Nainital – Jewel of Kumaon (Dec 09) – I

Nainital trip during December last year was more enjoyable since our gang of three was in company of Adityo (Sharmi’s brother) and their Ma. Five of us, packed in the car loaded with our usual paraphernalia (which includes everything that we perhaps may and actually may not need during the journey ahead, and its collection is inevitably defined by just one criterion – it should be overflowing); finally made it out on a chilly Delhi morning, to a destination which usually offers chill to Delhites when its scorching back home. We started at 8.30 am (the scheduled departure time of course, was much before that).

Nainital

Nainital

Road/ Travel

There are two main routes which can be taken to reach Nainital. I tried both the routes.

Route (A) (onwards) via Tanda, Bajpur – 285 kms by odometer
Route (B) (return) via Kathgodam, Haldwani – 308 kms by odometer.

Route A is definitely preferable, being shorter, lesser traffic, lesser time consumption, better views and almost comparable road conditions vis-à-vis Route B. Moradabad fly-over U-turn is the point where the routes diverge. Route B goes straight down the highway towards Rudrapur. This U-turn point is also approx mid-way point between Delhi and Nainital.
Average time taken is 6-8 hours, depending on halts and work on the pedal.

Directions (Route A) [Onward Trip]:-

Delhi – Gaziabad – Hapur – Garhmukteshwar (Brajghat) – Moradabad flyover [at end of this very long flyover, turn left via a U-turn to follow the road to Jim Corbette NP (well marked), move towards JCNP for about 6-7 kms, then look for a road branching off to right to] – Tanda – Bazpur – Kaladhungi to Nainital.
Road condition is good to moderate till 35 kms short of Nainital, thereafter excellent. Choke point is at Tanda, but better than numerous such points on the alternative route viz., Kathgodam, Haldwani, Rudrapur which also witnesses heavy traffic of trucks, two wheelers, bullock carts and every other thing moving on wheels or feet. (described later).
Road from Delhi to Garhmukteshwar (Brajghat), which is common to both the routes, was disastrous in patches due to numerous constructions of fly-overs along the highway.

Directions (Route B) [Return Trip]:-

I took this route (Nainital – Kathgodam – Haldwani-Rudrapur- Muradabad Flyover – Bajraghat – Hapur – Delhi) on return trip. Roads are excellent from Nainital till Kathgodam. Quality of roads deteriorates thereafter. Even more exasperating is the quality of traffic (which includes every conceivable thing moving across every conceivable direction) leading to clogged highway almost throughout the stretch passing through Haldwani, Bilaspur, Rudrapur, Rampur till Moradabad.

Nainital

  • As has been stated elsewhere, apart from the better things, Nainital is also a city of toll taxes. One should be ready to pay toll on each trip into the city, apart from other usual sections.
  • Mall Road, starting from Naina Devi temple/ Bhutanese market at Northern end running to Bus Stand on southern end of the lake (a stretch of about 2.5 kms) along the lake’s eastern periphery, is shopper’s area with varieties of fancy but standard stuff shops and eating joints. Look for much vaunted candles of Nainital. Two largish candle outlets are Narayan (?) on Mall Road and Anil Candles next to the Naina temple. Stroll along the Mall Road in evenings are quite enjoyable.

Nainital Mall Road

  • Northern end of the lake is the most happening place. This area houses Naina Devi temple, Gurudwara, Masjid, Bhutanese market, Car parking, Flats (a large flattened area used as stadium), Snow-view roapway point, roadside stalls, among other things. Road from Kaladungi/Bazpur enters Nainital at this end.
  • Bus stand and Cantt area is at the southern end, which is also entry point for road from Haldwani.
  • Car parking charges are at a standard rate of Rs 50/- for 24 hours or less in a number of earmarked places.
  • Vehicles were not allowed on Mall road between 1800-2000 hrs in December. The vehicle restrictions on Mall Road are more severe during May-Jun. When Mall road is closed to vehicles, a detour can be taken along western periphery of the lake, which entails an additional distance of 5-6 kms and meets up at the bus stand.
  • There are 7-8 points along the lake front, mostly on Mall road from where boats, primarily rowing boat with oarsmen (04-05 persons) and self-driven pedal boats (2 & 4 person capacity) can be hired. Charges are fixed and standard.
  • Unlike other hill station, Nainital was active till and often beyond 2100 hrs, in terms of buzzing crowds and shops’ activities.

