From the plains we were now ready for our rocky adventure, two rounds of tea and munchies we were ready to jet set and go. I don’t think the cab driver was prepared for what was to come his way, 7 of us I guess were ok but then 15 pieces of luggage… konjam difficult to accommodate. RGV n J in the front with the driver, me, pati, Srags and D in the middle and Mite with the luggage right at the back! The gaddi was packed or more so to say we looked like sardines packed in a can.:)
With a steady drizzle, lush green nature and some warmth in the car we were off to Nainital. Initially it was all quiet as we were trying to find our comfort spot in an already packed car when our driver started small talk with us. It started with whether we saw the tiger, where we stayed, the weather in general, the weather at Nainital, does it usually rain in this season blah blah so on and so forth. The point being the small talk was not really small 😉 and then for some reason he decided he wanted to interact with the “Bhai saab joh peeche baithi hain” so mite became his bakra.
He wanted to know why mite wasn’t married, if he had a gf or not, did that gf leave him and go so on and so forth. I really don’t know how amused Mite was with the conversation but he seemed to be getting really annoyed and started giving it back to the driver. I was sure I wouldn’t remember the conversation verbatim and then there was no space also to pull out the pen and jot. The conversation provided ample laughs and kept us occupied while the mustard field, the occasional bullock cart, car heading towards Ramnagar and umpteen houses passed us by swiftly.
Soon enough, we reached the beginning of the ghat road and by then our Schumacher driver decided that we needed a Ferrari like experience and went zipping through most of those hairpin curves. Now you see, I am not a very hair pin curve/drive friendly person, I feel pukish, it kills my opportunity to do the ooo’s the aa’s and wow’s and with the horrible speed at which we were zipping away I was feeling queasy and I thought I would throw up any minute. So, when I realized that I couldn’t take it anymore we stopped so that I could throw up if I wanted to, the others could stretch, click a few snaps and RGV could get a few shots. Mite & Srags walked a few 100 meters down to get a bottle of water just in case I needed it… but the time they returned I just didn’t feel like throwing up! 😀 I decided the wisest thing to do will be to sit in the middle so that I wouldn’t feel too much of movement…seemed like a good decision but after a while D decided she needed a stop and threw up while I still didn’t. Nonetheless, whatever little I managed to see the drive up was just magnificent…lovely mountains, the fluffy –yummy cotton candy look alike clouds, cold breeze, tall trees and nature in all its glory was something that needs to be experienced.
By now the rains had picked up as we were getting closer to the destination. For the rest of the journey I decided to keep the eyes also shut and sleep while the others decided to play antakshari! Finally, a few rounds of antakshari and we were on Mall road inching closer to our place of stay KMNV tourist home and all I wanted to do was get out of the car, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the beautiful hill station. But then, nature had some different plans for us we stepped out into the rain and the cold wind sent shivers down our spine. The sweater and the monkey cap didn’t seem to serve the purpose and the climb to the guest house wasn’t easy either.
Now you see, being from Chennai we hardly have any winters and I always thought I was capable of taking the cold, but this time round I was to be proven wrong! The husband, I knew was gonna have a tough two days but then, it seemed the case with the others too. We finally managed to get our stuff, freezing selves and everything else into our rooms. The first thing that we did was warm our hands by the kutti heater in the room and throw open the curtains to only be pleasantly surprised by the view from the room! For a few seconds, I even forgot that I was literally shivering, what lay right in front of me was the beautiful Nani lake, clouds passing so low that you could reach out and touch them, lovely boats and beautiful houses/hotels and shops lining the surrounding hills. 🙂
It was 5 by the time we reached and a good 45 mins later and more layers of clothes, (1 thermal, 2 tee shirts, sweater, shawal & 2 pairs of socks) to brave the cold, we headed out to explore the quaint little town. There is something so fascinating and charming about these hill stations that walking down the small roads is absolutely romantic. The Nani Lake looked even more breath-taking and the lights from the houses that dotted the hills, made it a perfect postcard!
