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Unveiling the Top 10 Experiences in Kumaon You Shouldn't Miss!
By Anushree Anantharaman
28 Dec, 2023
The sweet scent of deodar trees, towering mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and that perfect weather – that’s how we cherish our memories of Uttarakhand, or as we lovingly call it, Devbhumi. The state stands under the shadow and protection of the Himalayas and is divided into two regions– Kumaon and Garhwal.
While the Garhwal region’s chief attractions are religion and The Ganga, Kumaon’s plus points are the modern hill stations, viewpoints, adventure and wildlife. With its lush greenery, pristine lakes, and undisturbed landscapes, Kumaon offers a quieter and more serene atmosphere. If you seek tranquillity and a closer connection with nature, Kumaon’s peaceful ambience might be the perfect fit.
The picturesque view of the Kumaon
The Hosteller crew has made its way to Kumaon more times than we can count. The lowdown we’re dishing out in this blog? It’s all about the spots that have pulled us back to Kumaon time and time again. Whether it’s getting the heebie-jeebies at the haunted Warwick bungalow in Jeolikote or sipping on some good vibes (and coffee) at Zooby’s, these experiences define what Kumaon is all about.
But here’s the deal – bring an open mind. Kumaon is like this hidden treasure trove waiting to be uncovered, and you might just stumble upon a gem or two we’ve missed. In this blog, you’ll get to know the top 10 experiences in Kumaon as we explore it beyond its boundaries. Let’s dive in together!
The best time to visit Kumaon
Panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains of Kumaon
One of the many reasons for Kumaon’s popularity is its pleasant climate all year around. We’d say that October to December and March to May are beyond perfect. January and February are great for those who wish to experience winter in Kumaon. From June onwards, Kumaon receives lots of rain, which makes commuting quite difficult in the area.
Start your trip from Dehradun, and a 7-hour drive will bring you to the first destination- Jeolikote. Jeolikote is known for its history, museums, bees and, most importantly, the haunted Warwick bungalow.
1. The Warwick Bungalow, Jeolikote
The "bhoot bangla" of Uttarakhand
Jeolikote has been a favoured holiday spot for travellers visiting the area for generations. However, a sombre tale casts a shadow over this picturesque hamlet – the story of Lt Col Warwick.
Lt Col Warwick, a British officer, arrived in this quaint village near Nainital in the late 19th century for official duties. During his time there, he crossed paths with a local girl, and their connection blossomed into love, culminating in marriage. Warwick and his wife resided in a newly constructed bungalow in the village until his wife’s untimely demise a few years into their marriage.
Following his wife’s death, Warwick reportedly descended into madness, choosing to live alone in the expansive mansion. Villagers shared accounts of witnessing him draped in a red dupatta, assuming the likeness of his late wife, and serenading love songs while riding a white horse through the night and even in death, Warwick’s spirit is said to linger in the village.
The eerie Warwick bungalow in Jeolikote
Locals believe that Warwick transformed into the ghostly guardian of Jeolikote , safeguarding the village from malevolent forces. Exploring the Warwick Estate evokes a haunting sense of abandoned love.
Although the bungalow now belongs to a Delhi-based businessman, it remains mostly vacant, its walls adorned with moss-covered cracks. A local caretaker oversees the deserted mansion, ensuring it is never truly devoid of a lingering presence.
During our initial visit in the daytime, we explored the area up to a certain point to understand its atmosphere. However, as it was daylight, nothing particularly caught our interest. On our second visit in the evening, the surroundings became increasingly dark and eerie as we approached the bungalow. Feeling quite scared, we decided not to enter and promptly turned back.
2. Spend a day at Aquarium Island, Bhimtal
A picturesque aquarium situated amidst the tranquil waters of Bhimtal Lake (Source - eUttaranchal)
An hour’s drive from Jeolikote is our next spot - Bhimtal. The majestic mountains, the verdant terrains, and the famous lake in Bhimtal serve as an enchanting retreat for nature lovers. Did you know? Bhimtal is an ancient place named after Bhima of Mahabharata. Bhimtal, much like other hill stations in Uttarakhand, experiences a transformation during the winter months.
As temperatures decrease, the town and its surroundings become exceptionally beautiful, adorned with a blanket of snow. The once-green hills, pine forests, and rooftops glisten under the winter sun, creating a surreal and enchanting landscape. This transformation into a snow-covered wonderland is one of the main draws for travellers.
Bhimtal Lake is a picturesque lake situated in the city of Bhimtal. An island in the middle of the lake houses a huge aquarium, the habitat for hundreds of fish. Take a boat ride to this Island Aquarium, which is undoubtedly a wonderful experience because, unlike conventional aquariums, this exceptional structure allows visitors to experience the sensation of being surrounded by water while they are already in the water. This innovative design provides a one-of-a-kind perspective, creating a memorable and mesmerising aquatic experience for visitors.
