buransh, Club Mahindra, Corbett Tiger Reserve, India Travel, Jim Corbett National Park, Jumaring, Kosi river, Kumaon Himalayas, Pratiksha River Retreat, Rope activities, tiger safari, Uttarakhand, Wall Climbing
Hi everyone 😀 Hope you all are doing gr8 😀 It’s been a long time since my last travel series, but now I’m back with one 😉
Last month, I had been on a week-long holiday to the beautiful Kumaon region in the northern mountain state of Uttarakhand. So this travel series is going to cover the internationally well-known Jim Corbett National Park, the picturesque hill stations of Kausani and Nainital, and the temple town of Bageshwar.
After many years of solo travelling, this was the first girls’ trip. With me were my two elder sisters – Shilpa & Swapna – and Swapna’s friend, Reshma (whose husband Diwakar was around for the first three days in Corbett).
Before I start with this first part covering Corbett, read a bit about Uttarakhand, the Kumaon region and Jim Corbett National Park…
Photo credit: https://uk.gov.in
Uttarakhand was formed on the 9th of November, 2000 as the 27th State of India, when it was carved out of northern Uttar Pradesh. Located at the foothills of the Himalayan mountain ranges, it is largely a hilly State, having international boundaries with Tibet in the north and Nepal in the east. On its north-west lies Himachal Pradesh, while on the south is Uttar Pradesh. It is rich in natural resources especially water and forests with many glaciers, rivers, dense forests and snow-clad mountain peaks.
Crossed by the Himalayas, Uttarakhand is known for its Hindu pilgrimage sites. Rishikesh, a major centre for yoga study, was made famous by the Beatles’ 1968 visit. The four most sacred and revered Hindu temples of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are nestled in the mighty mountains. It is called God’s Land (Dev Bhoomi). Every evening, as dusk descends, the Ganga Aarti (a powerful and spiritual ritual on the banks of the sacred Ganges River) is performed at the three holy cities of Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Varanasi.
The state capital is Dehradun, one of the most beautiful resorts in the sub-mountain tracts of India, known for its scenic surroundings. The town lies in the Doon Valley, on the watershed of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.
Uttarakhand is blessed with a rare bio-diversity and has almost all major climatic zones, making it amenable to a variety of commercial opportunities in horticulture, floriculture and agriculture. It has a vast tourism potential in adventure, leisure, and eco-tourism.
Jim Corbett National Park, one of the oldest as well as the largest national park of India and the first member of the Project Tiger initiative, is an ideal home for many majestic animals like the Royal Bengal Tiger, Asiatic Elephant and many other native wildlife.
The Kumaon region
Photo credit: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumaon_division
Kumaon or Kumaun is one of the two regions and administrative divisions of Uttarakhand, the other being Garhwal. It includes the districts of Almora, Bageshwar, Champawat, Nainital, Pithoragarh, and Udham Singh Nagar. It is bounded on the north by Tibet, on the east by Nepal, on the south by the state of Uttar Pradesh, and on the west by the Garhwal region. The people of Kumaon are known as Kumaonis and speak the Kumaoni language.
The Himalaya group, one of the world’s great mountain ranges with nine of the top 10 highest peaks on earth, traverses a distance of 2,500 kilometres and separates the Indian subcontinent from China and the Tibetan plateau. In Uttarakhand alone, there are at least 10 peaks that are over 7,000 metres high. Whether for spiritual, sight-seeing, trekking or mountain-climbing reasons, the Himalayas of Kumaon are one of the best reasons to visit this lovely region. The white peaks of the Kumaoni Himalayas with beautiful Nanda Devi standing prominently among the mighty massifs is an incredible sight to behold. Nanda Devi is the tallest and most myth-shrouded peak in Kumaon at 7,816 metres. A village walk in Kumaon is a must-do for tourists. The rustic villages are clean and welcoming, and the people, very friendly.
