Warning : Its a long post with a lot of detail! Have some 15-20 minutes spare to read it please...
They say matches are made in heaven, I say Travel Plans are also made in heaven and executed on earth by the lesser mortals!
There is no other explanation of how I have landed up in Nainital 3 times without the name being a part of my plan when I start from home? That statement kind of gave away a bit of the information that ideally would have made sense when I finish the first 10% of this travelogue! but whatever!
The first cup of tea being made for us at BailParao
Back into time first!
Early 2010, I had taken this club membership which entitled me to be a guest for some 15 odd parties in and around delhi throughout the year, not a single of which I attended! AND, it gave me a couple of nights free stay by Country Club Resorts! Honestly what I was interested in the free stay, which was not really so free, as I realised later!
Back to the future now...
So we had to send a Rs. 500 draft along with three preferences with different dates to Country Club Resorts before they could pick one (read the cheapest) and book us there! What we got was the Tiger Den Resort! For some reason I thought it was on the NH121 (banks of River Kosi), however we realised that it was about 13 kms away towards Kaladhungi only when we reached Ramnagar and called the resort for directions.
The drive from NOIDA was very comfortable except the "work in progress" flyovers on NH24! I can't believe that the status seems to be exactly what it was a couple of years ago at 3 places... And the road near Garh Mukteshwar is still a buffet of potholes with pieces of road on top! Don't understand it!
The 99 kms stretch between Moradabad bypass and Kashipur (via Thakhurdwara) is still bad! The last I had driven on it was when I was coming back to Ranikhet via Ramnagar, and it did not feel as bad because I was driving a Safari... It did not feel too bad in the Palio either, but it was bad! A lot of strain the arms and eyes! The road quality miraculously changes as soon as you reach Kashipur.. While I could barely touch 60 kmph at times in the last 90 minutes or so, I was driving at around 100kmph as soon as I crossed Kashipur...
The question is WHY? And the answer is that I was now driving in Uttarakhand! Drive to Ramnagar was a breeze and it was just 15 more minutes to drive the 14 odds kms after Ramnagar to BailPadao (Resting place for Bulls - if translated in English)
The wooden stove for making Tea... TASTY TEA
Radha made for a good backdrop for this cycle in the rain!
We reached the resort only around mid-night it was funny to see the guard room boys struggle with opening the gate!! the lock had jammed, and it took them about 5 minutes before I could drive in! We checked into a room towards the back-side of the resort and figured out a few things we could do the next day.. Safari was not on the plan for Saturday, however we wanted to go to Corbett Falls and plan for a Safari on Sunday... The additional information we got from the resort guy did not really lift our spirits as it included mood-dampners like the grasslands were still under water, most paths inside the jungle were still broken, and there were extremely low sightings so far! Except that he could arrange for a jeep for us to drive around the reserve area (outside the main forest) where there were chances of tiger-sighting! Now personally, I am not a fan of animal sighting! I love the jungle, and I hated the fact that I am not going to be able to enjoy the ride like I would have liked it!
We also had to change the room almost immediately after we checked it, as the bed was a spring-bed, and a broken one at that! The shift was prompt, and we called it a day (or night or midnight) after a quick cup of tea!
On our way to Nainital via Kaladhungi
We woke up to an thick overcast sky, and did not realise that it was raining too till we opened our room door! It did not make much of a difference at that time as Pooja and myself both were not too keen on staying in that resort or waste our day driving around for nothing! We did not really know what we wanted to do, but we knew that we were checking out of the resort! We did, and decided our next milestone with a cup of tea outside the resort!
"There is something about tea made on burning wood.. something different... something that energises me differently"
Its very pleasing to click Radha and see that she stills good great... MUAH!
Did not know something like Choti Haldwani existed... nice find!
We decided to drive towards Nainital, which was just about 50 kms (75 minutes) away and started our drive in light rain, with slow speeds enjoying the weather! The rain had stopped, and we drove via Kaladhungi, Choti Haldwani, to reach the foothills, and by the time were reach Tallital, it was raining heavily again! This time it was not rain, but a hailstorm... and both of us were wondering as to why the Rain Gods seem to be too pleased or angry with us.. It had rained like crazy in almost all of our trips together!
