The sweltering summers were back with vengeance. Gurgaon was having a torrid affair with the sun and the temperatures were tipping over 46 degrees. The summer break had started, and the older daughter just managed to score a 9 CGPA in her 12th Board exams. So there were more reasons than one to celebrate and get away from the heat and cool our heels at a more pleasant locale. The Himalayas were beckoning. We zeroed down on Sattal, the seven lake wonder, nestled amidst dense forests of pine and oak, located in the Nainital District of Kumaon region, in none other than the majestic Himalayas of Uttarakhand.
We woke up in the wee hours of the morning, excited to undertake a road trip. I put together some ham, lettuce sandwiches and threw in some jam and peanut butter ones too. The 8year old squealed in delight at the adventure that lay ahead, while the 18 year old plugged in her ear phones, as I scooped Laila, our 3year old Shitzu into my arms and plonked myself next to our very own chauffeur, my better half who is a driver par excellence.
The Innova steered it’s way through the 4 am darkness, and I played Bhajans, a good omen to start the road trip. The 18 year old groaned, “No, Mamma, not this early in the morning.” I rebuked her and continued to hum to Hey, Ram by Jagjit Singh.
The 6 hour drive actually passed by in a jiffy with dhabha breaks at Gajruala, one pit stop at Haldwani for Kips mithai and lassi. Laila was also enjoying the drive, as she lay snuggled in my arms and snored her way away.
It was around lunch that we reached the pristine, crisp fresh and fragrant mountains of Sattal. We clambered out of the car to savour the beauty of the interconnected group of seven lakes- Sattal. The seven serene lakes of Sattal are Purna Tal, Ram Tal, Sita Tal, Laxman Tal, Nal Damyanti Tal, Sukh Tal and Garud Tal. The lakes sit at an altitude of 1370 meters surrounded by lush orchards. Sattal it is believed was compared with Westmore land of England, by the Britishers. We all stood spell bound and our gaze stayed affixed to the gorgeous lakes, as Laila went around sniffing the fresh blooms.
Sattal is also home to over 500 species of resident and migratory birds. It’s a bird watchers’ paradise and during our 3 day stay we spotted some unique species of kingfishers, parakeets, whistling thrushes, sun birds, babblers etc. We devoured a delicious local lunch prepared by the resort kitchen, and while I and the better half chose to soak in some siesta, the girls and Laila went for a languorous walk along the lakes.
The evening sun was setting and we were sitting in our verandah sipping some masala chai and gorging on pakoras when the caretaker of our resort informed us that we would be going for a wilderness walk, amidst the pine trees and orchards, early next morning. The girls were ecstatic, and Laila also barked a so called yes.
As the sun disappeared amidst the mountains, Sattal was plunged in a serene silence. A silence that seemed to be paying tribute to the majestic Himalayas. We sat quietly watching the mountain lights, the flickering fire flies and listening to the chirping crickets, as a night owl almost flew above our heads and perched itself on the pine tree adjacent to the verandah.
A wondrous jungle walk awaited us. The night was surreal and held forth promises to another day in paradise.