After travelling to Rajasthan and Punjab I never really got the time to go out and explore the country. I planned on going on a trek to Himachal called “the Indrahar Pass trek” but an ill timed sickness dashed any hopes of that happening. The next plan came around Diwali when Rohit called me and asked me if I wanted to go Paragliding in ‘Bir Billing’. That plan too got cancelled knocking the wind out of my sails. I’d pretty much lost hope of going anywhere when Samarth(Sam) gave me a call asking if I’d like to attend his sisters wedding at a resort in Jim Corbett National Park,Nainital.A pleasent suprise came when Ashar said that he’d be coming for the wedding too.My bags were packed and I was ready to go.
Samarth Chauhan,Ashar Abdullah & I have been friends since college and had forged a lasting friendship playing DOTA, among other things. Now considering that we’re a group with a Hindu,Muslim and Christian we’d be the poster children on diversity & harmony. However,while I would’nt call the idea a stretch of imagination we’re definately nowhere on the same wavelength which can be a logistics nightmare. Due to some misunderstanding Ashar and I ended up booking our tickets a day earlier than the marriage party’s arrival to Nainital. What was worse was that we realised the misunderstanding one night before Ashar and I were to leave for Nainital.
I picked up Ashar first from the Airport followed by Sam who arrived about 40 minutes later. We dropped Sam off at his relative’s home,exchanged plesentries and headed for the railway station. The trip from New Delhi to Jim Corbett is an overnight journey and we arrived at the nearby town of Ramnagar in the wee hours of the day. From there we headed to the resort where we were to stay for the next few days. Ashar & I thought it’d be best if we did a bit of exploring and went to the Kosi river that was just a few 100 meters away from the resort. It was a breathtaking view and we arrived at the river banks just prior to sunrise. The river separated us from the forest on the other side and further beyond that lay the Shiwaliks, a prelogue to the Great Himalyas. We spent some time there where Ashar unintenionally delivered a whack on my face while trying to regain his balance.We sat there for a bit longer and then went back to the resort..
After breakfast we headed to Ramnagar town to see the town area. Coming from a small town myself I felt right at home. The sparse population, narrow roads and friendly people made us feel like welcome guests. We spent a while just navigating through the alleyways looking for some chai and samosas.
The next day we had to get up early as we’d booked an elephant safari. We started from a point close to the hotel and crossed the river to enter the forest. After a few hair raising moments where I was certain the pachyderm would slip while navigating a slippery slope we reached the forest where the temperature immediately dropped. Our host Lakshmi was groggy initially but after entering the forest actively began picking out the diverse foliage and ate whatever she felt like eating, all the while moving suprisingly very silently.I was hoping to see the majestic tiger but the mahoot assured us that it was unlikely.He informed us that the best time to see one would be in summer when there was no foliage under which it could conceal itself.We did manage to see a very petrified deer who was caught off guard when Lakshmi sneaked up on her. There was an entire herd that just watched us, some curious, others on their guard. Apart from that we saw some monkeys and even a wild cat. The Mahoot was quite the chatter box and was very curious to learn about South India and our customs.
Andy came to pick us later on in the evening for the Mehndi ceremony. We were supposed to later pick up Supreetha and Sushmita but in a series of unfortunate events including a flat tyre we ended up late. Now Ashar and me have never been to a North Indian wedding and this was all new to us. The Mehndi seemed to be a forum where both families (or one not sure) entertained the other. It was a good way for both families to get acquainted with each other. The event was informal and everyone was at ease. There was one raunchy dance number that did catch all of us by suprise and pulled us out of our comfort zone but overall it was good. We headed back for an after party where Sam,Shantanu,Supreetha,Sushmitha,Andy,Ashar & I had a really good time.
I must say that I had a few misconceptions about a North Indian wedding.Firstly,its at night and not during the day as I imagined.Secondly,its not just chanting and prayers.The head priest was quite informal and had the marriage party in splits on many occasions.He was even doling out marital advise which was nice as he’s overseen so many weddings and I’d never imagined the wedding ceremony to have a counselling angle. Thirdly, I’m not fully sure about this but it seemed as though there was a showdown happening between the head priest and the other priests. The head priest had presided over the weddings of other people in the marriage party and there were occasions where people would occasionally say “Hey!! you got me married too ya know!!”. Afterwards once again we had an after party.
Andy dropped Ashar & me off at the station at the nick of time. We encountered a unique situation where both our seats had been captured by two older gentlemen. I was a little irritated and there was a small scene in the train where all the people who didnt have a reserved seat were on the edge. We had to stand for a little while but after Moradabad we got our seats and the rest of our journey was uneventful.We were exhausted by the time we reached New Delhi.I forcibly took Ashar to see the Red Fort because Ashar was leaving for Chennai the next day and being the host it would have been careless on my part to not even beable to showcase one spectacle of Delhi(The lively Delhi Metro does’nt count).
The whole trip was an experience to remember.Despite the lack of co-ordination we had a really good time. Seeing all those familiar faces was nice and meeting up with good friends is always a treat! Jim Corbett is definately a place worth visiting but one has to be careful as there was an incident where a tiger had parked himself in one of the Bunglow gradens opposite the resort. Dont forget to bring a jacket in winter!!