Kumaon is home to a famous Indian Army regiment, the Kumaon Regiment. Important towns of Kumaon are Haldwani, Nainital, Almora, Pithoragarh, Rudrapur, Kichha, Kashipur, Pantnagar, Mukteshwar and Ranikhet. Nainital is the administrative centre of Kumaon Division and this is where the Uttarakhand high court is located.
Jim Corbett National Park
Jim Corbett National Park is one of the famous wildlife reserves in India and also one of the best wildlife reserves of Asia. It has captured the imagination of many with its diverse wildlife and breath-taking landscapes. It is India’s largest national park covering more than 520 sq km region in the Himalayan foothills, and also the oldest national park.
The park is located amidst lush greenery and uneven mountains with varying heights, ranging from about 1300 feet to nearly 4000 feet. The natural uniqueness of the area was recognized long ago and so in 1936 it was established (the first national park to be established in mainland Asia) as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Bengal tiger. In 1957, it was named after Jim Corbett, the famous naturalist and photographer, who played a key role in its establishment. The park was the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative – India’s first tiger conservation program inaugurated on 1st April, 1973.
Corbett National Park lies in two districts – Nainital and Pauri – in the hill state of Uttarakhand in northern India. It covers an area of 520 sq. km and together with the neighbouring Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserve Forest areas, forms the Corbett Tiger Reserve over 1288 sq. km. This vivid mosaic of habitats – wet and dry, plain and mountainous, gentle and rugged, forests and grasslands – supports numerous plant and animal species. The most famous of Corbett’s wild residents are the Royal Bengal Tiger and the Asiatic Elephant. There are around 200 tigers and over 600 elephants in the park.
Corbett also hosts a diversity of aqua fauna and birdlife with approximately 600 species including the great pied hornbill, white-backed vulture, Hodgson’s bush chat, orange breasted green pigeon, Pallas fish eagle, golden oriole, tawny fish owl, Indian pitta, scarlet minivet and reptiles like the critically endangered ghariyal, crocodiles, king cobra, etc. It has a thriving population of other mammals like barking deer, spotted deer, sambar, nilgai antelope, chinkara, the world’s only four-horned antelope, wild boar, leopard, Indian bison, Asiatic black bear, sloth bear, yellow-throated marten, otters, langur, rhesus macaque, honey badger, civet, Indian wild dog, Indian wolf, Indian fox, etc.
The star attraction of Corbett is the Royal Bengal Tiger. It is said that tigers first evolved in East Asia (China) about two million years ago. After that, they spread to other parts of Asia. Altogether there are eight subspecies of tiger, out of which three have gone extinct. India has the largest population of wild tigers in the world. The Royal Bengal Tiger has 3000 to 4500 surviving members existing in the Indian subcontinent, more than three-fourths of which are in India.
The Terai-Bhabar region, including the area of Corbett National Park was once the best habitat for tigers but recently has reduced at great extent due to deforestation took place in these areas and land use changes. Tigers hunt for wild boar, deer (preferably chital and barking deer) and the sambar. And also young elephants and smaller species including birds, reptiles, fish and monkeys.
Jim Corbett National Park is rich in not only wildlife, but also history. Tigers in India have the greatest reputation as man-eaters among the large cat species and have been immortalized through the writings of Jim Corbett.
Edward James “Jim” Corbett (25 July 1875-9 April 1955) was an India-born British hunter, conservationist and naturalist, famous for killing a large number of man-eating tigers and leopards in India. He held the honorary rank of a Colonel in the British Indian Army and worked for the Bengal and North Western Railway. However, Corbett was frequently called upon by the government of the United Provinces (now the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand) to slay man-eating tigers and leopards who had killed many people in the villages of the Garhwal and Kumaon region. Corbett was able to succeed in many cases where several others had failed.
Between 1910 and 1938, Corbett shot much-feared man-eaters such as the Champawat Tiger, the Leopard of Rudraprayag, the Tigers of Chowgarh and the Panar Leopard, who had cumulatively killed over a thousand people. The Champawat Tiger is said to have killed 434 people before Corbett finally succeeded in killing it.
