google-site-verification: googlee1556601ef56efc4.html The Charming Himalayas: 2015

Thursday, 15 October 2015


A gorgeous hill station having a beautiful emerald colored pear shaped lake at a height of 6800 feet in Kumaon range of Himalayas. That's Nainital. This is the best hill station in north India. The lake is called Naini lake and is surrounded by mountains with coniferous trees from all the sides.

The lake is believed to be one of the eyes of  Lord Shiva's wife Sati that had fallen on earth when Lord Shiva carried her body after her act of self-immolation. In fact there is a temple called Naina Devi Temple which is said to be the exact place where the emerald colored eye had fallen.

The mountains surrounding the lake have numerous peaks. The tallest peak is called Naina Peak or China Peak and is at a height of about 8600 feet. It offers you an enchanting view of Nainital lake and its surroundings as well as of the surrounding Kumaon range of mountains. One has to go by car and then take a horse ride to reach this top.There are a couple of points from where one can visualize some of the beautiful mountain tops in this region, such as Snow point and Tiffin top.

View of Kumaon range of mountains from mountain top.

View of Nainital from top.
Nainital is visited by a lot of foreign as well as Indian tourists. There are plenty of hotels of all suitable budgets for accommodations. A boat ride on Nainital lake is a great attraction for tourists as one can see most parts of Nainital during the ride. There is a boat club as well as individual boat men who take you throughout the length of the lake.

There is a high altitude zoo on one of the mountain tops which has endangered species of animals from the Himalayas. The zoo also has a variety of high altitude birds. The zoo is a popular tourist attraction.

 There are two beautiful houses-Governor's House built by architect F.W.Stevens and Gurney House, which used to be the residence of Jim Corbett. The later has been converted into a museum.

There is a gurudwara as well as a mosque at Nainital. There are many famous boarding schools here. Mall road is the main shopping place for tourists.

View of Nainital from boat.

Play ground.

View of Nainital lake from Mall road.
One can visit many places in the surrounding, during their stay at Nainital. Nainital is one of the lakes out of four in Nainital district, the other three being Bhimtal, Sattal and Naukuchiyatal. These lakes are worth visiting. One can even  plan overnight stay at Bhimtal, which is fast developing into a favorite tourist destination.

Other places to visit by road are Almora, Ranikhet and Kausani. These are nearby hill stations and share the pleasant cool climate of Nainital. Ranikhet is known for its orchards and has a huge botanical garden and a government run fruit research institute. Another famous spot at Ranikhet is Jhula Devi Temple. There are a few hotels for overnight stay at Ranikhet. Almora is a cantonment town having thick pine and fir trees. Kausani is a picturesque hill station with panaromic view of the Trishul, Nandadevi and Panchachuli mountains. It has a famous ashram called Anashakti ashram, where Mahatma Gandhi had stayed for some time. Kausani also has hotels for overnight stay.

Another place to visit is Jim Corbett National Park, which is India's oldest national park, built to protect the Bengal tiger. It is at a distance of about 62 km from Nainital.

Click Here for a short clip of the beautiful Nainital Lake.

Friday, 9 October 2015


At a distance of about 22 km from Nainital, in the state of Uttarakhand in North India, is located a town called Bhimtal. Bhimtal derives its name from Bhima from Mahabharata fame, who is said to have visited this place during Vanvas of the Pandavas in olden times.

Bhimtal town is famous for its lake. The lake has an island in its centre. The lakes is surrounded by mountains full of green trees. At one side of the lake is an old Shiva temple called Bhimeshwara Mahadev temple, which is believed to be built by Bhima. The island in the centre of the lake has an aquarium.

Bhimtal is older than Nainital. It is a smaller but much more serene place with far lesser tourists. It makes for a very pleasant place to stay.

Ferry boats take you for a ride along the lake.One can also enjoy horse riding along the lake.

The scenic beauty of this place is well picturised in this photo.

An island in the center of the lake. There used to be a cafetaria once. Now there is an aquarium in its place.
There are a few places one can visit from Bhimtal. Hidimba Parvat, named after Bhima's wife Hidimba, is one such. It is a moutain at 5km distance from Bhimtal. It has a wild life sanctuary.

Another beautiful place about 2km from Bhimtal is Nal Damayanti Tal. It is a small lake named after the famous king, Nala.

