For when you’re in search of solitude and solace, connecting with nature, and rejuvenating from the hum-drum of life – Pangot is a dream-come-true. This idyllic community is a birdwatchers’ paradise; a honeymooners’ delight, a nature junkie’s next big exploration and an all-around breath-taking experience. No matter your choice of vacation, Pangot packs a punch and takes you through trails of experiences.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Uttrakhand is the less- familiar sister of Himachal Pradesh. However, it is full of surprises and spots to visit. Located in the picturesque Kumaon region, Pangot is a delight at every view. As it is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the Pangot’s charm is multiplied by the pleasant climate adding to the relaxed vibe of the town.
Another important feature of Pangot is the Sunset. Now, I understand that this might not seem like a big deal. But, when the skies start speaking around dusk, your heart listens. I wholeheartedly believe that the enriching of life happens through experiences and not riches. Again, I completely trust nature to rejuvenate my belief in life. After visiting Pangot, I am sure, you would agree.
Even though Pangot is only 13 KMs from Nainital, the town attracts minimal tourists, keeping the allure intact. Thanks to the richness of flora in the region, a mind-boggling number of birds call this place their home in different seasons. In fact, over 580 species of birds have been recorded here. From residential birds that can be found humming throughout the year, to migratory birds exploring the hills, this little town is a delight for the enthusiast.
As if that were not enough, the beauty is transcended thanks to the flora of the region. The rich oak forests are complemented with pine trees, adding to textures in the lush green of nature. The beautiful strokes of colours absorbs you in. And, if you’ve chosen the right months, you’ll be greeted with another sensory and visual delight – the full bloom of Rhododendron trees. The splattering of crimson through the greens of Himalayas is magic awaiting to be told.
However, don’t be fooled into considering this an activity only for the enthusiasts, even if you’re not an avid fan of spotting the plethora of bird species, you’ll fall in love with the melodic tunes that will become a part of your life! In terms of the superfluity of birds, you will spot lammergeyer, Himalayan griffon, blue-winged, Minla spotted Forktail, Woodpecker, Niltava, Khalij pheasant, to name a few. Of course, given the scarcity of tourists along with the embarrassment of riches in terms of the species of birds, don’t be surprised when you find yourself assuming that nature is putting on its best show, just for you!
Nestled in the Nainital District, Pangot is approximately 13 KMs ahead from Nainital’shustle and bustle. At a comfortable height of 6,300 Ft, Pangot is almost mythical in its beauty. Of course, it will transcend from day to night, taking you through all paces of nature.
Summers are cool and pleasant with March– July having a maximum temperature of 25 ⁰C and a cool 12 ⁰C at night, while the cold winter months witness a temperature of 5 ⁰C in the months of December and January. After this time period, the temperature starts rising mildly.
Best time to visit Pangot
Each month brings with it its own particular delight in this region. However, during the monsoon months, only resident birds would be observable. If the birds are on your mind, winters would be a paradise. Obviously, a lot of migratory birds would have moved here.
Of course, I must mention the period of March-April due to the full bloom of Rhododendron. Indeed, it is a sight to see looking over with entire hillsides turning red, with surrounding lush green of the trees!
How to reach Pangot
Pangot is best reached via road. From Delhi, Pangot lies about 340 KMS east-words and takes approximately 7.5 hours. From Delhi, one should proceed on NH 24 towards Rampurthrough Hapur; then switch gears, taking NH 87 towards Nainital via Haldwani. From Nainital, Pangot is approximately13 KMS away. The drive passes through Cheena Peak Range and covers the Snow View Point and Kilbury.
Obviously, the tiny stretch of 13 KMswould demand multiple stops. See, that’s the thing about traveling in the young Himalayas – no matter the time, no matter the place, one is always compelled to forgo the journey, sometimes even forgo your life and just settle at the serene spot. Also, through the entire drive in the hills, don’t peel your eyes off the wonder of step farming! Lastly, You’ll also come across multiple streams flowing over the hills.
The nearest airport is Pantnagar. From there, one can hire local cabs or even take local buses to cover 50 KMs to reach Pangot, taking around 2 hours.
The nearest railway station is Kathgodam (20 KMS) and Haldwani (48 KMS). Taxis are easily available from both railway stations for INR 300 (as of 2018).
Overnight buses are available from New Delhi to Nainital. and Kathgodam from ISBT Anand Vihar, Delhi. Of course, one can also catch the local bus from Pantnagar Airport to reach Pangot for approximately INR 600 (as of 2018).
The best way to experience any hill station is by walking. However, taxis are easily available for hire around the region.
Apart from the birds and the natural beauty, there are a tonne of activities for those whose description includes the word “restless”. Mountain biking, camping, trekking is all game!
