Nainital in Winter 2016-Last Part

After a long and beautiful day at Naini lake surroundings, the evening was spent at peace, in the biting cold, by the fire place sipping a couple of cups of tea. Not to forget that the resort staff kept Neel busy as much as they can. Thanks to the chilling climate that invited fewer guests. Next day’s agenda was Sattal or Seven Lakes. But first decided to visit the Golu Devta Temple at Bhowali, famous far-off, for the belief of people’s wish being granted. Many like me, go with petitions that are tied to the trees or pillars. Once the wish is accomplished, a bell is tied acknowledging the accomplishment.

 

 

 

 

Alighting from the cab, I walked towards the shop to pick a pooja thali for offering. I was cautioned by the shop keeper to keep coconuts or any other eatables hidden to save it from being pulled by monkey’s who generously welcome every visitor with their naughty acts. I am the kind, who carry a bag usually and this helped me tuck the entire offering in it with a little push. As expected, w were welcomed by lots of monkeys who were observing the on goers hand luggage. As we quietly walked, trying to save from being harmed from them, we saw a couple right in front of us being looted by the warriors…oops..they lost the pooja offerings to a clever monkey. Since the floor was pretty cold, we started running for shelter to warm the feet. The big bells from the very first step of the temple was very welcoming to us. Guess what, we are followed and surrounded by monkeys everywhere at the shrine. Secretly, taking out my offerings, we completed our prayers. Now, it was time for our petition. Neel pulled out the little bell that we got and made a secret wish and tied one along with many others. I then came out to the patio near the exit that was overlooking the hills to relax for a while. The sun rays coupled with gentle breeze hit my face passing on the warmth all over while I witnessed a para-glider circling over the hills right in front of us.

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Hunger Strikes-In general breakfast ensues temple visits.  Since, this place was way up in the hill, we did not expect any options. There were hardly 2-3 shops selling tea, maggi and packed chips. Sun was now a little closer than before trying to get to me beating the cold wind. Rubbing my palms as often as I can, order for tea and maggi was placed. There were hardly 4 customers seated on the shaky wooden bench. We chose the one that supported the wall, which also gave shelter to a dog that curled in a corner. Here comes our order, steaming tea and maggi. I was in no mood for the same old maggi and in no time changed my opinion, while wondering how the same maggi that I have been hogging for literally for 10+ years turns out to be different and so tasty. Perfectly spiced, not a bit less and not a bit more. Tea was equally good, rather better than the ones I usually have. I gulp 3 cups in the less than 1 hour.

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Now that I have had enough to keep my body warm, it was time for the next spot. A tea plantation in less than 15 mins drive. The road sloping down was a sight amidst tall trees leading us to the plantation. With less then 25 visitors early morning,  it was a good opportunity to walk freely and click nice photographs…… peacefully. The tall trees that let the sun light seep in bits and pieces allowing light in the shade was the hightlight. The view was mesmerizing, for the mountains were standing right opposite the tea garden. Spending about 30 mins was good time. I did not plan to shop so hopped on the cab ready for the next point. But yes, there is shop for good variety of tea leaves should anyone be interested.

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Finally, the last point of our holiday. Yes, we are at Sattal. What a view of the interconnected rivers. The driver stopped at point to show the birds eye view and it was breath taking. The clear waters amidst trees that fenced them by the hills was a view I couldn’t have missed. By the time we reached the spot, a good number of tourist were already gathered at the zip line and river crossing adventure activities. One can pass through food joints and Kashmiri stalls before reaching the lake. A whole lot of acitvity for kids was evident. Though I was keen on doing the zip line, Neel was reluctant, So I dropped the whole idea. I saw ducks lazing by the banks. We decided to visit these shops to check out some embroidery work, shawl and quilts. These sales men will literally pull you to their shop. It took a while for me zero in on what I wanted. But what attracted me was the quilt, which I almost picked.

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The Calm Lake

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Its was mid-noon and I decided to laze in the chair to try our luck at whats available. I ordered rajma chawal and rice kheer. The best rajma chawal ever I had with a generous portion of butter floating. The bsasmati rice was perfectly cooked separating each granule beautifully sending nice aroma around. The kheer was an icing on the cake, simple but damn tasty. After the light wonderful meal, I happily dozed in the cab that passed through twists and turns of the valley. For me, it was a journey of a life time and hoping to return soon.

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The adventure spot

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Sun rays on a lake

Have bless day!!! Loads of love!!!

Vannie.

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Nainital in Winter 2016-Part 3

It was mid noon by the time we reached Naini Lake. Instead of dropping us by the lake, the driver first drove us to hill top, from where Himalayas was visible to naked eye. He did this because,  as the day progresses the view gets duller and vague.  My joy grew over and over at the very sight and kept gazing for few moments that I know will last for fewer moments. It was a dream come true.  Being a mountain person, I wished for a more closer view, specially of the Nanda Devi peak. The weather was chilling to the core, when I realized that  I was not properly covered whilst most of visitors,  if not all were hidden under woolen clothes head to toe. Did I have a better resistance? i probably need to test my-selves.

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Peddle boats surrounded by Fishes

Our next point was Eco Cave Garden, that was on the way to Naini Lake. With an up-slope entrance leading towards the caves, well demarcated points guided to different rocky structures naturally built named after animals (probably once inhabited). Getting in and out was more of an adventure via the narrow path way with sharp edge stones, pointing out. These rocks were relatively cold. Enough care needs to be taken if older people wish to walk through, as the steps are uneven, slippery and narrow. It is common that people get stuck, unable to find way out or sometime feeling uncomfortable in the darker corners trying to put the foot at right place. Despite this, we jumped through for I loved these “Monkey Type” activities right from school days.

