On the Rocks in Nainital -Nov 2011

I have been dreaming about something since a lot many years.Since the time I first set my foot in the Himalayan hills.Since the time I set my eyes on those national geographic and discovery channel programmes showcasing awesome climbers doing awesome things on rocks and cliffs.Its been my dream to try to do the same in the Himalayas.Or at least,to start to do it.

As some of you might know,I have now moved to North India.Gurgaon(New Delhi Capital Region) to be precise.After taking a month to settle down here,it was high time that i start venturing into the mountains again!After all,wasn’t that one of the major reasons i did not think twice before moving here!(and here is quite a crappy place.Its near Delhi but not Delhi).

So I finished working in office on Friday evening and by 9.30 p.m.,was in a private bus to Nainital with a couple of friends.My pro climber friend-Tipu,who is based in Nainital, was to meet us in Nainital and we were going to be in his hands after that.It was a 12 hours long overnight journey through which i slept and dozed off intermittently,as usual.I  looked out of the window a couple of times and  found myself staring at dense fog on the road.This was November 4th and winter had already arrived here.The mountains did not appear till we reached Haldwani,which is 38 Km from Nainital.

We alighted at 9 a.m at Tuta Pahad area of nainital.Contrary to many people’s perception,there no lake(taal in local lingo) called Nanital in Nainital.Theres one big lake around which this hill town is settles.The lake is comprised of 2 parts-Tallital and Mallital.After alighting from the bus,we started walking towards tipu’s hotel.We passed Tallital,took the mall road and reached the  hotel on the side of the mountain beside Mallital.

In the off-season and the morning sunshine,Nainital seemed like a really pretty hill town,with a pleasing laziness in the air.The architecure bore testimony to the long British presence here.There was just enough hustle bustle around and I couldn’t stop praising my decision to come here for the weekend.A clean,quiet,neat british styled hill town in the Himalayas-one of the very good places to spend time at.

But climbing is what we had come to do.So first things first.We freshened ourselves,had breakfast and by 12 noon,were on our way to a short hike up to the rock climbing area  in the town.This area lay on a hill ,a little below a view point called Tiffin Top.The hike-basically a walk on concrete pavement throught the woods was beautiful.The surroundings were cool,green and quiet.A few tourists overtook us(and we overtook a few).They were walking towards the top of the hill we were walking on.Somewhere near the top,we took another trail and turned towards the area where boulders lay.

I took one look at the boulders and it was all it took for me to get impressed.They were big.The cracks in them were inviting.Tempting.I got on to one of the boulders to get a feel of the rock texture.The grips were good.The feel was similar to what I used to get in Sahyadri.Though this was Metamorphic rock and not Igneous.

So there were 6 of us-Tipu,Tony,Vikram,Myself,Rohan and Varun.Rohan and Varun had no climbing background.I still consider myself an amateur while the remaining people are real pros .We put on the climbing harness and shoes,Vikram,Tony and Tipu anchored the rope and set the belay.It was time to get on the rocks!

While Vikram started negotiating the horizontal crack on one boulder,i belayed him from the ground.I watched his moves because it was me who would go next.I knew I would be stuck after first 4-5 moves cuz that’s where the difficult part of the climb would start.That’s exactly what happened when i started climbing :D.

So all of us climbed this crack and two more,tried different routes and moves.we fell off many times.Some climbed till the top successfully.Rohan clicked our photos and cooked maggi for us while Tipu Tony Vikram brewed the tea.We climbed,took breaks,ate ,roamed around and in general had a great time.We were joined by 3 more climbers by 4 p.m.It increased the liveliness and the fun.Tony and Vikram set the ropes on two difficult looking routes which had become infested by moss during the monsoons and cleaned them using brushes for the next session of climbing.Rohan and Varun rappelled down a cliff like tall rock to mark the end of a terrific day!

It was 6 pm and the Sun had set behind the skyline.By the time we had packed the climbing gear back,the darkness had fallen upon us.We descended the hill thus and strolled along the downhill concrete road that would take us to the market area.The walk was very nice.There was hardly anybody except us on that road.Nainital was dotted with electric lights and looked awesome from above.

I gobbled up a plate of mutton momos as soon as we reached the market.I had been hungry for quite some time.Rohan,I and Varun then ambled along the mall road non specifically with me checking into every alternate shop to find pretty crafty objects or candles( for which Nainital is famous.)

The night-time stroll along the Mall road concluded around 9.30 p.m.Weather was chilly!i had to put on one sweater and a light jacket over that!Temperature must have been around 19-20 degrees Celcius.I had crashed on my  bed by 10.30.

I woke up the next morning only to crash back in beg again.My body had gone sore during the night,thanks to all the climbing I had done the previous day.I hadnt been on rocks for a few months and the result was sore muscles!I and the boys took our time to get up and get ready.The itinerary had originally consisted of us going for boating early morning(around 8.30 am) followed by a hike in the afternoon.But the lazy bunch of us 3 people got up so late that by the time we got aboard the boat,it was almost 12 noon!We spent around half an hour in the water.The boat used to float along the water whenever out oarsman had to speak into his mobile phone.Water was dazzling in the overhead sun.Boat ride was  beautiful.

Ride finished,we lunched in the tibetan market and came over to the hotel by 3 p.m.We had lost too much time to go for a long hike.So we settled on a short hike at Bara Pathhar in order to catch the sunset from a high point.We took a cab to Bara Pathhar(10mins drive) and walked about 0.75km into a not-so-known trail into the hills and woods.The trail was beautiful again.Nobody besides us.Though we saw a bunch of liquor bottles dumped at one of the points on the trail.It was 5.30 pm by now and we were looking for a perching spot from where we could enjoy the sunset.We found one soon and it was a really good spot.I clicked to my heart’s content the portraits that one gets to capture  in the amazing orange light of a sunrise and a sunset.

It was stunning.The light,the location,the trees and the hills rolling around.Nanital town lay a little behind us ,nestled at the bottom of  the hills beyond a turn.In the distance,we could see the place where Land’s End lay.Its a touristy viewpoint in Nainital.There are cliffs here from which one gets a beautiful view of the plains below.But we were not going there that day.We jsut sat there,munching on the peanuts we had bought the previous day and taking in the magnificent view.The sun set ,not below the horizon but behind the hazy skyline.What i got there at that point was pretty much what i had come for here.Just me and the mountains and its games.The only other thing that can give me an equal amount of joy like this would be playing with a puppy.

This was in a way,an end to our trip.All that remained between us and Gurgaon now was the walk back to the town,a delicious parantha dinner in the Bada Bazzar with yet another look at the stores in the bazzar and then a 7hours long bus journey back to Delhi.

We had had a wonderful weekend in Nainital,thanks entirely to Tipu and his family’s hospitality.(The hotel where we had put up in belonged to Tipu’s father.).We couldn’t have climbed and hiked had it not been for Tipu taking to these places.With Id wished for the next day,we departed from Nainital ,with more plans to come back!

Hapy Smiles yet again,

Before going away,take a look at the picture gallery!Click on the first or any of the pictures to start the slideshow.


P.S:If one has to travel from Delhi to Nainital by bus,the Royal Cruiser buses run by UPSRTC(Uttar Pradesh State road Transport Corporation) are the best option.Due to 11th hour planning,i and my friends had to rely on online private bus bookings done through www.redbus.in and at both the times,multiple people had been booked on the same seat.The matter did get resolved both the times but the next time around,there’s no way I am going to do online bookings via portals like redbus or travelyaari and such other.Transport companies having their own websites are the ones that can be relied upon.


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