A Trip To Kumaon for 10 Days During October 2012

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#1 Nov 10th, 2012, 15:21
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#1
Working in an ever-busy city takes its own toll on every human being’s body and mind and I am also no exception. We, people of plains, cannot stay away from the plain, but then again, everyone needs fresh air and a break from routine daily life. For me it’s compulsory to run away from city life and to take shelter amidst nature at least twice a year [the more the merrier, but then you invite the risk of employer being merry to throw you out of the company :P ]
For me, it’s one trek and one family tour once a year – that’s the plan I try to stick with. So this year the plan was to travel the KUMAON region where I never have stepped in earlier. We chose to travel during Durga Puja and planned accordingly since March 2012 for this.
Kumaon region is in the state Uttarakhand. The awesome natural beauty boasted through jungles, mountains and rivers has given the area such fame that people nowadays are thronging like anything. But the vast land can provide anyone a holiday with unforgettable experience. Such happened with us.
There are few sticky threads in IM about Kumaon travel which provide excellent detailed information and images that are feast to the eyes. So I will not describe each and every minute detail, instead concentrate on providing some important information and then the picture thread than can do the rest of the talking.

Our plan was as follows:
1) Start from Delhi – Ranikhet exp. At 10.40 pm night from Old Delhi station on Friday
2) Day 1: Kathgodam (KGM) by train – take cab pre-booked – move to Nainital (after reaching there around 7 am) – sight seeing
3) Day 2: Nainital lake tour + Zoo
4) Day 3: Nainital –remaining sites visit
5) Day 4: Nainital to Kausani via Ranikhet [night stay @ Kausani]
6) Day 5: Kausani to Chaukori [via Baijnath, Bageswar, mask deer farm]
7) Day 6: Chaukori to Munsiyari
8) Day 7: Munsiyari [Thamri Kund trail walk]
9) Day 8: Munsiyari to Binsar [via Patal Bhubaneshwar]
10) Day 9: Binsar
11) Day 10: Binsar to Kathgodam via Almora sightseeing – Train Ranikhet exp. At 8.40 pm night

I had a target of booking KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikash Nigam) at places where other hotels would be scarce and therefore booked KMVN Chaukori and Binsar in April 2012 only. The reason for 6 month advance booking was Durga Puja when thousands of Bengalis come these places to visit. Was lucky to get booking because when I tried to book the same in Munsiyari in July I did not get any room!

TRANSPORT

After researching in IM and other websites and forums I shortlisted few car owners in that area and gave each one of them phone calls. Below is list of car owners:
1) Mr. Pradyuman (@ Kathgodam) -- +91-94113 22992
2) Puran Bohra (@ Naina Tours and Travel, Nainital) -- +91-94120 17383
3) D.C. Tiwari -- +91-94129 94176
4) Bablu Bohra -- 05942 233444

Mr. Anand Goswami: (0-95682 74128) He has different types of car - we took one 7 seater EECO which was quite comfortable for us 4 adults and 1 child. The price quoted by him was very reasonable, in fact it was lesser than any other operator had quoted. We took the cab for our entire 10 day tour – from and to Kathgodam railway station.

OTHER HOTEL BOOKINGS: I did not take risk of reaching the spot and then look for hotel with the family, during the Durga Puja time. Thinking of the rush I pre-booked hotels everywhere which later proved to be wise for most places. In some places, well, hotels were still available for little less rush of tourists at that time of the year. I will come to that later at appropriate location.

JOURNEY STARTED: As the days neared the excitement soared and finally the day of journey became imminent. We started on 18th October night, reached from our Delhi home to Old Delhi station and boarded the Ranikhet express at 10.40 pm. The train was neat and clean, weather was good and so we started on a cheerful note). The train started on time and after a long time of chat, we decided to sleep since next day we would reach very early in the morning, 5 am.

