INDIA  :   Getaways

The jewels of Uttarakhand

Saturday , 16 January 2016
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Mussoorie and Nainital offer more than just breathtaking views of the valleys and the snow-clad Himalayas; they are rounded tourist destinations

Uttarakhand is divided into two regions: Garhwal and Kumaon. The state has a number of tourist attractions including the Jim Corbett National Park, the Valley of Flowers and the Chhota Chardham circuit.

The snow-capped glistening peaks of Uttarakhand, lush with deciduous trees, hides many a beauty, in its natural folds, including offbeat attractions such as Chopta, Askot, Kalsi, Chaukori, Chakrata and Lansdowne. This week, we shall explore its prime tourist hotspots, one each from the Garhwal and Kumaon regions, namely Mussoorie and Nainital.

Mussoorie

Famed as the Queen of Hills, Mussoorie is located at an elevation of 2,005 metres, at the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas and derives its name from ‘mansoor’, a shrub which is found abundantly in the region.

A leisurely stroll on Mall Road is all it takes to fall in love with the quaint charm of the place. The Company Garden is located about 3 km from Library Bazaar. This landscaped garden also has an artificial lake where tourists love to go on boat rides. It’s a steep walk up to Gun Hill (2,530 metres), although tourists can opt for the ropeway instead. Either way, the views are simply stunning.

A horse ride on Camel’s Back Road is as rewarding, as the view from Lal Tibba, a popular landmark of the hill station. About 11 km south of Library Point is the Vinog Mountain Quail Sanctuary, named after an extinct bird species, which was last seen in 1876.

Bhatta Falls is located, 7 km from the city. The locale is inviting and un-spoilt, and the views are simply stunning. Tourists can also opt for the Mossy Falls, a popular picnic spot, nestled amid beautiful pine forests. Lake Mist is located about 5 km before Kempty Falls on the Mussoorie-Kempty route. Boat rides are the main attraction here.

Kempty Falls is located 15 km from Mussoorie. Set in the midst of lofty mountain peaks, the waterfall is a must visit, and attracts tourists in great numbers. About 14 km from Dehradun is Sahastradhara, which gushes down in successive streams. Tourists visit the place to take a dip in the warm sulphur springs, which is famous for its healing and rejuvenating experience.

Religious attractions in Mussoorie include the Radha Krishna Temple in Picture Palace, Masjid Amania in Library Bazar, Saint Clare’s Catholic Church near Clock Tower, Gurudwara Sri Guru Singh Sahib in Landour Bazar, Shedup Choepelling Temple, or Tibetan Buddhist Temple, in Happy Valley and Baba Bulley Shah Mazar, close to Allen School.

Other attractions in close proximity to Mussoorie, include the Dhanaulti Eco- Park, Malsi Deer Park in Dehradun, Jwalaji Temple and Van Chetna Kendra.

Best time to visit: March to October

Getting there

By air: Jolly Grant is the nearest airport – 60 km away. Delhi is the nearest international airport. Taxis and buses are available from the airport.

By rail: Dehradun is the nearest railway station – 34 km away.

By road: Mussoorie is well connected to major cities, by road. There are regular bus services from various metros and other cities, besides Delhi and Dehradun.

Nainital

Nainital, located on the foothills of the Kumaon Himalayas is named after Naina Devi, the presiding deity. ‘Tal’ means lake. It refers to Naini Lake, the beautiful pear-shaped water body, which is surrounded by majestic mountains. A boat ride is a must, while you are in Nainital.

Naina Peak towers 2,611 metres above sea level and is located 6 km from the town. Besides enjoying magnificent views from the town’s highest peak, tourists also visit the shrine, dedicated to Naina Devi.

Bharat Ratna Pandit G.B. Pant High Altitude Zoo, is located on Sher ka Danda, or Tiger’s Ridge, 2,100 m above sea level. It is home to rare species such as the snow leopard, barking deer, silver pheasant, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan civet, Tibetan wolf, steppe eagle, rose-ringed parakeet and white pea fowl, among many others.

There are two ways to reach the Snow View Point, located 2,270 m above sea level: a trek, or the ropeway. Tourists can enjoy grand views of snow-clad peaks on their way to the shrine dedicated to Dev Mundi and Gadhan Kunkyop Ling Monastery.

Enjoy sweeping views of the countryside from Dorothy’s Seat on Mount Ayarpatha. Located 2,292 m above sea level, this place is devoted to the memory of Dorothy Kellet, whose husband constructed a memorial, after she passed away in a plane crash. It is famous among locals as Tiffin Top, since it served as a popular picnic spot during the British Raj.

St John’s Church dates back to 1847 and is one of the oldest buildings here. Gurney House is another historic building that is popular with tourists. Built in 1881, it served as the residence of hunter-conservationist Jim Corbett.

Located at an altitude of 2,528 m is Kilbury, ideal for birdwatchers. Kilbury is 13 km from Nainital and is home to the forktail, collared grosbeak, whitethroated laughing thrish and brown wood owl.

Governor’s House, Thandi Sadak and Eco Cave Park are also popular with tourists, visiting Nainital. Other attractions nearby include the Observatory, Hanuman Garhi, Padampuri Waterfall, Bhimtal, Sattal, Kanatal, Khurpatal, Naukuchiatal and Ranikhet.

Best time to visit: March to October

Getting there

By air: Pant Nagar is the nearest airport – 72 km away. Delhi is the nearest international airport. Taxis are available from the airport.

By rail: Kathgodam is the nearest railway station – 41 km away.

By road: Nainital is well-connected to the rest of Uttarakhand by road. Buses and taxis are available from various destinations, besides Delhi and Kathgodam.

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