DARJEELING


  1. Destination: Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
  2. Visited on: October 4th 2016 – October 7th 2016
  3. Peak Season: October to March
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – There are trains from Howrah and Sealdah station of Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri. From there, one needs to hire a cab to reach Darjeeling

About: Darjeeling  is noted for its tea industry, the spectacular views of Mount Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our Journey Starts:

 I have returned from Bangalore to Kolkata, my home town for the grand festival “Durga Puja”. Before the puja starts, I planned for Darjeeling this time, with my parents. Train tickets and hotels were booked in advance. We reached Sealdah station on October 3rd 2016 and boarded the train “Darjeeling mail” which departs from Howrah at 22:05. Had home-cooked Luchi and alur dam in train and went to sleep. The journey was very comfortable. Reached New Jalpaiguri next day around 9:00. We hired a taxi from the pre-paid counter to reach Darjeeling for a fee of Rs 1600. Had to pay Rs. 100 extra to take us to the hotel.

We reached Darjeeling after a ride of 3 hours. My mother got fever and fell sick on the way. Apart from that, the journey was smooth. We booked hotel “Dolphin” in advance which is located just next to Governor’s house. The area is not at all crowded, yet located next to a Kanchenjunga view point. Many people decides to stay near the “Mall” (Central hub) and complains saying “ Darjeeling is too crowded”. We checked in. The hotel offers clear view of Mt. Kanchenjunga. However, at that time, the weather was cloudy and no view on offer.dsc_7897

Ordered lunch in our room as my mother was very sick then, yet excited to see Mt Kanchenjunga. After lunch, I went out to see nearby places. The first day passed with a stroll in the Mall. Mall is the central hub of Darjeeling and one can get all sorts of shops there including KFC. In the evening, we went went to a heritage outlet called Keventers in the Mall and tried Darjeeling tea with some snacks. The outlet, offers scenic view of the Himalayan range in the morning (if the weather permits). Glenary’s is again a heritage outlet and offers same kind of stuffs.

I woke up early at 5.30 next morning hoping to witness the sunrise reflection on Mt Kanchenjunga. However, the weather was too cloudy to witness nature’s masterpiece. The weather was cold. Locals busy doing light work-out or busy taking a jog. I strolled around the place. Had tea from the Mall and went back to the hotel. In the evening, went out with my parents to the Mall and had Darjeeling famous Momos and tea.We also bought tea, from one of the renowned store called “The House of Tea”. It is operated by Goodricke co. and located in the Mall. While buying tea, get the “First flush”. First flush tea tastes best and slightly on the expensive side. But, buying a small pack will worth.

Batasia Loop

Batasia Loop

Woke up again next morning to see the sun-rise. The weather again turned me down. We didn’t opt to go Tiger hill to view Mt Kanchenjunga closely, as the weather was foggy. Spent most of my time roaming around the place and enjoying the cool weather with nature. We had our tickets booked for a jolly ride in a toy-train pulled by a steam engine. This is a UNESCO world heritage site. The tickets were expensive for the steam engine ride. Normal engines were also available and are less expensive. However, we choosed the steam engine, as we have never tried anything like that before. The train goes until Ghum via Batasia loop. Batasia Loop is again scenic. The train halts for 15 minutes there. And starts it’s journey to Ghum station. Ghum station has a museum related to Darjeeling trains. One can get down at Ghum and come back to Darjeeling by car. Or else, one can board the same train and come back. While returning, it comes to Darjeeling station directly. If booking a round trip ticket, the code you need to put in the IRCTC.COM website is – “DJ” (From) and “DJRZ” (To). And for a one way ride, put “GHUM” (To). The ride was beautiful. But as per my experience, spending so much on a steam engine doesn’t worth. So one can book a diesel engine ride and take photos with the steam engine. Both moves together, one after another.dsc_8618

View of the valley from the view point located next to our hotel was amazing. I couldn’t witness the sun-rise in this trip. However, I did capture the sunsent reflecton over Mt Kanchenjunga through my bare eyes. Also, made a timelapse video of that view. Walking in the hills was fun.dsc_9042-3

Next day, again woke up early. Missed the sun-rise. But got a clear view of Mt Kanchenjunga from our hotel room and also from the view-point. This is our last day stay in Darjeeling. As my mother was very weak, I planned to go for some known sight-seeing alone. I went to the Mahakal mandir located slightly uphill, early in the morning. The place has it’s own charm.dsc_9209

