How many of us get third time lucky? This year, I’ve had the great fortune of travelling to Uttarakhand thrice over. And even though I try not to maintain stats, I’ve lost count of the number of times I have gone back to the state, since my first visit 11 years ago.
Uttarakhand is one of those diverse states where every time I travel, I return with a set of new experiences and lessons. And after my repeated visits, I still didn’t know these things.
Temples from the 9th century
Bearing similarity to the Buddhist monasteries and temples, the architecture of Dandeshwar and Jageshwar temples are believed to be dated back to the 9th century. While the Archaeological Museum in Jageshwar exhibits many sculptures and statues as early as 8th century.
Deodars of Jageshwar
I have to admit, they were the highlight of my trip—the tall, gorgeously textured trees of Jageshwar. Initially, I mistook them for pine trees and assumed these were just another grove. Until I confirmed that these were in fact deodars. These evergreen trees made the entire colony cooler (perhaps up to 3 degrees Celsius or more). Staying in this forest, away from phone connectivity and in silence, I realised how we all invested in conversations and humour than our social media pages.
The great Indian hornbill in Corbett Tiger Reserve
The morning safari through Corbett’s Bijrani zone was misty and cold. With the rising of the sun, it was just about getting warm, when the jeep stopped and the driver pointed to the left. Grabbing the pair of binoculars, there they were—a flock of the great hornbill perched in a tree. We waited there for a few minutes observing these magnificent and large birds play and eat. It was a great sighting!
Chapattis can be delicious
The chapattis made here are mixed with Mandwa (also spelt as Mandua) or ragi (finger millet) and layered with butter, for those who choose. We were served local Kumaoni cuisine in most places and I have never been so happy to eat chapattis! Unlike the last time (when I bought a kilogram), this time I bought only 250 gms of the nutritious ingredient from a local grocery store in Kausani. And brought home some tasty reminiscences of Uttarakhand.
The mountains support the optimist
In our short stay in Kausani, we entered the quiet but touristy town on a cloud covered day. It shatters all kind of hope for a sunshine lover like me. Most of our discussions that evening revolved around the possibilities of catching a glimpse of the mountains the following morning. One of the fellow travellers remained positively persistent on how it would clear up. And so it did. Fleeting and majestic, we did see Trishul, Nanda Kot and a hazed Nanda Devi. Panchachauli appeared shyly but faded away soon.
Comfortably cosy and sheltered
Even in the densest of forests, we stayed in a quaint and intricately done up Van Serai. It was just one of the many places where my stays in this Kumaon trip was a pure delight. Not only did these places have amazing sleep quality, I found them safe (even if they were in the middle of nowhere) and small amenities like the availability of the hot water bags completed my experience. Needless to say, most of them overlooked brilliant and dynamic landscapes.
Have you been to this Himalayan state yet?
Note: This visit to Uttarakhand was made possible by Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board and Lonely Planet Magazine India. Of course, my love for the state is evident.