Saturday, 21 November 2015

Nainital,concluding our Kumaon trip


We have reached the last lap of our Kumaon travel and we will conclude our Kumaon journey once we reach Kathgodam to catch our train back.So from Kausani we will reach Nainital, stay there for 2 days and then take the train back to New Delhi.

So now that there is nothing like next destination we were a little slow in getting ready.We finally left our KMVN Kausani guesthouse at around 10:30 am. Jivan also remarked that this is the first time in our entire trip that we are starting late. We also acknowledged.Maybe by making ourselves late, we were mentally trying to extend our beautiful Kumaon trip a little longer.

We will be reaching Nainital via Ranikhet. Jivan asked for our permission to drop a young boy till Nainital along with us in the car.We agreed.In hills since buses are less frequent so locals do ask for a car lift favor and we were more than happy to accommodate him with us.The boy was no more than 18 or 19.We chatted with him for sometime and came to know that he is studying mechanical engineering in Nainital. His father is an ex army man and runs a small restaurant in Kausani.

We told Jivan that we want to skip Anashakti Ashram. Gandhiji stayed in Kausani for 2 weeks in this ashram.Since we started late so we skipped this part.

We had a brief stop at Ranikhet and saw the golf course. The golf course is within the Indian Army premises and from there we got a glimpse of the Himalayas from behind the pine trees.

Glimpses of Himalaya from Ranikhet

Army statue of the Kumaon regiment at Ranikhet


By the end of the tour Jivan had become more of a friend than a driver, so when we told him that we still have the lake tour remaining in Nainital he told us that on the way back to Nainital he will show us all the lakes.

He first took us to Bhimtal.It is the largest lake in the Kumaon region and has a small island in the middle. The island has a small aquarium and tourists can spend some time boating.


Bhimtal Lake

Bhimtal Lake

Bhimtal Lake


From Bhimtal we went to Naukuchiatal or the lake with 9 corners. In Naukuchiatal there are facilities for paragliding.Somewhere in between we saw Kamal Taal. Its a small lake not maintained and also no tourists, but interestingly the lake is full with lotuses.

Kamal Taal
In Naukuchia Tal at the time of taking photos, we saw a group of swans at one far corner.Soon after sometime they started moving closer to the place where we were standing and then they came to us.I am scared of swans ever since I was a little girl, so now also I got scared. Then one of the locals who was cleaning the weeds from the lake told me that when hungry the swans come to tourists for Parle-G biscuits.My husband bought a packet and fed them.The swans were so happy.They don't snatch each other's food. They wait for their turns.I never knew Parle-G has such a big fan base. Our old dog Buggey was a Parle-G fan and now these swans!

NaukuchiaTal

Hanuman Temple on the way to NaukuchiaTal

NaukuchiaTal

NaukuchiaTal


From there we went to Sattal which is approximately 22 kilometers away.As the name signifies, Sattal is seven fresh water lakes interconnected with one another.The seven lakes are Panna Tal or Garud Tal,Nal-Damyanti Tal,Purna Tal,Sita Tal,Ram Tal,Laxman Tal, Sukha Tal or Khurdariya Tal.Out of all the lakes in this lake tour Sattal was my personal pick. It is well bounded by mountains and lush green forests.Its so silent and peaceful. Sattal is a birder's paradise in Kumaon and there are birding camps. Next time when I will come to Kumaon I will definitely stay in Sattal atleast for a day.

Sat Tal

Sat Tal

In the evening we strolled on Mall road, it really felt as if we are in some quaint small European city.
The crowd is so lively, everyone seems to be enjoying. There are stalls beaming with tourists buying shawls, sweaters mementos and hill honey . In Nainital woolens are cheap and good. Also there are a few shops selling wax candles,statues etc, things that are created locally. Also on the road are shops that make awesome chats and don't forget to try them out.

Market still has not opened


The next day morning we did half an hour boating on the Nainital lake and what an experience it was! We enjoy the crystal emerald water as much as we enjoyed the cool breeze on our face and the warm sunshine on our back.half an hour of boating costs 150 rupees.

Naini Tal

Naini Tal

Naini Tal



Mosque at Naini Tal

Ashram at Naini Tal

Naini Tal Village


After boating we went to see the zoo. Near to the boating counter, is the zoo counter from where one has to buy the jeep tickets. Per person it is 30 bucks and the jeep will take you till the zoo gate.We were told to keep the tickets for our return back.Zoo tickets had to be bought separately once we reached the zoo entrance.

