Road trips always gives me a travelers high, especially, day time country side trips or mountain drives. The reason - It is easier to have pit stops along the journey which offers lovely mountain vistas and stunning valley views,rolling green hills etc., It is a delight to drive through the narrow roads of little villages , past tranquil lakes and negotiate the hair pin bends of hills. You can also stop as you please to capture the views that you come across for posterity, while you also hop in and out of those high way chai kiosks to refresh yourself through the drive .
But for the road trip to be perfect you need a sturdy car and beautiful people to accompany you. Then even the worst roads or narrow roads can be navigated comfortably. For my ideal and perfect road trip the car, companions, route and destination will be
My car – Toyota Fortuner
My companions – my family and like minded relatives /friends
The route - Delhi to Nainital via Haldwani NH24
Destination – Nainital.
I would prefer a Toyota Fortuner perfect for the hilly terrain and for company will be my family and a few like minded relatives( I am more a family person). Why I choose this route? Will let you know at the end of the post.
Since the distance travelled would be around 6-7 hours., I would start around 8 in the morning from Delhi. The car will be loaded with good music CD’s, GPS , a blue tooth, a binocular , My DSLR, a pitch tent kit, a foldable canopy and ofcourse will ensure the stepney and tool kit are in perfect condition along with a full fuel tank. I will also take snacks mostly finger foods like murukku, thattai, theplas, sponge cakes , water and some tetrapaks along with some lemons and narthangai( sun dried and salted citron) . It will help overcome nausea while driving up the hill.
I have always maintained that for me, the journey is more interesting than a destination and so this route is an example why some journeys are clichéd than destinations. It throws open an array of visual delights, successful companies( Dabur), reputed boarding schools(sherwood), holy bathing ghats( garhmukteswar) , rivers, hills, lakes, fruit orchards and meadows. Infact, in such beautiful journeys, car mates would be an intrusion. I would need no company either to chat or play antakshri. Just soaking the scenic delights and listening on my I -pod would be enjoyable.
It gives a lovely feeling to feel the cool breeze caressing the face and it is another healthy feeling to inhale the crisp air of the mountain/country side. As we negotiate through narrow roads enjoying the lovely scenic views of the wooded alpine hills and valley, the astounding views of the snow capped mountains more than make up for the pythonic roads and to boot there is less traffic to reach my destination.
There are few places on the planet that take your breath away. The lake valley of Nainital is one such. Although crowded like most hill stations, It offers many visual treats like the snow clad mountains, sprawling ecosystem, the wooded trails to explore, the various tals (lakes) like Naini, the nearby Naukanchital, Bhimtal, sat tal etc., . Each of the beautiful lakes has legend connected with its and it would be an aural treat to listen to the tales from the locals in their dialect. But the principal visual delight is the panaromic view of the lake under the star studded ink blue sky. There is nothing more beautiful than gazing at the lighted twinkling homesteads on the hills and the hill valley reflecting in the still waters of the Naini lake. The tintinnabulation of the brass bells from the nearby Naina Devi temple’s evening aarti, resonates across the valley making the place surreal and sublime. Stand by the railing or sit on the benches by the banks of the lake with a cup of warm ginger chai and then you would know why some scenic views like this are fresh in my memory even after a long time.
Enroute Nainital, Bhimtal and other lakes, it would be a delight to stop and walk through these sweet smelling orchards and strawberry fields.
During the day , one can explore the wooded trails following the sing song calls of the birds, drive around to see the naukaunchital( it has 9 corners), Bhimtal, the hanuman tekdi mandir which offers beautiful aerial view of the valley. As one drives uphill to watch the snow clad Himalayan peaks, one can get clicked in the Kumaoni dress and a basket of flowers. With the snow capped peaks as backdrop , this photo serves as a souvenoir to take back home. By noon, return to the calm waters and paddle in the boats along with the white ducks. If you wish, you can paddle with the oars on your own without the oarsman. It is a good exercise for those hands which are used only to punching the keyboard or holds the cell phone:)
Though you can treat your taste buds to the various ethnic thalis of India , Indulge your taste buds to the fruits of the region, fresh Peaches, apples, Albukar , lichis and the fresh creamy paneer so unlike the commercial paneer you get in metro outlets. If you are lucky walk through the fruit orchards and enjoy the fruits by plucking them from the trees.
I would like to make this an ideal road trip again….yes , again…..now I will let you know the reason why I chose this destination.
We were then in Gurgaon( summer of 1998) , when we along with our friends decided to make use of the long weekend. We decided on Agra and were driving in Tokas cabs towards the bus stand. On reaching the bus station, we saw a bus leaving to Nainital and decided on Nainital since Agra would be experiencing hot summer. We could not accommodate ourselves in one bus and so the 9 member gang split into two buses. Unreserved and unplanned trip was the reason I never enjoyed the journey. On our return, our so called a/c bus( a/c was not working) broke down near Haldwani and we were stranded on the road from night 12 to morning 4 on a sultry night (just the previous day Nainital had recorded 31 deg, hottest in a decade claimed the newspapers). Adding to this misery was my toddlers feeding bottle, which fell off the bus from the gap of the first seat and rolled down in the dark night. It was mid noon when we reached Delhi famished and frustrated. Although we enjoyed the destination, the journey was pathetic. Hence, will make an ideal trip to this place again and drive around the places which are not part of a tourist brochure and enjoy the clichés along the journey . I also missed the view of the second picture above (snow clad) since my trip was in summer and that too the day was marked as hottest day of Nainital in a decade. So an ideal trip again.
Image courtesy: Google