Nainital again–A lesson when not to go for a hill trip

A hill trip?

But its not long when I been on the last one to Dharamshala, then why another hill trip again within two months? And what’s with the depressing title? What can be a wrong time for a hill trip? Was it really that bad?

Apparently nothing that much depressing as we had our fun times and enjoyed whatever we got, but yeah considering the memories of last two trips (both been during Monsoon) and opportunities available with us this time, it would have been more memorable if appropriate weather. The Uttrakhand Fires which picked up in news only when our schedule came closer apparently was even more disastrous than it was looking on TV. Entire view was blocked by kind of smoke, so literally NIL hill views. But then Nainital is never about hills only.


Why the trip? The plan and schedule

One doesn’t really need an excuse for a hill trip, at least not me, but this time I was just getting fed up of hectic office routine since last few days. I am always known to be workaholic, but when you start feeling that its under appreciated or like people in upper food chain don’t have any idea that what really going on, only thing which can delay the inevitable for a while can be diversion of mind. Rants apart, the last trip as I said even though was kind of best, but as I wasn’t on driving seat so that longing refused to die and I wanted to take a trip somewhere before May-June comes. I thought end of April would be little colder and pleasant in hills like Octobers etc but I was wrong about weather at least (thanks to forest fire).

The schedule chosen was 29th May – 1st April 2016 (Friday- Sunday). We were supposed to start early morning on 29th and then first day stay was in Hotel Mohini Inn, Nainital and second day stay was in Parwati Inn,  Ranikhet. Bookings were done was Goibibo and I managed to get the second hotel under 600₹ even. We thought to include brother and his wife in the trip, but their schedule was engaged, so it was family only trip again.

Finally the day of drive and hiccups

Route searches always warn you about Rampur-Rudrapur stretch but as been our experience in last trip, that was manageable. It wasn’t the road quality which concerns but the kind of width and traffic. It’s a two way road for 60-65 kms, where its hard to overtake with traffic hence irritating at times for drives which was coming from a long way from full speed highways.


Started by 0330 hrs, we chosen to stick with main route, thanks to inputs from Colleague Naval who just reached to nearby area one day back. Start of the drive went into discussions related to kiddo school selection in coming days and then shock of the trip hit me once we reached the first toll. My ever loyal car decided to give the first major trouble to me.

It wasn’t that kind of major if we look at it, the issue was the horn of the car stopped working. Those who drive on highways can understand that even though minor, how big headache that can be. Then considering the very early hour of the day means we weren’t gonna find any mechanic either. Anyway, we found one shop open by 0600 hrs around though no senior mechanic was there. Luckily the guy who had opened the shop managed to fix the horn. I happily gave him 50 Rs and drove ahead but the joy was short lived as after few kms I found horn to be down again. Though this time, I had seen that what that guy did and was able to replicate the same myself but then it was a temporary fix as it was going down again and again.

Thanks to the glitch, we were set back by more than an hour or so as managing Rampur – Rudrapur stretch without horn was so irritating. Also as it was Friday, the Muslim majority area had almost all mechanics on leave for the day so there was no permanent fix for the horn in rest of the journey.

Additional trouble was AC going down again and again. Yeah Yeah.. my car always been loyal to me and this was the first journey, when it started showing tantrums (no deal breaking though). Later on servicing few weeks later of the trip, I got to know that one of the radiator fan was faulty which needed replacement and overheating of the engine was causing the AC troubles. I find myself lucky that the car didn’t overheat enough to cease even at high speeds.

We might have reached the destination by 1100 hrs around after taking plenty of breaks in between and when we been searching for hotel location, luckily we met one of the hotel guy itself, who drove to the hotel himself, which would have been tricky otherwise as it was on a high slope. This is something which always remains trouble on hills. An easy parking place means you frequently use your car otherwise you prefer local transport. It was later for us then.

Wife was so tired and wasn’t ready to leave the hotel room early, so we decided to take bath first, then rest a little and then to Mall Road. While wife was concerned that it might be a long walk from the hotel that came out to be roughly 500m walk off-road without much of slope so easily manageable.


We were at side of lake by 1400 hrs and then we chosen to book a SuV for sight seeing. 800 Rs for various spots, it wasn’t a bad deal sort of.


Rock garden was first stop. Last time we parked the car in front of it but didn’t went as I didn’t thought it worth. Anyway, this time I knew that I was correct last time.


Then we moved towards top, which was the first viewpoint. Can imagine that this is the place from where snow peaks might be visible and it must be happening place, but considering the Uttrakhand forest fire, all the view was gone as you can see and this was just start of disappointment in the trip. BTW the last picture showing the SUV, which we had booked for the sight seeing.




Lover’s point was the next stop. Again the same complaint, lack of views due to smoke, but we had started living with that complaint.


