We set off from Chandigarh on our way to Nepal and decided to make a night halt in Mussoorie and Nainital. From Nainital we’d drive into Nepal. The next two days we would be something quite different…all the English signs stopped, everything was in Hindi, pan stains galore, sugar cane being grown, cooked, fermented in every form, dry river beds—welcome to Uttar Pradesh. It was really different for me! There was the ever present smell of burning sugar cane that would penetrate my nostrils every time I lifted up my helmet visor.
We got to Mussoorie a little past sunset and it was freezing cold! We bought some warm corn on the cob smothered in chaat masala, spicy momos and a little bottle of rum to warm up. One thing I have to say is that many people go to Shimla from Chandigarh, but I would recommend coming to Mussoorie or Nainital instead. Shimla has become too crowded and commercial! The next morning we decided that it was best for us to head out because we thought it’d be a great idea to stay at Jim Corbett National Park which is a big tiger reserve. Once we got to where we thought was the entrance…we found out that the actual entrance was more than 200km and that we needed to make a booking for a lodge a month before and leave our bike somewhere and rent a gypsy. We decided against it but the problem was that it was nearing sunset and we were 150km from Nainital. We also ran a bit late because we had taken an extra long time at Gurudwara Paonta Sahib which is where Guru Gobind Dev Singh Ji stopped for years and wrote Gurbani, also his son Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji was born. I definitely recommend checking it out as well as the museum which is all the way in the back since they have a pair of Guru Hargobind Singh Dev Ji’s original wooden & ivory inlaid slippers and Guru Gobind Singh’s original weapons. In the end we decided we had to pull through and make it to Nainital which we did at around 9:30pm. We found an Army rest house which allowed us to stay for 2 nights.
The next day we took a tour of all the sights that Nainital had to offer. It’s kind of a cross between Shimla and Srinigar…there’s a huge beautiful (very clean) lake at a high altitude surrounded by green hills. The really great thing is that at least it seems that the local government and people feel a sincere responsibility to keep the lake clean. After a nice boat ride, we learned a lot from our boat rowing guy about the lake and Nainital. Basically no random person can come and buy land and build some hotel on it. Only a person from Uttranchal can buy land and on top of that they’ve stopped building into the forests. It’s great to know that there’s this awareness. Later in the day we went to the Tibetan market and around 5pm went to a high point to see the sunset. It was a beautiful sunset!