Senseless honking, endless telephone rings, unmanageable queues and argumentative Indians. These key features of the morbid metro life in India that make existence tiresome and one is ready to flee from city life at the first chance that crops up.
So, when I was presented with this golden opportunity to dump the city life for a couple of days of relaxation, I instantly agreed even though it meant two consecutive overtimes at office. The journey was with a pack of old friends from college so it would have been a fun trip irrespective of the destination but I was overjoyed when the place was fixed to be Nainital as it brought back nostalgic memories from childhood.
The four of us started the journey on a Friday night Ranikhet Express to Kathgodam. The train departed from Delhi at around 10:45 pm and after a peaceful sleep we reached Kathgodam at 6 in the morning. This place regarded as “The Gateway of Kumaon Hills” is 30-35Kms away from Nainital. Even in the wee hours of the morning, the taxiwalas crowding outside the station called out for passengers. We bargained with a few of them and finally settled for an Innova for 600 bucks.
This short road journey of an hour or so turned out to be one of the most memorable journeys of my life. On one side, the early rays of sun were just emerging from the horizon and emblazoning the sky and on the other side were the lush green rocky contours, which completely engrossed us. It was October, not a peak season, so we easily got rooms in a hotel on the Mall Road. Hotel Classic had the perfect view of the Nainital Lake from its rooms and so each morning started with a view of the tranquil waters.
It was still early morning and so we could see little school kids running down the Mall Road and the shopkeepers coming up to start with their daily business. Soon after having a smoking cup of coffee and delicious paranthas we headed for our first walk down the Mall Road. Our first target was a boat ride around the ‘tal’ (lake) and so we did. The boat slowly entered into the lake and we were engulfed by the surrounding beauty.
The lake was larger than I had expected and the hour long journey ended quickly. Back on the mall road we started our round one of shopping with hand-knitted mufflers and caps. Each shop had something new to present. In contrast to the branded shops of the city these handicraft shops of the locals were extremely soothing for the eyes. Then on the urge of some locals, we headed for a steep climb towards the local zoo. It was a well maintained zoo with variety of flowers and trees planted everywhere. A special feature of this zoo was the Snow-Leopard, majestic and glittering under the afternoon sun. That was enough for the day and we returned back to the hotel exhausted.
Next day we queued up for a rope-way ride that took us to the Snow-view peak, from where the view of the valley and the lake in the lap of the mountains was a breathtakingly beautiful sight. Then we took a trip to the near-by Bhimtal and Saatal. By the time we returned to Nainital, it was nightfall and the lake beheld a different beauty.
The pitch dark waters of the Lake with the moon above it was providing ultimate calmness to the surroundings and I felt like never returning back to the buzzing city life again. The numerous lights too in the shops on the Mall Road were giving the area a festive look and we had our second round of shopping which included dozens of decorative candles, a specialty of the place, as souvenirs. The next morning it was time to return back. I have never liked this part of the journey and with a heavy heart we left behind the reinvigorating Nainital and came back to our monotonous city life.