Having lived in Noida for almost ten years, I always feel the need to get away once in a while, more so in the summers. It is only natural that in the sweltering heat of the city, my first response would be to hit the brakes and head off to a cool hill station. Strangely enough, it always happens to be my hometown Nainital. I set out to plan a family outing.
Being an early riser, I started my journey, along with my parents, to my beloved (having had so many years of association) Nainital at about 6 a.m. on 24th May 2008 and managed to reach Nainital in about 9 hours. Enroute, we stopped over at Gajrola for breakfast.We enjoyed the appetiser, with a nice glass of fresh sugarcane juice. After travelling enroute through towns namely Moradabad, Rampur, Bilaspur and Rudrapur, we stopped over for a wholesome lunch at Haldwani, at the Himalayan foot hills before reaching Nainital. The drive was not exactly smooth up to the foothills, owing to the road conditions enroute, but manageable. It is once we drive up on the hills, after crossing kathgodam that there is a constant need for avomine to ward off vomitting. One can also take the train or the Volvo bus service to Nainital, but due to peak season availability of tickets is a problem.
Once there, being a local, I did not have to look for a lodge and went straight up to our villa in Long View and we all just had a quite dinner and called it a night. But, for tourists looking for a place to lounge in, there are a number of hotels on the mall like the Grand, Naini Retreat, Alka etc., with room rentals ranging from Rs.550/- to Rs.2800/- a night.
Next morning we woke up and decided to go down to Tallital for the famous Lotewala’s jalebi, a 10 year long breakfast tradition. After having indulged in breakfast, it was time for some activity.
Without questioning, the well known Naini lake, from which Nainital derives its name, became our next haunt. The lake is walled by hills on one side and the busiest road of the station known as the mall road on the other. Being natives, we attacked the famous Boat House on the mall road and decided to go on a yacht, being fans of fast- paced action, as opposed to the slow yet romantic wooden boat. We also went to the Naina Devi Mandir on the side facing the lake for Mata’s blessings.
It was almost evening and we headed for a good place for some good Chinese food and shopping at the Tibetan market. It’s the Nainital flea market known for cheap clothes and accessories, a must for all teenagers. It was two hours of jostling and 10 packets later that we decided to call it a night and went up straight to our home.
On day 2, rain greeted us and ruined any chance of outdoor travel till late in the afternoon. We then went to the Governor’s residence, former U.P. Governor’s house, a legacy left by the British Raj. My dad and I decided to indulge in some golf at the nearby golf club.
On my 3rd and last day there, we went to my brother’s old school St. Joseph’s, which is an architectural delight and known for its quality education and alumni. If you happen to go there, you must indulge in the fudges available in every flavour (a revelation that you will thank me for).
Being the last day there, we decided to go to the mall road and pick up some kaafal, a special mulberry look-alike fruit, to my knowledge, available only in Nainital.We also picked up some souvenirs for our friends and relatives back home. On our last night there, we went for a walk with our bhuttas in hand on the breezy mall road.
This was how I spent my three days in Nainital.The journey to Noida next day brought me back to the daily reality of life, with the same old disorganised traffic and the long unwinding roads.
A place that I did miss out this time was the China Peak, known for its breathtaking view of Nanda Devi. My trip was definitely a short one, but for those of you wanting to truly enjoy the picturesque view of Kumaon hills, there are a number of getaway sites to see. One can travel to Bhimtal, Naukuchia Tal, Ranikhet, Kausani, Corbett and Kainchi to revel in the serene beauty of nature.