Ranikhet - Day One
Trip Start Dec 20, 2008
5Trip End Dec 25, 2008
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Where I stayed
Kumaon is roughly eastern half of Uttarakhand. Here the nature is at its best. The sky displays ethereal glow at sunrise and sunset. The air is redolent with fragrance, pines are always whispering among themselves and soft sunshine bathes the green earth, dales and valleys. The Majestic snow mountains glitter, lakes and river sparkle in sunshine.The region lies between almost near level topography of Tarai-Bhabar and lofty mountainous region of the Greater Himalayas far in the north, bordering Tibet. Except for the the occasional abrupt rise to an elevation up to 8000 ft the intermediate zone of the Inner Himalayas in between has generally subdued relief. The mountain tops are invariably well-carved and slopes are gently rolling. There are many wide river valleys in the region and has high population density. From vantage points throughout this region there are breathtaking views of a wide range of the snow-clad Himalayas. It is a treasure trove of rare flora and fauna, and paradise for the pilgrims, tourists and trekkers alike.
Under the shadows of such a grand settings are nestled, Nainital, Ranikhet, Almora, Kausani, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh among many popular hill resorts
To such a beautiful land we -- my daughter, her two sons Sardul and Smiley and I, pack and leave to wander about early in the morning. In about an hours drive through eucalypts avenue and stately sal forests we arrive Haridwar where faith brings mass of humanity from all walks of life on the bank of River Ganga. Here Hindu religious celebrations go on day and night all the year round. Millions of people gather here on most auspicious occasions to take a holy dip in Ganga. Ganga-arti in the evening is most captivating sight.
Najimabad is next big town on way. It is an hour away from Haridwar and is a pleasant drive through eucalypts forest. Passing through the green country side of Kotwali, Nagina we reach next big town of Dhampur - famous for sugar-mill. Another 90 minute's drive through Sherpur and Afjalgarh we enter Kashipur town of Tarai region. This area was once notorious for malarial climate. It is now a grain bowl of the state. We saw the country side fly past with green fields of wheat and yellow spread of mustards in flowers in between all the way. Finally we reach Haldwani a big trading centre "a mandi" of supplies to the hills and then Kathgodown, the railway terminus and gateway to the mountains - nestled in the foothills of Himalayas late in he evening
It is dark when we reached Ranikhet Forest House where we spend the night. It is a very long journey of over 350 km. Having passed through amongst most polluted airs of Kashipur and Bajpur towns we now breathe fresh air free from pollutants, dust or smog, and are soon refreshed and rejuvenated.
Situated at a height of 1829 m, 83 km away from Kathgodam railhead, Ranikhet is a beautiful hill resort and attracts many nature lovers and tourists. During Raj it was a hill station for British Troups and a cantonment was established in 1869. The lush green forests and delicate plant life, panoramic view of majestic snow-clad mountains, makes it favourite destination in all season of the year.
I am thrilled to be here once more after nearly two decades. I wander about with growing curiosity and childlike excitement to look around the changes that have come about during this time. The camelias, azaleas, Japanese cheery which I planted under the flag mast in Rest House campus during the rains of 1987, are in bloom, have grown in age and are doing exceedingly well
The excitement could not keep me in bed in the following morning. I am out of bed before dawn to see the magic of sunrise, the golden glow of sun rays in the snow peaks, and to feel the crisp, cool breeze. And I am fully rewarded as a whiff of aromatic balmy breeze sweetly whispers in my ears, while the eastern horizon welcomes me with a rosy smile. It is painted with beautiful crimson brush, it is an ethereal sunrise view. Sitting here in the rest house campus I have a fantastic panoramic view of the snow-peaks as they glow with morning sunrays far in the north. They are partially hidden by clouds today. On clear days panoramic view of Dunagiri (7066 m), Hathi Parvat (6727 m), Nandaghunti (6309 m), Trisul (7120), Trisul East (7074), Nanda Devi (7817), Nandakot (6861), Panchchuli ranges (6355, 6904, 6312, 6334) snow peaks are visible from here. The majestic mountains, the snows, the crimson dawn, the dense woods, the greenery and the blissful chirping of birds all make the visit memorable. It is ecstatic to be witness to such a divine settings and just be yourself. This is what I have been missing so long.
There is so much to see around, witness the miltary parade, play golf, visit Chaubatia apple orchard or malls, trek or just relax under the pine or beautiful deodar trees. Not very far from here is Jhula Devi temple where hundreds of bells are hanging all over in the temple. Hairakhan temple near Chileanaula, and Kalika temple are there nearby to meditate and seek salve to soul. Kumaon regiment center museum and memorials of ranikhet cantonment are worth a visit. Sitalakhet (5500 ft) suburban area between Ranikhet and Almora towns is a picturesque spot commanding majestic view of Himalayas. It is about 30km from Almora. There are many fruit orchards around it,