Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kanatal- When You Want To Talk To The Nature!!!

Kanatal is a picturesque small hill station far away from the maddening crowd in Uttranchal, India. I was there last week for 3 days and with monsoons season set in, the place looked enchantingly beautiful. With clouds kissing the mountains all over, the place could not have been more romantic. And for the nature freaks, monsoons are the best season to be in the place.

How to reach Kanatal from Delhi/Gurgaon-

Kanatal lies around 40 Kms ahead of Mussoorie in Uttaranchal. If you plan to drive down to Kanatal then there are two options:-

1.       Gurgaon- Delhi- Modinagar- Meerut- Muzzafarnagar- Saharanpur- Dehradun- Mussoorie(Bhatta falls)- Dhanolti- Kanatal. - 350 Kms

Click Here For Link To Google Map for Driving Directions

From Dehradun it usually takes 3 to 3.5 hrs to reach Kanatal depending upon the driving. From Dehradun take the Mussoorie road and just 3-4 kms  before Mussorrie , after crossing Bhatta Falls on your left, you have to take a Right turn towards Dhanolti and Kanatal (easily readable  sign board on the road reads right for DHANOLTI).

2.       Gurgaon- Delhi- Modinagar-  Meerut- Muzzafarnagar- Roorke- Haridwar- Rishikesh- Muni ki Reti- Chamba- Kanatal.

I will suggest option no 1 as this route is much more scenic after Dehradun and also less traffic as compared to Haridwar and Rishikesh belt.

Or you can take a train till Dehradun or Haridwar and continue the onwards journey to Kanatal on Road. 

I stayed in this beautiful property named Mahindra Resorts , Kanatal. The property has 37 rooms and is very well furnished. Almost all the rooms offer beautiful view from the rooms. The above picture is of the sunset from the balcony of the room. I sat in the room balcony itself for hours together and loved the view.

Club Mahindra Resort, Kanatal

Chandelier in the lobby area

Lawns at Mahinrda Resorts, Kanatal


And for the people who don't like skipping the Gym even when they are on holidays, nothing can be better than this!!!

Dining Area

Chef Paramjeet 

Even in this remote location Chef Paramjeet takes very good care of all your gastronomical needs. I loved the food!!! 

Mahindra Resorts, Kanatal is a very well maintained property and the service is also impeccable.

But I must say that Kanatal is all about outdoors. The long walks in the Jungle, the colourfull butterflies, the chirping birds, the green mountains and the floating clouds hugging you now and then makes you fall in love with the place. The place is still untouched by commercialization and heaven for the people who love to talk to the nature. Kanatal is at an altitude of 2590 Meters above sea level and enjoys good amount of snowfall in winters. On a clear day the place offers spectacular views of the mighty slow clad Bandarpunch, Trichul and Chaukhamba Peaks.


Early morning walk into the jungle

Aimless Walk

I used to wake at 5 in the morning to go for the walks in the Eco Park just across the road of Mahindra Resort. It's a 8 Km trail inside the Jungle.

Waiting For Food!!!

One of the many species of wild flower in the Eco park

Tree Of Life!!!

With the monsoons set in, the whole jungle had taken a green blanket.

As the clouds gave way to the Sun, it started peeking from behind the trees.

Red Spotted Ladybird Beetle

Nature ensures that there's food for everyone. A red spotted ladybird beetle is seen having a feast of fresh leaves.

I saw this wild animal on the trek early morning. It was quite far off, I just saw its silhouette and before I could make out what it is, he vanished in the woods.

Wild Mashroom

Loo With A View!!!!

This is something very interesting and I have never seen anything like this!! Inside the Eco Park there's this beautiful LOO with a VIEW. Can you believe this??? I guess it was here that someone coined the phrase "TO ATTEND NATURE'S CALL"

A Colourful Village House With Amazing View

The above two photos were taken during my walks on the road towards Chamba. The best way to get the feel of the place is to leave the comfort of your car and explore the place on foot. If you planning to go in monsoons, don't forget to carry your umbrella during your walks.

