Announcements and Celebrations, Kumaon, North India, Uttarakhand
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Following Vivekananda; and How one Home Found me in Kasar Devi- Almora

The fourteenth night of the waning moon each month is special. But in the month of Falgun i.e. March, this 14th night is said to have an upsurge of Prana/energy in one’s system (also if one could sit still throughout night) that which even pulled Swami Vivekananda more than 130 years ago to this small little mountainous region called Almora. But more precisely to a place on the top of the Kashyapa hill known as Kasar Devi. A place or the temple structure dating back to 2nd century CE.  

Also Read : A Short Walk in the Jungles of Almora

My Little school back home subtly practices the path of Advaita that Swami Vivekananda showed. His images and quotes can be seen all around our School walls. But awareness of his being arrived in me only when i started reading his travel diary. His ideas and his perception of the land, people and the curiosity to ask, to never abate your quest inspired me to patiently Walk for hours and observe as a young boy. I learnt about places, his passing thoughts while meeting many a sages in West Bengal influenced me to go and travel around Bengal. Or while sailing for days on the deck of a Ship speaking to labours and cleaners about their lives back home revealed a hell lot about the conditions of the 1890s India. Swamiji had also mentioned about his time in Almora and a cave where he had meditated for several days and months at length. It was since that day as a young boy my yearning began to visit that hidden grove, rather secretly to use that space in which he sat, I dreamt of sitting there too for as long or little as I can.  

The meditation Room where Swami Vivekanand meditated
A Rare Image of the Purified Seat ‘Pavitra Peetham’

THE Grand Night Of Shiva

Shiva Ratri is a personal celebration for me, a day that chose me for the birth of my awareness, of that cosmic presence. As on this day six years ago, a dimension dawned within me of this nature, this energy that runs through all of us and how. That night something opened which continued to take shape till the arrival of the full moon. And this year like every since then, for no reason it felt that I could really make it to that cave. I announced it out to my family, got my backpack together and within an hour on 27th February, left for Almora. The Grand Night was on 1st.

Also read: Remembering Love and Finding Lessons while teaching in a Border village of Baltistan

After what took a whole night of an exciting and dramatic bus ride across states, much because of the driver of the Bus. A four feet something powerhouse, who used to laugh out so loud that passengers had to pause for a moment to acknowledge his uninvited wild frequency. His laughter made people roll their eyes with a smirk, some were getting irritated but resumed soon to whatever they were doing, only after looking at each other. He drove all night singing old Mountain songs to himself. When the tyre had to be changed at the station, he sang even louder. He drove clean and fast throughout the night. And most strangely stopped at a sweet shop where buses weren’t supposed to stop, asked all the passengers to eat the Samosas with the best Chutney in Uttarakhand within ten minutes.

As we arrived in the flower tower of the blue morning hour; the valley felt cold and sleeping unaware and under a blanket of cloud above, enveloping Almora. I landed almost awake, breathing deep feeling high; getting down in front of the old Post office. It felt a lot colder, so much that I had underestimated March of the Himalayas.

Walking past the old market, which promised architecture, that these days speak while humans sleep. The streets were narrow but quaint. Time worn homes with carved wooden facades, lowly and together, tiny balconies coming out of the tinier walls of stone, wooden doors- some decrypt and rotting, many must have witnessed this jungle becoming a town in front of them.

Also read: The Curse of a tail and Why each Mother should make her child first a Storyteller

Photo from The Hindu

The fragrance of Devdars had started reaching out to me. But the change was as apparent as anywhere with hoardings of new café openings, Pizza plazas, Beer and Bars, coffee houses with glass openings. I kept walking as I had already decided to stay anywhere near the Temple.

I took a shared taxi from Almora Bazaar to go to Kasar Devi. And in it was my first introduction to the local sentiment that morning. Thirteen people sat including me and the driver. Ten were women. Most probably teachers. Carrying their tiffins and bags, constantly chirping. I sat behind amongst five women cramped together with mask on, hearing their tales of this small Himalayan town which started to feel like a story of Delhi, Mumbai or even the West. One mother complained of her child denying to sleep in the same room with them. The other talked about privacy and giving space. Someone commented on the choices of food and clothes of her daughter, when from behind a woman revealed a tragic news playing out in the neighbourhood, a 15 year old boy had hanged himself from the fan. They sounded helpless. But the talks slowly drifted towards the handmade cover over the water bottle, which was beautifully knit by the woman sitting with it, right in front of me. Taxi stopped, another woman entered. Everybody knew her. The talks started again and this time the topic of retirement was brought in. She exclaimed:

Tension gone
Pension on,

She laughed, and laughed everybody else.

