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Old 13th March 2015, 10:26   #1
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Default Naukuchiatal: Far from the crowd

Naukuchiatal – far from the madding crowd

Allow me to say right away that this is not a travelogue. There are no well-planned itineraries, route charts, time/distance logs and so on. It is simply a collection of memories over the years – starting from ‘97 and still ongoing – all centering around Naukuchiatal and our visits there and places nearby. It is also about the joy and fun we have received from our pets – our boxers Darth, Daisy and later Kluso and Pearl – who have accompanied us often in our travels. Pearl, by the way, is that comparative rarity, a white boxer or checkered boxer, as they are called in the parlance. So if we have let slip a few photographs of our extended canine family – nothing to do with our travels – then we crave your indulgence! Put it down to that blind spot all parents have towards the family.

I suspect that, like me, most other members here are car addicts for whom the journey itself - the drive - is the thing, and not so much the destination. But for us, Naukuchiatal is the exception that makes the rule! It is the one destination to which we always look forward to with anticipation - impatient for the drive to end. Also, we have never had a chauffeur, preferring to do our own driving at all times. And, after one major shunt on the Sitapur road outside Lucknow in 2012, we no longer drive after dark. My eyesight is not 6X6 now – I am 63 – and I happily accept that prudence is the better part of valour! So now we stick to dawn-to-dusk driving during our travels.
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Old 13th March 2015, 10:55   #2
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Traveling with an extended family

Traveling with pets in India is still not a recommended pastime. For a very good reason – even today there are very, very few establishments that are pet friendly. I have spent a night in Panjim, Goa, sleeping in the car – it was a Tata Sierra then – with Darth (Daisy hadn’t arrived on the scene yet), while my wife, daughter and her classmate slept on hotel beds! And this was not an isolated incident. Our stopover at Bodhgaya, on the way to Kolkata, is still an awful memory! Till we discovered that pet lover’s Holy Grail – the Circuit House/Dak Bungalow/ PWD Rest House and other establishments that dot our highways in satisfying numbers! There one usually found that after a minor consideration – of say a couple of hundred rupees, more nowadays I’m sure – the watchman/chowkidar was more than happy to let you and your pets stay the night. And in a pinch he would also prepare dinner for the family! There have been times when, after an exhausting day’s drive, we have wolfed down thick bajra rotis and hot arhar dal like Cordon Bleu! We normally carry pet food with us when traveling with them, so they have not suffered (though, at home, my wife invariably prepares home cooked food for them). The one cardinal rule we never break is to give them plenty of water while traveling and stop every few hours for them to ease themselves. A bursting bladder is just as excruciating for them as for us.
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Old 13th March 2015, 11:35   #3
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KMVN – that haven for pet lovers

And this is where KMVN entered our lives. Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam is an openly pet friendly organization (the only one we have found, apart from the hotel Raj Darshan in Madikeri during our Nilgiris trip) and we have stayed and enjoyed their hospitality, and continue doing so, at Naukuchiatal, Almora, Ranikhet, Mukteshwar, Chaukori, Bhimtal, Kausani, Nainital(Tallital) and other spots in Kumaon.
Our journey usually begins by making a phone call to the Manager, Mr Pandey or Tewariji, his assistant, at the KMVN TRH at Naukuchiatal. Over the years, the staff at the TRH (Tourist Rest House) has accepted us as regulars and no longer insists on prior reservations. They ask us only to intimate them a couple of days in advance so they can keep the room free. At 2100/day in March 2014 - (inclusive of breakfast, hot/cold running water, a must in Kumaon’s freezing winters and, at places coldish summers, wooden parquet flooring, and above all, that pet friendly staff) - we find it to be a terrific bargain.
And so, we are attaching photographs with captions hoping that they tell their own story.
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Old 13th March 2015, 12:17   #4
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Jim Corbett and the Corbett museum at Kaladunghi

One recurring theme in our travels to Uttaranchal has been Jim Corbett’s estate at Kaladunghi (now a museum dedicated to him). For many schoolboys growing up in the 50’s and 60’s (Allahabad, UP in my case), Jim Corbett was a name synonymous with the outdoors & adventure, with summer and winter vacations spent devouring his books and daydreaming – daydreams, where each of us was accompanying the intrepid Jim to Rudraprayag, Mukteshwar, Thak, Kaladunghi and the myriad other places in his beloved Kumaon, on his quest for the man-eating predators! Fortunately for both of us, my wife turned out to be as keen an admirer of Jim Corbett as I was.

