NATURE & TREKKING IN THE HILLS…the last Himalayan post!

“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains…”
Diane Ackerman

My third & last account of our trip into the hills. Since we stayed in a remote little heritage cottage, far removed from the hustle & bustle of urban life, much of our time was spent exploring the hills around. It was easy to set off in any direction, & we would find man made foot trodden paths winding along hillsides for miles to end. On & off we’d come across small cottages, made of mud & wood, self-sufficient in their own little ways, with vegetable patches on the outside – their source of food. One thing common across all the hill people we met, were BIG smiles. The people of this region are pleasant & courteous beyond words, honest & helpful to the core. It’s a revelation to find such unselfish & satisfied people. Unbelievably, they have little access to the outside world. No telephones in houses, no cable TV, no system of organised transport. They walk miles to get to main roads to catch buses & are never in a hurry. It’s as if time waits for them! We took treks deep into the forest to explore the region. Unlike the West, the forested areas are completely unmarked & wild. There are paths that lead deep into the forest as the hills are dotted by the odd thatched house here & there. In the picture above, our starting point was at the arrow you might be able to see in the centre right on top. I almost expired when I saw the distance we had covered…phew! The hub is very good with logistics & planning. He planned the trek after gathering enough information that the climb wasn’t very steep… …primarily because we had my 70 year old Mum with us on the trip (I think he had me in mind too, LOL, coz I told him I wasn’t doing a steep uphill walk). We were told to walk until she could, & then we would turn & return whenever she didn’t feel good enough. He made her walk first to set the pace for the Brady bunch…so we followed her. She did well (& me too), & we completed the entire charted out route, an hour to get there, & another to get back!!
The kids would walk ahead at times, but within safe distance as the place was totally uninhabited, with not a soul in sight. I t was hilarious when at one point, deep in the forest, we heard sounds in the trees & my mum declared it could be a leopard. White faces of 2 very scared kids clutched their Dad. They never strayed away thereafter. I was then made front runner because I’m not scared of animals…in any case, the sound turned out to be from a large bunch of black faced monkeys, wildly jumping through the trees. My not so brave, hysterical kids didn’t let me stop to take pictures! Sigh!

The Brigadier & his son, the folks who own the cottage we stayed at, were very hospitable & made our stay very worthwhile. They helped us plan our few days there, & guided us to explore sites like the abandoned house that Rabindranath Tagore lived in. Many writers and thinkers make their trip to rejuvenate their thinking and ideas. It is commemorated that some of the compositions of Rabindranath Tagore was compiled while he stayed here. Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate Bengali poet, short-story writer, song composer, playwright, essayist, painter and philosopher stayed in a bungalow perched way up in the hills.

The peace & tranquillity of this place inspired the likes of Rabindranath Tagore who penned parts of his famous Gitanjali here. It was an hour long unmarked trek into the deep forest, with biodiversity beyond belief, which finally took us to the old house, which is unfortunately in a state of abject neglect. Unfortunately, even though the bungalow is owned by the government, it is in a ramshackle & dilapidated state, every last thing stripped from the house, except for a few latches which were firmly attached. It’s a government owned property, but has been completely run-down & is ghost-like.

Mahadevi Verma, one of the luminaries of Hindi literature, a prose & poetry writer, built an abode here too, which is now a national museum. She not only wrote poems here but also worked for the development of Ramgarh. She worked for the welfare of villagers and women, & wanted to create awareness among the people of Ramgarh, and was a social activist.

While we were in the kumaon hills, we also visited a few local ‘hot-spots’ like Naukuchiatal, a picturesque lake situated at an altitude of 1,219 m. It has nine corners and hence the name, ‘nau means 9 in hindi’. Naukuchiatal attracts migratory birds, which makes it a ‘bird watchers paradise’, and is a haven for fishing enthusiasts.

Both yachts and paddle-boats are available and this is a favourite spot for anglers. There are facilities for para gliding as well. We had a just a little time that day, so we did a little boating on the lake, & then the kids enjoyed some like horse riding. Silly pleasures, but a great deal of fun!

Next we drove on to Saatal, an emerald green lake, situated at a distance of 23kms from Nainital. Saatal is a unique, unforgettable spot which has a cluster of lakes placed amidst the oak forest.

A tranquil & calm lake, surrounded by hills housing old bungalows & beautiful sights. Our final stop that day was at Nainital, a small town in the hills of Kumaon, which is a popular hill station surrounded by mountains on three sides. Once this area had many lakes and it was called the City of 60 lakes, but most lakes have disappeared now.

We spent a short while wandering around, did a round of boating on the lake on the kids insistence, had an early lunch, which was nothing to write home about, & left in a hurry as the place was teeming with holidayers. There were local fruit sellers selling an assortment of local fruit in leaf baskets, & then there were locals from bakeries selling colourfully iced butter cream pastries in trunks…

The next morning, we had an early breakfast in beautiful dining room at the cottage & drove back home to Gurgaon, next to New Delhi! Home sweet home!!
Part 1 here
Part 2 here


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Comments

  1. Helene says:

    Sounds like your having such a great time. Can't wait to read more about it.

    Cheers :)

  2. Judy@nofearentertaining says:

    What a beautiful trip you had. Sounds like just the type of things that we look for in a vacation!!! Hiking, exploring and eating!!!

  3. Arfi Binsted says:

    seems that everyone is happy hehehe… and huts made from mud you said? that's interesting!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great Post Reminds me of good times in hills and yes coming back to delhi

  5. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Such an interesting series of posts Deeba. Thanks for showing us the real Himalayas!

  6. That was an interesting read.. i did some trekking in southern India i i was so scared of the wild animals… you have a lovely web page.

  7. Shifali says:

    Loved your narration of indeed a beautiful trip…

    Your kids are adorable.. belated happy birthday to your son…!

    Very Nice blog!!!

  8. kellypea says:

    I'm smiling at the photos of your kids and their tolerance of the camera. It seems they all get a bit weary of it after a while ; ) As far as the wild animals go, I'm not sure I'd want to be in the lead. Hahaha.

  9. Patricia says:

    Thanks for the beautiful post, so many excellent photos. Thanks for sharing! I have wanted to go the Himalayas since I was a very little girl and saw the movie 'Lost Horizon' with my Mum…it was a case of instant intrigue.

  10. Wow, it looks like such a great trip. I love all the nature pictures!

  11. Taste Buddies says:

    Deeba, what an incredible trip and with the whole family too. I'd love to be able to do something like this with my mum but I don't think she's make it up those steep paths. Your photos are wonderful.

  12. Beautiful Dee, everyone look pretty cheerful.

  13. Nachiketa says:

    That was quite a trip….

    Just came back from one myself.. a short weekend getaway to Mussoorie and Dehradoon with friends . we had a blast….

    Isn't Mehar wearing the red strands in her hair….. Tell her it's really cool :-)

  14. Sounds just wonderful! I love the pictures and your kids are absolutely gorgeous!! But really Deeba, going on holiday is not an excuse not to make the dumplings you know…!! LOL!!

    Hugs!

  15. Kitchen Flavours says:

    Thank you for this virtual Himalaya tour…..Hmmm it was really nice to know you had gr8 time….Belated wishes to your peach monster……..God Bless!

  16. Culinary Wannabe says:

    What an amazing trip! You really got away from it all! It is so nice that you will have so many pictures of your trip to share with your children later in life.

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