Garg Parvat is a hillock, which is the starting point of the river Gargi or Gaula river which flows in this part of Uttarakhand state.

A short stay at Bhimtal is highly recommended for relaxation and enjoying the clean, chilly air.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015


Yumthang valley is a picturesque location in North Sikkim. It takes about an hour to reach Yumthang by road. The road to Yumthang is very beautiful lined by trees on either side and has a steep climb. since Yumthang is located at a height of about 11700 feet. Yumthang is a place for yaks to graze. A tributary of Teesta flows through mountains which are snow laden in winter. In spring the valley is full of  a variety of Rhododendrons and has greenery all around.

Road to Yumthang Valley.
Yumthang Valley.
About an hour's drive from Yumthang valley, a rough mountainous ride took us to Yumesamdong or Zero point-the last point for tourists before China border. Yumesamdong is covered with snow during most part of the year. It is situated at a height of 15748 feet. The place was flooded with tourist vehicles. It was very cold and cloudy, the day we visited Yumesamdong. Apart from a few ready to eat snacks and beverages, nothing else was available here. Tourists can enjoy brandy or rum which are available at Zero point to get over the chilly weather.

Tourist vehicles at Yumesamdong.
A board showing height of Yumesamdong.

Yumthang and Yumesamdong are truly mesmerizing places in North Sikkim. One should make it a point to visit these places in April or May, the best time to visit these places.

Monday, 5 October 2015


Kanchenjunga mountain peeping from the clouds.

Waterfall on the way to Lachung.

Monastery at Gangtok.

Gangtok city view from mountain top.

Waterfall at Gangtok.

Garden near Gangtok.


Situated at an altitude of about 9500 feet, surrounded by beautiful snow capped mountains is this beautiful town called Lachung, in North East Sikkim. The town has a beautiful river called Lachung river which is a tributary of  Teesta river, the main river running through the length of Sikkim state.

It took a little more than 4 hours to reach Lachung from Gangtok by road. The road was partly smooth and partly bumpy as we passed through the mountains. The rough roads are because of mountain slides which are often seen along the way. We saw some tall, breath taking waterfalls on the way. A lot of greenery accompanied us most of the time. Teesta river and its tributaries were giving us company at times during our journey. Sikkim truly is a beautiful state and the beauty is more apparent in its northern part. We passed through two beautiful towns Mangan and Chungthang. Mangan is a sparsely populated town with small houses. Chungthang is a town located at the confluence of Lachung and Lachen rivers, both tributaries of Teesta river. The final road to Lachung was pretty steep and curvaceous.

Waterfall on the way to Lachung.
Beautiful landscapes on road from Gangtok to Lachung.
 Lachung is a small town with beautiful landscapes. It is under snow blanket in winter season and so people migrate to lower heights as winter sets in. The town has plenty of apple, peach and apricot orchards. There is a famous old monastery in the town. Lachung is famous for Rhododendron trees. Lachung used to be a trading post between Tibet and India in olden times. Since the town is near China(Tibet) border, it is under military surveillance and tourists require prior permits to visit this place.

Snow capped mountains surround Lachung town.
Lachung valley and town.
Early morning on a cloudy day in Lachung.
 Lachung has very pleasant weather. One can visit a few beautiful surrounding places viz. Yumthang valley, Yumesamdong and Gurudongmar lake while staying at Lachung. A three night stay at Lachung is sufficient to visit all these places. The best time to visit here is in April and May, when the winter is less severe.

Friday, 25 September 2015


Pelling is about 105 km from Darjeeling. The journey took us about 2 hours, as we travelled through farms on both sides of the road, followed by mountains throughout most of the journey and occasional plateaus. We reached Geyzing (also called Gyalshing) which is a district headquarter at a height of about 6500 feet, after which we climbed up further on a mountain top to reach Pelling situated at a height of 7200 feet.

There is an Upper, Middle and Lower Pelling, depending on the height at which you stay on top of the mountain. I found Upper Pelling more comfortable for staying as it seemed less congested and gave a better look of Kanchenjunga mountain, the main attraction in Pelling.