After that, I walked downhill for 15 mins and reached the Darjeeling zoo. The zoo and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute are in the same place. One can hire a taxi also to reach there, but that could be expensive. I went to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute first. They have a museum built. The museum was fascinating with lots of information on mountains and mountain climbers. I bought a T-shirt, sun-glass and a Cap as souvenir. Then moved to the zoo. The zoo has lots of animals like Royal Bengal tiger, White leopard, Black panther, Red panda, etc. Visiting the museum and to the zoo was worth. The museum and the zoo remains closed on Thursday.dsc_9292

Then again walked further downhill for 15 mins and reached Rangeet Valley Ropeway. The rope-way ride cost approximately Rs. 170 per head for a round trip. Option of one-side trip is not available. The queue to the ride could be very long during season. I got my chance after waiting for 45 minutes. The rope-way journey was beautiful. It’s lush green with tea plants below. In clear weather, one can witness the Himalayan range in front. After a journey of 20 minutes, I reached downhill through rope-way. I had to get down (Mandatory) and need to stand in a queue again to go back to the origin. However, I went down from the rope-way and walked to the left in the left. Got a hint of local life. Also got very close to tea-gardens. Checked how the tea leaves, looks like. Came back after spending some time in the tea garden and stood in a queue.  Took the rope-way and got back to the origin.dsc_9013

As I didn’t booked any car, I had to come back all the way back by walking. This time, it was uphill and took 30 minutes to reach my hotel. After having lunch there, we boarded the same cab and reached New Jalpaiguri station. I called the same driver a day before and asked to be at the hotel to take us back to the railway station. He was on time. While returning, we came through a route called “Rohini”. The route was scenic. The car is taking a sharp turn through the hills. Each turn opening up a new scenery. The entire mountain is lush green because of dense tea garden. You can ask your driver to take the route of Rohini while going. Nothing will be charged extra.

We reached New Jalpaiguri station well in advance. Kept our luggage in a restaurant and waited there. Boarded Darjeeling mail which departs at 6PM. Reached Sealdag station next day morning around 6:30. We booked an Uber cab from the station and reached home. The trip to Darjeeling was beautiful with lush green tea-gardens, beautiful sun-set, cold weather, sky full of stars. Nothing more we can expect…

Note:

  • Smoking is not allowed in public in Darjeeling. Locals may shout at out.
  • The zoo and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute museum remain closed on Thursday
  • One must go for the toy-train ride
  • Don’t miss the rope-way ride also.
  • Hotel prices during season may get double.
  • One may hire a geared or non-geared cycle to roam around Darjeeling from local shops.
  • Try Keventers and Glenarys’ for tea and snacks
  • Buy tea from “The House of Tea” located in the Mall. Get the “First flush” tea if the budget permits
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

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LONAVALA & KHANDALA


  1. Destination: Lonavala & Khandala, Maharashtra, India
  2. Visited on: July 2nd 2016 – July 4th 2016
  3. Season to visit: June to September (Monsoon) & December to February (Winter)
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – Many trains are available from Pune and Mumbai to Lonvala.
  • By Car – One can easily drive to Lonavala from Mumbai and Pune

About: Lonavla & Khandala are towns and a hill station in Pune district in the Indian State of Maharashtra. It is about 64 kilometers (40 mi) from the city of Pune and 96 kilometers (60 mi) from the city of Mumbai. Khandala is just 3 Kms from Lonavala. 

Our Journey Starts:

It’s been quite a sometime that Niloy has moved to Pune from Bangalore with his wife. I and Anindita planned to meet them. So, we all decided to meet at Pune and then go to Lonavala and Khandala. I prefer to pre-book everything. I and Anindita boarded flight Indigo from Bangalore airport which departed at 05:45AM. As it was monsoon, the weather was worse in Pune. The flight made an attempt to land and at the last moment decided to pull up due to lack of visibility. The flight landed at 7:45 AM. We both boarded an Uber cab and reached Pune station. Met Niloy and his wife Saheli there, and we are all set for our trip to Lonavala.