The zoo is open all days except Monday and National holidays. The zoo is called GB Panth High Altitude Zoo.The walk up to the zoo entrance is pretty tedious since the road goes up steep.However the zoo is clean and well maintained. While going up the zoo entrance one can get a bird's eye view of  Nainital lake.There are animals such as red panda,mustache goat,royal bengal tiger, himalayan wolf,bear and a variety of birds. The zoo took us almost 4 hours.We had to wait for sometime to get a jeep that will take us down. Once you are done with the zoo, you have to come down to the place where the up jeep brought you. You have to tell the people who allot vehicles that you wish to go down. They will give you a serial number and based on that you can sit in a down going jeep. We also did the same and while we were waiting we ate some awesome heavenly vegetable momo. There is only one guy who sells momos there and the momos are heavenly.One should not miss them at all.












Since it was almost evening by the time we got down, we started looking for a taxi to take us back to Kathgodam. We took our luggage from hotel ,got freshen up and luckily got a taxi that was Kathgodam registered.So he just took 300 bucks. If we had taken a taxi from Nainital then it would have costed us 1500 rupees.

The only thing we did not do was the mountain ropeway, since the ropeway was closed on occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. But that is okay, sometimes we need to leave out a few things in order to come back once again.











Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Kausani, nostalgia kept me calling



"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page" ~ Saint Augustine of Hippo

My father believed these lines like a young boy who believes his father. And thanks to him and my mom, both government employees they never missed any of their leave travel allowances. So as a child I got to see almost the entire of India. Even when I joined my first company as a young engineer my father used to bear all my travel expenses on himself as I was no longer financially dependent on him and his organisation will no longer pay for my travel.

Now that I have grown up I really relish how the good things in life has been passed on to me.I am also an avid traveller and love to be accompanied by my husband.Out of so many places that I once went with my parents,few I remember like yesterday,few like a decade old and many totally lost.

The sunset in Kausani that I witnessed as a child, I still remember it better than the sunset I saw this time in Kausani, and perhaps maybe that was the reason why I wanted to come to Kausani once more, rather than winding up our Kumaon trip from Munsiyari.

From Munsiyari we took the same road till Chaukori and reached Kausani via Baijnath. We stayed in Baijnath temple maybe for less than 5 minutes since it was absurdly hot at noon. From architectural perspective Baijnath Temple can be missed if you have already seen Jageshwar and Katarmal.

We had our lunch at a road side dhaba and they served us unlimited vegetarian thali for just 60 bucks.Simple food yet so tasty.

By the time we checked in KMVN Kausani it was almost 4 pm. The stretch from Munsiyari to Kausani was really long almost 200 km mostly on hilly terrain.On our way Jivan took us to a tea estate in Kausani. Anyway after staying in South India for so many years and seeing tea or coffee estates almost in any nearby hill stations, it was nothing new to us.We did not put up for long,just had a cup of tea and left.

KMVN Kausani is also a nice property. It is situated at extreme end of a road and is very calm and peaceful. One can have a clear view of the Kumaon range from the first floor rooms and luckily since we booked super deluxe we got rooms in first floor. Else one can also upgrade by paying the extra room charge based on room availability.

KMVN Kausani

However the best view of the range can be got from the view point that KMVN has built.The view point is just above the KMVN guesthouse in an adjacent KMVN property. Its just 100 metres away from the KMVN hotel.We took our sunset and next day morning shots mostly from there.

View Point

A part of the entire Kausani range showing Trisul

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

Sundown

Bageshwar town with the Kausani range after sundown

Sundown

How majestic the entire range looks!

A night shot from hotel

We sighted a lot of birds many of them we could not even recognise, so if you are a bird lover please spend a few day in Kausani.

Himalayan Bulbul

Wood Pecker



Wood Pecker

We are now slowing winding up our Kumaon days. Tomorrow we will be going back to Nainital and do the lake tour.Spend a day more at Nainital for the things we missed on the first day.


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Munsiyari, Kohinoor of Kumaon



After Chaukori we headed towards Munsiyari. We were lucky to see the beautiful Kumaon range from Chaukori and now we are moving even farther towards north.This time we hope to see the Panchchulli from up close and personal.

As usual we road is beautiful and hilly. We were accompanied by Ram Ganga and we could not help ourselves but stop the car at Thol, a place on the way and got down. We went till the river beautiful bank, breathe some fresh air before taking some shots. Remember one thing, if you are lucky you can see the Panchchulli from Thol and it looks so beautiful.

RamGanga at Thol

See the Panchchulli at the extreme top right in this photo taken at Thol.

RamGanga at Thol

At the river bed

What better way to achieve Nirvana

After Thol we crossed a town called Nachni and from here the road took a different look. Nature is more untouched but rough.We saw several landslides that had happened in the last few months.BRO is active very much in these regions and they always make a constant effort to keep the roads smooth in these rough terrains. It feels so good to see that your hard earned money given as tax to Government is used in making things better.

