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KUMAON KALEIDOSCOPE


Hello friends, the wind chill is here and I am just back from Holidaying in Kumaon region and celebrating the eve and the dawn of the new year at Nainital. Delhi also is breaking all records of low temperatures and the fingers are frozen and refusing to run on the keyboard. However, I cannot leave my friends without sharing my experience….so here it goes.
We a family of four left Delhi at dawn (time wise 6.30 AM, otherwise in that week there was no sunrise due to fog) in our Indigo Manza car and followed the route to Ghaziabad which passes in front of Akshar Dham. Don’t look left or right and follow the route straight till Rampur bypassing all towns like Ghaziabad and Moradabad. Take a break at Gajraula, where there are outlets of McDonalds, Bikanerwala and Dominos, otherwise
but they lack facilities. The road is excellent till Rampur. At Rampur one has to take left turn just short of Bus stand and then continue straight. The road from here passes through jungle and reaches Rudrapur, further bypassing Pantnager one reaches Haldwani. To tour Kumaon region one can also reach till hereby train (Kathgodam is the railway station). Haldwani is located at the foothills of Kumaon region and the climb to the beautiful region begins here.
Kumaon region comprises of Nainital, Ranikhet, Kausani and Almoda. Nainital region is full of natural lakes. From Haldwani we straight away headed for Bheemtal. For Bheemtal, instead of going to Nainital, take the right turn just outside the Haldwani town. It’s a shorter route. The lake is big and accommodates a small aquarium in-between. 5 kms from here on the other side is another lake named Nakuchiyatal. This lake is supposed to be like India in shape and has nine corners. It is said that if a person is able to look at all the nine corners at a time them he achieves the Nirvana. As we had just started our journey to enjoy the natural beauty and some worldly pleasures, we did not try that out.
Close to Bheemtal a dirt track climbs towards Mountain View Resort. At almost the dead end of the road i.e. about 1.5 kms from Bheemtal, there is a non-descriptive ancient house (built in circa 1860) belonging to Mr Peters. This house houses the biggest private collection of butterflies in India and is a must visit. There we learnt the difference between a moth and a butterfly, and how to distinguish between a poisonous and a non-poisonous butterfly. Mr Peters has a very pleasant personality and explains each and every species with elaborate details including the evolution. Charges are nominal Rs 100/- per person. We spent about 1.45 hrs and the time spent was worth. Unfortunately Mr Peter could not explain how to distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous humans; else some Nirbhayas could safeguard themselves.
Time permitting, enroute to Nainital one can visit Saat Tal. Or else leave this set of for another day. The route to Nainital is via Bhowali close to Ghodakhal where one of our Sainik Schools is located. Just behind Sainik School, there is an old temple dedicated to a local deity, Gewla Deo. Here people offer chimes made of brass. The locals also sort out their disputes in front of the deity. One can feel a different calmness around the place.
Now the main commercial place The Nainital. The biggest district of Uttarakhand, it also includes Corbett National Park. The high court is located here. I would recommend morning straight to Khurpa Tal, Lovers’ point and during return Kilburry and Cave Garden before parking the vehicle at main market at lunch time. Cave garden is a new attraction, inaugurated in 2010 and has natural caves. A must for young and adventurous people. For those who are not travelling by their own car, an advice is that there will be many people approaching you at the end of the Maal Road for the tour of 7 points which includes Khurpa Tal , Sukha Tal, Cave garden etc. They will quote Rs 1450/- for the small car but slowly may come down to as low as Rs 500/- so don’t be in a hurry to finalise the deal. The famous Naina Devi temple is on the banks of the Talli Tal or the main lake and is open till 8.00 PM. The beauty is that the lake is surrounded by worshipping places of 4 religions, Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isai.
On the side of the temple (close to the main parking) there is Bhotani market which sells stuff like jackets, sweaters and lingerie(Chinese). Limited bargaining is possible. On the other side is the Maal Road, full of restaurants and hotels and souvenir shops. For those who cannot walk for long, there is a prepaid booth for cycle rickshaws. For taking you from one end to other end of the Mall road the charges are Rs 10/- per person. The Bada Bazar is around the corner. Nainital is also famous for candles. I recommend buy the candles from Mehrotra Candles in Bada bazaar which is the oldest candle shop of Nainital and rates are the most reasonable. At the beginning of the Maal Road, near the State Bank of India is the point from where one can take the ropeway to Naina Peak. Charges Rs. 150/-per person. A nice romantic evening can be spent at the Maal, with boating and hot chocolate or coffee or the softy as per the choice of the beloved.
Next day we headed for Kausani via Ranikhet. Cross Ranikhet via Cantonement. Enjoy the scenic beauty on your right side. Stop at Kumaun Regimental Centre of the Indian Army and pay a visit to the museum maintained by the centre. The regiment has a history of 200 years and the museum is well maintained and the tour is nicely conducted. Also, visit their vocational centre, run by the wives of the soldiers which sells authentic handmade garments made of pure wool at very reasonable rates. By afternoon we reached Kausani.
Kausani is the place from where you can see the snow clad mountain ranges of Nanda Ghunti, Trishul, Panchchuli, and Nanda Devi from very close. Here Gandhiji arrived in 1929 for refreshing himself for 2 days. However, stayed on for 14 days and wrote a book called ‘Anasakti Yoga’ and also translated a chapter of the Geeta. The place where he stayed has been converted into a museum and houses his photographs and write-ups on philosophy he followed. From here itself one can identify different peaks of the visible Himalayan ranges with the help of guiding directions put up outside the museum. Stay at Kausani and listen to the calmness. A word of caution here, the area is infested with Kumauni Leopards and they are huge in size. So try not to venture out alone in darkness.
Next day we got up early and got ready(before sunrise) to view the most spectacular scene of the entire tour. Choose a place and sit watching the Trishul peak at dawn. As the sun rays start falling on the top of Trishul, it turns golden. But remember this phenomenon can be watched for only a minute or two. Capture the scene in your eyes as much as possible, as I have learnt, some colours of the nature even the best of the cameras cannot capture. After viewing this unforgettable natural phenomenon we headed for a place called Baijnath which is about 15 Kms ahead of Kausani. There are a group of temples constructed around 900-1200 AD by Katyuri kings. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and there is also a standing statue of Parvati made of grey schist and having 26 miniature statues neatly carved around it on the single stone. The temples are as old as around 1000 years and are maintained in amazingly nice shape. One temple looks like to be leaning to one side like the Tower of Pisa. On the way to Baijanath, 5 kms from Kausani, one can also visit a Tea garden and factory.
We returned to Nainital via Almoda but not before spotting one of the rare species of vulture near Someshwar and some foxes enroute. Almoda is famous for its special sweets, called Bal Mithai, which is made of milk and sugar. Had lunch at a small restaurant in Garampani. The lunch was like home cooked food with the owner himself offering hot chapattis like a nice host.
After welcoming the new year at about zero degree temperature at Nainital we returned back to mother earth (and the foggy and chilly Delhi) on 01st morning. Though the hills were cold but the place was warmer with warm people of Kumaon and the sunshine.
Signing off with lots of best wishes of health and prosperity to you all and your near and dear ones for the year 2013. I know Happy you will be automatically, the moment you are in good health and wealth.

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Abhijeet Sarmandal

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Maharashtra ,  INDIA

I am an engineer from MANIT, Bhopal.

 Happily married, having two kids and lots of friends. I am what I am, is because of people around me. My indulgence include driving, cooking, music and exploring new places. I believe in humanity and thoroughly convinced that all religions are same.

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