We boarded a train from Pune station and reached Lonavala station within 1 Hr. The Hotel Metropole, which we have pre-booked is in a walking distance from the station and also in a prime location. When we reached Lonavala, it was raining lightly. The room in the hotel was nice. We freshened up quickly and hired a cab for sight-seeing. It started to rain heavily that time. People visit Lonavala during monsoon and enjoy roaming around drenched in rain, without taking a rain-coat or an umbrella. We took precaution with rain-coat though. On the way, we found, approximately 20 small water-falls flowing through different parts of the hill. People are partying with beer and loud music near the waterfall.

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Misty Hills With Water-Fall

At first, we reached “Bhusi dam”. It was raining and also misty. The driver parked the cab in a parking area and we started walking towards the dam in a misty weather. The walk in the mist was fun. Bhusi dam has stairs in it. And when the dam overflows, the water flows through those stairs and people enjoy taking a bath sitting on those stairs. As it was early monsoon, yet to experience the water flow through the stairs. Food stalls are all around the place. After seeing the Bhusi dam, we stopped in a local shop asking what else are there around the dam. As per their suggestion, we started walking towards a point where three rivers confluence. After walking for 30 mins. through a jungle like ambiance, we reached the point. It was beautiful and obviously better than Bhusi dam. We came back and boarded the cab for the next stop. I must say, the entire journey is happening under full fledged rain.

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Gusty Water Flowing Through The Stairs of Karla Cave

The we reached Lion point . It was misty all around and too windy also. In normal weather, one can witness beautiful stretch of hills all around. But we witnessed only mist. Yet it was a beautiful atmosphere all around. There are food counters everywhere. We had instant noodle “Maggi” and pakoras there with hot coffee. Hot food in cold and wet weather was awesome. After spending some time there, we boarded the cab and reached hotel. After freshening up, I and Niloy went out and got some Vada-pao (Indian version of burger) from a famous shop naming “Golden Vadapav”. We bought liquor too. At night, we are all set together in a room with drinks and food and shared all sorts of stories, including, personal experiences with ghosts. We also calculated the daily expenses.

Next morning, we hired the same cab to visit Ekvira Devi temple, Karla cave and Bhaja cave. We started early today because, as the day progresses, traffic also increases. After a half an hour ride, we reached the base of Ekvira Devi Temple and Karla cave. We had Vada pav from a restaurant and started walking through easy stairs. It took around 30 mins to reach Karla cave. While moving up, gusty water was flowing through the stairs, coming from a nearby river. Walking was quite challenging, yet fun.  

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Inside Karla Cave

The Karla Cave is an ancient Indian Buddhist rock-cut cave. The cave was magnificent. Water flowing through the outer walls of the cave, resulted in a water-fall. We walked around the cave. There are also stairs to go upstairs. We then had to buy tickets to go inside the cave. The sculptures inside was magnificent. Carvings on walls represents history and telling a story of the past. After spending quite a time there, we moved to Ekvira Devi Temple located just next to Karla cave. Niloy and Saheli decided not to go inside the temple. So, I and Anindita went inside. At times, it remains very crowded. But we didn’t had to face any crowd that time. Then, we came back to the parking lot taking the stairs. On the way, we bought some tasty sweets named as “Kalakand” and “Peda”.

We boarded the cab to move to next spot “Bhaja cave”. By that time, too many cars moving to and fro through a narrow road and got stuck in a heavy traffic. Rain didn’t stop yet which started in Day 1, or even before. After spending quite a time in heavy traffic, we reached Bhaja cave. We had to take lot of stairs to reach Bhaja caves. View from the hill was beautiful. It was lush green all around. On the way, we had to buy tickets to visit Bhaja cave. Bhaja cave is a shorter version of Karla cave. We walked around the cave. There are many water-falls there also. I took bath wearing a rain-coat and keeping my phone and camera in my pocket. After that, both my phone and camera got damaged. Luckily, no harm to the camera memory card.  After seeing Bhaja cave, we came back and boarded the cab. The driver took us to a Dhaba (Restaurant) situated on Mumbai-Pune highway. The food was yummy. I liked Rice and Desi chicken a lot. The main-course was complemented by a dessert “Lassi”. After a filling lunch, the driver took us to a spot where we can take bath. I took bath in the water-fall, rest decided to have corn and watch me taking a bath. After that, we came back to hotel. By the time we reached hotel, sun was down

