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.


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.


Magnificent view of our own “Himalayas”


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.


Pani Puri




My little spidy…..walking along


Our story teller for that hour

Next was the best 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.


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.


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.


A misty walk


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.


Entrance to the temple


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……


Yummy paranthas


View of villages


One of the view points




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

Nainital in Winter 2016-Part 1

For years now, the memories of my travel were all around South of Indian subcontinent. This is one reason why my bucket list is over pouring with regions in the North of India. Glad that I was able strike off the one from them last December. The Delhi-Nainital trip was planned 3 months in advance for cheaper flight and confirmed train tickets.


On the way to Kathgodam

Most of my travel were in train but this trip had a flight journey owing to the distance from Bangalore with fewer days on hand.  We took the flight from Bangalore to Delhi followed by train from Hazrat Nizamuddin (Delhi) to Kathgodam (nearest station to Nainital). There are numerous options from Delhi. One can choose a road trip via taxi, state run bus service or private tours. Yet, train is something I would strongly recommend. The early morning travel in winter covered most places with mist that sent shiver through my spine. A visual that is not common down south but in movies. As the train approached Kathgodam, hills started showing up. A small station, with most of them in the train heading to Nainital/Bhimtal/Sattal.


Bedroom @ the first floor


The kitchen

Our accommodation was reserved in Mountain Club Resort. This was my personal choice after careful consideration; In particular the wooden structure were pleasing to me. A cab picked me up for the 1 hour journey, that was a little scary. As the cab climbed the mountains that had narrow roads and multiple hairpin bends, the view of the valley below was clearer for there was no fence. A single step here and there would have sent me down, so my eyes were wide open despite lack of sleep….phew cant’t just over the thought. The cabbie stopped by a small hotel for breakfast. Parathas, pakoras and maggi are most commonly available. Our obvious choice was pakoras with tea that was simply tasty and a cheap option since our package at the hotel did not include breakfast. Well, I chose not to go with breakfast for two obvious reason, to be able explore local delicacies.



Mountain Club was very close to the Bhimtal lake, hidden up above, yet clear markings that easily guided the hotel location was a plus when compared to other properties. The roads were not groomed, but real narrow amidst guest houses and local residences filled with fruit & flower bearing trees. We were told that the forest would go Green during rainy season and look more colorful with wide variety of flowers & fruits.  Interesting tales about wild cats crossing the path at night and spots where movies shot fascinated my little one, who then bombarded with questions to the friendly driver.


View from the room

It took about 7 minutes uphill from Bhimtal lake to the resort. We  were greeted by the hotel staff, who happily welcomed us with a fruit juice before beginning the check in formalities. Anuradha, our host for the rest of the stay guided us to our room which was exactly, rather better than my expectation. Just fell in love with the place…..the tired me..then decided to take a nap…..that was so relaxing after a hot shower.


An impression


to be continued…..

On a cold night with memories back and forth

I recollect the irritated me, during a short visit back home and felt like a new weather for two days. The weather is getting harsh out here in Bangalore, yet not as bad as it can get when I first landed at Heathrow on a chilly night mid February. My stint in Luton for more than year forced me to get used to the cold winds that kept hitting glass panes in my room, while I crawled near the heater.


How I am going to manage, was my question before visiting up North? It was almost 10 degrees in Delhi and around. May be, get out more in the cold to be able to bear it a little by little or not wear too many warm clothes? Gulp more of warm liquids…….

But for now or more nights to come, I am simply going to crawl under my blanket with socks on with memories back and forth:)

Love, Vannie




Memories from Cardiff, Wales !

As soon as I thought of getting back to wordpress, after a considerable break;  First thing was to sort on what was going first out. To do this, the best source was my pictures. Each time I was going back and forth, I was badly missing those days spent at England, for I had few lovely friends.

For this post, I chose Cardiff despite very few pictures that were clicked. Thank you Vicky, for it was not you, I would have not seen this lovely place, experience Winter rain, Christmas decorations, some lovely food.

Here are few photographs that I captured while strolling in those streets.