Himalayan Hideouts: Askot, Uttarakhand
As we continue our search for best of the offbeat places in Uttarakhand, Sheetal Bidaye takes us riding to the state’s farthest corner where India shares its border with Nepal and China. Some more places shall be uncovered in this part of the series, the Himalayan Hideouts.
Rhododendron Petals Carpet the Woodland path
Askot – The name has been derived from Assi Kot, which means eighty forts, many out of which can be found around Dharchula. The small Himalayan town is located at a height of 3629 feet on a ridge between Pithoragarh district, India and Dharchula in Nepal.
According to history, Askot had many rulers. First the Doti kings of Nepal, then the Katyuri, the Chand dynasty, the Gorkhas and the Rajbars who ruled this beautiful region before being taken over by the British, although the Rajbars continue to be the ceremonial heads.
The borders of India, Nepal and China cradle Askot.
Riders’ Joy: The route from Pithoragarh to Askot takes you through dense jungles of pine and deodar. If riding during springtime, you will be amazed at the blood-red colour of the thick rhododendron forests on your way to Askot. The road hardly sees any commuters and you can be assured of a wonderful and undisturbed ride all the way.
In the higher altitudes, reside an endangered tribe called the Van Rawats. Jamtadi is their village nearby to Askot and another village is Ghangdura, which is deep in the Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary. You might come across some of these tribesmen on your way!
What you can do there: Askot has beautiful natural surroundings and is well set amidst pine and rhododendron with the backdrop of Chhiplakot and the Panchchuli range with the Nepal Mountains at a short distance.
Photographers may let themselves loose here, at Askot. Many trails go into the forest which you could tread on and also go for some adventurous mountain biking. Askot forms the base for many high-altitude treks and also some short treks. You could venture out on the Dharchula route which goes trailing onwards to Kailash and Mansarovar. The beauty of this route cannot be described in words.
Backdrop of the Himalayan Ranges.
Jungle safaris are arranged in Askot’s Musk Deer Sanctuary where wildlife enthusiasts can have a look at the Musk deer which are being saved from extinction. The sanctuary also has a good number of leopards, jungle cats, civet cats, barking deer, serow, goral and brown bear. The region is home to a variety of high altitude birds too, that will interest bird watchers.
Those interested in history, forts and old-age civilisation, may visit Lakhanpurkot, a village on the banks of river Kali. It has been known that before Askot became the Capital, the king made this scenic village his home. Remains of the artistically built fort and market area are still found in the wonderful surroundings at the base of the Champachal Mountain.
The Musk Deer
For the traveller: You will come across many stay options in and around the town of Askot. For a jungle stay, Forest Rest Houses in the Askot sanctuary and in the nearby areas such as Rugling, Kaflani and Tejam can be arranged. Food is basic and suits the environment. Traditional cuisine should be tried out.
Healthy and Tasty Local Meals