Acem Travels: Indian Himalaya and Delhi
Saturday, October 19 to Saturday, November 2 2024
The 15-day long trip includes a week-long retreat in Acem meditation at the foot of the Himalayas and five days of touring spectacular places higher up in the mountains. Our trip goes to the Kumaon area in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. We end with three days in New Delhi. The retreat is arranged by Acem Initiator Torbjørn Hobbel, whereas Acem Instructor Folke Gravklev and Acem Initiator Øyvind Ellingsen are in charge of the roundtrip. Unless otherwise stated, Torbjørn Hobbel has taken the photos in this presentation.
GATHERING IN NEW DELHI
Saturday, October 19
We gather at the hotel in New Delhi. We set off in comfortable buses early Sunday morning to the retreat in the Himalayas. The journey takes about 6 hours and 30 minutes (298 km).
RETREAT IN ACEM MEDITATION
Sunday, October 20 to Saturday, October 26
The retreat is held at River Creek, just north of Jim Corbett National Park at the foot of the Himalayas.
The retreat location is situated in a serene, lively valley on the banks of the Ramganga River. Photo: River Creek
The program offers long meditations, in-depth guidance, lectures, discussions on meditation psychology and meetings with other meditators. The rhythm follows the sun, and we get up and go to bed early.
The conditions are very well suited for a pleasant and comfortable stay. The two-story houses are sheltered in a garden with a swimming pool. There are facilities such as a spa, the possibility of a massage, etc. The vegetarian food is very tasty and delicate.
Are Holen, Acem’s founder, the leader and lecturer of the retreat. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
One can walk along the rivers and hills in the area and visit villages and local people.
A woman carries firewood. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
River Creek has a high standard. Single room accommodation is included. Photo: River Creek
The retreat is an opportunity for long meditations, but also to meet like-minded people. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
TRAVEL FROM RIVER CREEK TO KAUSANI
Saturday, October 26
The retreat ends Friday evening. We set off in comfortable cars early Saturday morning towards Kausani higher up in the mountains. We will stay at modern hotels with high standard.
The journey to Kausani takes about 4 hours 50 minutes (154 km).
The first stop on the way is Ranikhet.
Queen Victoria was the Empress of India in the 19th century. The British established the headquarters of the Kumaon Regiment in Ranikhet in 1869. The regiment has a heroic history and is one of the most decorated of all Indian military regiments.
The British came to Ranikhet to escape the summer heat on the Indian plains. At one time during the British Raj, Ranikhet was proposed as the summer capital of the British Indian government instead of Shimla. Still, the hill station of Ranikhet bears the imprint of the English colonial heritage.
We will visit a cemetery from the First World War. The sight of hundreds of graves of very young soldiers is moving. They died for England more than 100 years ago.
We then drive through the headquarters of the Kumaon Regiment and pass, among other things, the old English church.
The English church. Photo: Abhik Datta
The journey continues from Ranikhet through beautiful, open landscapes with centuries-old terraces for cultivating rice and wheat. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
The destination for today’s journey is Kausani.
Saturday, October 26 to Monday, October 28
The view from our hotel rooms. 300 km with snowclad Himalayan mountains. The most famous peak in the area is Nanda Devi, standing at 7,816 meters high. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Kausani is a picturesque village surrounded by lush green valleys. We will stay for two nights at Buransh Retreat. The retreat features a spacious, open highland between the hills and the mountains.
View from our rooms. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Buransh retreat, Kausani. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Buransh is not an ordinary hotel. The name means rhododendron – the national flower of Uttarakand. The place is run by Threesh Kapoor, the famous naturalist who has captured nature, wildlife, and people in the Himalayas for decades.
This is Threesh Kapoor’s vision for Buransh:
I wished Uttarakhand had a center for performing arts, and once I got retired at the age of 62, I felt this fire still burning inside my heart to transform my dream into reality. With this focus and zeal I created an art center cum retreat in a remote village of Uttarakhand where artists from all over the world could come and practice their art, share and teach the locals and school children.
There are hundreds of different fruit trees and berry bushes on the property. Tea is also cultivated, as the English introduced it 150 years ago. Many of the organic vegetables used in the hotels excellent kitchen are grown on site.
The dining hall offers panoramic views in all directions. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
You have to experience the sunrise if you come to Kausani. For us, all we have to do is look out of the window in our room.
The night lights up the houses and cabins on the mountainside. From 6:30 AM, the sun rises and paints the mountains gold. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
In Kausani, we will go hiking in nature, visit villages and learn about the life of people in the mountains. Threesh Kapoor will share his experiences and show photos. There will also be a performance with traditional dance and music from the mountains.
