Dunagiri n Pandukholi

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Dunagiri was not on my original schedule but two learned friends, a Pandit and a Swamini strongly recommended that I go. Dunagiri is about a 1.5 to 2 hour drive from Kausani - very scenic. Awesome at times. Enroute clicked these lovely kids going to school - note their individual impressions.

My Swamini friend wrote ''In an analogous dimension below Dunagiri, is the cosmic plane of Gyanganj, people by many Siddhas, who have been meditating there for hundreds of years. It is a closely guarded place, where Babaji created the golden palace for his disciple Lahiri, and gave him initiation, as described by Yogananda in Autobiography of a Yogi!". Clicked from Dungagiri - on your left is the Pandukholi (top of hill app 9,000 feet) and somewhere in the hill Babaji cave. On your right is Bhatkot (app 10,000 feet).

Bottom of pic road that u see takes u to base of Mahavatar Babaji cave. Hill that you see front is on which Pandukholi is. One needs to go from behind the hill and trek 5 kms. Most people come to Dunagiri to visit the Durga Mandir. Some venture 5 kms ahead and either trek to Pandukholi, Babaji cave. Dunagiri is at a height of 2,658 m.

U see me with Chandan Singh who runs a small rest at the starting point of trek. I returned from Babaji cave at 4.30pm and asked what to do next. Should I spend the night at Joshi Guest House n trek to Pandukholi the next morning OR. He said trek to Pandukholi asap and asked an asst to walk with me. I did the trek in good time (locals take 45 minutes did it in 1 hour). Except that that the last 30 minutes trek was in the dark. Could hear the growling of wild animals, motivated me to walk faster. Reached at 6.30pm. Was very cold up there 9,000 feet.

Trek to Pandukholi has a path so slightly easier. There is a Ashram where u can stay. Basic room and food. Lovely place if you want to be at a height and relax, meditate. Top of the hill is without trees as you can see. There is a reason for it, something that goes back to the Mahabharata. Reflection that you see is of a small watch tower that the Ashram has made.

I got up the next morning at 5.30am, went to the watch tower to see sun rise. U see before sun rise.

A view of the Himalayan Peaks before sun rise left to right Nanda Ghunti, Trishul, Nanda devi, Nanda kot and Panchachuli. Could not take a day view since was away but Maharaj told me get a great view on a clear day.

Dawn - mountain on left is Bhatkot where Lord Ram''s brother Bharat is said to have meditated.

Sun rise left is Bhatkot mountain highest peak in the area at app 10,000 feet. It is a 20 km trek from Pandukholi both ways whose pics u shall see later.

Sun rise.

The Ashram has a temple (that you see) a couple of homes, some with thatched roofs, others are recent RCC construction. The trustees are beautifying the place with flowers and making modern style rooms for the convenience of devotees. I told the Trustees that devotees would be happy with old style rooms, just need a clean toilet, do not want urban type comfort.

Image of the Swami Maharaj who stayed here for over 35 years and gave up his body sometime in the 1990''s. Something divine about his look. Pic taken against the rising sun.

Get a super view of the hills around from here. From ashram walk down for about 7 minutes to a place they call Tapovan from where the view is lovely. Spent a while there chanting the Gayatri Mantra facing the early morning sun. Different experience.

A closer view of some of the Himalayan Peaks about 9am. I was planning to spend the morning at the Ashram and walk down about 2 pm but Babaji had other plans.

A view of Bhatkot mountain. Looks quite easy but was one trek. For the first 5 odd kms you follow a path, go up and down hill. For the next five it is a steep climb. There is no path, you have to find your way. We had a good guide in Raju. Took us four hours while going and 3.5 hours on the way back. Top point of Bhatkot is not on top of hill but you have to climb app 500 feet more.

Person on right is Yogiji, a pranic healer from Kanpur and right is Raju guide somewhere enroute. I had no plans of doing this trek. Around 10am Yogiji and current Swami Maharaj were sitting and talking. I joined the conversation. Both of them said why do you not go to Bhatkot, once in a life time experience, is tough so what. I went with the flow.

U see Yogiji and me at the top of Bhatkot. From here the top point is app 30 minutes climb. By this time I was very tired and decided to stay back while the other two went up. After a short while it started raining with snow balls falling. I was worried that if it did not stop raining we might not reach the ashram, have to spend the night here in probably zero temperature. I started chanting Om Namah Shivaya non stop praying that the weather improves. It stopped raining after about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile Yogiji n Raju went up. There is a small temple here, u see Yogiji meditating there. At various points during the trek he gave me spiritual energy by which could do the trek.

A close up of the tree next to the temple. As you will see later devotees have tied bells around its branches. In Kumaon devotees tie bells when they ask for a wish to be fulfilled or the wish is fulfilled.

The sky was overcast. View of Pandukholi from Bhatkot hill. This was the time that I was chanting Om Namah Shivaya.

Close up pic of Yogiji meditating.

Another view of the tree, note the color of sky behind. They left around 1.45 pm and not returned by about 2.45pm. After it stopped raining I started climbing towards the top thinking that we will spend the night there since would not be possible to trek back same day. I met them half way. It was decided we would go back.

Yogiji and me on way back. Due to rain the path had become very slippery. I slipped atleast 15 times sometimes on purpose because there was no other way of going down. Missed my trekking shoes but never thought would do a trek, walking shoes do not give you a firm grip when the surface is wet. See pic carefully to get an idea of the descent, no path just find your way and climb.

It got dark by abt 5pm. With the help of torches and shortcuts by Raju guide we reached the Ashram by 6.30pm ie in 3.5 hours. Thanks to Yogiji support managed to make it. We were on a high then. Next morng left Pandukholi at 7.30am while Yogiji went to Babaji cave (steep downhill from there) to meet me at starting point. Hurt my foot, walked down with help of driver. Took me 2 hours whilst going up took me 1. Back to Chandan Singh''s beautiful garden. Served us with lovely chai and Maggi noodles. Very fulfilling yatra, stil feeling so happy did it. Spoke to Yogiji a few days ago, the happy memories came back.

These steps take u to Durga mandir. It is believed that the bronze plate in the temple dates back to 1181 A.D. It stands on top of the hill and attracts large number of devotees every year. I am happy went to Dunagiri, one of the highlights of my life. Trip memories shall always recharge me. Place is full of spiritual vibrations.

On top of this hill is the Durga Mandir at Dunagiri. Took this pic from Dwarahat ie app 15 kms away. Stay at the Joshi Guest House at Dunagiri - lovely view and close to the starting point of trek. Am blessed to have visited Dunagiri. Thank you Swamini and Panditji for guiding me there and Mahavatar Babaji for making it all happen so seamlessly.