Sunday, June 26, 2011

A meditation retreat in Kukuchina, near Babaji's cave. Dunagiri, India

View from my cottage's window
After three days of austerity at the Pandavkhuli Dharamshala, at the top of the hill where Babaji's cave is located, I decided that I needed a bit more of comfort so I came back down to Kukuchina and stayed for more than 20 days in a small cozy cottage at Jossie's guest house, from the 1st of June until the 23th. If you are visiting Babaji's cave then this is the perfect place to spend a few nights and to do your own meditation retreat. I spend my days doing meditation, pranayamas, kriya yoga, hatha yoga, reading and from time to time I would visit Babaji's cave which was just about one hour walk from the cottage.

But to be honest I also spent a few hours watching "How I Met Your Mother" (an American comedy show)... the whole 1st season! and probably if I would have had the other seasons I would have seen them all! And I also saw several movies: King's speech, 300, The Incredible Hulk, Bourne Ultimatum and Star Wars Episode V! I know, I know, not so "spiritual" but it was fun :-) and it also helps me to put things in perspective, you know... let's not take life too seriously.

The first couple of nights there was a cool guy from Kolkata staying at the guesthouse and he shared me his 140GB of movies on my hard drive... the temptation was too big :-) It is is not so easy to be discipline when you are not staying in an ashram. I also spent several hours on the internet just to update my blog. But all this happened only during the last five days... or seven :-P

And talking about movies... there is a scene at the beginning of The Incredible Hulk were Bruce Banner (the Hulk) is following a training in Brazil with a Jiu-Jitsu master. This Jiu-Jitsu master is actually a real character, Rickson Gracie, a worldwide famous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter. He is teaching Bruce how to control his breathing using the diaphragm to be able to control his emotions, like anger or fear, so he can avoid becoming "The Hulk". During this scene Gracie shows techniques known in yoga as Kapalabhati, Bhastrika and Nauli. It's pretty awesome since it is actually a real advice from a real person. That's my favorite scene in the movie. To view the scene click here.

So, what was I talking about..? Oh yeah

About the guesthouse

Jossie is a very friendly Indian guy who owns a restaurant "Jossie Restaurant" though it doesn't look like a restaurant at all. But behind and above, following the shape of a small hill lies his guesthouse that has several nice and comfortable rooms for visitors. But the highlight of his guesthouse are a couple of cozy cottages, and of course, the astonishing view. There is also a large meditation room with the picture of the kriya yoga masters Mahavatar Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, Paramahansa Yogananda and many other famous yogis.

The first three days I stayed at the cottage on top of the hill and then I moved to the smallest one. They are both really nice but I preferred the small one.... for a while. There is actually a third cottage but it is out of use. It needs a lots of maintenance and I don't see this happening in the near future.

The small cottage has the shape of an octagon (I think this is the first time in my life that I use this word) and it is about 5sq meters size. Well, that's just my estimation, who knows how accurate it is. The outside walls are made of bricks and on the inside the walls are adorned with cane wood. The floor is made of stone and on the pyramidal shaped wooden roof there are four small windows through which you can see the stars during the night, but when it hails you just cross your fingers hoping that the thing glass is not going to break. There is also a fire place but I never use it. A Russian couple that stayed before me told me that it just didn't work, all the smoke stays inside. The bathroom and shower are outside the cottage.

So yes, it is pretty nice but unfortunately it is also very comfortable for insects. Every time that I switch of the lights to go to sleep at night it seemed that the walls came back to life, everything started moving around. Luckily I had my own mosquito net to avoid any unwanted guests on my bed. At least the fireflys where nice to see in the dark. With the lights on I saw many big black hairy spiders and even an scorpion. I prefer the scorpion though. The funny thing is that the spiders are more scary when you see them, but the scorpions are more scary when you don't see them.. if you know they are somewhere around. After the first week I started using ear plugs to be able to sleep during the night, the sound of the insects was driving me crazy :-P

Yes, that's a scorpionAnd one of the many spiders

A tiny alien on my window! :-)

The other cottage is not so "exotic" but it is also very nice and comfortable, though from the outside is not so attractive. The inside walls are not covered in wood but instead with a nice red brownish color and the floor is just concrete so less insects to worry about. There is a small bathroom with sink, toilet and a tap to take a nice cold bucket shower. There is a second level actually, an attic but I never use it.

