There are travelers who prefer history, then there are others who like nature and then there are some who like adventure. What if you could roll up all this into a single bundle and dash it with a shoe string budget? Well, you probably would do what we just did last week!
The Plan: Travel Uttarakhand (or Uttaranchal) in its tourist peak season for 6 days and 5 nights by spending no more than US$ 150
The Travelers: Me and a buddy of mine
How did we do it? Read on this 2 part post on how we did it and what all did we see.
It all began when my buddy told me of his visit to India after a long gap of over 2 years. My mind was racing for a small trip in early June where the two of us…me freshly out of Grad school and he a PhD scholar could manage it all within a small tight budget without neglecting basic comforts.
The plan was to visit places like Nainital (yeah you have to because its so popular!), Kausani (because its secluded and enthralling), Ranikhet (I still wonder why!), Almora (deserves more respect than it gets) and Binsar (could we?). Now with the objective places decided we had two options..either to visit Nainital first and book those quick and fast tours to visit all these or do things at our own pace. We chose the latter.
We started from Lucknow to Lal Kuan in Nainital Express, from Lal Kuan we decided to goto Almora because that was a much more central location to other places like Ranikhet and Kausani. From Lal Kuan we went to the Haldwani bus station, which allowed us to board a KMOU (Kumaon Motor Owners Union) bus to Almora at INR 78.
At Almora we were greeted we stayed at Hotel Shikhar which provided us with a room at INR 500 a night. The first evening at Almora greeted us with rains which restricted our movement to only Naina Devi temple there. However, we did walk around the Mall road and also discovered an excellent cafe in the streets of Lal Bazaar.
Next morning the rains were back after a few hours of Sun, but this time we decided not to stay within the confines of our room. So we ventured out and decided to visit Jageshwar Temples. Now the first problem propped up, there was only one KMOU bus to Jageshwar at 12 noon and the other option was to pay upto INR 800 bucks at book a taxi to this place around 35 kilometers from Almora. We instead opted for a bus to Pitohragarh and get down at Atula which is around 3 kilometers from Jageshwar. What happened next was a true local bus trip with little place to stand or even breathe.
At Atula the rain Gods decided to greet us with lighter drizzle and plenty of icy breeze…we trekked to Jageshwar temples on foot and enjoyed the mystic beauty of the Pine forest around us. The Jageshwar temples are of both historical and religious significance, a trip to Almora is deemed incomplete if you don’t visit them.
We returned to Almora through a regular Jeep, the last of one the day at around 3.15 pm. One key learning in Kumaon was that most of the public transport between points across towns would stop by the time it shall be 5 pm.
Next morning we visited Ranikhet, that was pretty easy to do by passenger Jeeps from Almora which drop you at Ranikhet within 2 hours at around INR 50 per person.
Ranikhet was much of a disappointment though. However, we did enjoy a trek of almost 12 kilometers to Jhula Devi temple and Chaubattia. On our return to Almora, the clear weather helped us to see the snow capped mountain himalayan mountain range including Nanda Devi peak from the naked eye.
Must visit places around Almora and Ranikhet: Chaubattia, Jageshwar, Naina Devi Temple, Kalika Temple
Check out for the second part of the series…