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Exploring Kumaon Himalaya through Forest Rest Houses

There are at least a hundred such rest houses scattered all over Kumaon and Garhwal- most were built during the time of the Raj though only a few retain the old grandeur and still have memories of days gone by. Selection of rest houses is based on the forests around it and the colonial architecture of the rest house. Most of the rest houses do not have electricity, but rest assured you would begin to like it very soon- we also take enough lanterns and candles to provide lighting where necessary.

On many occasions, beautifully located and built, private homes that people rent out can be alternated with the rest houses depending on your preference and the route taken. Such stone, glass and wood homes are commonly seen strewn about the Kumaon Himalayas in the most picture perfect locations.

Sample Tour Plan - Eight nights and nine days

Day 1:Arrive at Corbett Wilds : Arrive at Corbett Wilds by lunch. After wash and change and a sumptuous lunch, we would take you on an escorted nature and bird walk into the river near Camp . It is an excellent opportunity to walk in the cool of the forest, to be so close to nature and to appreciate the varied plants, insects, birds, mammals and reptiles that inhabit this part of the country. THE QUIETER YOU ARE, THE MORE YOU WILL SEE.

Back to camp by sundown for campfire and dinner, which is leisurely and personal. Along with the excellent cuisine, your guide and hosts will amuse and amaze you with their stories of exciting experiences. Then it is time to relax once again and enjoy carefree chatter by the fireside whilst feasting on the unique sounds and smells that your exclusive location offers, before retiring to bed with only canvas separating you from the Indian jungles.

Day 2: Corbett Wilds to Pines Bird Lodge near Ranikhet : After a lavish breakfast, pack for the journey ahead and our route would take us past Mohan onto the road leading to Ranikhet- as we go higher the Sal forests would give way to tall Pine trees. Packed lunch, specially prepared by our chef, would be served in a pine forest by a stream. Once in Ranikhet, a drive of three hours, we would explore the quiet and charming hill station, offering breathtaking, panoramic views of the snow laden Himalayan peaks.

A visit to the Kumaon Regiment Museum, the tweed factory, the old church and a drive past the old colonial bungalows (most of them restored and in use by the Kumaon regiment and thus in immaculate condition) are a must. We would visit the unusual bazaar of Ranikhet; located on the slope of a mountain and referred to as "khadi bazaar" (khadi meaning steep in the local lingo).

Then we drive for an hour and a half, past Majkhali (with awe-inspiring and very prominent views of the Trishul & Nanda Devi peaks) to reach the old forest bungalow. The drive to get here is awesome; partly on metalled roads which then gives way to a jeep track past thick rhododendron & oak forests.

At the Lodge our staff, who would have arrived there earlier in a pilot jeep would have hot chai ready and waiting for our arrival. After a quick wash and change, admire the breathtaking sundown and then settle down near the fireplace with your guide and hosts for an easy and relaxed evening over drinks, snacks and dinner.
Overnight in the Pines Bird Lodge / safari tents.

Day 3: At the Pines Bird Lodge near Ranikhet: Apart from the great location of the bungalow -overlooking the majestic Himalayan ranges it is a fine place for walks in the thick oak and rhododendron forest. This can be clubbed with a visit to a famous Ashram nearby.

For those interested in bird watching, this is a great opportunity- our naturalist would lead a walk into the forests early in the morning and have you back in time for breakfast. Post that you could explore the bungalow ( under renovation)- read its old guest register with entries dating back to 1906, flip thru the old, moth-eaten Brit magazines and other publications, admire its old furniture, crockery, cutlery and the great stone architecture.

Post a hot lunch and a short siesta, we explore the environs of the rest house. After breathtaking views from sun-set point (we discovered this vantage point in our last trip!) we head back to the FRH for our last night here. Being on top of a hill with thick forests all around, whistling winds visit each evening, sometimes bringing with them low lying clouds and mists, turning the whole place into an abode of clouds- a heavenly feel!

It is time to relax once again and enjoy carefree banter by the fireplace over drinks and dinner, before retiring to bed in the forest rest house / safari tents.

Day 4: FRH near Ranikhet to FRH near Baijnath : Drive, post an easy breakfast towards the FRH past Baijnath. Today we would drive past Someshwar, Kausani & Baijnath. Stops, to explore each place would be made. Kausani is noted for its close Himalyan views and Baijnath for the famous old temple complex by the shallow Gomti river.

The last few kms of the drive offer breathtaking close views of Trishul & Nanda Devi. The drive is on a forest track in a very Pine forest past small Kumaoni hamlets. The FRH is one of the earlier built ones and surprisingly better maintained. Admirable stone architecture with carved pillars and large bay windows complete the serene picture.