Rain Drops On The Windscreen

Though it was a short trip but it was a rejuvenating break from intense Delhi heat. I'm definitely coming back here but this time it would be at least for a week. A perfect getaway break from Delhi!!!

Recommended Place to Stay in Kanatal

Mahindra Resorts (Earlier it was Kanatal Resort and Spa)-

E mail -

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ranthambore National Park- Land Of The TIGER!!!

It has been more than 2 months since I went to Ranthambore but had not been able to take out time to write and share my experience with you. This time I took train to Sawai Madhopur from Delhi. It's really convenient, just take an overnight train and by the time you wake up you are already in Sawai Madhopur. 



 Road distance between Delhi/Gurgaon and Ranthambore- 350Kms


Road Map between Delhi/Gurgaon and Ranthambore- 

 The road condition is good thru out with small bad patches here and there. 

Kingfisher- Waiting for the Fish!!!





Water Snake





Spotted Deer- I can be spotted in Plenty!!!

 Ranthambore National Park is hardly 10 kms drive from Sawai Madhopur railway station. It is located at the junction of the Aravalli and Vindhya hill range. I don't even remember how many times I have been to this park!!! I guess it should be close to 12-13 times. It always excites me, gives one the opportunity to connect back with nature. A boon for wildlife lovers. 






Tree Pie



Nahargarh Ranthambore





Jungle Babbler AKA Saat Bhai in Hindi


 It's the Land Of The Tigers!!! Though I was not lucky enough to sight one this time but that's how it is, this uncertainty keeps the interest alive. Here the King is the Tiger, he chooses to see you, you wander around the whole park hoping to be seen!!! It's said that Tigers of Ranthambore are the most camera friendliest Tigers in the world. I personally have sighted them many times  and sometimes for 25-30 mins in one go. Watching Tiger in the wild, in his own territory, is an experience of its own.  I did 4 safaris back to back this time. It is advisable to book your safari tickets well in advance by logging on to .  


Following are the park timings according to seasons :-

Oct 1-Oct 31:      6.30am-10.00am & 2.30pm-6.00pm

Nov 1-Jan 31:     7.00am-10.30am & 2.00pm-5.30pm

Feb 1-Mar 31:      6.30am-10.00am & 2.30pm-6.00pm

Apr 1-May 15:     6.00am- 9.30am & 3.00pm-6.30pm

May 16-Jun 30:    6.00am- 9.30am & 3.30pm-7.00pm

   July 1 – Sep 30:     Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve CLOSED


According to me, the best time to go to the park is between April and June. This is the time when it gets really hot and the animals come out to quench their thirst at one of the three big lakes in the Park. These three big lakes are Padam Talab, Malik Talab and Raj Bagh. The park lies in Sawai Madhopur distt of Rajasthan covering a total are of 392 square Kms. The park is divided into 8 zones. You are alloted zone randomly right at the counter while they allot you the vehicle number. Zone 3 and 4 are my personal favoutires because of the 3 lakes they cover.  The presence of the these large water bodies gives us good chance to see number of birds in these zones. The most important birds in Ranthambore include Graylag Goose, Woodpeckers, Indian Gray Hornbills, Common Kingfishers, Bee Eaters, Cuckoos, Parakeets, Asian Palm Swift, Owl, Nightjars, Pigeon, Dove, Crakes, Snipes, Sandpipers, Gulls, Terns, Great Crested Grebe, Eagles, Darters, Cormorants, Egrets, Herons, Bitterns, Flamingos, Ibis, Pelicans, Storks, Pittas, Shrikes, Treepies, Crows, Orioles, Cuckoo-Shrikes, Minivets, Drongos, Flycatchers, Ioras, Wood Shrikes, Pipits, Bayas, Sparrows, Finches, Wagtails, Munias, Bulbul, Mynas, Falcons etc. Talking about animals, one can see Tigers, Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Sambar deer, Chital, Nilgai, Common or Hanuman langurs, Macaques, Jackals, Jungle cats, Caracals, Sloth bears, Black bucks, Rufoustailed Hare, Indian Wild Boar, Chinkara, Common Palm Civets or Toddy cat, Coomon Yellow Bats, Desert Cats, Fivestriped Palm Squirels, Indian False Vampires, Indian Flying Foxes, Indian Foxes, Indian Gerbilles, Indian Mole Rats, Indian Porcupines, Longeared Hedgehogs, Ratels, Small Indian Mongoose, Small Indian Civets and Common mongoose.