1) Day 1: NAINITAL

20th Oct morning was cool. Mild breeze was flowing and when we disembarked from train at exact 5 am, sky was still complete dark. Mr. Goswami himself was standing at the platform waiting for us. A gentle person, he introduced the driver Gauri Shankar to us and explained him our tour plan. We had little chat with them, and then Mr. Goswami bid us good bye for a happy journey. The EECO’s condition was good and I decided to sit at the front row because of my slight problem of motion-sickness at hills.
We started at 5.30 am. Mild hill slopes start within 5 minutes once you are out of KGM station. Road was very smooth (except a few places, road condition throughout our journey was quite good). Could not watch the sunrise as we were moving in car but at 6.10 am the golden rays of sun splashed our car and a part of the hills and welcomed us at the Hills of Kumaon.
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Last edited by Apoo Roaming; Nov 12th, 2012 at 11:18..
#2 Nov 10th, 2012, 15:30
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We reached our pre-booked hotel “Vikrant” at Zoo road Tallital side around 7.15 am. Before this, at the moment of entering the Nainital city, the omnipresent Naini lake came to our view which looked excellent in the morning haze.

Here are a few budget hotel names and contact details for anyone interested. Please note that there are few hundred hotels in Nainital so a pre-booking is actually not required, and hotels are available for every kind of budget.

a) Hotel Vikrant: Zoo road, Upper Mall – 94120 35967 ; 05942 235031
b) Hotel Samrat: Tallital – 05942 236273
c) Hotel Ankur Plaza Deluxe: Mall road, near Boat house
d) Hotel Maharaja: Zoo road, Upper Mall – 05942 235281 ; 94110 95294
e) Hotel Pratap Regency: Mall road, Tallital – 05942 235865 ; 98376 91599
f) Hotel Mansarover: Mall road, Tallital – 05942 231581 ; 98379 46547
g) Hotel Sheela: Near lake – 05942 235194 ; 94120 85154
h) Hotel Ambassador: Mall road – 05942 235642

There are many more hotels such as India Hotel, Hotel Alka, Aroma Hotel, Hotel Chevron Fairhavens, Hotel Manu Maharani (the most expensive one in Nainital) etc. most of which has their own website.

Nainital, named after goddess Naini, is nestled amidst seven hills at an altitude of 1938 metres. The Tallital end is the southern end (the bus stand is here) whereas the Mallital is the northern end of the lake. Hotels are mostly situated at both these ends densely and some hotels are distributed along the Mall road beside the lake.
We arrived at the hotel, entered the rooms and got freshened up. Lake view from room was okay but you should ask for rooms at top floor (# 101, 101, 102, 103). We had breakfast at Hotel Vikrant only since did not want to waste time on the very first day itself by choosing breakfast joint from options available on Mall road. So we had All-parantha and Aloo-Tomato subji with curd . It was a good start for our taste buds. After breakfast we started off for distant sightseeing places. We decided to cover the places that would take more time and later cover the nearby places within the city limits.

Here is a list of places to be visited in Nainital:

a) Lake + Mall road (walk, sit at roadside benches, spend time visiting shops)
b) Tibetan market (Bhotia market) at Mallital end
c) Naina Devi temple (one of the 51 shrines of Devi Sati) near Tibetan market
d) Zoo (at Tallital side, go through Zoo road) (remains closed on Mondays) (entry fee 50)
e) Snow view point (take ropeway 5 min ride near Mallital) (fee 150 for adults, 100 for children) [good view of snow-clad mountains early in morning, within 10 am]
f) Raj Bhawan (excellent leisurely walk inside with golf course view) (fee 30 per head)
g) Boating on Naini lake (160 rs. For 30 min)
h) Lake tour (Bhim tal-Naukuchia tal-Ram tal-Laxman tal-Garur tal-Saat Tal)
i) View points tour on horses (from Bara patthar point-board a horse for 2 hour ride-no car allowed) (see Suicide point, tiger point, Dorothy’s seat etc.) (fee 550 PP from bara patthar OR 750 PP if started from Mallital side)
j) Naina peak (for mountain view)
k) Cave garden (crawl through man-made caves) (fee 35 PP)
l) Kilbury (15 km from Naini – for excellent view)
m) Pangot (for nature walk)

