I was looking up some travel photos recently (which I do so every once in a while) and it brought back memories of an exciting trip to North India with a group of cousins.
Our trip was divided into 3 places based on 3 broad criteria!
- Adventure (trekking)
- Wildlife (the cousin sis was a ‘tiger lover’ and hence)
- Climate (being summer time, we had to scout for cooler climes)
So we rounded up on the northern state of Uttarakhand that included:
- The mountains of Jwarna
- Jim Corbett National Park
- The hill-station of Nainital
Jwarna is a small village amidst mountains and to get there, we had to first reach Dehradun, Uttarakhand’s capital best known for its schools and defence establishments. We made the most of our only day in the city frequenting local markets and making most of food stalls. After a 3 hour rickety van ride that included churning of gol-gappas and the momos stomached earlier, we reached our ‘Whispering Pines Himalayan Retreat‘ – a retreat which is a whole lot of tents lined across a well-terraced mountain. The place is nicely tucked away from the rest of the world and the locals who manage it were warm & welcoming and took us through a couple of treks including a moon-lit night trek for 2 hours with a soup-break! Which of course brings me to the pahari (mountain) food – fabulous! Made from produce that they grow locally, our meals were delicious to say the least, and made with tons of love. The bonfire-starters were so good that we insisted on visiting the ‘Maharaj’ (as the head chef is called in parts of northern India) and stopped short of shedding tears of joy while thanking him. Thereon we ate-slept-trekked and continued the cycle for 2 nights and had quite a blast.
Then went downhill to the sweltering hot village of Jim Corbett called Choti Haldwani and stayed in a rustic little cottage for another 2 days. The main point of traipsing in this weather was to see the endangered Bengal tigers that are known to come out of their dens to drink water. But then, our efforts to wake up at 5am went to waste as all we spotted were hundreds of deers and other creatures seen otherwise in daily indian life. If you didn’t count the paw-prints of a tiger, that is, which was apparently hiding nearby according to our jeep driver. (We suspect he had these paw print moulds that were used in advance to create some drama for poor desperate tourists like us). The highlight of Corbett, for me, was being surrounded by orchards and orchards of mango trees and other fruits wherever we went. My cousins had the unfortunate task of trying to hold my hands tight lest I tried some monkey acts out of excitement.
And on our last phase, uphill we went again to the beautiful hill-station of Nainital. We stayed in an old british colonial bungalow converted to a hotel, loitered around the famous Mall Road sampling different cuisines, climbed uphill to the Nainital Zoo (at the insistence of the cousin sis who finally saw a siberian tiger albeit caged), went boating in the pear shaped lake that is synonymous to Nainital and soaked in the wonderful weather. It was a fitting end to the holiday!