Kausani is also known for Anashakti Ashram. Mahatma Gandhi stayed here for a while in 1929 and wrote his famous comments on the Bhagavad Gita. The place is located on the mountain side with stunning views towards Tibet and the plains. We will enjoy the sunset from here.
Gandhi Ashram. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
THE JOURNEY FROM KAUSANI TO ALMORA
Monday October 28
Our next stay is Kasaar Jungle Resort near Binsar and Almora. It is an excellent starting point for sightseeing.
The journey via Baijnath and Bageshwar takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes (103 km).
The road takes us through spectacular landscapes. Along the way, we will visit Baijnath and Bageshwar.
The 800-year-old temples in Baijnath are located on an island in the Kosi River. According to legend, this is where the god Shiva married Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayas. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Everything changes. light and darkness, day and night. Summer and winter. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Blue on blue. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Meetings along the way. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
We make a stop in Bageshwar, an ancient hub where the rivers Sarju and Gomati meet. On the riverbank, funeral pyres burn incessantly. It is said that if there is no body to burn on a rare day, the monks light a ritual fire so that people do not forget the transience of life.
Here, the deceased are cremated. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Ancient temples in Bageshwar. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
We plan to stop at Mountain Resort, Khali in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. The place was built by an Englishman in 1875. Much of historical significance has occurred on the property. Mahatma Gandhi stayed here, and the resort was a holiday destination for the Nehru family. After gaining independence from England in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru became India’s first Prime Minister.
Mountain resort Khali. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Today’s destination is Kasaar Jungle Resort, located near Almora and Binsar.
EXCURSIONS FROM KASAAR
Our next accommodation is Kasaar Jungle Resort. Here we will stay for two nights. It is an ideal place for excursions.
We will visit the city of Almora with old wooden buildings with carvings. Much is gone, but we can still get glimpses of traditional building style in the mountains. We will make a stroll through the markets and take in the local life.
Old wooden house in Almora. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
We will also visit the famous Chitai Golu Devta temple. It is said that all good wishes can be fulfilled by Gullu, an incarnation of the god Shiva. Thousands of letters with wishes are hung up, and tens of thousands of bells tell the story of many fulfilled wishes.
Thousands of letters to the god. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
There is a lot to experience in the area where we live, so here we may have to make choices. There are two particularly interesting excursions, each taking a few hours. Since we have cars at our disposal, we can divide ourselves according to individual preferences.
Option 1: Excursion to Jageshwar
This is a more than a thousand-year-old pilgrimage site with clusters of temples with fascinating architecture and history. One of them is said to house one of the 12 traditional Jyohtirlingam – one of the holiest places of the god Shiva in India. Here we can walk through the forest down to the temples.
Jageshwar is about 35 km from where we live.
Here, people have uninterruptedly worshipped their gods for more than a thousand years. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Option 2: Excursion to Binsar
Binsar is a national park 15 km from where we stay. Here we can hike up to the the summit at about 2500 meters above sea level. Binsar is known for its great variety of fauna and flora. Khali Mountain Resort is located at the entrance to the national park.
THE ROAD TO DELHI
Wednesday, October 30
We travel by car from Kasaar Jungle Resort on our way to Delhi. Down on the plains, we take the bus further and arrive at our hotel in the evening.
The journey takes 9 hours (368 km).
Pilgrims on their way back from Jageshwar. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Mist in the valleys. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Not everyone travels with our standard. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
On the way down from the mountains, we visit an ashram with a unique history. Many famous people have been inspired here, and the place provides a glimpse into Indian guru culture.
Neem Karoli Baba’s ashram in Kainchi. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Neem Karoli Baba
Before Steve Jobs started Apple in 1974. the young man traveled to India with a desire to meet the guru Neem Karoli Baba in Kainchi. Jobs arrived too late because the guru had left the body a few months earlier. Jobs remained fascinated by the Baba’s teachings and encouraged Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, to visit the ashram. Other celebrities, like Julia Roberts, have visited too. She claims that her life was deeply changed by Neem Karoli Baba.
Mark Zuckerberg recently told India’s Prime Minister Modi about his ashram visit. This is said to have given the ashram a renaissance.
Wednesday October 30 – Saturday November 2
Delhi is India’s capital city. It is a bustling metropolis with a rich mix of culture, history, folk culture and shopping.
Indian market. Photo: Folke Gravklev
During our stay in Delhi, we will be accommodated in the Sunder Nagar area, which is centrally located but also well connected to the bustling city center. Arrangements will be made for local sightseeing and visits to various attractions.
The vegetable market in old Delhi. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
Much is hidden in mysterious India. Photo: Torbjørn Hobbel
TRAVELING FROM INDIA
Saturday, November 2 or early morning Sunday, November 3 (according to flight times)