A Relaxed Road Trip to Nainital from Jaipur

Nainital- A perfect getaway for a short road trip from Jaipur, Rajasthan to beat the hills. We started from Jaipur and drove all the way to Nainital with our two kids to aged 6 and 4 years to give best vacation for kids. We had decided to keep the trip as comfortable and relaxing as possible. We carried with us some wonderful family bonding and happy memories. Sharing it with you to recollect the trip!

The summer vacations finally began. Being a preschool owner we ran our summer camp with full enthusiasm helping kids in making the most out of their 'summer vacations'. My darling sons, aged 6 and 4 years had begun cooking up stories of their friends visiting various places during the holidays. I could sense what was cooking. Husband and I ensured we make the best vacation for kids and memorable for them in every possible way! This time we wanted peace, comfort and a little adventure (definitely affordable adventure with 2 naughty boys) so we planned our longest road trip so far.
The itinerary was somewhat fixed by me, I being the travel planner (ahem ahem) didn't want to keep it completely spontaneous as with kids everything needs to be doubly sure.

Day 1

Our beloved Basanti (the diesel i20) was prepared for the trip, serviced, fuel tank full, Tyre pressure checked. We decided to travel light so kept a bare minimum of 2 large bags and 1 backpack. I am somewhat fussy when it comes to carrying luggage. 2 cushions for DSs (read Darling sons). We began from Jaipur at 8:30 A.M and decided to make a halt for lunch at old rao restaurant close to Delhi on NH 8 Jaipur -Delhi Highway. The weather was pleasant with 38 degrees (phew). With our favorite music loaded in USB we were all set for the journey with utmost excitement. We made a quick halt on Jaipur Delhi highway at a local dhaba for tea and natures call. Stopped at Old Rao Restaurant after hearing great reviews for it. It was somewhat crowed and the hype was over hype for sure (you know what that means ;). On the way got some jamuns near the toll booth and spotted a small spider in one of the glasses (ewww). Nevertheless a road trip in India is incomplete without several short adrak (ginger) wali chaai breaks to which add some spontaneous hawkers selling papad, fruits, corns etc.
Well begun is half done! It was a Sunday and it made me fall in love with my not so favorite destination Delhi. We had to pass through Akbar road. The GPS helped us perfectly and I was the perfect navigator and travel planner to my perfectly driving husband ;). Akbar road was at its best, clean, smooth, traffic less (Sunday). I loved Delhi roads and kept repeating it until DH (darling husband) was at the verge of an irritation outbreak! Finally reached Ghaziabad at around 4:00 P.M and decided to stay overnight at Hotel Le Crescent Ghaziabad (will elaborate that later!). We checked in to the hotel swiftly and took a short nap, had early dinner and dozed off to sleep comfortably waiting to reach the hills the next day on time. Everyone suggested we leave early in the morning, most of the ones suggesting didn't have kids... but we decided to kick start our day on time the next morning and so slept until 4 in the morning!

Day 2

Yay Yay! Kids woke up at 4 in the morning at one call. No yelling like it happens normally during school days. The hotel didn't provide early morning tea/breakfast so we checked out from the hotel at 6:00 A.M and left happily for our first destination- Bhimtal. On the way picked some bananas for the kids and got some yummy Peda (sweets) from the fruit seller. Believe me sweets never tasted so good to me as much as it did. Later regretted not buying several packs. Anyways the distance between Ghaziabad and Bhimtal is roughly 274 kms and we wanted to cross the high traffic zones of Gajraula & Moradabad, well on time. We stopped straight at Mc Donald Gajraula. Kids were super excited to eat their share of junk in this journey which they are likewise not allowed. Strangely this place Gajraula is kind of developed well for passer buys. It has KFC, McDonalds, and Dominos. All in all a paradise for the kids. As we proceeded the temperature was coming down, greenery was increasing and funnily so was the height of the trees. Again it was a lucky day for us, roads were sans traffic. We crossed Moradababad happily. The road was good, and the drive smooth. Kids went off to sleep and woke up just as we were set to stop at a local dhaba for some tea and preparing to deal with the motion sickness elder son goes through on hills. Had tea and very quickly spread newspaper on the back seats ( a tip given by a driver at Shimla to combat vomiting during hill drives, works wonders) gave a dose of Ondem medicine to son as suggested by his pediatrician. We were good to go further. We took the way from Haldwani, there was traffic jam at Haldwani and once we crossed that we steadily started our short uphill drive to Bhimtal- 21 kms from Kathgodam. The drive was smooth, the weather wasn't too cool but we enjoyed the drive which was mostly through wee laid roads. Finally we checked into our hotel, Lake Inn. We had expected the hotel to be right near the lake; however it was on an uphill drive of about 200 mtrs on a motarable road. The hotel was a cozy property with a small garden overlooking the lake. The view from the hotel was good. Kids were super happy to see the small garden and after that long drive from 6.15 a.m to 2.30 p.m they just needed some time to run and play. We gave them that time and ordered lunch. Believe me the food was superyum!!! It tasted heavenly. After that hearty lunch we just took as nap and enjoyed tea in the attached balcony of the hotel.
In the evening we decided to walk down to the lake. We as a family barely walk when in our city but are always on our toes when traveling. Even kids love walking and exploring the place on foot. Bhimtal Lake is beautiful although surrounded by hotels all around. I wish the Hotels in Nainital were somewhere on one portion and these beautiful taals on the other, still for us the sight was beautiful and weather pleasant at 22 degrees also. There were fun activities at the lake for kids and boating. There were adventure activities easily available at Bhimtal like paragliding. The place is small and still developing. There wasn't any mad rush and there isn't any mall road here as yet, there is just a small market. We retired to our hotel totally tired after that walk and again had a hearty dinner before sleeping. Next morning we were to head for Nainital. This journey was purposely planned with breaks in between to keep it smooth and comfortable. After all it was our big yearly holiday that too with kids and best vacation for kids.

