Over to Uttarakhand: Ranikhet - The first glimpse of Nanda Devi
There's no doubt that we were really very lucky to catch some of the best glimpses of some of the most magnificent peaks of the Himalayas. In fact we understood how lucky we're only after returning from Uttarakhand while going through the snaps that we had taken. After a two day stay at Garjia in the Corbett National Park we were going to Ranikhet - our next destination. We were travelling on the Ramnagar-Ranikhet road, when suddenly beyond a curve the entire range appeared before us as a huge glass structure hung up in the blue sky.
The experience of suddenly getting a glimpse of the panoramic view of the snowcapped Himalayan ranges extending from Trishul in the west to the Panch Chuli peaks in the east - an expanse of around 65km - from a distance of about 110km can't be expressed in words. Not many people get to see the entire range of Trishul (7120m), Nanda Devi (7817m, highest peak in India), Nanda Kot (6861m), Panch Chuli (6904m) and many more peaks and glaciers so clearly.
The Ramnagar-Ranikhet road is one of the worst roads we came across during our entire Uttarakhand trip. Not only is the road very ill maintained, it's quite dangerous too. It traverses along a barren edge of a steep ridge overlooking a deep valley. Most of the places the road doesn't even have a barricade at the edge. The surroundings are quite beautiful, but the dangerous ride doesn't give much chance to enjoy the beauty. After sometime the journey becomes quite boring because the landscape doesn't change much for miles at a stretch. That's when suddenly beyond a curve appears the dazzling structure of the snowcapped Himalayan ranges. We never lost the view till Ranikhet - some 50-60 km away from the place we first spotted it.
The view was just mesmerizing. I never bothered to find out which peaks they were. The names and the vital statistics of the peaks or the glaciers didn't seem to be relevant at that point of time. We just drank everything with our eyes for as long they were visible. It's only after we reached Bangalore that I started figuring out which all peaks we had seen. And that's when I was just blown out to find out that we managed to get quite a rare view which many people would die to get. It requires the sky to be really very clear to get an uninterrupted view of the entire stretch of 65km of the mighty Himalayas from a distance of more than hundred kilometers. Later we went to Auli from where we could see the Nanda Devi at an aerial distance of only 25km. But still the beauty of the panoramic view from the Ramnagar-Ranikhet road is incomparable to anything. I searched for similar views on the Internet. But to my utter surprise and pride too, I could find out that our view was one of the best ones. I did some map study and figured out the names of the peaks that we'd seen. Knowing that we saw some of the highest peaks of the world, I wish I'd taken some better snaps. I didn't even bother to take a panoramic view of the entire range. Later I did a shoddy job with merging two snaps and creating a panoramic photo of the range stretching from Trishul to Panch Chuli.
We didn't plan to stay at Ranikhet. But we had to break the journey from Corbett to Auli at some place. That's when we chose Ranikhet. Now I wish we stayed there more than just a part of a day. Perhaps the place we chose to stay also added more to the enchanting experience at Ranikhet. We stayed at a place called Kalawati Retreat, run by an unusual local entrepreneur who converted his ancestral land in the outskirts of the Ranikhet into a small hotel with very humble ambiance but extraordinary hospitality and awesome food - among the best we took in our entire Uttarakhand trip. It's located near an Ayurvedic drug factory off the Ranikhet-Ramnagar road, a few kms away from downtown Ranikhet towards Ramnagar. People interested to spend a few leisurely moments in the lap of nature amidst lush green surroundings and the best possible homely food can surely try it out. It overlooks a valley which provides a wonderful view of sunset on the Himalayas. The color of the sky and the snow attains so many hues and shades in a short span of time that you're ought to keep gazing at it even long after everything gets dark.