Kasar Devi is a village near Almora, Uttarakhand. It is known for the Kasar Devi temple, a Devi temple, dedicated to Kasar Devi, after whom the place is also named. The temple structure dates to the 2nd century CE. Swami Vivekananda visited Kasar Devi in 1890s, and numerous western seeker, Sunyata Baba (Alfred Sorensen and Lama Anagarika Govinda. A place also known for Crank’s Ridge, just outside the village, which was popular destination during the Hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and continues to attracts trekkers and tourists, both domestic and foreign.
Kasar Devi is situated on a hill top, on the edge of a ridge off the Almora-Bageshwar highway on the Kashyap hills of Kumaon Himalayas. As it is situated above the ridge of Almora town, it is accessible through eight-km hike from Almora or 10 km by road. One km away is the village of Kalimath popular with tourists. Also close by is the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, which lies 30 km away.
Then in the 1930s, Danish mystic Sunyata Baba (Alfred Sorensen) came here and lived here the over three decades, as did Ernst Hoffman, who became Tibetan Buddhist Lama Anagarika Govinda and Li Goutami. This led to a series of spiritual seekers from the west, visiting them. In 1961, Govinda was visited by Beat poets, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and Gary Snyder. In later history, at the peak of the Hippie movement, the area also became a part of the Hippie trail. Crank’s Ridge, colloquially known as Hippie Hill, which lies ahead of Kasar Devi became a popular destination. It became home to several bohemian artists, writers and western Tibetan Buddhists, and even visited by mystic-saint Anandamayi Maa. The ridge got its name among-st hippy circles, after American psychologist Timothy Leary streaked here in the 1960s. Leary wrote majority of his ‘psychedelic prayers’ here. Thus, through the 1960 and 1970s, the area was visited by personalities of the counter-culture, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Cat Stevens, Western Buddhist Robert Thurman, and writer D. H. Lawrence, who spent two summers here.
Crank’s Ridge allegedly lay in a gap in the Van Allen Belt, a radiation zone of high-energy particles trapped by the earth’s magnetic field. Untouched by it, one could apparently harness one’s meditative powers to the optimum, both halves of the brain firing like a well-tuned twin-cylinder engine. It was like hacking into the mainframe of the universe.