“Travel fills your spirit with joy and mind with lifetime stories”
12th & 13th April 2017:
“But I planned to travel Agra by my bike.” I was trying to make Apurva understand. But she was adamant to plan somewhere else because it was a long weekend of Good Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
“See, you can ride to Agra at any weekend, but let’s plan Nainital for three days.It’s going to be fun. Think about this. Just six of us.”
“Hmm…It seems a valid point. Let me ask other friends of ours.”
Technology has moved fast really. Immediately a WhatsApp group created “Let’s Travel to Nainital.”
After the whole days’ “ping ping” on WhatsApp group, five of us were ready to rock. (Rather six of us. Himanshu joined us. Himanshu is Neetu Yadav’s younger brother and very close to everybody’s heart. We know him as “Jagat Bhaiya). Nothing is possible without making any effort. The perseverance paid off and everybody’s family members were ready for our trip.
We actually were feeling that Simran should go with us. But sometimes you can’t align the external forces in your favor.
In such a little time, we all planned the entire trip strategically. We divided the responsibilities amongst all of us. Everything seems settled to start our journey. We arrange a taxi, everybody was ready with the budget, and no tantrum from family members. Still, I was a bit concerned that nobody should chicken out due to any reason. I was waiting for the cab to reach on time and we should start our journey. My heart paused and I wished that nobody should chicken out. After all, that was the first ever “Girls’ Gang” outing program.
14th April 2017:
Sharp at 5 AM, the taxi reached my home. Having geared up for the trip, we left from Lucknow at 6.45 AM. The distance from Lucknow to Nainital is about 390-400 km. There are multiple route options available. However, keeping the road conditions and travel distance in mind, we opted through Sitapur Highway.
The route we took:
Road condition from Lucknow to Nainital via Shahjahanpur is not very bad but at some patches, there is one way. Due to that the traffic there automatically gets slow.
Lucknow to Sitapur: -It’s National Highway 30. Approximate 90 km. Its toll road and a butter silk road. It’s a smooth highway with multiple dhabas, chaya wallas, and petrol pumps options.
Maigalganj is approximate 35 km ahead of Sitapur. This place is famous because of it’s mouthwatering, piping hot, and soft Gulab jamuns. Nobody should pass by this place without experiencing lip-smacking Gulab jamun (packed in a handi). It costs very nominal. You can get 20 Gulabjamun in just 100 bucks. (Wow….It’s so delicious. I ate 4 in one go and ask the shopkeeper to pack 20 in a Handi). I can never forget the unparalleled taste of these Gulab jamuns.
The entire route has no shades of trees. We tried to find out any shaded place to park our car and stretch our body for some time but all in vain. There are only few petrol pumps where we could halt for some time.
We were traversing down the plane till Haldwani. The distance to Nainital from Haldwani is 30 km, but it took around 1.30hours to 2 hours to reach Nainital. The roads in hilly areas are not very broad and one needs to be apt in driving on these congested hills.
We reached Nainital around 4.30 PM. It took approximate nine and half hours to reach there with two-three halts of 15-20 minutes. People told us that there is time restriction in Nainital for outside vehicles to enter in the city but we did not face any problem in this. Till late night, vehicles were entering there.
Nainital was jam-packed when we reached there. We did not book the hotel in advance because on all the website, it was either showing extremely expensive or all booked. So it was a big task for us to get an accommodation in our budget. We started visiting hotels and it was a big surprise that accommodation is actually not a big issue there. On the entire Mall road, there are multiple hotel options available at very reasonable rates. It starts from 2500/-per room per night (double & triple occupancy). So per person cost is affordable.
The entire one side of the mall road has the flowing Naini river and the other side has lots of hotels, restaurants, shopping places etc.
After checking in, we got fresh. All of us found that there was no internet or very poor connectivity in the rooms and even in the hotel premises.
I realized that we are so much mobile addicted that we can’t even tolerate a minute without internet network. In our hotel premises, mobile network was in pathetic condition and it made us extremely anxious. Everybody was looking at their mobile again and again and we could make and receive calls but only internet (WhatsApp and facebook) was not getting proper signals. It took a lot of time to make ourselves understand that there is life beyond social networking sites.
We got fresh and went out to roam around the local marketplace.
