Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Plan a trip to Corbett & Nainital !

This post will serve two fold purpose, one as a travelogue and two as a guide for a tourist to Jim Corbett National Park and Nainital. We took our own taxi so the trip was flexible. Also all the references, prices & rates mentioned are as on 10th April 2011.

Preparations:

1) For Jim Corbett: There are some things you ought to know about Corbett.

Stay: should actually not be a big problem because there are a number of hotels, resorts( and so called resorts) around Corbett. KMVN hotels are reasonably priced but the Ramnagar location is not great. There is a new KMVN forest resort under construction do try that out. You can stay at Ramnagar which is 19kms. away from from the Dhangarhi gate of CNP(corbett national park). Corbett has two other gates Bijrani and one more. Staying inside Corbett [at Dhikala] is something you should strive for, but for that you will have to book in advance. Not sure how many days...but smone said 3 months which sounded unreasonable.

Inside Corbett : You have two options for going inside the CNP

a) Going by a hired gypsy [These are licensed by CNP authorities] - This is 'the' option for you. A gypsy is 6 seater including driver. There are two timings for entry into the park -> morning 6 am and afternoon 14:30. For booking the morning gypsy one has book in advance at least 15 days. The afternoon gypsy can be booked a day in advance. The price of an entire gypsy with passes, guide, hiring cost is around 3000-3500 for 5 people. If you are less than that you bear the extra cost. The resort people[if you stay at one] may be able to club you together with other people if you are willing to do so.
Timings : 1. 6:00 morning from any of the 3 gates of Corbett.
2. 14:30 afternoon.

b) Going by a Govt. CANTER - This a service is being run to 'befool' people. The timings are same as those of gypsy. This will cost you 1125 /- per head if you book it at the govt. office counter. If you book it from a hotel they will charge you nothing less than 1500/-. The govt. office is in Ramnagar near the KMVN Hotel. It runs from 6:00 to 16:00 hrs. For morning Canter you should book it the previous day.
For the afternoon trip the window opens at six in the morning the same day...people starting queuing up by 4:30 or 5:00 depending upon the season.

My advice: DON'T GO BY CANTER, it is noisy, uncomfortable and a waste of time and money. It is like sitting in an old TATA truck...you will have to sit on a pillow the next day just like Saif in DCH.

2) Nainital: You can easily book your rooms in advance, online in case of good hotels & KMVN properties. The room rents are as low as 1200 for a very decent 4 bed in off season i.e. nefore April ends.

Trip details:
Day 1: Start at Akshardham, New Delhi

The start was late[ around 10:30 am] but it was a saturday so the traffic was not much. Our route was Delhi - Ghaziabad - Pilakhua - Hapur - Garhmukteshwar - Gajraula - Moradabad - Thakurdwara - Ramnagar - Corbett. We reached Ramnagar at 16:30 [ approx 5.5 hrs. of drive because of a 30 mins. stoppage that we took on the way]. Refer to the map below for the route. These are large images download and expand them to get a better idea of the route.
You can also use mapmyindia.com [this link will automatically give you the route]

We took a room in a resort[mid tier] which was en route from Ramnagar to Corbett. The name was Wild Trail near Safari Park. Charges were 2000/- for 1 night for 3 people i.e. including an extra bed. The room was air conditioned with a nice TATA sky connection LCD. Running Hot water was available. River Kosi flows right behind the resorts and you can walk down to Kosi for a splash with your friends.