View of Kanchenjunga from Upper Pelling.
View of Lower Pelling from mountain top.
It is Kanchenjunga and its ranges which give Pelling its importance. Pelling is closest to Kanchenjunga for offering decent hotel stay to tourists. It is also a base for many trekking events in Sikkim.The entire range of mountains look beautiful early in the morning. One should see it from the helipad erected at the mountain top to enjoy the magnificent view.

The next morning we took a trip for sightseeing around Pelling. We saw a beautiful, tall waterfall called Rimbi waterfalls. The view was mesmerizing. The water was chilling cold. Simply dipping your legs in the small lake at the bottom of the fall makes you feel fresh. Rimbi waterfalls further down lead to Rimbi rock garden, a place full of rocks with a stream of water from Rimbi falls passing through.

Rimbi water falls.
Next, we took a road to a place called Khecheopalri Lake. This lake located about 35km from Pelling is a sacred place for Buddhists as well as Hindus. The lake has a serene atmosphere. You shall not find a single leaf on the surface of the lake, although the lake is surrounded by trees. It is believed the birds living in those trees keep the lake clean and tidy by immediately picking them up. One has to cross a foot bridge to reach the lake.The shape of the lake is said to be in the form of a human foot, believed to be that of  Gautam Buddha.

Khecheopalri Lake.
We left the sacred lake of Khecheopalri to reach our hotel in Upper Pelling. On the way, we saw a small town called Yuksom, which used to be capital of Sikkim in the 17th century.

The next day,we visited Pelling monastery and enjoyed watching Kanchenjunga from the helipad on top of the mountain. We walked through the narrow but clean roads of Upper Pelling. It was drizzling that day and we were enjoying the wind chill.

Pelling Monastery
Pelling is a very small place. All the three viz. Upper, Middle and Lower Pelling are at walkable distances on the mountain. Food of our choice was a problem here, but I would like to mention a restaurant called Melting Point in Middle Pelling which serves excellent North Indian as well as Chinese food. One can enjoy the mountain views from this hotel as well.

Overall, Pelling is a great place to be in. Highly recommended for tourists visiting Darjeeling and Gangtok.


Kullu Valley.
Evening view of Kullu valley on the way to Manali. The clouds made the valley look even more beautiful.
Naggar Castle, part of it is a heritage hotel run by HPTDC.
Naggar Castle built with wood and stones. It is a blend of Himalayan and European architecture.
Gayatri temple at Jagatsukh. Watch the beautiful wooden work of the temple. The temple is said to have Shikhara style of architecture. Shikhara is a Sanskrit word for mountain peak. Jagatsukh used to be capital of  Manali.

Shiva temple at Jagatsukh. The temple is believed to be 5000 years old.


About half an hour drive from the tourist spot Manali, lies this beautiful place called Naggar. This was once a capital of Kullu.It stands away from the hustle and bustle of Manali, which these days is full of tourists especially in the summer season. I preferred going to Naggar rather than spending half a night on the way to Rohtang, waiting for the roads to open at dawn.

Naggar is situated in Kullu valley, about 22 km from Manali. The roads to Naggar are present a picturesque view of the surroundings. One can see beautiful snowy mountain tops as well as greenery all around. About 5 minutes after we started our journey, we came across a religious procession of a local goddess. It was a pleasure to see the rituals carried out in Himachali tradition and we felt very close to the culture. The procession did block our road for about 10 minutes, but we really didn't mind the delay as we got to see something quite unexpected and unique.
Procession of a goddess on our way to Naggar.
We first decided to take the route to Nicholas Roerich art gallery. Nicholas Roerich was a great Russian artist, painter, philosopher,archaeologist as well as a writer, who was born in St.Petersburg in Russia but spent most of his life in various parts of the world and a good amount of time at Naggar, a place he loved and where he died in 1947. He had a passion for mountains, which is seen in many of his paintings at his home, which itself is an art gallery. He founded the Himalayan Research Institute to study the Himalayan culture and history.

It was a short climb to a mountain top which took us to the art gallery. The place is very serene and one comes across many Russian as well as European tourists having interest in Roerich's work. Roerich's car is parked in the museum. One gets to enjoy a celestial view of Kullu valley from this place.

Road to Roerich Art Gallery.
View of Kullu valley from Roerich Art Gallery.
Roerich Art Gallery.
After spending about a couple of hours at the art gallery, we climbed down the mountain to reach an architectural marvel called Naggar Castle.