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Way To Bhusi Dam

Again, we chat till late night. Next day, we left the hotel, boarded a train and reached Pune station from Lonavala. From Pune station, we hired an Uber cab to reach Niloy’s place. We were welcomed at their place with warm heart. We decided to cook food of our own. I and Niloy went out to get some mutton. After buying mutton, I marinated that with spices. Everybody put their effort to make the afternoon a memorable one. Saheli cooked rice and arranged all required utensils. Niloy grinded the whole-pepper, Anindita motivated us with her speech and I cooked mutton. After completing lunch, we took some rest. Woke up in the evening, I and Anindita boarded a cab and reached Pune airport. We boarded Flight “Indigo” which departed at 11:45 PM and reached Bangalore airport at 01:15 AM. From Bangalore, we booked a cab again to reach home.

Lonava & Khandala is a beautiful place to hang-around with friends. This is for the first time in my life, witnessed, continuous rain for more than 48 hours. Seeing old friends after quite some-time is also something. Warm welcome from Niloy and Saheli made the trip more special.

Note:

  • Eat food in Dhaba, available in Mumbai-Pune highway
  • Carry rain-coat / umbrella if visiting during monsoon. But tourists prefer to get drenched there
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

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KODAIKANAL


  1. Destination: Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India
  2. Visited on: December 3rd – 6th 2015
  3. Peak Season: During holidays and on any weekends
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – There are trains going till Kodai Road. From there, one needs to hire a cab and reach Kodaikanal after a journey of 90 minutes (approx.)
  • By Bus – Sleeper buses and Volvo buses are available from Bangalore which goes directly to Kodaikanal via Kodai Road.

About: Kodaikanal is a town in the hills of the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, India. It’s name in the Tamil language means “The gift of the forest”. Kodaikanal is referred as the “Princess of Hill stations”.

Our Journey Starts:

I and Anindita boarded the KSRTC sleeper bus from Shantinagar Bus station which departed around 10PM. The journey was very comfortable. Reached Kodaikanal bus stop around 8AM next day on December 4th 2015. Plan was to stay in Kodaikanal for 2 nights and 3 days. Hotels were pre-booked. We booked 2 different hotels for each day. We reached hotel Richwin after a 10 minutes’ walk from the bus stop. Hotel people was courteous and allotted a room in the first floor (Room No. 201) which has all the basic amenities like sofa, electric kettle, tooth brush, tooth paste, etc. The deluxe room comes with a balcony too. The hotel is located just next to magnificent “Coaker’s walk” and Bryant Park.

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Vattakanal Falls

On the way to the hotel from the bus stop, there are many tour operators offered sight-seeing at good price. We hired one guy named Lakshmanan who offered the best price. After a quick freshen up, we boarded the booked Tata Indica and out for sight-seeing. The sight-seeing activity doesn’t take too long, so we clubbed few sight-seeing together. Here is the list of sight-seeing given below.

Tour –I ( Kodai Local sight-seeing)

  • Coaker’s walk
  • Green Valley view
  • Golf course
  • Pillar’s Rock
  • Devil’s Kitchen (Guna cave)
  • Pine forest
  • Moier point
  • Kodaikanal Lake

Tour – II (Picnic Tour)

  • 500 years old tree
  • Vattakanal falls
  • Pambar falls (Liril falls)
  • Echo Rock
  • Dolphin’s Nose
  • Mountain Beauty
  • Lion Cave
  • Neptune falls
  • Bryant Park
  • Kodaikanal lake

Tour – III (Forest Tour)

  • Silent valley
  • Fire Tower
  • Caps Fly Valley
  • Berijam Lake
  • Medicine Forest

We clubbed Tour I and Tour II in day 1 for Rs. 1400. Else, each tour cost Rs. 800. We kept Coaker’s walk for the next day as it was very close from our hotel. At first, we went to Vattakanal falls. The waterfall is gorgeous with gusty water flowing from top. Then we started to trek to reach other waterfalls. The trek was scary as we had to walk through the flowing water of the fall. Tour I is not for older people. All other people must keep their shoes in their car and walk bare footed. From Vattakanal falls we moved to Pambar falls, also known as Liril fall as the shooting for the Liril soap advertisement took place there. Then comes the Echo Rock, Dolphin’s nose and Lion cave. All places are located in a very short distance. Then we moved back to the car after a scary, yet fun filled trek of 90 minutes. We skipped Bryant Park too, as it was very close to our hotel.

