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A super holiday
Jul 05, 2004 10:36 PM 13624 Views
(Updated Jul 05, 2004 10:52 PM)


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I will take off from where Renee left off. Naukuchiatal is a rather out of the way place but I would rate it one of my favourite places to spend some days. I take it that one is heading for it from Delhi, which is generally the launch pad into the Kumaon region. One can make it either by road or rail. The rail head is Kathgodam and there is a convenient over-night train from Delhi. Incidently, it is the same station that one uses to reach the more famous cousin of Naukuchiatal- Nainital. From Kathgodam (just beyond Haldwani at the foothills), one can move uphill by buses or taxis- I would recommend the buses since the taxis really zip and the persons with squeamish stomachs generally deposit their breakfasts en-route!

I personally like to travel by road by my own car and after the four-laning of the NH and the Moradabad byepass, it is a real treat to drive. One does have to pay the toll tax, but it is worth the time saved. Once you start climbing into the hills from Haldwani, the real Kumaon is seen. The denuded hills do put you off, but the pine trees on the upper reaches do provide a glimpse of the what the Corbett country must have looked at the begining of the last century and what man has achieved by hacking away the forests. You have to take a diversion at Ghorakhal whilst on the Almora road for proceeding to Naukuchiatal. Passing through the lake district of Bhimtal and Sattal, there are a lot of places to stay- the resorts are aplenty, each claiming to be the one with the best view.

Much beyond these lakes one reaches the final frontier- Naukuchiatal. This is the last of the lakes and it is a real sight when one sees it for the first time. The tourist hotel run the KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam) is for the budget travellers and it is the only place to stay on the closer part of the lake. The casual tourist (on a side trip from Nainital) is shown this and also the boating, which can be undertaken from either ends. There are a few private houses on the north bank and each one is a treat to see. The erstwhile residence of Govind Ballabh Pant has the best location on the lake and is now converted into a tourist resort and is being run by the KMVN for the slightly upmarket tourists. I personally do not find the upkeep exciting and always stay at the Lake Resort.

Lake Resort- now that is the only reason that I keep returning to Naukuchiatal. Mahinder Chaudhary, the owner is a real nice person who treats all guests as his own personal ones and it is reflected in the attitude of the staff. I dont find the rates prohibitive, though they arent cheap either. The service and ambience more than make up for the price. There are cottages along the lake shore and each has a beautiful view. The food isnt very exciting or exotic, but then you didnt go there for that sort of a thing. The whole hill behind the resort is its private property and one is encouraged to take a walk in the thick forests- one cant see the sun at noon! The place is full of birds- a whole variety of them. I always carry a pair of binoculars and the reference book of Dr Salim Ali to increase my knowledge of the birds. I have had the privlege of seeing the great horned owl, the paradise flycatcher, countless types of tits and pigeons and the fish eagle too, besides the usual kingfishers, herons and other common birds.

The resort has its own boats and one can just spend the entire day lazing around with the fishing rod. I have personally seen a 13 kg mahseer caught by a fellow angler. There are a few horses for the adventurous kind. And the more intrepid ones can go higher and take the hang-gliders. It is a wholesome holiday and one needs such breaks to recharge themselves for the gruelling work back in the city. I would hazard a guess for a budget of about 2000/- daily for the holiday all inclusive for a family of four(they put up extra beds) including food for the stay.

I would really recommend a visit - do book in advance and ask for concessions! Avoid the high season(summers and Dussera/Diwali) and the weekends. And yes- it does snow in winter- maybe Christmas would not be a bad idea!- but then I am headed to Canada and will surely have a white Christmas this year whether I like it or not! Regards, Sandeep.

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