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My Trip To Uttarakhand: Better Than Expected

Some of my friends have asked me to go abroad to places for a vacation, but I was always hesitant considering I have not seen most of my own country. Hence, the trip to the north, mainly Uttarakhand. This whole trip was planned within a day by my and my friend, and the air tickets and accommodations were booked a few days later.

I got to see Jim Corbett National Park and saw my life flash before my eyes when an elephant charged us.

Got to soak in the beauty of Nainital along with the earthquake tremors I experienced with a few other guests in the resort.

Next, I scooped up some spiritual vibes at Rishikesh culminating in the grand Ganga aarti before heading back home. Here are the details:

Flight to Pantnagar

While taking the cheapest air route to Jim Corbett National Park was a no-brainer, the connecting flight was not great. The flight from Bangalore to Jaipur was great without any issues. But from Jaipur, we boarded a propeller plane to Pantnagar - it was not smooth. As far as I could see the weather seemed clear, without any rain clouds.

What happened though is that the plane made sounds that I only remembered from riding BMTC buses. Squeaking and groaning seemed to originate directly from under our seats. Also, there were unexpected dips and turns. What really made me worry was seeing the air hostess grab onto one of the front seats for balance. Air Indigo was really nice, apart from the bumpy connecting flight.

Uttarakhand trip - Jim Corbett National Park

If you want to stay inside Jim Corbett National Park the season is in November and you have to ensure that you go through the right channels. The only place that is located within the Park is the Dhikala Lodge. We ended up staying in what can only be described as a super-luxurious dhaba resort close to the highway.

Food at Kunwarpur resort

Jim Corbett National Park is a place that is chock-full of wildlife. We saw Sambar and Cheetal deer herds and were greeted at the entrance by plenty of peacocks and langoors.

After searching in vain for tigers, we came across an elephant family with a mother and her two children. The gypsy driver kept asking us to keep quiet and say "alarm call!" it was hilarious at first and annoying soon after. He kept searching for the elusive tiger which we never found.

We got charged by the elephant mother as the guide was careless about maintaining a respectful distance between the herd. The guide driver who was more interested in doing a desi impression of Tarzan got us into a lot of trouble with me in the gypsy backseat being chased by an angry mommy elephant.

Nainital - Ruskin Bond's Favorite Town

Nainital was like viewing nature in 8K UHD, the scenery was simply amazing. Thanks to my Google Pixel 6a, I got quite a few good pics. It was so cold there, like 3 degrees Celsius on one of the nights.

Nainital Scenery

On 3rd November 2023, at around 11:30 pm when I was about to sleep, I got an Android alert on my phone about an Earthquake in Nepal. It said I should expect shockwaves/tremors and surely enough, not more than 30 seconds later my bed began to shake.

Earthquakes are never good news, so I grabbed a few things and was about to leave my room when the person in the adjacent room also stepped out. He was under the impression that it was a supernatural phenomenon, but I showed him the alert and we shuffled to the outside of the hotel.

Other than the earthquake, the hotel room was amazing and made for an amazing place to write.

Me at Nainital

The tea was great at every place from Pantnagar and Nainital to Rishikesh and Dehradun. The flavor is subtle and refreshing without it being too bitter or too sweet - just right. Tea color didn't really matter and tasted great regardless of how pale or dark it looked.

The lemons here are crazy big and crazy good. I took two home and they are absolutely delicious - use them for lemon ginger tea.

Rishikesh - A Spiritual Oasis

Rishikesh was a spiritual hub that I was glad to visit. But the start of the visit to Rishikesh did not go well. The Nishantam resort at Rishikesh seemed to be tucked into the mountain itself without any indication of lights or a proper entrance board.

At 6 pm, it was pitch black on the road to the resort, with no one around except my friend and our taxi driver. We waited for close to an hour, making calls to the resort reception and driving up to another place with lights on. Finally, they did answer the only number they had listed and we got to our rooms.

NIshantam Resort at Rishikesh

The path to the resort reminded me of the movie Vacancy where a couple gets murdered by psychopaths in the middle of nowhere. I don't think I will ever be booking this resort again due to various reasons, but food won't be one of them.

The Nishantam resort in Rishikesh is not safe by any measure but does make great food and tea upon request. In the night we could hear peacocks baying quite clearly and would have been spooky if we hadn't seen and heard the same calls at the National Park.

Another great thing about the resort is that it is right next to the Ganges, which you can hear clearly in the night. I got to see this only on the morning that we left the resort.

It was really interesting to see a water intake pipe that the resort had dropped into the Ganges. They were drawing water directly from the Ganges! I was showering with water from the Ganges without knowing it.

Savory French Toast

I asked for French toast and the people at the resort made me savory egg toast and served the same with tomatoes. After I told them it needs to be sweet they made a new batch.

Rishikesh has great adventure sports activities with acceptable safety standards - bungee jumping and White-water rafting are the biggest draws here. There's also e-kart racing and other fun stuff you can do. I was happy watching my friend bungee jumping with her eyes firmly closed and her hands held up to her chin.

We did rent a Honda Activa to explore Rishikesh. Considering the roads were basically carved into the mountain I thought it would be slightly safer to use a two-wheeler to drive to and from the resort. This is us returning from the Neelkanth temple on the first morning we were at Rishikesh.

Bike riding at Rishikesh

The Neelkanth temple was very disorienting, to say the least. People in the shops surrounding the temple kept giving us different directions to enter the temple. Finally, we managed to get to the main temple and then pay homage to the Lingam.

Neelkanth temple at Rishikesh

A pleasant surprise was finding a cafe in the heart of Rishikesh named "Kaafe." It was an Italian cafe that had actual Italians eating pizza which I found reassuring. They had the only drinkable lemon ginger tea I've ever had in any cafe so far. They also had a great banana walnut cake and cookies too.

The sunset at Triveni Ghat is really beautiful and very calming. Although beautiful, I did see what appeared to be human bone in the shallow depths of the water, a picture of which I have added here. I have heard of Aghori sadhus who consume human flesh as part of a ritual, but I chose to not look into old skeletons and just live in the moment.

Triveni Ghat is probably the highlight of the trip as it was very spiritual and high-energy. We purchased pooja tickets and weren't disappointed in the least. After an elaborate ritual, chanting mantras and helping us with prayers, the priests synchronized their prayers for a sight that was spectacular.

When there are so many people congregated in a single place with good intentions and energy, you can sense the good vibes. The people there also hand out sugar-rich snacks that help all devotees chant God's name. Plus the priest garlanded me, which was awesome.

Return Flight to Bangalore

We had to take a taxi to Dehradun from the resort at Rishikesh. The direct flight from Dehradun to Bangalore was delightfully uneventful and pleasant. I had tea wherever I could before heading back to Bangalore as Uttarakhand serves some of the best tea I've ever tasted.



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