How to reach : The way to experience real India is to be away from the chaotic tourist towns and pages of the usual guide books. This real India : inspires and humbles, is artistic yet genuine, simultaneously incredible and heartbreaking and surely takes a little effort to find. One such place is the quaint little town of Pithoragarh. It is located in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand and is a seven hours tortuous journey from Nainital, passing through the picturesque hills of Almora.
The typical ‘Indian’ tourist, who once wanted to visit every place given in a travel guide, is now evolving. It is not about ticking off things in a list anymore, but to find a place where you can get some much needed “me” time and places like Pithoragarh are perfect for that.
Here is a glimpse of this beautiful town followed by snapshots of two of the must see places :
Kamakshya Temple : Sun-kissed peaks and a panoramic view of the entire city is what you get from here. The temple has a unique history and was set up by a soldier of the Indian Army and it is still being looked after by his family.
On The Rocks Cafe : This mountain cafe surprised us as we did not expect such quirky decor in a small town eatery. Loved gorging on the delectable chinese food with views of the valley.
So this was part one of our Pithoragarh itineary, more to come in the second part! Remember it is only when you go off the beaten path that you encounter such uninterrupted views of Nature. Cherish every bit of it.
If you remember our very first blogpost on Nainital , we did mention about covering the best places to stay as there are no renowned hotel chains in Nainital. The three best hotels to stay are : The Naini Retreat, Shervani Hilltop, The Manu Maharani. Here we are reviewing our favourite out of the lot, The Naini Retreat –
About the property : Historically referred to as the residence of the Maharaja of Pilibhit, The Naini Retreat Hotel is among the best heritage hotels located in Nainital near the lake. The hotel is situated on the picturesque Ayarpatta Slopes, providing a breathtaking view of the Naini Lake at an altitude of 1,995 meters. The hotel embodies an old-world charm along with visible impressions of contemporary luxury.
Dining options : Coming to the food , there are 3 options : Lake View, which is their multi cuisine restaurant serving Indian and International delicacies. It is the perfect place to enjoy you meal with a panoramic view of the lake. Next is Stella Bar, which offers choices of the cocktails and mocktails. And then there is Garden Cafe and Grill for a quick breakfast, brunch or a dinner.
Recommendation : It definitely is the best place to stay in Nainital as it excels on all the prime parameters : location, food and luxury. Coming to the pricing, it was at a lower rate per day than both Shervani Hilltop and The Manu Maharani. Valley view rooms at The Manu Maharani were priced at fourteen thousand rupees approx, which is exorbitantly high compared to the facilities offered. Overall, a highly recommended place for your stay in Nainital.
Travel Tip : Call the hotel for exact directions as the route given by GPS isn’t appropriate for four wheelers.
Auli – A place I had never heard of till 2010, it was the final year of our engineering and continuing the college tradition of a farewell trip, our batch decided to ditch Goa and go for something more adventurous. White river rafting and camping in Rishikesh followed by skiing at Auli, this was the first time I came to know that a place by this name existed in India and is close to Joshimath in Uttarakhand.
How to reach : After a two day camping stay at Rishikesh, we left for Auli in our sturdy mini bus ;). It was then we realised that the distance of 265 kms ,which we had hoped to cover in a time span of five-six hours, is a journey amidst tortuous roads and ever increasing altitude. Auli is located at an altitude of ten thousand feet above sea level and is barely at a distance of 55kms from the Badrinath Shrine. It is a breathtaking journey with river Ganga flowing in the steep valley parallel to the route. Many people from our group suffered from nausea, I recommend taking a very light meal and keeping some medications handy as the serpentine roads can easily trigger motion sickness.
The route passes through a number of small pilgrimages like Devprayag, Rudraprayag, Vishnuprayag, Chamoli-Gopeshwar etc, each of which holds a special value in the Hindu mythology. It took us about 10 hours to reach Joshimath which is the nodal point for Kedarnath/Badrinath. It is one of the most spectacular road journeys that one can encounter, a must visit for photography enthusiasts. The climb from Joshimath to Auli is very steep so night driving is not recommended, so we decided to take a halt in Joshimath where basic lodging options are available.
Staying Options : Early morning we started our journey, it took us about 45mins to traverse the 15km distance from Joshimath to Auli. There is a cable car rope way which connects Joshimath to Auli and is one of the longest rope ways in Asia. An administrative body called Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd (GMVNL), managed by Uttarakhand government, runs skiing courses for mountaineers and travellers and also provides lodging facilities, which is where we stayed. It was a wonderful stay at a very affordable price. For those seeking luxury, Cliff Top Club is the best available option.
Skiing Guide : Enclosed by snow clad mountains of Garhwal Himalayan Range, Auli is a paradise for skiing lovers. Even as beginners we could ski through the gentle slopes meant for novices, GMVN provides instructors and all skiing equipment at very reasonable costs. Walking through the misty slopes provides one with the imposing spectacle of some of the lofty mountain ranges like the beautiful Nanda-Devi, Mana Parvat, Kamet etc. It also has the highest man made lake in the world, which is used for skiing. The scenery is surreal, as if you are a part of a beautiful painting sketched by a dexterous painter.
Auli is a must visit place for all the nature lovers and of course for all those who are passionate for skiing.
Hope the pictures inspired you to plan a trip to Auli soon, Do like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram to get a glimpse of all the action we are upto 🙂