The unique Aquarium Island Café situated in the middle of the Bhimtal Lake (Source - The Lake Hill)
After spending an hour or two at the aquarium, head to the Aquarium Island Café, a unique café in the middle of the lake. Surrounded by the lake, it is India’s first island aquarium café on the hills, showcasing a selection of aquatic life to visitors. Enjoy the picturesque beauty of the lake and hills, along with a cup of coffee and some delicious dishes.
3. Water activities, Bhimtal
The stunning Bhimtal Lake (Source - Veena World)
Enjoyed watching aquatic life? Next, head to actually experience how it feels to be in the water! Bhimtal Lake provides a variety of water activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in trying distinctive options such as hydrofoils and water zorbing or prefer more traditional activities like kayaking and parasailing, there’s a range of choices to suit different preferences.
Experience the thrilling ride of hydrofoiling at Bhimtal Lake (Source - Indica Surf School)
Hydrofoiling is an adventure sport involving riding a water cycle equipped with hydrofoils, wings or fins that lift the vessel out of the water as it gains speed. This results in a smoother and faster ride, as well as reduced drag and increased manoeuvrability.
The pristine Bhimtal Lake becomes a hub for water cycling, where enthusiasts can pedal across the crystal-clear waters surrounded by lush greenery and picturesque hills.
Hydrofoiling in the sere Bhimtal Lake
This unique adventure combines the tranquillity of the serene lake with the thrill of cycling, creating a memorable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
As you navigate the shimmering waters, the panoramic views of the Himalayan foothills and the vibrant flora make water cycling in Bhimtal a truly enchanting escapade. The cost of this water activity varies according to the duration of the activity, the provider, and any additional services included.
Experience the fun of water zorbing (Source - Thrillophilia)
One of the best water sports activities at Bhimtal Lake is water zorbing, which is an ideal place to have the most impressive and memorable sports experience in the water. In Water zorbing, you will be closed inside a big ball and have to move or roll the ball on the water’s surface.
This innovative and fun water activity was introduced to tourists a few years back and has gained immense popularity among tourists coming to Bhimtal. While it is a fun activity to enjoy your trip to Bhimtal to the fullest, it is performed under professional guidance for safety factors. It’s a 15-minute activity that costs you just Rs. 300!
Experience the serenity of early morning kayaking on Bhimtal Lake (Source - Thrilliophilia)
Bhimtal has one of the biggest lakes in the district of Nainital, making it an ideal location for kayaking! Kayaking is a fun-filled, thrilling experience that you have to experience at least once. Upon reaching the site, a trained kayaking guide will teach the required skills and techniques.
After providing a life jacket and a kayak, start the kayaking experience around the Bhimtal Lake and enjoy the beautiful view of Bhimtal. This is the perfect activity for both nature and adventure lovers.
Pro tip: Always book an early morning session to bypass the crowd and enjoy a hassle-free kayaking experience.
4. Take a quick break by Sat Tal
The breathtaking aerial view of Sat Tal Lake (Source - TripiWiki)
Drive down from Bhimtal to Nainital to explore the Sat Tal and Garud Tal. Sat Tal is a cluster of mysteriously interconnected seven freshwater lakes situated 22 km away from Nainital. The seven lakes are- Nal-Damyanti Tal, Hanuman Tal, Garud Tal, Sita Tal, Ram Tal, Laxman Tal, and Purna Tal.
A mesmerizing boat journey as the sun sets in Bhimtal (Source - Roshan Paniyara)
The best way to explore these lakes and also explore the beauty of the town is by simply roaming around the town and walking along the banks of the lake. The lakes are flanked by tourists and colourful boats, which make for a beautiful picture. Take a boat ride across any one of these lakes during sunset.
You will find yourself witnessing and feeling a strange kind of peace as your boat slowly rocks along the serene lake, and the entire surrounding area gets covered in the golden red hues of the setting sun. The scene is so beautiful that you will feel as if you are part of a painting.
Admire the neo-gothic style of architecture of St. John's Church in Nainital (Source - Nainital.Info)
You can also embark on the many nature walks in Sattal that will take you right through the green leafy forests filled with oak and pine trees. There is also a lovely church called St John’s Church. The entire interior of this old church is inspired by British styles (it was made by the British in 1912). Admire the radiantly painted windows and stained glasses that break the sun rays coming inside into shades of various colours.
The enchanting Garud Tal set against the backdrop of majestic mountains (Source - eUttaranchal)
If you don’t plan to visit all seven lakes, you should definitely visit Garud Tal, which stands out as the most beautiful among them. Nestled amidst the majestic Himalayas, this natural wonder is a hidden gem that has remained relatively unexplored by tourists. Its name, “Garud,” is derived from Hindu mythology, where Garuda is the mount of Lord Vishnu.
If you’re visiting Garud Tal, pack a picnic basket with your favourite snacks and enjoy a picnic by the lakeside. Or, if you enjoy angling, bring your fishing gear and try your luck in Garud Tal. The lake is home to various fish species, making it a peaceful spot for fishing enthusiasts. Before you leave this place, savour the local Kumaoni cuisine at nearby eateries.
The lively dorm room of The Hosteller, Jeolikote
Try dishes like Aloo Ke Gutke, Bhatt ki Churdkani, and Bal Mithai to experience the flavours of the region. Spend the night in Garud Tal to catch some stargazing. Away from city lights, Garud Tal provides an excellent opportunity to admire the night sky and celestial wonders.
Give yourself a break and spend the night at The Hosteller in Jeolikote. The Hosteller in Jeolikote offers exceptionally comfortable rooms, making it an ideal place to stay before embarking on the next day’s exploration.
5. Enjoy a scrumptious meal at Zooby’s in Bhimtal
Savor a lip-smacking meal at Zooby's (Source - Goibibo)
Begin your day leisurely by enjoying breakfast at the hotel's Cafe and spending the morning relaxing on the premises. For lunch, consider heading to Zooby’s Cafe in Bhimtal, just an hour’s drive from The Hosteller. Zooby’s Cafe is more than just a dining spot; it’s a hub of positive energy and exceptional culinary delights, offering an experience beyond the ordinary.
Step inside the prettiest cafe in Bhimtal
Their menu is a tasty adventure, bringing you local flavours that tell the story of Bhimtal’s rich heritage. Step inside and feel the cosy vibes. They’ve got local art on the walls, making Zooby’s the perfect spot to chill with a book or share laughs with friends. Live music, art shows – there’s always something cool happening at Zooby’s. So, if you’re in Bhimtal, swing by Zooby’s Cafe.
After that lip-smacking meal, I’m sure you’re looking for a place to crash, right? Look no further. Step into The Hosteller, Naukuchiatal , a mere 25 minutes drive from Zooby’s Cafe. A scintillating view of the magnificent mountains and the vast blue sky greets you.
6. Picnic in the serene river in Talla Ramgarh
The view of a serene river in Ramgarh
I’m sure you’ve spent a good four days but trust us; it just gets better. After that lip-smacking meal, drive for 40 minutes to reach The Hosteller Ramgarh . Ramgarh, a tiny hill town known as the Fruit Bowl of Kumaon, is perched 1789 meters above sea level.
It’s a remote hill station and an emerging tourist destination in Uttarakhand state. This beautiful small town is situated in the Nainital district, surrounded by snow-covered Himalayan mountain ranges. Ramgarh is divided into two parts: Malla Ramgarh, or upper Ramgarh, and Talla Ramgarh, or lower Ramgarh.
Experience a riverside picnic and soak in the scenic beauty
Put down your bags in your room, then head directly to the kitchen. Gather a selection of your cherished snacks from the Cafe to pack into a picnic basket. If you're skilled in the kitchen, whip up a delicious meal and head towards one of the lesser-known rivers in Talla Ramgarh.
Talla Ramgarh has several offbeat rivers that only the locals know about. Walk for about 25 minutes to reach the lower part, where you'll discover a stunningly beautiful river. Lay out a fancy spread on the banks of the river and enjoy a scrumptious meal with a view!
7. Unravel the secrets of PWD Inspection bungalow, Mukteshwar
The beautiful colonial-era bungalow in Mukteshwar
The next day, leave the hostel before sunrise and head straight to the PWD inspection bungalow in Mukteshwar. This colonial-era bungalow offers panoramic views of the Himalayas, providing a tranquil escape for nature enthusiasts. Its rustic architecture and cosy interiors offer a perfect blend of comfort and tranquillity.
The PWD inspection Bungalow in Mukteshwar is an architectural wonder. It is situated close to the Mukteshwar temple and is a landmark in the town. The bungalow has lush green surroundings and beautiful views, which makes it a must-see in the hill station.
The magnificent view of the hills from the PWD bungalow
This is a favourite tourist spot in Mukteshwar and is known for two reasons. Firstly, travellers feel fascinated by the architectural wonder of this bungalow. Secondly, the hilltop location of this bungalow, which is close to the Mukteshwar temple, is another reason to be here.
One of the key highlights is coming here early in the morning to witness the shining beauty of the sunrise in this place and witness the first rays of the sun best dispersed across the valley.
Since you’re in Mukteshwar, take a 15-minute walk to reach Chauli Ki Jali.