Green-headed Duck - Anas platyrhynchos Mallard












Samber Deer- Tiger's Favourite Food














Male Spotted Deer






Baby Crocodile







Crocodile by the Lake












Brown Fish Owl















Black Headed Heron





Black headed ibis







Kingfisher- Sitting in the Shade






Jungle Babbler- Angry Birds!!!!

There are plenty of options available to stay around the park. Right from The Oberoi VanyaVillas charging close to 25000\- a night for a luxury tent to Hotel Dev Palace charging close to 1500\- a night. Mr Sanju of Dev Palace helped me with Safari Bookings as well as getting me a train ticket back to Delhi. For me, he is one stop solution for any of my needs in Ranthambore. The guy is a local and really helpful. His contact no is +91 9983053968


Recommended Places to stay  in Ranthambore:-

1. Oberoi Vanyavilas ( Expensive but an amazing place to stay) Contact no- +91 7462 22 3999

2. Vivanta by Taj- Ranthambore Lodge   Contact no +91 7462 22 0541

3. Hotel Sanctuary Resort ( Decent place, value for money) Contact no-  07462-224890, +91- 9414780956

4. Tiger Moon Resort (One of the oldest resorts in Ranthambore, right at the edge of the park) Contact no- 07462 - 252284

5. Castle Jhoomar Baori ( Govt run Hotel, Excellent location but lacks in service) Website-

6. The Ranthambore Bagh ( Excellent hotel, very nice staff, great service. Top Recomemded- The Owner Adtiya Singh is a passionate wildlife photographer and runs the property exceptionally well) Contact no- +91 8239166777 ) 

7. Hotel Dev Palace ( Value for money, for budget travellers) Contact no-+91 9983053968


8. Nahargarh Ranthambore ( Tariff is bit on the higher side but I would say you get what you pay for!! Recommended ) Contact no- +91 7462 252281, 252282, 252283


In Nutshell, Ranthambore National park is a wildlife enthusiast and photographer's dream. 


BINSAR - A Green Paradise!!!

I went to Binsar around 3 years back. It was only a few days back when I was going thru my collection of photos of my travel journeys a folder named Binsar showed up. All the memories of the place suddenly came alive. It also had a write up that I wrote 3 years back. I went to Binsar in August and it was still raining at that time, it was all green with all possible shades of green. So I thought with August coming up again someone might get inspired to take the trip!!!! Here it goes...

I last went to jungle 4 months back and with three holidays coming up from 15th to 17th August, I wanted to head to the Jungle again. Though God has been very kind this summer in plains but the humid weather was really taking its toll on me. I started finding a place where I can unwind myself for 2 days and if it’s a jungle, then nothing like it. And then suddenly a place came up in my mind… Binsar. 

Road Distance from Delhi to Binsar is 385 Kms. It's best to leave early in the morning preferably by 4.30 am to 5 am to beat Delhi and U.P traffic!!!

Road Map to reach Binsar from Delhi :- 

BINSAR is small, secluded hill station in Uttrakhand, India at an altitude of around 2400mts. Binsar is an ancient town. During the seventh and eighth centuries, Binsar was the summer capital of the Chand Rajas.

Binsar- A Small Paradise

The Bineshwar temple here is a place not be missed. It was built by Raja Kalyan Chand and is situated 3 km below the summit. Binsar lies around 120kms ahead of the last railway station Kathgodam. Apart from being a beautiful hill station it is also a Wild life Sanctuary with a covered area of almost 46sqkm.It was declared a wild life sanctuary in 1988. One can find animals like Leopards, Barking Deer, Langurs, Chital and Mountain Goat. The place is also a Birders Paradise. The Sanctuary is said to be the home to around 200 bird species. If you love walking, I’m sure you are going to fall in love with the place.

