Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A sojourn in the Kumaon and Garhwal Himalayas : The queen of Kumaon - Nainital - (Part 2)

Day 2 - Oct 3rd, 2015

I had heard that this beautiful town is called "The Queen of Himalayas", but I realized that the name is aptly given after seeing the beautiful city. It's really a Queen, and has its own charm compared to some other hill stations of its genre.

Nainital, as the name suggests, has a 'tal' in it, which means lake. A city with lake as its main attraction that is nestled amongst lovely mountains and lush green forests, is a dream every nature lover would yearn for.

Entering Kumaon :

A cool breeze flowing through the windows of Ranikhet express made me realize that we were in the hilly town of Kathgodam, a gateway to the Kumaon Himalayas. The drowsy eyes woke up to the sounds of chirping birds. It was still dawn and we were surrounded by many cab drivers who were willing to take us anywhere in the region. I wondered how generous they were !! :)
Sandeep was supposed to pick us up in his Tavera. We had a small stroll near the railway station before he arrived. This walk made us to admire the beauty of the railway station and its surroundings.

The drive was for about 90 mins from Kathgodam to Nainital, we had a small break for early morning 'Chai' refreshment.

Enroute, I spotted many Red/Yellow billed blue magpies , Khalij Pheasants , Whistling thrushes and many other Himalayan birds. The sighting of these beauties made me enthralled on the very first day.


Nainital is a glittering jewel in the Himalayan necklace, blessed with scenic natural splendor and varied natural resources . Dotted with lakes , Nainital has earned the name of  'Lake District' . The most prominent of the lakes is Naini lake surrounded by the hills, and the Talli and Malli tals . Nainital has a varied topography with other prominent lakes being Bhimtal , Sattal and Naukuchiatal . Nainital’s unending expense of scenic beauty is nothing short of a romance with awe-inspiring and pristine Mother nature.

1) Himalaya Darshan

Firstly, we went to see the mighty and majestic Himalayan peaks, which were visible from Nanital. This part of sight-seeing is called  'Himalaya Darshan'. The early morning lighting was very pleasant and the blue skies helped us to get clear views of the snowy mountains.

Mt. Trishul (R) and Mt. Nanda Ghunti (L)

Mt. Trishul (L) and Mt. Maiktoli (R)

Mt. Nanda Devi (C)

Mt. Trishul , Mt. Maiktoli , Mt. Nanda Devi

Mt. Nanda Ghunti , Mt. Trishul , Mt. Maiktoli , Mt. Nanda Devi

How ever times you have been to Himalayas, the very first sight of the resplendent mountains makes you go mad and awe-inspiring. As such, this time too we were all dumbstruck by the sheer beauty. Though I have been to Himalayas many times, I am always super excited whenever I see them.

After the Himalaya Darshan, we headed towards Aurobindo ashram, as our accommodation was booked there.

Mango Lake view point

On the way back, we came across this lovely view point. Not many people coming to Nainital are aware of the Mango Lake View Point. This excellent viewpoint from where Naini Lake appears as Mango shaped is the only reason why this viewpoint came to be known as the Mango Point. The fresh and beautiful surroundings at Mango Point however make this viewing location even more attractive. If you are looking for a quiet scenic spot to spend some quality time with your near and dear ones, this is it.

Aurobindo Ashram :

This beautiful ashram is located in a quiet and peaceful location. The forest surrounding the ashram hosts many beautiful birds , butterflies and langurs as well. 

Aurobindo Ashram

After refreshing ourselves, we went to see couple of tourist spots in and around the city.

Lover's point and Suicide point

These places are popular for the amazing and spectacular scenic view they provide to the tourists. Many people have jumped off from this point and committed suicide and that is how this point got such a controversial name. 
Probably the next step of disappointed Love :)

City view

Naini lake and Nainadevi temple

Next comes the famous view point in the city. The most famous Naini lake (Tallital and Mallital) and the Nainadevi temple itself, because of which the city got its name.

Nainital Lake, a natural freshwater body, situated amidst the township of Nainital in Uttarakhand State of India, tectonic in origin, is kidney shaped or crescent shaped and has an outfall at the southeastern end. The lake receives water flows from the surrounding catchment basin which comprises the hill slopes and springs.

Boating and Sailing (Yatch) is a very common sight that one can expect in this lake. There are variety of boats and yatches available for tourists at different costs. 

The Jama Masjid (mosque where the community gathers for the communal Friday prayer) was originally built for Muslim soldiers in the British army. You can see the symmetrical emphasis associated with Islamic architecture, the lush decoration, and the minarets from which the call for the prayer is sounded. 

The mosque and the clock tower can be seen while entering the Nainadevi temple premises. 

The temple is located on top of the Naina hill at the northern shore of Naini lake in Nainital, UttraKhand. The presiding deity of the temple is Maa Naina Devi represented by two Netras or eyes. 

The temple is considered as one of the "Shaktipeetas" that is situated in India. This beautiful mandir is located just next to the lake and nestled between lush green forest.

There is a path called 'Thandi Sadak' besides the temple which is a very cool place to walk or hang around.

Shiva temple 

After the divine darshan, we went to Sattal to try our luck in birding. 


Sattal is one of the best places for bird photography in India. It is amidst thick forests and lakes, which hosts a wide variety of Himalayan Birds. Many have spotted mammals such as Marten , Leopard as well.

Set amongst dense forests of oak and pine trees, Sattal is one of the few unspoiled and unpolluted freshwater biomes in India. These lakes are a paradise for migratory birds.

Fan tailed flycatcher

Common Kingfisher

Our luck was very bad that day, as we did not get to shoot any birds except two species. 

This was an off season for bird photography, which made the birding dull.

On the way back, we visited Naukuchiatal and Bhimtal. 
Though the lighting was very bad, the glimpse of those magnificent lakes made us content.

The light had decreased and the chill had increased, as we drove down the pine forests while returning to Nainital.

Nainital at Night

The sky was pretty clear that night, and the milkyway was visible.

We called the day off by hitting the bed for a peaceful sleep in the lap of Himalayas.

Part 1 - Introduction 

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