We booked a day trip to Nainital from our resort- Club Mahindra Corbett National Park. I remember walking along Mall road with the Naini lake (lake shaped like an eye) on one side and the Kumaon hills on the other. It was vibrant; The streets were buzzing with people. Hawkers were selling colorful knitted shoes, scarves and hats at exorbitant rates.
We took the aerial ropeway to get us to the Snow View Observation Point. The cable car seemed rickety. With hearts in our mouths we made our way, trying to enjoy the magnificent vistas of Nainital and its vicinity.
There was quite a bit of walking involved and that too at high altitudes. We felt heavy and out-of-breath. There was an amusement park and a lot of eateries. We hired traditional costumes for the kids and had their pictures taken. Then we spent some time at the observation point trying to catch a glimpse of the Himalayas.
We went boat-riding on Nainital. It was magical! The unspoiled natural beauty on one side, the hills stacked with multi-colored buildings among towering trees on the other side, the emerald lake beneath our boats, all put us in a blissful mood, except when the boatman made us move here and there to get some good (& some weird) family pictures. The boat seemed to be losing its balance at such times. I don’t remember how much we paid for the boats, but I remember it being quite expensive.
We ladies were on a mission! Tibetan Market- that was our target. It was densely packed with tiny stores and gullible tourists willing to shell out high prices for beautiful clothes, jewelry and handicrafts. We loaded our bags with quite a few things, much to our husbands’ dismay, while they prayed to Maa Naina Devi at the alluring temple beside the market.
We visited the famous G B Pant High Altitude Zoo, where we had to do quite a bit of walking on uneven paths as the animal enclosures were scattered on a vast area.
The Elephant Safari at Corbett National Park is one of the most happiest, most blessed times of my life! It happened last October when we visited the park and its neighboring beauties- Binsar and Nainital. I’m sorry to say I don’t remember the details of the trip; Anybody who knows me, knows all about my poor memory! But thanks to the journal I kept during the trip, fragments of that journey are still recorded for me to look back on, and for you to, hopefully, savor. Here’s what I wrote in my journal-
“It (The Elephant Safari) felt so earthly, so primal; I felt as if I was one with nature. An Elephant Safari is much better than a Jeep Safari. With every footstep of the Elephant, every brush of a tree branch, every poke of a thorny shrub, every breath of fresh air inhaled. every grunt of the swaying elephant, I felt more and more connected with Mother Earth. I couldn’t stop looking at Laadli, the Elephant behind us. She looked so lovely and divine, I fell utterly in love with her. We were seated upon Kalina. They both sucked the juice out of sugarcane sticks as they trudged on. And they kept pooping too… Heaps of it. Some floated right across the river we crossed. Ah! Crossing the River! It was an adventure in itself! You should see how an elephant steps on a boulder, ensures she has a firm grip on it, and then moves on. She is onerously careful as she crosses the river. You find yourself rooting for her as she does that!
We went all over Seethavan. We spotted some birds stirring up in the early morning Sun. We heard Distress calls by a Sambar too, which meant a Tiger must have been nearby. And we felt the presence of a male Elephant, as Kalina became too excited and kept veering off to where she wasn’t supposed to go! “Thwack!”, went the Mahout’s stick upon Kalina’s spiky head. Whenever that happened, Medha felt so bad for her. She was almost in tears. She wasn’t enjoying the ride as much. And when we asked the mahout why he punished her so, he explained how an Elephant needed to be brought back on track with a bit of spanking, just the way a kid needed a bit of discipline now and then, and it didn’t mean that he loved her any less! And believe me, I felt his love for the mammoth. He kept telling the other mahout that they needed to come back to clear the web of tangled branches to make it easier for the Elephants to pass.
Medha kept mumbling about how she felt the Elephants looked like Lord Ganesha himself and as soon as we got down, she simply bowed in front of them. And I too couldn’t hold back. I hugged and kissed Kalina and Laadli both!”
For all those of you who need more information, other than just the ramblings of a romantic fool, here are some details I found in the mail the proprietors of the Safari sent us (We booked the Safari days (months?) in advance)-
1. Only Sitavan (Sitabani) Zone is available for the Elephant Safari.
2. Morning – 8:00 am to 10:00 am (We had it changed to 6-8 am as we had to head towards Nainital the same day.
Plus, we love to explore the jungle early in the morning)
3. Boarding place – Dhikuli Village at 7:45 am
4. 2 Elephants for 8 Pax. We were 8 passengers, including 4 kids.
Terms & conditions for Safari advance booking
(Subject to availability & approval from forest department and weather conditions)
1. Safari permits are booked in 100% advance payment basis.
2. To book the safari will require name, age, gender of All the passengers, Photo ID and details Issued by GOVT.
3.As per jungle safari regulations, once confirmed and booked, the booking amount of Elephant Safari is Non-refundable and non transferable.
4. Maximum four persons are allowed to sit on an Elephant.
5.In case of any natural calamity ( rain, flood etc) there will be no refund.
6. Timing Might change because of Weather Condition & Season.
7. When You Reach ( Corbett City Ramnagar / Resort / Hotel ) Inform Us.
8. Cost of Elephant Safari – Rs. 3500 per Elephant for 1 to 4 Indians Inclusive of Elephant Fee And all taxes. (2 Elephants x Rs. 3500 =Rs. 7000 for 8 Pax.)