Nainital Diaries by Revati Nargund | ditsymusings

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Nainital Diaries

June 4, 2018 | Revati Nargund


I took an eight-day long vacation to Uttarakhand and I have still not quite processed that I am back to Mumbai. The trip was everything I expected and yet everything that I totally did not expect. Starting with landing at Delhi and heading to Nainital by a private car which we had booked for the entire trip, I did not expect anything miraculous or mind blowing. Maybe the bungee jumping would be an extraordinary experience but what could a place like Nainital or Rishikesh offer that can truly stump you? I guess if you really pay attention and delve into traveling, exploring and being open to unexpected events, people and places, turns out there is a lot that can shock the living day lights out of most of us, even in the most conventional, most regular of places.

Nainital is a hill station and like most hill stations is cooler than the rest of the cities. I will not go so far as to say that it was cold, but at this point, not sweating like all the water content in your system is pouring out in droplets that furiously slid down from every part of your body or simply not feeling dizzy and dazed on account of the heat is also a win-win! The views of the lakes, landscapes that justify the panorama feature on our phones, greenery and roads that lead up to nowhere in particular; it is everything that you need when you decide to “escape”. It took me 7 hours to reach Nainital by car and we reached late in the night at Jeolikote, which is a small town near Nainital, an hour away and has the only hostel available in Nainital (HOTs HOSTEL) which is a hiker’s hostel, something I had not looked into before I booked. Nainital has many hotels which are mostly quite expensive and if a student is travelling or you set out to travel with your friends, there are very few options. This is the only hostel available and is at an hour distance from Nainital Lake, Tiffin Top, Aerial Ropeway and the other tourist spots.

took us to the hostel which was an uphill trek for another half hour. And since we had not expected it to be a back packer’s hostel, we were climbing with suit cases and handbags, amounted to quite a workout! The hostel is located right in the middle of a jungle and is the perfect retreat for someone who truly enjoys and appreciates being amidst nature. Surrounded by dense trees, there are small cottages or huts that have been built and painted in vibrant colors, with posters of famous musicians and artists inside the common room. There are games like scrabble, jenga, ludo and snakes and ladders to keep you occupied and there exists a community living kind-of-a-spirit that encourages you to socialize and be inclusive of everyone around you. The food is simple, earthy and the three people that take care of everything are warm and welcoming. People would assume it is easier being away, away from the trappings of career goals, family responsibilities, social conventions. But I guess it is a thousand times harder to take a decision where you leave behind a life so familiar, full of struggles but yet comfortable, and embrace the unknown. To be in a place that is secluded and with very less contact with the outer world on a daily basis, to work from remote locations like these when you have experienced life in bustling cities, and to do so at such a young age, is nothing but courageous.


Here is a link to the hostel we stayed at –

“पलायन” (Palayan) by HOTs Hostels | Migration Documentary of Uttarakhand

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Migration. Isolated Villages in Uttarakhand is facing a major problem of people migrating from their homes to other cities. The Reason? “Unemployment”. Watch the story of one such Isolated Village “Bhatkote, situated on the hills of Uttarakhand. Not A Usual Fancy Travel Film but a Film For A Cause. PALAYAN.


A Travel Documentary By: The Poked Folk

Directed, Filmed & Edited By: Yash Pokharna

Presented By: HOTs Hostels

Music Credits: Desert City – Kevin Macleod African Drums (Sting) – Twin Musicom

Culture Of Uttarakhand

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With elements from each of the ethnic groups as well as sub-groups that reside here, the culture of uttarakhand shows a distinctive pattern. The culture is like a meeting point between different cultures, namely Kumaoni-Garhwali. Uttarakhand houses seven different ethnic groups, having as many as seven different cultures. Some of the important ethnic groups that form a part of the culture of Uttarakhand are:

The People of Uttarakhand:

People of uttarakhand are majorly known as either Kumaonis or Garhwalis; some of them are also known as Paharis, Jaunsaris, Bhotia, Buksha, Tharu and Raji.

Clothes :

Clothing of any place depicts the lifestyle and tradition of a place. In uttarakhand the two communities mentioned above have adopted their own style of dressing according to the cold climate which is prevalent there.
obtained from sheep or goat for manufacturing warm clothes.