Khurpa Tal viewpoint was the next stop. I had read about the same in many blogs and even had considered to drive from Kaladhungi side to have a view of the same. The view was sure precious and the driver told us that we would get an even more closer look than this.




It was a nice photo ops place for sure, but we had to move ahead.


Then we reached to some artificially created waterfall, where we took the lunch in a nearby shop.


And then after a closer look to the Khurpa Tal, we were back at mall road by around 1720 hrs. This time we have thought to cover the points, which we had skipped in past so the next turn was the Naina Devi Temple.




And how we could have visited Nainital and missed boating? Even if we had thought so, kiddo wasn’t going to compromise.




During off season like this, they usually cover more ground in lake otherwise almost half of the same. Lake also wasn’t that much crowded as we found during August last years.




Some photo ops on lake side and then we moved towards Mall Road. Walking with kids in hills always come to be tough as while you are already tired, kids refuse to walk. After all, they have the option available which we don’t have.


Finally we gave up and went back to hotel. I asked the hotel guys to clear the bills as I had to check out early morning and we might have gone to sleep early around 0900-0930 hrs. Next target was Ranikhet as that part of drive we had loved most in our first Nainital trip. We decided to skip Mukteshwar this time as read that views of snow peaks is similar to Ranikhet so if snow peaks gonna be visible then they gonna be visible from Ranikhet as well.

Day 2: The drive to Ranikhet

From scenic point of view, we had big hopes from this day but considering the fact that we been to upper places of Nainital and found no views, we knew that nothing much gonna be changed in Ranikhet either. We might have started by 0530 hrs around and it didn’t took much long for sunshine to greet us.





The road was good for most parts, say 99% but there were patches which seems to be remind of landslide kind of. I used to think that this side of hill was comparatively safe to travel during Monsoon as travelled twice but it seems that it might be different as well.




Considering the fact that the river which accompanies the route to Ranikhet was almost dried up, we didn’t had much hope for photo ops but it seems nature had its share of surprises in store for us in form of fall colors.






After reaching Ranikhet, don’t know what route Google Maps and Here Maps preferred to guide me on and we spent almost an hour figuring out through narrow streets.


We reached to the hotel at about 1030 hrs and there was this interesting coincidence about this hotel. In first trip of ours to Nainital, it was rainy season and we had no prior bookings and after searching through streets, we had stopped at this hotel at first choice considering the fact that this one was with the best comfortable parking area. But then we were quoted more than 4K per day even when we wished to stay for the night only and was ready to accommodate in single room itself. This time, can you guess what was the rent? It was roughly 550 Rs, which anyway was paid in advance online. As I overheard, the manager of the hotel wasn’t quite happy about the kind of pricing he was getting from GoiBibo but for me, it was kind of revenge served Smile with tongue out





The only worthy place in Ranikhet was the Golf Course, though it wasn’t green type as it looks in Monsoon but fall colors weren’t bad either. We reached there around 1115 hrs stayed there till around 1230 hrs and then left. Rest of the day was spent in unsuccessful attempt to reach a nearby lake and outside lunch. We slept early to get up early in morning for the drive back home.

Day 3: The drive back home and stop at Bhimtal

We might have left the place by 0500 hrs and it was a relaxed drive considering the fact that time was our side as we were free to reach home by evening.



We spotted the above at around 0525 hrs and don’t even ask me that how it happened. After all, this is hill road and one can’t expect someone driving drunk and over-speeding. One can really expect tourists to be so but not the regular drivers commuting daily. Still don’t know how it would have happened.


Before heading back home, we decided to take a stop at Bhimtal lake. Boating was off this time as Military was taking water from the lake to douse the forest fire.




While I understand the gravity of situation, but still not completely relate with the practicality of solution as for one trip, the helicopter had to set itself at least 2-3 rounds. More efforts for less water it seems but then I am no expert over such matters.





Kiddo had fun with ducks around. We invited some in pretense of food but once they knew about it they didn’t came near. Not really sure that what one supposed to give them for eating as regular eatables are prohibited to be given.



We left the place by 0830 hrs around and headed back to home. Apart from an incident when during lunch, I had to stop to give some remote support to office, most of the drive was eventless. I got the horn repaired and also stopped to the construction site of our flat in between.


We reached back by 1630 hrs around.

Long awaited family trip to Himalaya: Dharamshala, Vaidyanath, Pathankot

“हेल्लो … आपका एक बैग गिर गया है..”
“काफी पीछे..”

एक घंटे की मशक्कत के बाद “छोडो यार अब गया तो गया… जेवर वाला तो नहीं गया न..”
”पर उसमे सारे नए कपडे थे .. सारियां और बच्चो के Sad smile

This was the start of the trip….

