A hidden international holiday destination near nainital
It had been a year that we, as an adventurous couple, had not taken a proper holiday amid nature. Since the summer of 2017, every break we took meant work-related travel primarily to unexplored monuments. While I was craving for a place away from maddening crowds, my husband wanted to spend some time with the wildlife. And we had just three days at hand! Plus where would we find wildlife in this peak summer of June?
A friend of mine suggested Nainital and nearby places in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. But I cringed with the thought of rubbing my shoulders with the huge crowd these places get.
That’s when he mentioned Pangot, a lush green hamlet just 15km away from Nainital. My fingers rushed through the internet search engines to find out more about it. And that’s when I landed on the website of Asian Adventures which suggested a Birding Trip to Jungle Lore Birding Lodge (JLBL) in Pangot. Birding in peak summer? That’s what is unique about this place, its environs, and this lodging place.
From New Delhi, we reached Pangot via Haldwani & Nainital through a private cab. (You can do the same via train to Kathgodam or bus to Haldwani. And then hire a cab to Pangot) The ride from Nainital to Pangot amid thick forests of pine and oak simply can’t be explained in words. Here I am standing at what is called the ‘Mango Point’ which actually describes how the Naini Lake looks like from this region.
Half the exhaustion of the overnight trip we took, was taken away by this ride from Nainital to Pangot and the other half was taken away by mere sighting of our cottage at Jungle Lore Birding Lodge. Just take a look at this beauty hidden in thick forests!
And the tiniest exhaustion that was left, was taken away by the Cafeteria – not just by the awesome Kumaoni Cuisines (Pangot falls in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand), but also by its look, its decor. Take a look!
Not just we, but the other guests of the JLBL were all praise for the Cafe and the Chef. Like this adventurous family of Priyanka and Prabhat Singh who spent full three days exploring the lodge and its enchanting surroundings.
Post a hearty breakfast, we didn’t even need to head to any other place for birding. In our camera we captured Oriental Turtle-Doves, the Red-Bill Blue Magpie, several Streaked Laughingthrush and Drongo right at the immediate vicinity of the Cafe’s veranda as well as at bird-feeding station near the veranda. We even spotted Barking Deer, just stone’s throw away from the Cafe! And look, that’s me hiding there for a perfect capture!
In the next two days we explored other Birding regions nearby JLBL. So be it the Kilbury Bird Sanctuary (6km away from the lodge towards Nainital), the Woodpecker point (which also has a leopard trail), Haryal Trek, the China Peak Range, the Vinayak temple or the mysterious Tigda Baba Trek, we explored the best places for birding and trekking in the region.
Since we were completely new to the region, this was possible only with the help of the staff of Jungle Lore Birding Lodge, especially Mr Tejpal. He even accompanied us to the dense forests of Haryal trek (Hara means Green), ensuring we don’t get lost!
We lost count of how many birds we clicked. We were told that during winters more than 250 species of birds can be easily spotted in this region. And I wondered how only few people know about Pangot, which is in-fact on the International Birding Map. And this was made possible by Jungle Lore Birding Lodge, which is the first ever Birding Lodge of India. Hundreds of foreign tourists flock this place every year in winter months when JLBL conducts special birding tour of the region! How amazing!
And to be able to help tourists identify the birds, there is this small Library as well. In reality, it is an amazing collection of rare artifacts and books on Wildlife, brought here from the nook and corner of India.
After an extensive birding tour, this is how my days would culminate….relaxing in the cozy lodge which is an eco-stay.
An eco-stay is a place that is built from eco-friendly materials, like stone and without any harm to the environs. It stay cool in summers and warm in winters, conserving a lot of energy. in short, we were not just holidaying, we were also contributing to Environment Conservation in our own little way through Jungle Lore Birding Lodge. So what are you waiting for? If you are a nature lover and have very little time to holiday, Jungle Lore Birding Lodge is a complete package in itself. And what I loved the most about the place was that there is no mobile phone connectivity, no Television, so no external disturbance! A complete detox!
Best time to visit: Avoid the Monsoon months of July to September
How to Reach: Nainital is well connected to the Kathgodam Railway Station and Pantnagar Airport via road. From here frequent small private as well as sharing cabs ply to Pangot. Alternate option is to take a bus to Haldwani and then hire a direct cab to Pangot.