India is my favourite place on earth. Where else will you find landscapes as contradictory to each other within 500 kilometres? There are snow-capped mountains and vast sand deserts, beautiful waterfalls and exotic virgin beaches, all in one country. India is a place where colours are a riot of emotions and people are welcoming.
Travelling in India is an experience that no one in the world should miss. As a lover of mountains, with limited time and budget – Kumaon is a perfect getaway.
It was an unplanned trip, but tickets on the Ranikhet Express were readily available. The train leaves at night and reaches Kathgodam early next morning. Added to the romance of the journey was a full moon staring in through the window of the sleeper train.
An early morning tea by the roadside near the quaint little railway station is the first step towards a weekend vacation. From Kathgodam, Ranikhet is a couple of hours of a slow serpentine but a rather energising drive. There is a beautiful bridge over the gushing Kosi River. The flora splattered along that road makes for a refreshing feeling which the city long drive can never give you.
Situated in Almora District of Uttarakhand, Ranikhet is the headquarters of the Kumaon Regiment and the Naga Regiment of the Indian Army. We stayed at the Kumaon Tourism rest house – which is just a little away from the main township.
Ranikhet being an army cantonment area makes sure that it is spick and span, speckled with some old school architecture and great roads. The walk down to the mall road is serene and the hustle and bustle of the usual touristy hill stations like Mussourie or Shimla is hardly there. The pretty Victorian cottages take you back in time.
But the best things about Ranikhet are the walkways surrounded by tall pine trees. The hill station has large meadows which on clear days filters sunlight through the trees and is lush green. There are also apple orchards in the area which the locals would gladly take you to, in return of a few kind words.
Ranikhet also has a spectacular view of the permafrost ranges of the Himalayas. Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Khat are a few peaks that are clearly visible and they are quite a sight at dawn. With a pleasant mountain chill, an early morning walk down the Golf course road is as romantic as it can get.
The forest area around Ranikhet is supposed to have wild life animals like leopards, jackals and mountain cats but thankfully we didn't spot any. There are some beautifully coloured birds like magpies which are visible in the outskirts of the town. There is hardly a market to shop around in Ranikhet, but the hush of the township will give you a much-needed rest from the crowded markets of big cities.
The nights in Ranikhet are equally enchanting. The silence is eerie, but the star spangled night is a sight to see. The skyline is dotted with diamonds, and the rising moon adds to the romanticism of the atmosphere. Whether you have an early dinner and turn in, or talk through the night in the open air with a bonfire lit near you, the quiet coolness in the air will surely be a thing to remember.
There are a lot of adventure treks and activities like rappling and air gliding that take place in and around Ranikhet, but this travel destination is just for lying back and relaxing.
Maybe, you could use the time to soak in nature, or just spruce up the romance with your better half while walking down the bylanes in moonlit nights. Ranikhet is after all the perfect romantic getaway!