s a haven, hidden in the beautiful shades of Oak and Pine foliage. For an agreeable experience, every trekking lover should trek on this road to the Abbott Mount. The captivating sight of the soaring Himalayas would surely engross the swarms of nature lovers. The colorful natural locale here looks even more colorful during the beguiling sunset and sunrise. Renowned Himalayan crests, such as, Nanda Devi, Nanda Khat, Panchachuli, Kamet and Trisul, are standing in an array with their towering trunks.
The Sikh Pilgrimage point, namely Ritha Sahib, about 62 km away from Lohaghat, should be accessed from Lohaghat. If you are interested, then you can stay overnight at the holy Gurdwara in Ritha Sahib.
Another nearby sought after destination is Pancheshwar, about 30 km away Lohaghat. This fastidious spot can be accessed both by availing a bus and by hiring a car. The righteous Shiva temple is located right at the mouth of Kali and Saryu Rivers. The holy throne of this divine paradise houses Shiva and Durga together. Due to the presence of the installed dam on the River Kali, Pancheshwar and its dwellers are blessed with the water power plant. The riveting Himalayan crests are worth watching from the beautiful manor of Pancheshwar as well.
The enamoring Banasur fort, atop the hill, is 7 ½ km away from Lohaghat. It is believed that the grandson of Krishna, called Padyumna was detained here in the fort. The snow of Himalaya shimmers when bright sunrays fall on the milky snow. It is an amazing sight to look at. A fort was later on constructed during 16th century on the ruins of the ancient Banasur fort by the emperors of Chand dynasty. Today, however, the fort is shattered. Ruins of the fort, however, assist the tourists to read the old history, written all over the primeval fort bricks.
Shyamlatal: A serene hilly hamlet, Shyamlatal is located on the banks of the Tal
(Lake). The name of the hamlet was given by Dwamy Virjanand.
The most important and prime destination of Shyamlatal is the holy Vivekananda Ashram, located amidst the abyssal forest. With the aid of Mrs. Xavier, the Ashram was erected due to the initiative of Virjanand during 1914. The meditation room of Virjanand is there on the 1st floor of the Ashram.
Located at an altitude of 1525 meters, Shyamlatal, houses a Guest House, Hospital, Stall and three water bodies with emerald water. The orchard of fruit, flowers and vegetables is worthy of mention as well.
The pretty Shyamlatal looks marvelous from the highest peak of Shyamlatal. The rippling stream of Sarda River is a pleasing sight to look at. The sanctified Purnagiri temple is located on the banks of the River.
Shyamlatal, about 30 km away from Tanakpur, can be accessed hiring a jeep from Tanakpur spending 600 rupees.
Sukhidhang Duck Bungalow of PWD is located in Sukhidhang on the track of Tanakpur- Lohaghat. This is a nice place for the tourists who are planning to stay near Shyamlatal.
The Guest House of Vivekananda Ashram can be accessed climbing up the hill of Shyamlatal. You can also enjoy your stay at the Tourist Rest House of KMVN in Shyamlatal.
Champawat, about 14 km away from Lohaghat, is located at an altitude of 1615 meters and was the ancient capital of the Chand dynasty.
The lifeline of Kumaon, the Kali or Sarda River, flows through the eastern border of Kumaon and Doti of Nepal is situated at the other side of the same River.
The old and unique historical evidences of Champawat had been shattered during 1744 by Ali Muhammad, the leader of Rohilla dynasty. The memories of Chand dynasty had also been abolished gradually. Later on, Champawat was ruled by a number of imperialistic forces as well.
The absorbing historical fort of the Chand dynasty now houses a tehsil. Apart from the fort, tourists and pilgrims who visit Champawat, always get attracted towards the consecrated Nagnath temple, positioned contiguous to the impressive fort. This beguiling pagoda-type temple upholds the traditional Kumaon architectural touch on the slate stones.
The divinity of the virtuous Lakshminarayan temple, located at the back end of the Nagnath temple, pulls crowds of innumerable devotees from nearby places as well.
Ruins of Bunda- ki- kila, the fortress of the emperor Bunda, are worth watching tourists’ enticement of Champawat.
Besides Baleshwar Mahadev, a number of other devout deities are residing in their own temples in and around Champawat. Most of these temples, however, are now in ruins. The temple of Champa Devi and Shiva are facing each other. Both of these prime temples of Champawat are made up of brown sand stones. The architectural splendor, prominently visible on the walls of these temples, is admirable. The architectural touches and sculptural elegances of both of these divine temples resemble the flairs of the temples of Kajuraho. The idols of deities, Mithun, door keepers and beautiful women are artistically engraved along with flowers and chains of leaves. The doorway depicts daru architectural excellences and panache.
Maneshwar temple, another sought after and divine heavenly place for the spiritual crowds, is located at a distance of 9 km away from Champawat. The holy destination can effortlessly be accessed by jeep or by bus from Champawat and Lohaghat. Trekking lovers can trek to the temple through the 5 km of uneven hilly tract. According to the mythological beliefs, Pandavas, visited Champawat through Kailash and Manas. Devotees and city dwellers believe that the Baneshwar Shiva had been established on his throne by Pandavas. Later on, the name of Baneshwar was changed to Maneshwar though.
The newly built temples of Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman in Champawat are attractive and appealing as well.
How to reach Champawat: Champawat is well connected to cities, like Tamakpur, Pithoragarh, Pilibhit and Bareilly by bus. The nearest railway station of Champawat is Tanakpur.
Where to stay at Champawat: Tourist Bungalow of KMVN, Hotel Mount View, Hotel Tourist Resort, Hotel Ledar Valley, PWD IB and Forest Bungalow.
How to reach Mayawati: The nearest railway station of Mayawati, Tanakpur, is accessible by train from Pilibhit, Bareilly, Kasganj, Shahjahanpur and Lal Kuan. Buses also regularly ply to Tanakpur from Sukhidhang, Champawat and Lohaghat. Buses are coming all the way to Lohaghat from Delhi, Pilibhit, Pithoragarh, Ranikhet and Almora as well.
Where to stay at Mayawati: Ashram Guest House is the only place where tourists can stay overnight at Mayawati. Book your room beforehand (www.advaitaashrama.org )