So the list is long and we decided to spend 3 days here and accordingly started for Kilbury as very first location.
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#3 Nov 10th, 2012, 15:32
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I am having some trouble in resizing and then inserting the images in between the texts, so let me provide the link of Picasa where all images are uploaded:

https://picasaweb.google.com/1093010...NzWw8DTpej9uQE

However I will keep posting resized images in between while I write in this thread breaking in smaller posts. Images will be at bottom of each post.
#4 Nov 10th, 2012, 17:11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apoo Roaming View Post I am having some trouble in resizing and then inserting the images in between the texts, so let me provide the link of Picasa where all images are uploaded:

https://picasaweb.google.com/1093010...NzWw8DTpej9uQE

However I will keep posting resized images in between while I write in this thread breaking in smaller posts. Images will be at bottom of each post.
Wonderful going ......very conprehensive........learning a lot from you people.....will be waiting for the next instalment. BTW we can use the manage attachment opton after resizing and uploading to insert pics in between texts. First upload the pics you want. Then write the text . Then take the curser where you like the pic . Open manage attachments and select the pic .next move the curser and so on.......
Hope it helps
#5 Nov 10th, 2012, 21:02
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Thanks for the encouraging words, Wanderlust 1974. Will try to live up to the expectation. Will try to load the photos as you have indicated.
#6 Nov 10th, 2012, 21:14
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KILBURY and Other Places - Day 1 Sightseeing

Kilbury is a nice secluded place at a hilltop. It has a forest rest house (to be booked through DFO Almora). The magnificent view of kumaon ranges-the snow clad peaks is the charm of this spot. I will certainly recommend this place for people who want to stay 2-3 days out of city life. Visit this place within 10 am to get clear mountain view. As a general rule, mountain views are best observed in the early hours since clouds tend to cover the horizon as the day grows. On the way we also stopped at a roadside view point where 5-6 telescope-wallahs were waiting for customers. That spot was the first meeting point with the white peaks! A good view point boasting clear images of peaks.
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Birds were chirping amidst the trees and bushes at Kilbury. There was list of birds and small animals available. We spent some time there and decided to come back here to stay exclusively at Kilbury FRH.
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Kilbury view point:
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Roadside view point on the way to Kilbury:
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Our next stop was at Pangot. It’s asmall village with long roads to walk down through light forest and ideal for camping. The roads can take you quite a long distance. We walked along the slope for half an hour and then decided to return sensing that it will be tougher to walk back :P
At Pangot... Nature Walk
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Bloomer
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Next was Naina Peak. It’s 4-5 km walk (up+down) through steep road which is not motorable, though you can take a pony ride. Naina Peak (2615 mts.) is highest point among the surrounding hills and the view of entire Nainital area is very good from here. However, none of our group was interested to walk that much as it was just the first day of our tour and more acclimatization was necessary.

On the way to Kilbury, at a certain point known as Bara-Patthar, we found a lot of horse owners who caught hold of us to give us a pony ride to all viewpoints in an almost 2 hour tour. They cover Tiger point, Land’s End (to view Khurpa Tal), Suicide point (I guess every hill station has a point with this name), Dorothy’s seat/Tiffin Top etc. The total distance covered is around 8 km. As I have mentioned above, the fee is Rs. 550 PP if you start from Bara Patthar, and it’s 775 PP if you start from Mallital lake side. After a lot of discussion and bargaining, we decided to opt for this by paying Rs. 505 PP knowing well that cab will not go in this route and walking through 8 km rough route was out of question for my group. It’s difficult too since the route is broken and dusty and all the time horses are moving through the narrow trail. Next 2 hours went under doubt, suspicion and fear of falling from horse back! But the thrill was good since none of us rode horse for such long time ever. Once the fear was gone, it was nice riding through the rough terrain. But frankly speaking, I was not mused after visiting the spots. It was more of “visit the known spots whatsoever”. The money spent was not totally worth it.

The group on horses (the left most person is author]
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On the trail
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Khurpa Tal, from "Land's End"
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It's me, in shooting mood


View from dorothy's seat/Tiffin Top, you can see Naini lake below


Everyone was hungry after we completed our horse riding so we jumped into the nearest small dhaba discovering that only Maggi was available. So it was Maggi time (Maggi was staple food later throughout the journey route – in case you do not get anything, always remember that Maggi would be available ] . After “lunch” at around 3.30 pm, we did not waste time knowing that Cave garden will be closed after 4.30, and rushed to that spot which was nearby. It was a bunch of man-made caves with somewhat walking-crawling space inside of 6 caves. The porcupine cave, leopard cave and flying squirrel caves were tricky and required to crawl with four hand-legs. It might be suffocating for aged people and for people who has agarophobia (fear of narrow spaces). The place had a musical fountain too but we did not wait to see its show anyhow.