Map Delhi to Corbett - part 1

Map Delhi to Corbett - part 2

TIP: For McDonalds' fans there is a McD at Gajraula....we picked up a quick lunch from there. And the best part is that it is a DRIVE-IN :)

Day 2 : At Corbett
We went inside by the Canter owing to our lack of knowledge about how useless it was. Also we did not have any other option since we wanted to leave Corbett in the afternoon, so the afternoon gypsy was not an option for us, morning gypsy as I have already mentioned has to be booked 15 days in advance which we did not know. It gets pretty hot [late March to early April] in the afternoon but that is when you have greater chances of spotting animals coz they venture out for water from Ramganga river that runs through Corbett. CANTER is always a no-no. You can go for the afternoon gypsy if you like but be ready to sweat it out :)

We started at 05:30 Ramnagar(boarding happens near the ticket counter itself so you may have to start from ur resort at 04:30 or 05:00 unless you stay at Dhikala inside Corbett which would be awesome) and came back at 12:00. We were not in a position to leave immediately for Nainital as planned coz of the godforsaken canter ride lasting 60 kms. and 5-6 hrs of bumping, jumping which would scare the animals away from miles.

So, we left from our resort at 14:00 after resting for 2 hrs. From Ramnagar we took the smooth road to Nainital via Kaladhungi which has a lot of picturesque views en route. The route is Ramnagar - Kaladhungi [visit Corbett's home here which is a small museum now]- Nainital. Distance 65kms. Time around 2 -3 hrs. depending upon the number of times you stop on the way to click snaps.


Day 3: Nainital

Food: No place is great in Nainital. we tried a bakery which cost us 200 per head for dinner. But the food was sheer disappointment. You could try Annapurna a small shop for reasonable paranthas. Food is not great at these places so don't go there for a gastronomic extravaganza. There is only 1 bar in entire Nainital and only one liquor shop. So, carry your own stock in case you like to have a drink or two in the chilly weather.

Stay: We stayed at KMVN, Tallital hotel. Charges were very reasonable 1680 for a 4 bed suite. These were off season rates which change drastically from 30th April onwards. check out the kmvn website for more details : http://www.kmvn.gov.in/Default.aspx

You can book rooms online but the website is little erratic and may get stuck occasionally.
The location is amazing and you get longer view of entire Naini Lake. Another KMVN hotel is there at Sukhatal (called sookha tal) but the location is not as great. There are some caves near this hotel which also a tourist spot but I would suggest staying at tallital hotel, in case you stick with KMVN.
There are umpteen number of other options in Nainital with a huge variety of rates and qualities. Elphinstone, Alka and some other good hotels are there on the road along the lake but they have slightly higher rates.

In KMVN be ready for smelly blankets but a reasonable service. There are some amazing Royal double rooms and Royal Suites whose location within the hotel are superb. Book them for a nice stay. The food is just ok. Don't expect anything great.

Warning: The hotels along the Naini Lake in Nainital do not have elevators so be ready to climb up 100s of stairs each time you try to reach your room. Or book your room with caution in a bigger hotel which has elevator. This is especially important for elderly people.

Going around: Nainital has some nice spots in an around. You will find scores of agents flocking you with 7 locations that you must see. If you feel like seeing the same place from different angles then do go for this. At 400 bucks you can hire a small cab for 3-4 people( alto or maruti van)this is not a bad deal at all. If you do have your own car, each time you enter the municipal limit it will cost you 100 bucks, so it is advisable to hire these cabwallahs. Also mostly you will be on foot or rickshaw because a car once enters the limits and leaves you will have to shell out 100 bucks and parking is either not allowed or very high rates are applicable.

Ropeway to snow view point: Ropeway cost is 150 per head for a to-n-fro ride. You can also reach there in your own car but the ascent is steep so the driver must be adept. Peaks are visible on clear days only. But the view of the hill city and lake is enchanting while the rope car ascends and descends. See image below.

This snow view point is one of the points on the itinerary of the local trip cabs which charge you 400 bucks for entire cab for 2-3 hours.

At the snow view point also there is a bar don't know the rates. You can get some refreshing juice, ubiquitous maggi, chai etc. stuff is available. A small KMVN resort is under construction for tourists. You can get your pictures clicked by professionals in the local ethnic wear. There is some shady go-karting and electric cars for children which will not amuse a city kid.


