Delhi to Kuflon: Lakeside stories
I like to live by the adage, a “workless Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week”. Think more social media philosophy, less insightful truism, but I have followed it firmly over the last few years. In fact, I might even have extended the adage to Thursdays and Fridays to create long weekend situations for myself.
This particular weekend, I couldn’t do that. I only had the usual two days to de-stress and the agenda was to unplug without, well, an agenda. At the suggestion of friends, I decided that Kuflon would be an ideal place, given the easy connectivity and great weather.
An overnight train from Delhi to Dehradun, and a 2-hour drive the next morning, and I was in the company of cathartic mountain air, the sound of the Assi Ganga river and grey clouds weighed down by the last of the monsoon rain. I clambered up the home-stay I had booked and was delighted to get a quick view from the crest the home was propped on. The burst of greenery in the plunging Garhwal valley and the beauty of snow-capped mountains seemed straight out of a postcard.
Leisure can be hard work sometimes, so when my hosts rattled off a host of things and sights I could peg on my itinerary, I refused warmly and decided to spend the first half of the day sunk in an easy chair, book in hand. It helped to have the view of snow-topped peaks sprawled in front of me. Post lunch, I took up the offer of the home-stay’s driver to make a trip to Nachiketa Taal, 38km from Kuflon. After all, all I had to do was sit in the car as we swung down the hillside till we crossed the Bhagirathi river and went south towards the legendary lake.
En route, the driver brought me up to speed with the mythological tale of a little boy called Nachiket, whose father was a priest. The story goes that Nachiket was part of an offering made to the god of death, Yama, by his father. The god Narada advised a bewildered Nachiket to meditate by a lake—the one that we were headed to. The meditation reaped results: Yama appeared and, impressed with the child’s dedication, blessed him and said he would attain enlightenment.
We reached Chowrangi Khal, from where we had to walk almost an hour to reach the lake. It wasn’t as large as I had imagined, and the waters were still, in the protective embrace of pine and oak trees. I sat there, taking in the silence, till the sun started sinking behind the mountains and it was time to head back.
I decided to lounge around the next morning till the sun was decidedly up and a natural pool on the property was warm enough for a quick swim. After breakfast, some reading and a snooze, I again hopped into the car, this time for Agoda. This village, on the way to Dodital, is believed to be the birthplace of the god Ganesha. After a 15-minute drive from the home-stay to Sangamchatti, we parked and walked for around 2 hours, crossing fallen trees along a narrow forested trail. The 6km, with its sharp ascents and sudden drops, challenges your fitness.
The silent trail opened up into a high-decibel cackle as we reached the village—a bunch of children were engrossed in a stick and ball game that they had come up with. Wide grins welcomed me as I asked, “No school?” They roared a reply, “It’s Sunday.”
Weekend vacations offers suggestions on getaways that allow for short breaks from metros. The writer tweets at @RathinaSankari.