Prof. Vibhuti Rai
The writing is serving faculty at Department of Geology, University of Lucknow
Nature has no competitor when it comes to finding a place as a stress buster, and mountains are the ultimate goal. India is fortunate to have a huge mountainous landscape in the north, central and south. Mountains occur in the North of Gangetic plains as Himalayas as well as in the continent, by way of Aravallis, Nilgiri and many such stretches spread all across in the country. We have found the Himalayas, particularly those belonging to Uttarakhand and Himachal, where pristine natural reserve is held from low heights to high altitudes. The mid altitude region is well connected with a network of metalled roads which join mid-size townships with distinctively occurring villages, religious spots and places of touristic interest.
In Uttarakhand, out of several important towns to hill stations, namely, the Nainital and Mussoorie remain the ultimate in touristic activities and to say the least they have become extremely crowded not only in summers but also during the winters and can be considered to represent plethora of chaos and confusion. Despite all this hotch-potch and crises, day by day one can observe miles of jammed vehicles on the roads leading to these cities, with floods of people who choke the roads of these cities, making them into psychological mess for the tourist as well as for the native population.
In order to avoid such situation, we try to find other plausible places particularly in Uttarakhand and to our utter surprise and relief, we found one of the most beautiful places in the close vicinity of Nainital i.e., the Bhimtal. We were surprised to note that this place, although very close to Nainital, was not on the touristic map of the state and is usually considered to be a place “BY THE WAY” to other distant places of Uttarakhand. We had the chance to spend some time for professional requirement as a geologist and environmentalist, making us to realize that this place is not only awesome but is quite educative and is of touristic value for its huge Natural beauty, wooded forests, steep hills, large flats, streams, fountains, open landscapes, lakes and ridges. Although the name of the township is after the character Bhima taken from the mythological texts of Mahabharat, nevertheless, the greenery of the entire township is nostalgic. Bhimtal can be represented as a lake city as it showcases several of these within the Hills and the valley’s such as Saat-tal, Nal-damyantital, Bhimtal and Naukuchiatal. All these are the lakes with varying size, being formed due to stream encatchment on account of landslides as well as mass wasting from the Hill slope. Presently, these has been stabilized and provide scenic beauty to the travellers. Geologically, this area is equally interesting as it represents some of the oldest rocks of the Himalaya known as Bhowali quarzite and Bhimtal Volcanics which have been formed about 2 billion years ago(1.8 billion to be precise) in the ocean where volcanic activity was so predominent.
Although in an oceanic setting, in which submarine volcanoes were erupting, oozing out the magma over which layers and layers of sand were getting deposited making a pile of rocks. It would be pertinent to know that around that time there were no Himalayas! Since Himalayas represent one of the youngest mountain chains of the world, representing their upliftment about 40 million years ago. Bhimtal is connected to the rail-road known as Kathgodam which is about 20 km on a mountainous road but can be reached via Nainital or via Jeolikot. Nainital to Bhimtal distance is also 20 km on a mettled road. Lately, Bhimtal has seen quite a bit of touristic activity due to its serene and quiet surroundings, less of rush, good quality Hotels, home stays, jostles, guest houses and cottages with offer all the luxurious amenities. The main Bhimtal lake has the boating facilities, bubble rolls, karaoke singing, besides good quality eateries and restaurants. A little up on way to Nainital, one can pick the high road for para-gliding which opens up into wide valley giving the full view of the entire Bhimtal township with safe landing on the slopes of the ridge.
Around Bhimtal, one can also find the hot air ballooning for recreation besides excitement of watching the terrain from the top and for those with religious touristic approach, there are several temples such as Bhimtal Mandir at Jangalia gaon, Bhimeshwar Mahadev Temple adjacent to the Bhimtal lake and one of the most beautiful temples at Kainchidham of Baba Neem Karoli which is just about 20 Km from Bhimtal on Almora Road. Annually, on June 15th there occurs Bhandara on which about half-a-million people visit this place of spirituality. To name a few, Machan Restaurant, Pine-wood restaurant, i-Heart café and restaurant at Royal court are some of the key eateries. We would like to point out that we found the Variety sweets and restaurant by the side of Bhimtal police station near Bhimtal lake being a very fancy place to refresh your taste buds.
Bhimtal happens to be emerging as a centre for research for fisheries, butterflies, zoo, educational institutions such as Graphic Era University and an extension unit of Kumaon University Campus, which provides it as an emerging educational Hub. The entire plain adjacent to the Bhimtal lake on its North side is a hub for flowering plant nurseries which supply various exotic varieties of these plants to different parts of the country and can be considered as the main commercial activity of the area. In the light of the pleasant and salubrious climate during the summers but with reasonably cold winters one can just dream of having most pristine breathing air which occurs in Bhimtal naturally, the chirping of birds and the whispering of the deciduous trees and with aroma of the shrubs, one cannot imagine of a complete package which is most appropriate and divine that occurs at Bhimtal.