By now since the majority of us had under-estimated how cold it would be, we made short pit stops at the stores to buy ourselves gloves, and other essentials. By this time RGV decided he needed ear muff and a muffler to complete his look, and vola! red ear muffs and a red muffler is what he added to his colourful personality . Now this was the perfect spot for RGV to shoot he would hide himself in the dark corners and pop out suddenly if u stopped walking, didn’t hold hands, he would sit on the sidewalks and shoot every passerby till he got a new perspective .
Dinner, was at a restaurant called New Sher-e-Punjab and we fed our hungry stomachs soup, rotis, butter chicken, dal, and topped it off with garm garm Gulab Jamuns which was such a welcome relief! 🙂 Since everything had almost shut down by the time we finished dinner, we headed back to our hotel & to the warmth of our rooms. A round of cards, a few rounds of Pictionary with the India cards, we were ready to hit the sack.
We woke up the next morning with Srags telling us that there was fresh snowfall and we could see it from the balcony. Forcing myself to leave the comfort of my warm bed I got out to only realizing I had a blocked nose and bad cough but then for the view and the experience of an actual hill station it was all worth it. The thrill of seeing fresh snow fall on those tall pine trees in the distance was marvelous and for first time snow experience I was totally floored!
Our plan for the day was to head to Ranikhet and our Tata Winger would meet us outside the hotel. After b’fast which included parathas, omelets, tea and coffee (our staple menu) we were good to go and all the while going through my b’fast I decided to eat less to avoid nausea from hitting. Over the happy banter at the table RGV suddenly quipped “Even if Angelina Jolie has been around I wouldn’t have done anything, that’s how freaking cold it was! 😛 that’s how cold it was. The rain gods kept the blessings coming, so with the only umbrella and raincoat between us we piled up into the van and off we went. A few minutes down the road the sights that lay to our sides were breath-takingly beautiful!
Absorbed by the sights and sounds on the long road to Ranikhet we took ample breaks for photographs and also for chai where D, Mite, Srags and RGV sir of course took pictures and couple shots and of nature in abundance! 😛
And as we wound up the road the air became crisp, fresher, the clouds, trees and mountains oh so lovely it looked, like out of a painting! 🙂
Ranikhet or the Queen’s Meadow gets its name from a small legend “that it was in this lovely hill station that Raja Sudhardev won the heart of, Rani Padmini, who subsequently chose the area for her stay, thus the place getting its name, Ranikhet.” Now a cantonment town home to the Kumaoan & Naga regiment. The colours red, green and yellow take prominence in the town, motivating quotes and images of army men adorned the town reminding you of the rich legacy that region has. By now we were on Mall Road (seems like every hill station has one) and our guide took us to the tweeds and shawls factory, a quiet little church on a little hilltop converted into a place where lovely shawls were bring woven. Ranikhet Tweed and Shawl Factory is run by the Kumaon Regiment to help the widows of jawans injured in battle as mean of livelihood. We hung around there a bit, the shutterbugs clicked nonstop and the rest of us just observed the lovely colours being woven.
When asked where else we could go our guide rattled off the regular tourist spots( we had absolutely no interest in going there) but the one that deserves mention here is the Ranikhet Golf Ground a lovely golf course the gentle hills rolling by the place was a charm. Most of us we sure our guide wouldn’t have seen a bunch of nut cases like us we didn’t wanna do the touristy stuff, the temples, churches nothing…we just did the trip our way, RGV made the couples walk, sit on a bench, hold hands while he managed to capture the shots in his already dying camera.
By now we were way past lunch time and the last thing we wanted was not getting food and having to go back hungry. All of us settled down and RGV found a plug point to charge his battery, fueling up time for the battery also.
A pill to fight the nausea downhill we set off, and before I knew it I was fast asleep and so was most of us except for RGV who saw the fog descending and the drive looked like a nightmare with low visibility.
