We had been talking about going to Nainital for a very long time. A three day holiday just seemed the best time to do it. So we sorta decided on the spot. The Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigams Office in Lucknow (Just behind Hutch house on Shah Najaf Road) was helpful and made the necessary bookings at their tourist rest house at Sukhatal in Nainital (two nights) and Corbett International Resort at Corbett (Three nights).This is a pvt. hotel for which KMVN makes bookings – Public-Private partnership as the PRO at KMVN called it – Damn costly though. In this story I am writing about Nainital. I would share my Corbett tale along with pics in a subsequent post, hopefully very soon. We did see ‘the thing’ in Corbett so stay tuned.
As with any hill station, the points have wonderful views of the valley below. The lake is wonderful and the boat ride is a must for first timers. The other points are Snow view, Dorothy’s seat, Tiffin top, Lands end and Naini peak. The Himalayan snow caps are supposed to be visible from Snow view but you need an exceptionally clear horizon for that. Snow view is approached by a rope way which gives you bird’s eye view of the lake. There are fancy rides for children at the top as well as a KMVN tourist Rest house (Room rent is inclusive of rope way charges twice a day). There’s a guy with air guns who charges 20 bucks for ten shots at bottles he’s strung up on the trees. It’s a hit with the kids. Dorothy’s seat, Tiffin top and Lands end are approachable only by trekking or on horseback. Tiffin top offers a fantastic view of the Krupa Tal while Dorothy’s seat oversees the Naini Lake. The wild part is the horse ride. It’s bumpy and scary. The slope is steep and the drop is so sheer that your scared for your life in case of a misstep by the horse. But they are sure footed and well trained while the guide runs along with you and stays between the horse and the drop at all times. They advise you on how to sit during the ascent and descent as well as how to control the horse. The key to sitting comfortably on a horse, as I found out, is balance.
Some pics from my trip.
Outside of Nainital are the Bhim Tal and Sat Tal lakes which mean a ride by taxi. We did not attempt this and so cannot comment. Someone else may like to add.
Tips – Nainital
The tourist sites in the environs of Nainital are not really accessible by cars or bikes. The only option is trekking or on horseback. If you are young and energetic or unencumbered with kids, then trekking is the option for you. It is invigorating and at the end of each trek is the reward. If you don’t like walking or have small kids in the group then horseback is the best option. The horse saddles may not fit doubles so separate horses for the kids is advisable.
On Horse Back
For the other lakes around nanital, taxis can be hired. As you eat breakfast on mall road guides and horse touts identify tourists instantly and solicit customers. I don’t know about the taxis as I didnt hire any. However the horse touts show you albums with all the spots. Then they show you an official looking chart which quotes Rs. 400/- for a standard ride. But considering the fact that it is offseason he will tell you that he will settle for Rs. 300/- per horse. Do haggle at this juncture cos as the day progresses the prices come down drastically as I found out to my cost. They reach about Rs. 125/- per horse by 3-4 pm. However, having said this I would like to add that it is hard work for these fellows – they practically run along with the horse and it is such a steep climb and coupled with the cold it must be pretty difficult. I for one did not mind paying what they asked at the end of the ride along with a tip to boot.
On top of Dorothy’s seat are two cameramen who offer to take wonderful photographs at Rs. 25/- a piece and have them delivered to your hotel by evening. Beware, they are lousy photographers. My digital camera took much sharper photos than the ones he gave me so generally avoid them unless you have battery problem in your cam or your mem stick is full at an inopportune moment.
If you have your own car, entry to the mall is charged at Rs. 50/- while there are toll gates on the way to lovers / suicide point and on the way to Raj Bhavan (Rs. 25/-). Beware of Uttaranchal taxi drivers – they usually think they are the best hill drivers and disdain other drivers especially with other registration plates. Parking at the lake is charged at Rs. 50/- for 24 hrs. They even have a check out time of 12 pm at the parking lot.
So that was about it. Coming soon is my story on Corbett. Comments/Feedback welcome.