Hemp bags and shawls -- once all the rage -- are now passé; the new "in," manufactured by local Kumaonis, are stoles made from the stinging nettle. The plant is converted into fiber, and the resulting hand-woven stoles are stylish, soft, and ultra-luxurious; and no, they don't itch. Initiated by a women's cooperative, you can take a fascinating tour of the Panchachuli factory (Pataldevi Industrial Area; tel. 05962/23-6817; www.panchachuli.com) which also has a shop attached. Or, if time is of essence, then head for the outlet in Almora market (Mall road; tel. 05962/23-0968; from Rs 2,000).
En route from Naukuchiatal to Bhowali, make sure you stop at Fruitage, which sells apple chutney, apricot halves, and a refreshing rhododendron squash. Some species of rhododendron are believed to have medicinal qualities that cool you down (ideal on a hot day). In addition, the plant's extracts (or honey produced from its nectar) are thought to alleviate cardiac problems, high blood pressure, and asthma. Connoisseurs of honey should also stop at the sleepy state-run apiary in Jeolikot, 17km (11 miles) from Nainital, famous for its pure wildflower honey. Sample unique, naturally occurring honey varieties like mustard, litchi, and eucalyptus.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.