Nainital

Stay

We stayed at ‘Home Away from Home’ (homeawayfromhomenainital.blogspot.com), a homely affair consisting of a number of rooms (with and without kitchen facility) run by Col. K. K. Dangwal, a retired Army officer. Details of the place along with contact numbers are abundantly available on the net. This efficiently run, ‘honest’ (and one of the best tariffs) set-up is situated at the Southern End of the lake; on the road to Zoo. Car has to be parked on the road short of the home, followed by an ascending walk of less than 100 mtrs (a small price for a grand view of Nainital with its lake). Since we were four adults, we had booked a set with two room and a fully equipped kitchen (Rs 800/- per day, off season rate). This, and another suite (with two rooms, kitchen and indep balcony) are the best options. Availability of the kitchen was especially welcome because with Ma around, who is ever willing to cook the choicest dishes, an operational kitchen is an added bonus. Add to that the Colonel’s friendly persona, who is keenly indulgent with the guests with his encyclopedic local knowledge.

Nainital

Nainital

Its already been drawling (Debosh tells me), so details about Nainital and excursions will be covered in the next part.
Thanks.

11 Comments

  • nandanjha says:

    It reads like a kunji (that small typeface book having all the concise answers) :-)

    tell us more about the stay. its been a challenge to find a good place at Nainital.

    • aurojit says:

      Thanks Nandan, Adi

      Nandan

      Thanks. Kunji (do the schoolchildren use that any more?),sure, that was the mainstay of our academic odysseys during school days. Do you remember Atom Bombs (actually aetum bumbs). In fact I would envisage this fond term kunji in our context as follows:-

      GHUMAKKAR SERIES KEY KUNJI (NAINITAL VARG KE LIYE )- GHUMAKKAR KUNJIYAN AAPKA VISHWASNEEYA SAATHI.

      DOOSRE VARG KI KUNJIYA BHI UPLABDH HAI.

      Key kunji above would that be an example of repetitive redundancies; like return back?

      Adi,

      Thanks for your comments. Your presence endorses the representational value of this article.

      Auro

      Reply

  • Adi says:

    Fantastic photographs taken … especially the cloudy sunlight emerging form the back of the hill top and the one having the trees lined up. Good feedback about Col. dongowal as well. Thanks aurojit … keep posting. :)

  • Ram Dhall says:

    I love Nainital and the Kumaon Hills. The very fact that I have been to Nainital for over a dozen times, shows my attachment to the place.

    The company for which I worked had a small guest house at Land’s End, close to the District Court, on the Talli Taal side. Though at a height, from our guest house, we could easily see Haldwani on one side and Bhowali and Taals on the other (not to forget Pilot Baba’s Ashram). Sitting in the veranda in the evenings, watching miles and miles of landscape, enjoying the uninterrupted drink and the sizzling hot kebabs prepared by Joshi ji (our caretaker), we hardly realised that we were close to early morning hours.

    The sunrise at Land’s end was always a treat to the soul. Joshi ji would ensure that we don’t miss the sunrise, despite our late evenings. Early morning cup of tea on the banks of the lake and a walk on the lakeside was always refreshing.

    Needless to say that our visits to the Taals, Almora, Kausani, Ranikhet, Binsar, Mukteshwar, etc and coming back to the guest house would always be etched in our memories.

    With children growing up, the priorities changed, as they found driving down to Keylong, Kazaa and Manali more exciting. But I still prefer to go to the Kumaon Hills.

    Thank you for refreshing our memories of this heavenly place (of course, the commercialization has taken a fairly large toll on the virgin beauty of the place. But then such things are unavoidable).

    Now about the post, it is simply superb. Pics are absolutely fabulous. As Nandan has said you have packed up virtually everything, including the route chart in this sweetly written post.. We also find the Route A more exciting.

    Would earnestly look forward to the second part of the stay.

    Thanks and God’s blessings.

    • aurojit says:

      Thanks Mr Dhall,
      Your kind words, backed by your laudable insight into the Himalayan landscape, are always gratifying. I am, as usual, at a loss of words.

      In the backdrop of your nostalgia about Kumaon, I would pose this crucial query Kumaon or Garhwal? wait, I will seek your answer in the next post covering Garhwal.

      Well, feeling of (more) wellness driving down Kaza, Manali et al, them being different from Kumaon or Garhwal or Ladakh or North East; and for that matter mountains being different from desert, that from sea beaches, and so on; shouldnt that be a cause of pride for us.