Costumes of Women in Uttarakhand

Ghagri which is a long skirt is paired with a choli and dupatta is what you will see almost every woman wearing. Kumaoni as well as garhwali women both wear this attire.

Ethnic people cover themselves with a sarong which is basically a mantle-type dress, along with a tightened blouse.

For brides the customary attire is that of a ghagra, lehenga and choli, as well as a pichora ghagra, it is designed with gold and silver tatting.

Costumes of Men in Uttarakhand

Men are seen wearing a lungi or a dhoti paired with a kurta. The locals love wearing a headgear or turban, which also happens to be a vital part of their traditional costume.An alternate attire would be the kurta-pajama that is widespread in this part of India.

Both men and women wear woolen jackets and sweaters in winter. In towns like Dehradun the influence of western clothing can be seen among youngsters.


    As children we’ve always been fascinated by melas, they never fail to make anyone happy, excited and revisit their childhood once again, these are some of the prominent melas held in Uttarakhand :

  • Devidhura Mela
  • Ardh Kumbh Mela,
  • Nanda Devi Mela,
  • Kumbh Mela,
  • Purnagiri Mela,
  • Gauchar Mela, etc.


Festivals of Uttarakhand are not only distinctive but, also rather colorful, they are a blend of various cultural and social factors. The festivals have contributed to the enrichment of the state. The love for colors and celebrations of the people can be seen in the form of elaborate rituals and the way they surrender themselves to the numerous festivals of the region. The people of Uttarakhand celebrate all the major festivals of the nation with great pomp and joy.

These are some of the festivals celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and an abundance of happiness :

  • Pasant panchmi
  • Nandadevi
  • Olgia /Ghee Sankranti
  • Makar Sankranti
  • Ganga Dussehra / Dasara
  • Phool Dei
  • Hill Jatra
  • Bat Savitri
  • Janopunya
  • Khatarua
  • Chhipla jaat
  • Kumaon Holi
  • Kandali


Food is something everyone likes to experiment with, the state has a rather simple, yet delicious cuisine. The primary food includes vegetables, though people also enjoy eating non-vegetarian food items. Milk as well as milk based products are seldom used here. Coarse grain packed with high fibre is rather common in the interiors of kumaon.Mostly, either mustard oil or pure ghee is used for cooking purposes. Rather simple recipes are made interesting with the use of hash seeds as spice! Some of the famous cuisines of Uttarakhand include the following:

  • Bhatt ka jwala
  • Dubke
  • Chasiya
  • Rassa bhat
  • Bhatt Ki Chudkani
  • Badi
  • Gulgula,etc

Music and Dance:

Music is a rather important part of Uttarakhand culture. The serenity and calmness of the place inspires a ton of musicians to compose rather exceptional tones. the scintillating glimpse of streams of rivers, lush green forests and the heavenly beauty of the hilly areas are all the natural components of the folk music over here, mainly including the spiritual and socio-cultural scenes of the place.

some of the popular folk songs are `Mandals`, `panwaras` and somber `khuded`, `thadya` and `jhoda`.these folk songs are composed on the beats and nodes of Dhol, damoun, turri, ransingha, dholki, daur, thali, bhankora and masakbhaja.

Below are names of the various genres of music and dance forms of the state :

  • Music: Chhopati, Chounphula, Jhumeila, Basanti, Mangal, Puja Folk Songs etc.
  • Dance: Langvir Nritya, Barada Nati, Pandav Nritya etc.

10 things to do in Nainital

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Nainital is just 18kms away from HOTs Hostel which is situated in Jeolikot, while you stay with us, you can go out and explore not only places near to the hostel but, also some of the places we’ve picked out in Nainital which are listed below :

