28 October 2006

Kausani: Kingdom of spiders and friendly people


Given my current study workload I should be writing to you about branding of Indian iced tea in Germany (the topic of the paper I am sleeping with for the last 4 days). But, since I mentioned branding, I have to live to my brand promise i.e. updating my friend on my experiences in India. Therefore this post is about Kausani in Uttaranchal region, which I visited almost a month ago.
Kausani was the final destination of our five day trip to Uttaranchal. Referred to as Switzerland of India the place is the closest spot where one can enjoy views over the Himalayan mountains both right before the sunset and right after the sunrise. But our small international team has another reason to visit Kausani too. The reason is half a day trekking from Kausani to Baijinath. The whole trip is about 10 km descent. It is not mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide which gives us the good feeling of being alone all the way.
5 am in the morning and our alarm clock wakes us up to catch the first rays of the sun to enjoy the Himalayan views. We go to the hotel terrace along with the whole Kausani village and, for an hour, enjoy the sunrise taking pictures and drinking tea. However the biggest “job of the day” is still ahead. We pack and start descending to Baijinath. We only know the final destination and have no map. The only piece of knowledge we have is that there is a trail parallel to the road. Luckily we pass several villages and ask for the way along. After about half an hour we reach the first village and the wonders start. People leave their houses, everybody says namaste folding their palms the Indian way, little kids give us flowers, women give us fruits. Never in my life had I seen so friendly people. We continue our trip and rich the river valley where we encounter shepherds’ kids. The fun starts. They keep asking us to take pictures posing in front of us in the most professional way. After the picture is taken everyone rushes to see it on the camera screen. This is the biggest entertainment for them. In general, if you travel in India you will often come across poor Indian kinds which will be greeting you and asking to take a picture. Make sure to show it to them afterwards. Also make sure you hold your camera firm not because they might steal it but because you will be attacked by at least 5-10 of them all at once. I personally prefer to have candies or small change in my pocket I can give if the case comes. But be aware. Once you give to one you have to give to everyone else too.
Five hours are over. We arrive at Baijinath where people are no less friendly then in the mountains. Quick lunch, visit to the 10th century temple (official purpose of the trek), polite refuse to spend the night in the house of the generous local patron of students and we head back to Nainital to take the night bus to Delhi.
I invite you to mentally make the trek my seeing the pictures I took along the way.

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