1. Indonesia... We did not see the Kintamani Volcano and had a rainy walk to Monkey Forest
2. Ranikhet... It was a trip with falling rocks, landslides, and overflowing rivers
3. Goa... Wasted about half a day waiting for the rain to stop... made us move to hiring a car from a bike too (but that turned out to be good)
4. Singapore... Well, there are just two types of days there as Aseem puts it... with rain, and with heavy rain!
5. Jim Corbett.. Rains again!
But we were commited to having a good time, with rain or without :) So we found a nice cozy room with a lovely view at the Lake Side Inn and spent an hour waiting for the rain to stop! It converted into a light drizzle giving us enough time to walk around without an umbrella! And the waiting time did give us an opportunity to enjoy Maggi while looking out of huge glass windows! Bliss!
What is interesting in this photograph is that OM is opposite in all of them due to air-flow
We just walked around the Mall eating snacks and had a few glasses of tea again while it rained and almost snowed, and we had a lovely view of the hailstorm from under a canopy next to the Naini Lake! The number of people was low in Nainital that evening, and the roads were empty, and it stopped raining too after a bit, giving us a few more hours to walk around on the mall road and the local markets!
Chaat, Shopping, Chai, Talking, Walking, Shooting were what we did that evening!
Finally called it a day after having some delicious Vegetable Biryani
Langurs enjoying the rainy evening
Looked like the Rain Gods had finally made peace with the fact that Pooja and me would travel, come whatever may, and we were welcomed with a lovely bright sunny morning! It was a long drive back home, and we dediced to start driving back by 1100 hrs to reach NOIDA by 2000 hrs. With the kind of roads and distance, it would take about 8 hours for sure, specially the Sunday traffic back to Delhi!
Shikaras in the Naini Lake
The drive back via Kathgodam - Haldwani - Udham Singh Nagar (Rudrapur) - Rampur - Moradabad Bypass - Hapur was mostly uneventful except a deroute forced because of Behenji as she likes to be called, or for others, Ms. Mayawati, Chief Minister of UP. Rampur was sealed because of her visit, and we were forced to look around for options which involved driving through the town, trusting our direction instincts, and drive through a village with mud roads, and lanes just wide enough for the Palio to move through!
Rest is mostly history! with Future looking very bright with a few good trips on the cards! Enjoy some more photographs below....
People at the T-Shop
Like I said... it was a hail-storm
One of the two Tea-Shops we had Tea at... this guy was selling everything from Tea t0 Bread-Omlette, Bun-Omlette, Boiled Eggs, Pakodas, Cream Rolls...
Corn-cobs (Bhutte)... They taste different on a rainy evening...
Nothing warms cold fingers better than a wood fire...
Eggs were plenty around the Mall Road...
Another view from the same Chai ki Dukaan...
This guy was really happy to have his photograph clicked...I think this is one of the biggest satisfactions of being a photographer... an opportunity to make people smile!
Loved the steam coming out of the pressure cooker... the 10 min wait was worth it...
Nainital Post Office
Ripe Red tomatoes for the Omlettes
Now for some objective information
1a. Distance from NOIDA to RamNagar : Approximately 250 kms
1b. Driving time : about 6 hours in the night with low traffic... Add another hour if driving in the day because of local traffic
2a. Distance from Ramnagar to Nainital : Approx. 65 kms
2b. Driving time : About 2 hours (Do take a break to enjoy the view somewhere)
3a. Distance from Nainital to NOIDA : Approx. 310 kms
3b. Driving time in the day : Approx. 8 hours with local traffic and bad roads and work in progress flyovers
Recommended eating joints on the way :
1. McDonalds just after Gajraula on the road towards Moradabad
2. Meriton just before Gajraula towards Delhi... Its almost opposite McDonalds and serves decent food
3. There are many dhabas near the Garhmukteshwar and Gajraula, however I am not sure if I would stop there to have food... snacks and tea would be my choice there
I drove a total of about 660 kilometers over that weekend, and loved every second of it! Pooja is an amazing addition to my co-traveler list, and there is not much other than that a man can ask for! isn't it?