The Columbus moment -Don’t stop at Bhimtal Go to Dhanachuli

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nainital

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How to get there By rail to Haldwani, Uttarakhand, by bus or taxi from there

Estimated time (From Bhimtal) Half an hour

Place to stay Not available in village, must be arranged in Bhimtal else in five-star hotel The Aroha located on the Dhanchuli bend.

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Nainital and Bhimtal are passe. Go into the interiors to savour the rolling hills of Kumaon

Travel 28 km of winding roads from Bhimtal to reach this quaint village nestled among the hills. Bathed in mist, its bucolic and mountainous landscape provides a wondrous getaway from the arduous city life. For the discerning eye, a glimpse of the snow-capped Himalayan range is the unofficial welcome to the village. As the sun beats down, the mist clears out, revealing a landscape dotted with apple, pear and peach trees… nature’s perfect recipe for recluse and contemplation. Traditional hamlets with their stone roofs and courtyards lined with fresh bright flowers, add to the aura of the village.

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With a brook or a gushing waterfall waiting to be discovered at every few metres, Dhanachuli is apt for adventure- seekers. Among other things, its lush green forests, home to the sky-touching and spindly pine trees offer a scenic spot for trekking and picnicking. There are also numerous trails that lead up to rivers and waterfalls. Since the place is relatively unknown, there are no established signposts to lead the traveler. This however, only adds to the suspense. Many of these trails lead one to habitations of various shapes and sizes offering opportunity to interact with the locals. Rosy-cheeked children staring from windows or from between the planks of wooden doors, is a common and delightful sight. The walk across the singular and narrow stony paths is often disrupted as donkeys carrying loads make their way up and down the mountains. Fields of potatoes and other vegetables greet the wanderer on their path. One can, with the permission of orchard owners, break off fruits and go happily munching all the way.

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There are numerous creeks in the village which offer spaces of relaxation. One can sit on the rocks; stare at the blue sky while the crystal clear water swirls around the legs. In many of these creeks, there are numerous fishes, big and small. While the small ones are happy nibbling dead skin off your foot, the big ones scurry away and must be wooed if desired on the plate.

After a whole day out, the real adventure is still to begin. As the sun goes down the mountains, the sky begins resembling an artist’s palette. While the scarlet and orange sky merges into the dark blue outline of the rugged mountains, the birds fly away chirping goodbyes; the fusion is breathtaking. Perhaps, the closest one can get to witness a musical right in the bosom of nature. As colours gently give way to darkness, dim light from across the mountains remain, reminding one of the many fantastical lands read and dreamt about. A little while later, the sky is pitch black; it seems nature has drawn up the curtains on its phantasmagorical show.

Then lights pop up from below; these are houses across the mountains, up for display. Another set of lights appear. These are peppered generously across the vast sky. Constellations, those timeless beauties, parade themselves brazenly before the naked eye. Twinkling and shimmering, the stars adorn the night, for stargazers there couldn’t be a better sight.

Deepa Philip

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