Inside Out

Notes on seeking wisdom and crafting software

Two days in Nainital

Days start early in the mountains. It’s 5 am and already day light here in Nainital. Around 7 am, I start walking down the mall road towards the tallital bus stop.

Business has not started yet. Shops are closed. However the taxi parking folks are busy throughout the day. Parking private vehicles is a huge challenge in the city. Even the shared taxis will not start until 7.45 am. Given the continuous rain, the rain wear is a permanent part of my attire now. I wait for 30 mins and get a ride for Bhowali.

On the way I learned that the water supply to Nainital was broken few days back. It disrupted the restaurant and hospitality industry in a bad way. My copassengers are students and officials taking a ride to their workplace.

Parathas at the Bhowali bus stop were generously large. I ate one and packed the other for a lunch at the lakes today. Nainital has nine lakes. My plan for the day is to hop around at least half of them.

Bhimtal

Shared taxis ply between Bhowali and Bhimtal frequently. Given the start of the day I had to wait for 30mins for one.

Bhimtal has several schools and universities. I saw students travelling from Nainital (11 kms) and locals too. There are huge boards of educational institutions claiming the faculty to be from IIT/IIMs. Even at 2000m above sea level the stamp of a marquee institution sells.

2023-06-bhimtal (Bhimtal with boats ready for tourists)

Me and a few teachers at the local school are one of the first visitors at Bhimtal for the day. I take a walk around the lake, watch a father and daughter feeding bread to the fishes in the lake. There are a flok of ducks quacking around. Fishing and swimming are prohibited in the lake. Other activities like zorbing, kayaking or boating are allowed.

While walking back, I met a group of 3 medical students going for boating. All four of us enjoyed a nice hour of boating around the lake. By and by the next plan to visit Naukuchia tal was born.

Naukuchia tal and Kamal tal

Shared taxis to Naukuchia tal are available at a distance from the main lake. Start walking towards Bhowali and stop on the first square crossing. It’s easier to get a taxi with multiple members (invariably the first question from driver kitne log ho?).

Taxi took us through a zigzag uphill road about 7km from Bhimtal. You will arrive at a beautiful little pond with lotuses in all stages of bloom.

2023-06-kamaltal (Kamal tal in June)

Kamal tal (lotus lake) is adjacent to the naukuchia tal. There were few folks trying to clean the pond while we were there. Lake a has small park in front to enjoy the view.

2023-06-naukuchiatal (Serene Naukuchiatal)

Walk for about 100m and you will reach the lake of nine corners (nau kuchia tal). Smaller than Bhimtal but more quiet and peaceful. In addition to boating they also have zip lining above the lake. We took a round and clicked few pics before coming back to the taxi stand.

Getting a taxi back to Bhimtal is notoriously hard. There was one aunty waiting for vehicle too. We both waited for half hour and then I started walking back. Aunty gave me the leaving tip to absolutely stop bikers and ask for ride back. I did and met a business man selling plots in/around Bhowali area. He mentioned that govt regulations do allow outsiders to purchase lands and flats there. The builder economy is blooming there.

Bhimtal to Bhowali and back Nainital was unceremonious. I did see a few Paragliding areas around there. Probably this will grow to be the next Bir Billing.

Naini tal

I reached Nainital around 4 pm. This time I took the road opposite to the Mall road from tallital bus stop. This road is called the Thandi sadak. True to it’s name it is cold and peaceful. Vehicles are not allowed on this Walkway. Invariably this road is my favorite part in Nainital. You’ll find seating areas, small temples and excellent scenic view of the lake from here.

2023-06-nainital (Naina lake)

I walked till the Naina Devi temple. Spent some time there. It was too crowded. Refilled water and started walking up. My plan was to walk up to the Aurobindo Ashram about 2km from temple.

Google maps led me through a narrow walkway uphill. After walking for 20mins I reached a crossing path. Unable to find a way I asked few localities around. They advised against trekking above to Tiffin top. Clearly I had lost my way and leopards roam around the evening time. I decided to walk back.

I treated myself to a sumptuous thali at the Joshi Bhojanalaya. Tomorrow I will visit the Kainchi dham.

Kainchi dham

I started around 7 am today. Same ritual as yesterday, walk to the tallital bus stop and catch a taxi to Bhowali. Kainchi dham is 7 km from Bhowali towards Almora. A bus was waiting for Almora, I hopped on till Kainchi. It took 30 mins.

Kainchi is the ashram of great saint Neeb Karoli Baba. Babaji has attained mahasamadhi. The ashram and shrine are run by devotees. I learned that Steve jobs came to take his blessings. The temple complex hosts various deities. There is a shrine dedicated to Babaji. There is a river flowing alongside the shrine. You will find large set of devotees reading the Hanuman Chalisha or Sundarkand. There is a continuous stream of Hare rama hara rama Maha mantra kirtan happening inside the complex. Several devotees are meditating with eyes closed. Volunteers are hard at work in trying to maintain order and discipline around. I sit with eyes closed. I could do two brief sittings of meditation before mind starts wandering around. You’re discouraged to use phones inside the shrine.

I get up, walk outside and call home. Our toddler hurt himself earlier in the morning. He’s learning to cope with not so pleasant happenings. Aren’t all of us trying to learn the same? 😄

I start walking towards Almora direction. About 100mtrs there is an empty ashram and shrine dedicated to Swami Sai Sevak ji maharaj. River flowing below and tall trees in front. I sit down for another meditation session. This one leaves me fulfilled and brings a deep sense of contentment.

Time to leave for Bhowali. I catch a shared taxi and then from Bhowali a bus drops me at Nainital. Today is ekadashi and pangs of hunger start getting on me. I finish the last snickers I had on me.

I take a walk through the Thandi Sadak and find a nice sitting place under a tree (chabutara in hindi). To my right is the lake with the clouds mysteriously appearing in and out. Many locals and travelers alike come here for a break.

I sit down penning the notes from past few days of travel. A temple nearby is playing kirtan Sriman Narayan Narayan Hari Hari.

Pangs of hunger not letting me write at 3.50pm. I start walking towards the Naina devi temple bidding good bye to the nice little place.

A brief tour through the Tibetan-Bhotia market near the Naina Devi temple left me even more hungry. I had two Aloo Parathas along with Curd at Negi Restaurant near Bara Bazaar. Back to room at 4:50pm to pack my bits. Tired I doze off for a bit.

2023-06-sunset-nainital (Sunset at Nainital lake)

Later I walk to the bus stop and catch the bus to Delhi at 8.30pm.


This post is the part of a week long solo backpacking series. All posts are below: