Sitlakhet: An Exotic Locale to find Nature in its Purest
Exploring less traveled and not-so-popular exclusive places have become my latest obsession. While chalking out my travel route, I hopped into this small location and I am glad that I did. I am a serious nature-lover and I never miss an opportunity to visit places that promise an untouched version of nature. So, on coming across an unknown name, I just step out to explore, even if I can get no prior solid information about it.
This was my fourth time in the land of Uttarakhand and I was, of course, interested in visiting some new places including some repetitions. On reaching Nainital, I talked to some locals, hoteliers and travel agencies to get across something new, but I was rather disappointed at their suggestions because they mentioned all the popular places that are regularly travelled. However, I came across a shop owner, a local resident, who suggested Sitlakhet to me. I had never heard about it before and whatever descriptions he gave me about this location absolutely made me fall for it and I quickly added it to my map. Next day, I went to hire a car to start my journey through Uttarakhand and when I mentioned that I also wanted to visit Sitlakhet, I was apparently discouraged. People said that there was nothing to see – that it was a remote place with a few local houses and hardly three to four places of accommodation. And with all their words, I was rather determined that I really wanted to visit Sitlakhet!
About 25 km from Ranikhet, this small locale stands with all its bewitching glory. Surrounded with dense forests, orchards, varieties of flora and fauna, heavenly views of the Himalayan ranges, easy trekking routes to the hill top, Sitlakhet is an amazing delight. I headed towards Sitlakhet from Someshwar which gave me a glimpse of plain lands amidst the hills which was a quite a bit of a change in this trip. Hence, I could get a peek into the daily life and lifestyle of the locals – farming, working village belles, hamlets, cattle, crops – while moving on the road.
When I reached Sitlakhet, it was afternoon. The weather was fine, sunny with moderately cool breeze. My accommodation was right at the top, offering a magnificent view of the mountains and nature. The call of the insects and chirping of birds permeates the air and it gives a feel of Binsar. The room had a small balcony and I was very happy with what it offered. I could spend all day and night sitting over there. I quickly freshened up and had my lunch which I had to order much earlier. Due to the remote location, meal orders are taken at least 2 hours before so that arrangements could be made. Also, there are minor electricity issues. I had to order my dinner while having lunch!
After having lunch and an hour rest thereafter, I was ready to tread and explore the place. However, before I stepped out, I was alerted by the manager to return before it gets dark due to the presence of wild animals. Accompanied by my dear driver, I walked around the area with the plan of trekking up to the Syahi Devi Temple about 6-7 km (return). The point offers the best view of the landscape from Sitlakhet. But the sudden downpour disappointed me and I had to cancel the trek. Weather is unpredictable!
When the rain almost stopped, it was already too late to start the trek and it would have been impossible to return before it got dark. So, I dropped the plan and took my way back to the rest house. There is a small open spot, a few steps farther from the accommodation, ideal for bonfires and picnics. Seeing me upset, my dear driver went ahead and planned a bonfire but it started raining again. My hard luck! So, he decided to take me on a drive near the temple before dinner and we did exactly as planned. It was pitch dark outside, raining softly and lightening. We drove through the forest till we reached the last point of the built road and waited, turning off the headlights, in the hope of seeing some animal. Well, we could only spot a fox. Soon after, we drove back to have dinner. At night, it rained heavily and I didn’t realize when I fell asleep listening to the raindrops.
I had set the alarm at 5:30 am to capture the sunrise. I had hoped for a clear sky but the moment I opened the door of my balcony, I was speechless. All I could see were a sea of clouds! The beauty was immense as the clouds took various shapes of waves over the ranges. With the first stroke of light, the sky took a beautiful hue and gradually the clouds changed hues as the light increased with different phases. Around 6:20 am the sun appeared above the horizon creating a breathtaking view.
As the sky lightened up, the surrounding was filled with the chirpings of various species of birds. They stepped out of their nests in search of food and I could see a number of species feeding on the seeds of the magnolia fruit/flower right beside the balcony. A big monkey was up on a tree right in front feeding on its leaves and fruits.
The peaceful sight was suddenly interrupted with a roar of some wild animal. The sound was scary – the birds flew away, the monkey looked scared and jumped to another tree, two dogs ran away looking scared. The wild animal seemed near as the sound was really loud but I could not see it. It was later assumed as a wild boar by the people at the rest house. By the time things settled and the birds and dogs returned, the clouds had begun to disperse.
It was time to leave! I had my breakfast quickly, loaded my luggage in the car and I was ready to move on. Taking a brief stroll around, I thanked all the people for their lovely service and bid goodbye to them. My next destination was Ranikhet and I took the way via Kathpuriya.
The scenery of Kathpuriya is just awesome. I had to stop the car and get down in order to enjoy the beauty of the locale. I also caught up with some school kids and their innocence and joviality really touched my heart.
The whole place is surrounded with an abundance of pine trees here giving the place its magical charm. On the other side of the road lay an extensive view of the valley surrounded with the hills – truly, nature in its purest form. The local people are very friendly and warm with guests.
Sitlakhet happened to be a great destination. It is best for nature lovers and travellers who seek serenity amidst nature. The lovely location, the Himalayas, the hills everything over here is lovable and cherishable. View my picture of Sitlakhet that got featured in National Geographic Traveller India website here. Have you visited Sitlakhet yet? If not, add it on your map. It’s worth it.