O yeah, there is no hot water available but if you really need it Jossie will heat up some water on his fire stove. Overall is a comfortable place and you get everything that you need to just relax, enjoy the surroundings or do your own retreat.

To view more pictures of the guesthouse click here.

Around Kukuchina

There is nothing in Kukuchina, just Jossie's place and another small tea shop at the beginning of the path that leads to Babaji's cave. You can find only very basic things like soap, a few cookies and water but if you need more things like fruits then you need to go to the Dwarahat market which is about 45 minutes by share taxi.

But if you stay at Jossie's place he will provide you with home made breakfast, lunch and dinner so nothing to worry about. And since I like to have fruits for my breakfast he will buy fruits for a week for me at the market. So it was all very convenient. The homemade food was ok, it has it good days and bad days, but after more than 20 days I really needed a change.

How to get there

This is the route that I followed from Rishikesh:

  • From Rishikesh take a public bus from the main bus stop to Haridwar. (45 min)
  • From Haridwar take the night train to Kathgodam which leaves every day at 00h15. There is only one train per day.
  • From Kathgodam take a share taxi to Raniket (4 hours) and from Raniket another shared taxi to Dwarahat (3 hours). The share taxi from Kathgodam up to Dwarahat should be around 250 or 300 rupees.
  • Once you reached Dwarahat market you'll need to take another share taxi to Kukuchina (50 minutes) for about 25 rupees. This is the last stop by car.

Contact information

If you would like to stay at Jossie's guesthouse just call him to his number +91 94 11 318540

Take a look at the video and other related posts


  1. Ha ha, my father said it looks like an insect from Star Wars :-)

  2. how much costs perday in that cottage

    1. I paid Rs 750/ which included , stay breakfast, tea ,a bottle of mineral water and dinner. It appeared Jossie is not very strict in money matters. He made nice Poha for breakfast , Roti 5/6 nos dhall subji. Since i was a south indian he made a special rasam which was heavenly. I asked Jossie where he learnt the art of cooking so delicious items he just laughed off.

  3. Hi Sai Pavan, I think it was something like 500 rupees per day but I'm not certain.

  4. Hi Marco,

    Thanks for all of the detailed information about your journey. I found it very useful on my own pilgrimage to the Babaji Cave. What an amazing place and vibe.

    Joshi is a very accommodating and charismatic host with a big smile permanently expressed on his face. In the beginning, the food was basic as you've written but with just a few purchases on my own from the market like beautiful fresh cauliflower and cucumbers with dahi for raita and the meals quickly became much more interesting.

    At the time I visited, August 2013, the room rates started at 500 rupees per night for a basic room with hot water bucket provided. I was very happy to stay there for about five nights and then I returned to Almora where I am renting a cottage by the month.

    Since you have shared so much of your journey, I will share my little secret, only once, only here. I have been staying in a cottage in Almora surrounded by trees in the jungle. It's a dream place for yogis looking for a quiet and peaceful place for meditation and sadhana in the Himalaya.

    Here is the link to the website: Tranquility Retreat --

    The cottages have well-equipped kitchens and are very affordable by month or by day. You can cook on your own or they can cook for you -- Kishan makes excellent pizzas and Armelle prepares delicious soups.

    The area is surrounded by wonderful walks -- I've just returned from gathering a little firewood to stoke in my fireplace tonight and viewing the reflection of a pinkish sunset on the majestic snow-capped Himalayan peaks. In fact, I do a lot of walking here as it's not too near to the main road, so it's one place in India that you do NOT hear horns or any road sounds.

    Tranquility is a great place for quiet retreat and not for those who travel with speakers or musical instruments to blast loud music. Tranquility is a place for peace and quiet.

    Thanks again for all of your useful writing -- what a great blog!!!

    Om Nama Shivaya

  5. Oh thank you so much for sharing your little secret, I'm sure lots of people will find your information very useful including myself if I ever decide to travel to that area, sounds amazing really. Too bad you didn't share your name.
    Om Namah Shivaya!!!

  6. Hi Marco,

    Sorry, I knew I left something out. My name is Ken.

    Hope you have a nice time in Sri Lanka and make some cool new discoveries to share with your readers.

    One last warning about Tranquility, once you check in, you may not ever want to leave. That's currently my problem.

    Peace.... Om Nama Shivaya

  7. Hi Ken, there is some yoga teachers aroun almora?