Corbett’s success earned him much respect and fame amongst the people residing in the villages of Kumaon, many of whom considered him a saint. Corbett was also an avid photographer and after his retirement, authored several best sellers including the Man-eaters of Kumaon, Jungle Lore and other books recounting his hunts and experiences, which enjoyed much critical acclaim and commercial success.
Besides being a renowned hunter and best-selling author, Jim Corbett was an early conservationist. One day, after many years of hunting that included killing 33 man-eaters, he put down his rifle and picked up a camera, and from then onwards, he never shot another animal. In fact, he spent the rest of his days writing, lecturing and teaching about the importance of preserving and protecting the natural environment.
Kumaon was not only Corbett’s hunting ground, it was his home. He was born in Nainital, and lived there until he moved out of India, to Kenya, in 1947 at the time of independence.
Corbett is 280 km from Delhi, 90 km from Kathgodam, 75 km from Nainital and 6 km from Ramnagar. By road, the drive from Delhi is via Moradabad, Kashipur and Ramnagar.
Ramnagar is the best approach to the Corbett National Park which forms the headquarters of Corbett Tiger Reserve. This small city is well connected by road and rail network with major cities of India like Delhi, Moradabad, Nainital and Bareilly. There is a direct train to Ramnagar from Delhi. It’s a six-hour train journey. You can check out for Ranikhet Express, Corbett Link Express and Kathgodam Express that takes you directly to Ramnagar. From Ramnagar, it takes around 15 minutes to reach Corbett National Park.
From Delhi to Kathgodam, it takes around seven hours by train, and from there to Corbett, it is a two-hour drive via Kaladungi.
Tourism activity is only allowed in selected areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve so that people get an opportunity to see its splendid landscape and the diverse wildlife. In recent years the number of people coming here has increased dramatically. Presently, every season more than 70,000 visitors come to the park from India and abroad.
In order to promote tourism in Corbett Tiger Reserve, the reserve has been divided into six mutually exclusive tourism zones: Bijrani, Jhirna, Dhela, Dhikala, Sonanadi and Durga Devi. Each has a separate gate for entry. These are the marked buffer or core area of the park where visitors can be part of wildlife safari and can enjoy the intriguing behaviour of the animals with naked eyes at proximity. Canteen facilities are available at Dhikala and Bijrani.
Another popular tourism zone is Sitabani or Corbett Landscape zone which doesn’t fall under the Corbett Tiger Reserve area. Situated in the heart of Sitabani reserve forest, adjacent to the magnificent Jim Corbett National Park, this pristine paradise is nestled in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas.
Tourists are not allowed to have a walk inside the park, but they can go for trekking along with a guide. The Bijrani eco-tourism zone is famous among the tourists for its beautiful Sal forest and expansive grasslands. It was the hunting ground for the English colonial rulers.
Private vehicles are not allowed entry for tourism purposes into the park. Specially designed open jeeps and Canter buses vehicles, registered with Corbett Tiger Reserve are used for this purpose.
Jeeps safari is the most convenient way to travel within the park and is available in all tourist zones except Dhikala. Corbett National Park is exceptionally acclaimed for open jeep safari. It is the best approach to visit the forest. Safaris are conducted twice a day, morning and evening, and there is a time schedule: 5:30 am to 9:30 am and 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. There are only 30 open jeeps with a seating capacity of six, which can be permitted at any point of time.
Visit to the Dhikala eco-tourism zone is permitted only through the specially designed Canter buses (with capacity of up to 16 adults) via Ramganga Conducted Tours. Canter safari is the best way to explore the Dhikala forest when you are staying outside the Corbett Tiger Reserve. There are two Canter safaris in the morning (5:30 am to 11:30 am) and two in the evening (1:00 pm to 6:00 pm).
Elephant safari begins from Corbett Landscape or the Ramganga valley and gradually crosses through the Mandal valley, casing through some of untouched tracts of forest before finally ending at the splendid forest rest house of Halduparao in the Palain Valley. Elephant rides are also conducted in Bijrani and Dhikala eco-tourism zone.
