Bhimtal & Pangot : Of Lakes , Mountains and long awaited weekends

During an ASM stint you are just thrown away in all directions in the country and catching up with people you care for becomes quite a task. Our entire first year of Job was a series of weekends sandwiched with some working week days. And those weekends were either spent travelling to a middle ground place to meet people or planning a future trip to make it happen.

But this one weekend trip was absolutely impulsive, took us one day to decide that we just needed to travel to the mountains and had to find a middle ground between Delhi & Lucknow.

We decided to travel to Bhimtal merely because of the convenience of its location. Along with Abhinaya, Meetu and Gravity, friends who have always been my partners in all crimes and adventures, I left for Bhimtal by road early in the morning around five.
Prakhar and Jaydev took the train at night from Lucknow and reached Kathgodam around 10 in the morning.

Day 1 :
Bhimtal
After a 40 minute cab ride from Kathgodam station we reached the hotel we had booked in Bhimtal. The hotel that we stayed in is located right on the edge of the lake, basic budget property but the location of the place was amazing.
We spent the next one hour on the terrace of the hotel overlooking the lake and having breakfast. Royal Rosette, the place where we stayed serves basic breakfast – bread, eggs, Parantha and tea and coffee. And five minutes walking from the hotel there are ample options of street food right next to the lake side.

Naukachiataal
Naukuchiatal

Naukuchiatal
After exploring the lake area we decided to go ahead and explore the Naukuchiatal area. This is another one of the nine lakes in the Nainital region and is the most secluded of all. This lake is situated, almost hidden between the mountains and has nine distinct corners, pointed edges hidden in between the mountains. This is the largest one of all the lakes but is not as well-kept as Nainital or even Bhimtal.

 

Shikara ride in Naukachiataal
Shikara ride in Naukuchiataal

Though there is a stay option available right at the edge of the lake, If one is looking for a completely secluded area to stay in this is the perfect place.

There are options of Shikara boats here but paddle boats are not present in this lake. We went for an hour-long boat ride here, and this is genuinely quite a romantic place to be, amidst the mountains and away from the crowd. Oh, don’t forget to bring your Bluetooth speakers for this journey. The beautiful landscape, the lake, some random conversations about money managing app with friends and music on the background – A memory you would want to be haunted by for the rest of your life.

 

Nainital

NAINI LAKE 3 (1)
Naini Lake

After spending a Couple of hours at Naukuchiatal and we decided to head to a more populated area in this region for Dinner. Nainital and the mall road there was an obvious choice. The mall road at Nainital has the usual hustle bustle of any hill station. Some very good Indian and Chinese eating options are available here.

But if you come to Nainitaal, a boat ride in one of the most beautiful lakes in the country is a must. And this is the only lake where there is an option of paddle boats as well so that is definitely not be missed. The one hour boat ride here, with Jaydev entertaining us with his songs and the rain gods showering their love on us, this experience easily turned out to be an indelible experience and romantic in that. That boat ride and its memory is something that will stay with us till the end.

DSC01631
The weather did create a Movie moment for us 🙂

There is a Tibetan market right next to the lake and some great bargains, especially for woolens can be found here.

There are a couple of gaming arcades next to the lake too, where you can find the video games from the simpler times.
And another view not to be missed is from the top point of the trolley car ride. The cable car ride starting point is right across the entry of the lake and on a good day, if there aren’t any clouds in the sky you can see the entire lake and the hills around. One of the best view-point in Nainital.

View of the lake from the cable car
View of the lake from the cable car

There is a fully guided tour available right on the mall road where they will provide you the car and driver and take you around to show the 8 – 9 great viewpoints around Nainital, but we decided that we were content with spending some time on the lake and cable car ride instead of hustling around the numerous viewpoints.

After a great Chinese dinner at Machaan we headed back to the hotel and decided to continue our saga on the terrace with some snacks and drinks.
When we were sitting on the terrace, the hotel staff warned us that we should be a little careful as there is a panther which stays in the vicinity and keeps visiting that area but we ended making fun of the whole incident, named the panther Mr. Brown and tripped over his name all night.

