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.