Explore the Himalayas with an expert guide

Meet Shailendra Singh, an Indian tour guide extraordinaire. For over a week he shepherded a group of us around The Golden Triangle, from Delhi to Agra, then Jaipur and back to Delhi, without losing his cool. Which is more than I can say about some of us.

Shailendra lives in the Indian capital but his heart is in the mighty Himalayas, where he has his second home. He’s created three tours for adventurous, environmentally-friendly  souls who want to explore the mountains he loves so much.

On the Shivas Trail:
This nine-day tour starts in Delhi, with a half-day sightseeing of Old Delhi – one of the most crowded but fascinating places on earth, and the first day spent seeing other parts of Delhi before heading to the Delhi Railway Station, to board the Ranikhet Express. At Kathgodam, there’s a transfer to Ranikhet and on arrival, check-in at a boutique heritage hotel. There’s plenty of time to explore this hill resort, followed by a bonfire and dinner.

The following day, there’s an excursion to Binsar Mahadev Temple, a 9th century shrine to dedicated to Lord Shiva. On day four, there’s a visit in an 8th century temple complex, and then the Jageshwar Temples, before a short walk to The Nirvana Village Eco Camp set among the mountain peaks.

There’s one day to explore the cedar forests with its pools, streams, mystical caves and ashrams. Other highlights of the tour include a visit to the cave shrine of Lord Shiva and touring the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. On day eight, it’s back on the train for an overnight trip to Delhi.


The Land of the Gods
:
This two-week journey starts in Old Delhi and takes travellers to Lucknow, which has long been at the forefront of Indian cultural traditions. The 16th century Indo-Persian architecture and British colonial influences make Lucknow a “must see”. After exploring Lucknow, it’s on to the Manu Maharani resort near the Jim Corbett National Park to explore the surrounds. Tiger sightings are one of the attractions. From there, it is 70km to Ranikhet, a favourite hill resort from the colonial era which still manages to retain its charm. After this, it’s onwards and upwards to Kukuchina, 50km away, with a four-hour trek to an overnight camping spot on the mountaintop at Pandavkholi.

On day nine, you depart for Kausani to stay at Mount Hotel View and visit the museum there. The following day it’s off to Jageshwar to stay at the colorful Flamingo’s Himalayan Nest, and tour the 14th century rock-cut temples, followed by a bonfire and traditional folk dancing accompanied by the mashak been – a local version of the Scottish bagpipe.

By day 12, you’re visiting the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, and then on to the Kalmatia Sangam resort in Kasardevi, where there’s a day to explore and have traditional Indian massage treatments to ease out the muscles tired from all that walking. On day 14  a train trip from Kathgodam takes you to the Ranikhet Express back to Delhi.

The Mystical Himalayan Journey:
This 10-day tour starts in Delhi, and then heads for Kathgodam for a transfer to the historical ridge of Kasaar Devi, which is 1890m above sea level. After an overnight stop at a guest house, there will be time to explore the neighboring ancient Kumaoni Capital which is now the bustling town of Almora. A visit to the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary follows, and then a 7km walk through dense forest to the Dhaulchina Eco Camp and an overnight stay at the Camp Nirvana/Trident Valley Eco Lodge.

There’s another 7km walk the next day to Vridh Jageshwar, a mountain ridge at 2000m which has magnificent views of peaks such as Nanda Devi, Panchachuli and Trishul. Travellers are served organic food from local produce, and then spend a night at Trident Valley Eco Lodge. After a stay at Jageshwar, travellers head to Ranikhet for an overnight stay, and a 4km trek up to the mystical mountain of Panadav Kholi and overnight at The Pandavkholi Ashram. Day 10 is spent back in Delhi.

While the rest of India is sweltering in high humidity and torpid heat, the climate of the Himalayas is temperate most of the year. Shailendra says it’s cold in December only. The air is pure, the environment is pristine and millions of stars are brilliant against an unpolluted sky every day of the year. And that’s the way he wants it to stay. Eco tourism is increasingly popular worldwide, as more people seek clean and green vacations.

CHECK LIST:

For prices and more details, email Shailendra at: ecosans@yahoo.com;flamingoindia@yahoo.co.in
Contact phone number +91 9818258392
Delhi office address: 3rd floor, Plot No.71 DDA Site No.1 ,New Rajendra Nagar,New Delhi-110060 India
www.flamingoindia.org

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