Corbett is one of the few national parks in India with basic lodging facilities in the heart of the jungle. The Dhikala Forest Lodge is located in a picturesque setting and offers different types of accommodation with 32 rooms in total.
The safaris are a great source of learning about Indian wildlife and conservation efforts. Safari and accommodation bookings are done online only. There are many websites offering online safari bookings, but the park’s official website is www.corbettonline.uk.gov.in
Due to limited availability, it is advisable to do bookings months in advance as seats get filled very soon, especially in the peak season, which is summer time. Corbett is very cold in the winter season and chances of tiger sightings are minimum.
While permits for all other zones are obtained online only, permits for visiting the Sonanadi eco-tourism zone can be obtained from the visitor reception centre located at Kotdwar.
Corbett National Park is open throughout the year, even in the monsoon. But for tourists, only Jhirna and Dhela zone remain open throughout the year, while Durga Devi and Bijrani zones are open from 15th of October to end of June. The Dhikala eco-tourism zone (via Ramganga conducted tours) is closed in monsoon too and opens after 15th of November.
Other attractions around Corbett National Park are Kalagarh Dam, one of the best places for the bird watching tour; Corbett museum, which is beautifully located in Kaladhungi; Corbett Waterfalls, which drop down from a height of 60 feet amidst dense forest, making for an ideal picnic spot; and Garjiya Devi Temple, a famous Devi temple located in the Garjiya village near Ramnagar. The temple is a sacred Shakti shrine where Garjiya Devi is the presiding deity. It is situated over a large rock in the Kosi River and is one of the most famous temples of Nainital district, visited by thousands of devotees during Kartik Poornima, a Hindu holy day celebrated on the fifteenth lunar day of Kartik (November – December).
And now, here’s my travel story… happy reading 😀
Sunday, January 19, 2020
12:50 am. Our Mumbai-New Delhi Indigo flight departs on time. But we run into trouble when the flight is diverted to Jaipur due to bad weather in New Delhi. At 4:00 am, snacks are offered for the inconvenience. At 4:30 am, the flight takes off for New Delhi. By then, we have already calculated the loss due to delayed landing. More than 10,000 rupees! You see, we have a 6:50 am Shatabdi Express train reservation from Delhi to Kathgodam, and then, a car journey to Corbett. But that’s not going to happen now because we will be late in reaching Delhi station.
It’s around 6:30 am when we enter the arrival lounge at New Delhi airport. While at a wine shop, I look around for tequila, a favourite of mine. It’s a low calorie drink 😀 This bottle costs 8000 rupees!
Some time later, we step outside and experience the bone-chilling cold of New Delhi. Brrr…. it’s terrible for me as I have a lower back pain since a couple of days.
Outside the airport…
At around 7:30 am, we start our 5-6 hour journey to Corbett by Uber taxi. The fare is going to be around seven or eight thousand rupees. Two hours later, we stop for breakfast at a roadside dhaba.
After hours of travelling, we stop to buy some good-looking guavas. They taste yum! And then, we stop at Ramnagar, a few kilometres away from Corbett. I dash out to buy a bunch of mint leaves and lemon. You see, I’m going to make Mojiio in the evening 😀 Among other drinks, we have got a bottle of Bacardi white rum.
At 2:50 pm, we reach our hotel resort, Club Mahindra Corbett.
The welcome drink is delightful. It’s made of Buransh, a local flower.
Our nice-looking rooms open out to a sprawling lawn, where there’s a tower for net climbing, wall climbing and zip lining activities. And a long Burma Bridge (rope bridge) too. I’m thrilled! I have never done these activities and I have always wanted to try my hand at it. Four years ago, I had seen people doing wall climbing on the Salt Lake Stadium grounds in Kolkata. Since then, I had been wanting to try it. Now I got my chance… but I also have a lower back pain problem!
