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NAUKUCHIATAAL

“Hills are the perfect place for a child’s education.” Having spent my childhood in the mystic mountains of Mussoorie, I was sharing my experiences with my longtime friend and nature enthusiast Amit. Amit was planning to send his children for further education to the hills of Nainital and as for me, it was another chance to dwell in the hills of Uttrakhand – my lifeline! If I may say.


Blue Throated Barbaret

We decided to visit Nainital and the nearby Naukuchiataal to take a first-hand look at the schools and the facilities each was offering. Our base was the beautiful Club Mahindra Resort located near the scenic lake in Naukuchiataal, thanks to Amit’s membership.

We left on a beautiful January afternoon at around 2 pm. We were a total of seven persons and the suv was fully packed. Everyone had been given prior instructions to carry as minimum luggage as possible.


Jungle Barred Owlet

Naukuchiataal is around 300km from our place. The road is good. As a matter of fact, from Bareilly onwards it’s a highway until Uttrakhand. We stopped by at Haldwani for dinner at the famous south Indian joint Udipiwala. We swiped off some savoring dishes and polished it off with a cup of filter coffee before embarking on to the remainder of our journey.

We reached Naukuchiataal at about 10 in the night. Our venue was the beautiful Club Mahindra Resort. We soon shifted into our well-appointed rooms and spent the next few hours talking and planning our next two days. Before going to bed I called up the reception and asked for a local guide who could help me around with bird watching early morning the next day. A number was given to me and I was thus introduced to Mr. Bharat who was to spend the next morning with me.


Barking Deer

After a tired day and a long drive, I finally hit the sack at around 12 midnight. Everyone in the group was sure I would never make it up in time for tomorrow mornings trek. Next day morning I was up by 5.45 AM but was very tired. My zeal to foray into the forest had died out and I was praying to God that Mr. Bharat may have forgotten about my request the night before. Unfortunately for me, at exact 6.00 AM, the phone rang. An excited person was on the line – “Good morning Sir. I am waiting for you at the reception.” Mr. Bharat had arrived and was dot on time. Without delay, in the next 15minutes I was at the reception. In this hurry I had forgotten to wear my knee caps and carry my trekking bag. Fortunately I carried my camera and binoculars - the bare essentials.

Red Billed Leiothrix

Any day in Uttrakhand is a beautiful day. The air is pure and crisp, the landscape is mesmerizing, the people are simple and the food is great. No wonder I am a fan of the Kumaon region of Uttrakhand. We started off from the resort immediately entering into a forest nearby with Bharat telling me stories about the region, where I should eat and his teacher who had inspired him to take up bird watching as a hobby and now as a profession by being a guide associated with Club Mahindra.


Russets Sparrow

Our trek lasted for about four hours and the last hour where we were descending downhill literally took the wind out of my sails. Without my kneecaps walking downhill had become a tortuous affair, but at the end, it was worth it.


The Day was spent visiting a few schools and seeing their campus, talking to a few kids. Finally we narrowed down to G. D. Goenka International School. A beautiful school with excellent amenities. Later in the evening we visited the beautiful temple at Kainchi Dhaam and the next day was spent in Sarovar City – Nainital.

White Crested Laughing Thrush

WHEN TO GO

According to me the best time to visit Uttrakhand is anytime. Check out your schedule and pick a convenient date and time. I am sure you won’t regret it. I usually pick off seasons times. There is hardly any crowd and the hotel tariffs are less. You can check with your hotels for the seasons. Usually the winters and rainy season are classified as off season. Holidays and New Year’s Eve are counted as season.


Himalyan Bulbul

HOW TO REACH.

The entry point into Kumaon region of Uttrakhand is Haldwani. Haldwani is a small beautiful town located at the foothills of Nainital.

ROAD – Haldwani is well connected from all major cities by a good network of roads.

Delhi to Haldwani – 272 km, around 5-6 hours

Lucknow to Haldwani – 362 km, around 7 – 8 hours.

Bareilly to Haldwani – 108 km, around 2 and half hours.

Haldwani to Naukuchiataal – 33 km, around one hour drive.

RAIL - Haldwani is well connected by rail from all the major cities in India. The railway station is located at Kathgodam.

AIR – the nearest airport is at Pantnagar which is located 26 km from Haldwani. Please check flights. To the best of my knowledge, Pantnagar is poorly connected and hence I would not recommend this form of travel, unless of course you take a chartered plane!!

Grey Bushchat

WHERE TO STAY.

There are numerous places that you can choose from for your stay. These places cater to every budget. We stayed at Club Mahindra. The resort is beautifully located and has all the amneties required to make a holiday a great one. The only flip side is that it is a little on the higher side of the budget, unless you are a member. Reservations at www.clubmahindra.com. Please check availability for non – members before proceeding.