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Pambar (Liril) Fall

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Pine Forest

Then the guide took us to tree which is 500 years old. Then on the way we witnessed, Green valley view and Pine forest. Pine forest is a serene place and good for photography. We witnessed lot of mushrooms around. Just after Pine forest, comes Devils’ kitchen (Guna cave). This is a lovely place and a must visit. The tree roots are creeping like snakes and the foggy weather added a charm to the atmosphere. The actual cave is now closed after a tragic death of 12 people.

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Devil’s Kitchen (Guna Cave)

Then we went to Pillar’s rock. This is another magnificent creation of the God. It is formation of four rocks and each rock looks like Mayan faces or faces of Indian gods and goddesses. We couldn’t see this formation due to fog. We visited again the next day to see the Pillar Rock early in the morning to catch a breath-taking view. After visiting almost all places except Kodai Lake, Coaker’s walk and Bryant Park, we came back to the hotel. We covered Tour I and Tour II in 4 hours. After a quick freshen-up, we moved out to see the Kodaikanal town. Later in the day, came back to the hotel and relaxed.

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Pillar’s Rock

On day 2, we woke up early and went to Coaker’s walk which opens at 6.30 AM. Entry fee to Coaker’s walk is Rs. 10 per head and Camera costs Rs. 20. Coaker’s walk offers the most majestic view of the hills from Kodaikanal. It is a stretch of 1 Km which offers a peaceful walk with a view of the hills. One can try the powerful telescope to see the Kodai town closely. Then we planned to go to Pillar’s rock again as we couldn’t take a view the previous day due to fog. We took the same car and went to pillar’s rock. There were no tourist at 8AM in the morning and enjoyed the serenity of the place.

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View from “Coaker’s Walk”

As we booked a different hotel for the 2nd day, we took our bags and moved to the other hotel which was close-by. This hotel “The Villa Retreat” is a renowned one in Kodaikanal. However, I didn’t like it in compare to Richwin hotel, though rooms were comfortable.

Then we came back to the Kodaikanal town and had breakfast and again moved towards Kodaikanal Lake by walk. Reached Kodai Lake after a walk of 10 minutes. It is huge star shaped lake. We hired two bi-cycles and took a ride around the lake which took almost an hour. We took a boat ride too. Boat ride is quite expensive there, yet not that great. One can enjoy horse ride too around the Kodai Lake. It is a commercialized lake and don’t expect peace.

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Kodaikanal Lake

From there we went to a Tibetan restaurant for lunch. The restaurant “The Royal Tibetan” is quite famous and ranked high in Tripadvisor. Food in Kodaikanal is not great. However, food in this Tibetan restaurant is awesome and really a value for money. I highly recommend this place. This restaurant is just a 3 minutes’ walk from the 7 cross petrol bunk and 10 minutes from KSRTC bus stand. One must try “Momos” there.

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Floral Formations in Pine Forest

After a filling lunch, we again headed towards Coaker’s walk to take a view of the hills in the evening light. It was great. However, I believe, the view was better early in the morning as there was no fog then and also there were very less people around which offers a calm atmosphere. We tried sweet corn there and it was best corn I ever had in my life. On each bite on the corn, the juices are splashing on my face. Kodaikanal is also famous for home-made chocolates. The shop named “The chocolate factory” is a renowned one in Kodaikanal which offers some beautiful home-made chocolates. We bought some chocolates from there. We also tried “Hot-chocolate” there which was thick and yummy. Kodaikanal is also famous for natural oils. I bought “Citriodora oil” meant for hairs. This oil is tried and tested and giving positive results.

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Way to Berijam Lake

For the last set of sight-seeing, that is Tour III (Forest tour) we booked a shared bus. Costs are Rs. 250 per head. The tour operators are required to take permission from the forest department for this trip, which is not a challenge at all. Next day we checked out at 9AM and kept our bags with the hotel owners and went out for sight-seeing. The bus picked us at 9.30AM and picked many others on the way until it is full. This trip was fun with the people in the bus.

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Berijam Lake View from distance

First, we went to Silent Valley which offers a view of nomad’s village surrounded beautifully with hills. Then the Fire tower. It is just a watch tower to see whether the forest is in fire or not. Next is a very funny place named “Caps fly valley”. If one throws leaves/hankies/caps down, it will fly back to him due to difference in atmospheric pressure. View of medicine forest is just a view of a dense forest from top. Berijam Lake is a beautiful lake located in a leach infested region. Avoid walking on the grass. The way to Berijam Lake is wonderful. All trees are covering the road from both sides. This place is also a photographer’s paradise.

