Cruising Around

After almost 2 months of looking around for quick weekend getaways from Delhi, we finally zeroed in on Nainital. The destination was finalized just a week before leaving. Not very original on first thought, but that was how it was after taking numerous considerations into account. The weekend in question was the 3 day long break after 15Th August and getting acco at the last minute in Nainital (with the entire Delhi crowd descending on the place), was well nigh impossible. However, thanks to Anita’s army connection, we got great rooms for a day and that too just opposite the lake. The rooms were luxurious with a huge bed and an equally huge bathroom. It even had this quaint concept of a dressing room!!

We reached Nainital around early afternoon. The light drizzle on the way had turned into a downpour. Since we were all tired from the journey, the day was spent idling around in Nainital in a quintessential tourist way: boating and walking the length of the mall road, shopping for stuff you will never use.

The next day was more interesting as we were going to Binsar, away from the crush of tourists. Since we had a cab to our disposal, we stopped at quite a few places including a stop at Jageshwar temples. It turned out to be one huge disappointment! After having seen temples like Baijnath (in Uttarakhand) and Hatkoti temple (in Himachal), Jageshwar turned out to be like any other temple in the city. Individual havans had taken away the pristine beauty of the place. The stream running beside the temple was littered with the remains of the havan and the usual wrappers, plastics etc , not to mention that the entrance was crowded with the numerous stalls hawking ‘religious’ stuff. The architecture itself was old though and it would have made for a pretty sight, situated as it was among the pines.

We reached Binsar around late evening. Inquiries at the various resorts confirmed our worst fears; almost all of them were booked out. However, by a stroke of luck, the tourist office informed us of the “Eco Lodge” within the Binsar wildlife sanctuary. This was an initiative of the government to give support to the villagers who had lost their means of livelihood, when the forest was declared a protected zone.

We had to trek 2 kms in the forest to reach our mud house built in the traditional pahari fashion. The place had no electricity and by a strange combination of events, we found ourselves trekking through the narrow paths at night, with only the hazy moonlight streaming through the clouds, praying we wouldn’t slip down the mountain. Jyoti almost did and we walked even more gingerly after that. The place was beautiful at night with not a soul nearby. I was looking at stars after a long time. The dinner was wholesome and we gorged on the fresh rotis with great gusto.

The next morning, we did a small trek to the zero point (I wonder why all trekking destinations are called zero point), from where you can supposedly see a few peaks. However, that morning it was raining and far from seeing the peaks, you couldn’t even see a few metres ahead. It was great to just trek though.

In the course of our travel, we realized that not having prior bookings in such a weekend was a bad idea. Hotels in even little known places like Ramgarh were fully booked. Not to be daunted, we went further ahead to Mukteshwar, and sure enough we got a decent place called Anand Resorts, to stay in with a great view to boot at very reasonable rates. I wouldn’t recommend the food though, which was unappetizing and expensive. We had to return the next day to Delhi. En route, we visited Ghorakhaal, which was where Anubhav had done his schooling from. A particular viewpoint at the place gives a panoramic view of the Bhimtaal lake and the nearby areas. The rains seemed to have painted everything with a fresh coat of paint. It felt good to indulge one’s senses. However, we had to leave for Delhi and we were running short of time. Waving a hasty goodbye to the place, we started our long ride back to Delhi marking the end of the good times…….. at least for a while!