Uttarakhand – A Journey To The Himalayas
Uttarakhand is a state in northern India and is known for its Hindu pilgrimage sites and beautiful Himalayan range. Every year People from different country used to travel this holy place in search of peace.
I was not only planning for pilgrimage journey to Uttarakhand but also packing my bag to explore some of the less explored places. I was yet to witness the beauty of the Himalayas in my life. And on 31st Oct’18 by 7.30 am, I reached Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati from where the journey started. The flight took off at 8:50 am and after a few minutes in the air, the view from the window was amazing. I could see the white blanket on the bed of the Himalayas through the window.By around 11.30 am flight landed on Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi. I was in Delhi and without Aloo Parathas, could not be started the journey. After taking some delicious parathas in the airport, I exited. The hired car for the journey was waiting for me and by 2 pm I started for my next stoppage Rudrapur. As the road condition was very bad at most of the time in UP due to ongoing road maintenance, it took seven hours from Delhi to Rudrapur. By 11.30 pm I had my dinner at Rudrapur and jumped to bed.
At 6 am the Sikh prayers coming from the Gurudwara nearby my room, woke me up. The car arrived by 9 am at doorsteps. All-important items were loaded in the car and ready to leave Rudrapur by 10 am. My first stoppage was at 60 km from Rudrapur. I took Rudrapur – Haldwani – Kathgodam route to reach Bhimtal.
It took around two hours to reach Bhimtal. The road was not good, but when I stepped ups into the hills, the road became perfect for driving. Not only the beauty of hills attracting my eyes, but the curvy roads were also amazing. Bhimtal Lake was nearby the main road. The lake was named after Bhima, one of the Pandavas of the epic story of Mahabharata who is said to have visited the place. I had spent one hour by the lakeside, refreshed myself by taking some Lemon Soda and again started to the main destination which was still far from Bhimtal.
The continuous view of beautiful Pine trees and the songs list in the car were making the road trip a perfect one. After completing almost half the way, stopped at a hotel to get some foods. I ordered Chapatis and mixed veg along with two Gulab jamun. Food was simple and good, not having so much masala in it. The view in front of the hotel was refreshing. The far I could see was only Hills, connecting each other through beautiful curvy roads.
After taking lunch, final acceleration was given to the car to reach the destination before sunset. At one place when passing through Indian Army Camp I saw a signboard, written on it ” POLLUTION FREE ZONE ” and yes, I could feel the fresh air inside me. After crossing the Army camp, I saw the first glimpse of the Himalayas. But still, it was far from me. As I was inclining, the temperature was dropping drastically. The cold wind was whispering the myths of these mountains in my ear. After the continuous ride for a few hours finally reached my location Kausani by 5 pm.
Kausani is famous for its scenic splendour and its spectacular 300 km-wide panoramic views of Himalayan peaks like Trishul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli. It is also called as ‘Switzerland of India’.
The view of Himalayan peaks from Kausani was so beautiful. It was 5 pm and the Himalaya became orange coloured. I was lucky to witness the sunset view of the peaks. I took my camera, captured all those beautiful moments and sat at the roadside for half an hour. I was never been so close to any mountains. As the evening became darker, the temperature dropped to almost 6 to 7 degree. I felt like freezing as the cold wind blowing continuously. Hotel was not so far from where I was standing. I checked into the hotel, ordered some tea along with hot Maggi. My room was facing towards the mountains so whenever I opened my hotel room door, saw only the white peaks. After seven hours of riding in curvy roads, I felt so tired. I decided to go to bed as the next day I did not want to miss the sunrise view of the Himalayas.
It was 5 am in the morning when my phone rang and tried to get out from inside the blankets. Yesterday a boy from the hotel told me that the sun rises by 6.30 am at Kausaniin November month. At 5.50 am, as soon as I stepped out from my room and the cold air hit me at a speed of light. I could feel the Himalayan wind. I chose a place and sat there to enjoy the winter Sunrise at Kausani. I waited till the sunrise and it was worth waiting. The view of Sun Rays hitting the Himalayan peaks was mesmerizing. I started to capture all possible moments through the lens. I spent one and a half hours there and then moved in search of a cup of tea. My dream to come as near as possible to Himalaya was fulfilled. At a small tea stall,I took my morning tea. I roamed around the streets of Kausani and then checked out from the hotel by 11 am. My next site was Baijnath Temple, which was very near to Kausani and the temple was very beautiful with some great architects.