Treacherous roads

Mountain Roads


Jivan also showed us the place where the cloudburst of 2009 happened. He told that before August 2009, when he used to come to Munsiyari with tourists, this place was a small village with houses, people, small grazing patches.Women used to wash clothes and children used to bath in a small stream nearby. But now there is absolutely nothing except the horrible signs of a landslide that will give anyone a shiver. We really felt how helpless we are when natural calamities struck. Mother Nature is so benevolent yet at times she can be utterly fierce.

There are many falls in this region but the most notable among them is the Birthi Falls where KMVN has also set up a guesthouse.We stopped our car in KMVN Birthi stretched our legs and arms and took some photos.

Birthi Falls

KMVN Birthi

Next we reached Kalamuni Top that falls on the way. Jivan stopped the car. From here one can get a beautiful sight of the Panchchulli. There is also a temple dedicated to Kalamuni and a small tea stall nearby. The good thing about Kalamuni top is you do not have to trek, it is just on the way.

Panchchulli peak from Kalamuni 

Kalamuni Temple

Kalamuni Temple


We reached KMVN Munsiyari at around 2 pm. We were greeted by a very sweet lady who showed us our rooms. KMVN Munsiyari has one of the best properties.We had booked a super deluxe room online and the best thing about super deluxe rooms in any KMVN guesthouse is you can see the Himalayas from your balcony. We had a very clear view of the Panchchulli for the next two days.

KMVN Munsiyari

KMVN Munsiyari

View from the room window


Remember one tip: Always leave your last destination before any other guests and try to reach the next one before any other guests,.That way once you reach the next KMVN guesthouse you get the option to choose. When I say try to reach the nest destination before any other guests, please be very clear that I mean DO NOT HURRY or DRIVE RASH. Respect the Mountains and you will be save. Never ever disrespect the mountains or litter anywhere in the mountains.

Three other good hotels in Munsiyari apart from KMVN are Pandey Lodge,Milam Hotel and Vijay Mountview. They have good location advantage, but about the rooms and facilities I don't know.

The full day we just saw Panchchulli from our balcony. The sunset was amazing. Watching the rich hues of sunset reflected on the Panchchulli will definitely act as a natural smoother. However as the Sun sets, the chill starts at double the pace.

Sunset at Munsiyari

Sunset at Munsiyari

Sunset at Munsiyari

We also took some star trails at night, even though the night temperature was sub zero.If you are planning to visit Munsiyari any time of the year please pack woolens clothes.

Next day is our sight-seeing day. Wherever we go we try to leave early so that we can see the places when the crowd is less.Here also we were no exception.

First is the Nanda Devi temple.Just as we left the town I noticed a small patch of land on my left where I told Jivan to stop the car.The place looked so amazing.There was a few horses grazing on a meadow with green mountains on the back with the Panchchulli overlooking them.

Somewhere on the way


We climbed a few easy steps to reach the temple premise. The place is amazing and will blow you away.The Panchchulli looks to stunning against the temple backdrop. This place is not to be missed.
Since we love to take landscaped so we stayed here more than any normal tourists. The view and the photos that we got was rewarding.

Nanda Devi Temple

Nanda Devi Temple

Nanda Devi Temple

Next we went to the tribal museum. It is private owned I suppose since I did not saw any government board or anything.The entry cost is minimal, its just 10 bucks if I am not wrong. This place has some old tribal artifacts, utensils, models, coins and photographs. Also there are some books for sale.

Tribal Museum

Pottery in Tribal Museum

Entrance of Tribal Museum

@Tribal Museum

@Tribal Museum

@Tribal Museum

@Tribal Museum


There is a small grocery shop near to the Tribal Museum. If you love rajma then never ever forget to buy specific "munsiyari rajma" from there or any local shop. This special rajma is only grown locally
only for local consumption and you will not get it anywhere outside Munsiyari.

If you want to be sure whether to buy or not, then a clever way is ask the KMVN restaurant guy to prepare the local rajma dish for you either for lunch or dinner. If you like the rajma, buy it else not a problem.

Jivan understood that we were crazy about the Himalayas, so he told us that in the evening he will take us to a place from where we will be able to get the best view.He took us to a helipad very close to KMVN from where we got some of our cherishable shots. This is the difference between an experienced and inexperienced driver.

Sunset from the ground near the Helipad

Sunset from the ground near the Helipad

Sunset from the ground near the Helipad

Watching Panchchulli 

:):)

Sunset from Helipad

Sunset from Helipad

Sunset from Helipad

From Munsiyari a lot of people opt from the Khaliya trek. It's an easy to moderate trek and very much worth doing.Guide assistance is needed for this trek and guides can be arranged from KMVN reception. Just let them know and they will arrange for you.

There are some more places within 40-50 km radius from Munsiyari like Dar Kot village,Maheshwari Kund but we just wanted not to include them in our trip this time.

Next day's journey will be a long one. We will be heading to Kausani.

Some more snaps from Munsiyari











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