Like your pet, the birds of Pangot will be a great stress buster


A Weekend Road Trip To Pangot 

Having always traveled for pleasure, usually a luxury trip with the family, I was itching to do something different. Some friends were thinking about going up to Pangot, a sleepy hamlet known for bird watching, about 15 Kms ahead of Nainital.
Never have done any bird watching ever and most importantly never have traveled without family, I decided to jump on to the bandwagon. And as they say, the rest is history.

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.

The next day I was up at the crack of dawn to relive the same magic and to be fair, it only grew more magical seeing them all so active early morning. Sitting outdoors, with the birds twittering, langurs jumping around the trees, enjoying an amazingly simple yet scrumptious meal added to the charm in a way no five-star luxury could compete.
Sitting out in the spacious verandah of our room, we had a splendid view of the mountains where clouds were gathering rapidly late in the afternoon. Fond of photographing skyscapes, I decided to give birdwatching a miss and stay put, drinking my hot tea bundled against the chilly breeze in my shawl.
Never have I seen the rain come in from afar where you can actually make out the front pawns of rain in the nature’s game of chess. The beauty of the tumultuous clouds checkmated us from the word go. And to ensure we never forget nature’s opulence, she threw in a perfect rainbow at the end of the storm.
Since that trip, rolling clouds, sight of stately mountains and the smallest flutter of wings, sends my heart aflutter. I was in love, smitten and in…. hook, line and sinker!

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