Ranikhet, A Colonial Retreat

Yogesh Sarkar

Ranikhet on Foot, 9th August 2019

Deepak came to ask; if I wanted to have lunch, but I told him I was planning to go out. Soon after the drizzle started and I was left in a conundrum. If the rain did not stop or intensified, I would have no option except to eat at KMVN or walk-in rain for half a kilometre. Neither prospects seemed enticing.

Therefore, I continued listening to songs, chatted with a few friends and family and scribble a little while sitting at the door of my room.


An hour later, the rain stopped and I got ready to go out, hoping to explore another trail I had seen during the day, once I have had my lunch.

Based on Sachin Goel’s recommendation, I walked a little over half a kilometre to West View Hotel for lunch. From the outside, it seemed grand, once inside though, it was ok but not as impressive as I had hoped. So I walked to the reception and I was directed to the back of the building, where the entrance for the restaurant was!



From the rear, West View seemed grander.



Once I entered the lounge area, the rest of the staff was woken up and the generator was switched on (once again I was the only tourist). I placed an order for Chicken Korma and chapatis and busied myself with admiring the lounge, which seemed stunning.



Oh, how I would have loved to spend an evening here, having drinks or even tea. However, this was best done in the company of friends or at least that is what I felt and hence I dismissed the notion of revisiting West View for evening tea or dinner.

After a while, lunch was served in the dining hall and it was just as grand as the lounge area. Add to that, the staff was really courteous and prompt.


As far as food was concerned, it was finger-licking delicious, with the chicken cooked just right with four large pieces in the gravy and the gravy was rich and delicious. Tempted as I was to get the gravy packed for later or have the dessert, I desisted from the idea, considering a long walk was ahead of me and settled the bill of Rs. 483 (chicken korma and three chapatis) and went outside.


There was a road going towards the left, right opposite the West View Hotel, just ahead of the trekking trail. It went to the Jhula Devi Temple and was supposedly 1.5 or 2 kilometres long (each person I asked, told me a different distance). I was a little hesitant to venture on this road, feeling it might be longer than what people had told me. However, eventually, I put all the worries behind and started walking.

The road was beautiful and secluded, though not as picturesque as the trekking trail.


There was beautiful purple coloured Roscoea growing all along the road and they looked beautiful.


However, I had another thing I had to worry about. I was running out of breath quite easily and after a short duration, I could hear wheezing sound emanating from my lungs. This was despite the fact that I had used the inhaler in the morning and after switching to the new room, I had been mostly fine.

I was carrying my mobile phone, power bank, microfiber cloth and a light jacket. I hadn’t thought about carrying an inhaler or even a water bottle, in order to keep things light. On top of that, Forclaz 500 was once again giving me the blisters, making to walk even harder.

For a moment, I entertained the notion of heading back. However, I dismissed it. I had always wanted to explore places on foot and I had done that a few times, including during my 2014 and 2015 trip to Ladakh and recently during my trip to Naggar. This is something I enjoy and there was no way I was going to give it up.

So I continued, albeit slower than I would have liked.

The route though turned out to be smaller than I had anticipated and I managed to reach the Jhula Devi Temple sooner than I expected. Looking at Samsung Health App, I could see that distance from West View to here was only 1.2 kilometres long.

Therefore, without stopping for water for a breather, I started back towards the KMVN, this time taking the regular, smaller route to West View. It turned out to be around 800 meters long, though a drizzle began en route and after putting on the jacket, I managed to reach bench opposite West View, without getting wet.

I sought shelter at the bench, mostly to rest feet, which were aching thanks to the uncomfortable shoes. After a few minutes, I started back for the KMVN and as soon as I entered my room, I took off the shoes and breathed a sigh of relief.

In the end, I had walked for 2.7 kilometres from West View to the temple and from the temple (another half kilometre from KMVN to West View) back to KMVN and that too in 53 minutes, with 10 minutes rest at the bench.

