Nainital and Mukteshwar- Kumaoni Paradise

Four of us had finished our tea. It was mid of December, 2011.  We hired two autos and headed towards Old Delhi Railway Station. After finishing our dinner at the station premises, Ranadeep got four bottles of water. I along with Ramen and Rudra had already purchased some wafers and sliced cakes. Finally we boarded Ranikhet Express around 10:30 pm. We had to make sure that our stomach was full, as the train didn’t have any pantry car. We started cracking  horrible jokes, as the train left Delhi station. Around 11:15, keeping the fellow passengers in mind, we decided to have mercy on them and tried to catch some sleep.

Early dawn around 5 am, our sound sleep was interrupted by some coolies. We reached Kathgodam Station. Four of us had some tea with the wafers. It was chilling cold outside. After freshening up, I looked at my watch. It was 5:35 hrs. We stepped out of Kathgodam Station Platform #1 and two of us, went to a nearby SBI ATM to withdraw some cash. Around 6 am, we were all set to start our Kumaoni Paradise trip. After a little bit of negotiation, we booked an Alto for 200 bucks. They generally ask for 350-400 INR for a hatchback to take you to Nainital. But, you should have a little bit of negotiating power. They’ll easily drop to Rs. 200-250.

We reached Nainital bus stand in 1 hr. We checked in around 7:30 am at Hotel Paryatak. Its very near to the bus stop (10-15 mins walking distance) . They have moderate charges for rooms. One double bed room would cost you around 600 bucks per night. We took a suite (two rooms and two double beds) for 1000 bucks + tax per night. The hotel balcony has a terrific view of the Naini Lake. However, if you need luxury, Hotel Alka and Hotel Elphinstone are two good options.

As it was winter, we had to make sure that they have hot running water. The hotel manager said that hot water will be there every day between 9 am and 12 noon. We had our shower, gobbled up some breakfast and charged our mobile phones. Hotel Paryatak has some finger licking foods, I must say. I had a talk with the hotel manager. He arranged for a cab in next 30 mins for sight seeing. We were informed that as it’s the month of December, we could not trust the weather. We were lucky to have a sunny day. We wasted no further time and left for sight seeing at around 11 am.

We had the following points in “Places to visit” list:

  1. Bara Paththar
  2. Eco Caves
  3. Tiffin Top
  4. Bhimtaal
  5. Snow View Point
  6. Botanical Garden
  7. Lovers’ Point and Suicide Point

After our visit to the above points, we were informed that we would be dropped at Hotel around 5 pm. However, Ramen and I decided to ask the driver to drop us at Mallital instead.

Life emerging out within rocks



As the name goes, Bara Paththar is a combination of 12 huge rocks, generally visited by travelers who loves trekking. We also met our hearts’ content and trekked to whatever possible extent, we could.

We enjoyed our horse ride to Tiffin Top. The scenic beauty was simply breath taking. Gorgeous Kumaoni range came in front of us with almost every turns of the narrow road. Shera, my horse was very much obedient and being the local resident, it knew the better than anyone, I guess.

Scenic Beauty of Himalayan Range


Snow View Point, our next point. Immensely beatiful place, where you can hardly stop clicking. Snow clad Himalayan Range, including Nanda Devi peak.

Next, our cab headed towards Botanical Garden. Entry Fee: Rs. 5 per person. Not much to see, but Flora and Fauna at its best ever, with a man made waterfall. We decided of not devoting more than 15 mins at this place.

Around 3pm, we felt hungry. We asked Chandan Ji, our cab driver, to take us to a nearby Dhaba. He took us to Shanno Da Dhaba. Though, we never got the chance to meet Shanno Ji personally, but I intended to thank her personally to provide us with delicious and fresh chicken curry and roti.

On the way to Mukteshwar


After lunch, we were about to proceed towards our next point- Bhimtaal. It was on the way to Mukteshwar. Chandan Ji said us that, instead of going on that day, we should visit it the following day, as we had in our plan. We planned to visit Mukteshwar temple, the very next day.

Hence, our cab headed towards Lovers’ point. Its just an edge of a cliff, but we could not resist clicking snaps. Just 10 feet below Lovers’ point, there is Suicide point. We giggled, that after all both meant the same. if you are in love, you are suicidal. However, we didn’t go deep into this universally true statement and thought of keeping this hard core truth restricted to ourselves only.

While returning, we touched the last point of the day: Eco caves. Man made 9 caves, with names as Flying Fox, Squirrel, Panther etc. encouraged us to check our fitness. We struggled to cover 7 out of them, and decided the next two as ‘pending’ for our next trip to Nainital.

