Gagar (near Nainital, Uttarakhand), located at an altitude of 2,100 meters/ 7,000, feet is an idyllic hamlet that commands a majestic 180 degree view of the Kumaon Himalayas.
From Soulitude, one can enjoy a panoramic view of many famous peaks including Nanda Devi, Trishul, Panchachuli, Pindari Glacier, Nandakot, Nandaghunti and Kamet.
Because of its remote location, Gagar, Ramgarh (near Nainital) has little tourist traffic.
The natural beauty of the surroundings has been a source of inspiration to great writers and artists including Rabindranath Tagore who, it is said, wrote one of his most famous works ‘Gitanjali’ from a hilltop in Ramgarh, where he lived off and on for six years. He planned to set-up Shantiniketan here, but eventually chose his home state, Bengal.
The renowned poetess Mahadevi Verma lived in Ramgarh and her home is now converted into a library of her works.
“We didn’t know, until Now”
Almost 40 years ago, in 1983, renowned movie director, Shekhar Kapoor, shot a sequence of the famous song, ‘Do Naina aur ek kahani’ at the exact very spot where Soulitude in the Himalayas, now stands. It came much to our surprise, when we revisited this gem of a film a couple of weeks ago. Beginning with a zoomed in view of the grand old lady of the Himalayas, none other than Nanda Devi herself, peeping out of a cloud cover, with the hills in the foreground, the camera moves to the spot that is historically known as the Snow View point (where Soulitude in the Himalayas now stands) before it catches a glimpse of local homes that line the highway (which still exist) opposite the Shiv temple, which too still looks much the same even today, other than a splash of orange paint that dons it’s chhatri in stark contrast to it’s pure white walls.
Interspersed with another shot of a hillside densely populated with a growth of deodar trees and boating on a lake (not possible to identify) the next scene, seems to be shot at what we know and informally call the ‘Deodar Patch’, which is a small flat clearing off the road lined with deodar trees all around, a short walking distance from Soulitude.
It was a welcome surprise to see these very spots that we call our own today, captured at a time when we perhaps we children ourselves – possibly much the same as those in this marvelous film itself!