There are times when a man wants to break free (maybe not literally). Guys, I was sitting at my farm and wondering what would be my next destination to explore. I did not want to go the touristy route, what I had in mind was a bit of both adventure and that priceless laid back feeling that you get in some hill stations. So I picked up my car and zoomed of into the yonder.
I started at one of the best know national parks in India . Corbett national park is considered as one of the most efficiently run and one of the most visited national parks in the country. Some of the best places where you have a high probability of sighting some amazing animals are Dikhala, Jhrina and Bijrani ranges. These are the places of high adventure. In Dikhala accommodation is available at the forest guest house. Outside the park you can find accommodation at some of the most amazing luxury resorts anywhere. But if you ask me, I would recommend the guest house in the Dikhala range of forest, man it rocks and it was the perfect start to the tour of the Kumaon region. You can either take your own vehicle or the modified four wheel vehicles which are available on hire and explore the forest to your hearts desire. It is abundant in flora and fauna with some amazing varieties of trees and plants. What ever said and done about other things that you can do in the park, nothing beats the high of sighting the King of all animals. Sighting a Tiger and observing the King in his full glory that to in his own backyard was like a shot of adrenalin which rushes through your body.
In the morning v (me and my better half) set of to Ranikhet. On the way we found a small but really nice an clean dhaba. It goes by the name Danapani. It has limited selection of food items which are none the less cooked to perfection and taste like fresh home cooked food (my only weakness).
On reaching Ranikhet the splendor of Kumaon was evident. Visiting this place took me back in time when i came face to face with the splendor of Indian army. Ranikhet is the regimental center of Kumaon Rifles which is one of the prestigious regiments of the Indian army (my father was a Indian army officer ).
Their are a lot of hotels to chose from but my favorite are the ones which are run by KMVN (Kumaon mandal vikas nigam). The basic reason is that they are situated in the best locale which offers some of the most splendid views of the mountain ranges. I, for one stayed at the kmvn in Chiliyanaula which is approximately 13 Kms from Ranikhet. Some of the must see sites are the Haira Khan temple in Chiliyanaula then Jhuladevi temple and the Chaubatia garden\orchard. KMVN on the upper mall is also a great site to stay. For the people interested in shopping, a stop at the KRC woolens is a prefect opportunity to get some great stuff at some amazing bargains.
I will write about the rest of my experience in the coming posts. Got to hurry, see you later. Starting from chiliyanaula we took the excellent drive to Kasuani the favorite spot of Mahatma Gandhi and man I concur with the great man, the drive takes u through a valley with green fields spread through out. Picture perfect is how I would describe it. On entering Kasuani the old world charm was apparent.
I did some scouting around an again found that the best spot was with Kmvn, it offers a magnificent view of the majestic Himalayas . The sunrise and sunset are something to die over. From here you have a clear view of three peaks Trishul, Nanda devi and Ppancha Chulli are really picturesque.
20 minute drive from Kasuani is Baijnath. Baijnath is situated on the banks of Gomti river and has temples which were built in the 12 century. For the history buff the sun temple of Katarmal which has stone and metallic sculptures and amazing architecture was built in the 9th century its approximately 10 KM from Kausani. Baijnath has a 14 km trek through dense forests. If you are the trekking type, then you should not miss it. Local guides are available or you can plan ahead and contact people at www.goadventuresports.com. This is a amazing outfit which would do the arrangements on your behalf Now let me share the next part of the great Kumaon adventure. We started around 12oclock from Kasuani on to Shitlakhet passing through Someshwar ,Pathria, Kosi and on to Shitlakhet. It really is the backwaters of Kumaon which you would enjoy on a laidback drive with wild animals as companions and just a smattering of people in the towns that you pass. Again the best place to stay here was the KMVN resort which is very idyllic and I would say a writer's delight. A place were the poetic side of every individual is sure to be out in the open.
We had the entire place to us. A must do is the 3km walk through dense forest to the Shitla Devi temple. It is a good hard trek and the scenic beauty is breathtaking. In the evenings the best thing to do is to relax by the bonfire and soak in surrounding environment.
In the morning we were off to Binsar. It was the summer capital of the Chand Rajas (7-18th century) and it's the hands down winner as the most scenic spot of the Kumaon Himalayas. Their are some good hotels to stay in. One off them is the Khali estate which was once occupied by Sir Henry Ramsay and
then by Smt Vijaylakshmi Pandit. It is now a heritage hotel and provides a pleasant atmosphere. I stayed at the KMVN jungle resort which is located in the Binsar wildlife sanctuary. It has some of the rarest species of animals, birds, butterflies and wild flowers. The place is right in the heart of the jungle and offers a great view of the Himalayan ranges. Man, was it cold. Even at the peak of the summer season you had to take a thick quilt at night. Binsar is at an impressive altitude of 2420 Mts. It is also a trekkers paradise Your companions on the trek would be misty mountain trails, towering oaks and rhododendrons (incidentally the flowers of this tree make a very refreshing drink)
In the evening we took a lovely trek to zero point. It has a watch tower from where you have a grand view of the Himalayan ranges. The sunset view point is also a great place to chill.
After spending the night in the cozy wooden rooms we were of to the lake paradise of Nainital. The drive from Binsar to Nainital is very scenic and winds through thick forests. As you enter Nainita, you are greeted with a beautiful view of the tal( lake ). The beauty of the tal (lake) is to be seen to be believed. It is surrounded by green mountains on one side and the town on the other three sides. You can hire paddle boats or normal leisure boats and go for a relaxing boating trip in the Nani Lake . A must visit is the bhutia market where you can get great bargains (word of advice check the product before buying). There is a abundance of hotels in Nainital for all range of budgets.
After checking in, we went on a tour of the zoo in Nainital. It houses the exclusive snow tiger and a great variety of exotic birds. After that we took the cable car on to snow-view which offers a great view of the mighty Himalayan range.
At night time the lake glimmers with all the lights of Nainital. It is a lovely night with clouds coming down to caress us into oblivion. We sat on the balcony of our charming hotel and soaked in the sights and sounds of this charming hill station.
In the morning we started back to my farm with a twinge of regret but an amazing assortment of memories. This was one of the most amazing road trips that I have ever undertaken. This is a beautiful part of our country which you should explore.
If at any point of time you require my help for planning a trip in the Kumaon hills, feel free to CONTACT ME and all support would be provided. Now some details to help my fellow traveler
Always make sure that your car Is in great condition. The distance s u will travel are, from Delhi to Corbett national park is app 300kms Corbett to Ranikhet is app 100kms. Ranikhet to Kausani is app 60kms .Kausani toShitlakhet is app 56kms . Shitlakhet to Binsar is app 60kms the last 11kms is not a good road . Binsar to Nainital is app 90kms . all above mentioned have petrol pumps except Binsar and Shitlakhet .
So enjoy .
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