My frozen fingers automatically reached for the neatly packed sweater in my black and white striped bag as the train came to a shuddering halt before the sun had fully risen. The sudden change in temperature from the prickly heat last morning to the chilly mist today was proof enough. We had arrived.
As my tired eyes refused to open wide, after the stiff, sleepless night I spent in my cramped berth, I yawned and let my arms find the comfort of the soft woollen clothing as I wrapped myself up tightly in its lovely warmth. At the call of my friends, who had already freshened up, I slid off the berth and started hopping around the dirty, sticky floor of the train as I began my search for my slippers, trying hard to keep my pink feet pink.
About an hour later, after we had all settled down with our tummies full with bread and omelette, the train finally came to a halt. Grabbing the luggage that was ready on our laps, we descended, our eyes sparkling with excitement.
Situated in Northern India, towards the Himalayas, Nainital is prominently lush with abundant greenery and multiple lakes. Often called the ‘Lake District’ of India, this hill station is famous for its tourist attractions of nature’s splendidness.
Our toes felt numb from the sudden chill that welcomed us on the platform. Surrounded by petty vendors who were selling hot, homemade food or packed up junk items, the railway station resembled what most others in India did. Unkempt surroundings and mixed up smells.
The only difference I noticed, than that at the station back at home, was the whimpering crowds, anxious to get a cup of hot tea. The tea seller seemed to be making the best business on that platform. As the warm, sweet liquid slid down our throats while the icy breeze brushed our cheeks, we sighed in ultimate bliss.
Outside, the entire scenario was different. Back in my city, I would be welcomed by the bustle of the busy roads and the hustle of harried humans. But here, to my pleasant surprise, I found greenery everywhere. I watched as people, fully covered from head to toe with monkey caps, mittens, mufflers and padded shoes, walked around, preferring to commute this way to places close by to taking out their pollution causing vehicles. It made me wish that we did that more back home.
We were made to stand in twos as we walked down to our hotel, looking like happy penguins, where we were greeted by a wonderful treat.
Like the rest, our hotel wasn’t in view. It was situated even higher than we already were. Five hundred steps higher, to be precise. Thus began our unending journey to get to our rooms as we dragged our luggage up the endless flight of steps, our beads of sweat being gently kissed by the cool gushes of breeze.
Our first stop was Ranikhet, meaning ‘Queen’s Field’ situated around 60 kms away from Nainital. A picturesque hill-station, this place is famous for its large acres of pine trees. Carrying two pine cones in each of our pockets and three in our hands, we walked ahead to the best sight we’d probably ever see in our lives. A sight that no camera would be able to capture to perfection. This was a panoramic view of the great Himalayas set among the loveliness of ample greenery and hidden behind cool mist. To compliment this, the pure fragrance of nature left us spellbound. We eagerly took out our cameras but knew that this was one sight worth seeing with the naked eye.
Next in queue was the Naina Lake. Spotting the boats from a distance, we ran towards the water body, unable to contain our excitement. Paying the boatman, we got in and screamed in delight. The boats set off, unsettling the stillness of the clear water, as we looked around, regretting the fact that we only had two eyes to take in the exquisite beauty dotted with plush villas and pretty cottages.
One of the main attractions of Nainital and the biggest wonder for us was that of the ropeway. This connects a trolley that can carry up to ten passengers to the top. In great excitement, we all got in, nervous at the great height and gasping in delight at the astounding gorgeousness.
As night arose, we spread out to do shopping, getting souvenirs to take back to our families. The best one however, was the candle collection. Exquisitely shaped, these wax structures looked magnificent. As we boarded the train back home reluctantly and stared out the grilled windows, all the magnificent sights of Nainital danced in front of our eyes and would continue to do so for many years to come…
About the Author: Shravya Gunipudi is a 20 year old CA Final Student from Hyderabad, India. Writing has been her passion right from a tender age and she has won numerous contests. She also has a blog titled ‘Fictionally Inkspired‘ –