Published: September 2nd 2007September 2nd 2007
This summer May 2006 it was really a good trip to Nainital & Corbett National park. We set off by Jet on 11 the May'06 from Chennai (the capital of Tamil nadu state in South India) to Delhi and took the over night train to Kathgodam. This is the last rail head and after this, its only roads and hilly tracks.
On reaching at 7 am headed to Nainital in a local taxi, it was a lovely morning with cool breeze and fresh air and greenery all around.
As we started on the elevated road it stared raining and we stopped over for a cup of coffee, it was an udipi restaurant (a name typical to certain South Indian restaurants) at Kathgodam. The guy took 15 minutes to come back with coffee for us and we watched the heavy downpour in the hills and the gushing waters. Soon we started off and reached Nainital by 10.30 am, the booking we had done was at Naini Retreat a resort away from the crowd at a higher altitude. The weather was fantastic, the kids Abi and Niki were really thrilled.
We went around the resort and had
With our new British friend.
Wonder if she will ever see this !
a good breakfast, took some rest and were off to Nainital to go around on the first day.
Bhimtal Lake was a good scenic spot and it also reminded me of our trip way back 21 years back with Ramaswamy & Promod. It was from Meerut then the place I was working. Had some snaps taken in the same spot we had earlier taken, of course the gap being 2 decades!! A real nostalgic effect.
We went for a boating to the island in the middle of the lake on we were off to Naukuchiatal the lake with nine corners ( kuchia meaning corner in Kumoani language, this place was too good and again ventured for a boating and kids enjoyed a lot.
The taxi guy took us to Bhimtal and Naukuchiatal. He told us instead of Sattal we can go to the Manokamnayen Mandir or the temple of bells the abode of GOLU DEV the local deity, “Jai golu dev " stickers carrying this name can be seen in the taxi's and cars which we ignored but I knew he would say this again.
It was around 11 am and we settled for a coffee
and niki and abi with a fruit juice! It was now to the Sattal but out taxi driver tried to divert our plan as anticipated saying all lakes are alike and it’s better to go to the temple of bells or the Mano Kamnayein mandir! which actually if translated in English is "Heart's wish temple " So we had to say ok for the temple, there were 2 lakh bells in the temple tied around at various places with some wish in the heart, belief is that this will be fulfilled hence the name.... the heart's wish temple.
Day 2 of tour.
Had a good breakfast at the retreat the spread was lavish & we all ate well!! We went to the Zoo ,saw the Siberian tiger and this is the only place where one needs to climb up to see every animal as each enclosure is at an higher altitude that the earlier one!, the weather was good and it was also tedious climbing up and down, the pathway down was narrow and we reluctantly walked down the road and finally came to the lake side.
Then it was a boat ride to the Naini Devi
temple quite cool. The temple was good not very clean. Kids were tired by now and also hungry then it was a straight dash to the Shiva restaurant in the bazaar the only place where the food was good. We really enjoyed the meal.
It was here my wife, met her office friend - a surprise ! This reminds of the Manali trip also where we met her friend’s family from Tambaram her place of study and child hood days!! In fact we exactly met them at Vashist kund (the hot spring) while we were getting ready to take a bath in the warm and soothing water, a natural healer, await for my blog soon !.
Wait for my journal on this fantastic trip soon among the Himalayas when we covered the Himachal Pradesh.
Now back to Nainital after lunch we went to the room and had rest, evening good dinner, going around the resort, identifying flowers and enjoying the cool breeze. The scenery from the room was awesome overlooking the lofty hills, greenery, tall trees & small houses scattered over the hills. It was a pleasant experience.
We met an English lady Ms. Judy Nester
from England had a chat with her, took snaps with kids and she told us about her father who was working in Nainital in a school during the British days. She was from London and shared her experience in India. She also shared her disappointment of not spotting a tiger during the tour. Well it looks like all tigers are fed up of tourists and are hiding.
We set off to the rope way and had a good ride, had a full view of the town and also our resort from the cubicle. Here we are given one hour time to get back for the return ride. Went around the park nearby, niki tried the bull ride and was scared when it started shaking violently. Abi and NIki had a car ride same as MGM or Kishinthaa back home at Chennai. Both of them dressed up in local tribal dress and had snaps, it was really good.
In the evening we walked down to the "Gurney House" the house where the all time great hunter Jim Corbett lived long back; this was a typical British type house with a huge lawn and a lovely garden
around. I clicked a few snaps around the house. There was a care taker here who told us that this property has been purchased by some one in Delhi and it houses the old records and furniture of Corbett days. Corbett lived here with his sister and mother. We took a snap in the balcony where once Jim Corbett the all time great hunter would have stood and sipped his tea! It was a typical English style cottage.
Books on hunting by Jim Corbett such as Man eaters of Kumaon, Jungle Lore, and My India & Man eating tiger of Rudraprayag are really worth reading if you like wild life books.
After our breakfast at the restaurant we headed to Mukteshwar. I remember my brother -in -law Capt Dr.Viswanath telling me he worked at this place in the IVRI Indian Veterinary Institute and a scientist and colleague of his was also staying here! It was here they saw a tiger from their kitchen window!!! and was stunned, of course nothing serious happened as the tiger walked away silently into the wild.
We were now ready for the Mukteshwar trip passing through lovely green mountains,
winding hill tracks and our cab driver stopped at a point to show us the green apple orchards and also we plucked some apples which he said will grow to full ripe condition by the month of August. We enjoyed the morning weather. We stopped over on the way for some good photos of the slopes and enchanting route in the hilly spot. It was drizzling slightly and very cold. We were now almost near the Mukteshwar market and saw some old British style buildings and the town was small. We could only hear the birds chirping and the whistling of winds and it was indeed was an awesome sight.