Naggar Castle is a beautiful palace made of wood and stones. It used to be the residence of Kullu's maharaja. A part of it has been converted into a heritage hotel by HPTDC. There are three small shrines inside and within the premises. One of the temples, the Jagati Pat temple has a slab inside it, which is believed to have been carried here by bees from a nearby mountain. Roerich's paintings are also displayed in the castle.The castle has river Beas flowing nearby. The castle overlooks view of Kullu mountains from its gallery.

Jagati Pat temple inside Naggar Castle.
Naggar Castle.
Beautiful view of Kullu mountains from Naggar Castle.
These two places at Naggar are definitely worth visiting when you plan your stay at Manali. One can even stay for a couple of nights at Naggar Castle. Just a walk around Kullu valley, the breath of fresh air and the view of  tall snow capped mountains make a refreshing change from one's daily life.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


View of Kinner Kailash from our hotel.

Snow fall over Kinner Kailash.
Tourist vehicles parked at Reckong Peo market. Kinner Kailash mountain is seen in the background.
View from a monastery at Kalpa village.

Buddha statue at a Reckong Peo monastery.
Watch my short clip on Kinner Kailash mountain. Click Here.


We moved away from Sangla valley to reach Kalpa. The road follows Baspa river to climb down the mountains to reach Karcham. After crossing a bridge across a reservoir at  Karcham, we moved to the right to travel on the national highway which seemed a much better road than we had anticipated, going by our previous experience. We followed Sutlej river for sometime. After taking a left turn at a place called Powari and climbing up a mountain, we reached a place called Reckong Peo.

Road towards Reckong Peo. Beautiful snowy mountains seen.
Reckong Peo. The major market closest to Kalpa.
Reckong Peo is the headquarters of Kinnaur district. It is situated at a height of about 7500 feet. It has a fairly developed market which sells woolen clothes, shawls, dry fruits and other necessities. We purchased red beans(Rajma) and almonds here. The place is famous for red beans which are available in a variety of sizes. The same is true for almonds as well. Reckong Peo presents a beautiful view of Kinner Kailash mountains in the background. After some shopping and visiting a tall Buddha statue and a monastery, we left for Kalpa.

Kinner Kailash mountain and Hotel Kinner Kailash.

 Hotel Kinner Kailash belonging to HPTDC.
Kalpa is located at a height of 9700 feet.Kinner Kailash or Kinnaur Kailash is the main attraction in Kalpa. Lord Shiva is believed to have stayed here and so the name Kailash, a mountain inhabited by the god. There are two religious spots on top of this mountain-a natural rock made Shivalingam and Parvati kund, a lake near the top.Both, Buddhists as well as Hindus worship this mountain.

We stayed at Hotel Kinner Kailash, a government(HPTDC) owned hotel which presents a great view of Kinner Kailash mountain. The hotel has a multi cuisine restaurtant which serves veg as well as non-veg food.

We visited Kalpa village in the evening. Its a beautiful village with sparse population and few shops which have basic necessities to serve the villagers. The village is very clean. It has a Hindu temple as well as a monastery. The walk from our hotel to Kalpa village was quite tiring as the roads are small and steep. It was worth the efforts however.

Kalpa village with Kinner Kailash mountain in background.

The clean and neat Kalpa village.

The next day morning we drove towards village Roghi, about 8 kms away.The roads are pretty steep over here. There is a point known as suicide point on this road. This part of the mountain has a steep vertical fall.

Roghi is a small village having apple and apricot trees. One can see Kinner Kailash mountain behind the village. The village has a few temples and monasteries.

We returned to the hotel to spend the rest of the day at the hotel and watch the beautiful sunset over Kinner Kailash.

Its a beautiful sight to see Kinner Kailash mountain early in the morning. The mountain appears crimson colored. The air is very fresh to breathe. There was snowfall in the mountains last night and so the atmosphere was pretty chilly. We went for a drive to Reckong Peo for purchasing a few shawls and articles of wood carvings, we returned to the hotel to spend rest of the day relaxing at the hotel. A short stay for three nights at Kalpa was very refreshing. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I ever had!!

Early morning view of Kinner Kailash mountain from our hotel: Click Here.