Also read: The Motorcycle, Dalai Lama and the Meal

I had longed for the longest time to come to this place. Not really to wander or do anything but just to be on that hill where Swami Ji sat for a whole month and a little more. But unlike him I had only three nights.

It had been over half an hour sitting with the locals. And I had started feeling caged. I was already looking outside when my intuition collated with the moment where I had a glimpse of a board that said “Simtola Ecological Park”. I loved the sound of that word ‘Simtola’, almost Arabic, like the world of Aladdin.

I got down; and started searching for a roadside café for tea. While walking towards, I asked a man carrying kilos of milk pouches in his lap, where can I find a teashop?

Chai peene hai? Want to have tea? He Said.

haanji. Yes

Kahan piyoge? Where do you want to have it?

Jahan aap batayein. Wherever you will tell me to.

Toh chalo saath. Then come along.

‘Simtola Eco Park’ Written in Hindi that i had seen from the taxi and got down

To be Continued…

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Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste

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I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;

As a co-traveller, will take you through the Ten Lessons I learnt from several years on the roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.

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You might also like to know about My Little SchoolIf you wish to come over for a visit someday, to share your stories or your magic tricks with children, you will be heartily welcome here

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If you are living in India You can do it here. And If you are living outside India, You must drop me a mail at .

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Hi, I am Narayan Kaudinya. And i welcome you on this journey, the Road to Nara ! I am an Ethnographer and a practicing Indologist. I did my masters in History and further learnt Sanskrit, Yoga and Nerve-therapy. At 24, pushing most academic sounding, office sitting works away, i felt compelled to know and understand the world and my country, Bharat/India. I travelled, and as it happened i took up teaching in Kashmir and further up in the remote villages of Baltistan in the foothills of Karakoram Ranges. For around three years and many states later there came a time when i felt that it was only while teaching i learnt how to laugh, to see, feel, breathe, love and cry -with children, and mostly resource-less parents in the harshest-freezing border conditions. I write, and work as a documentary photographer and Filmmaker, with numerous published, exhibited and some awarded stories. In my travels and life i have let nature lead me, the divine mother, and as a Yogin, my resolve here is to share my experiences and thoughts as honestly, and through them to blossom in everyone the power and possibility in pursuing your breath, that you seek your true nature with courage and curiosity. Here, on this road i will share my spirit, my love for nature, the elements of life that are us. And in doing so, i'll be happy to see you along.


  1. Dear Narayan,
    From talking about your childhood idol to traveling for that discovery of your own moment of Nirvana, I’m spellbound like always and waiting for the conversation post the tea. Your vast knowledge, experience takes me back to Kalyan issues way back in late 70’and 80’s. My grandfather used to collect them and those were my first comics. I vividly remember pictures from so many of them telling tales from puran. It’s sad that Gita press stopped publishing them on the same huge scale, but I see a light of hope in your tales. One day I’ll compile all your posts and they’ll definitely make for many issues of Kalyan 2.0 ❤️

    Liked by 5 people

    • Richa, I only heard about Kalyan but could never hold it ever for myself to read it. Getting stories from Puranas out and working on them must have been a pleasure for the people. And more so, a legacy for the children to read. I can only smile and feel gratitude towards your observations dear Richa. If I can be what you imagine I could be. Its as much your love and wishes dearest. Thank you so much.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The title of the new post published today by Narayan, immediately caught my attention as I regard Swami Vivekananda as my guru and have all his works at home. It is wonderful that the brilliant school Narayan runs in Delhi has Swami as its patron, and to have the great man’s quotes on the walls is an inspiring thing to do.
    I am not surprised that Narayan had such a strong desire to see and meditate in the grove where Swami himself visited, after reading his diaries, now reading Narayan’s fascinating description of his journey, the hilarious bus ride and the details that were so well written that I cannot be the only one to crave samosas! A place on top of the hill, Kasar Devi, dates back to the second century CE and became a popular destination for many reasons, one being its beautiful setting that provides a spiritual experience when looking at the distant Himalayas; my idea of heaven.
    I cannot wait for Narayan’s next post and his superb writing that will enrich our understanding of divine feeling in our hearts and souls.
    Thank you, Narayan, for this masterpiece of inspiring and riveting writing.