For the next two days, I had booked a hotel at Almora, where I had planned to visit the Holy Jageshwar Dham. Almora is situated in between of Kausani and Nainital. It is a small town and people used to visit here for Jageshwar Dham, Katarmal Sun Temple, Binsar sanctuary. Katarmal Sun temple is one of the 10 Sun temples of India. I also had a plan to visit the Sun temple but unfortunately that not happened.
I reached Almora by 4 pm and it took almost one hour to enter the hotel due to traffic. The roads were very narrow due to which most of the roads were one way. After freshened up, I went to explore the local markets. I met a Restaurant (Baba’s Restaurant, L R Sah Road) owner who described me routes of Almora, also nearest places to visit in Almora. He was so kind that he made my dinner by himself which were not even in his restaurant menu.
I started for Jageshwar Dham by 10 am. The road which led me to the Dham was one of the best roads I had ever travelled. The views during the ride were unforgettable. I stepped down from the car many times in the road to click some images. After one hour of the ride, I reached the beautiful Jageshwar Dham.
Jageshwar Temples are a group of over 100 Hindu temples. This site is protected under Indian laws and managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). All the temples were beautifully designed. The temples were surrounded by tall pine and deodar trees. I offered my prayer in the main temple and to some other temples in the Dham also. A small river was running by the temple side, making a beautiful sound of flowing water. A few minutes later, the blessings of the God started to shower from the sky. I was enjoying the rain shower and exploring the temples. After returning from the Jageshwar Dham I spent the day at Almora and the next day I headed for my last destination Nainital.
Nainital is situated at an altitude of 2,084 metres (6,837 ft). It is believed that the Naini Lake is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths or the most popular is based on the story of the death of the goddess Sati. Out of grief and sorrow, Shiva carried Sati’s body, remembering their moments as a couple, and roamed around the universe with it. Vishnu had cut her body into 52 body parts, using his Sudarshana Chakra, which fell on Earth to become sacred sites where all the people can pay homage to the Goddess. The spot where Sati’s eyes (or Nain) fell, came to be called Nain-tal or lake of the eye.
I had booked a hotel near to the Nainital lake so that I could spend my most of the time at the lakeside. It took five minutes from hotel room to the main market area called Mall Road. Like Almora, here also most of the roads were one way. After 5 pm the Mall road became one way too, keeping one side as a pedestrian zone. This road connected both the end of the Lake. At one side of the road, there was the Lake and on the other side, there were different shops. People were enjoying their evening by walking at the lakeside. I walked slowly through the road for about half an hour, eating some fast foods at roadside stalls. Then I walked back to the hotel and this time I made my way through a place full of restaurants and really it was so beautiful. There I tried different north Indian foods including Afghani tandoori chicken which I had never tasted, and it was really delicious.
I woke up early in the morning, as I had planned to sail a boat in the Lake. I freshened up and took some French toast along with a cup of tea, then headed to the Lake. Sailors were waitingfor the visitors from early morning. One sailor approached me and took me to the ticket counter where I bought a ticket for 200 rupees. I always have a fear of water and that day was not different also. When I stepped into the boat, I felt like I was standing on a balloon. The lake was 1.5 km long and I enjoyed the ride very much. The sailor told me different stories of Nainital during the ride and it was very helpful to know the place more closely. After closing the Lake chapter, I went to the cave garden, Nainital Zoo. Returning from all site seeing, I stopped at the Mall road to buy some famous Kumaoni shawls. It was the last day at Nainital and also the last day of my beautiful journey to the land of Uttarakhand. I spent the evening hours either by sitting by the lakeside or by visiting shops
I was sitting in the back seat, returning to Rudrapurfrom where I had to catch Shatabdi express to Delhi at 4 pm. The visuals from the last few days were floating in front of me. I was smiling alone, thinking of the mighty Himalayas, the curvy roads, the pine trees, the Lake that I left behind. My soul was still flying in the heart of the hills. But that was not the end, I shall again visit Uttarakhand to explore the Jim Corbett national park, valley of flowers, Kedarnath and Badrinath. I travelled back to Delhi and stayed the night there. Next day I flew to my homeland Guwahati. I not only witnessed the beauty of the Himalayas but also, I brought different memories of beautiful Uttarakhand.
Some other places in Uttarakhand which must be visited once in a lifetime are given below.
– Jim Corbett national park
– Valley of flowers
– Kedarnath & Badrinath.