Sisters in arms…
We wander around the vast resort premises. The Kosi river flows alongside…
The resort has an attractive package of activities. But we have morning and afternoon safaris, each of four hours duration for two days, leaving no time for anything else. And we will be leaving for Kausani early morning on the fourth day. So I can keep the third day for ATV and rope activities. My sisters are dead set against my decision because of my back pain. Still, I know I want to do at least the wall climbing activity.
I see two resort employees riding a bicycle. It looks like fun so I tempted to try it. Haha… check out the video…
Late in the evening, I go about making my mojito drink. It tastes gr8 😀
The buffet dinner is excellent. We have booked five tiger safaris – early morning and afternoon – in different tourist zones for the next three days.
So it’s bedtime at 10:30 pm…
Monday, January 20, 2020
At 6:30 am, we are ready for our tiger safari in the Bijrani zone, which is the most preferred zone for safari because of its abundant natural beauty and open grasslands. The entry gate is only 1 km from Ramnagar. The open jeep has seats for three in the middle and three behind. It’s very cold but we are well geared up to face the chill.
6:50 am. At the Bijrani entry gate…
As required, we have carried the photo ID that was provided at the time of booking the safari permit. While we wait for the entry proceedings, a guy comes over with two types of binoculars on hire. We already have two good ones with us, but hire one of 200 rupees, just in case.
A guide joins the driver in the front. He tells us the park rules to be followed on the safari: Not to get down from the jeep, maintain complete silence when the jeep stops on hearing animal calls, and to hold on to the jeep while standing so as to not lose balance when the jeep starts suddenly on sighting danger, etc. And then he briefs us about the park area and its flora and fauna.
The Bijrani zone is closed during the monsoon season from July onwards and opens on 15th of October. This area was the hunting ground for the English colonial rulers. It has thick Sal forests and vast grasslands with dry forest vegetation and numerous flora and fauna species. There are many water bodies and seasonal ponds and boulder strewn paths. The waterholes are famous for tiger sightings in summer. Zero point and watch tower is the only place where tourists can get down from the jeep.
An hour into the safari and we sight a couple of birds, plenty of spotted deer and a few barking deer… but no tiger!
We drive along a number of trails in search of tigers. The guide keeps his eyes and ears alert to animal and bird calls for tiger sighting. Whenever we bump into any jeep/jeeps, the drivers and guides exchange details of calls and probable sightings. The moment someone says “call aaya” (there’s a call) there’s pin drop silence and then, the driver immediately proceeds in the direction given by the call.
We see tiger claw scratches on a tree…
The place where a tiger has peed and stamped on the ground…
Tiger paw print…
Soon, a thick fog surrounds the place. The landscape is bathed in amazing grey mist and there’s beauty everywhere.
We lie in wait for a tiger. But no luck! Whenever a tiger is sighted, the details are written on a white board at the refreshments stop and the entry gate. The details include the time, place and names of those who have sighted the tiger. Today, no sighting has happened. We return to our resort.
It’s 10:30 am and the breakfast service has not yet ended. So we have a good brunch.
At 2:00 pm, we start for the afternoon jeep safari in the Jhirna zone. The morning jeep driver had warned us that it would get colder during the afternoon safari which ends at 5:30 pm.
Entry to Jhirna is through Dhela Gate, 16 km from Ramnagar. Jhirna tourism zone is situated on the southern part of the Corbett National Park. This zone is operational all through the year. The topography is composed primarily of dry deciduous and secondary forest interspersed with huge open grasslands providing spectacular visibility.
We sight deer, sambar, peacock, wild fowl, some colourful birds…but no tiger! We hear wild elephants bringing down trees in a distance. As usual, the guide stops for animal and bird calls, but there’s nothing to see. At one place, I try hard to muffle my laughter when the guide says “murgi ne call diya” (a hen has given a call). All the while it has been either a deer, peacock or some bird!
We have dinner at Vatika restaurant. It’s a delicious meal: chicken soup, a chicken dish and vegetable hakka noodles… and gulab jamun.