We took a walk along the other shore of the lake...called the thandi (cold ) sarak (road). Very nicely made especially for walkers. We started from tallital side and went up to the Tibetian market where you could find local souvenirs and wax items which are a speciality of Nainital. You could also find smuggled stuff like elctronic items, cosmetics, clothes which find their way from Nepal into India.
We reached back our hotel enjoyed an IPL game snuggled comfortably in our warm blankets.

Day 4: Last day
We sacrificed our plan to visit Naukuchiatal (the lake with 9 corners) and Bhimtal (which boasts of an island in the middle of the lake) due to some unavoidable reasons. If you have time please keep half a day or may be a day for them. Instead we went to the local zoo of Nainital situated at the peak of a hill within Nainital. It has a decent collection of animals and will not take more than an hour. Opens at 10:00 am in the morning till evening 5:00 pm and remains closed on Mondays.
A splendid view of the Siberian tiger at the zoo helped us overcome the CANTERized frustration of Corbett :D

We left from Nainital for Delhi at 12 noon. You have two options of going back from Nainital.
1. Via Haldwani - Kathgodam - LalKuan- Rampur and then the usual route of NH24.
2. Or the other option is from Nainital - Kaladhungi - Bazpur- Doraha - Kashipur - Thakurdwara - Moradabad and then on NH24.

Warning: DO NOT take the straight route from Doraha via some small villages to Moradabad, use the suggested route via Kashipur. Village route might seem shorter on the map but the road is pathetic, in fact there is NO road.

We took the 2nd option as the kaladhungi route is cleaner and has lovely sights on the way. You should prefer the other route if you plan to visit Bhimtal and Naukuchiatal. You would not find too many dhabas on the way until you reach Moradabad.

We reached Delhi in little over 5.5 hours around 17:30.












Saturday, December 12, 2009

The summery winters !
A Story of bitter truths

Summers placement process at a B-School is a wonderful eye opener. It usually goes on after the first term at B-School when the fledgling managers are tested for their flight which they would embark upon 6 months hence. It is fun to a great extent, till it becomes a P-I-T-A when you are asked to sit for a 10 minutes interview for hours together every other day, especially for companies for where you don't want to work. The process gives you an altogether new insight into the vagaries of life.
It is difficult for an outsider to believe that one (to be precise around 40% of the batch) can reach a situation where he could be left unplaced in a premium B-School of the country in the, so called, placement process that spans 4-5 days. With 350+ students it is a Herculean task for the school to place the entire batch in one go. But then you flaunt the "Premium B-School" tag for that. The greatest sin today before coming to a B-School is to have worked for an IT company. I mean you could have worked for across the street KIRANA shop but Lord ! you chose to work on a computer, you ain't fit to be a manager. Managers are people who go out and do things and not just sit around on some digital device pressing keys like couch "sweet" potatoes. So, with 300+ more Indian IT mortals( acronym -> IIMs :P) you plunge into the process. Since you're at a premium B-School you obviously have unbelievable CVs floating all around you. Your resume always seems less ornate and your life a mere waste of time till now. It seems you have just faffed your life away. Getting here was just "Luck By Chance"

So, you keep waiting for making it to a shortlist of some prestigious company. Now this is another interesting concept. It is not like the good ol' engineering(err.. sorry for presuming this but at these institutes close to 80 % of the junta are engineers) days where every company would test you and decide who to interview. It is ciao at the onset. You don't make it to the shortlist and your wait grows and likewise your worries. Well another FUN FACT: Avoid coming to a B-School with more than 2 years of work-ex else you have serious chances of suffering from "Summers Syndrome" which results due to deficiency of shortlists during the summers process. Mind you I said "avoid". As I told the longer you have to wait the worse your situation is. And then comes the P-I-T-A time where you are forced to attend interviews. And this loop works till you exit the cycle of "B-School Placement Karma" with a sign-out. Yeah that is the name of the coveted phenomena that just happens twice in a B-School if you're lucky, and only once if you're not. Once when you are vying for a summer placement and the next when it is the finals.

