Dadu Aur Madak

Our friend Lalli had recommended that if we had a chance on our way to Nepal that we should visit a friend of his in Almora. Almora is in the heart of an area that is rich with hill stations. Hill stations were towns developed by the British because of their cooler climates as a place to escape the summer heat. Almora goes back though much farther than that as it was developed by the Chand Rajas as a summer capitol in the 16th century. We knew that Almora hosted a major Nanda Devi festival in September, but we didn't know the date. When we reached Ranikhet, the turn-off for Almora we encountered about 100 tourist taxis that were waiting there at the railhead. It was September 20th, and it turned out that this was the day the 5 day festival begins. We were told that the chances of finding a room were nonexistent. Once again the road determined our itinerary.

Tourism has made the hill station towns of Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh quite prosperous and the roads around Ranikhet and Nainital reflect that, they are the best we have encountered in all of India. That changes dramatically once you reach the plains.

Nainital sits on the shore of Lake Naini, said to be one of the green eyes of one of Shiva's wives. Above is the view from our hotel suite. it was a beautifully furnished place and deeply discounted because, although the town has its own Nanda Devi festival it loses business to the much larger one at Almora. This small strip of lakefront is home to a Buddhist temple, a Jain temple, and a Muslim mosque.

A light rain didn't curtail the constant parade of celebrants below our hotel window. This group at left was one of several that featured a bagpiper. At right women in their traditional dress still went about their daily chores.

Across the lake you can see one of the palatial structures that are remnants of the British era.