And then, it’s back to our resort and some time later, bedtime…
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
It’s 5:30 am and I haven’t slept a wink during the entire night. It’s been four years since the last time I travelled for a week or more. So I completely forgot that I avoided curries and heavy food while travelling. My travel food was mostly toast and butter/jam for breakfast and soup and noodles for either lunch or dinner. That’s it! Now I remember it all… too late!
After repeated bouts of vomiting, I feel weak and drained off. Worse, my lower back hurts and I have a cough problem. I decide to skip the morning jeep safari, which is in the same Bijrani zone where we went last morning. The others leave, while I rest.
Even at 9:00 am, the weather is dull and gloomy. It’s depressing. My puking bouts continue. I have Electral water and get into bed.
View from my bed…
The others have breakfast at Vatika on their way back. As for me, the thought of food makes me want to puke. So I skip breakfast and lunch, sipping on warm water all the while. I have decided to go for the afternoon jeep safari which is in the Dhela zone. Reshma’s husband Diwakar leaves for Delhi. So it’s the four of us from now onwards.
At 1:00 pm, I have an apple before taking a tablet of Norflox Tz. Still, I feel sick on the drive to the park. But there’s no turning back. I throw up somewhere before the entry gate and feel slightly better.
Map of Corbett Tiger Reserve…
Dhela is a new eco-tourism zone in Corbett National Park included in tiger reserve zone in November 2014. A huge area of mixed forests makes Dhela an ideal place for sighting different bird species. The zone is open throughout the year and is rich in flora and fauna.
There’s no tiger sighting on this jeep safari too! Back at the resort, I skip dinner and have an apple and banana instead. Unwell, I have decided to skip tomorrow’s morning safari. It’s a canter safari in the Dhikala zone, where the probability of tiger sightings is high compared to other zones. Hence there’s no open jeep safari here, only canter bus safari with a seating capacity of 16.
Dhikala is the largest and most varied zone in Corbett, famous for its abundant natural beauty as well as offering the best sight for exotic fauna. It’s a picturesque location at the edge of a grassy plateau perched high above the Ramganga reservoir and set into a bend in the river. So I feel bad for my eldest sister Shilpa, who insists on staying behind to nurse me. It’s the last tiger safari and if there’s no tiger sighting on this one, then that’s it!
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
I wake up at 8:00 am. It’s a bright and lovely morning. The sunny weather lifts my spirits. I step out for a sun bath…
Invigorated by the sun, I decide to do the rope activities in the afternoon. I have an
apple and banana for breakfast. And of course, plenty of warm water. I feel good…
Black on black…
Meanwhile, Swapna and Reshma are back from the Dhikala safari. They sighted a few birds and a crocodile, but no luck with tigers. Winter is not a good time to sight tigers or any other wildcat for that matter because it’s very cold for them to venture out in the open. During summer, they can be easily sighted sun bathing or near some watering hole.
At the lunch buffet, I have chicken soup. And then, I’m ready for wall climbing…
Despite my sisters’ disapproval, I register myself for a package of five rope activities: Net Climbing, Wall Climbing, Burma Bridge (or Rope Bridge), Bamboo Rope Ladder and Jumaring. It costs 1000 rupees. The activity technician says that there’s a staff cricket match to be played after an hour on the lawn outside our rooms. So we head there immediately.
The first activity is Net Climbing. There’s another activity technician atop the tower to give rope support. It’s an easy activity.
I had done a bit of rock climbing and rappelling more than 20 years ago when I was a hiking club member. So the wall climbing activity is exciting. Yet I fumble and stop for a minute after covering three-fourth distance to the top. A bit weak and tired, I feel great when I reach the top. I have fulfilled my four-year old wish!
And then, it’s 10-second zip down. You will enjoy reading my grand zip-lining experience at Mehrangarh Fort in 2015.
The Burma Bridge walk, although long, is an easy activity.
By now, most of the resort staff for the cricket match has gathered on the grounds. The music system blares out some perky old Hindi songs for listening pleasure.
The next two activities are tough ones, says the activity technician.
