Some 54 km from Pithoragarh, the district’s busy commercial centre in the Soar Valley, Askot is located on the Goriganga-Kali river divide and falls on the way to Dharchula, the starting point for the annual Kailash-Manasarovar pilgrimage. The ridge on which the tiny town of Askot sits, skirts surviving forests and tribal habitation, a part of which has been designated as the Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary. But indiscriminate mining and large hydroelectric projects on the River Kali have changed the character of the mountain habitat that was once home to the snow leopard, musk deer and many other creatures. Despite these problems, this region of Uttarakhand remains stunningly beautiful. The Himalayan ranges, the cascading waterfalls, the frothy River Kali – all make for an unforgettable experience.


The best way to explore the region around the Askot-Dharchula belt is to set base at Askot or its nearby town, Didihat. Both towns offer comfortable and accessible forest rest houses.

Along the Road to kailash

Around 19 km from Askot in the narrow valley where the Goriganga and Kali rivers meet, lies Jauljibi, a place venerated for the merging of the two mighty mountain rivers. From here the road forks, left for Munsiyari, right for Dharchula and Narayan Swamy Ashram.

The 48-km journey from Askot to Dharchula is full of surprises. As one climbs from Jauljibi, the thickly forested road suddenly changes into a wide barren mountain corridor. You become aware of the mighty River Kali that roars into existence below. And that here it’s India and across the river, Nepal. The road from here snakes through mountains and waterfalls before descending to Balwakot. At this point, you are at eye level with the Kali river. At the end of the road is Dharchula, a large town, home to the Border Security Force and mining companies. It offers several budget stay options besides the KVMN rest house, which overlooks the suspension bridge between India and Nepal. You can visit the village across the river.

Bridge connecting India and Nepal
Bridge connecting India and Nepal

Dharchula to Narayan Swamy Ashram is only 44 km, but the metal road ends halfway into the journey at Tawaghat. It’s a good idea to hire a jeep from Dharchula for the ashram. Turn left from Tawaghat to Sabla and continue on an upward climb to the Ashram. Set up by Mangalorean sadhu Swamy Narayan in the 1930s, it is situated in a beautiful field of flowers on a mountain terrace. The ashram pro vides educational and medical facilities to the Bhotia commu nity and stay and meals to pilgrims.


Kumaon’s third largest city is the launching pad for treks to the sacred Kailash Manasarovar Lake in Tibet, to Milam Glacier and the Darma Valley, and is an important base for the Indian Army as Pithoragarh is a border area. That apart, Pithoragarh has little in terms of enter tainment except for avid trekkers, who can explore around the moun tains here.


Both Askot and Didihat provide basic Forest Rest House accommodation. The Askot FRH (Pithoragarh Tel: 05964225234; Tariff: 750), located on the periphery of the sanctuary, has two rooms. In Didihat, the FRH (Pitho ragarh Tel: 225234; Tariff: 750) is 5 km outside the town, and also has two rooms. The Dharchula KMVN Tourist Rest House (Tel: 05967222557, Cell: 09411785384; Tariff: 800-900, dorm bed 150) has rooms and dorms, and provides basic amenities and meals.

Hotel Yash Yatarth (Tel: 05964225005, Cell: 09412096155; Tariff: 2,6004,700) is Pitho ragarh’s best hotel. It offers eight rooms, TV, laundry facilities and a restaurant. KMVN’s Ulka Devi Tourist Rest House (Tel: 225434, Cell: 08650002538; Tariff: 1,2001,800, dorm bed 150) has a restaurant. There are enough makeshift dhabas in the entire region for meals.

When to go Summer. Winter has the best views but poor wildlife sightings Location On the Goriganga-Kali river divide in far north-east Uttarakhand Air Nearest airport: Pantnagar Rail Nearest rail: Kathgodam




Tourist Bungalow


Tel: 01376-255245

STD code 01376



Tourist Rest House

Gwaldam. Tel: 01363-274244

Cell: 09568006660

STD code 01363



Tourist Rest House


Tel: 05961-222339

Cell: 07534001701

STD code 05961



Tourist Rest House

Pithoragarh. Cell: 08650002538

STD code 05964

Binsar WLS

Wildlife Warden

Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Range Office, Ayarpani

Cell: 09412928289


Civil Soyam Forest Division

Almora. Tel: 05962-230229


Binsar. Cell: 08650002537

STD code 05962




Tourist Reception Centre

Ramgarh. Tel: 05942-281155

STD code 05942

Nandhaur WLS

Divisonal Forest Office

Haldwani Forest Division

Tikonia Campus. Tel: 05946-220002

Nandhaur WLS SDO

Cell: 09411076337

STD code 05946