Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nainital and Vicinity


It was planned 2 weeks in advance and we booked rooms with KMVN. After much discussion, we decided on KMVN Bhimtal Rest House. It is easy to book as KMVN allows you to book over the net and the prices are reasonable with good facilities. www.kmvn.org is the place to go and book your rooms. We took a normal room, which was charged as Rs.800 per night.


Thursday, 25 December
We, my & my wife, started out at 5:15AM, woke up our poor car repairing guy at early Delhi morning, got our fan checked and started out by 5:30AM. We took NH24. As Delhi winter morning are it was very foggy and no car was ready to lead. Therefore, it was taken in turns as we drove through the fog. We were cruising at around 7:30AM at a comfortable speed. The journey was uneventful until we reached Garhmukteshwar. There was a huge traffic jam and we were stranded for around three hours moving barely half a kilometer. This was because of heavy traffic and narrow roads. However, there were rumors that a truck laden with goods had overturned but when we were able to move again we did not find a trace of that. We took a wrong turn at Moradabad and instead of getting on the Moradabad Bypass; we went through the city and lost more time. We nearly averted an accident in Moradabad with the front bumper of our car as casualty. Thing got worse at Haldwani were we had to go through SH37 which was at best can be called a road from the primitive ages and I would say we were lucky enough to get through that road without further damage to our car. Therefore, after driving for over thirteen hours we reached Bhimtal KMVN Rest House exhausted. The scenic beauty of the location lifted our spirits, as the Rest house was located on a sublime place just above a hill over looking Lake Bhimtal. The rooms were quite big and bathrooms clean. The only drawback was there was no arrangement of running water in the evening. So we requested a bucket of water freshened ourselves up took dinner and hit the bed early.

Friday, 26 December

After breakfast, we headed out to Nainital. Nainital is around 22KM from Bhimtal. It goes via Bhowali a small hill town. It is very congested. At Nainital to enter the Mall Road you have to pay Rs.25 per entry. Therefore, after paying the toll tax we entered Nainital.
The Lake looked serene with Bluish-green tinge. The forestry around the lake made the area look spell bounding. We drove through the Mall road and the parked our car in one of the public car parking areas that was available. 26th December is also my wife’s Birthday. Therefore, we headed to a bakery and ordered a small cake to celebrate. It was a private, brief but joyful.
Thereafter we headed for a trip via horseback to the few points that are there in Nainital. The deal was finalized at Rs.700 for two of us. After a small drive, we got on our horses (Rocky & Suraj). Rocky, the horse I was on was highly trained and understood whatever our guide was telling it; Suraj though was handled little more firmly. The road was made during British India time.The first stop was Land’s End point were the as you have guessed the road ends and a great view starts. From here, you can see the Lake Khurpatal which is much smaller than any of the lakes in the vicinity but has a great surroundings. The next or last stop was Tiffin Top from were you get a panoramic view of the city of Nainital & its vicinity with the entire natural splendor it has to offer. After this, we were dropped off near the lake and paid our guide. We trekked down to the Mall. Here as we were walking through the market we decided to take a boat ride on the lake. It ticket was Rs.125. The lake looked even better when you are on it and the scenery looked awesome. We sighted a few very colourful birds of which one I recognized as a kingfisher. We asked the boatman to drop us at the Naina Devi temple, where my wife wanted to offer her prayers. The story behind this temple as like lots of other Devi temples in India is that to stop Lord Shiva from destroying the Earth with his Tandav Nritya when Devi Sati died of insult from her father, Lord Vishnu cur her body into 78 pieces to cool Shiva down. It has been said that one of the eyes of Devi Sati fell in Nainital. Thus the name Naina when means Eye.
After the temple visit, we wanted to visit the Snow View top, which can be reached, via the ropeway. We found that all the tickets for the day were booked and only next days tickets were available; therefore, we decided to buy the next day’s ticket for a 1:00 PM.










After this we left Nainital and started our journey back to Bhimtal. On arriving at Bhimtal we strolled around the side of the Lake and marveled at its beauty till sunset (by the way the boat rids in Bhimtal is Rs.150). After this, we decided to call it a day and retired to our rooms after dinner.



