The Generalist

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Naini Tale - I

This is an account of a trip to Naini Tal and other places nearby that I undertook with my parents recently. It won't make for good literature, but is enough to capture some memories. On account of my being at Lucknow, my parents had come there and our journey began from there.

Reaching the Tal
The beginning was inauspicious as the Bagh Express (bagh as in tiger, not as in garden) was very late coming into Lucknow. Fortunately, it compensated for some of the lateness during the night and we reached Kathgodam - the base railway station for Naini Tal - only an hour later than scheduled. The climb up the mountains took another hour. The road, a National Highway (no. 87), was in excellent condition.

Fickle companion
The weather remained a fickle companion throughout our four-day stay at Naini Tal. While Kathgodam, at a very low altitude above sea level, had enjoyed sunlight, Naini Tal looked gloomy under swirling clouds as soon as we reached. The whole of northern India had been in the grip of the activity of a so-called western disturbance leading to rainy weather and although the skies had cleared in Lucknow, it was a different story at this mountainous place.
The Mall and the Tal
We stayed at a hotel in Tallital, which is to the south of the Naini lake. The sudden cold weather was slightly difficult to cope with, but we decided to pay a visit to the town. The first glimpse of the Naini lake was decidedly spectacular, even in the gloomy weather. The lake is in the shape of a huge inverted comma, and all along one of its banks is the Mall Road of Naini Tal, ending toward the south in Tallital and toward the north in Mallital. Shops included several shawl and woollen stores, tour & travel agencies, eateries & snack shops, etc. Curved driveways marked the St. John's Church, the Elphinstone Hotel and other places. The major means of transport on the road was the cycle rickshaw. In Mallital is the Naina Devi temple, which gives Naini Tal its name. There is also a big playground, perhaps created by the British, for there is a cement cricket pitch right in the middle of it. Thunderclaps sounded ominously on our return journey, and we hurried to our hotel as rain threatened to come down heavily. It didn't, however, and we made our way back to Tallital bus depot for a dinner consisting of aaluu, muulii and onion parantha-s.
(continued...)

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