Why do we need vacations? There is a very simple answer to it. We need vacation to rest, rejuvenate, relax, as well as to recharge ourselves at least for the next few months. It’s very important to get away and de-stress oneself in today’s world. When we work for a living, we must get away from the work once in a while.
Mercury has already touched the season’s highest of 42 degree Celsius and hot winds blowing throughout the day. The heat and high temperature will only increase by every passing day. In this unbearable scorching summer, we usually tends to accommodate ourselves either in office or at home or at places in the comfort of an Air Conditioned environment, which make us feel comfortable irrespective of boiling temperature outside.
We, the Ghumakkars, also use this as a perfect excuse to have a getaway to a much cooler and pleasant place and plan our vacation to the nearest hill stations. This trend to go to hill stations during summer is not new. Most of the hill stations in India were developed by the British, who established hills stations as their summer capitals during their rule in our country.
Summer vacations in schools and colleges also provide a platform or a reason for us to have a family vacation so that the entire family can spend some quality time together. You will find hill stations all over India and for the people, who stay in Delhi & NCR; the advantages are far too many. There are many popular hill stations within a range of 350 Km and each place has their unique features and beauty that cannot be compared to any other. People go to hill stations in summer because due to their high altitude, offer cooler temperatures and so are really pleasant to visit. I am sure most of you have already planned your summer vacation and look forward to hit the hills or beaches around the globe. For all those who still haven’t decided where to go, this post may help you to decide a place to beat the summer and there are people who are already in love with the place may plan for a revisit.
In March just after Holi, we had three consecutive holidays from 29th to 31st of March, 2013 and we planned a short trip to the hills of Kumaon. I have a soft corner for mountains and hills and have been to quite a few of these hill stations in India, but never in Kumaon region. We planned to go to Nainital twice earlier in 2005 & 2006 but had to cancel our train tickets at the last moment.
Since then, it was always in our dream to be there someday. We had no idea about the place, except a few like a picturesque lake making it an excellent place for boating activities and full of natural beauty, which was a popular summer retreat for the British.
We were also made aware of the fact that almost all the hotel rooms offer a great view of the lake. We didn’t want to take any chance and booked our room for two days, in KMVN Tourist Rest House, Sukhatal in advance. We expected a lot of people visiting the place as most of the offices would be closed during these three days. We were excited to go to Nainital and also to have a view of the lake from the terrace in front of our room while sipping a cup of tea in the morning or evening.
We planned to reach Nainital before 12 noon. At 3 in the morning, on Good Friday, the 29th of March, 2013, the three of us started from Gurgaon and within 30 mins we found ourselves on Nizamuddin Bridge and from there it is a straight road till Rampur on NH-24. On our way, we crossed Indirapuram – Ghaziabad – Hapur – Gajraula – Moradabad and then Rampur. You can plan to have your breakfast near Gajraula, as you can find number of food options from dhabas to luxury hotels, including McDonalds.
There are few routes to reach Nainital once you reach Moradabad By-pass. The first one is straight towards Rampur – Bilaspur – Rudrapur – Haldwani – Kathgodam – Nainital and the second one is through Moradabad – Tanda – Bazpur – Kaladungi – Nainital or another one on Kashipur – Ramnagar route. However, I was not aware of the Kaladungi route earlier and drove straight towards Rampur. Rampur is ~25 km further from the point from where you need to take left turn for Tanda – Bazpur route. Once you reach Rampur (Rampur Railway Station on your right), take a left turn towards Rudrapur.
We reached Rampur around 7 in the morning. The distance from Gurgaon (IFFCO Chowk) to Rampur is approx. 210 Km and road is in excellent condition, nice and decent. From Rampur to Rudrapur, it was just opposite; the road was full of potholes. Practically, in Bilaspur the road is deteriorated so badly, you can’t call it a road anymore. Traffic was very very slow. It took us nearly two and a half hour to cover a distance of 40 km. The condition of the road improved drastically after Rudrapur.
Finally, we reached Kathgodam, via Haldwani at 10:30 a.m. Though it is one way, the road is in excellent quality and a pleasure to drive. The lake city of Nainital (at1938 metres above sea level) was just 35 km away and was waiting for us.
It would have been great if there is a toy train rides up to Nainital, I was thinking while driving. The drive of 35 Km, away from traffic with nature is the most memorable part of our journey. We rolled down the windows and allowed the cold breeze to welcome us.
Numerous times, we parked our car at a safe place on the way to capture the beauty it offers. Then all of a sudden after a turn, a cool, fresh mountain air seemed like heaven’s nectar welcome us and a huge lake is in front of us, out of nowhere. We wanted to savour every drop of it. We entered Tallital part of the lake. After paying an entry fee of Rs.100/- and drove through the Mall Road and reached Mallital, the other part of the lake.
We couldn’t find our hotel KMVN Tourist Rest House (TRH, Sukhatal) and with the help of traffic police, we came to know that the Hotel is further up and they showed us the direction of the TRH, Sukhatal. On our way to the hotel, we went passed by the High Court. TRH, Sukhatal is located a bit off from the mall, approx. 1 Km up in the hill from the Lake and guarded amongst the trees. There is a dried up lake (hence the name Sukhatal) and came to know that it fills up with water during the monsoon. We were slightly disappointed thinking that we won’t be able to view the lake from our room, as we thought before. The room was very spacious, neat & clean and the Himalayas were visible from our room. It brought back smile on our face. It can be a very good place to stay, if you are traveling by your car. However, if you are reaching Nainital by train or bus, this place may not be ideal for you. Reaching there at night from the Mall would be a difficult task if you don’t have your own vehicle. I don’t know whether any other mode of transport is available there or not. You can book rooms online through KMVN website. It costs us Rs.2,200/- per day. There are few categories of rooms, you can check the details online, including their availability.
A brief summary of the route:
- Gurgaon to Rampur – 210 KM (NH-24 : excellent road)
- Delhi (from Connaught Place) to Rampur – ~185 (NH-24 : excellent road)
- Rampur to Rudrapur – 40 KM (NH87: Road condition is very bad)
- Rudrapur to Kathgodam – 35 KM (NH87: excellent road, you will enjoy the drive)
- Kathgodam to Nainital – 35 KM (NH87: I have no words to express…fantastic road)
It was 1:15 p.m. and we were informed that Lunch would be ready by 2 p.m. We were extremely happy to fulfill our dream to reach Nainital after seven years. We decided to take a tour of the city after freshening up and taking our lunch at the Rest House…(to be continued)