Day 3

It was pleasant to wake up with the chirping words. After long I woke up without hurry smiling. No early morning yelling, rushing, getting late for work. Had coffee and enjoyed Bhimtal Lake from the balcony trying to capture the beauty it holds. There was a temple nearby with continuous loudspeaker but even that was not bothering us much. We all got ready very quickly to read our most important destination -Nainital. We left the hotel after a light breakfast for Nainital. Nainital Sightseeing name has a mythological association. The spot where Sati's eyes (or Nain) fell came to be called Nain-tal or lake of the eye. It is called so as Sati's eyes (nain) fell here. Hence Nainital! It also has a temple dedicated to Goddess Naini Devi on one end of the mall road called the Naini Devi temple. The initial drive was through the town. For about 5 kms we were still crossing the towns near Bhimtal. The weather suddenly changed, it was getting cooler and the view more beautiful. On the way at one spot saw a view point with lot of cars parked. We decided to stop there for some tea and maggi. The view from the point was beautiful. There was a different silence in the air despite of the several cars packed. We clicked few pictures and were good to go. It seemed as if it would rain at any time. However we were disappointed. It did not rain but was getting pleasant with every kilometer. Then there was a sudden mad rush and here we were in Nainital- We could not see why lot of people had suggested us against going in the peak summer vacation. After about half an hour we checked in to our hotel 'Hotel Himalaya' again at a steep motor able uphill drive of about 150 mtrs. The hotel was beautiful and the view from the room was breathtaking especially at night. Straight after getting ready we went for my most awaited moment. A walk through the mall road. There are two roads which go parallel to the Naini lake one on the upper deck and one on a lower deck. As per locals when British were ruling India the lower deck was meant for the Indians to walk and the upper deck for the British. Don't know the reality but as of now both paths are walk able, after 6 in the evening the upper deck is restricted for the vehicles to move. One strange thing was the collection of a toll while passing through the mall road via a vehicle. Rs 100 was charged every time the car passes!!! The walkway was congested, still the serenity of the Naini lake could be felt as we walked through. There were people enjoying the blissful stroll in various boats like sail boat (Rs 500 for a round), paddle boat (Rs 240/- per hour) and a round in the simple boat for Rs 210. However the rounds are at the will of the boat owners! They generally take you through half of the lake at that price, so a paddle boat is preferable if you have the time and energy.
Nainital's mall road is a little different form the ones we have been to like that of Mussoorie, Shimla, Mount Abu. Nainital Sightseeing has more eating joints and some are worth a mention like Chandani chawk, a Delhi based theme restaurant with good ambience and food. Still I somehow found the mall road of Shimla the best with some wonderful bakeries (foodie me) coming back to Nainital, while walking we came near the lane towards ropeway. We had been told by the hotel staff that the tickets had to be booked a day in advance. So we headed towards the ropeway to try our luck and we got really lucky to board the net ropeway car (thanks to the kindness of the counter person). The fee for the ropeway is 200 per adult and 130 per kid. Worthful for a one time experience. We boarded the ropeway after a wait of about 15 minutes. There aren't any seats in the ropeway so we stood watching the boats turning to little ants as we moved up. In between the ropeway driver told a passenger that there was some technical fault in the morning so there isn't much rush on that day (too bad to hear mid air!!!). The ropeway left us to the tiffin top for an hour. There is a snow point on top form where you can view the Himalaya (which we did) and a small amusement part with options like tube boating , go carting, freefall slide. The hotels in Nainital serve decent food. and we had a nice time there and came back through the ropeway again witnessing the boats on the lake magnifying as we moved down. Straight from the ropeway we headed to the Tibet market on the mall road, a short walk from the ropeway. The Tibet market basically sells Chinese kind of stuff, nightwear, umbrellas, lingerie , accessories. I bought few pom pom earrings currently in trend at a pretty reasonable price. Bargaining is a must there! Meanwhile there were many taxi drivers ready to take us for sightseeing the next day. We booked a taxi for the next day for about 2 and a half hours at Rs 800/- pretty reasonable during peak summer season.
Being so close to the Nainital Lake we didn't wish to miss the boating. Hence took a short ride in boat number 72 belonging to Raju. It was nice speaking to him. We generally socialize with the locals a lot . He told us how he and the owner of the boat had fixed up a 50-50 partnership deal. Each boat costs Rs 4.50 lakhs including boat expense and the tender. The kind of labor these boatwallas do is commendable. Hats off. We tried rowing the boat but was a little tough after that tiring day. The Nainital Lake was quiet and we could feel the pollution free air. The Nainital Lake was a world apart from the noisy mall road even though it was so close to it. We got down from the boat and witnessed the beautiful fish swimming near the shore. People were clicking pictures; some were scared of boating while few were over excited. Finally we headed to our hotel and slept blissfully to face the next day. This Road trip we wanted to keep relaxed and wanted to explore the places at our comfort.

