The hills are alive with the sound of… silence? Although calling the magnificent Himalayas ‘hills’ is rather like calling Mickey Mouse a rat.
Uttaranchal offers something for everyone… mountains, rivers, lakes, glaciers, wildlife sanctuaries, temples. You can stand by and watch from a distance and be awed by the breath-taking splendor of it all – the way I did. Or you can jump right into the spirit of things and trek, ski or raft if the adventure bug has bitten you. Either way, Uttaranchal fills your senses…… and the feeling remains long after you leave the place.
Uttaranchal is divided into two regions : Kumaon and Garhwal. We went to Kumaon in December last year. Looking for peace and quiet. A place to get away from it all. And no, we didn’t take it all with us… not even a good camera – which is why the bad quality pictures that do no justice to what I saw. Kumaon region itself offers many many holiday ideas, of which we managed only a few within a short holiday of five days. Starting from Ranikhet, the queen’s field.
As you alight at Kathgodam, the last railway station in this region, you feel the difference in the air. The air here is so fresh and pure that you can almost hear your city-smoke filled lungs crying out in pleasure.
True to its name, Ranikhet is a lovely place. The best thing to do in Ranikhet is simply walk around the town, soaking in the long-range views of the Nanda Devi and Trishul. It was early winter and the trees were a riot of the colours of autumn. If you want to get the true feel of the place, then stay away from the marked touristy spots and chart your own course in and around the town.
A day in Ranikhet and we were hungry to move on… the promise of better things to come. And we made our way to Kausani. Where Gandhiji had spent a few months meditating and writing on Anashakti Yoga. A memorial to Gandhi stands there, with rare pictures of the man and his life. Which is the only place to ‘visit’ in Kausani. Other than this, what Kausani offers is Himalayan views, splendid and uninterrupted. Nanda Devi, Nandakot, Trishul, Panchchuli. I cannot think of anything better to do on a holiday than to sit on the low walls of the Anashakti Ashram and sip chai, as you watch the sun go down on the distant mountain ranges.
Ditto for the sunrise. Kausani is one of those rare holiday options where one feels inspired to brave the bitter cold and wake up early just to watch the sun rise over the distant mountain ranges. It is a wonder how nature can play around with so many colours at the same time on the same large canvas… the bright oranges and purples merging with the muted yellows and pinks, all against a pale blue background…