A Walk In The Hills – Ranikhet

Blogging is no longer ‘just an online diary’ experience. Today it has transformed into a mind-boggling mini-industry with blogs and posts devoted to help you popularize your site, pregnancy and the best part – gather a huge traffic and on the side earn some money (well, make that lot’s of money, sample – Steve Pavlina’s site on Personal Development – this post here will set you reeling for sure!) There are more, but I will reserve that for a later post. Frankly, after reading all that the web has to offer on blogs/blogging I feel insecurely a novice, and the past three years look wasted, especially since I spent two precious years on the horrendously primitive Rediffblogs service. Even though I say it, I feel some of my finest writings came from that period, and though now I have transferred a vast majority of those posts to this site, I hope new readers will also check them out from the archives!

From the multiple ways of gaining readership, one such means is through Technorati – a social networking site, and almost considered the Mecca for Bloggers! Technorati is a blog search engine, content aggregator, social website and ranking system which attracts a large number of bloggers, and well, let’s be honest – everyone craves for additional readership! Technorati ranking is almost a social prestige, and it isn’t really that difficult to climb in its rating. In the past few weeks, since I started to observe it (though I had become a member in 2005!) I have seen my own rank climb from an obscure 1,00,000 plus to a more respectable 62,826 60922 53,317 50,054 46786 40,090(as on date); considering that there would be at least 71 million blogs out there, it isn’t all that bad!

There are two main ways to make your blog ‘hot and happening’. One is through the links that you get. Needless to say the entry barrier in this one is pretty high. Other blogs/popular sites will have to link you up, and if I have read it correct, ‘link exchange’ to top ranking sites is really not very ethically correct and google doesn’t perceive it very highly as well! ( unless of course, it is done voluntary for the love of your site). So for the time being we’ll just keep the Top 100 Most Linked Blogs aside.

We’ll now move on to the next best method ie to reach the Top 100 Most Favorited Blog!

Being a social network site, Technorati obviously offers users to ‘favorite’ each other up. Sophistically put, it means you love that blog and would like to read it very often; crudely stated, it simply means you pat my back and I’ll do the same to you. But the benefit to both is that your ranking on Top Favorited Blog climbs upwards.As of now, entering the top 100 will only require your blog to be favorited by more than 115 members. Fairly easy, I guess.

I first read about the Favorite Exchange Program on Doshdosh’s Blog. A little investigation revealed that it is currently a very active program. So what are the benefits from this? I will quote Dosh’s words:

  • Provides social proof. Getting in the Top 100 provides social proof of your blog’s popularity. This will increase the attractiveness of your site in the eyes of advertisers and blog readers if mentioned or displayed prominently.
  • Expands your blog readership. You are more likely to receive visitors from Technorati if you are listed in the Top 100 most favorited list. Visitors are bloggers,which means that they are potential feed subscribers if you have quality content

While Dosh wants to do an in-depth study into the way the blog rank works, I have no such motives (and honestly, I don’t even have the requisite knowledge; after all he runs an excellent blog on Make Money Online!) With such benefits I see no harm in entering the program. Plus, it is not against Technorati’s Terms of Service.

So, what do you need to do? It’s pretty simple actually. The ground condition is that you should own a blog (and not some copyrighted or spam site, and certainly no pornographic/obscene or shady contents).

1. Just log on to Technorati and create your profile, in case you don’t have one there. Trust me, registration there is a simple two-minute exercise. It would be good if you ‘claim your blog’ too since it will help your site getting forever associated with you (of course, you are going to love it).

2. Alternatively, you can simply click here and it will lead you direct to making my blog a favorite (via a route of login or registration, depending whether you are registered with Technorati or not).

3. Leave your Tecnorati username or link to favorites on the comments below.

My Technorati username is deepakjeswal. Another way is to simply type my blog’s url onto the search bar and search in ‘blog directory’. You will be greeted with stats of my blog, along with a ‘Favorite this blog’ button. (Just in case you need similar buttons on your blog, you can get them here).

I will favorite all the links as soon as possible. I won’t be leaving any comments to confirm this because I’ll just be repeating myself constantly over the comment section.