And so it became natural that in the course of our continuing love-affair with Uttaranchal, we should stop at Kaladunghi and pay homage to this extraordinary human being and naturalist. He was a nature conservationist long before the term became a fashionable topic for coffee-table discussion, and long before pug-mark characteristics became an invaluable tool for tiger census - notwithstanding the current obsession with radio-button tracking!

The joy of touring

Our travel route has been simple and straight forward. In the earlier days (’97 to 2008) we would drive down from Mumbai to Lucknow (via NH3 to Shivpuri, and then the NH25 to Lucknow via Kanpur). The drive to Lucknow (app. 1400 kms as per the odo) we did with two nights on the road. The first usually at Mhow, Indore, or Dewas and the second at Jhansi or Orai. After spending a few days in Lucknow, under my mother-in-law’s TLC (she is a fabulous cook, though with advancing age, she is no longer as spry as she would have us believe - I treasure her) we would head for Naukuchiatal.

Nowadays - since about 2008/2009 - we keep our Bucephalus (our Scorpio GLX 2.6 L, non-CRD, T/diesel) often parked in Lucknow, while using the Hyundai Getz for our Mumbai chores. This is simply to doff my hat to my age - that nemesis we all dread. Thus the journey from Mumbai to Lucknow is nowadays usually done by train and from Lucknow to Uttaranchal, as always, by road. We also do the odd drive from Lucknow to Kolkata and back – whenever the pull of fresh mustard Hilsa gets too strong to resist.

For Naukuchiatal we usually start with the NH24 from Lucknow to Bareilly (via Sitapur and Shahjahanpur).

From Bareilly to Haldwani we prefer the NH87 (via Baheri, Kiccha, Udham Singh Nagar and Lal Kuan) though there are two other routes from Bareilly, one via Rampur and Rudrapur and the other taking the old Pilibhit road (NH74) via Sitarganj.

From Haldwani the climb into the Uttaranchal hills starts and for me this is where I enter Magonia! Even though the distance from Haldwani/Kathgodam to Naukuchiatal is less than 30km, it takes you into another world. As we start climbing, everyone seems to come awake. Our canine family, till now snoozing happily in the back, shake themselves and shove their heads out of the lowered windows on either side, their ears flapping in the suddenly cool breeze, their eyes half-closed in ecstasy! This continues for a while, till the rapidly falling temperature tells them to pull their heads back into the warmth of the car!
A little ahead of Ranibagh we take the Bhimtal-Bhowali road (right turn).
At Bhimtal we follow the road around the periphery of the lake and then take the right turn (the left continues on to Bhowali) on to the Naukuchiatal road. From here it is only a matter of 10 minutes or less till we arrive at journey’s end and pull up on the fore court of the KMVN TRH at Naukuchiatal, to be greeted by a smiling Tewariji.

Paradise revisited!
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Old 14th March 2015, 14:47   #5
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Sweet, light and heart warming thread sir. You have quite the enviable family of canines. Traveling with pets in India is certainly not easy, but I can imagine how much fun it is to have them go everywhere with you. Nice pictures and thanks for the share.
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Old 14th March 2015, 16:37   #6
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What a lovely thread! It has hills, lakes, dogs, and it also has Hilsa . What more can one ask for. Really enjoyed reading it, and it also gives me a reason to explore Kumaon. I always head towards Himachal for my trips because of the perception that hotels and roads are better that side. The pet and pocket friendly KMVN makes it a strong contender as destination for next escapade from Delhi.

Please keep sharing such amazing experiences.
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Old 14th March 2015, 16:50   #7
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Beautiful pictures, and thanks for the little back stories accompanying each photograph. Boxers are great, and it is always brilliant to see them in a loving home. We have a Golden and I know exactly what you mean when you say that they are family. Thanks for the thread
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Old 15th March 2015, 18:52   #8
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Thank you Sir, for the lovely trip down memory lane- urging us that there is one more important reason to visit the North - along with the Himalayas themselves.
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Old 15th March 2015, 21:39   #9
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Originally Posted by Tushar View Post
Sweet, light and heart warming thread sir. You have quite the enviable family of canines. Traveling with pets in India is certainly not easy, but I can imagine how much fun it is to have them go everywhere with you. Nice pictures and thanks for the share.
Hello Tushar,

Glad you liked the thread - yes, its not easy travelling with pets in India, but with organizations like KMVN there, it becomes easier - at least as far the Kumaon region goes !
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Old 15th March 2015, 21:52   #10
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What a lovely thread! It has hills, lakes, dogs, and it also has Hilsa . What more can one ask for. Really enjoyed reading it, and it also gives me a reason to explore Kumaon. I always head towards Himachal for my trips because of the perception that hotels and roads are better that side. The pet and pocket friendly KMVN makes it a strong contender as destination for next escapade from Delhi.

