I am in love with walking. It helps that Chhavi (my daughter) is good at it too. On our trips we can go for long walks together. On our recent trip to Abbotsford, Nainital, we went walking around Nanital. Abbotsford is at a distance from the lake but we decided to walk down to the town. The second day we did a short hike to a local temple. In this post I have collected our walking pictures and memories!
On our way down to the Naini Lake I spotted the signboard of St. John in the Wilderness Church. That meant the church was nearby too! The walk was away from the main road. Chhavi was skeptical of finding any church out there. But it was there alright, with hardly a soul around it. The door was locked though.
While walking out she saw poster of ‘save the girl child.’ She asked me what did that mean? I was happy that she didn’t know the meaning. She looked surprised when I tried to explain it to her. I am happy she didn’t comprehend much.
We also stopped at a shoe shop to buy a pair for Chhavi. I packed a sandal for her but the weather was cold. While we were selecting the shoe, the owner pointed out the wired tailed swallow’s nest within his shop!
I have often suspected that I have the tunnel vision syndrome. I have visited to Nainital frequently and yet I failed to notice Jama Masjid before! Can you imagine that?
While I was selecting the photos for the post, I realized there were too many of the lake. But the locals say ‘Nainital has one major attraction, the lake!’ So I decided to go ahead with multiple pictures. This is the customary one from the boat ride.
The weather was unsettled when we were in the city. There was a hail storm just before we went for the boat ride. It was windy and cold by the lake but were not missing out on the experience as it was a first for Chhavi.
If I were alone, I would click a lot of pictures by the lake. But the kid has no patience for such things. I got a few hurried shots. We decided that before the weather turned again, we should go back to Abbotsford. This time we took a taxi.
Abbotsford is a beautiful cottage built in 1876. It later became the home of the Prasada Family. They now run it as a homestay. My stay at Nainital was sponsored by them. We were happy to get back to the cozy cottage and tea. Janhavi Prasada was there and Chhavi would talk to her non-stop!
The next morning we went for a short hike just above the cottage. Out last stop was a local temple. The walk offered wonderful views of the Naini Lake and the town.
The way to the temple was uphill. Both Chhavi and Janhavi were fit, they would run ahead. I made up the rear. Chhavi would run ahead with the guide, come back to say she was truly tired and then run ahead again.
When I was too tired to walk, I would stop to click a picture. That way I could catch my breath too. It helped that the view was alluring too!
There was no one other than us above the temple. Chhavi went berserk ringing all the bells. The ones she could not reach, it was my duty to lift her up to them!
While coming down I had a chit-chat with the mother-daughter duo by the water tap. The girl had given class 7th exams and was enjoying her vacation. They were happy to pose for me.
Janhavi, Chhavi and I along with our guide picked up the plastic from the trail on our way down. We collected a lot of plastic. Only our local guide could go to fetch the plastic bottles from precarious slopes.
Janhavi pointed out the cottage of the registrar of the local polytechnic to me. Now if someone offers me such a place in the hills I might be tempted to go back to academics!
PS. It seems mountains make me go bonkers and not just Rhododendron Flowers! This is a 15 picture post again!
After Fort Kochi, Kerala Backwaters were my next stop. But instead of the traditional places Travspire offered me a cycling, walking and boating trip with my base at Breeze Backwater Homes in Kuthiathode. My room there was literally five steps away from the backwaters. Before lunch I had gulped two cups of tea and spent quite some time hanging in a hammock.
Traditional Kerala Lunch
Before cycling I had a big traditional Kerala lunch served on a banana leaf. The stuff was seriously good but the amount of food I consumed was not ideal for a day of cycling. Such unwelcome thoughts were, however, pushed aside and I concentrated on enjoying my meal. Vishnu was my companion for the trip and Appu took the car so that he could bring the cycles back when we went for boating.
The Local Temple
One of our first stops was the local temple where I asked Vishnu if the locals still knew each-other? He said that they certainly did and temples were the usual gathering places for the people. He also said to enter the people have to wear traditional dress which meant sari for women. But a group of women went to High Court and won the right to enter in Salwar Kurta! I was quite surprised to hear that.