Easy Trek – Day Long
One noteworthy trek from Pangot to Kilbury is scenic and calming. The 8 km stretch (one way) through the forest takes you to the Kilbury forest rest-house and leads you through Naina peak (also known as China Peak or Cheena Peak), which is at a height of 8579 Ft. Here, the views of Nainital are perfection. Also, one can view stunning surrounding mountains of Nanda Devi, Trishul and Nanda Ghunti, to name a few.
The trek is calming and relatively easy in terms of the climb. However, the soaring deodars and the cypresses will keep you engrossed fully. Do pack a picnic and ensure you’ve sufficient water for your trek – you will be hard-pressed to find sustenance otherwise.
The Kilbury rest house is just 3 KMs from here. The walk can be covered faster as it is downhill and the rest-house has been camouflaged with a green tin roof.
Moderate Trek – More Adventure
Another trek for the more daring souls is the three-day trek from Pangot to Corbett National Park. This trek is in continuation of the day-trek to Naina Peak. Instead of turning back home, you will continue on towards the National Park.
Beginning of the Escapade
In the Himalayan foothills, searching wildlife and adventure – this trek is best-undertaken post monsoon – i.e. October to June. You are bound to encounter throngs of Kumaonresidents and will be enthralled by how their lifestyle has evolved around hill-living. Even in places are far-flung as Pangot, it is always fascinating to spot the impact of the British Raj. Here, this impact can be felt by way of the colonial architecture. Also, there are multiple little settlements and villages you will cross along your trek. These will include Akhorwadi –the home of walnut trees.
Of course, the best part of any trek is making your way through the trails and suddenly the forests opening up into spectacular vistas. Be prepared for your breath to be taken away. As is must for any trekking expedition, a bonfire is a perfect end, with food to share and experiences to discuss.
Middle of the Trek
The second day would include an easy stretch towards Kunjkharak where spotting birds would be complemented by sightings of various mammals. However, a word of caution, this area is actually a high mountain pass and thus, can, get extremely cold and windy in the winter months. Of course, it goes without saying, but, be prepared. However, the views of the skies turning gold, telling stories of the time eternal worth every effort this trek might require.
The third and final day requires you to trek towards Akashkhanda. Here, at Akashkhanda, is a beautiful bungalow. However, being miles away from the route, it is hardly visited by the trekkers of the region. But, do note that the trek, while easy in terms of the climb, is mostly through dense forests dominated by oak, chestnut, and pine trees. You can choose to spend the night here, depending on your start of the day.
Next is an 8-hour journey towards our destination of Corbett National Park. And with the vegetation becoming sparse, and the climb getting steeper, it might become exhausting. When you reach Mon, a small hamlet, the trail gets narrower still and the climb continues to steepen. Now, this trail is mostly used by villagers for carrying supplies. So, don’t hesitate in asking for help, if need be. And the trek will end at Kumeria, with a gorgeous suspension bridge leading you over Kosi River towards Kunkhet village, which further connect you to the gorgeous National Park. So, Happy spotting!
Most food options at Pangot include road-side dhabas and resort restaurants and room service. For any trek, it is advisable to be fully prepared.
Do try the Rhododendron Juice when you’re there. Of course, I can vouch for the flowery drink to be sent from the heaven above – it is delightful. Also, as is common in the hills, some amazing Thupka and Momos will be available for your happiness. For foreigners visiting Pangot, your resorts will be able to cater to your culinary tastes.
Some popular dishes of Uttrakhand include Dubuk (a speciality of Kumaon region) made of local pulses. Chudkaani is another dish that is cooked overnight with love and spices! A Unique dish from the region is Sissunaak Saag made using Bichu grass in the winter months, ladled with tonnes of Ghee.
Stay Options at Pangot
At the Jungle Lore Birding Lodge, it has a set of five cottages tastefully done. Also, the lodge also has Swiss Tents available for a more nature-oriented stay. It must be noted that the Jungle Lore Birding Lodge is the oldest lodge in India. Obviously, the rustic charm is infectious and makes for a perfect honeymoon stay.
Other accommodation options include:
- Nest Cottages is perfect for family getaways.
- Sherwani Hilltop defines luxury to the finest and has some amazing food options!
- Earl’s Court has a romance about it that takes you back to the yesteryears.
- There are multitude of old Raj-era Bungalows that have been converted into comfortable stays.
Tips + Tricks
Handy: A good pair of walking shoes and a pair of binoculars.
Wear Jungle coloured clothes, will help you blend in. And, this will ensure the birds are not spooked out. Of course, this will ensure your personal show goes to (nature’s) plan.
Pangot is a paradise, whether you’re looking for an extended weekend trip, a longer duration journey connecting with nature, or spending some alone time with your partner. From solace to nature’s company – it is all wrapped up beautifully in nature’s lap. This off-beat location with great connectivity is always awaiting your warm embrace.
Please feel free to post any queries or doubts you might have in planning your trip. If you have been to Pangot, I’d love to hear your thoughts and any other information you might feel will be worth sharing with other fellow travellers and prove helpful to them as comments.