First, it’s the Bamboo Rope Ladder. The bamboo rope ladder is tied to a tall tree. You need to hold onto the bamboo with both hands to balance yourself on the ladder. The net climbing and wall climbing sessions have tightened my arms, so I’m excited to begin this arms workout.
Bamboo Rope Ladder…
It’s fun and I’m delighted on completing it.
The last activity is Jumaring. Jumaring is a new word for me. I never knew about it till now. It involves climbing up a rope using jumars, which are a kind of clamps attached with a handle that helps in moving freely up a clipped rope and locks down on application of downward pressure. This activity is a bit tougher than the earlier one, hence more fun and exciting. Haha… there are no monkeys on the tree, just me.
The rope climb is absolutely thrilling and I’m overjoyed at having completed this challenge too.
Watch my video of all the five rope activities 😀
At 3:30 pm, we start for Pratiksha River Retreat. The Pratiksha hotel group includes this Corbett property as well as one in Kausani, which is our next destination.
Pratiksha River Retreat is a lovely riverside resort located close to the luxurious Taj Corbett. The front office manager shows us the hotel property. The residential area is across a sprawling lawn with a lovely kiosk and well-manicured gardens, alongside the river.
The retreat has 16 double rooms in four single-storeyed cottages i.e. two double rooms on each floor.
The hotel restaurant…
Reception and lawn view…
Front view of cottage…
The depth of the swimming pool is 4.5 feet and 2 feet…
It’s a lovely property. For more details, here’s the hotel website :
Next, we drive to the popular roadside tandoori chai stall where we had stopped last evening. It’s on the way to Ramnagar. Trust me, this tandoori chai is really good. Watch my below video to see how it’s prepared. They prepare it with jaggery, in case sugar isn’t to your taste. I take mine with jaggery. Rest assured, there’s no better tasting tea than this, especially during chilly weather. It’s got ginger too. And the smoky flavour comes from the out-of-oven red-hot kulhad (small earthen pots) over which the tea is poured before serving in another kulhad.
Just across the road, there’s a souvenir shop. It has all kinds of local souvenirs and food products. I buy a jar of cow ghee and organic honey.
Both are products of the Himalaya region, hence with unique flavours. They also have a honey with opium flavour. It’s a natural flavour absorbed by the honey on being exposed to opium smoke.
The Harela shop is owned by a village couple, Bimla Mehra and her husband. Bimla tells us that she also provides village home-stay accommodation and local cuisine to tourists. She gets many foreign guests.
We are keen to try the local Kumaon cuisine, so when she shares the details, we are game for it. It’s going to take at least two hours for her to prepare the dinner for four. Right now, it’s 6:00 pm. We tell her that we would return by 8:30 pm.
Back at the hotel, I tweet photos and videos of my rope activities, tagging the Club Mahindra social media accounts. A short while later, I receive a lovely surprise. The Club Mahindra social team has got in touch with the resort. And to celebrate my fun time, they offer me a pastry of my choice. Haha… I’m unable to decide whether to have a Dutch Truffle or Black Forest. They make it easy for me by offering me both 😀 How sweet 😀
Since we are leaving for dinner, they are going to send it over to my room on our return.
At Harela, Bimla makes a bonfire to keep us warm…
Our dinner arrives. It’s salad, raita, ragi roti with a dollop of cow ghee, mustard greens, rice and two types of dal. And a sweet dish, a type of crepe made of rice and wheat flour mix and jaggery. It’s a delicious meal under a beautiful night sky.
Bimla and her husband are a very hard-working couple with two young children at home. Water is in scarce supply in their village, some 2-3 kms away. After closing their business at night, they first fetch water for next morning before returning to their village. So they probably walk 5-6 kms every day.
Check this video of mine:
After the delicious meal, I’m excited to have my dessert which is waiting at the resort… the yum pastries! Of course, I share them with Shilpa, Swapna and Reshma 😀
I feel elated when I hop into bed. Thank you, Club Mahindra social team for the kind and thoughtful gesture 😀
Thursday, January 23, 2020
We check out of the resort at 9:00 am. Before leaving, I shop at the resort’s grocery store for buransh (or Rhododendron arboreum, the national flower of Nepal, the state tree of Uttarakhand and state flower of Nagaland) drink and plum jam, both local products.