Saturday, 27 December
We headed out for Nainital in the morning and decided to visit the Nainital Zoo. The road to the zoo was so steep and narrow I had a harrowing time driving and even got my car scratched. The zoo was worth it, especially the Snow Leopard. Its facial features looked exactly like the Tai Lung in the Hollywood Blockbuster movie Kung-fu Panda. We also saw a Siberian Tiger with its humongous torso. Leopards and the Himalayan Black Bear along with various Deers were other attractions. We also saw an owl; I cannot remember the exact name.
Thereafter we parked our car and went to make good use of the tickets we bought yesterday for the ropeway ride to Snow view Point. After a 15 minutes wait we got our chance to make the trip. The journey up was breathtakingly beautiful. The view made Nainital look really majestic and gorgeous. I clicked many pictures. At the top, we went up the hills and looked marveled at the snow-capped Himalayas; it brought to our mind
songs from the film Hirak Rajar Deshe by Satyajit Ray. It spent some time in silence looking at the view, but as normally in any tourist spots in India seeking silence is futile as everyone was chattering weather required or not. So after spending around 45 minutes at Snow Top we headed down again by the ropeway and was yet again fascinated by the view.
Once down we were hungry and looked for a restaurant named Machaan, it’s a very recommended restaurant in Nainital and there always seems to be a waiting time. We wanted Tibetan food but had to settle for Chinese. The food was delicious and reasonable. Lunch over we headed to market by the Cricket Ground and my wife bought a pair of gloves for Rs.40 which surprising was a great deal due to the quality of the material. Happy we headed back towards Bhimtal.
We were having a disagreement on weather to visit Nukuchiatal or Sattal. At the end I won and we visited Sattal and my wife later said it was a good decision as Sattal had a wild and unspoilt look and was hardly crowded. Sattal is made up of seven lakes; thus the name Sattal. Currently five lakes are joined and form a huge lake. They are Hanuman-tal, Ram-tal, Sita-tal, Lakshman-tal and Bharat-tal. The other two are a little off from the main area and they are Garuda-tal which can be seen while coming towards the main Sattal area and has a very ghostly look to it. The last and the smallest one is the Nal-Daimanti-Tal. 





We were fascinated by the scenery in front of us and decided to take a boat ride on the main lake (which actually is 5 lakes). It costs Rs.175. The boatman was very informative and answered all our questions and told us a lot of stories and events about the lakes. Here we also learned that at the Nal-Daimanti-Tal you can feed the fish there. So after alighting from the boat we purchased some biscuits and started for Nal-Daimanti-Tal which is about 3.5 KM from the main Lakes. This lake has lost its natural banks and now has man-made ones. It is very shallow with the maximum depth of about 10 feet. There were lots and lots of fish and they were eager to eat the biscuits we threw in the water. We enjoyed the feeding and as its we getting dark we decided to head back to our hotel.
We got our things packed for an early start tomorrow with our journey from Delhi still ripe in our memory & hit the bed.


Sunday, 28 December
In the morning we decided to have Maggie (actually it was Ching’s Secret) which we brought along with us. We asked the hotel cook to prepare it with eggs. After Breakfast and settlement of the bill we started our journey back to Delhi. It was 8:30AM then. This time though we decided to go through Nainital as we came to know from our visits there is another better road that has come up around two years ago. We found it was an extension of NH87. The road was far better and less congested. We reached the plains around 10AM and was immediately welcomed with a road through the Jim Corbett National Park. I put the car on cruise control and enjoyed the greenery. This time we came to know while coming we missed the Moradabad bypass and found that it would have made our journey much shorter and comfortable. We kept moving at a pretty brisk pace till we reached Garhmukteshwar again and was held up for around 20 minutes. After that it was pretty uneventful. We did miss the Hapur bypass and lost around 30 minutes in the fray. After Hapur it was pretty smooth and we were home by 4:30 PM; which we great taking into consideration the amount of time it took us for our journey to Bhimtal. Home felt nice and after quick dinner we hit the bed to wash away all our exhaustion.

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