advertisement

It's not hard to fathom why the British Raj claimed this eastern pocket of Himalayan India from Nepal in 1815. Free of the hustle and bustle of urban India and blessed with a gentle, laid-back quality, the Kumaon, studded with gorgeous lakes, not all of which are overcrowded with construction, is great for viewing breathtaking scenery, breathing in restorative oxygen-rich air, taking wonderful walks, and seeing decaying reminders of the British preoccupation with transforming remote villages into proper English towns. Prominent among these are Nainital and Ranikhet. Both are surrounded by pine forests and are good spots for taking a break; the latter is prettier and arguably the most evocative former British hill station in India. However, with the opening of Fisherman's Lodge at Bhimtal (30km/19 miles from Nainital), we recommend giving Nainital a miss altogether, and heading straight for this restorative retreat. Kumaon is great road-trip country: A good route is to spend a couple of nights at Fisherman's Lodge, possibly overnighting at Mukteshwar next, before setting off for Binsar or Almora -- this is untouched Kumaon, with superb places to rest your head: other than the two stalwarts listed, there is the absolutely fabulous 360° at Leti, perhaps the most exclusive mountain resort in the country. Next, either head east to Ranikhet or return back south to Naukuchiatal (or Jilling) for your next stop, ending your journey at Corbett National Park. Wherever you overnight, the road journeys between these destinations are the real joy of the Kumaon; when you're this close to gorgeous Himalayan mountain ranges, you simply cannot escape breathtaking views.