The Generalist

The purpose is general, the views personal, reading it optional

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Naini Tale - III

Holi day in a holiday
The next day was Holi (or as we Gujaratis call it - Dhuleti). We had heard contrasting opinions on whether we should move out on this day. Our hotel porter had asked us not to leave our room the whole day. In his opinion, even though the colour festival ended by afternoon, drunkards who have had a holy (or Holi) binge might be roaming the streets all day. By contrast, our taxi driver told us we would never know when this pahaaDon kii Holi started and when it ended.

After spending a cold and rainy Holi morning in the hotel, prospects for the rest of the day didn't look too good either. However, we ventured out in the taxi to the Aurobindo Ashram 1200 feet above Naini Tal to meet a relative we had not met in years. The ashram is located in a rarefied atmosphere where it was really cold and the clouds swept around you. The newly constructed quarters of the ashram were very good and we spent a couple of hours there. It seems leopards were frequent visitors there, their target being the dogs guarding the ashram. On our return, we saw a huge monolithic rock, a hill by itself, called, simply, the Bara Patthar (Anglicized version of baDaa patthar). This was where the ashram organized rappelling camps.

Weather was now deteriorating rapidly, and we took shelter in a restaurant back at the Mall for an evening meal. Thereafter, the taxi driver took us back on NH 87 to the Hanumangarhi temple, which was quite serene and offered a good view of the mountains. However, as soon as we were seated in the car to go back to the hotel, it started raining. No, it wasn't rain, it was hail. It was almost a hailstorm that ensued and chilled us to the bone, covering the entire road in white in a few minutes flat, followed by regular rain. Although very cold, we later felt this was also a good experience. We had no chance of moving out again the rest of the day.
More hills & lakes
The last day of our stay rose bright and sunny, and we were enthused to go on a day-long trip. We began, in a taxi, to Ranikhet, located roughly 60km to the north of Naini Tal, although 2000 feet lower than Naini. Wishing our last goodbye to the Naini lake, we set off. The first major town on our way was Bhowali, which was a meeting place of UP and Uttaranchal for fruit produce and consequently, boasted of a fruit market with good variety.

Our first stop was at a place called Kainchidham (kainchii as in scissors, since this village was presumably inhabited, initially, by people whose main occupation was sharpening the blades of knives and scissors). This place has a very clean and beautiful temple. Besides Radha-Krushna, Hanuman and Shiv, it is also dedicated to a certain Neebkarauri Baba, whose influence goes far and wide. According to the taxi driver, the time for an annual foot march of thousands of devotees from Bhowali to Kainchi was due. After an excellent breakfast of hot pakora-s here, we moved on.

A few kilometres on, the river Kosi started accompanying us, its clear water making its way through the rocky mountains and over smoothened white pebbles. At a certain spot on the river, there was a huge rock which resembled a frog in profile, and someone had even painted eyes on the rock. There was an old, but recently strengthened suspension bridge over the river here and it was a great place to snap some photographs. A few miles on, we came across a town of concrete houses called Garampani due to the hot water springs found here at some time. These no longer existed.

Around 30km from this place was Ranikhet, a place of considerable natural beauty dominated by an Army cantonment. Within this cantonment were large playgrounds, a children's amusement park and Army establishments. There was also the large and cool Mankameshwar temple, a gurudwara and some wool and tweed-weaving units, one of which we visited. Just outside the cantonment on the other side, near the parade ground, was an Army-owned golf links. Slightly further on was the Kalika temple, where a little girl, trained well, rang the huge bell for us and offered us prasad. After loitering around the golf links for a while, we were back on our way for the second leg of our trip for the day.

After some time was wasted due to a puncture in a rear tyre, we were back in Bhowali, this time taking the route to Bhimtal. This was a much busier road. Our first destination was Sat Tal (seven lakes). I found this lake to be the most picturesque of all - in a U-, almost an O-shape, with a hill in the middle. We spent half an hour on one of the arms of the U in a boat. The driver was very talkative and quite knowledgeable. He told us that the U represented four kunD-s - the Ram, the Sita, the Lakshman, and the Bharat. Yet another story associated with Ram's vanavaas said that on not finding water anywhere in the region even after 7 days of tapasyaa, Ram fired seven arrows in anger. Water sprang out from the seven places where these arrows hit the ground. Four of these kunD-s were now joined together, while the other three - the Garud, the Nal, and the Damayanti - were deeper in the forest. Adding to the trivia, our boatman told us that a house on a mountain at the far end of the lake was the place where the muhurat shot of the Rajesh Khanna-starrer Kati Patang was taken.

Bhimtal was our next stop. This is another large lake with an island in the middle and with perhaps the quietest waters. A walk along its periphery and a few photographs later, we were on our way to our last spot - the Naukuchiya Tal (nine-cornered lake). This was another beautiful lake, whose waters had entered several nooks and corners. Another long-ish walk along its periphery and some tea on an excellently situated small restaurant later, we finally called it a day.

A couple of hours were spent at Kathgodam where we finally boarded the Bagh Express, which deposited us in Lucknow right on time early the next morning.
(concluded)

2 Comments:

At Mon Mar 27, 10:41:00 PM GMT+5:30, Blogger CycloNurb said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Would it be possible for you to scan in some pics for us to see? You can either embed them in here or better yet, upload them to flickr and post a link.

Also, this is probably be the right time to think about organizing posts on this blog. Since it is a general blog you would end up posting on a variety of topics. I am not sure if blogger offers tagging facilities but it would be nice if you could tag your posts based on content.

 
At Thu Mar 30, 04:35:00 PM GMT+5:30, Blogger Tadatmya Vaishnav said...

Arnav,

You are right about the need for tags and/or categories for the blog, but I don't think Blogger provides them. I'll think of moving the blog to another service if the need is really felt.

The scanning of the photos will also take some time, so be patient :)

 

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