The Lake Resort. I am mentioning this resort because of its beautiful location. During my morning trek we passed through the campus of this resort. I think the resort perhaps has about 500m of property on the banks of the lake. I was struck by the sheer size of the property, the maintenance and the the absolute peaceful environment. It indeed is one of the best properties I have ever laid my eyes upon. Prices start at around Rs 5000 / - a room, no seasonal discounts and no inclusions. If you plan to spend a few days in solitude, this is a highly recommended place. Get in touch with the hotel for better details. Reservations at www.thelakeresort.in.



Babler

KMVN resort. The Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam is a government owned enterprise that provides probably one of the best locations, affordable prices, seasonal discounts and free breakfast. Honestly speaking this is one of my first choices, always for my stay in Uttarakhand. Reservations at www.kmvn.in

WHAT TO CARRY AND PACK

Temperatures in Uttarakhand can vary from season to season. In any season it will be cold enough for you to carry a jacket, a sweater, woolen cap etc. Nights can be quite chilly.

For those in love with solitude, perhaps a book, some music etc.

Binoculars for the nature enthusiast.

A camera to take home memories.

Common Green Magpie

WHAT TO SEE

1. The lake at Naukuchiataal.

2. The lake at Bhimtaal.

3. A visit to the butterfly man of India – Peter Smetacek and see his beautiful collection of butterflies.

4. Visit to the famous Kainchi Dhaam Temple.

5. Fruit shops of Bhowali.

6. Lake at Saat-Taal.

7. Bird watching at Saat- Taal. ( bird watchers paradise), a visit to the studio area for bird watching.

8. A visit to Nainital.

Grey Headed Parakeet

WHO SHOULD GO

1. Anyone and everyone.

2. Family trips.

3. Highly recommended for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers.

GRADE

1. A walk along the lake, shopping etc. – Easy.

2. Trekking – Moderate to Difficult. (a trek may appear easy initially but later on it may turn out to be a tedious affair. Please make sure you discuss the path to be taken before hand. NEVER EVER venture out without a local guide. These hills are home to big cats such as leopards, panthers etc.)

MY RECOMMENDATIONS-

1. Take at least 5 days off so that the feeling of being in the hills can soak in.

2. Go off season. Nature will feel entirely different. You will enjoy more. Never go peak season, like summers etc.

3. If possible travel with company. It’s great to have someone to share your feelings with.

4. If you can afford it stay at Lake Resort or Club Mahindra. If not, opt for KMVN.

5. Make sure you visit the Kainchi Dhaam temple. It’s beautiful and surprisingly peaceful. It overlooks a small stream making it even more scenic.

6. At Bhimtaal, do visit Peter Smetacek. Peter is lepidopterist and is regarded as an authority on butterflies. He is well known in his community as the butterfly man of India. Peter lives on top of a hill and owns a beautiful estate which is open to tourists. He has a wonderful collection of butterflies which can be seen. If you want you can also stay at his place. I think he charges around Rs 2000 / - per person all meals included. It’s a beautiful property, but only recommended for nature enthusiasts.

7. For bird lovers make sure you spend some time in Saat – Taal.

8. Sarovar city Nainital. This is a place that is very close to my heart. You can spend a lot of time here and still feel deprived. Make sure your trip has this place on priority basis.

9. Boating in Nainital.

10. Shopping at Bhutia Market Nainital.

11. Ropeway trip in Nainital.

The list is actually endless, but for what time you have on hand make good use of it.

As I wind up I cannot stop thinking of the past few months. These past months have weighed down heavily on each and every one of us. The old order has changed yielding place to the new. Change is difficult and sometimes painful. Many have lost their loved ones and many still live in fear in these changing times. The new normal has changed the way we work, communicate, socialize and probably everything else. The only way out is accepting the change with a positive attitude.


Grey Treepie

The erstwhile actor Vinod Khanna in one of his memoirs mentions the living legend Amitabh Bachchan. It is said that Mr. Bachchan was never late on the sets for his shooting schedules. In one of the movies with him, Mr. Khanna got stuck in a traffic jam and arrived about an hour late on the sets. When he arrived he saw that Amitabh Bachchan was fully ready and sitting on the sets perspiring in the heat. Vinod Khanna immediately apologized for the delay and pointed out to Mr. Bachchan that he was sweating. Amitabh smiled and said “oh now that you have pointed it out I realize.” Such was the dedication of Amitabh Bachchan towards his work. Despite the odds he always kept a positive attitude towards life and his work that helped him tide over difficult times.


So let us all try and accept this change with a positive attitude. Stay safe, stay healthy.


ADD LIFE TO DAYS

NOT DAYS TO LIFE.


RAVI

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www.unknownbirder.com
www.unknownbirder.com
Jul 08, 2020

Yes Nikhil. But be rest assured more will follow soon. Already working on my next one.

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nikhil_chandak
Jul 08, 2020

Sir...took very long to share this...👌

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shikhaamit21
Jul 07, 2020

👌👌

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drvivektripathi
Jul 07, 2020

Thank you . I am eagerly waiting for your post.

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