Kasar Devi Temple, Uttarakhand | Temple of Mystery, Meditation and Healing

Our ‘Places to see in Almora’ sojourn which included trips to Jageshwar Mahadeo, Golu Devta and Lakhudiyar caves for an entire day ended at the Kasar Devi shrine.

Kasar Devi Temple shrine, Uttarakhand
Kasar Devi Temple, sitting pretty at an altitude of 2116 mtrs. above sea level.

As we snaked our way through the narrow winding roads, the sun began to set, softly painting the hills in deep shades of orange, gold and pink.

Knowing how quickly the sun slips down in the hills, we still hoped to see some remnants of this glorious splash of colors in the sky from the Kasar Devi shrine mountaintop.

However, that was not to be.

When we reached the temple, the sun had already bid adieu, leaving behind only a delicate orangish haze hanging over the mountains.

Climbing a flight of stairs, we first visited the Shiva temple which glowed mystically in the moonlight shining directly above. A few steps down was the Kasar Devi Temple.

Lord Shiva Temple in Moonlight, Kasar Devi Temple, Uttarakhand
Lord Shiva's Trident with a beaming moon!

Kasar Devi is a mystical magnetic place, having initially found its share of fame in the 1890’s when Swami Vivekananda first visited it, meditated and wrote about the healing powers of this little holy town elaborately in his book. This was when the world took notice and thereafter, this small hamlet saw a flurry of renowned saints, mystics, monks, poets, writers, artists from various walks of life calling Kasar Devi their safe haven through the course of history.

In the 1920’s and the 30’s, famous personalities like “Sunyata” Alfred Sorenson and German philosopher Lama Angarika Govinda (Ernst Lothar Hoffman), the world’s leading voice on Tibetan Buddhism stayed in the village. Among the visitors were western Tibetan Buddhists like Robert Thurman, leading icon of the Beats poet Ginsberg and celebrated Indian saint Anandmayi ma. Here was a place that inspired the seekers to find clues of what they were seeking and the writers to further their search on the meaning of life. In the 1960’s and 70’s, the village became part of the Hippie trail attracting eminent personalities from the west like American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, George Harrison, British singer Cat Stevens, and English writer D.H. Lawrence.

History of the Kasar Devi Temple, Uttarakhand
This board documenting the temple history is indication of the Buddhist influence on the region.

Among them was the (in)famous American psychologist who was fired from Harvard University for experimenting and advocating the use of psychedelic drugs like LSD. He, along with his followers, occupied a small ridge area near the village for conducting his eccentric research on spirituality, according it the name ‘Hippie Hill’. The eccentricity was such that at one point, he streaked which led to another name of the same hill – Crank’s Ridge.

The anecdotes are many, but those are not the only reason behind Kasar Devi’s intriguing popularity today. There is a scientific reason as well…

Kasar Devi is famous for being one of the three places on earth believed to be under a high energy field – the other two being Machu Pichu in Peru and Stonehenge in England, both ancient spiritual sites. Known as the Van Allen Belt, this powerful electromagnetic field is said (by Nasa) to contain positive energy formed by cosmic rays and solar wind making it conducive for meditation and other forms of spirituality.

All this history intertwined with facts and more have contributed to the growing popularity of Kasar Devi over the years alluring ramblers and creative wanderers to find their way to a renewed sense of freedom.

Did I find anything special in Kasar Devi? Any kind of profound experience?

Kasar is just like any other town: with its own set of charms, its own quirks and its very own inherent magnetism which definitely makes it a really beautiful place to go.

But, 

What made our visit really truly special was the time spent in the ancient cave temple of Goddess Durga - Kasar devi temple, situated atop a hilltop. 

It’s not easy to describe those few moments in the temple, that evening. Dusk had set in completely, and it was a wonderfully quiet nightfall; not a single soul in sight, even the winds had dropped and the birds had retreated back to their homes. It was just us, standing in stoic silence, like the main shrine of Kasar Devi against the backdrop of the Himalayas, overawed by the solemn twilight silence and the profundity of the place.

