The Magic Of Kumaon: How To Have An Immersive Experience In The Hills

Escape this summer to the serene reaches of Kumaon, where mountains whisper legends and adventures await
Beautiful views of the Himalayas from Uttarakhand
Beautiful views of the Himalayas from UttarakhandShutterstock

As summer tightens its grip and the sun beats down relentlessly, is there an escape you crave - a place where nature stuns you into silence, crisp mountain air replaces the oppressive heat, and every corner holds a new adventure? Look no further than Kumaon, where summers bloom. Tucked away in the mighty Himalayas, this hidden gem promises an immersive experience that will leave you breathless. From trekking through untouched forests to exploring ancient temples, Kumaon offers a chance to truly disconnect from city life and reconnect with the magic of the mountains. So, this summer, ditch the typical tourist traps and surrender yourself to nature for an unforgettable journey for the soul.

Hikes Galore

Crested kingfisher or Megaceryle lugubris in Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
Crested kingfisher or Megaceryle lugubris in Binsar Wildlife SanctuaryShutterstock

For all adventure and nature enthusiasts, Kumaon offers excellent hiking options. From gentle trails to challenging climbs, Kumaon is a hotspot for hikes and treks. For those seeking a gentle introduction, the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary offers delightful strolls as you traverse meadows bursting with vibrant flowers and the songs of myriad birds. Craving a bit more challenge? The Kafni Glacier trek, in the upper reaches of the Himalayas, is a perfect mid-level trek. For the truly adventurous, Milam Glacier trek in the Pithoragarh region is a great option. This challenging trek takes you deep into the heart of the Himalayas through rugged terrain, where you come across pristine glacial lagoons and towering, frosted giants. These are some of the options amongst a host of others.

Kumaon- A Haven for Biodiversity

Kumaon is a birder's paradise, with over 700 species making it their home. From the majestic Himalayan Griffon soaring through the skies to the elusive Himalayan Monal pheasant hiding amongst the rhododendrons, the variety is simply astounding. Pangot is a twitchers' delight with more than 250 resident and migratory bird species. Sattal, with its interconnected lakes and forests, is one of the foremost birding hotspots in the country, where one can find a mix of birds from the highlands and the plains. From stunning Kingfishers to the outlandish Long-tailed Broadbill and much more, you will be spoilt for choice here. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is another treasure trove of the most exotic birds in the Himalayan region. Warblers, thrushes, owls, and many species of raptors throng this habitat. The best way to see these avian beauties is to hire a guide who knows the region well.

The Spiritual Connect 

A view of the Kasar Devi Temple
A view of the Kasar Devi TempleShutterstock

Kasar, nestled in the Almora region, holds a unique allure that transcends its breathtaking scenery. The Van Allen Belt passes through Kasar. While science explains it as a protective shield, many spiritual seekers feel a magnetic pull towards this tiny hamlet. People flock to this town, attributing a sense of heightened awareness and a deeper connection to the divine. While here, you must visit the Kasar Devi Temple, an ancient shrine dedicated to Kasar Devi, a manifestation of Durga, Drikung Kagyu monastery and Meditation Centre, Jageshwar temple, and the Golu Devta temple for a dose of spirituality.

Delectable Cuisine

An assortment of delicious Bal Mithai from Kumaon
An assortment of delicious Bal Mithai from KumaonShutterstock

Besides all the attractions and activities that make it a traveller's haven, Kumaon also offers an unparalleled gastronomic experience. From the nutritious Bhat ki Daal and Kafuli to the tasty Bhang ki Chutney, Kandalee Ka Saag, and spicy Aloo ke gutke, Kumaoni local cuisine is soul-satisfying. For those who love their sweets, Jhangore ki Kheer, Bal Mithai, and Singora are a must-try.

Places to Stay for an Immersive Experience

Kumaon has many cosy homestays, opulent hotels, and resorts to experience the essence of the region. Our recommendations for an immersive experience are:

Views from the Mary Budden Estate, Binsar
Views from the Mary Budden Estate, Binsarmarybuddenestate/instagram

Mary Budden Estate, Binsar- A 19th-century heritage property, it is a hidden gem in the dense forest of Binsar. With just four lodges and two cottages, the property offers a personal touch in a luxurious setting. While here, you can savour delectable local cuisine crafted from fresh, organic ingredients, curl up by a crackling fireplace, or lose yourself in a captivating book at their outdoor spaces with spectacular views. They pride themselves on providing unique experiences to guests, such as The Wild Cat Brunch, Serena's Garden Lunch, The Eventide Coven,  Milkyway Dinner, and Hamlet in the Hills, where you interact with locals, go on hikes, and sample the delectable Kumaoni cuisines. Room tariffs start from INR 32,000 plus taxes and include all meals. 

Rainbow Yoga Retreat, Kasar- This charming retreat close to Kasar Devi Temple, nestled amidst the serenity of the Himalayas, goes beyond just comfortable lodging; it's your gateway to an authentic Kumaoni experience. With ten well-appointed rooms offering stunning views of the entire Himalayan range, the retreat allows you to truly disconnect from the outside world. It hosts many yoga and meditation workshops and hikes through verdant trails for birding and spiritual walks to Kasar Devi temple. Room tariffs start from INR 6,100 and include breakfast.

The Cocoon Camps & Nature Resort, Pangot- Spread across 10 acres of forested area, the resort is a cosy place for adventure seekers with tented and treehouse accommodations. Surrounded by over 80 species of birds, it is a real treat for photographers, birders, and naturalists alike. Offering night safaris, trekking through the beautiful Rhododendrons forests, bird-watching trails, and serving authentic Kumaoni cuisine, The Cocoon is ideal for those seeking adventure in the wild. Room tariffs start from INR 2,500.

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