Unfortunately my Karmas till now have not permitted me to exit the cycle..but never agreeing more with Mr. Raj Kapoor I keep singing "Woh Subah kabhi to aayegi !"




Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's run Forrest run at IIML...

Hmm...phew lemme take a breath before my fingers start to put my thoughts in black and white. That is how it is here at IIM (helL) you keep running to get things done. But, the list of pending items seems to keep expanding using some kind of nuclear division technique of asexual reproduction. Before you are done tending to the old ones there are new babies of work crying for your attention. Ah..how can you neglect them (you dare not !).

On a serious note, I think apart from the great peer group and a devoted faculty it is this continuous pressure of endless assignments, presentations, quizzes which develops people here. Everyone here learns to pursue interests and do things they are fond of despite this pressure, continuously trying to bog them down. This is the trick. Trying to squeeze time each day...plan, plan and plan more.

Another thing conspicuous here is passion for doing things. By passion it is not passion of words, it's passion in deeds. People want tangible and quantifiable proofs of anything and everything that one claims to like and do. This requires passion, to follow your heart when everything else is about to fall apart. It makes people ponder over what they really want ? what they really like ? But a downside of this that people may feel the need of developing passion per force. This may lead to some futile efforts, but failures can't really daunt us, can they ?

In the long run I think it is(will be) all great and the pain of late has started to give a pleasure. It is the bitter sweet experience of this fierce competition which will probably make the outside world look sweeter than it actually is.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Looking for the right mate !


I saw Ghajini recently(yes I had not seen it till now !).Kalpana is the female lead in Ghajini the Bollywood/Tollywood version of Memento.I don't understand why the directors and screenplay writers create such characters.

Asin (arguably she is gorgeous,and joins the innocent+mischevious looks league of Genelia and Ayesha Takia) is Kalpana. She is this unimaginable and indescribable combo of beauty and heart(with that combo one can manage w/o the brains :P).
Those scenes where she helps the kids at the museum and the blind man and when she sells her coveted car for Aamir's mother. I mean, these could win heart of the Satan himself. And to top it all, Asin what she herself is. I think all this is pretty unfair on the part of the creators of these characters.Do such people really exist ??

These movies and their surreal characters create an unrealistic experience (although that is what exactly their aim is), but the unseen effect of such storylines is that we have our dreamy teenagers and may be ty-agers as well. However hard we may try and keep ourselves pragmatic. But, it is difficult to not fall for someone like "Kalpana". Ironically the director is prudent enough to use the name Kalpana (imagination, probably becoz he knew, that smone like her cud only be a figment of imagination).The real effect of these could be unreal expectation from the future partners.What I am writing here is not a replication of what these directors do i.e. imagination. According to a series from BBC, called "Love". These days our choice of future mates have been spoilt (or shall we say expectation has been spoilt).Earlier the choice was limited to the right age group mates from a village or a little more than that.

How many did that make ? Say a few hundreds,probably not even those many. Now,that you see thousands of advertisements and pretty/handsome models in them.The brain records the posibilities of future mates.And one might develop expectation(subconciously) for them.Though on the surface people could realise their limitations but inside, deep down under where the "Basic Instinct" (guys stop thinkin about Ms. Stone now) is still strong u dont know what is going on.With all the pedagogy that has modified the way one sees and thinks,that basic instinct remains largely unaltered.

U look for those qualities in ur mate. When u dont get them (very few are actually fortunate enough, to get all that they were looking for) u reconcile. Earlier in our Indian traditional society and ways, we had hope. Hope becoz reconciliation was unconditional. Now, with the concept of one life.Reconciliation and contentment have lost their meaning. Boss, one life ! It's now or never. An unsettling thought indeed.If u dont get what u were looking for(which in itself is an obscure idea) u have that hollow feeling.Am I doing the right thing ? Was this what I was looking for ? U are never sure. While what u are looking for in the wilderness of this life is still a smudgy picture, u have the basic instincts working for u, and keeping u engaged in getting more money, life and love.

