Pandavkholi: A Vacation Among Nature near Babaji Cave
Legends believe that the Kauravas had also come here in search of the Pandavas, but could only reach till Kauravchhina now called Kukuchhina, as they were unable to traverse the harsh terrain.
Pandavkholi is perched at a height of 8,000 feet above sea level, and the terrain can get a little rough as you climb higher and higher. Yet, the entire trail and the view from the top is definitely worth the effort.
What makes Pandavkholi so unique are the caves that are scattered at the Doonagiri Hills. These caves are like hidden treasures waiting to be found and explored. Pandavkholi is also known for the wonderful and holy ashram that is located at the top, and you must stay at the Dharamshala once to detox and cleanse yourself completely.
Things To Do In Pandavkholi
Explore The Caves
One of the most interesting and thrilling things to do here at Pandavkholi is to just follow your instincts and explore as many caves as you can. Some of these caves were inhabited by great sages, and you might just find some amazing anecdotes and stories right inside the caves.
These caves are also great haunts for just spending some time in isolation. You can go inside them and sit for as long as you want. Just close your eyes and meditate. You will feel so calm and peaceful from within you. Undoubtedly these caves have some magical aura about them.
Run Amok In The Meadows
Pandavkholi also has a large meadow called a Bugyal. The Bugyal is also called Bhimn-ki-Saiya, and it is completely barren. It is believed that the great Bhim once laid his Gudri on this meadow.
There are four caves located directly beneath this Bugyal, and there are several mysteries that surround the Bugyal and these caves. Just slowly walk around this meadow and you will be able to hear the sound of your footsteps due to the hollowness deep inside the Bugyal.
The Serene Ashram
The wonderful Ashram is located at the very top of Pandavkholi. The ashram also has an adjoining temple dedicated to the great Swami Balwantgiri. This ashram was built by Swami Balwantgiri’s disciple who is also fondly called Babaji. The small shrine accompanying this temple has a lovely idol of Balwantgiri and also of Babaji. There is another large shrine still in the construction process just beside the Dharamshala.
How to Reach Pandavkholi
To reach the top of the temple, you will have to break from Kukuchina, and it is not an easy walk. However, the stunning view of the Himalayas, the running green hills will keep you motivated all through your trek. As you walk higher and higher you will feel the air getting colder, and a lovely refreshing breeze will sweep past our face. It is a magical and inspirational experience to be climbing up to the top in such a mesmerising place.
Once you reach the top you will be amazed by the stunning landscape that reveals in front of you. Right against this backdrop, there is a little temple and the Dharamshala. At the end of the temple, there is a watchtower that stands proudly at the top. You can climb up there and watch the entire valley complete with the mountains. The view is truly astonishing and picturesque.
Accommodation & Facilities
The Dharamshala is not at all fancy, on the contrary, it is extremely humble and modest. You will find the most basic facilities here, yet something is reassuring and peaceful about the Dharamshala. Nestled in the laps of nature, the ashram is away from the modernity of the rest of the world. You will hardly get any mobile network here.
The toilets are common and there is no running water. Every day you will give to fetch your water from a tank located nearby. The Ashram believes in being environmentally sustainable, and thus, they only use rainwater. The rainwater is collected in different tanks and its used for everything including, laundry, taking a bath and watching dishes. The same water is purified using a filtration system for drinking purposes.
The kitchen uses ashes to clean the dishes, instead of soap.
You will get three meals a day, and the meals are so delicious. Even though the food is simple, the way it has been cooked shows a lot of love and care, making it feel hearty. The food is cooked directly in the fireplace, and you have to sit around the place where is the food is prepared. The wood fire adds so much to the food, and it feels pure and warm. There is something so hearty and fun about sitting around the fire with everyone and enjoying a well-cooked meal. It is almost cathartic.
The Ashram also grows its fruits, herbs and vegetables and they have cattle for milk, and bees for honey. The ashram also has some artefacts that were once used by Mahavatar Babaji. There is also a souvenir store which sells local herbs, masalas, and many flavoured salts. There are also other temples in the vicinity. One of them is dedicated to the Pandavas, while the others are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Hanuman.
While on your trip to Pandavkholi, you can also visit other nearby places like the regal Dwarahat. The historic town of Dwarahat is located in the state of Uttarakhand. It was once the land of the Katyuris, and now it rests in the lap of nature. Located about 17 km from the lovely hilly town of Dunagiri, Dwarahat is a great place to not just spend an idle weekend, but also to catch up on some much-needed history that has been long swept under the carpet.