In this blog, you will be reading about my trip to Nainital, Bhimtal, Mukteshwar and Kaichidham. How it went and what went wrong, my complete experience from start to end.
How trip got planned
We (my colleagues and me) have been planning to go on a trip since March 2022, but it was always getting rescheduled due to several reasons. So after a lot of thinking and discussions, we decided to go to Nainital and some places nearby – We shortlisted Kaichi Dham, Bhimtal, Mukteshwar and Nainital. We decided to go to Bhowali first as someone suggested that it’s in the middle of other places and hotels are also available with reasonable pricing.
The proper route plan was like this –
Lucknow – Kathgodam (arriving station)
Kathgodam – Bhowali (for booking hotels and resting for bit)
Bhowali – Kaichi Dham
Kaichi Dham – Mukteshwar (same day)
Mukteshwar – Bhowali (return on the same evening)
Bhowali (check out) – Bhimtal
Bhimtal – Nainital (book hotel and proper sightseeing)
Nainital – Kathgodam – Lucknow (back home)
We finally booked tickets for December and went on the trip.
I rarely travel outside the city. Before this, I last went to Kolkata in 2018; I didn’t go to the site seeing as my main goal was to spend time with my girlfriend I had that time. Although it’s a good story, I will share it soon.
Lucknow to Kathgodam Experience
I don’t travel much, so I was pretty uncomfortable during the journey. It was a night journey, so all I did was sleep and woke up late in the morning & something happened, and all the tiredness and feeling of discomfort went – the first glimpse of a hill and train was running slowly. I can’t even find the right write words to describe that feeling.
We reached our destination station Kathgodam. The railway station was relatively minimal if we compare it to Lucknow’s, but what it had was fresh air.
Kathgodamn to Bhowali Experience
After coming out of the station, we looked for a bus or car to take us to Bhowali; the distance between Kathgodamn and Bhowali was approximately 28 km.
I was anxious about going on a bus. Bad thoughts were coming like the bus was going to fall, I wouldn’t be able stop to bus for vomiting, and no comfort would be there. So, I asked others to go by car instead of a bus, and they agreed and booked the car. The car fare from Kathgodam to Bhowali was ₹ 1100.
It was all good for the first view kilometers, we were enjoying vibing on Kumaoni songs. All of a sudden, three of us started feeling uneasy. My head and chest started to feel heavy; All I wanted to somehow reach the destination. Two of the guys continued vomiting, so we had to take multiple stops. I tried but couldn’t, it was the worst feeling. It was like my stomach would come out of my mouth.
We finally reached Bhowali and I sat on the side of the road, I couldn’t feel my body. Others went in search of hotel while I took a rest on the side of the road. They found a hotel nearby and we went there. The price was reasonable, ₹ 500 for a single room & we booked two. After getting fresh, we rested for a while and ordered some tea, as it was cold in Bhowali. Then, we went to find food but didn’t find many options in Bhowali, mostly were just selling Maggi, potato stuffed paratha, egg roll and rice; we ate paratha with rice.
According to the plan, we were meant to go to Kaichi Dham, but three guys ate non-veg. At that moment, I went furious that we had to go to the temple and three of them ate non-veg. So, later on, decided to go to Bhimtal as the plan was already spoiled. I didn’t want to spoil the day and they all agreed. The distance between Bhowali and Bhimtal is 11 km. We booked a cab fare was ₹ 30 per person and it hardly took 30 minutes to reach there.
The first site we saw right after reaching was Bhimtal Lake. What a fantastic view it was. Bhimtal lake was calm, and it felt peaceful; the cool wind was blowing, surrounded by the hills and birds chirping; it felt so good there. I stood still there for a while and just kept watching the lake. It was such a soothing experience. We went boating then, the fare was ₹ 250 per person with no time limit. I was quite scared, and various thoughts started to come, like what if the boat broke, what if we drowned, etc. The others were making fun of me and relaxing me simultaneously. I am still trying to understand why this happens to me. I don’t have any phobia or something; maybe I just overthink a lot. While on the boat, the surrounding view felt more beautiful. After boating for an hour, we went to eat something here again; most of the stalls just had Maggi, eggs, etc, primarily fast foodstuff. We ate Maggi and momos; it wasn’t costly and the taste was okayish. We walked here and there and then decided to head back to the hotel as it was getting dark. Later we learned that the last cab heading toward Bhowali already went off. We were worried that we have to book another hotel here, we could have walked towards Bhowali, but the road wasn’t that safe for walking. Luckily one driver knew the driver of the last cab called him and asked to stop and pick us up. We were glad he agreed and came back for us.
We reached hotel and ordered dinner, the temperature now was even colder as compared to the day. Dinner was quite good and the best we had since we started the trip.
We had to go to Kaichi Dham the next day, so we decided to wake up before 6 am and leave for Kaichi Dham by 6:30 am.