The hired car is waiting. It’s an Etios model, comfortable and convenient at 3500 rupees. We need to reach Kausani early to do some sightseeing as dusk falls early at 5:30 pm. It’s a five-hour drive and… an uphill drive all the way!
I’m seated in the front and yet, the winding hilly road makes me queasy. I feel my head going awry. An hour later, I tell the driver to stop the car and step out for a stretch out. I’m already feeling dizzy. A parapet looks inviting and I immediately lie down there. The cold concrete bed feels heavenly. I close my eyes and…. it’s sheer bliss! But a few seconds later, Shilpa comes over and pulls me out of my reverie. “You could have fallen off and rolled down into the valley!” She admonishes me for acting recklessly. So it’s back into the car.
A few kilometres ahead, we make a breakfast halt at a picturesque view point.
A view of the Kumaon Himalayas…
The driver says that from our hotel room in Kausani we can get a closer and better view. Pratiksha Himalayan Resort is the best place to stay and bask in the glory of the Kumaon Himalayas in Kausani. We can’t wait to experience this!
The hot maska-pav (bread and butter) is delicious. I feel better…
Kausani is more than three hours away. The road goes through Ranikhet, a lovely hill station and cantonment town.
We make a lunch halt at a small village an hour away from Kausani. I’m not keen on food so I sit out for a sun bath and munch an apple-cinnamon cookie instead. It’s a sunny day but I feel a bit chilly even though I’m wearing a thick jacket and a muffler. Kausani is going to be really cold!
An hour later, when we reach our destination, I find out how very cold…
Coming next: My Winter Holiday in Uttarakhand (Part II): Kausani
I hope you all are sharing my blog posts with friends and family. You can use the archives or categories menu on the side bar to explore older posts, or browse through the pages at the top. To make it more easier for you, tap this link A Surprise Post to check out the entire list of my posts 😀 You know, I’d hate to think that you missed something 😉
By the way, did you know that my four ebooks are available right here on my blog? And that you can buy and download them within a few minutes with just a few finger taps? 😉 Please do so right away 😀
You can read my travel experiences and learn more about the many beautiful destinations in Mexico in my ebook (PDF format):
Discovering Mexico US$ 16.97 (or the equivalent value in your currency)
CLICK HERE TO BUY: https://www.e-junkie.com/i/p6sy
To know all about Mexico, here’s my ebook (PDF format):
Mexico: The Country, Its History & The Maya World US$ 7.97 (or the equivalent value in your currency)
CLICK HERE TO BUY: https://www.e-junkie.com/i/p6vh
For Mexico’s food history, detailed information on Mexican food & drink and a few recipes, buy my ebook (PDF format):
A Guide To Mexican Cuisine US$ 5.97 (or the equivalent value in your currency)
CLICK HERE TO BUY: https://www.e-junkie.com/i/p6vr
If you love reading romance novels and are a big fan of Mills & Boon novels, you will love my romance ebook (PDF format):
The Blue-Eyed Prince of Natlife US$ 4.99 (or the equivalent value in your currency)
CLICK HERE TO BUY: https://www.e-junkie.com/i/pj1j
If you are a first-time visitor, I hope to see you again soon. Perhaps you might want to leave a like, comment, follow or hopefully all the three 😀
Remember, your feedback is highly appreciated. Your “Like” and comments are greatly valued. And let me tell you that I just love reading the warm words of appreciation that I receive for my work from my readers through the Contact Me Page 😀 So be generous with the feedback 😀
You can also connect with me on:
Presently, my You Tube channel with 498 videos has more than 1900 subscribers and two of my videos have crossed 100,000 views: one has crossed more than 170000 views, while another 111000 views. So don’t forget to subscribe to my channel while you check out my videos, most of them are travel videos taken on my adventures across India ;D
Thanks for stopping by, I hope to see you back 😀 Till then, take care… cheers 😀