      I once met a very learned guy from a very momentous country who is inherently oriented to feel that he and his community are ordained to be the forerunners in the affairs of this world and guess what, he only knows one language (angrezi), has actually never been close enough to any guy speaking a different language, thinks that all other religions are primeval, because he never had the opportunity to interact closely with someone with a different religion and so on
      Our diversity, I would say, is really cherish-able and unmatchable. And further, no one is better equipped to thrive on such diversities
      I think that was a bit more soulful than required, but point was that if we have differences of opinion, well, we are wired and thankfully, like that.
      Thanks again.
      Auro.

      Reply

  • travellers says:

    Thanks Nandan, Adi

    Nandan –

    Thanks. Kunji (do the schoolchildren use that any more?),sure, that was the mainstay of our academic odysseys during school days. Do you remember Atom Bombs (actually aetum bumbs). In fact I would envisage this fond term ‘kunji’ in our context as follows:-

    GHUMAKKAR SERIES KEY KUNJI (NAINITAL VARG KE LIYE )- GHUMAKKAR KUNJIYAN – AAPKA VISHWASNEEYA SAATHI.

    DOOSRE VARG KI KUNJIYA BHI UPLABDH HAI.

    ‘Key kunji’ above – would that be an example of ‘repetitive redundancies’; like ‘return back’?

    Adi,

    Thanks for your comments. Your presence endorses the representational value of this article.

    Auro

  • travellers says:

    Thanks Mr Dhall,
    Your kind words, backed by your laudable insight into the Himalayan landscape, are always gratifying. I am, as usual, at a loss of words.

    In the backdrop of your nostalgia about Kumaon, I would pose this crucial query – ‘Kumaon or Garhwal?’ – wait, I will seek your answer in the next post covering Garhwal.

    Well, feeling of (more) wellness driving down Kaza, Manali et al, them being different from Kumaon or Garhwal or Ladakh or North East; and for that matter mountains being different from desert, that from sea beaches, and so on; shouldn’t that be a cause of pride for us.

    I once met a very learned guy from a very momentous country – who is inherently oriented to feel that he and his community are ordained to be the forerunners in the affairs of this world – and guess what, he only knows one language (angrezi), has actually never been close enough to any guy speaking a different language, thinks that all other religions are primeval, because he never had the opportunity to interact closely with someone with a different religion and so on…
    Our diversity, I would say, is really cherish-able and unmatchable. And further, no one is better equipped to thrive on such diversities –
    I think that was a bit more soulful than required, but point was that if we have differences of opinion, well, we are wired and thankfully, like that.
    Thanks again.
    Auro.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    This post took me back to Naini once again, memories of Corbett’s home (the Gurney House) and his winter cottage in Kaladhungi and the beautiful lake itself surrounded by the green and luscious hills, and the long walks early mornings and evenings with stops at Narain’s to get the newspaper..

    Looking forward to read your next post.
    Jerry

  • travellers says:

    Thanks Jerry,

    Deem it indeed an honour to get a reply to my post from someone called Jerry Jaleel. ‘The man eaters of Kumaon’ used to be one of the must read varieties in our school library and that is how I got to know about Jim Corbett – and his vivid and perceptive description of jungles and the beasts.

    In fact, this very time before going to Nainital, I had obtained Jim Corbett omnibus for my daughter. We could manage to read only very few of the stories therein. She enjoyed the mahaseer story (with its much debated size, if not weight) and the celebrated photograph.
    Nainital remains as interesting and thrilling as ever.
    Jim Corbett foundation of yours is a true tribute to the great being who has left one of the most significant imprints on the ecological landscapes of this country.
    My best wishes for the foundation. And sure, already relishing the notion that you would be my next post also.
    Auro.

  • nandanjha says:

    Ghumakkar Kunji-yan, aapakay suhane safar ka sadaiv saathi !! :-)

    Actually I wont be surprised if some enterprising guy takes a print in small typeface and actually starts selling them as you get down at Haldwani/Kathgodam station.

    • travellers says:

      That would actually be a great idea. Presently, print stuff is available only in big ticket names like Outlook traveller/lonely planets/ glossy travel magazines etc. A more earthly, handy kunji-like stuff providing basic info of local areas, viz hotels, tourist spots, contact numbers, fares etc, – would there be takers ? I think yes.
      Auro.

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