Winter is a wonderful time to visit the hills. And the hills of Kumaon remain my favorite destination that I admit am quite partial to!!! An easy getaway from the hubbub and pollution of Delhi I was pleasantly surprised to come across an equal number of enthusiastic travelers from Mumbai , Bangalore and even south east Asia..
For first time travelers to this part of Uttaranchal , Nainital, Bhimtal, Naukachia Tal, Sat Tal etc is a must do... These places though very touristy still retain a charm and easy accessibility.
My trip this time was to go beyond these places and discover the new villages of Kumaon as the roads are good and motoring around is a delight.
Kathgodam is the base or the foothills... it's a 6 hr drive from Delhi, or take a morning Shatabdi (from Delhi) that reaches Kathgodam at 11.40 am . From here the road forks to Nainital or Bhimtal.
Further to Bhimtal are interesting places to discover...
Ghetia... Quaint houses amidst trees that are home to a variety of hill birds like the blue magpie.
Shyamkhet.. Sprawling tea gardens in the valley promoted by Uttaranchal ... their green tea kept us going in the chilly weather.
Gagar....a small village with a Shiv temple has one of the most spectacular views of the Himalayas...a full 180 degrees! To watch a sunrise on the Himalayas is one of the most enriching experiences.
Ramgarh... The orchard bowl of Kumaon... It also has a Safal factory that cans fruits in season. Ramgarh also has the houses of Rabindranath Tagore and Mahashwetadevi Verma.
Parwada... An agricultural village with picturesque step cultivation...however real estate developers are playing havoc to this place.
Mukteshwar... The home to veterinary research .. It's height enables one to get another full view of the Himalayas. The IVRI (Indian Veterinary Research Institute) also maintains a thick forest belt that is a pleasure to drive through.
There are more places to discover.. Dahanachuli, Nathuakhan, Shitla, Hartaula, Almora, Binsar, Kausani, Pithoragarh and many more. But they have to wait.
Apart from the view and clean crisp air there is lots to do in the hills.
While on a forest walk leading to nowhere , we found cottages hidden in between trees, fallen leaves in colors unimaginable, and temples at bends of roads.
The Kumayonis are God loving people and every car has a bell hung above the drivers seat and our driver rang the bell whenever we passed a temple.
The local cuisine is an eclectic blend of different kinds of pulses , locally grown vegetables and millet. These are being promoted by many NGOs working in this area. Maggi of course remains a hot roadside favorite!!
These places offer home-stays , hotels and resorts to fit in all kinds budgets.
I will be glad to assist anyone making plans to visit this area through this forum.
Devjani is a wife, mother, teacher, social worker, a gardening and cooking enthusiast, a globe trotter, a bundle of boundless energy and an extremely creative person. She loves to share easy recipes, ideas to keep kids creatively occupied, and a host of other tips and tricks around the home and beyond.