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Magnificent view of our own “Himalayas”

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The lake from up above

Out of the rock garden, passing through the pine and deodar trees, the driver dropped us right at entrance of the lake from where boating begins. However, we chose to explore the place by walking around, tired of sitting in the car most times that mademe dizzy in the twists ans turns. Meanwhile, hunger struck me and couldn’t help but notice a pani puri vendor. We hopped and sat for a while soaking in the sun and gulping the little puris. The adjacent stall, sold Moong Dal Cheela (one of my favorites). It was an open kitchen, hence I ordered one, just to see how he made it. It was quite simple, and a variation to what I made, usually in the form of dosa. 

We then walked through the shade alongside the lake reaching a point where crowd was gathered to witness the ongoing cricket match. Never, did I expect a cricket ground amidst the hills. Then I said to myself….its “India”, and cricket can be everywhere. Adjacent to the ground is the Naini Devi temple that also has Hanuman Mandir and Gurudwara close by. The temple was overlooking the lake and the goddess was decorated attractively. I also spent considerable amount of time at the Gurudwara, for, this was Neel’s first visit. The temple was surrounded by shops selling attractive stuff, specially clothes, toys, eatable etc. Ones out of the temple, it was boating time and I had to walk back to the entrance. The walk through slightly stoned path was relaxing. Brrrrr…tired yet the determined me..pushed a little hard telling stories to my little one soon reaching the boating point. We hired a boat and got ourselves with protectives that were stuffy, heavy and uncomfortable. Yet, what kept me distracted  were stories from our boatman, who had been in this business for more then 20 years. Neel was engrossed and kept asking about the tall trees, crocodiles and fishes. It was 4 pm but seemed like 11 in the morning for the sun was up and shining bright.

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Pani Puri

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My little spidy…..walking along

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Our story teller for that hour

Next was the best thing..shopping. I fell for the woolen clothes and colorful candles. There were scented ones too. Every street was bustling with shoppers filling bags with woolen stuff that probably I wouldn’t get in Bangalore or any other city. I picked a stole and some candles. I was now feeling a bit torpid with hand full of stuff and searching for the driver who promised to take us to Hanuman Ghari on our way back to the hotel. After a couple of calls back and forth, we boarded the cab and headed of to Hanuman Ghari, which was not too far. As I reached the temple, the Sun was slowly dipping and I kept gazing and captured both with my eyes and camera lens. I felt deep sonder as thoughts of similar moments flashed by. A memorable long day winded with roti, curry and steaming cup of tea.

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Sunset @ Hanuman Ghari

Nainital in Winter 2016-Part 2

Our first morning in Nainital, more aptly to say was in Bhimtal, a subset of Nainital. By 8.00, the cabbie arrived. As I boarded the cab, first task was to find an ATM, for this was post demonetization period and cash withdrawal was limited. We were driven to the closest ATM, only to find that it was closed. Nevertheless, the driver assured to find one for us on the way. This time I determined to carry extra cash, which usually is not my practice as a matter of safety.

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The silent lake

Our first point was to the Bheemeshwar Mahadev Temple, right by the lake. The early morning mist took my joy to a new level, making it more spiritually inclined. As I walked past a small path way by the lake, that could easily have geared and non-geared pass by; I saw very few visitors returning from temple and this was an indication that I could have peaceful visit. It’s only because of the breeze from the lake and hills that sent chill air and kept fewer people around. I did not regret choosing off-season for travel. Once in the temple, I had to remove the socks only to step on the floor that was real cold and then I kept skipping to the shrine, that was relatively warmer inside the temple premises. What attracted me was a big tree right in the center where one can see number of bells tied.

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A misty walk

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The temple

The temple was nearly empty with not more than 5-6 people, including us. The “Shivlinga” was beautiful and decorated with locally available flowers. This is the second time, I found lucky to witness very close darshan, after Triambak a couple of years back. Those few moments instilled abundant energy in me. After satisfying my soul, it was the turn for my stomach. In search for local delicacies, I walked past few shops to see what they had to offer. To my surprise , there were eateries that served egg, which is not a common sight at least near any holy shrine. We hopped on to a small hotel and ordered for paranthas (aloo & gobi). I made no mistake, for it was one of the best paranthas I ever had.

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Entrance to the temple

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Tree with bells

After a delicious breakfast, our next point was to Nainital lake. On our way the driver told us many stories and kept Neel busy and inquisitive. One such story was about local dogs that guarded the sheep from Tigers and Leopards. We  were told that these dogs are gigantic and many times resembled Lion, due to the presence of fur that is not common among dogs but those in hilly region. Between, the driver pulled by a point where one could see far off view points with the help of telescope for a mere Rs.20. Some of these view points included, Indo-Chinese border, famous temple, Indian Airforce base( that had no access to civilians), Wild life sanctuary, movie shooting point etc. At this place was a small vendor selling Oranges. I learnt that this fruit was not an Orange but Malta, which is more sour than an Orange. The driver promised to deliver few at the hotel by dawn, since Neel tasted them and preferred to have them with salt. We reached Naini lake by noon and spent rest of the day……

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Yummy paranthas

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View of villages

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One of the view points

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Malta

 

Rest of day at Naini lake to be covered in next part……