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A Weekend Trip to Ranikhet with Friends

After a long and tedious week at my workplace, I knew it was time for a break from the daily grind. I needed to recharge my batteries over the weekend. So after a pretty hectic day, I sat down with three of my closest friends on Thursday evening and began to plan a trip to Ranikhet. All four of us like to travel light and share a suitable wavelength, so we were soon pretty much decided on a plan.

I woke up in the early hours of Saturday on the bus and knew instantly that the Ranikhet trip was exactly what I needed. All around me lay the rolling hills covered in green, a sight for sore eyes. I breathed in deep, the fresh oxygen laden air and felt my lungs expand in joy. Too excited to go back to sleep again, I kept staring out the window as the sun spread its rays on the rain-washed Kumaon Hills.

Soon, the bus rolled into the quaint, serene hill town of Ranikhet. The November skies were a pristine blue and the air, crisp and cool. On one side, the sparkling white of faraway mountain ranges lined the horizon. We took a moment to take in the mesmerizing vista and then made a beeline for a stall selling hot chai. 

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Places to Visit Near Ranikhet:

We got chatting with a couple of locals and they helped us plan our itinerary for us. 

  1. Jhula Devi Temple
  2. Ram Mandir
  3. Chaubatia Gardens
  4. Bhalu Dam
  5. Kumaon Regimental Centre Museum
  6. Ashiyana Park

1. Jhula Devi Temple

A popular tourist spot as well as a very revered site in Ranikhet, Jhula Devi Temple is an abode of Goddess Durga. It is a scenic 7 Km hike from the main bus stand at Ranikhet and we decided to exercise our muscles post breakfast. If you want to visit this ancient, mythic temple but not walk, you can hire a cab for Chaubatia, the nearest village to the temple. You can expect a spiritually enriching experience, even if you are not a very religious person.

Hundreds of bells jingle in the air and set a soothing ambiance for the soul. You can also spend time learning the history and local stories about the temple from the temple priest. The visiting hours are from 6 AM to 6 PM but it is recommended that you head back to Chaubatia before it gets dark.

2. Ram Mandir

A short and swift climb up a flight of stairs leads to one of the holiest shrines in Ranikhet- the Ram Mandir. This temple is seated atop a green hillock that offers some fantastic views of the surrounding regions. The temple itself houses a Vedic institution that trains scholars in Vedic mathematics and about the Vedas. If you are interested in ancient culture and the Vedic heritage, this place is a must-visit for you. Jhula Devi Temple and the Ram Mandir are located quite close to each other and it is a good idea to explore both on the same day. 

3. Chaubatia Gardens

Located approximately 8 km away from the main Sadar area in Ranikhet, the Chaubatia Gardens are home to some orchards existing since the British Colonial times. In the fruiting season, you can find trees laden with apples, apricots, peaches, and chestnuts. In other times, you can opt for a guided tour in the gardens which are very well maintained and learn about the various medical trees and plants that are grown there.

Being nature lovers, we had an enlightening and rejuvenating time in Chaubatia Gardens. Even if you are not interested in plants, you can have a relaxing time in the garden. It is very well maintained, with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. You can book a ride from the Sadar at affordable rates to visit the Gardens. 

4. Bhalu Dam

A 3 km forest trek from the Chaubatia Gardens leads you to a place out of a book- the Bhalu Dam. The forest trail itself, with the silence of the forest punctuated by the calls of birds and beasts, is mesmerizing. We found ourselves walking downhill with our guide for a little less than an hour to reach the Dam. Our local guide, whom we hired at the Army Cantonment area before entering the Chaubatia Gardens, told us interesting stories about the local wildlife along the way. 

Upon reaching our destination, we found the Dam itself to be in a state of neglect. However, I felt that no modern structures along the dam just added to its appeal. The serenity that we experienced in the wilderness is a cherished memory. There was the option of riding across the lake on a small local boat but we were content to sit on the bank and reflect quietly. 

Soon it was time to get going as it was getting late in the afternoon. The way back is almost entirely uphill and having a good two hours in hand before sunset is advisable. I would suggest that you only venture on this trail if you have basic physical fitness. Also, hire a guide if you are interested in this forest trail to avoid the possibility of getting lost in the jungle. Guides can be hired for around 500 INR at Chaubatia.

