The water of Bhimtal may have eutrophied, and the number of people may have exploded, but the area still reminds me of the charm that I saw when I was a child. We stood by the Tal one morning and The Family took a photo of a line of ducks as they glided past us. “We always land up here, don’t we?” she mused as we enjoyed what remained of the morning’s chill. We do. It is a convenient place to stop on the way up to the higher mountains. The place is no longer beautiful, but it is charming as a village. And this time we had forsaken Naukuchiatal for the neighbouring Bhimtal.
While walking about the previous evening we’d been greeted by a series of gates, firmly shut. When I stopped to take this photo, a dog came running to bark at us from inside. The fierce dwarpal told us not to set our evil eye on the place. I suppose that when half the places are owned by absentee landlords letting out their bungalows to tourists like us, it changes its character. The superficially friendly driver who took us from the airport to our place of stay told us of his bloodthirsty dreams of taking over all these places. That was not the only end of his dreams of blood. I was happy that our dealing with him was brief, since I had the distinct feeling that we were added to his list of the condemned because our hotel called us thrice to give us directions.
In the golden hour of the evening we looked down on Bhimtal and the other smaller villages around it from higher up in the mountains. The terraced fields shone green in the mellow light, rice in the process of being harvested, hay being dried for feed. In this area specially, I never want to miss the golden hour. My restlessness had infected The Family, and she enthusiastically took photos. It was interesting to compare our different eyes later.
Early in the morning, when there was still a chill in the air I’d stood in the garden of the small hotel we’d chosen and looked out over the valley from which we’d heard a mountain stream at night. I couldn’t see the stream at all through the trees and the sharp dips in the land. We could see a few houses, but our hotel seemed very secluded. The impression was broken at night when I looked out from the same spot and saw quite a few lights in the valley. It was interesting to merge the photos taken in the morning and night to locate the houses in this deceptive landscape. There is enough cover to hide a few leopards, families of wild hogs, a few deer, and the numerous birds that we could hear. This area is a bird-watcher’s paradise, but we were on a break.