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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nondescript destinations of Kumaon – Visiting Jalna

Nondescript destinations of Kumaon – Visiting Jalna
  
View of the cloud covered vales from Jalna
             As has been a practice amongst our friends, we were waiting for a window of opportunity to open, for us to visit the hills during the monsoons, which are a treat to watch, all enveloped in green!!!  Therefore, the moment we came to know that a known had bought a ‘piece of heaven in heaven’, in a small village called Jalna in Almora District of Uttarakhand, we made the plan to visit the destination.  However, due the massive damage caused by the rains during the monsoons to the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, we were a bit skeptical and decided to wait out till the active monsoon abated to some extent and finally went ahead with the visit during the end of August, 2013.
The distant hills in view - Pantnagar Agriculture University
Passing by Haldwani
Started the ascent for the hills
Going past 'Pilot Baba's temple' at Jeolikote
Going past 'Kainchi dham'
Reached Khairna - view of Kosi River
The monsoon magic of the hills - headed for Almora 
The rainbow over the hills 
            Jalna is small hamlet, situated about 30 Kms. away from Almora town.  It is about 360 Kms. away from Delhi, 85 Kms. from Nainital and about 90 Kms. from Kathgodam.  From Kathgodam, one can either take the route through Bhowali, Kainchi, Garam Pani, Khairna to Almora and therefrom to Jalna or else you can take the route through Bhimtal and at the junction wherefrom the road trifurcates towards Bhowali, Sattal and Champawat/Saharphatak.  One has to take the road heading for Champawat and after reaching Saharphatak, take the road leading to Jalna, this is shorter route.  However, as there was only one hotel/resort known by the name of ‘Elphinstone Himalayan Resort’, whose charges were a wee bit on higher side for wanderers like us, we decided to check into the ‘tried and tested’ Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (‘KMVN’ for short) accommodation at Almora.  Having started early in the morning, we stopped at a small tea vendors stall near Gajraula and as the weather was quite warm, we had no problem partaking the ‘Puri n’ Subzi’(a kind of fried bread with vegetable curry-usually potatoes’)) that we had packed for ourselves with the great cup of tea, that the tea vendor provided us.  Thus, refreshed we continued with our journey ahead and this time we were in for a treat as one of our friend’s aunt was stationed at Pantnagar and had prepared a sumptuous lunch for us, her ‘dal makhni’ (a kind of lentil preparation with copious amounts of clarified butter& fresh butter) was a lip smacking experience.  Having gorged ourselves, we proceeded further and took a short tea break at our favorite jaunt at Khairna.  Thereafter, we proceeded straight towards Almora and reached there at around 6.00 P.M.
Reached Almora - as the evening sets in
Night fall in Almora
Flowers galore during monsoon - Almora
Morning glory in all its' glory - Almora
            Just as we parked our vehicle at Almora, KMVN we saw another group of youngsters, probably from Bihar (from number plate & dialect) just alighting alongwith us.  I asked my friends to unload and rushed to get the booking, as we were heading without one.  The other party also could make out my intentions and two amongst them also started off with me, but the KMVN Tourist Rest House at Almora is perched at an height and about 100 feet above the road head and the other group although much younger to me could not keep pace and had to rest on the way, whereas I headed straight to the reception and secured the booking and thereby, got the best accommodation for us.  We found that due the calamity the entire tourist inflow to the hill state had taken a huge hit and tourists were even not heading for the Kumaon region, which was largely unaffected by the rains that hit Kedarnath & other parts of Garhwal region of the State.  Only few more guests were sharing the accommodation and so after having a small coffee break, we headed for the market place to explore it.  On the way we had some piping hot ‘Samosas’ (a kind of fried snacks) and the local delicacy ‘Singhori’ (a local sweetmeat made of condensed milk/cottage cheese’), before returning back as it had started drizzling.  Having partaken our dinner at the TRH, Almora we retired for the night.
Morning shows the day - Almora

As the clouds envelope the roads 
Drifting clouds - as we head for Jalna from Almora
Almora - view of the township
Beautiful green hills all around - on way to Jalna
View of Almora township from road to Jalna
Cottages in Jalna
            We woke up early next morning and having indulged in my favorite past time of photography, but because of the cloud cover could not get a glimpse of the Himalayan ranges but photographed some beautiful flowers.  After having the B’fast (included in the tariff of KMVN), we headed towards Jalna.  Having entered the main State Highway, we headed towards old Almora, wherefrom the road bi-furcated towards Jalna, which goes down to the valley below and therefrom again ascends upto the ridge point on the opposite valley, which runs parallel to the Almora ridge.  Jalna is perched on the ridge facing the Himalayan ranges at an altitude of 1675 meters.  This small nondescript village consists of a population of less than a hundred people, with a quaint & tranquil surrounding, having a few shops next to the Bus stand. This should quite indicate the virgin hill station that Jalna is purported to be. Tourists to this place are bound to experience tranquility & serenity and also feel deeply connected with nature in a way that is not possible in any of the other commercialized popular destinations. The forests nearby house some of the varied wildlife of the region like the jungle cats, mountain deers, boars and occasionally a bear and a leopard. The region is also a paradise for bird lovers and birding is a favorite pastime that can be undertaken during the stay here. Jalna is also reputed to offer some virgin views of the Himalayan ranges when the skies are clear. The small verdant resort perched high amongst the green laden valleys with the mountains peaks as the backdrop would be a pleasing sight for the visitors, for moments to be cherished forever.
Nature's treasure trove - Jalna - Siberian Stonechat
Nature's treasure trove - Jalna - Pied Bushchat
Nature's treasure trove - Jalna - Warbler
Nature's treasure trove - Jalna - Brown headed woodpecker
Nature's treasure trove - Jalna - Himalayan or Yellow breasted Finch
             The actual village is a few hundred meters away from the main road, but the road is in tatters, all worn out with stones jutting out, a nightmare for any low ground clearance vehicle.  But the verdant green with the spread out valley across is an awesome view, to be cherished.  The resort is an old English bungalow converted into one with an explicit view of the valley.  On the hill top, about 15 minutes walk from the village stand’s the famous Banar Devi temple, which is well known locally and is considered that the deity of the temple grants the wishes of all its devotees.  A few days stay at this serene destination will lend solace to the tormented souls of city dwellers, as it is bereft of any stress or such other malicious by products of city life.  While traversing back to Ranikhet, on the return leg I could capture the photographs of some birds in and around Jalna & Almora, which was ample reward for having undertaken the journey to this nondescript destination.
Here is the link to a short video of the destination - 



1 comment:

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