Part 1: Journey to the Five hidden gems of Uttarakhand

Summer vacations brings with it oppurtunities to take long break from the hectic daily schedules and venture out in search of beauty, peace and fun.
Summer of 2016 took us to the 5 hidden gems of Uttarakhand, India.

Gem 1: Naukuchiatal.
Its a calm, serene small city by the Lake which invites all nature lovers .

To choose from the unceasing bucket-list a few names during vacation is the toughest challenge faced by any avid traveler.

This summer after much discussions on the pros and cons of our places of choice we finally zeroed in on the” Kumaon circuit vacation”.

The northern state of Uttarakhand in India is divided into two administrative divisions : Kumaon or Kumaun and Garhwal.

The gross plan was chalked out.. We will take leave from office for 9 days and try to reach up to Munsiyari halting at different places in the route and staying there for a night or two.

As a planner my work started immediately . It took a day and a search through number of blogs to finalize the fine print of the vacation. The route will be :

Kumaon circuit summer 16
Route for ” Kumaon Vacation”

We will be starting our journey on 11th June and will return on 19th June.

Day 1 : Delhi-Naukuchiatal

Day 2: Naukuciatal-Kausani

Day 3: Stay at Kausani

Day 4:Kausani- Chaukori

Day 5: Chaukori- Munsiyari

Day 6: Stay at Munsiyari

Day 7: Munsiyari- Binsar

Day 8: Stay at Binsar

Day 9: Binsar- Delhi

Rains have already started in the mountains, so we tried to keep our staying options as  near as possible to the route road. Knowing that Munsiyari is deep within the mountain terrains and it has numerous landslide points on its route, we were a bit apprehensive about whether we will be able to make it or not. But, vacation plans in the mountains during monsoon cannot be full-proof , so we left that part of the plan as a surprise element.


Day 1: Delhi- Naukuchiatal

Nainital district has four major lakes: Nainital, Bhimtal, Sat tal and Naukuchiatal. Naukuchiatal is the least explored lake in this region thus it is calm, unspoiled and clean. For all those people who would love a peaceful weekend vacation near to Delhi, this a good option.

LAke district
Lakes in Nainital District

According to our plan we just had  one day to enjoy and explore the beauty of Naukuchiatal.As we wanted to utilize the time in best possible way , we left for the destination early.

We, The team of 5 (My husband, my 10 years old daughter,my two dogs,Lassy and Chocos and me)left Delhi at 6.30 a.m and reached Naukuchiatal at 2 p.m. We had our booking at The Camphor Tree Resort.
On reaching Naukuchiatal, we were instructed to follow the road encircling the Tal(meaning Lake), until we reach the end of the road. We followed the instruction and came to a halt when we saw a black colored huge iron gate with the words ā€œ Outside Vehicles Not Allowed ā€œ written on it.

I made a call to Samir Rana, the owner of the hotel and waited there. From the corner of our eye we could see a small car exhausting itself to compromise the steep sloped narrow road which vanished among the houses. We were too frightened to discuss about the possibility of that road being our way to the hotel….silence gripped our car.

Suddenly, the black gate opened and we were welcomed in.As the gate closed behind us, we were cut-off from the cacophony of the outside world and were transformed into a  world of tranquility. The road moves by the side of the lake and under a thick canopy formed by the branches  of gigantic sized old trees.Large number of empty brightly colored Shikaras were anchored on the side of the lake, under the trees, waiting for maintenance.

Shikaras anchored by the side of the Lake

An old styled Iron gate welcomed us to The Camphor Tree. Samir Rana  is the third generation owner of the property. In the 1940’s it was owned by a British Colonel and was a seven stone unit hunting and fishing Lodge.  Samir, revamped the main building lately and it serves as the boutique hotel now. It is a perfect amalgamation of the old and the new world….while you can see the ruins of the colonel’s stone hunting lodge and the colossal ,shady more than 100 years old Camphor tree with its root spreading large and deep…at the same time you can smell the scent of the new paint done on the building.

Old styled Iron gate welcomed us to Camphor Tree
First glimpse of Camphor Tree
The Camphor Tree
Ruins of the Hunting lodge and the revamped building co-existing

The rooms were large, spacious, neatly decorated. Our main attraction was the Bay window overlooking the lake. At Camphor tree, either we were exploring the place or we were sitting by the Bay window watching people laughing, chitchatting while boating on the Lake.

