The year started out with my husband deciding to quit a regular job and start freelancing. His aim was to be able to spend more time on travel, especially to the hills. He had always dreamed of moving to the hills and work from there. Unfortunately, our company didn’t support working from home on a permanent basis. Hence, the decision to freelance.
The previous year he had done several exploratory trips to find a suitable spot on the hills. It couldn’t be too remote as Internet access was important for his work profile. Plus he would be frequently travelling back and forth from home (since I was continuing my fulltime job in Delhi NCR). He finally settled on Bhimtal, which was about 45 minutes drive from the nearest railway station in the foothills.
January 1 – 3 to Bhimtal
The first trip of the year was to a house we rented in Bhimtal. We got together some old furniture and other essentials and hired a van to deliver them to the rented house.
The trip was spent arranging furniture, settling in, and enjoying the gorgeous view.
May to Bhimtal
After a few trials, my husband settled into a pattern of spending two-three weeks on his own in Bhimtal and the next two-three weeks with us in Delhi NCR. In May, I joined him in Bhimtal for a short vacation. One of my colleagues, who had become a very close friend by then, also joined me.
Although I’d already been to Bhimtal several times, living in a house versus a hotel gave the trip a different flavor. We had our own kitchen, so we could cook whatever, whenever we wanted.
We also had plenty of time to explore neighboring houses and hotspots.
A popular hangout is Brownies, near the Birla Institute of Applied Sciences. College students often wind up here in the evening, enjoying the delicious patties, burgers, and other savoury and sweet snacks on offer here.
August to Rishikesh
We couldn’t stay away from Rishikesh this year as well. Unlike previous years, we didn’t stay at Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) hotel at Rishilok. Instead, we decided to stay at an ashram, primarily because it was nearer to the Ganga, in fact directly on its banks.
Ganga was a bit muddy at this time of the year, because it was right after the monsoons.
Because of the rains, snakes and leeches had come out. We followed a snake till it disappeared into a hole in the wall.
October to Kerala
This year we decided to spend our son’s birthday in my hometown in Kayamkulam, Kerala so that his maternal grandparents could be part of the birthday celebrations. But before going there, we decided to stop enroute at Athirapally for a couple of days.
We landed at Kochi airport and hired a taxi to Athirapally town.
We stayed at the KTDC (Kerala Tourism) guest house in Athirapally, . It is a small guest house, and its specialty was its spicy food.
The main attraction of the place, of course, was the legendary Athirapally falls. The entire Chalakudi river, that otherwise meanders calmly, jumps off a cliff at this point to form this spectacular waterfall, and then continues on its placid way.
There was a walkway to the base of the falls, through the densely forested area. The path to the base is closed just before sunset.
From Athirapally, we caught a bus to the nearest railway station and then took a train to Kayamkulam. The highlight of the trip was Aakash’s birthday and our reunion with assorted relatives.
After spending a few days in Kayamkulam, we took a train to Kovalam, a beach resort about an hour’s drive from Thiruvanandapuram. On our Kerala trips, we always try fit in a night in or two at Kovalam before catching our return flight from Thiruvanandapuram.
Kovalam is a beach resort, popular with both local and foreign tourists.
December to Bhimtal and Mukteshwar
Every year, our office closes down for the Christmas to New Year period. We used the opportunity for a return trip to Bhimtal. A friend and her niece joined us for the intial part of the trip and with them we made day trips to nearby Naukuchiatal, Saat Taal, and Mukteshwar as well.