By 6:30 or so we reached Nainital and we decided to explore town and help ourselves to some Momo’s at the market place or whatever we could lay our hands on. The rains hadn’t stopped and to continue walking we needed to buy ourselves an umbrella, the husband and I go around looking at umbrella’s and settle on a nice kallan koda (the long ones that can be used as a walking stick).
The moment we opened it and walked a few meters, it just stopped raining! Just imagine you pay up 200 bucks and there it had to stop raining! A small stop at a candle shop that sold candles in various shapes and sizes had us engaged for a good 15 mins as we picked stuff for ourselves and RGV for his many ahem… friends! 😀
The best part about having food at a hill station is when you completely enjoy warm food. The hot soups, steaming momos and even a glass of warm water can be such a welcome relief to the biting cold. Stomachs full we slowly decided to walk back to the hotel, stopping by those shops selling wonderful kick-knacks .RGV bought some of those wood carvings, stoles/shawals etc to be gifted and Mite got me a lovely muffler as a b’dy gift: D
D & Srags walked up ahead while the rest of us did our shopping and clicked a few pictures of the lovely night light that dotted the town of Nainital. Me, hubby, rgv & J decided to walk back while the three of them took pictures. The next thing I remember of the rest of the night is that I had curled up to sleep giving instructions to the husband to wake me up when everyone returned so that we could gather for some fun, which I was not made privy to as I had fallen fast asleep.
……. (Some portions have been left out coz this is a public blog) 😛
The next morning yet again I woke up to the wonderful sight of snowfall and this time it was falling right off our roof after melting… 🙂 It was a lazy morning as we decided to sleep in a little longer and then pack up and vacate as we were leaving by 5 pm that evening. So explore Nainital was mission for the day. So the itinerary included cable car ride, the high court that we spotted on our way to Nainital and maybe the zoo. So after our staple b’fast we took cycle rickshaws (yayaya my first time on one) to the end of the road for the cable car ride. We got our tickets valid for one hour on the top on the lovely snow capped mountains with a good view of the Himalayas.
Now the excitement of seeing snow was just exhilarating RGV & the José family were seeing snow for the first time so you can imagine the excitement: P
Actually there was nothing much to do on the top of the hill so we posed for D & RGV, threw a few snowballs at each other and decided to look around for things that could possible interest us! On the way down Mite &D found some kids playing football as subjects for photography while J &RGV took a few shots at the balloons with a gun.
We made our way back to wait for our cable car, D and Mite came back and told us that D almost had a heart attack coz the view finder of her very hep camera just came off right into her hands! So you can imagine an otherwise very brave D was almost in tears. Somehow she managed to put it back and she was back in business 🙂 After we had a good laugh over this by then moi did something that you could say only I could manage and that is…Mite handed me his camera and me not wanting to drop it put it around my neck…just that I hung it upside down 😀 I was such a million dollar sight.
The rest of the day passed by pretty quickly, we walked up Mall road to take pictures of the high court which ultimately only Mite managed to take.
By then hunger struck and we decided to head back and look up the Lonely Planet for where to eat, so we trekked back downhill this time poor Srags walked all the way almost till our hotel only to find the bistro closed as it opens only when its season. We settled for a light lunch of momos, sandwiches, chopsuey to keep us going till we boarded our train that evening. The rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent sitting at CCD clicking pictures of the sleepy hill-station crowd, refueling on coffee and just resting our tired legs.
By 5pm our drive had come to pick us up and transport us to Kathgodam to catch our train to Delhi. The drive to Kathgodam was equally splendid. We were extremely tired, one of all the walking, two of being extremely cold even with the many layers of clothes. Only the music from D’s phone played in the background, while each one of us drifted off into our own sweet world of memories. As we got closer to the station a lovely full moon rose in the sky, its glow lighting up the quiet hills on the way.
Light round of snacks and a long wait at the station, the Kathgodam Express rolled into the platform and we settled down for the night, our tired bodies more than happy to oblige!
PS. thanks D & mite for sharing the pictures!:)