Anyway, the whole idea of creating these characters is an unreal experience.And let me tell you they are good at it. U are left to the mercy of mental imagery, of how far u cud go with these inputs. They cud just lead to unhappier lives. Not conciously, but subconciously. So, beware.

"Kalpana" is just a Kalpana(imagination)
So, Dikhavon pey naa jao...Apni aql Lagao.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trip To Haridwar

This was not the most memorable of the trips that I have had in the quarter of century of my life. Though it had some things which shall remain etched in my mind for times to come. Haridwar, as the name signifies Hari-Ka-Dwar, is considered by the Indian hindus as the holiest of places that one visits in his/her lifetime and the portal to the sacred land Of Uttarkhand / Uttaranchal.As we entered the holy-city, I noticed the bustling overcrowded streets, shops filled with kaeidoscopic array of items, innumerable men/women ,their foreheads smeared with the holy vermillion, people with plastic jerry cans, small leaf plates full of flowers and rice grains, in their hands, and an overcast sky with slight drizzle was making it quite an experience.

Once we parked our car some distance away from the point beyond which the vehicles weren’t allowed ( as usual VIPs and Beaconed vehicles were not supposed to abide by this prohibitive scheme) , we went ahead on foot. I too bought a jerrycan to carry home some water from The Ganges. Soon we reached the place where thousands of devotees earnestly waited for the evening aarti to begin. When it finally started, the unison of voices, the countless hands with the earthen lamps rotating in clockwise motion, made the whole milieu a transcendent one. Where an individual dissolves in the whole, giving a gestalt effect of spirituality.For once, you could feel the presence of something divine (I have used “once” as I am an agnostic of sorts you could very well feel it reinforced ).

Anyway, after the aarti we took a dip in the Ganges and returned back to our car.Time to land back from the spiritual heights to the deep pot-holes of the UK roads (UK is not The United Kingdom but Uttarakhand ).

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Serendipity...

As mysterious as the word sounds, is the meaning of it. In standard definitions it is :

a) The effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely (courtesy wikipedia).

b)
The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.

But I would rather not delve too deep into the conventional meaning of this mellifluous word.
I would certainly want to share the experience of watching the movie with the name above.

Warning 1: Do not stop reading as I do not disclose the entire story.
Warning 2 :And please stop here if you're lazy enough still not to go and get the DVD of this movie and expect me to give the complete stuff here.I just give a whiff of what the movie is like.


I think this movie is simply an epitome in the entire genre of romantic movies. It keeps you hooked till the end.With so many of "oops" and "my gods" and not to mention "sh**s" from the audience( me "alone".. unserendipity of which I have loads I guess).
Story begins with a very pretty and very english Sara (played by Kate Beckinsale) and Mr charming Jonathan(John Cusack) meeting at the shopping store holding on to one and the last pair of gloves. Lest they lose it to another customer of the store, their combined histrionics saves the pair for Sara.This strikes an instant chord in them and Sara gives Jon a coffee treat.
Sara claims that she firmly believes in serendipity i.e. she believes that destiny has it all decided.And meeting people / making decisions will not fructify unless it is there in store already.
Then they take each other's leave with Sara not telling Jonathan that she is Sara on the pretext that if they need to meet it would be serendipitous.

Then after a series of some wonderful serendipitous incidents....Sara does(pragmatically speaking) a stupid but the most romantic thing. She takes Jons number on a dollar note(w/o looking at it) and spends it in a shop. And then writes her full name and number on a book and sells it in an old book store(not known to Jon). She leaves for her home in England saying that the numbers will reach the right people when the time is ripe.

Of-course they do not meet after that and in a few years time. Jon is about to marry the "so-called" love of his life and soulmate,a beautiful and loving Halle. So is Sara in England with a trance musician, Lars. They still feel the tinkle of that one short stint of good time they had together and believe in serendipity. . .
How things turn up..and finally...I dont know...you see hollywood movies do not always have a happy ending.
So just see this movie...it really is a gem.

;-)


Friday, January 19, 2007