    Liked by 1 person

    • haha. i didn’t know you knew about the Samosas, do you? As for a moment i was apprehensive to figure out an english name for it. Can you get Samosas where you live Joanna?

      It is a beautiful serene place you will see and experience for yourself soon, at least here. Thank you so much for your kindest words dearest. I will make sure you travel along deeply to this valley which got known first only when dear Swamji visited.

      Thank you again Joanna.


      • Not only do I know about samosas but make very good ones myself. The lovely driver would love my samosas too. The Cordon Bleue cooks don’t buy anything that they can make themselves, you should remember this, dear Narayan! I am now knowledgeable in many vegetarian Indian dishes, and I love spices.
        If I could sit and meditate where Swami did, I would die a happy woman, I revere this Man with my heart and soul! Do dreams ever come true?


        Liked by 1 person

        • It has been a long, stressful day, and I made typing mistakes, apologies.
          Le Cordon Bleu cooks know their samosas even when they are bad at typing!



      • Susan says

        I do, I have such longings to go back, had such a back home feeling there. And also loved Kalimpong and Sikkim.


  3. I have heard of Swami Vivekananda when I was younger, through Ramakrishna. What an honor for you that he was presented at your school, it must have been exhilarating to follow his foot steps and meditate in his grove. Can’t wait to learn more about it. By the way I loved the conversations of women during your taxi ride.

    Liked by 2 people

    • How lovely to hear you dear Cornelia. Yes, his life, teachings are something to live by and we try to pass it on to children even though they are too young but we have seen by the time they have reached intermediate in different school, mostly have come back and thanked for the foundation they got.

      Yes, I loved that part of the journey too. It was amusing living it 🙂 Thanks again Cornelia.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lovely to know, and so interesting. Had I been there, i would have actually worked on a story on his travels outside India. He got popular because of one speech he gave in Chicago at World Religious Conference I think. And you will be surprised to know that it happened on 9/11 in 1893. You can even read or hear i think that speech on net today Cornelia.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Cheryl, apologies for writing late.

      The last chapter will bring something extraordinary information about what so many popular westerners were doing in India during the Hippie era.


  4. We were there in 2018 and had a good time. We went in a local bus from Almora to Kausani. It was packed but a wonderful experience. Thank you for the post, it brought memories of our trip. We stayed only two days in Nainital and it was so crowded . It is nice to be in places where there not many people 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing this experience Lakshmi mam. Also apologies for writing late. I have been to Kausani but in bus from Almora to Kausani with locals feels a memory for life.

      India for all the good reasons and bad is going to have an enormous density of us people living with each other. It’s a luxury to be and find places with less people now. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. what a wonderful experience and story Narya. Your pictures are incredible. I love this ”

    I had longed for the longest time to come to this place. Not really to wander or do anything but just to be on that hill where Swami Ji sat for a whole month and a little more. But unlike him I had only three nights.”

    What a cool experience. I’m sending this to my friend. He says this is the only true guru in india,
    Blessings. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dearest Cindy, apologies for writing late. He was a boy when he became known as a Guru. There are quite a few of them still around.

      Your friend will love the next saturday post on this Hill as will go through who and why westerners started coming over here during the Hippie era.

      Have you been here?

      Liked by 1 person

      • No apologies needed EVER.. Interesting… most started as boys as I recall.

        My friend is there now through the end of the holiday.. She is a big deal in India … Nimala. She studies with Sadguru. My other friend from India who is Indian and also there says he’s a scam. I never know what to believe to be honest with you.

        I have never been there but plan and hope to someday!! 💖💖💖


  6. “Tension gone Pension on” – What great lines to remember. Thanks for showing me those spiritual places in India off the beaten track.

    Liked by 1 person

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