Since the morning, I had walked more than 13,000 steps and now my feet hurt and had blisters as well.

More music, scribbling, chatting over WhatsApp followed and around 5 pm, I thought about opening the bottle of vodka, enjoying the serenity afforded by my room at KMVN and calling it a day.

I would have done that four years ago and I would have done this even a few months ago, even though I always dreamed of walking and exploring on foot, during my trips to hills. There was a part of me, which wanted to remain in the solitude of the room and maybe even go to sleep or just sulk in the bed.

However, if you keep on doing the same stuff you have always done, you will get the same results you have always gotten. And that was no longer acceptable.

I have always turned my dreams into reality or at least have laboured hard for it, no matter the consequences. Therefore, I got off my chair and put on the slippers, taking once again only the phone and light jacket with me and instead of shoes, put on my Fila sandals.

It was time for another solo romantic walk, though I knew my feet were going to hate me for it. I also thought it would be a good idea to revisit Chevron and maybe have a lassi or coffee there, this time around.


Going was not easy on the broken roads in flat sandals, which also let in small stones in at times. Thankfully, though, I walked faster than I did with my shoes and on top of that, there was no wheezing sound this time around from my lungs.

In fact, I did not even stop for a breather, as I crossed two kilometres mark as per Samsung Health App, but did slow down as a gentleman approached me and we started talking and walking alongside.

Turns out Mr Malhotra had a bungalow near KMVN and had retired there, while his kids lived in Delhi. He thought I was someone else, but then again, it did not really mattered, since conversation flowed naturally and without effort and we crossed Chevron, without stopping. The only time we did stop for a few minutes when we encountered Mr Negi from Hotel Meghdoot. However, after a brief conversation with him, we continued with our walk and soon enough, reach the Mall.

Here we parted ways, while Mr Malhotra went to his bungalow, asking me to visit him next time I come to Ranikhet, I went to the mall, looking to photograph the glorious sunset before me.


As a child, I used to chase kites. Things have not changed much, just that instead of kites; I now chase my dreams and the light. Even though I had gotten a photograph of the sunset and I had already walked 3.8 kilometres in the past hour, I decided to continue on, hoping to get better angle or a foreground subject with the sunset, first taking small road from the mall towards the city and then joining the main road to reach the post office. All the while, stopping for a few moments to get the images I wanted.




After reaching the post office, I decided to head back, partially because I was tired, more so due to the fact that dusk had kicked in and my phone could not capture its colors as well as a DSLR would have. Nonetheless, I kept taking photographs until I reached hotel Meghdoot, where I decided to have my dinner.




I ordered lemon water to quench my thirst along with dal fry and chapatis. Dal fry was ok, not as good as, I would have liked, yet fulfilling nonetheless.


After dinner, I bought a packet of chips and a bottle of sprite from the nearby shop and walked on the dimly lit moss-covered path to my hotel. And before that, managed to capture this photograph of Jupiter and Moon, using my mobile phone.


After reaching my room, I checked and found, I had walked for a little over five kilometres during my evening stroll and then walk back to the hotel after dinner. Now, my feet deserved a little TLC. So I filled a bucket with warm water and soaked my feet in them. It felt soothing and after 10 minutes, I was back on my feet. Mainly to go out and use the Wi-Fi.

The moon was once again peekaboo behind the clouds, but it was clearer than last night, so I decided to shoot a few long exposures later on. For the time being, I went back to my room and had a few drinks.

After a while, I came back outside and shot a few long exposures. Since I was high by that time, I desisted from going out of the KMVN, though I did climb the watch tower somewhat precariously.



After I got what I wanted, I came back into my room and sat down to scribble, listen to songs, drank a little more and used the internet, which was somewhat working in my room now, though rather slowly.

Eventually, I fell asleep well past 1 am, happy with the knowledge, I had done justice to my trip to Ranikhet and there were few if any regrets or wants of doing before I leave Ranikhet tomorrow morning.

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