Day 4

The first thing I do when on a Mountain Holidays is to remove the curtains early morning. As I unfurled the curtain I witnessed a magnificent view of the Nainital Lake. It looked so beautiful without any boat, noise. Awesome. Our day started with a walk towards the Shuttle service for the Nainital Zoo someway in the middle of the Nainital Mall Road. We booked the shuttle and waited for our turn till eternity. It was a long long wait. There was a token number given to us '153' however we would have never got a chance to board the shuttle had we not gone to the 'leader' who was managing it. The shuttle costs Rs 40/- per person. The high altitude zoo is somewhere 1.5 kms uphill drive through really congested roads of the upper Nainital Mall Road with hotels on both side. I would say Hotels in Nainital are completely exploited as much as an urban city. If you are heading for the Nainital Zoo wear your sneakers because you have to walk and walk and walk. There are benches on both sides keeping in mind the walking capacity of the people from plains! We somehow managed to climb up. The view from the zoo was beautiful. Just as we moved inside we saw a perfect place to click pictures. The Nainital Zoo is worth a visit if you have young kids. There are birds and tiger, polar bear, leopard. We saw the tiger really close and the kids jumped with fear and joy when it roars. Such an amazing sight. Finally we decided to climb down and again took the token for our way down. This time got lucky and got the shuttle almost instantly! Once we got down from the shuttle we had lunch at a local restaurant and had some amazing Jalebis at Chandani Chawk. Finally we boarded the taxi which took us to the various sightseeing points like Suicide point, lovers point, botanical garden, eco caves. All were beautiful; however the kids weren't enjoying it much as we did. We clicked some nice pictures at various points and retired to again take a walk at the mall road. The best part about Nainital Mall Road is that there are facilities like washroom, booking taxi kiosk, rickshaw booking booths at every few steps. Well managed and systematic. We took a rickshaw ride to the hotel and ended the day while having dinner at the hotel terrace. This view was different the lake was garlanded with lights of the hotel. The next day we were to head to Jim Corbett National Park. Hence I wanted to capture this sight in my eyes until we started our next vacation again to another hill destination. On this note I would end this blog till here as next morning we headed to Jim Corbett which will be covered in my next blog. I hope this blog made you be a part of the trip with us.


Guest Author: Vineet21 Jun 2017

Superb trip. While reading, I also feel that I am travelling with you. Well, hats off for your self-drive till Nainital!

Guest Author: Gaurav21 Jun 2017

Lovely. Thank you for sharing such a well-planned family adventure with us. This will really help people like me to visit India soon and do the same. God bless you and your family!

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