5. Kumaon Regimental Centre Museum

The Kumaon Regimental Centre (KRC) Museum in Ranikhet is a must-visit. A guided tour of the museum, costing only 50 INR per head is an enriching experience. The museum was built in the 1970s to commemorate the heroes of the Kumaon and Garhwal Regiments and showcase their rich history. You can also find interesting artifacts from World War II and the Kargil War in this museum.  

6. Ashiyana Park

One of the most recent and popular tourist destinations in Ranikhet is Ashiyana Park. It is an amusement park that serves as a great picnic spot. The park also boasts of a beautiful and clean lake, locally called Rani Jheel. You can opt for boat rides and other fun activities in the park. We packed some food and sat under the trees in the park, simply soaking in the pure and vibrant atmosphere of the place. If you travel to Ranikhet with children, this park is a must-visit.  

Things to Do in Ranikhet

Golfing at the Upat Golf Course: If you have never tried your hand at golf before, then you should go for it in Ranikhet. The magnificent Upat Golf Course provides the ideal settings for a day of leisure and recreation. My friends and I loved the golfing experience here, even though we are far from being skilled golf players. Hats off to the Indian Army, who maintain this immaculate golf course, which is at a distance of 6 km. from Ranikhet.

Soaking in the Grand Himalayan Views at Majkhali: Around 12 km. from Ranikhet, on the road leading towards Almora, lies the hamlet of Majkhali. Majkhali is a simple village, but the views from this village are nothing short of grand. We were mesmerized by the views of the mighty snow-capped Himalayas. On a clear day, Mount Trishul and Nanda Devi, two of Uttarakhand’s highest peaks, can be seen in all their glory from Majkhali.

How to Reach Ranikhet

Ranikhet is one of Uttarakhand’s most well-known hill-stations. As a result, it is well-connected to all the major towns and cities in the state. If you are coming from Delhi, you could avail both flights and buses. While Ranikhet has no airport, it is well connected to Pantnagar Airport, which is 114 km from Ranikhet. Regular bus services are also available from New Delhi. If you plan to travel by train, then you can book train tickets till Kathgodam Railway Station, which is around 80 km from Ranikhet. From Kathgodam onwards, you can easily find shared cabs and buses heading towards Ranikhet.

The Best Time to Visit Ranikhet

Any hill-station is best experienced during the summers, and Ranikhet is no exception. During the summers, the temperatures range from 8°C-22°C. It stays incredibly pleasant in the summer months, so you can do all the exploring you want to without worrying too much about the cold.

In recent years, Ranikhet has been experiencing many tourists in the monsoons as well. Monsoons become a bit colder thanks to the rain, but the hill-station becomes much greener. However, if you like the outdoors, then this is not a good time to visit Ranikhet. Due to incessant rainfall in the monsoons, the trekking trails may become very slippery and risky.

Winters in Ranikhet can be harsh and generally, tourists tend to avoid Ranikhet during this period. Temperatures often dip to 0°C and the hill-station also experiences snowfall. However, if you can brave the cold and take proper warm clothing with you, the winter experience may be wonderful. The advantages include limited tourists and off-season rates at hotels, and of course, the snow.

Travel Tips 

Ranikhet is a very safe place, but as it is nestled in the Himalayas, its surrounding areas may not be very safe, especially after dark. Here are a few safety pointers that you should keep in mind to make your Ranikhet experience safe and smooth:

  • Don’t venture out after sunset, especially into the forests, as there remains a threat of wild animals.
  • Carry warm and waterproof clothing if you visit Ranikhet during monsoons or winters.
  • If you want to trek into the mountains, you should definitely hire a guide.

Our weekend trip to Ranikhet rejuvenated us completely. We got back to the city and felt as if we had unburdened ourselves to a great extent. The trip simply confirmed to us that sometimes, we need to let go of the stress of our personal and professional lives. To help us in letting go of that stress, you can simply plan a trip to a place like Ranikhet; nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, surrounded by nature’s bounties

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