Popularly known as the ‘Fruit Bowl of Kumaon’, a visit to Ramgarh means walking through endless orchards of peach, apricot, plum, pear and apple. And what’s more? The hill station is quietly nestled in the Kumaoni mountain range, away from touristy eyes and boasts magnificent views of the Himalayas, making it a perfect destination for a peaceful holiday.
The joy of eating fruits straight from the trees here will last from summer through the rainy season and autumn, depending on the ripening of various kinds of fruit. Apart from these, there are also malta and lime trees and gooseberry shrubs to that grow here. You can buy these fruits for very minimal prices from any orchard, by inquiring with the locals.
On clear days, Ramgarh offers unobstructed views of the great Himalayan peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Panchachuli. The hills around Ramgarh are a paradise for birdwatchers – parakeets, bulbuls, mynahs, jungle fowl, pheasants, and whistling thrushes are some
of the avian species that can be spotted here.
Ramgarh is a place to relax and find pleasure in doing nothing. For the active traveller, there are numerous options for treks and jungle walks, birdwatching, amongst other outdoor activities.
Ramgarh was once a cantonment town of the British and there are pretty bungalows with colonial architecture spread across the place.
Things to see and do
Walking through Ramgarh means being surrounded by fruit orchards. Apart from that, the town is also a perfect place to experience Kumaoni culture. A walk from Malla Ramgarh (upper) to Talla Ramgarh (lower) through the villages in between will enable you to see traditional Kumaoni homes. These are two-storeyed structures with livestock on the mezzanine floor and people living on the first level. There is a small open space in front of every house. The houses are made of mud and stone, with slate roofs. The doors and windows of the houses are elaborately carved in the likhai craft form (local art of Kumaon).
Ramgarh’s quiet beauty was an inspiration to Rabindranath Tagore, who penned down a part of one of his most popular works Gitanjali, sitting at a hilltop cottage here. He made repeated visits to the cottage from 1903 to 1937.
A short trek from Malla Ramgarh leads you to the ruins of the cottage that was once Rabindranath Tagore’s home. He initially arrived here with his daughter who was recuperating from tuberculosis and had been prescribed clean and pure mountain air. But Tagore fell so deeply in love with Ramgarh that he returned here several times over the next few decades. Sadly, nothing remains of the cottage except some ruins, but the trek up here offers great views of the Himalayas.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Located at Talla Ramgarh, Sri Aurobindo Ashram comprises of two ashrams – Madhuban and Mountain Paradise – located in the midst of pine and oak trees. These ashrams make for great meditation spots. Sri Aurobindo was a big advocate of self-growth through yoga and internal living. Spending some time in the peaceful environs of the ashram is recommended to any city dweller looking for some inner peace.
Mahadevi Verma Museum
Mahadevi Verma was a well known Hindi poet, activist and freedom fighter who purchased a house in Ramgarh, so she could write here. She received the country’s third highest civilian honour, Padma Bhushan, in 1956.
The Mahadevi Verma Museum is her house that has been converted into a library of her works.
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Where to Stay and Eat
Ramgarh has quite a few good hotels, but it’s best offerings are the many weekend villas that have been refitted and thrown open to guests.
Among the nicest of the private villas is Soulitude in the Himalayas, a beautiful property in Gagar with 10 luxury rooms, orchards, gardens and decks from which to enjoy stupendous views of the Himalayan peaks. Meals are made from fresh herbs and organic vegetables. The Neemrana group offers six lovely cottages, The Ramgarh Bungalows, each having an old-world charm and offering courteous service. Good, home-style food is served here.
Kumaon Roop Resort is set in a fruit orchard at Gagar. Opt for the log huts. KMVN’s Hill View has nine rooms on the main road.
There are several dhabas in the market which serve satisfactory food. The hotels all have restaurants and serve decent food.
Located at an altitude of 2,100m, Gagar is an idyllic hamlet blessed with majestic 180 degree views of the Kumaon Himalayas. There are a few short uphill climbs from Gagar to temples located on the adjacent ridge. These temples provide equally great views of the mountains.
Air Nearest airport: Pantnagar (87km / 2hrs), connected to Delhi
Rail Nearest railhead: Kathgodam (47km / 1.5hrs)
Road If driving up from Delhi, follow the route till Kathgodam via NH24, NH9 and NH109. Five kilometres ahead of Kathgodam at Ranibagh, turn right at the sign for the HMT factory and follow the Bhowali-Bhimtal Road to Bhowali via Bhimtal. At Bhimtal, skirt the lake and at the junction, turn left to Bhowali, 11km away. Before reaching the main Bhowali market, take the right turn just before the cricket ground onto the Ramgarh Road