Musical fountain at Cave garden, Nainital



So the day ended. Sun was setting and we reached the Mall road, back near our hotel. We decided to have our first walk along the famed road, so we released our driver Gauri Shankar and started walking from the Gurdwara end towards our hotel which was situated near Tallital side.

Naini lake at night



View of Naini lake from hotel Vikrant's room


Naini Lake, bird's eye view


The Mall road remains closed from afternoon till 9 pm for convenience of tourists who roam on the road. Only rickshaws ply on Mall road during that time. We started our walk through the road, with on and off stoppages while window-shopping the roadside vendors selling woolen garments, candles etc. It took almost an hour to complete our leisure walk. On the way, we entered the Tibetan market area between the lake and the Flats (playground for children). Naini Devi temple was adjacent and small but calm. There were lot of devotees at the temple on the occasion of Durga puja. For our group , travel and food was bigger religion so we entered a Chinese food joint (there are many lined in row) named “China Town” and relished on some momos and chilly chicken. Price was low and hunger was more. I was looking for one “Sonam Momo corner” and discovered it at the last narrow lane of Tibetan market. The lane was full of garment stores and at the very end (it can be accessed from the parking lot at Flats end too) was the store named “Sonam Fast Food”. It was just a Momo joint that prepare only mutton momos (no chicken!), thukpa and chowmein. Oh, it was delicious. The taste, size, quantity and the price can beat any Momo joint in a city any day!!

Sonam Fast Food, at Tibetan market end corner


Heavenly!!!


Full with heart and stomach’s content, we started our walk and eventually reached the Hotel. Like many other hotels, Vikrant provides a free cab ride from the Mall road till the hotel gate, from morning to evening 9 pm, covering the steep ascend Zoo road. Well the first day ended but it was just a trailer for us, making all of us craving for more great times in next 9 days.

Here is a list of good food corners / restaurants that I researched through internet and tried food in several of them. These could be tried if you like food along with being a traveler:

1) Sonam Tibetan Corner [this is different from previously mentioned Momo store-this is situated on 1st floor at a corner of Gurdwara after Flats ground-you can locate this corner from its cramped look-there is an ICICI ATM and besaide it you will see few tandoor joints in a usual smoky (smoke from tandoor ovens) atmosphere] --- this restaurant serves very good quality of Thukpa and chowmeins.
2) Al Karim: At that tandoor corner beside Gurdwara – endless rumali rotis and sheek kababs are readied for customers.
3) Zaika: another tandoor joint preparing excellent quality of chicken tandoor.
4) Sonam Fast Food – as mentioned earlier, at the end of Tibetan market, inside the last alley opposite to Naina devi temple. Makes great mutton momos. A MUST HAVE.
5) Roadside Coffee from Expresso machines with chocolate powder sprinkled: At Rs. 20, and in a moderately cold weather, it was surprisingly good drink to enjoy.
6) The Wood: Restaurant of Alka hotel, a posh one, with great quality food (2 persons-Rs. 800 average)
7) Sher-E-Punjab: At Mallital main bazaar, it serves good Punjabi food (veg+non veg)
8) Machan: non-veg, specially Chinese food is very good. (pricey rest.)
9) Sakley’s Restaurant: good for roasted lamb, pepper steak, pastries etc.
10) The Capri
11) Kwality
12) Nanak: at Mallital side (veg pizza, burger etc.)
13) Purohit: Milk shakes, Veg thali etc. (a famous veg rest.)

Tandoor at Al-Karim


Left bottom corner streetlights are of Thandi Sarak, the quieter side of Naini lake... View from hotel room


Good night Nainital.... Will be back tomorrow!
Last edited by Apoo Roaming; Nov 11th, 2012 at 00:56..
#7 Nov 10th, 2012, 23:17
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@apoo roaming
shubho bijaya i love the documentation and lovely pictures
#8 Nov 11th, 2012, 00:06
a LEARNER here......be careful or ignore his posts
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simply best
.