Sunset as seen from Kasar Devi Temple, Uttarakhand
Stunning sunset, Kasar Devi Temple

Now I have experienced stillness many times before, but I have to confess: those few moments of pristine silence were magical; there was something different about it, almost hypnotical. There was an unmissable foggy haze hanging in the air, blurring the lines between real and illusion. Marked by the vastness of everything around, I felt tiny, miniature. Even though the darkness had deepened considerably into the night, I didn’t feel like moving out. Neither did hubby.

But, we couldn’t wait any longer, for safety reasons, even when our hearts wanted to, so decided to return again the next morning.

Next morning we trekked our way through the Jungle Kasaar Lodge trail and explored the 2nd century temple, at leisure.

Kasar Devi Temple Trail, Uttarakhand
Trekking trail amidst nature on the way to the temple
Snow capped Himalayas enroute Kasar Devi Temple, Uttarakhand
Stunning vistas enroute the Kasar Devi Temple

First, right at the top, was the Bhairav temple, dedicated to lord Shiva which according to the locals, this was the exact place where the renowned saint Swami Vivekananda had meditated bringing the temple into light on the world map.

Entrance to Kal Bhairava and Shiva Temple, Kasar Devi , Uttarakhand
Lord Shiva and Bhairav Temple, Kasar Devi Uttarakhand
Deity of Bhairav Devta at Kasar Devi Temple, UttarakhandLord Shiva Deity at Kasar Devi Temple shrine, UttarakhandShiva Lingam at Kasar Devi Temple shrine, Uttarakhand

A few steps lower, surrounded by lofty pine and deodhar trees in the shade of the Himalayas, was the Kasar devi temple. There were people around, clicking pictures, taking selfies or just admiring the views of the toy town Almora below. The twittering of the chirping birds intermingled with the tinkling of the loosely hanging bells with the slightly moving breeze.

View of the Almora town from the Kasar Devi Temple hilltop, Uttarakhand
Incredible view of the Almora town from the Kasar Devi Temple

The temple was a simple building structure and it was hard to imagine the antiquity from the looks. The priest inside the temple pointed out to us Goddess Parvati in the form of Kaushiki – Durga avatar and offered blessings.

Kasar Devi Temple shrine view from Shiva Temple, Uttarakhand
Kasar Devi Temple as seen from the Shiva Temple at the top.

He briefed us about a story from the Devi Bhagawat Puran from Hindu literature which says that she slayed the two demons Shumbh and Nishumbh at the hills of Kasar. What he pointed us out next in the dark of the sanctum, left us spellbound – behind the image of Devi was a natural rock carved imprint of Goddess Durga’s vehicle, the lion. In the light of the torch, we could see the lion clearly guarding the image of the Goddess with His sharp eyes and alert demeanor.

Cave Temple Kasar Devi Temple, Uttarakhand
Notice the natural cave touching the temple structure? A lion imprint on it inside guards the deity. 

After the darshan, we sat in the temple premises, delighting in the breezy cool of the tall looming trees, appreciating the many stories carried by the winds that rushed through the valleys and the mountains. I took a quiet deep breath and looked around: it was so peaceful up here. Away from the stresses of urban life and living, this was a haven of calm which we so often crave for in our everyday existence. I had to literally drag my feet out of the place, walking back down the hill, making our way to the hotel Alhito Café.

Powerful vibes at the Kasar Devi Temple, Uttarakhand

It’s been close to 5 months since our return but we still crave for those vibes. I don’t speak on the basis of logic, but there is some magical pull in that place for sure which has to be experienced for yourself.

FAIRS AND FESTIVALS OF THE TEMPLE:

The town celebrates Kasar Devi Fair, a pompous fair held at the Kasar Devi temple on the auspicious occasion of Kartik Poornima in the Hindu calendar (November / December).

PRO TIP IF YOU'RE VISITING KASAR DEVI TEMPLE.

Watch out for narrow very-easy-to-miss trail by the backside of the temple.

Rock inscription behind Kasar Devi Temple shrine, Uttarakhand
Follow the narrow trail behind the Kasar Devi Temple

A treasure trove for history and archeology enthusiasts, the trail leads you to a rock which has 2 lines in Brahmi script engraved on it. Believed to be from 6th century, it's a rare inscription with other such engravings found on Ashoka edict in Kalsi near Dehradun.

2 lines in ancient Brahmi language Kasar Devi Temple shrine, Uttarakhand
Ancient rock engravings in Brahmi script

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