We left early in the morning for Kaichi Dham via bus. The fare was 20 per person. The distance between Bhowali and Kaichidham is around 8 km, and it took around 20 minutes to reach there. This time I ate medicine to not feel uneasy on the trip. While on the bus, going round and round on the hill felt quite scary.
When we reached the destination, there was a surge of positive vibrations, which were felt even from outside of the main temple.
Sun was rising through the hills & temple looked magnificent. We went inside and all a sudden, my heart started to feel heavy and I just wanted to cry while praying and apologizing. This was again an experience I can’t describe in words. One should definitely visit Kaichi Dham at least once in a lifetime.
Kaichidham to Mukteshwar Experience
Now our next destination was Mukteshwar, we booked a car. The fare was ₹ 3000, the car was a 4 seater but we 5 adjusted. The distance from Kaichidham to Mukteshwar is approx 44 km. We made several stops in between and had breakfast in the cafe on the edge of some hill. Visited Golu Dev temple, but I didn’t knew the back story or about Kul Dev stuff, which I regret a lot. As I started pushing others to leave the place and start the journey, as I didn’t want to be late. We made another stop when we saw Himalayan ranges for the first time, which looked beautiful even though they were far away.
After that we visited Bhaalu Gaad waterfalls, we had to walk approx 1.2 km from the main road to reach the waterfalls. The first waterfall was a little small; one could easily go below it and enjoy the water, and also on the surface level water. It was the first time I saw a waterfall in real. I was scared, again weird thoughts like what if I fall or drown, etc. but colleagues helped and made me jump on rocks and walk on water. My colleagues were busy clicking pictures, so I went alone to the big one. Well, that was the drawback I felt with them. There were several mini canteens along the way. I started to feel tired from walking endlessly, then I saw the big waterfall and my eyes were delighted. What a beautiful view it was. The rainbow increased its beauty 100 times more. We were allowed to walk on the water surface of this waterfall within a few meters. Seeing the water flow being high was quite understandable, and it was obvious the depth was too high that one could drown easily.
After staying there for a while, we returned to the car and had lunch in a restaurant. Now it was time for our final stop – Mukteshwar.
First, we visited Mukteshwar temple, then went to Chauli ki Jali, which was behind the temple. Again after a lot of walking, we reached the spot. I ran towards the edge and was so delighted to see the view. This time I didn’t listen to my colleagues or kept on clicking their pictures; instead I enjoyed the view. The Himalayan range view was even better from here. On the other hand, seeing below from the top was scary. The hills were covered with little fog and the sun was setting; what a fantastic view it was.
It was around 5:30 pm and was about to get dark when everyone started going back, I had no clue why all of a sudden crowd was going back. The driver told me staying in the dark on the hill is risky. Many animals live there and it’s their time to come out, not sure if that was true. We left the place and went back to our hotel in Bhowali. Mukteshwar to Bhowali distance is around 35 km. We reached our hotel timely and scheduled dinner. The whole day going to Kaichidham and Mukteshwar went amazing; even the driver was good. No rash driving, he guided us well and was friendly.
After having dinner, we decided to check out in the morning and leave for Nainital; according to our new plan, we were going to Nainital directly from Mukteshwar as we didn’t knew before that here traveling isn’t preferred from the evening so we scheduled for morning.
We packed our bags and left early in the morning. We took a cab whose fare was ₹ 30 per person.
The distance between Bhowali and Nainital was approx 13 km. It took us around 30mins to reach. We went to find a hotel and got a cheap one which costed us ₹ 1500 for 5 people. The room had two double beds, so we all adjusted. Later after taking a rest, we went sightseeing in Nainital. We went to Naini lake first, but not sure why I didn’t felt the same peacefulness I felt in Bhimtal, maybe because of the crowd. On one side of Naini lake, Mall road was there and on the front Naina Devi temple & on the side we were it was the main road. On the side of the roads, there were many bikes for rent, we asked about the rent and shockingly, it was pretty high compared to booking a whole car. Bike would cost us ₹ 700 per person – petrol not included, which means ₹ 3500 + ₹ 1500 petrol for three bikes = ₹ 5000. Where the car was costing around 2300, so we booked a car. We didn’t bother going to Zoo and other everyday places because of the time crunch. We decided to go directly towards the hills.
Our first stop was lover’s point; it was just a bunch of rocks on the edge where couples clicked pictures. To be honest, there were far better locations on our journey. I guess lover’s point was all hyped up. Our next stop was tiffin top, which was behind lovers point.
We decided to go hiking toward the top rather than booking a horse, whose price was ₹ 800 per person.
Instant regrets after walking for continuously 30 minutes in the jungle surrounded by trees, heavy breathing started, and my heart was pumping rapidly. So we took multiple 3-5 minute breaks because of me. One mistake we made was we only took 1 ltr of water with us. We saw one place where others were sitting and clicking pictures and thought it’s the main point as they view was quite good and everything looked so small from the top and we also started clicking pictures. But, later came to know there is more. At the moment I was like, f*ck it let’s go, what’s worse going to happen than me getting unconscious and taken to the hospital. We kept on walking and walking, we noticed that we were the only group that was hiking rest, all booked the horse. We walked for more than 1 hr and reached the primary location total of approx 1.5 hours of walking. There were many canteens on the top; firstly I drank plenty of water then saw the menu, again just fast food stuff was there. We ordered Maggi and momos, Maggi was okayish & momos were rubbish.