Totaly confused how to explore the beautiful earth when one life is too short to complete my great India


Photo-Story: HARI-SILA or HARSIL Deoriatal-Chopta,
#9 Nov 11th, 2012, 22:27
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@ varabi:Subho Bijaya (greetings for the Puja).
@Pkanti: Thanks... will load more.
@ Wanderlust: Thanks for photo tips... used that and uploaded till now, but it seems I cannot load more than 10 through that process. More photos, if to be loaded, are required to be loaded first in Image Gallery and then can be inserted. following that now...
#10 Nov 11th, 2012, 23:42
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Day 2: NAINITAL (Lake Tour +Zoo)

2nd day, morning. Our plan was to go for the “Lake Tour” and then to visit the Zoo. We started around 8.30 am. It was a clear sunny morning. The usual lake tour goes like Bhim tal – Naukuchiatal – Ram tal, Laxman Tal, Garur tal – Saat tal, in this order. We also followed the same. Bhim tal was approx 25 km away from Nainital. First we crossed Bhowali, a fruit market of this area. You will get different type of fruits here that you cannot see in plain lands. Few interesting ones were Coco fruit (not the Cocoa), chestnut, local lemon (quite large in size) and yellowish-green apple. We purchased a kilo of apple @ Rs.70 to eat on our way. As Bhimtal approached, the road became more crowded and somewhat cramped due to presence of market area beside road. There was a Rs. 30 road tax. Bhimtal is a very large lake with a small island that had a restaurant by Fisheries dept. We did not go to the island though. First we had breakfast near the lake. There were several “Thela-wallahs” selling puri-roti-subji etc and a small restaurant just at the opposite side of the Boat House. After breakfast we became busy watching a flock of swan near the Boat house who were not at all afraid seeing the tourists. Boating facility was available at Bhimtal but since the sun was scorching we deferred the plan for a while. After spending almost 45 minutes, we left the place and moved toward Naukuchiatal.



Island on Bhimtal
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Swan Flock
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Inquisitive
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Naukuchiatal is a nine-cornered huge lake with serene and little secluded surrounding. There was no tourist when we reached. We liked the atmosphere and decided to boat there. We took a “Shikara” paying Rs. 250 for 30 minutes (for all 4 persons) and this proved to be a very wise decision after few minutes. There were few boatmen but the person who took us for the sail was an exceptional person. His name was Mr. MohanChand. I could not remember when last I met a person with such good sense of humor! He had an excellent stock of jokes and his way of talking was so engaging. He informed us that his occupation was different but due to some unfortunate events now he’s in this profession. Sailing the calm lake under soft sunrays, without any tourist disturbances and chatting with Mr. MohanChand’s made us refreshed immediately. I promised him to sail on his boat only whenever I come back to this place. Naukuchiatal has some resorts/hotels for people who do not like any tourist noise and want to spend few days in peace. Quite ideal place, I must say.

Weeds at Naukuchiatal
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Mr. Mohan Chand


Next destination was Saat tal. On the way we saw Garur tal, Ram tal and Laxman tal. These could be seen from the road itself and there was no exact route to reach those lakes. There were few more lakes such as Nal-Damayanti tal, Bharat tal etc. (all in names of mythological characters) which are now drying up so no point in going to see those.

Garur tal, from road


Ram tal


The last tal to visit was Saat tal which I found to be extremely noisy and flocked by hundreds of tourists. The noisy element was few travel groups who literally gave us headache. Saat tal lake was not clear because of food packets strewn everywhere. All the restaurant owners will swarm around you to have lunch with their rice-rajma-daal-curry etc.! Disliking the spot and especially when we came from a much more scenic Naukuchiatal, we just had tea and left immediately after that. It was already 1.30 pm and we decided to reach Zoo ASAP since that would be closed after 4.30 pm. So after another hour we reached Nainital and asked the driver to drop us in front of zoo.



Zoo: The Nainital Zoo is a high-altitude zoo and housed several interesting animals which you cannot see in regular plain land zoos. It remains closed on every Monday. It’s highly recommended to visit even if your group does not have any child. The only thing was to reach the zoo from the last point where a car can go! It was a steep gradient 300 mt. walk which was obviously not very welcomed by many aged tourists. The entry fee was Rs. 50 PP and inside it was very clean. There is a website of this zoo which you can visit for an advance information of what animals/birds you can see. Please note that the biggest attraction “Siberian Tiger” is no longer there for it died just a few months back. Still the attraction was enormous since the animals were in very good health specially the leopards, tigers and bear. We also saw Himalayan Palm Civet, Himalayan Martin, Tibetan wolf etc. The time whizzed past and the visit was completely worth it.

