November is the time when Northern India slowly enters into the winter season. The evening breeze gains a slight chill to it, trees start shedding their old leaves, summery shirts are slowly replaced with pullovers. The weary traveler inside me who is tired by the hustle and bustle of city life, wants to head to the mountains. Traveling holds different meanings for different individuals, but to me it is therapeutic and calming. It helps me in connecting with myself, thus a trip to Nainital, with my best friend sounded like a bliss and cannot let that opportunity pass.
The picture postcard hill station also known as “Lake District” is nestled in the Kumaon Himalayas. The majestic mountains and the clean water of the lake with a view of the fish playing inside, lend an immense popularity to the hill station. The place has to offer various options to all kinds of travelers. For the religious tourists, one of the Shaktipeeth “Naina Devi Shaktipeeth” is located just next to the lake. For the adventure tourists there is an option of camping, paragliding, trekking, rock climbing, ridge camping, boating, zipline and many more. And don’t let me start on the shopping front, one can get beautiful reasonably priced candles, showpieces made from ferns and pines, and cozy woolen clothes. Nainital has a nice vibe to it, the serenity of the place, liveliness, simplicity of the locals, instantly draws you in.
We boarded Kathgodam Shatabdi early in the morning, from New Delhi Railway station and from there took a taxi to Ayar Jungle Resort. Staying at the resort is an experience in itself, nestled in the midst of a private forest estate, it is located at a height of 6800 feet, and on one of the coldest peaks of Nainital. Due to the thick forest cover one can come across rare species of birds.
Though the resort offers a variety of staying options, we opted for luxury tent houses. All the accommodations are designed keeping the privacy of the guests in mind. The private outdoor seating deck, with forest view, and chirping of birds makes the morning remarkable.
This is a perfect place for family, with innumerable activities present for the children like air hockey, table tennis, carom, to try their hands on. And for all the adrenaline junkies the place provides for zip line, sky cycling, caving, trekking, etc. Just next to the resort there is a trek for Tiffin Top, before going on the trek do take directions from the resort reception, GPS will not be working.
The first night we decided to relax in the resort and enjoyed finger licking delicacies over a bonfire. Well rested from the comfortable night sleep, dext morning we were all set to explore the city. Opposite the resort there is a pathway that directly takes you to the heart of the lake city. Or one can order a taxi to drop them at Naini Lake, but the taxi charges are tad expensive, if the health permits then going on your own is the best way. Our first stop was the snow view point, we took a cable car and reached the snow view point. This is the place from where one can get a clear view of majestic Himalayas, but before going do check the weather. In case of fog and clouds often the visibility diminishes. The view of the mighty Himalaya was the highlight of the entire trip, they looked majestic, untouched and partly the sunrays lend an orange hue to the snow, giving the mountains a surreal look. It swirled a myriad of emotions, right from pride to humbleness, to awe and much more.
The next stop was Naina Devi Mandir, the Shakti form of Sati is worshipped here. As per the belief when Lord Shiva was taking the dead body of Sati to Mount Kailash, on the way the eyes of Goddess Sati fell at the current place and thus this temple was built. After paying our respect, we headed to the adjacent Tibetian market. Visiting the market is like exploring the treasure trove, one can pick gloves, caps or sweaters from here, and the quality is extremely good. Please don’t care to bargain, everything is sold at a fixed price.
We decided to ditch the tourist route and act like locals, thus came up the idea of exploring mall road on foot. The mall road offers plethora of experiences, smell of freshly brewed coffee beans, fragrance of scented candles, sound of vehicles, well lit shops, and selling mementos all makes the senses come alive.
Third day after breakfast we trekked to Tiffin Top, the trek is moderately challenging and takes 40 minutes to ascend. But the view is breathtaking, faraway one can see Himalayas and looking down can find the lifeline of Nainital- Naini Lake sparkling in the sun. A word of advice, don’t be in a hurry to rush back, stay there and soak in the surroundings before heading back to civilization. Also, everyone takes their own time to finish the trek, walk at your own pace, after all you are here to enjoy and not to win a race.
Ayar Jungle Resort has many more treks in the vicinity, do check out with the staff, they are more than willing to guide the guests. As suggested by them we took a trek to the sunset point, which goes through the forest. Reaching at the end we were blessed with a beautiful view of the valley, mountains in the distant and welcoming solitude.
With tired feet but fulfilled heart, we trekked back to spend our last night on the resort. Relishing those last moments we requested the staff to arrange a candle light dinner on the open deck, overlooking the forest.
Traveling will always be my safe space, to me traveling is much more then clicking insta photos. It will always be experiencing the place, visiting the local market, sitting in the local transport and connecting with locals.