Since I did not want to take any chances (by getting delayed), I reached Kathgodam 3 hours early. While the railway station was very pretty and I enjoyed standing on the overhead bridge to enjoy the view for a while, I decided to find a cafe nearby to kill time.
We started our journey by car at 6 am from our home town Kanpur and reached to my sister's place, Shahjahanpur in almost four hours. After a break of an hour we started driving on national highway ( NH 30) which passes through Shahjahanpur, followed by a turn after Bareilly to NH 109 to Kathgodam. On the way we stopped at Satish ka dhaba on Bareilly-Haldwani road. Kathgodam is a nice, small city. Whenever I pass through this place, I always admire its beauty. It is a town where you will find stores of many big brands and the luxury of a big city in a relatively very small area in addition to the beauty of a hill station. It is the gateway to the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. The terrain is plain till Kathgodam.We halted at Kathgodam for a tea break and around an hour later, we started our onward journey to Binsar via Almora. Almora is 87 km from Kathgodam on NH 109. Binsar is 25 km ahead of Almora but as you cross Kathgodam, hilly terrain starts, so it takes around 4 hours to cover a distance of 115 km. Our stay was already booked in Binsar Eco Resort.
One of the reasons of choosing Mukteshwar as a travel destination for myself was that despite being at a high altitude, it's well connected by rail route. If travelling from or near Delhi NCR, Delhi-Kathgodam Shatabdi can be booked in the nick of time (especially during off season), and Mukteshwar is a further 2 hour drive from the Kathgodam railway station (which is the terminus railway station for Kumaon region).
I HATE BUSES. Unfortunately, it is a part of my love for Traveling and I am learning to live with it. After getting the pizzas packed we went to our traveler tempo and I closed my eyes for the remainder of the journey. It had been an amazing journey so far and I didn't want to ruin it by purging at the very end of it. Soon we were at our final destination and I was relieved at that fact. Not because the trip had ended but because I was out of that bus. I got a general ticket to Delhi and we all got into our train Ranikhet express. It was fairly empty because most passengers will board at the upcoming stations. We sat and played the addictive game of MAFIA and talked. I and Vatsa had to wake up early in the morning around 3:50 for our stop so we took the top seats to sleep and they were watching a movie at the lower berth. When I opened my eyes around 2 in the night, they were all asleep and two of them were sharing a berth to sleep. Seeing this made me realize the bond we had developed in such a short period of time. We just knew each other for only a week till then and they let us sleep in their confirmed seats while they shared. I asked them before I went to sleep that what if you guys want to sleep after watching the movie and to this they had said that they will share and it is very normal for them. They do it all the time in their hostel rooms as well. No matter what I was thankful for their kindness and generosity. I will never forget what they did for us even if it was a small thing.Around 4:30 our train came to a halt at Delhi. We made our heavy-hearted goodbyes and deboarded the train. It was raining when we arrived in Delhi. It was almost Dramatic and cinematic and that too in a cliched sense. We were both tired and half asleep. We got an Uber back to my place and called it a night after reaching my place.
Day-5, 19th August 2018, Jageshwar to Kathgodam.We visited Jageshwar at 6 AM which is in a narrow beautiful valley surrounded by a dense forest of deodar trees. It is considered to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and lies on the ancient route of Kailash Mansarovar. Jageshwar temple complex consists of 124 temples ranging between 7th - 18th century and are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Goddess Jageshwar, Mrityunjaya, Kedareshwar, Surya, Navgraha, Lakulish, Baleshwar, Pushti Devi, Kalika Devi etc. We can find many shops and stalls leading all the way to the temple complex. Legend has it that Lord Shiva came to Jageshwar to escape the severe winter of Mount Kailash.A little further up on the road on the right side we can see a board for Kuber temple dating back to 10th century. We started our return journey at 8.30 AM to Kathgodam via Almora and visited Chitai Golu Devta temple and Kasar Devi temple but before that we stopped at Khem Singh's shop in Almora to buy some Bal Mathai and Chocolate.Chitai Golu Devta Temple is about 10 Km from Almora and 4 Km from the main gate of Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. Golu Devta is seen in form of Lord Shiva, his brother Kalva Devta is in form of Bhairava and Garh Devi is form of Shakti. Golu Devta is also prayed as key deity (Ista/ Kula Devta) in many villages of Kumaon and Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand. It is popular belief that Golu Devta dispenses quick justice to the devotee. Devotees in turn offer bells after the fulfillment of their wishes. Thousands of bells of every size can be seen hanging over the temple premises. Many devotees file a lot of written petitions daily, which are received by the temple.Kasar Devi temple is about 10 Km from Almora and is situated on a hill top lined with dense forest. It dates to 2nd century. Swami Vivekananda visited and meditated here in 1890's. This temple has been found to be of special importance because the region around this temple has enormous geomagnetic field. This is because this temple comes under the Van Allen Belt. The causes behind the formation of this belt have been researched by NASA for the last two years. Two other famous places which have been found to have similar high magnetic field (Van Allen Belt) are Machu Picchu in Peru and Stonehenge in England.