A Weekend Road Trip To Pangot
Driving up to the sleepy hamlet from Nainital, there were beautiful vistas along the way. The hairpin turns revealed some unexpectedly stunning views. The beauty of a driving holiday in India is that you can decide to stop wherever you want. Whether it is to soak in the view, take a picture, stop at a dhabha for tea or like we did, stop at the roadside on the serpentine steep climb to have fresh charcoal grilled pahadi bhutta (corn on the cob). A luxury, unimaginable in the sanitized journeys of himalayas
Driving beyond the crowd and traffic of Nainital, we thoroughly enjoyed the serenity of the ascent through unspoilt forests. Before we knew it, we were at Pangot. A tiny, old kiraana (grocery) shop, a tea shop, a post office and some local homes, were all that was visible. Guided by them, we came to the end of the only lane there. It seemed like the end of civilization, the expanse of gorgeous mountains, clouds kissing their tops and nothing else but greenery all around. Leaving the car there, walking through a narrow dirt track is how we came to the lodge. Staying at the Jungle Lore Birding Lodge was an experience I will never forget. It’s quaint design, location and aura was enough proof that this could well be the beginning of a love affair!
There was no reception area, no formal guest area; it was like walking into a friend’s home. Our lodge was the one with an attic, comfortably accommodating the four of us. The main lodge housed the kitchen, dining area and a verandah where other guests seem to be chatting with a warm cup of freshly brewed coffee. Within minutes we were like the best of friends, exchanging experiences, stories and of course Facebook ids. Hearing their thrilling experiences and seeing the photos they had clicked of the birds in the vicinity was all that was needed to make sure I joined the afternoon guided birding trek. It was one of the most relaxing and rich experiences of my life. Never had I bothered to observe different birdcalls, their beaks, colours, markings, wingspan or tail feathers. It was like stepping into a completely different planet.