We returned to Nainital after our sight seeing. As promised, we were dropped at Mallital. We were charged 750 bucks for the sight seeing. Mallital is a place, which is just perfect for an evening stroll and some quick shopping. Nainital, as known for amazing candles and wood works, is a place worth spending as much as you want depending upon your heart’s content. Naturally, we couldn’t stop ourselves from almost endless shopping. There is Naina Devi Mandir nearby. We tried to pay a visit. But, we decided to visit the temple, the very next day morning.

You can’t afford to miss these Candles


Exhausted Sun, setting down


We had, 2-3 cups of coffee from Mallital in between. Rudra was still not satisfied with the shopping, and he headed towards a nearby Bank Of Baroda ATM. Around 8:45 pm, we returned back to our hotel. Like any normal Indian traveller, we opened and checked our recently purchased gifts and souvenirs. It was damn cold. We purchased some scotch from a nearby IMFL shop. (Prices are slightly high as compared to Delhi). After few shots, we had our dinner. Bed never looked so tempting.

Naini Lake and Mountains at night (clicked from Mallital)


Naini lake from hotel


Next morning we had our breakfast at our room. While having shower in lukewarm water, I thought how improper the famous song “Thande Thande Paani Se Nahana  Chahiye..” stands here. By 10 am, all of us were ready to leave for Mukteshwar. We asked Chandan Ji to pick up from Mallital around 11 :30am. We reached out boating point (near Amar Ujala office). Normally, you would be charged around 80-100 bucks for an half an hour ride. It comes to 160 INR for an hour. The boatman gave us life jackets, and we were ready to enjoy our ride on the renowned Naini Lake. We asked the boatman to leave us at Mallital, towhich he easily agreed.  around 11:10 am, we were at Mallital. We entered into Naina Devi Temple. You can get Puja Daali outside the temple. Nainital derived its name from Naina Devi only. This temple is one of the most revered temples among Hindus in India. Soon after our visit, Ramen got a call. He informed us that Chandan Ji is ready with his WagonR. We looked at our respective watches. We could not stop admiring his punctuality, and mocking ourselves for being a typical Dilliwala regarding time.

Naina Devi Temple


Boating is fun at Nainital


We left for Mukteshwar. On our way Channdan Ji informed us that  Mukteshwar is a place where Lord Shiva bestowed a demon, which he slew, with salvation or “Mukti“. The temple and town obtained its name from this . We were thrilled to head towards an altitude of 2315 Mts. above sea level. We stopped at Gollu Devta Mandir or in local terms Ghantewala Mandir (Temple of Bells). We were amazed to see uncountable bells of different shapes and sizes outside the temple in a small market. Its a belief that, if you worship Gollu Devta and offer your Puja thali, after tying a Bell, it will be fulfilled.

Uncountable Bells at Gollu Devta Temple


After spending some time, and clicking some snaps, we left for Mukteshwar. Our cab stopped at next spot: Ghorakhal Tea Estate. Its an organic tea plantation. In the serene beauty, you can enjoy the greenery and some samples of Organic Tea. They have a small shop inside, from where you can buy small tea packs.

Ranadeep at Mukteshwar Temple


Finally, we reached Mukteshwar temple. We visited the temple, with Ranadeep struggling with him cell phone as network was poor. However, I was thankful to Mr. Bharti Mittal, to find Airtel Network firm and strong at even at such high altitude. We quenched our thirst in a nearby coffee shop after our visit. While returning back, we asked Chandan Ji to be present around 1 pm, the following day to escort us to Kathgodam Railway Station. For Mukteshwar trip, we paid him 800 INR. We returned hotel  in the evening around 6pm. A surprise was waiting for 2 of my friends. Ranadeep and I had a talk with the Manager earlier in the morning for a bonfire near parking lot of the hotel. Ramen and Rudra were unaware of it. He had arranged for logs and fire, by evening. Now, it was our turn to get a surprise. He had arranged for coffee, snacks and some music near our bonfire. Some more fellow boarders joined us.

Next day morning, we went to the Zoo. We were amazed to see Tibetian Wolf, Siberian Tiger and some rare species of birds. Though we missed Snow Leopard, but it was worth visiting the G.B.Pant Nainital Zoo. We left for Katgodam Station with Chandan Ji around 1pm to board our Kathgodam-Anand Vihar AC Superfast Train around 3:30pm.

17 Comments

  • Sanand R says:

    Jeet, I have been searching for posts on Nainital as I plan to take my family there next week. Most articles seemed to lack life and passion. Your post has both. In fact, I plan to take a printout of your post so that I can take it with me when we go to Nainital. The informative tips you have shared regarding the hotels, the rates, the places to see, what makes it interesting, the background info – all of it is written well and with a lot of sincerity. I hope you are able to visit more places to your heart’s content so that we can read more posts like this from you.

