By Sriparna Saha
| THE HANS INDIA |
Aug 19,2017 , 11:26 PM IST
Pangot, located just 13 km from the popular hill station Nainital, with approximately 500 species of birds is surely a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers
Stressed out with life in the city, we decided to take a break and what could be more refreshing than a birding trip to the village of Pangot, located less than an hour’s drive from Nainital! We started early from Dehradun, around 5:30 in the morning, and after a leisurely drive through a very rainy Uttarakhand, reached Nainital in time for lunch.
The viewpoint just outside Nainital proved disappointing as it was foggy and the clouds blocked a view of the Himalayan peaks. We moved on and as we headed towards the high hills, we had our first bird sightings -that of Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush and the Grey-winged Blackbird.
As we went further, we saw a group of Eurasian Jays sitting pretty on a branch just above the road. We stopped the car and got out. One of the Jays seemed so fearless that it did not fly away and even posed beautifully for the camera!
The drive from Nainital towards Pangot offered astonishing views of the valley and the Himalayan ranges. Rich oak and rhododendron forests can be seen on both sides of the road. The village of Pangot itself is tiny, surrounded by woods and there are only a handful of home stays and resorts, which added to the charm of the place.
We stayed at a homestay and the hospitality was just amazing. The food was simple vegetarian, but the quality of the food (with ingredients picked up from what they grow on the property) was divine. Since bird watching was the only item on our agenda we did nothing else other than to walk, sit and watch it rain over many cups of tea and pakoras.
Next morning, I woke up amidst chirping of birds. It was an out of world experience! We went out for trekking in the jungle and the pet dog of the homestay, aptly named "Tiger" followed us all the way like an expert guide. On the way back we waited at a spot supposedly frequented by the pheasants as told to us by our homestay host.
While we heard the pheasants calling loud and clear from down in the valley, no amount of craning our necks gave us any clue as to where they were. Disappointed we started walking back. As the fog gradually blocked our complete view, we stopped at a tea stall.
We were shivering as it was so cold and the tea really helped us to keep warm. As we were sipping tea, a guy arrived in a jeep and told us that we had just missed a very good sighting of the shy and elusive Koklass Pheasant. Apparently, it was on the main path and stood confused for a good five minutes looking at the jeep.
What an opportunity had been denied to us! But then that is birding for you. They, that is, the birds, decide when to give a “darshan”!
In the afternoon, after the sky had cleared, I was stumped by the sight of the amazing sunset, beautiful mountain ranges, and thick pristine forest cover. The sight of snow peaks just wiped away all the accumulated stress. Later in the evening, the hills looked extremely enchanting with fog rising up and the clouds rolling over seeming to envelop and engulf the hills.
We felt lucky that we had come to this out-of-the-world place solely because of my hubby's bird watching hobby. Completely off the tourist radar, this place is a total contrast to the crowded hill stations.
During the night while we were sitting beside the camp fire mesmerised by the starlit sky, I came across a very unusual looking worm with very bright glowing fluorescent dots on its back; it was unlike anything I have seen before.
Pangot with approximately 500 species of birds is surely a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers. Kilbury and Snow Viewpoint are the two most preferred locations for birdwatching and photography. One of the most popular and easiest trekking trails in the region is in Brahamasthali, which is 12 km from Pangot.
This trek is surrounded by lush greenery on both sides. It is located at an elevation of approximately 9,000 ft and offers mesmerising views of the surroundings.
Pangot’s USP is it's rich and exotic bird life and abundance of natural beauty. The place, because of its verdant greenery, exotic colourful flowers, beautiful landscape and of course birds is like a destination straight out of a picture postcard. The tiny place is home to innumerable species of birds descending from the upper Himalayan regions to avoid the harsh winters there.
As work stress begins to tighten its grip on city folks like us, we seek for an escape in the serenity of the hill stations. A trip to Pangot will help calm your city-stressed senses and enable you to spend some peaceful time in mother nature’s lap. It can also be a very good idea to couple a trip to Pangot during a visit to Nainital if you are travelling with your family.
Moreover, in case you are a couple don’t think twice...Skip Nainital and go to Pangot instead. It is a place where you are guaranteed to find solitude in the hills and togetherness with each other! Even if you do not enjoy birding, the sweet chirping of birds will surely draw your attention and entice you to adore them.
Location: Pangot is only 15 km from the famous hill station of Nainital in Uttarakhand. From Delhi, Pangot is 300 kms by road and the best route is to take Delhi - Moradabad - Rampur - Bazpur - Kaladhungi - Pangot.
Accommodation: There is a variety of options available to suit all pockets. For a real local experience, choose one of the many homestays.
Best season to visit: Round the year except monsoons. Post-monsoon and spring is best time to spot birds.
Note: Don’t forget to take your hiking shoes and cameras.