Himalayan Eagle
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Leopard
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Himalayan Palm Civet
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Today at Nainital we had glasses of “Rhododendron juice”. A red colored squash, it’s said to cool the body and helpful for heart patients. Locals call it “Buransh flower juice”. It’s served as welcome drink in some posh hotels too as described by their websites. Since the taste was good and we are from Delhi where summer always takes heavy toll , I decided to buy 1 bottle of this juice and another bottle of Apricot juice of local Kanak brand which had a big store at Mall road.

Sunset at Nainital






#11 Nov 12th, 2012, 00:07
a LEARNER here......be careful or ignore his posts
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super clicks buddy keep them coming
#12 Nov 12th, 2012, 00:42
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3) Day 3 – NAINITAL – Rest day with remaining sight seeing

Today was the last day of our stay in the lake city and we decided to relax, and to not go to Mukteshwar which is usually done by most tourists. We were aware that throughout the journey we would see scenic beauties and mountains and so thought to ditch Chowli-Ki-Jaali etc. on the way to Mukteshwar. We started from hotel at 9 am, reached Mallital and walked through steps to reach the booking counter of Ropeway. We were first tourists that day to ride the cable car. The charge was Rs. 150 per adult and Rs. 100 for child. It’s a total one-hour package tour which includes riding on cable car to and fro and spending 1 hour time at Snow View point.


As the name suggests, it’s a mountain view point which should be accessed in the morning only since peaks will be covered by clouds after 10 am usually. The point has many shops for snacks, juices, lunch etc. and some common rifle shooting vendors (that we can see in every Mela in India with a board of balloons) who were extremely annoying by doing their business just beside the standing point for beautiful view and by generating noise of empty cans and bottles and hooting sounds of crazy “tourists” . I can never be sure why some people go for “traveling” while their purpose was always to screech and scream and to do very dumb things like shooting balloons at a Himalayan view point!!!

View from Snow View Point


Mt. Trishul


The next stop was Raj Bhawan which was at the other side of the lake. The inside was very quiet and pleasant to walk. Shrouded with greenery, it increased the joy of walking amidst Oak, Pine and Juniper forest! There was the Golf Course (18 hole) and another lush green meadow just in front of Raj Bhawan. Since the caretaker was not around, we could not enter the Bhawan to see certain parts, but I heard that few rooms and certain portions remain open for tourists who want to get a glimpse of this great castle-like structure. Overall it was a pleasant roaming inside with no bound of time.





On Raj Bhawan ground


Raj Bhawan


We again came to the Gurdwara end and entered one of the boat houses at Mallital end. It was a very clear and pleasant weather which prompted us to have another boating experience, first at Nainital. We chose a ride for 30 min. paying Rs. 160. Great experience, even though the lake was crowded and everyone seemed to get a piece of this sailing!





The Mallital end of lake had so many fishes that it first reminded me of fishes in holy pond at Amritsar Golden Temple. Big fishes were extremely busy collecting and chewing food particles thrown in by tourists. The delight of boating and seeing fishes playing in water manipulated our minds to purchase some mementos and we ventured in some of the roadside stalls near Tibetan market. We purchased some Nainital candles of different shapes and designs for gifting purpose. The candles look better when kept at show-cases and not lit.

Piranha! Or Carp?



Crowded Tibetan Market


The sun was setting. Weather was at its best in these 3 days. So we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Mall road by walking around and basking in the sunlight while sitting at the roadside benches. The night was quite cold and we took photographs all around reminding ourselves that the Nainital stay is now over. Since the tourist crowd was less than expected, the stay at Nainital was good, warm and it was much better than my earlier experiences at Dehradun or Mussourie which are now a complete waste according to me!
#13 Nov 12th, 2012, 11:52
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great...great.... charming photos.....loved them
#14 Nov 12th, 2012, 14:45
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  • kuntalgupta is offline
#14
Waiting for Munsiyari and Binsar...

Pls write in detail as you have done for Nainital.

Kuntal
#15 Nov 12th, 2012, 14:48
Join Date:
May 2012
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Kolkata
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  • Apoo Roaming is offline
#15
That's my plan too, Kuntal
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