8. Take in the beautiful views of Chauli ki Jali
Admire the beauty of this scenic cliff in Mukteshwar (Source - Amar Ujala)
Nestled in the heart of the Kumaon region, there’s a magical place called Chauli Ki Jali. Chauli Ki Jali, also known as Chauthi Jali, is a visitor’s attraction located behind the cliff of Mukteshwar temple. It is situated at a distance of 250 metres from the Mukteshwar temple.
Legend has it that once upon a time, a fearless girl named Chaula leapt from the rocks, determined to escape an unwanted marriage. To everyone’s amazement, the rocks formed gaps, creating what we now know as Chauli Ki Jali.
As the name suggests, ‘Chauli’ means rock and ‘Jali’ means hole. Chauli ki Jali has another interesting story. According to Hindu mythology, the goddess and demon had a fierce battle at this place.
Behold the magnificent view of Mukteshwar from Chauli ki Jali (Source - People Places)
If you’re feeling a bit daring, you can tiptoe along the edge of the rock and feel the wind in your hair. And oh, the view! You can see the beautiful Nainital Lake below, like a secret oasis waiting to be discovered
. The place offers umpteen opportunities for sightseeing and adventurous activities such as rock climbing. Let the legends and the stunning scenery wrap you in their embrace. It’s not just a rock; it’s a piece of living history waiting to share its secrets with you.
9. Take a dip in the Bhalugaad waterfall, Mukteshwar
The scenic beauty of Bhalugaad Waterfall in Mukteshwar
The next day, wake up early and head for a hike to Bhalugaad Waterfall, situated just a 32-minute drive from The Hosteller, Mukteshwar . This enchanting cascade is nestled within a lush forest, creating a picturesque destination in Mukteshwar. The Bhalugaad fall is a 60-foot-high fall from an undiscovered source. It is a blend of a horseshoe and a plunge-shaped waterfall.
Upon purchasing a ticket for INR 10 at the entrance gate, you’ll commence a 30-40 minute hike leading you through dense clusters of trees amidst the hills, culminating in the breathtaking Bhalugaad Waterfall.
A beautiful rainbow graces Bhalugaad Waterfall
Recently discovered, it is cleaner and less touristy than other waterfalls of Uttarakhand. A rainbow is seen at the bottom of Bhallu Gaad waterfall, so the locals call it the rainbow waterfall.
To avoid crowds and fully enjoy the tranquillity of Bhalugad waterfall, consider visiting during the off-season or on weekdays. Typically, weekdays tend to be less crowded than weekends.
Enjoy a bonfire night at the Hosteller, Mukteshwar
Take the day off and relax in our hostel, have a delicious meal in our Cafe, or just spend the night near the bonfire to unwind and connect with fellow travellers.
10. Kasar Devi Temple
A revered Hindu shrine surrounded by the stunning Himalayan mountain range (Source - Adotrip)
The final destination on our list happens to be our absolute favourite! Many wonder why we chose to establish a hostel in Kasar Devi. The reason is quite simple – this quaint village’s serene hills and bohemian atmosphere make it an ideal offbeat location for travellers.
Kasar Devi is renowned not only for its tranquil ambience but also for the presence of geomagnetic rings and the Devi Temple. Therefore, any visit to the Kumaon hills would be incomplete without exploring this bohemian village in Uttarakhand.
The beautiful view from The Hosteller, Kasar Devi
The Hosteller in Kasar Devi is conveniently located just a 2-hour drive away from The Hosteller in Mukteshwar. Consider renting a cycle to embark on a scenic journey through beautiful trails surrounded by majestic pine and deodar trees. This delightful ride leads you to the Kasar Devi Temple, situated approximately 5 km downhill from The Hosteller in Kasar Devi.
Discover the serene majesty of the Kasar Devi Temple (Source - eUttaranchal)
Kasar Devi is a tiny hamlet perched a mere 8 KM from Almora in the stunningly silent hills of Kumaon, Uttarakhand. The village gets its name from the namesake local deity’s temple of Kasar Devi.
The Kasar Devi temple is dedicated to Kali, the Bhairavi (dangerous) form of goddess Parvati. A flight of about 100 steps leads to the top of the hillock where the temple sits.
This 2nd-century temple is adorned on a hillock overlooking the toy town of Almora. One can also savour a 360-degree view of the majestic Himalayas peaks. Each year, during November-December, the temple hosts an annual fair called Kasar Devi Fair on Kartik Poornima.
The panoramic landscape of the Kumaon hills
Did you know that in the 1890s, Swami Vivekananda visited this temple for meditation, infusing it with positive vibes and tranquillity? Also, interestingly, according to NASA, the Kasar Devi temple is situated on the Van Allen Belt.
Due to the presence of these geomagnetic rings, one can feel a sense of peace and calm washing all over them. The other two such spots are located in Machu-Picchu in Peru and Stonehenge in England.
Dreaming already? Book your getaway to Kumaon here !