    • Jeet Kabasi says:

      Sanand R, I’m honored. Such kind words made my day. My writing is not worth taking print outs. I just described, what I felt. Thanks.

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    @ Jeet,
    Nice & Informative post along with beautiful pictures of Nainital. I have been Nainital last Month 24-jun to 29-Jun. I am writing a post on Nainital in Hindi and will publish on 12-Aug-2012 at Ghumakkar.com
    Thanks for refreshing my Memory.
    Thanks

    @ Sanand R,
    If you want to any help like Hotel, Taxi and Place to Interest near by Nainital etc., You can contact me my email id. riteshagraup@gmail.com

    Thanks

    • Jeet Kabasi says:

      I was glad to know that I was able to freshen up your memory. Will look forward to your post. It was my 5th visit to the city of lakes, and yet enjoyed it.

  • Archana says:

    Dear Jeet,

    Nainital has been one among the most discussed topics in Ghumakkar forum. Yet, what surprises me is the different essence that each of the posts brings with itself.

    The view of the Himalayas is a hair-raising experience. A glimpse of it must have delighted you, isn’t it?
    And, the pic of the candle store is really colorful.

    Enjoyed reading your post.

    Cheers!

    • Jeet Kabasi says:

      Archana,
      Himalayan range view irrespective from where you see it, is an excitement in itself. It’s always a jaw dropping glimpse. The only word that seems to stick on your mouth is “WAAAOOOOOOWWW”.

      Thanks for liking and enjoying my post.
      Adis

  • vinaymusafir says:

    Great travel story.
    I am inspired and making plans for this year’s end.
    I will go by my car. Is driving complicated there? I have drived on Dehradun – Mussoorie road easily.

    • Jeet Kabasi says:

      Thanks Vinaymusafir,
      I’m floored that you liked it.
      Driving is not at all tough. Only the zoo road is a bit stiff. If you have driven earlier on Dehradun-Mussoorie-Chamba road, this road would be as smooth as butter.

      If you have time, you can even go for Corbett National Park after you visit Nainital. As of now, due to monsoon, Corbett is closed. But, as you said, you are planning it during year end, Corbett would be a place, which you can’t afford to miss (unless you have visited it before).

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    Jeet, Yet another beautifull account. I have been to Nainital, Bhimtaal many times and also ahead till Pithoragrah. Kumaon is indeed quite beautiful.

    Regards,
    Your Dhanaulti specialist :p

    Vinay, No problems in driving till Nainital. Just, normal hilly roads.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Jeet – I liked your story tremendously, completely devoid of superlative expression which you always find in any story if you read a travel magazine. At Ghumakkar, we cherish the personal travel experience part of it and as you were telling us about your experience, we also came to know

    – Timing of Ranikhet Express, No Pantry Car
    – ATM at Kathgodam. Rates for taxi
    – Hotel Details. Close by places etc

    Nice. If you have it handy, you can share Chandanji’s mobile number. Sincerely hope that someone from ‘Shanno Da Dhaba’ reads it. :-)

    Dec is an off season. In summers, the rates would go double/4-times.

  • Jeet Kabasi says:

    Nandan,
    I am overwhelmed. I am really amazed to know, that so many readers actually read my post and they have liked it. However, “I’m Loving it”

    Note: Last part of the reply was not sponsored by McDonald’s.

    Despite investigating some old business cards. I could not find ChandanJi’s number. However, I was delighted to find the name and number of the Manager of Hotel Paryatak:
    Mr. Bharat Chandra
    Contact # +918057048883(Personal Number)/ +91 5942 235815(Reception Number)

    Hope it might be of some help.
    Cheers

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Jeet,

    your post refreshed our memory about visit to Nainital and surrounding areas.

    Details brought out here will surely be valuable for others planning a trip that side. Mid December must have been bone chilling cold.

    Night pic of the lake is GORGEOUS.

    Thanks,

    Auro.

    • Jeet Kabasi says:

      Thanks Auro,
      Yes, it was chilling cold. But, we intentionally planned the trip during that time. We also had ice creams during evening strolls at Mallital. It was terrific and a “out of the world” experience.

      And believe me, we were the brand ambassadors of Neva Thermocot. Mornings were still ok, but after Sunset, thermocot was a must.
      And special thanks for liking the night picture of the lake.

  • mohan says:

    very nice info, mr jeet, so narrative, fun loving……take care guys

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