the whole north lay open in front of us. there are so many states, so many places, so many different cultures that we haven’t discovered yet and then many places we could visit again…
we took a call, that it wouldn’t be about the city, but about the places & people whom we wanted to visit. a friend from post-graduation college had quit the corporate world and begun his own resort, up in the hills. that became the starting point – misty mountains, jhaltola, near nainital.
funnel layer 1: we were headed to the hills of kumaon. the land of corbett. the valleys of the tiger.
confused about everything, we knew one thing. we didn’t want to stay AT nainital. scarred by our visit to darjeeling a couple of years ago which left us thinking all hill stations are cement-scarred, with structures that crawl over hills and valleys, steeped in humanity and with a never-ending supply of open gutters!
funnel layer 2: we were NOT staying in nainital, so we needed places in and around those hills.
we like homestays. it is a new-found love affair. a love affair that enthralls in seeing places not through monuments but through the eyes of a local. a love affair strengthened by proximity, living in their house, sharing their food, at times sleeping in the rooms that their kids stayed in some years ago. a love affair that is not just a passing fancy. and it all began with an enlightening trip to rural kerala where we stayed with the nambodhris at their lovely home – maranat mana.
funnel layer 3: homestays!
with all the filters in place, we begun the online hunt. tripadvisor got ripped apart. google got asked confusing questions. friends suggestions got a thorough, thoughtful munch. yes, phew… we narrowed it down to a list of around 7-8 places that we wanted to visit.
during this time the friends in delhi were not willing to commit. work, commitments, they were stalling. we ignored, went ahead and booked our train tickets from delhi to kathgodam, the train station closest to these hills. (one more advantage of being married. you always have someone to travel with, even if friends ditch – which friends are known to do!)
and that list of 8 places got further narrowed down… multiple reasons… due to availability, the route not being supportive of our desire to stay and experience rather that go up and down over hills, bad time of the year for animals, and of course, price!
places finalised, blocked and booked, we headed out to discover, uncover, unravel and untravel!