The Bay Window….everyones favorite

A visit to Naukuchiatal remains incomplete without a  boat ride.

After having a superbly delicious lunch, we planned to go for boating . The boat stand was just a 2 minutes walk from the resort.

The scene at the boat stand was just in contrast to the serene atmosphere in Camphor tree ,the Lake was teeming with holiday crowd. There were lots of options available for activities : kayaking(for 2), shikaras(will be provided with boatman) and peddle boats.My daughter was more keen on steering the boat herself so we opted for peddle boat.

Naukuchiatal or the “Nine cornered Lake” is the deepest Lake in the Lake district of Nainital. Mythology has ,that if anyone can visit all the nine corners of the Lake within a specified time he will be granted a boon by Lord Brahma. Keeping with the belief, there is a Brahma Temple by the Lake(near to KMVN).It is a matter of fact that all the nine corners of the Lake cannot be viewed at the same time from any point. The mythological stories adds an element of mystery to the place.

We were given an hour time to boat. My daughter was desperate to explore the Lake as much as possible. She was so excited to get the new responsible role of being the captain of the boat. She steered skilfully  through the fleet of boats. We never thought that our 10 years old daughter will be strong enough to peddle the boat for 1 hour or, so tactfully will make her way through obstacles. Vacations are time when you discover The Real Self, it helps to come out of our cocoon.

The Lake was surrounded with lush green mountains on all sides. The sky was overcast with clouds and the breeze created ripples on the water. The sides of the lakes were buzzing with people busy with different water activities.On one side of the lake number of kids and teenagers were enthralled by Zorbing….their laughter and  screams of excitement filled the air.


Boat Stand, Naukuchiatal
Kayaks, Shikaras,Peddle boats..Spoilt for choice

Bhimtal, near to Naukuchiatal is famous for paragliding. While boating we saw number of paragliders hovering over the Lake. Paragliding… of the innumerable ways to quench the thirst to fly for humans. Para gliders sailed through the air and sometimes went in circles before vanishing behind a mountain. We saw people Kayaking,the pair of paddlers keeping in-perfect sync with each other to keep them afloat.The colorful Shikaras  disturbed the regular pattern of ripples on the water and created a streamline trail behind it. Our 1 hour was almost over and we went back to the boat stand.

Paragliders hovering over the Lake
Tourists enjoying a ride on Shikara

We saw some of our fellow Resort mates had perfectly laid set-up for fishing near our Resort. The camp chairs were laid, box full of baits kept in one corner and they were relaxing in the camp chairs  with fishing rods in one hand and can of beer in the other. A perfect vacation picture !!!!!!

We lazily walked  on the side of the Tal while  the sun slowly went down the horizon. Only the silhouettes of the boats and the people sitting on it were visible. The lake now resembled a pool of gold and the tiny boats floating on it.

At sunset….pool of gold and the boats floating on it….

As it was getting dark we went back to the Resort. The lights surrounding the Lake came alive . The reflection of the lights on the lake and the numerous lights twinkling like stars on the mountains painted a mesmerizing scene. The moon shined brightly and lit up even the darkest corners.

Camphor Tree at night
The moon shining bright

We were tired after the days activity and wanted to retire soon to bed. We had an early dinner and went to bed only after meeting the chef and noting down the yummy chicken recipes.

Next morning, I woke up to the chirping of birds. I went outside to discover that the place is filled with birds who seemed to be regular visitors.Some were busy filling up their tummy from the feeder, some were comfortably perching on trees, while some were tirelessly flying in groups over the place and their chirping energized the atmosphere.

After having our breakfast we left for our next destination……Kausani.


Useful info:

Travelling to Naukuchiatal:

  • By Road (from Delhi): Delhi- Rampur-Rudrapur- Haldwani bypass-Bhimtal-                                                                         Naukuchiatal(approx. 8hrs.)
  • Nearest Airport: Pantnagar airport
  • Nearest Railway station: Kathgodam (approx. 27 Kms. away)

Boating charges:

  • Shikara   300 for 30 minutes
  • Pedal boat  200/hr.

Tariff of Camphor Tree:

  • Deluxe rooms at 3500 a night including breakfast
  • Suite rooms at 5000 a night including breakfast.








Author: pages_from_diary

Exploring nooks and corners of India and capturing them in my words and photographs is my passion....

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