The view from the top was quite good but nothing compared to what we saw in Mukteshwar, but the hiking experience was damn thrilling. After staying for a while, clicking pictures and videos. We started to come back, this time we heard some noises from above and were afraid that some wild animal was there but luckily it was just a wild Hen. HAHA! We were now back to the car. Our next stop was the hilltop where we could see the whole Nainital but it was already late and getting dark, the driver warned us to not go and we agreed. Although some disagreements were there but what’s more important than life. So, he stopped at the point of the road where a similar view was there but less high.
Naini lake looked so beautiful from above; Naina Devi temple and the whole Nainital were visible from there, the view was incredible. It was dark now and the driver was getting furious, so we returned to our Hotel, the driver dropped us near Naina Devi temple and told us that now we had to walk all the way to the hotel. We were already tired and dirty, so we decided to come back after eating to visit Naina Devi temple and do some shopping. After resting and we had dinner at the restaurant nearby hotel food was quite good, then we went shopping and I purchased some gifts for my mother; there weren’t many options for male so I didn’t purchased anything for father or brothers. From the shop owner, we came to know that Naina Devi temple closes at 8:00 pm and it was already 9:00 pm; the driver told us it closes at 10:00 pm. I was pretty sad then, but I went alone to visit the temple at least from the outside even though it was closed. After that I returned to the hotel and slept as the next day was our returning day.
The next morning we woke up early and the first thing we did was to eat breakfast and book a car for Kathgodam. The distance between Nainital to Kathgodam was around 36 km. The car fare was ₹ 900. We ate Maggi on the way and some fruits when we reached Kathgodam station.
When the train started, all I did was sleep. I woke up when we reached Lucknow & it was a pleasant feeling coming back home
Overall Experience -
I felt Nainital is good when you come with your family or as a couple. Mall road mostly has stuff for females, I couldn’t find any proper thing for my brothers or father there, but for mother got plenty. Even if you are coming with friends, go hiking on hilltops, no horses, no help, nothing, go walking. You will feel wonderful.
In Mukteshwar, Mukteshwar temple and Chauli ki Jali are the main points. Chauli ki jali’s view is fantastic, and you don’t have to hike much to get there. Bhaalu Gaad waterfall was good too. Rest, you don’t have to book a hotel there; if you want, you can go directly to Kaichidham, visit Mukteshwar, and then come back to Kaichidham or choose the route I took.
Kaichidham is a religious and spiritual place. I would just suggest you to do one thing if you have time for a trip, spend whole day in Kaichidham and visit other dhams too. The driver told us that there are more dhams to visit here, but we had time crunch so we couldn’t. One for all, it was a great experience.
Bhimtal was good; we just visited Bhimtal lake and went boating so I don’t have much to tell about it. The atmosphere was peaceful there, and the boating experience was good as the lake was large. I will be trying Paragliding next time I visit.
Bhowali, it was just our staying destination. So we didn’t expect anything more from the place. Eating options weren’t much available, nor was there a place to roam in free time. Just best to stay as it’s in the middle of all destinations we went to.
Some Mistakes That I Did -
- Couldn’t say NO when I was asked by colleagues to click pictures. Because of this, I couldn’t enjoy the trip properly. I wanted some time alone. Just by myself with my thoughts, observing, meeting new people, and enjoying places. For that, I have decided I will go on a solo trip.
- Vibes with colleagues didn’t match as before going we weren’t even friends or knew each other well, we just planned and went.
- I was hard on cash. I had a tight budget for this trip. I should have added more money as a backup. I have decided to only go when there are no budget issues.
- Took less water wherever we went, which made us buy more water bottles or even stay thirsty.
- Couldn’t visit many religious places.
Side Note -
I noticed a few things, like traveling was quite unsafe for bikers as well as four-wheelers; riders/drivers are to be blamed for rash driving, but the government should also look into it. Edges of the road don’t have proper barriers either they were broken or weren’t present. Rocks were fallen between the roads. Fewer street lights were there, and even the police booth was not there. The addition of water tanks could also be beneficial on the road and when we hiked on the tiffin top it was not present, although it was our mistake that we brought less water with us. At Bhaalu Gaad waterfall, it was fine. The management took care of the hydration; several drinking spots were there.
In some places, no proper care of nature was being taken. There were several cottages, houses, and farmhouses too down below and even on the hill edges. I was amazed by looking at them and then thought about how they survive, but I felt many were just capturing the land for quick money and there is no love for nature.
Ending Notes -
I am not a professional writer or a tour guide. I am sharing my experience with the hope of someone benefiting from it and it is a writing exercise too.
Feedback is highly appreciated and for that, you can comment on the below section.