A very beautiful thing I observed, is the proximity of a temple (Naina Devi), a gurudwara and a Mosque (Jama Masjid, Nainital). The temple and Gurudwara are just adjacent to each other and opposite there is a big mosque. No argument, no fights, no riots, only peace, and brotherhood. What an amazing lesson to learn for the whole world.
Nainital is situated in Kumaon foothills. The beauty of this place lies in the mesmerizing Naini lake. Its magnificence is at its peak during the night and early in the morning when the lights from the houses situated on hills and sun rays create a pearly impact in the still and tranquil water. The best time to spend by riverside is early morning and late night when the city is in deep sleep. It is meditative to feel in arms of beautiful and serene nature.
Naini Lake in morning
In Nainital, there is a famous shopping street named “Tibbati Market.” This street is very famous for vibrant and jazzy lingerie (Girls should not miss this). There is a shop of Momos at the end of this street and believe me, you have to stand in long queue to get the delicious Momos with super spicy red chilli sauce. One must not miss it. (Especially those who enjoy the non-Vegetarian food.)
After shopping, we all came back to our rooms. Spent time in a lot of fun, thunderous laughter, leg pulling of each other, planning for next day and staring at the Naini Lake.
Though there were a lot of adventurous activities to do but we chose to explore a new place called Mukteshwar. Mukteshwar is approximately 48 km uphill from Nainital with an altitude of 7500 ft. The tourists in Nainital were in huge number. The traffic jam was quite irritating though the traffic police and local public managed it well. It took us an hour to come out from Nainital to proceed towards Mukeshwar.
The attraction in Mukteshawar is its natural heart throbbing beauty. The way from Nainital to Mukteshawar has mind boggling surroundings. The mountain range is clearly visible from the top of the city. The charm of visiting Mukteshwar lies in enjoying nature, listening to air gushing through deodar forests, bird watching, meditation, and seeking peace. The cleanliness, solitude, and beauty of nature overawe people who otherwise like urban excitement. It took around 3-3.30 hours to reach the top of Mukteshwar. The view from the top was amazing and mesmerizing. There is government run PWD guest house, situated at the top. The view of valleys from there left us dumbstruck.
Government owned PWD guest house at the top in Mukteshwar
Mukteshwar: View from the top
We spent some time there, filled our lungs with fresh air and collected lifetime memories. While returning, we halted at a restaurant for lunch. The soft flute played by a local resident caught my attention. The old song’s music coming out of his flute was indescribable. That was the moment we could live then and there only. The soft soothing music hypnotized us completely.
Hats off to you Raju Bhaiyya for your unmatched talent
Due to my inquisitiveness towards bikes, I observed a green Royal Enfield in the parking with the registration number of Gurugram. I could not stop myself having a conversation with those boys. They were regular travelers and they were riding their bikes from Gurgaon. They had a lot to tell and I was curious to get the most out of their experiences. We discussed the routes, the problems they faced, the arrangement to carry the heavy luggage, how their bikes behave on long trips, the other biker groups in Delhi and Gurgaon and a lot more. They were really impressed with the fact that we have a female bike riders group in Lucknow. They invited us to Gurgaon. I collected a lot of information from them which is going to be helpful for me in future.
We came back to Nainital around 7.30 PM. It did not take much time while coming down from hills. It was a bit difficult to drive at night as there were not many street lights on the entire way and in hills, the day gets dim down sooner than in the plains. We freshened up and again headed towards the market for more shopping and Momos. That was a beautiful night we all spent sitting at river shore till late night. Having a lot of philosophical and deep discussions about life and purpose to live.
Next morning we checked out, packed our breakfast and started our journey back from Nainital to Lucknow with a lot of memories, learnings, and photographs.
Travel teaches a lot of things to implement in life if observed carefully. I too observed many things during the planning and execution of this trip:
1- Nothing is possible without making an effort.
This was the first travel plan with friends. Like everybody, I was a bit skeptical whether family members would be ready to send me with my friends or not. Though we compromised to go by Car rather than our bikes still I was not sure. But I thought to give it a try to convince everybody. After some discussions and probing, I made it in my favor.
If I did not make any effort to make it happen, it was not possible.
2- Sometimes it’s just not your time, but move ahead.
After a lot of heated arguments and conflicts, Simran could not make her plan to accompany us. There were multiple external forces and reasons that were unavoidable. She was extremely upset at one point of time but she revived so well and cheered us up.