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Fire Tower Covered With Fog

Later, our guide took us little inside to show some animals, where all were attacked by leach. However, I was lucky enough and the leaches only climbed my shoe and didn’t get a chance to taste my blood. Then we were taken to a shop for shopping. Bought some chocolates there too. On the way back, it started to rain heavily and the entire place turned into fog magnet with a poor visibility. But we enjoyed that atmosphere too. Once we are dropped in the hotel, we changed and freshen-up in the hotel’s common change room and went for lunch at “The Royal Tibetan Restaurant”. After a filling lunch again, we moved to the KSRTC bus stop with our backpacks.

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Cycling Around Kodaikanal Lake

There is a renowned Pastry and Ice-cream shop near to the bus stand named “Pastry Corner”. One need to reach there before 5PM to try pastries, else it gets over. We tried natural ice-creams there which were very tasty. Vegetarians can try “Hotel Astoria” which is one of the best in Kodaikanal offering veg-dishes.

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Early-Morning View Of Kodaikanal sky

We boarded the KSRTC sleeper bus which departed around 7PM and reached Bangalore Shantinagar Bus stop around 3 AM. From there, we booked a cab to reach home. Being to Kodaikanal is a lovely experience and felt it is better in many ways in compare to Ooty.

Suggestions:

  • Eat at least once at “The Royal Tibetan Restaurant”
  • Pastry and ice-cream lovers can try “Pastry Corner”
  • Kodaikanal is paradise for chocolate lovers. Try home-made chocolates.
  • Don’t walk on the grass while in Berijam lake
  • Tour I and Tour II can be combined in 1 day
  • Tour I is not for older people as it is a trek through the flowing water of the waterfall. Chances of skid are high.
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

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NAINITAL & KAUSANI


  1. Destination: Nainital & Kausani
  2. Time to Visit: Any time.
  3. Suggestion: Stay at hotel Snow View Heritage in Nainital if you want to witness sunrise reflection in the Himalayas
  4. Date of travel: 06th & 7th March 2015

About: Nainital is a popular hill station in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Nainital is set to have a famous valley containing a peer-shaped lake, named Naini Lake.

Kausani is a picturesque hill station with a 300km wide panoramic view of Himalayan peaks Trisul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli.

Trip Planner: Delhi -> Agra -> Haridwar & Rishikesh -> Nainital -> Kausani -> Jim Corbett National Park

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DELHI TRIP

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON AGRA TRIP

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON TRIP TO HARIDWAR & RISHIKESH

Our Journey Starts:

Anindita’s friend Patrick Mennig from Germany visited India. Our plan was to show him some of the beautiful places of India. After an extensive planning, Me, Anindita and Patrick are all set to start our journey. The destinations we will cover in this journey are Delhi, Agra, Haridwar and Rishikesh, Nainital, Kausani and Jim Corbett National Park. As Delhi is the centre point for all trips to Uttarakhand, Uttaranchal and other places. After having a successful Delhi to Haridwar trip, our plan is now to visit Nainital & Kausani on day 3 and day 4 of our trip.

We boarded the “Dehradun-Kathgodam express” which departs Haridwar at 00.25Hrs and reached Kathgodam at 7.10. Used the retiring room in the platform to get fresh. And we are now at the Kumaon region. The time has almost come to take breathtaking views of The Himalayas. The day we reached Nainital, people were celebrating Holi (festival of colors) and taxi’s been quite less in number, though didn’t have any issue to find one. Booked a taxi for Rs. 700 which took us to Nainital from Kathgodam after a journey of 90 minutes through winding roads of the mountains.DSC07514

The hotel “Snow View heritage” was pre-booked. Generally, one need to take cable-car (rope-way) to reach to the hotel as it is located in a place secluded from all hustle and bustle. Unfortunately, the cable car was closed on that day due to Holi and we had to book another car to reach to the hotel via road-way. The hotel doesn’t look great from outside, but the inside is marvelous. The rooms have king size double beds with room-heater. Wooden floors and sofas added charm to the room. Dining space is also decorated nicely with long curtains and flowers. The hotel lobby is decorated nicely with real head of stuffed animals. I highly recommend this hotel for any traveler who wants to view the sunrise reflection on the Himalayas which happens around 6.15am. Else one can stay near the Naini Lake or the starting point of the cable-car with lots of hotel options. But staying near Naini Lake cuts out all option to view sunrise over Himalaya. This place is also a sight-seeing point for the people staying near the lake.