That's us on the terrace crafting up Mr. Brown stories PC : Rahul Singh aka Gravity
That’s us on the terrace crafting up Mr. Brown stories
PC : Rahul Singh aka Gravity

Funny thing, a couple of months later we read a report in the newspaper about another hotel in the same area, where one of the big mountain cats had decided to camp in the room while the tourists had stepped out. And when the tourists came back, they found him crouching under the basin in the washroom.
So, in retrospect, we just got really lucky that Night. 🙂

Day 2 : Adventure and Explorations

Paragliding
Another thing we didn’t know of this place is that there is para gliding possible from a point which is a little above Bhimtal. 4 -5 different companies offer the same, they will pick you from your hotel in their vehicle, you can do Para Gliding up there and they will drop you back to the hotel.

On our way to the Paragliding site
On our way to the Paragliding site

Only this activity is dependent on the weather on that day, doesn’t happen in case of rains and stormy weather. Also there are two different kind of gliders, depending on the weight and the maximum weight they can carry here is 90 kg.

That's Gravity up there !
That’s Gravity up there !

Boating at Bhimtal
Post this activity we decided to go back to Bhimtal, enjoy some boating and get something to eat there.

The boating experience in Bhimtal is fine, but if you are covering Nainital and Naukuchiatal, this one could comfortably be missed. Again, no paddle boats available here and somehow the surroundings are also not as pretty as in Nainital or as secluded as Naukuchiatal.

There is an aquarium in the middle of the lake on an Island and though we didn’t have the time to visit, I reckon it might be fun to visit an aquarium on an Island in the middle of a lake. After all, how many such aquariums could India boast of?

Pangot

Enroute Pangot
En route Pangot

Post lunch we decided to head to the village of Pangot. To reach to Pangot, we have to cross Nainital and head straight up. Around 45 – 60 mins of travelling from Bhimtal, but this place was worth it. Small sleepy hill station nestled in the heady Kumaon range. Here we felt like we were standing amidst the clouds, with the mist and the amorous fog blurring our slightly tired albeit dreamy eyes, a scenery both beautiful and compelling enough to foist a sense of enchantment with the place and people around you.

Pangot is a haven for Birdwatchers and for those who prefer nature walks and nature centric experiences away from the touristy life of Nainital. It is surrounded by the forest area of Kilbury National Park.

List of Flora & Fauna in Kilbury
List of Flora & Fauna in Kilbury

Couple of hours of exploring this town and having over sweetened tea here, it was time for us to head back. We descended from the mountains and headed to the Kathgodam station where we dropped our friends and bid good-bye, not knowing when we would all be able to plan another such amazing weekend.

Around 9, we headed back for Delhi and reached home around 3 in the morning. Couple of hours of sleep and well, the corporate world was ready to enslave us again.

A last one before we gear up for slogging
A last one before we gear up for slogging

Where to Stay

Bhimtal : Fairly away from the Crowd, yet has a small market and places to eat. Royal Rosette, a budget hotel right at the edge of the lake
Naukuchiatal : Very Secluded, away from the city. There is a KMVN guest house right on the lake, budget property but great place to stay in if you are looking for serenity and peace.
Pangot : If you are interested in Bird watching and nature walks, Jungle Lore Birding lodge is a great option. There are a few more home stays and B&B’s available here.
Nainital : This place is the hub in this area, more than hundred hotels here from home stays to B& B’s to resorts, the whole wide variety is present in this region. The best market and eating joints and the hustle bustle is in Nainital.

Where to Eat

  • Good Momos & Street food at Bhimtal lake
  • Machaan, Located on the Mall road has great Indian and Chinese food
  • Honey hut, again on the Mall road has great desserts, coffee and breakfast items

What to Do

  • Shikara Boating in Naukuchiatal
  • Para gliding in Bhimtal
  • Kayaking & Zorbing in Bhimtal
  • Paddle boating in Nainital
  • Bird Watching & Nature walks in Pangot

If you want to take a printout/PDF version of this post to refer on your trip, you may request the same in the comments below. We will be glad to mail you the same in an attempt to make the planning process easier for you.

If you have already been here or to other similar places, share your experiences or engage in a conversation below. (Alternatively, here’s a link to the discussion on our Facebook page)

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