In this part, traveler Shireen Bharucha unearths the mysteries and beauty of sites around Nainital that are a must-visit to experience its splendor in totality.
The second day is spent in exploring several sites on the outskirts of Nainital with guide Rakesh, who shows our Delhi based chauffeur the way to different locatons.
The first one is the Golu Devta Temple at tranquil Ghorakhal, 14 kms from Nainital. ‘Ghorakhal’ literally means a water pond for horses. The local people consider Golu, Devta the presiding deity of the temple, to be ‘the god of justice’ and an incarnation of Lord Shiva. For me a visit to this temple is astounding, for though these temples are not uncommon in the region, I have never seen a temple of thousands of bells of all sizes, hanging from every inch of space and even from the branches of trees!
The Uttarkhand Tea Development Board runs the Ghorakhal Tea Factory at Shyamkhet. We go to the tea garden, famous for its organic tea of export quality, which is produced from the choicest varieties of tea plants obtained from Darjeeling. The garden is a peaceful place to spend some time in, the only sound shattering the calm, being that of the many-hued Great Barbet’s repetitive call from its perch on a tree nearby. A small sales outlet on the premises sells graded and packed teas. We buy a 250g box of Himalayan Long Leaf Tea for Rs.300/-.
Our drive takes us through forests of pine and silver oak (the cutting of which is a criminal offence, as the oak protects water and soil resources and reduces the runoff and pollutants) scattered with silk cotton trees, their blushing blooms enhancing the beautiful landscape, as we proceed to Nakuchiatal, the ‘nine-cornered lake’, 24 kms from Nainital. As we approach the lake, forests give way to green fields and classy bungalows. The lake with its sparkling water is in the midst of densely forested hills and terraced fields of potatoes, tomatoes and peas. An underwater spring is the perennial source of water for the lake. It is Nainital’s deepest lake. Far from the madding crowd, there are no other tourists besides us. A tree lined path runs along the lake, making for a pleasant walk. A pair of Great Cormorants and a lone Bhramani Duck swims blissfully, while another Cormorant watches from its roost on a tree trunk submerged in water. The crystalline water mirrors the trees with foliage in hues of pink, golden, orange and many shades of green, adding magical myriad hues to it. Little villages nestling on the higher slopes of the hills and the luxurious bungalows that dot the banks of the lake give the surroundings a mystical aura. The locals believe that whoever sees all the nine corners of the lake at one glance attains Nirvana, a state of complete happiness. Row boats and paddling boats are on hire. We hire a row boat for Rs.250/- for half an hour and soak in the undiluted grandeur of our milieu. A sail to all the nine corners of the lake costs Rs.700/-. Rakesh informs us that this location is popular for paragliding.
On the way back, as we proceed towards Bhimtal, 4 km from Naukuchiatal, we stop at the Hanuman Temple and marvel at the towering 52 feet high colourful statue of Lord Hanuman. NeemKarauli Baba, a Hindu guru and a devotee of Lord Hanuman is said to
have laid the foundation stone for this temple, while the temple was constructed by Moni Ma, his disciple.
In the next part, Shireen Bharucha travels further to discover a perennial and the biggest lake around Nainital, a few heritage sites and Jim Corbett’s residence. To read it, click here
Sparkling Lakes – Nainital, Part I
The views expressed by the author are in her personal capacity.