We were carrying colors with us and celebrated the festival of Holi at Nainital hotel along with the hotel staffs. We quickly finished our breakfast, and started to walk down the mountains. We took the trail between forests instead of well constructed roads which was quite an adventure. The view of the famous Naini Lake was majestic from the top of the mountain. The gusty wind took away all the pain. The cluster of flying hilly colorful flags added charm to the place.

We reached the base of the mountain or near the Naini Lake. Took a Sikhara (boat) for Rs. 250 for a ride of one hour. Most of the people were not coming out of the hotel due to Holi, as a result the place was not at all crowded which we really enjoyed. Nainital people are also very sober and never put colors without permission. The Sikhara ride over Naini Lake can’t be explained in words. The pure water, clear sky, beautiful little boat and the sound of water ripple is all one need to set a mood.IMG_3490

After a lovely boat ride, we did lot of shopping. Woolens are pretty cheap there. I bought an original Adidas jacket for Rs. 500 which was beyond my imagination. As it was quite late in the evening, we decided to go back. As our hotel was at the top the hill, we called a cab driver (arranged before) to come and take us to the hotel. It took only 15 minutes by car to reach the hotel. The plan was to go to Kausani the next day in the same car.

We woke up at 5.30am next day to view sunrise. We are the only one to witness that, as people staying near the lake has no chance to come here during this time by foot. They can still come later in the day to get a view of the snow-clad Himalayas. Organizers fix a powerful binocular too to take a view of the Himalayas for a cost of Rs. 10 per head. It was a windy and chilly morning. But, the sunrise reflection view on the mountain peaks was amazing. As if, all the mountain peaks are burning with fire. Slowly, the color changes to yellow. This is one of the most charismatic views of the Himalayas and no one should miss it.10428540_10206635909405017_873268214149336347_n

After an amazing sight, we packed our bags and started our journey for Kausani via Almora and Ranikhet. It took 6 hours to reach Kausani. On the way, we visited a sightseeing spot called “Toad’s point” where a huge rock is lying in the shape of a toad just next to a stream, which was really nice. There are many sight-seeing point around Nainital one can visit. But I believe, those are not worth in compare to the price they charge except the one I just mentioned.IMG_3642

The road to Kausani was not great, not too bad though. The view is nice throughout. A stream will follow you throughout the journey. We stopped at Ranikhet for some time to take some picture. Ranikhet is also beautiful where one can stay, but we preferred to stay at Kausani as it is in higher altitude in compare to Ranikhet and we were also in a tight schedule. We reached Kausani around 5pm. The hotel Blossom Resort was again pre-booked. The hotel is nice. All rooms are facing toward the Himalayas. Hardly any pollution there, birds chirping all around, get a clear view of the majestic Himalayas from the hotel lawn, what else do you need?

We took an evening walk and reached Gandhi Ashram. One can view entire town from this place. People generally come here to see the sunrise. However, we can see it directly from our rooms as it was facing at the right direction. Kausani has beauty of its own and almost pollution free. The serenity of the place still calls me. We arranged a bon-fire by paying Rs. 250 to the hotel staff. Food was served at the hotel lawn near the fire, which was again an amazing experience under a clear starry sky.

Finally at night, we kept our bags packed as we are going to move out in the morning next day. Woke up early again to view the sunrise. This time we were not so lucky enough, as the weather was cloudy and couldn’t spot the sun. I would suggest travelers to stay at least for 2 days in Kausani.IMG_3761

We boarded the booked cab and started our journey to the oldest national park of India, Jim Corbett National park. It took 7 hours to reach Jim Corbett National Park. The road to Corbett is also beautiful. The winding roads are all around the mountain. Trees from both sides of the road leaning to give a shade. The Ramganga river is flowing at its own pace.

Trip to Nainital and Kausani was amazing. The view of the Himalayas can’t be betrayed at any given time, by any given thing.

Stay tuned for the last part of our tip to Corbett, which is one of the best trip of my life….

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