Sometimes we can’t align every external force in our favor. We are human beings, not God. Keep patience, failures are part of life. But one must not take it as final verdict of life. Keep trying. Find another opportunity. Don’t carry the baggage, else you wouldn’t be able to go far.
3- Happiness is omnipresent.
It is not always necessary to have the luxury to feel the happiness if your mind and heart is associated with the present moment. We all were in Innova (Not so luxurious brand), and stayed in a not very expensive hotel, we wore not very luxurious branded clothes, but we were happy.
We always don’t require a Play Station or a home delivery from McDonald’s to be happy in this world.
Happiness is talking freely with like-minded people, laughing with them, speaking your heart out without any fabricated and sugar coated talks, happiness is staring at nature, happiness is feeling the wind on your face, and happiness is friendship, happiness is in saving pennies to buy small gifts for your loved ones, happiness is listening to the sweet music from Raju Bhaiyaa’s flute, happiness is trusting friends and sharing secrets with them. We feel what we want to feel. If we genuinely want to feel and live, Happiness is everywhere.
Yes, Happiness is to do lifetime memorable nomenclature of your friends. How? See the last pic…
4- Be patient and composed.
We can handle most of the situations if we keep our mind cool. There were incidents when the heated arguments took place among few of us over very tiny issues. That was the time to handle situation patiently and control the mind.
I faced few moments when I was about to lose my temper, however, these moments were a real learning for me to calm down myself and handle situations harmoniously.
If you get angry the best thing is to keep quiet for some time. Don’t burst. Be silent. Take a deep breath. Let’s your ego not overpower your mind.
Give your mind time to analyze the situations.And when you are able to think properly then start a conversation and make people understand.
5- It’s always good to connect with people.
In any journey we meet new people, talk to them, share our views and discuss many things, take help from each other and learn a lot from their experiences. Every single person we meet is there to teach us something, whether he is a chaya walla who shared how difficult was that to keep his tea stall running in this scorching heat, or our Arshi Bhaiyya (the driver), whom we provoked to drive faster and teased him for slow and boring drive but he never lost his temper and never forgot his responsibility to keep us safe.
That are the bikers whom we met on the way to Mukteshawar to Nainital, who shared very valuable information with us regarding long bike rides and safety measures, or the flute player, who was so happy and lost in his own world and was not dependent on anything for his happiness, or the coffee shop’s owner Khan sahib, who is still not accepting the girls to wander alone and many more.
Meet people, smile, and talk to them about their lives. That’s all it takes.
6- Real world is far better and beautiful than the virtual one
This is the bitter truth that we are slaves of technology. I am not saying it’s bad but the way it has encroached our minds is worrisome. I can’t forget that anxiety when for some time in the hotel we were not able to access our WhatsApp and Facebook. We seldom forget that it’s important to be mentally present with people whom we are actually with at moment.
Forget Whatsapp, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and all that blah blah for some time and spare some time to read books, meet friends, enjoy and observe the nature instead of taking pictures and anxiously upload them on social media and then continuously peeping into the phone to check if there are any comments.
7- It’s just you and your stories
We don’t need to impress anyone once we are out of our limited periphery. When everything is familiar, every person we meet in a day, the office colleagues, we are always concerned to maintain a false image of self. We are not ‘We’ but a puppet to get 100% marks in fulfilling other’s expectations.
Travel make us explore ourselves and make us feel free. We do whatever we want to do because the majority of people around actually do not care the crap we are doing. It becomes possible to remove all external influences from our life for some time and get a fresh perspective. We come to know our strength, weakness, handling adverse situations, handling people around, planning and execution capabilities, make independent decisions, risk taking appetite and many more things about the self.
When we are in travel, we are away from our haphazard routine life. We directly look at our life from distance. This is the best time to spend some time alone, talk to yourself, and introspect mind.It will turn you into a different thinker altogether.
8- Survival with less is possible
Yes, this is true.We can never have the same comforts and amenities while traveling which we have in our daily life. It is enjoyable to survive with very limited resources. We sometimes will not get desired food when we are hungry, water when we are thirsty. That is the time to use the limited resources available smartly.
Especially in hills, where life is very simple, we actually learn that we too can live life without the luxurious comfort and false show off to society.
Travel turns you into a different person with a different and fresh perspective to look at things and people.
Thanks to all my friends to make this trip memorable. From left to right: Devina (Rolu polly), Apurva (Basanti), Prachi (Mardani), Neety Singh (Gabru), Neetu Yadav (Chitti Robo)