The Cycling Route, Kerala Backwaters
The path partially went through the village and then it opened to the backwaters and open spaces. Even in the village lanes people were tolerant of us, they would only honk us out gently out of the way. At no point I thought it was unsafe to cycle around. And in the open spaces it was a lot of fun. At this spot there was a local toddy shop. Vishnu gently mentioned it and I did not pursue it. Now I wish that I had gone and had some local toddy along with fish. I generally don’t eat fish but I can nibble at it maybe once every 2 years. Someone else have to finish the dish for me.
Lush Green Paddy Fields, Kerala Backwaters
We cycled past lush green paddy fields stretching long and wide. It was a sight to behold and the picture above is rubbish compared to the actual scene. I will admit readily that sometimes I do take pictures that can make a place look better than it actually is but this is not one of those pictures. We would stop whenever we came across something to admire. And I stopped for the longest time near the paddy fields.
Cycling in Kerala Backwaters
My cycling adventure came to an end near Chettanam Fishing Harbor. Here you can see Vishnu chatting to Appu (whom you can’t see, he is sitting inside the car). The cycles got loaded to the car in the end. I was glad I could cycle all the eight kilometers without falling off once. At one pint there was a lot of water across the dirt track. I almost fell there but in the end I managed to get through without splashing mud all over the cycle and me.
Chettanam Fishing Harbor, Kerala
Chettanam Fishing Harbor is used by local fishermen. The black curves you see toward the horizon are protective structures made for the ships so that they can enter the sea in comparatively rough weather as well. Vishnu mentioned that sometimes the catch from a single trip could be worth 3 lakhs Indian rupees (.3 million) which would be then shared between all the members of the boat. We walked along the stone structure for sometime.
The Shore near Chettanam Fishing Harbour, Kerala
And as we tuned back I saw this beautiful shoreline dotted with coconut trees, as far as my eyes could see. The sea was rough though. For here our boat trip was a short car ride and even a shorter walk away.
Our boat was a small one. It was rowed with help of a long bamboo pole. The water in the channel was shallow. And the boatman was proud to point out that it was a non-polluting vessel. Also being smaller than the houseboats it can once again navigate through smaller waterways. There were many caretaker huts along the way. Occasionally a lone person would be walking away on the other side of the bank. There were steel bands along some coconut trees which Vishnu told me were meant to discourage rats.
Curious Kids at Kerala Backwaters
At one point I crossed these curious kids all happily playing along the water, no gadgets in site. This was an absolutely quiet stretch and I enjoyed the silence. It is music to my city strained ears.
Houseboats, Kerala Backwaters
In fact this was the only other traffic we encountered. There were foreigners in the small boat rowing it all by themselves! And the two houseboats parked by the side. Soon we were back to Breeze Backwater Homes. It was time for another round of tea for me.
What a beautiful evening it was! I have to take my daughter to the place one day.
I am quite fond of walking, particularly those long walks to nowhere, and it has landed me in all kind of interesting situations. I think it gets interesting because I am scared of dogs. Sometimes I get caught in the rains. I do not care much about the rains but somehow my camera does. So it becomes mission critical to find a shelter not so much for me but for my camera if I do not have something dry for my camera!
Photo Credit- Baranov E at Shutterstock
Then there is my sense of direction or the lack of it. Maps are the toughest puzzles to me. If I feel the map tells me to go to right, sure enough I need to turn left. That is why when I am in unfamiliar surroundings, I take the straight road and never lose the sight of the place where I need to return to. And maybe that is why I love the mountain roads so much. Usually there is just one road that passes through the entire village, there is no need to take a left or right! Now those are my kind of roads. And if there are no dogs on it, then nothing cold be better! Thrown in some wild flowers and I am in seventh heaven!
On a different note, I took my niece to a park which was sufficiently big, and I felt like running after a long time! I did not indulge in it, as I had just stuffed two Parathas and my niece was of course on the swing trying all kind of stunts. She needed watching or she may start eating the swing! OK not the swing but certainly the paint of it, I wonder why the kids find it so tasty! Otherwise, since I left athletics never felt like running again. However, ask me to walk and I am always game for it.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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