Please keep sharing such amazing experiences.
Yes, that perception about Himachal having better facilities is pretty well entrenched, perhaps because it is closer to the NCR. But as I've tried to spread the word among my friends/acquaintances, awareness is slowly spreading. And if this thread adds to that, so much the better.

And as for that Hilsa bit, tell me if you know any Bengali who doesn't go into a trance whenever the topic comes up !
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Old 16th March 2015, 18:18   #11
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Dear Sir,

Though I have much to say about your travel, wonderful choice of words and places and your youthful exuberance, I will leave that for another time.

I want to dedicate this post to your most wonderful pets.
They are adorable and beautiful.

May you have many more wonderful journeys with them.
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Old 16th March 2015, 20:25   #12
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Dear Sir,

Though I have much to say about your travel, wonderful choice of words and places and your youthful exuberance, I will leave that for another time.

I want to dedicate this post to your most wonderful pets.
They are adorable and beautiful.

May you have many more wonderful journeys with them.
Hello Sandip,
Your words are music to our ears! Yes, we always look forward to hearing from other people who share our love for animals, and more particularly, for these wonderful creatures, our canine friends!

Do keep writing about your own experiences with pets - and not necessarily only travel experiences. We love hearing from people about their experiences with their pets.
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Old 16th March 2015, 21:13   #13
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Beautiful pictures, and thanks for the little back stories accompanying each photograph. Boxers are great, and it is always brilliant to see them in a loving home. We have a Golden and I know exactly what you mean when you say that they are family. Thanks for the thread
Hello Digitalnirvana,
As we always say, its wonderful hearing from other dog lovers. When we get together, I've often found folks who are standing around (who may not be as devoted to the species) getting a glazed look in their eyes before politely shuffling off ! But that is life - in a perfect world of course, there would only be dog lovers everywhere! And, I have the sneaking suspicion, that in such circumstances, there would probably be more peace and warmth to spread around!

How old is your retriever? I find them to be extraordinarily well-behaved folks and with a splendidly gregarious and sociable nature. Darth's best friend at one time was Gleigh, a neighbour's golden retriever. Both would have a rollicking time together, running in the park in front of our house in Lucknow. And all went well, till the day Daisy arrived on the scene. As you have seen, she was a perfectly gorgeous creature and also a born flirt! Poor Gleigh did not remain immune to her charms - and after one major spat with Darth, the friendship was in tatters. I knew that day, that eternal triangles are not confined to humans alone!

As I have mentioned in the thread, we lost both Daisy and Darth a few years ago (to advancing age), and heart-breaking though the time was, particularly for my wife, we decided to follow James Herriot's advice and soon found ourselves another friend, instead of grieving in silence. And that is how Kluso, and later Pearl, entered our lives.
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Old 16th March 2015, 22:34   #14
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Thank you Sir, for the lovely trip down memory lane- urging us that there is one more important reason to visit the North - along with the Himalayas themselves.
Hello Nariman,
Thank you for your appreciation! And you are right - there are other reasons apart from just the Himalayas themselves, though they are, of course, the source, the fountainhead, so to say!

I really wish people would see how much Uttaranchal has to offer. There are other little gems like Naukuchiatal, which provide as much peace and food for the soul. And if you are a pet lover like me, then KMVN should help you explore the region, knowing that your pets wont be a handicap for the trip!
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Old 17th March 2015, 05:39   #15
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Shashanka

Lovely thread with some awesome pics of the locations , stunning scenery and beautifully encapsulated through your write up , but your canines are the centre stage of the thread , lovely captures of them as I can see them in various moods , we have always had canines in our home since I was a kid and currently have a lab and a hound @ home in Hyderabad , your thread has brought back memories of my buddies since I was a kid and sitting here in London I'm certainly missing them !! Thanks so much for your log.
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