On a short visit to Nainital in early Sep was fortunate to have one day of clear sky. Opportune moment to enjoy the Kumaon hillside when they are at their best i.e. when the dust of the summer and pollution of the tourists have been washed away by the rain.
Link to the route map.
From Nainital I headed towards Ranikhet but eventually took a shortcut to Bhatrojkhan and then descended down to Corbett/Ramnagar before climbing back up to Nainital via the Kaladhungi Road. Leaving Nainital early in the morning. Though there are some cloud, it turned out to be a gorgeous day. Tallital part of the town. Wild flowers in Nainital The best part of the ride was the houses – both new and old, amidst the natural greenery A seasonal waterfall after Bhowali. Unfortunately the place is a drinking spot for locals. So bottles and wrappers were strewn around. I had to move a few around to get a clear picture. Past GaramPani/Khairna, just as the climb for Ranikhet starts there is a road that cuts down on the left towards the river. Last time I was here, there was no bridge. Now a bridge has been built. I decided to do a little exploration. While the bridge in in perfect condition, large part of the road leading towards the bridge is washed off. Navigating around that landslide, I crossed the bridge. At a small shop, I asked where the road goes and how is the road condition. The shop owner looks at be with a weird expression probably thinking – “why is this guy coming down this road when he doesn’t know where it goes”. However, being polite as most Kumaonis are he told me that it goes to Bhatrojkhan and road is reasonably good. So Ranikhet was now forgotten and the exploring the new route was the new target. A little ahead I saw this board. While the shop owner had said that the road was “reasonably good”, by the standards of where I live – Bangalore, the road was heavenly. I was so glad I took the road. The vistas are amazing. Having no high profile tourist destination meant there was no paraphernalia associated with tourists along the way. Only jungle, fields and village houses. Since it was still early in the morning, smoke wafted though the air – a feast for the eyes as well as for the nose. Looking back I could see how the road slowly snaked up the hill. Across the valley a small village surrounded by fields, basked in the sun. Hill life. There was hardly any shops on the way. Finding a board for “Negi Jalpan Gruh”, I stopped for tea. I was the first customer of the morning and Negi-ji ran off to get milk from his cows leaving me in-charge of his shop. Soon he was back with a pail of milk and handed me a small cup of fresh warm milk. Then he mockingly added – “Be careful. This is unadulterated stuff. You city people will get your stomach upset”. Ignoring him I enjoyed the milk. Then we got talked. When I told him I was coming from Nainital, he opened up. Apparently he had worked as a boy at one of the halwais in Nainital and studied a little there. Few years back he came back to his village and set up this shop in addition to taking care of his fields. After a cup of sweet tea and a good conversion on life there, I was on my way. Pretty soon the jungles – Pine tree, I like the most started. A typical hill house. Rooms for cattle at the bottom and for people at the top with sloping roof for rain to drain off. The dishes are an addition from this generation. Another of the hill houses with the new one no longer following the traditional sloping slate roof. All along the route I could see houses and villages locates far off in remote parts. One such beautiful village on a small ridge. An isolated temple amidst pine trees. This was a perfect and peaceful location and I took a small break here. Other than a two or three Baleros which are used for shared transport, there were no other traffic on the road. For this fox sunning himself on the road, my bike’s nose would have been an unwelcome disturbance. I managed to click a picture just as he scuttled off after giving me a long nasty look. Topping a ridge, I got a glimpse of the Kosi River as it flows towards Corbett. An old English bungalow. The Gladiola were beautiful, bungalow mostly unkempt. After joining the Ranikhet-Bhatrojkhan-Ramnagar road, the traffic significantly increased. So this the establishments on the road. A babaji who rode pillion with me for a short while. He was high on some stuff. So when he asked for some money, I refused. An old abandoned hut across from the place I had breakfast. Had breakfast at somewhat modern restaurant. After crossing the Bhikiyasan junction (road that goes towards Bhikiyasan), the habitation again thinned out. A small temple flanked by many trees. Another view of the Kosi as I got closer the plains. A remote hut up in the hills. A water crossing put to better use. Soon after than entered the peripheral jungles of Corbett which is dotted with numerous operators catering to tourists. Crossing Corbett and Ramnagar, I was soon driving back uphill towards Nainital. Took another small break just like Jim Corbett would have in his days, before wrapping up the ride in Nainital.