“भैया .. मेरे रूम की टीवी में स्पार्क हो रहा है और शायद लाइट भी चली गयी है”

“वो शायद लाइट fluctuate हो रही थी उसी से कुछ हुआ होगा ”

“Damn!!! लैपटॉप का चार्जर और मोबाइल चार्जर गया..”

This was the second day of stay at Dharamshala…

The above two conversations are a hint that what had gone wrong during the last short trip of ours but was that enough to dampen our spirit on the long awaited family holidaying?????


Continue reading “Long awaited family trip to Himalaya: Dharamshala, Vaidyanath, Pathankot”

One more trip to National Zoological Park Delhi with kiddo

I been to National Zoological Park, Delhi in October 2014 after that unfortunate accident of White Tiger killing a man inside zoo, though since then another trip to the same place remained pending until now.

The last trip even though wasn’t really related to the trend of visiting the place just after it came into light, but due to the fact that I was actually chasing places to see White Tiger. Just in August 2014, we even trekked to Nainital Zoo looking for one, only to get disappointed at the end knowing that there was no white tiger in Nainital zoo since last 2-3 years. So when the news broke in about white tiger in Delhi zoo, then I was surprised to know that we had one in Delhi itself.

The last trip pictures were also taken with Nikon P600 just like this time though kiddo was still younger to make out the names of the animals. I was just waiting for winters to spread their wings so that I can visit the same place again.

Considering the sudden foggy days post 15th January in Delhi\ NCR and other things, it was lazy Sunday and we would have been up by 0800 hrs. Still we didn’t leave for the place till 1130 hrs and when finally we reached, took tickets etc, it would have been around 1430 hrs. We been hearing announcements that during Winters, Zoo remains open till 1600 hrs only, so we didn’t had much time in hands Sad smile


I literally never get proper photos of the flying birds in Zoo and this time wasn’t different either. For the same, one need to be focused on the task while here I was with kiddo so focus wasn’t the first thing in mind.


Kiddo was excited to take a look over Giraffe but for her bad luck, she was removed in last year itself. We somehow managed to convince her that tiger ate that Giraffe. Sorry Dear Tiger to put that blame on you, but we didn’t had any choice. Only you been having a reputation there.


And this was the Royal Bengal Tiger. These Tigers, Lions and Leopards do look royal if you watch them closely the way they carry themselves and so is the attention of onlookers over them.


Here comes the famous white tiger. Like I commented at the time of accident, he didn’t looked any aggressive or like that and in that incident, it wasn’t fault of his either. She was sleeping when we reached at her place but to our luck, she woke up for a while.


Next stop was for Leopard. She looked royal as always and was kind enough for posing as well. Only if I was well prepared then I would have caught a precious pose of her while taking the jump to rooftop which I missed awkwardly.




There was some self posing as well before its ended and then we were off to another battle of getting our car out from the parking. Trust me, it wasn’t any less wild than walking inside some jungle. Never underestimate wild instinct of Delhi/ NCR drivers.

A good Sunday ended…

In Search of Snow – Another drive to Manali covering all seasons

Its tough to convince others that you are in your sane mind when choosing the same destination twice within six months despite of it being a costly affair for your finances. Leave others convincing co-travellers might be even more tough. But then I was set to do exactly the same thing.


Why Manali again after being there twice in short span?

Because there was possibility of long holidays at end of year, because I been to Manali twice but once in June summers and once in July monsoons but never during winters which always been on cards to brave with snow. Because I twice been to hills during snow, both times in Mussoorie (Once January end and once December end) but both the times failed to get it and this time in my attempt I need some kind of guarantee that it won’t fail this time.

Nainital or Mussoorie though being under 300 kms circle from my place, in no way can guarantee you snow even in higher reaches nor those higher reaches even if there is a possibility of snow are in easy reach via roads in comparison to wide roads leading to Manali. Shimla or Khajjiar side might be another alternative if I wanna avoid repeat of same destination but then that trip was already planned for Mid-March of next year as I might be visiting Pathankot. So Manali remained as safe bet with almost certainty of snow. Also it would cover Manali in all three available seasons or may be leave a chance for Extreme Winters that is Feb Smile with tongue outfor a future trip.

Continue reading “In Search of Snow – Another drive to Manali covering all seasons”

Moving to more tougher genre: Group Sketches

What’s more tough than portraits? Group Portraits as that increases the variable exponentially. Not only proportions need to be kept on thin lines, but also an individual face going wrong may disrupts entire portrait, not only that but group photos tends to be smaller and not close-up the way individual photographs might be, adding up complexity.

In past, I had tried only once about group sketches and not really great way, so I had to give it a try again. I been choosing the way to create and refine the outline first before proceeding with shadings and shadings too with one character at once. No fixed rules though.

First trial was with wife’s sister family.


Continue reading “Moving to more tougher genre: Group Sketches”