Monday, July 25, 2022

The Abode of the Gods ( Part 4- Narayan Ashram)


Route Map from Dharchula to Narayan Ashram on Kailash Mansarovar Route

Seldom does it happen that trekking goes unrewarded? More so when one is exploring the uncharted routes not frequented by many. My family and I was  trekking in Pithoragarh, in Uttranchal district a few years back. The place is endowed with a generous bounty of nature. It lies ensconced in the centre of the Soar Valley which resembles Kashmir on a miniature scale. It is dotted with pretty villages around its periphery. While exploring the town we walked into the tourist office and came to learn about Narayan Ashram, a small hamlet en route to Kailash Mansarovar yatra. Dharchula is the nearest foothill before the arduous climb for the yatra begins and is around 90 km from Pithoragarh.

The scenic beauty of Dharchula to Narayanashram

The way from Pithoragarh to Dharchula is alongside the river Kali and is a 3 to 3.5-hour journey. The chief modes of transportation are private jeeps and state government buses. The air is filled with the aroma of trees of Oak, Pine, Apple and Deodar as the bus climbs up laboriously. After arriving at Dharchula, we rested for the night.

The Narayan ashram

The next day we started the ascent to Narayan Ashram which is about 14 km from Dharchula, at a height of 2734 m. The climb through the steep rocky terrain was tiring. Sometimes the boulders are so dangerously perched that one wrong step could result in a disaster! The reward for the climb is an unparalleled view of the rising mountains and pristine air and the sight of small rivulets descending down the hills. There are no human habitations except a small village where few people stay. The sun had set when we reached the Ashram, and the fog was slowly setting in. Just as we reached the ashram, the fog cleared and what we saw was an ' absolute heaven'. A lush green haven with a meditation centre, gardens and a stream of crystal clear water, quietly rumbling by

We were unexpected visitors but were greeted by a man with a flowing beard. He took us to meet ‘Mataji’ who was delighted to see us. She was dressed in a white sari and her head was covered. She had a diminutive stature. The hunchback was very prominent and her body was arched. The face had a few wrinkles and the eyes were deep set. She had an expression of unbound love. ‘Mataji’ as everyone addressed her, must have been more than eighty years old.

She told us to take a quick wash and invited us to join her for dinner. It was a simple meal comprising of roti and sabzi. It was more satiating than a four-course meal, after spending the entire day in climbing the hills to reach Narayan Ashram. She offered us the place to settle down for the night and provided the bedding as well. We were dead tired and soon slept off.

The next morning we went around the ashram. It was a sheer visual delight, with a splendid view. All vegetables were grown at the ashram and it was self-sufficient. There was a hall for meditation. The ashram was built with a mix of ‘mud and urd dal’ in 1936. Mataji was a retired Inspector of Schools in UP and the man with the flowing beard we had met the previous evening was a microbiologist from the USA who had settled down there. Around 15 people were staying there and were mostly scholars!!

Mataji offered us tea and ‘upma’ prepared by her as we bid goodbye to start our return journey. It was a heavenly experience and sheer bliss to have travelled to this uncharted destination and will remain etched in memory forever

PS All pictures kind courtesy Google


  1. Thank you Sujatha for liking the post!

  2. I have trekked quite a few times in the Garhwal Himalayas and loved each trip. Gaumukh, Hemkunt, etc. Super places to go. Loved your narrative.

    1. Thanks Tomichan for your kind comment, Indeed the Himalayas have some of the most awesome trekking routes!

  3. There's no forgetting places and memories to places like this. And we trek, I guess we take in more.
    Thank you for sharing these precious memories with us. :)

    1. Absolutely true Dee! Memories get etched forever