 After zeroing down on Binsar, started the process of Hotels bookings, Train booking and necessary travel planning. This time I decided to take the Train to Kathgodam, the nearest station to Binsar. The best place to stay in Binsar, if you are a nature freak, is Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Guest House. It’s on hilltop, an exotic location with great views of the mighty Himalayas. And it’s right in the middle of the Wild life sanctuary.

  I got the train tickets booked in Ranikhet Express. And then came the day for which I had been waiting for many days - 

3.00 PM, 14TH August: As I started from my office for my home in Gurgaon, I realized that GOD was perhaps thinking of making some kind of sea in NCR to solve water scarcity in one day. It was raining like crazy. There was water all around on the streets and I was praying to HIM to somehow lower the water level on the streets so that I can reach home, pick my bag and reach Sarai Rohila railway station. My train had to start at 9.55pm.

 5.15 PM, 14th August: I called up the taxi stand and asked them send a car to my house by 6 PM so that I start early. All hell brooke loose when I heard these words from him, ”Sir jee you will not be able to make it on time in any case, there’s a huge jam in all of Gurgaon and Delhi and my all cars are stuck in traffic jam”.  I called up few more taxi stands but all had the same story to tell. Somehow the first taxi stand owner called up to say that he has an old Ambassador which he can send but it has very less CNG, had to be refilled at some CNG station. And I think I don’t need to tell the length of the queue that you can expect at the CNG station in Delhi. Well, as I had no choice, I started for Railway Station at 7.00pm. 

9.30 PM, 14th August: It was more than two and a half hours since I started from Gurgaon and I was still stuck in a bad traffic jam just after crossing Karol Bagh. I decided that if in any case I want to reach the station by 9.55pm, I have to RUN from there leaving behind all the comforts of my good old Amby. Somehow, after going through much of mental trauma, I reached Sarai Rohila station. The feelings that whether I am gonna make it to the station or not might have crossed my mind for about ZILLION times. At one point of time when I was in my Amby, I even called up my brother and told him to get dinner ready for me as I might be coming back!!!! But anyway that torture was now over and I went OFF to sleep on my side upper berth in Ranikhet Express. 

8.00 AM, 15th August: As I stepped out of the train at 8.00am, I wished myself HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY. I came out of the Haldwani Railway station and hired a shared taxi for Almora for 150/- bucks. Great deal, it was a Maruti Alto. Up till Almora, shared taxi is OK but if one needs to go to KMVN Rest House BINSAR, one has to hire a personal taxi from Almora. Though Binasr Wild life sanctuary is 30kms from Almora but the Guest House is 10 kms inside the sanctuary and there is no public transport till the hotel. By the time we reached Almora, Ravi became a buddy. He offered me a drop till Guest house for 250/- bucks more, though the local taxi drivers charges anywhere between 500~700/- Rs from Almora. It’s a beautiful drive, specially the 10 kms inside the sanctuary. A very narrow road leads you to the KMVN Rest house.

Road to the KMVN Guest House inside Binsar wildlife Sanctuary

 1.00 PM 15th August:  KMNV TRH Binsar is at the perfect location. I checked into my room. The rooms were nice n cozy. All made of wood. The rooms on the first floor have better view. I found the rates at KMVN Binsar to be very reasonable. It was already 1.00 pm, room service guy, Narayan, came to my room and said “Sir, your Lunch is ready”. It was foggy and was drizzling. After having my much needed hot coffee, I headed for lunch.

KMVN Guest House


 3.00 PM, 15th August: After eating heavy lunch, I thought of taking a small walk into the jungle. There’s a nice and heavenly jungle trail up till a place called ZERO POINT. It is said to be the highest point in the whole of Almora region offering beautiful views of snow clad mighty Himalayas. From 'Zero Point', it is possible to see panoramic views of gigantic Himalayan peaks such as Kedarnath, Shivling, Trishul and the Nanda Devi. It is One and a Half kms from TRH. One can hire a guide also up till Point Zero but it is not necessary. But one should not venture too far from the trail because the last thing that you will want to happen to you is that you get LOST. According to the official figures, there are 20 leopards in the region. Though Leopard is a very shy animal and there has been a very rare case of Leopard attacking a human but nobody wants to be his dish for the dinner.

