Dwarahat: (15 km from Dunagiri Retreat, half hour drive)
Dwarahat is a historically important town situated about 3,000 ft below Dunagiri, at a height of 5,000 ft. From time immemorial Dwarahat has been an important pilgrimage center for pilgrims going to Badrinath – when it was the practice to go to Badrinath via Haridwar and return via Dwarahat. Due to its cultural importance, Dwarahat is known as as “Uttari Dwaraka” (North Dwaraka – abode of Lord Krishna). The architecture of temples at Dwarahat is no less fascinating than the temples of Mathura and Kashi.
It is an important town from a viewpoint of political history, as Dwarahat has been a seat of the Katyuri dynasty. Dwarahat was a center of governance for Katyuri kings. Katyuri, a medieval ruling dynasty of Uttarakhand, were a clan of Khasa, who ruled over the Kumaon region between 6th and 11th centuries CE. They called their state Kurmanchal, the land of Kurma avatar, which gives the region its present name, Kumaon. One of their forts was at Bhatkot and their courts, temples etc. were situated at Dwarahat. The groups of temples known as Kachahri Deval were their courts. Bairath near Dwarahat was the seat of Katyuri king Malushahi. Also nearby is Lakhanpur which is known to have ruins of an important Katyuri town.
Dwarahat is sometimes referred to as the "Khajuraho of Kumaun" due to number of temples in different parts of the town. Archaeologically, the group of 55 temples at Dwarahat can be divided into eight groups: Gurjar Dev, Kachahari Deval, Mandev, Ratan Deval, Harisidh Deval, Mrityunjay, Badrinath and Kedarnath. These temples were constructed between 10 to 12 centuries CE and are now under the care of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Dwarahat also has several temples devoted to Shakti. Near the bus stand are the ruins of the ancient Syaldeh Pokhar (Syaldeh pond). An ancient temple of Shitala Devi is located here which dates to 1257 CE. A very famous folk-fair of Kumaon called “Syaldeh Bikhoti” fair is held annually near Syaldeh Pokhar at the beginning of new solar year (Vaisakhi or Baisakhi). There are also temples of “Kotkangra Devi” and Kalika Devi.
Nagarjun Vishnu Temple: (25 km from Dunagiri Retreat, under one hour drive)
About 10-11 km from Dwarahat is situated the Nagarjun Dev temple. It is a pleasant place surrounded by trees amidst which the temple is located. From the temple itself the river Surbhi originates, which flows South towards the Vibhandeshwar area to merge with river Nandini. It is known to be the abode of Lord Vishnu who is in his form of Nagarjun here. The temple was constructed here by King Udyot Chandra belonging to the Chandravanshi dynasty.
Vibhandeshwar Mahadev: (20 km from Dunagiri Retreat, under one hour drive)
Vibhandeshwar Mahadev, which is about 5-7 km South of Dwarahat, is a famous pilgrimage center for Kumaon. Within Kumaon, it is known to be as holy as Benares or Kashi. It is the meeting point of river Surbhi which originates from Nagarjun, river Nandini originating from Dunagiri and Saraswati (running underground). This place finds mention in Skandapuran (Manaskhand). The temple here is dated to 301 CE. Kings belonging to Chand dynasty instituted regular worship here. Legend has it that Lord Shiva, on his way to a marriage had stopped here overnight for 'dhuni ramayi'. This place is considered to be the 'Kashi' of the Kumaon region.
Kausani: (35 km from Dunagiri Retreat, drive takes about an hour to seventy five minutes)
Gifted with its breathtaking scenic beauty and unobstructed view of snow clad Himalayan peaks, this small but peaceful place is the ideal spot for an excursion. A visit to the Kausani Tea Estate or a solitary walk round the Oak forests are ideal ways to while away the leisurely hours. About Kausani, Mahatma Gandhi once said "Why do people go to Switzerland when there is Kausani and the Kumaon hills".
Bageshwar: (45 km from Dunagiri Retreat, drive takes little over 2 hrs)
The holy township of Bageshwar lies at the confluence of the rivers Saryu, Gomti and latent Bhagirathi. Bageshwar is associated with Lord Sadashiva, the redeemer of all sins and hence revered as the 'pious land'. With the east and west flanked by the Bhileswar and Nileshwar mountains and surrounded by Suraj Kund in the north and Agni Kund in the south, this land of Lord Shankar is of great religious, historic and political significance. The temple of Bagnath situated here is venerated by one and all. The temple is also the center of the the fairs of Uttarayani and Shivratri attended by people from far and near. Though Bageshwar is popular as a religious town yet it has ample offerings for people with varied interest.