We stopped over near the Uttranchal tourism office and the driver advised us that we can take up a small trek and come down the other side of the hill also visit the Shiv Mandir (The Shiva temple) atop the hill. We had to order our lunch at the hotel which will be ready by the time we come back after the trek. The route was breathtaking and both Niki & Abi were thrilled and at one point we lost the route and asked the locals at a distance
Corbett falls - Cooling off.
sitting on a rock and they signaled us the route and we were off.
Finally we came to the temple and had Darshan of Mukteshwar. From the temple we could see the full view of the mountains and the lovely greenery all over, also heard the drum beats of a local wedding ceremony. We were all tired as lots of steps to climb and then the slope, walk to the hotel.
Well our food was ready the piping hot Dal (cooked gram) and Chapati (flat, round shaped Indian bread made of wheat), the staple diet of the north India It was really delicious and all of us enjoyed the meal and soon started the return trip of around 3 hours. It was rather saddening to leave this lovely spot behind.
Started early morning to the Corbett Park with lot of hopes of spotting a Tiger. We checked in at the Corbett River side resort, a lovely resort along the bank of Kosi River and a majestic mountain overlooking our room and believe me it was an awe inspiring view. from the veranda. We went around the huge resort, had lunch and rested. The next
day we had the Corbett safari for which I had to stand in the queue and get the ticket.
The booking office was crowded. What surprised me was we had to pay the full advance cash for the trip and the person at the counter just nods his head & says ok you can board the van at 5.30 am in the morning in front of your resort!!! No receipt of having got the cash, just a smile. I wondered what if tomorrow nothing comes up at 5.30 am and even if comes if he asks us what proof for having paid what do I do? Well, when every one else accepted I had no choice left.
I was relieved only when we boarded the van and we were off for the jungle trip. The early morning breeze was lovely and we were all eagerly peeping out of the window to catch a glimpse of any thing not resembling a human being!!
After an hour or so we just saw herds of spotted dear, a jungle pig and a wild boar. The driver stopped at one point and told us this is where the tiger crossed some
time back and you can see the pug marks. I dosed my eyes and assumed a tiger standing on the pug marks and we were off!!
The vast expanse of the jungle was filled with lots of trees and one thing we noticed the Karuveppllai tree ( in tamil language ) or the Kadi patha as called in North India (a curry leaf used for cooking to add up the flavor to the curry) was abundant all over the jungle I even joked is it Corbett Park or the Kadi patha park! The area of the park is around 522 Sq Kms imagine the size it was awesome to see the greenery and nature at its best. It was a breath taking view as it was first time in my life in the midst of such vast expanse of a wilderness.
At one point we were shown a crocodile far away in the river and I saw a small pond near the spot and here was a small tortoise. Someone took this out of the pond and put it out; I wasted no time in sending back the poor thing back to its place into the water. It
The temple of bells.
Over two lakh bells !!
slipped silently and was out of sight.
We started again for the next leg of the trip and here we saw a van alarming us not to venture further as a tusker is on the way and not moving from the path. Our van driver raised the engine and slowly went near the tusker with its giant tusks slowly retracted and we moved further. But to everyone’s surprise it came charging from the bush and we had to really race ahead to vanish from the scene. This was a real movie sequence and I wondered why at all we should take such a risk what if the tusker chases and bumps off our van which is like a child's play for the mammoth elephant and added to this we were at an high altitude..
We soon came to the Dhikala tiger camp for lunch and remember we have not seen a tiger still and only the pug marks .This is not the first time even in the Wayanad jungle safari during the trip to Mysore our jeep driver showed us a tree and said just now a elephant has stripped the trunk of this tree or even it
has just finished the dropping job!
After the lunch we started back on the same route and of course the hundreds of acres grass land, huge trees, uninhabited green pastures all were a lovely sight to watch & I did capture many of such sights in my D Image Minolta digital camera, this is a memorable collection. The kids were by now tired and we got dropped at the resort by 4 pm and settled after a coffee break. The trip was overall a thrilling experience.
This day we wanted to do something unique so instead of waiting for the cab we set of walking along the reviver bed and reached the spot where lots of college boys and girls were doing the river crossing and also diving into the river with a rope tied around. I wanted to try the river crossing as I have already done this at Manali once. It’s a good experience. The belt was tied around and the guy asked me to just bend over and go off the bridge and oops it was a good 75 ft from the river; I was initially nervous but made it with ease.
The kids were eagerly waiting for me to come down. We walked along the other side of the river and now we thought of a new plan why don't we cross the river and get to the other side than again going on the bridge! Initially both I and my wife were reluctant but then we thought the water doesn't seem to be very deep and we can make it. So off we went formed a chain holding hands and step by step.
The floor was very slippery, Niki was screaming as a fish crossed between her legs and so was Abi when he saw a bigger fish. I was leading the row and giving instructions. At times we stepped on small rocks which were full of moss and damn slippery and this scared all of us more. Now we had crossed a quarter of the full length and it was now both me and my wife started thinking we took a wrong decision of crossing,
We dragged on slowly but I told the kids not to worry, to add to the tension the river towards the middle was deeper and more slippery. Now it was real
trouble as we both had water almost to the hip and for the kids it was up to the chest! This was worrying and now we were more than half way . Now I could feel the surface slightly gaining height and slowly i chose the same path and inched towards the shore praying god. Some how we managed to the shore at last. This was indeed a lesson for us not to take such risks.
Above all this we saw a board on the other side reading " This river is infested with Ghariyal (Crocodiles) crossing the river is prohibited and dangerous "
We ran to our resort and never talked of this to anyone but now the blog is for all! The next day we were in Delhi and then travelled back to Chennai. The trip was indeed a superb experience for all of us.
There are more photos below