Trekking to Point Zero inside the Sanctuary

As soon as I ventured into the jungle it started drizzling. The Jungle looked beautiful in rain. I must admit as I ventured further inside, I had a gut feeling as if somebody is watching me from behind the bushes. Just the thought of it gave me Goosebumps. After taking a few snaps of the place I headed back to the hotel. I enjoyed 2 hours spent in the jungle.

God Painted Me GREEN!!!

7.00 PM, 15th August: There is only solar electricity in the hotel. Solar Electricity is switched on daily for 2 hour in the evening i.e. from 7.00pm to 9.00pm. In these two hours you can charge your mobiles/cameras in the reception of the hotel. There are no charging points provided inside the rooms. And the dinner time is also the same. As I was sitting in the reception charging my handy cam, a fellow traveller who had just checked into the hotel seemed to be very excited. He told us that on his way up to the hotel he saw a fully grown Leopard just 1 km from the hotel.


6.30 AM, 16th August: After an early breakfast I decided to go for a 15km long trek which with will cover a good part of the Sanctuary. I might have walked only around 2 kms from the hotel when I  heard an alarm call by barking dear. He continued his call for almost 5 mins making it for sure that there is a Leopard nearby.  I stood there for almost 20 mins hoping that I might get lucky and will get a glimpse of the Leopard. I did sight the barking deer but were not able to see any leopard. I again started walking further. The jungle was beautiful and a slight drizzle added to the beauty of the place. I spotted Mountain Goats, birds and many butterflies. Due to rains there were many small water streams in the Jungle. They just looked amazing. I completed the heavenly trek by 2 pm. By the time I reached back hotel, it was already lunch time. 

A small water stream encountered during the trek

Forest Rest House

It again started raining and the place became all the more beautiful

 6.00 PM, 16th August: I was sitting on the rooftop listening to Rabbi Shergill. As it grew dark, I realized it was a full moon night and the moon was playing hide and seek with dark clouds. Then suddenly the sky opens up and it looked as if the ALMIGHTY is peeping through the cloud cover. It was amazing!!!! But suddenly the thought of going back to Gurgaon the next day saddened me.  Somehow I consoled my self and then realized that two couples were standing on the terrace and glazing the sky too. We had a nice chat about the place and I came to know that they were also from Gurgaon. They had come by their own cars. We then headed to the dining room for our Dinner as it started to rain again. They offered me a ride till Gurgaon the next day. By the time we had our dinner, we all were friends.

 8.00 AM, 17th August:   As agreed on the dinner table we met at the reception at 8.00 am. After having our breakfast we started our journey back to the plains. It was raining all through the way up till Haldwani. And at Haldwani we got stuck in the jam for almost 2 hrs. The whole journey was full of traffic jams and slow moving traffic through out the way. They dropped me back home at 12.30 in the midnight. I must say that I got my much needed perfect weekend break and it was well worth all the effort. I enjoyed every bit of it. 

Accommodation Recommendations in Binsar:-

1. KMVN Tourist Rest House - Govt run guest house. Amazing location, right inside the Sanctuary.  Contact  for Online Booking.

2. Khali Estate, The Mountain Resort - Good heritage property near Ayarpani
village. Famous for its hospitality. For Bookings Contact- Mr.Ghanshyam Pande
 : +91 9456566685 / 9639989902 or 

3. Kalmatia Sangam- Another beautiful resort just close to Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. It is run by a German Mr Dieter Reeb and his Indian wife Mrs Geeta Reeb. For Bookings contact- 05962- 251176 and 05962-251101 or

4. Grand Oak Manor- A beautiful property in midst of the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. For bookings contact- 91 (0) 5962 213066 , +91 (0) 94129 09518  or