If you are here for the first time, a big Hi and a warm welcome to my Blog Tic Talk Toe
I am doing a series of Blog Posts as a travelogue for our recent trip to Lucknow-Nainital-Delhi-Amritsar
If you missed out on Chapter One, here is the LINK
Chapter Two begins with our arrival at Kathgodam.
The engine had already chugged into the Kathgodam Railway Station at around 11 in the morning, and I wouldn’t be lying if I were to say that I was not feeling cold! There was a nip in the air, and I quickly reached out for my sweatshirt. We booked a car to our Hotel which was on “Zoo Road” in Nainital, and did not stop till we spotted a local eatery on our way. We took a break in between for our breakfast, and gorged on pyaaj ke pakode (onion fritters), Alu paranthas, band makkhan (sweet buns slathered with butter), as we sipped on our adrak waali chai (Ginger tea). The journey from Kathgodam to Nainital roughly takes around 1.5 hours/90 to 100 minutes. Once we reached our hotel, H. K. Legacy (which we had booked on Make My Trip), we were allotted our Lake Facing Rooms, and I had already started feeling cold. We unpacked our luggage and freshened ourselves for the evening ahead.
By 4 in the evening, we had already started exploring Mall Road and the nearby areas on foot. We first visited CCD, from where we got a magnificent view of the Naini Lake. We clicked some photographs and strolled down to the Naina Devi Temple, which was so peaceful and divine (It is very rare that you get to see Hindu Temples minus the hustle-bustle). We saw the evening arati, and sought blessings of Naina Devi. The temple overlooks the Naini Lake. Right beside the temple is a Gurudwara, and opposite to the temple is a Mosque. Now we know why we are a secular nation, right?
Nainital is famous for its candles, and we got to see so many in various shapes and sizes. We visited The Pahari Store, which is right in the heart of Mall Road. We also picked up quite a few candles for our friends back home, and they range from as low as Rs.20/-.
A few steps away from the Naina Devi temple is a Tibetan Market, where you find stalls lined up. You could grab a plate of hot steaming momo from Sonam’s Kitchen for as low as Rs.60/- (8 pieces), or even bargain your way into buying shrugs, woolens and fancy inner wear from their stalls. Personally I loved a long shrug, but could not bargain my way through it.
After the Naina Devi Temple darshan, and the Tibetian Market visit, it was time to hit the Mall Road, which is barely two minutes away from the Temple. We took a long walk around the lake, where there are shops and tiny cafes on one line and the lake on the other. Basically the Mall Road runs parallel to the Naini Lake. We dined out at a restaurant called Zooby’s Kitchen (again on Mall Road) itself, and walked back to our hotel, which left me breathless after the steep climb.
Next day morning, we booked a cab on our own and went for local sight-seeing. We first visited Snow Point, followed by Naina Peak (from where you get a bird’s eye view of the Naini Lake). We next visited Gurney House, which was Jim Corbett’s house around 100 years ago. It has now been bought by a family, who maintain it. An old lady opened the door for us and we got to see the drawing room of the house (which still holds the old world charm). Most of the tourists aren’t aware of this place, and we used Google Maps to tell our driver the route to this place.
We visited Eco Cave Garden next. It was a garden which had caves of all shapes and sizes (again not recommended for senior citizens, or people with heart ailments or pregnant women). Our next stop was St John Wilderness Church, which is very close to the Uttarakhand High Court. We had heard eerie stories about the church from the local people.
After spending a good 20 minutes in the church, I wanted to visit the High Court, so we did so. It was a busy Monday, and I kind of missed office when I saw people from my profession. The car dropped us back to the Mall Road, and we settled down for lunch at Pots and Stones Cafe, which served lip-smacking Chinese cuisine. Desserts comprised of Chocolate Eclairs and Black Forest Pastry from Sackley’s Restaurant and Pastry Shop (which I found over-hyped).
We again visited the Naina Devi Temple, strolled around the Tibetan Market, had coffee, bread-omlette from the roadside vendors, and settled down for Rolls and Kebabs from a local eatery for dinner.
Next morning, we again booked a car for Bhimtal, Saat-taal, Naukuchiya-taal, Sukha-taal, followed by a drop to the Governor House (which is the only Raj-Bhavan open to tourists in India). The taals (Lakes) were beautiful, they even had adventure sports like zip lining near those spots. The visit to the Raj Bhavan at Nainital left me spellbound. A 50 Rupee ticket along with a guided tour to the elaborate mansion was a welcome change from our Lake visits since morning. Very few people actually visit the Raj Bhavan in Nainital, and I would definitely recommend this place in case you plan a visit to Nainital. It is open everyday and the timings are from 12 Noon to 4 pm (Guided tours are organised every hour, so if you reach at 12:30 p.m., you will have to avail the 1 p.m. tour and so on).
We walked back our way to the Mall Road (walking downhill before sunset is a great idea, specially since the view of the Lake from the top is marvelous). It took us some 30 minutes roughly to walk back to the Mall Road. We bought a few candles as gifts for our friends, did some shopping, visited the Naina Devi Temple one last time, and walked back to Bara-Bazar (which is very close to Mall Road and is the local shopping hub of Nainital). We spotted this Gem of a Restaurant (Shiva Pure Vegetarian Restaurant), and what amazing meals they served.
Freshly cooked meals with a dollop of butter! I tried their Aloo-Tikki Chaat and Abhijit tried their Lassi. Delicious! We strolled in and around the bazaar area for some more time. Abhijit bought Bal-Mithai (again one of Nainital’s specialities) and Besan ke Laddoo. I shopped a cute pair of footsies for the little ones from the footpath vendors. We dropped by at the same restaurant again and ordered their Thaali. Abhijit went for Makki di roti and Sarson da saag. It was so tasty that I can go to Nainital only to savour the taste of the food from that restaurant. Our day three at Nainital ended here.
Day four, we woke up late and had our breakfast in the bed. We packed our luggage and checked out of our Hotel, only to visit the Nainital Zoo, that was already close to where our Hotel was located. The Nainital High Altitude Zoo, officially named as Bharat Ratna Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo Nainital, is the only zoo in entire Uttarakhand state. It provides shelter to some of the nearly extinct species, apart from the Himalayan Black Bear, Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, and interesting varieties of birds.
We walked down to the same restaurant where we had dinner last night and ate to our hearts content. We then booked a cab, collected our luggage from the hotel and left for Kathgodam. Soon we boarded the Kathgodam – New Delhi Shatabdi Express, which departed at 03:35 p.m.
In another few hours, we would be reaching Delhi. Dil-waalon ka shahar, Dilli, here we come!