  • Boating at the lake at Nainital : Enjoy the serene waters of Naini Lake, if you’re an active person the best option for you will be the paddle boat, but, if you just want to laze around and take in the surroundings you can opt for a boat that is rowed by one of the locals.
  • Visit Mall Road : Not Only so they have various shops displaying a variety of items but, is also known to have amazing shops that sell gaming products, which is a must visit for every avid gamer!
  • Eat super tasty momos from Sonam : we trust you won’t be able to stop at just one plate, with momos as tasty as this!
  • Tibetan market (china town) : known for selling first copy items which are rather good material wise at reasonable rates is a steal!
  • Eat bun tikki while sitting near the lake : what’s better than sitting in front of a lake with an amazing view and munching on a bun tikki?!
  • Trek/hike to bara pathar see the himalayas
  • Capitol cinema hall which is famous for being seen in the movie koi mil gaya
  • Visit high altitude zoo : at the Nainital zoo you will get to see some of the most mesmerising as well as rare animals here.
  • Eco cave garden : this is a one of its kind type of structure, here you will get to see caves of different types and sizes, you can also enter all of them from one end and get out from the other, let us tell you that you will also have to bend at times to pass through a cave. There are leopard caves, tiger caves, bat caves and a whole lot more.
  • Visit tibetan gompa buddhist monastery: if you’re looking for some peace be sure to visit the Tibetan Gompa, a Buddhist Monastery filled with positive vibes and peacefulness!

10 Things To Do In Almora

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On your way to our second hostel in Binsar Valley, Almora there are a ton of things that you can stop to do, here are a few of the things you will definitely enjoy experiencing :

    • Chitai mandir : filled with bells of all sizes, this temple is definitely a sight for sore eyes as well as a place of peacefulness, here, people write whatever they wish for on a piece of paper and tie it up, once their wishes are fulfilled they visit the temple again to give offerings to the deity there.
    • Lakhutiar cave paintings : Here you get to witness paintings made by cavemen during the stone age, the rock paintings each depict a particular story.
    • Binsar wildlife sanctuary : This sanctuary is home to a humongous number of bird species, both migratory as well as local ones. It’s like a treasure chest for all bird watchers.
    • Ramakrishna Kutir : founded in 1916 this center serves as a home for all the monks. Based on the principles of Swami Vivekananda this place is a must visit if you are into meditation. They also have a library with 5166v books and around 16 periodicals as well as newspapers.
    • Eat bal mithai as well as Singhodi : Singhodi is basically a sweet wrapped in a leaf which is a must try it is the most famous sweet of the kumaon region. Let’s forget bal mithai as well it is a brown chocolate-like fudge, made with roasted khoya, coated with white sugar balls.
    • Panchachuli weavers : This organisation employees only local women to weave some of the most amazing products, these products are all handmade and that makes it even more special!
    • Bhutwa chawal : Dry mutton cooked in a spicy style along with rice will make you drool just at the sight of it, advantage of it being spicy is that it’ll help you survive the super cold weather.
    • Almora Market : Contrary to markets of today, the Almora Market is traditionally built according to old times, this market can only be reached by foot no vehicles. This is a major place for the locals to shop at.
    • Jageshwar temple – The temple city comprises of a cluster of 124 large and small stone temples, dating 9th to 13th century AD, many of the temples have been preserved by the archaeological survey of india including Dandeshwar Temple, Chandi-ka-Temple, Jageshwar Temple, Kuber Temple, Mritunjaya Temple, Nanda Devi, Nava-grah temple, a Pyramidal shrine, and Surya Temple, amongst which the oldest shrine is the Mrityunjaya Temple and the biggest shrine is the Dandeshwar Temple.
    • Katarmal Sun Temple : Katarmal is known for a relatively rare Surya temple, it was constructed by the Katyuri Kings in the 9th century. The temple has around 44 smaller temples built around the main temple of surya. You can also see the Shiv-Parvati, Lakshmi-Narayana, etc. in this established complex.

Things to do while Backpacking

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Uttarakhand is filled with beautiful landscapes and picturesque views, the best way to really and truly experience everything right from the culture to the cuisine is to backpack your way through it.
To make things slightly easier we’ve jotted down some things you should definitely try doing while you backpack….

  • While travelling you should stop at small chai shops, have paani zyada doodh kam chai instead of fancy restaurants, in order to get the real feel of the place.
  • Try raita pakodi. Moreover, if you’re staying in a homestay don’t forget to request the owners to make bhaang ki chatni!
  • Meeting and engaging with the locals is the best way to learn about the place and will also help you when you’re traveling from one place to another.
  • Choose to stay in a traditional homestay rather than a hotel, here is where you can experience the cultural traditions as well as cuisines first hand.
  • Travel by local buses, not only will you reach your destination comfortably, but, you will also save up dough.
  • Do visit local temples.
  • Don’t forget to eat maggi at various maggi point, the taste is completely different from the maggi you get in other cities.