Hot chai and a ready rest house would be awaiting our arrival. After a wash and change, we can all settle down by the fireplace and discuss the events of the day and the plans for the next day.

Overnight in the forest rest house / safari tents.

Day 5: At the FRH near Baijnath : Day spent in exploring the areas around. This rest house is located in the middle of a dense pine forest. For those who want, we would drive a short distance away for spectacular close and colossal views of the Himalayan peaks, at sunrise and then walk back to the rest house past small two-house traditional Kumaoni hamlets.

This old bungalow was built in 1921 and still has remnants of the old grandeur. More than half a day can be spent discovering them. The old outhouse located within the same compound, but at a lower level, is a great area to explore.

Day 6: FRH near Baijanth to FRH near Someshwar : Wake up at leisure and have breakfast laid out in the spacious lawns of the bungalow. After that we pack and leave for out next rest house, towards Binsar. We don't actually drive all the way to Binsar, but cut of many kms ahead for our next FRH. The drive today will take us past Bageshwar and then smaller hamlets. The last exciting 15 kms are in a virgin forest of oak and rhododendron, which then gives way to Pine as we go deeper and deeper into the forest.

This FRH was also built in 1906 and amazingly has electricity! The bungalow is well maintained and seems like paradise in the middle of nowhere. Its wild gardens are dotted with patches of lilies, multi-coloured wildflowers and many other seasonal flowers. The staff here, proudly tend to a rather large scale medicinal plant nursery. Just exploring the area within the rest house compound gives sheer pleasure to those weary city minds!

Overnight in the forest rest house / safari tents.

Day 7: FRH near Someshwar to Corbett Wilds : Early breakfast, pack and depart for Corbett Wilds. Part of the drive today would be similar to our first day of traveling as we hit Ranikhet and then get to Camp. We would have packed lunch on the way and be back in Camp just in time for some evening tea.
After the much needed scrub, we gather by the campfire and discuss our trip. This time it would be you telling the stories and adding to our experiences!
After a relaxed round of drinks and dinner, retire to the tents for your last night at Camp.

* If you have more time (say two more days), instead of driving back to Camp we could drive on towards a rest house near Nainital/ Ramgarh/ Bhowali/ Naukuchital and end your trip there. You could then depart for your onward destination from there itself. It would be the same distance from Delhi as Camp is.

Day 8: At the FRH near Someshwar : After a late breakfast and lounging about the FRH, we walk to a nearby temple. There are actually two in the area. The more well-known and famous Gannath temple is a mere 15 minutes walk amidst tall pine trees and is intriguing enough for the not so religious minded too.

This second, a one and a half hour uphill hike through dense forests, is also reachable by road, so those who wish to drive and walk back (or vice versa), could also do so. The area also makes for great walks for bird watching and sighting the elusive mountain goat.
Overnight in the forest rest house / safari tents.

Day 9: Depart for onward destination

Wake up at leisure. After breakfast bid goodbye to the wildlife team and depart for onward destination.

Other Budget Tour Packages with Jim Corbett National Park:

Delhi- Corbett National Park - Delhi tour package
Delhi- Corbett National Park - Nainital- Delhi tour package
Delhi- Corbett National Park - Ranikhet-Nainital- Delhi tour Package
Delhi- Corbett National Park - Nainital- Delhi tour Package
Delhi- Jim Corbett Park - Ranikhet-Nainital- Kausani-Almora- Delhi tour Package
Delhi- Corbett National Park - Delhi tour package (2 night & 3 Days) -
Delhi- Corbett National Park - Nainital- Delhi tour package
Delhi- Corbett National Park - Ranikhet-Nainital- Delhi tour Package
Delhi- Corbett National Park - Nainital- Delhi tour Package
Delhi- Jim Corbett Park - Ranikhet-Nainital- Kausani-Almora- Delhi tour Package
 

Suggested Wildlife Tours
Bird Tour in Corbett National Park
Places Covered : Delhi-Corbett National Park-Ranikhet-Delhi/Agra

Fishing & Angling Tour in Corbett National Park
Places Covered : Delhi-Corbett National Park-Pancheswar-Delhi/Agra

Tiger Hotspots
Places Covered : Kanha National Park-Bandhavgrah National Park-Corbett Park

Elephant Back Safari Tour in Corbett National Park
Places Covered : Delhi-Corbett National Park-Delhi/Agra.

Exploring Kumaon Himalaya through Forest Rest Houses.

Corbett Wilds

Jim Corbett National Park
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