4. Read this blog – okay, this is not really part of the main program, but then my main purpose is to get readers to actually read what I write, so I would love if you would spend a few minutes on the site. As stated above there is a comprehensive archives page that will help you out. By the way, this blog is not only about Hindi film reviews, though if you are a fan you will get lots of it as well! A good place to start of is to read the ‘Golden Expressions’ (right hand, on the main page side bar), what I consider some of my best posts. If you love them and want to read everytime, subscribe to RSS here.

A few optional guidelines and notes:

  • You can create a post on your blog announcing that you are participating in this program. If you do so, please do include a prominent link back here so that readers are aware that similar program is on at Random Expressions.
  • I’ll try to reciprocate immediately, but just in case I miss out please feel free to inform me at deepak@deepakjeswal.com

So, let’s start rolling in the grand Technorati hay and create traffic and social prestige for each other! Happy ‘favoriting’!

P.S. – Just in case you are wondering who all are in it – take a look at these links (I will try to update them as soon as possible, but please do give me some time) & these are the only ones that I have managed to visit! Some of them will give you newer perspective on TFX :

1.Doshdosh – From where, I guess, it all started and multiplied!
2.Gaurav – He’s already made it to the Top 100, and he was the first one to ‘favorite’ me up when I learnt of TFX
Gary Lee
6.Calvin Warr
7.Vinod Ponmadiyil
9.Brian Patt
13.Nirmal TV
16.Atul Dogra
18.Nash Trout
20 TechnoSpot
22.Brian Lee
24. Adam-Blogosphere&Life
25. MilesBusinessBlog

28. Ms Q
30.David Greene
33.Linda Martin
35.The Troll
36.William Toomey
37.Simon Barker
38.Garry Conn
39.Rahul Asthaana
41.Planet Apex
42.Digital Phocus

Additional Reading (Non Related)
Blog Carnival on ‘Observations of Life’– Some very interesting posts, and yes, my post ‘Sycophants in office’ is also featured.

I am sitting near the poolside, urticaria which is on the lower level than the lobby. Yet, ophthalmologist the view from here is breathtakingly beautiful. A few minutes back, in my hotel room, I had the chance of seeing a rainbow. The colorful arch is a rare and nearly extinct in the smog covered Delhi skyline. Here, it dazzled in its splendor.

The more I want to write about the views that I see, the more the words fail me. Words like magnificent, awesome and picturesque are so small and confined in their meaning and description. So I will refrain from using any such repetitive and monotonous phrases and words and just write what I see.

The sky is overcast with light gray and fulsome clouds. There is a drizzle – gentle, very gentle, barely perceptible, yet nonetheless, imparting the atmosphere a fresh, moist and fertile hue. A couple of birds whiz past overhead, like two naughty schoolchildren seeking shelter from the rain.

I wrote in my previous post that Kathmandu is surrounded by a ring of mountains (the Himalayas). Today, they are covered in a muslin veil of the clouds, peeping out occasionally like a shy bride and then quickly covering themselves up.

It is cool, though neither windy nor breezy.

Hill stations and mountains have fascinated me since childhood. I do plan to settle in one after retirement. In India, I had the chance of visiting lots of them. Here I present some of the hill stations visited by me:

a) Kasauli– Undoubtedly one of the finest, smallest and exquisite hill stations, some 2 hours drive from Chandigarh. Basically, a cantonment, the entire town is built over two main roads- the Upper and Lower Mall. I have written a post on this town earlier . Kasauli will always remain number one for me.a>

b) Manali- Again in Himachal Pradesh, Manali (and its name-sharing sister town, Kullu) are higher up, and well known for the vivacious Beas river flowing through it. It is very relaxing to sit near the river and watch it flow by…it takes away your tensions along with it. My best memory of the place is sitting on the rocks near the river, cooling a bottle of beer in the chilled waters of the river, and then drinking it slowly. There are other sight seeing options also. Incidentally, apart from it being our ex-Prime Minister Mr. Vajpayee’s favorite holiday destination, it is quite a popular spot with Bollywood too- Saudagar and Roja are a couple of hit movies shot here. From Manali, a visit to the Rohtang Pass is also a must (it’s open only for a small part of the year during summers). Driving is quite dangerous, so a trained driver is recommended. The vast expanse of spotless white virgin snow is the highlight of the place.

c) Naldera and Chhail -Though they are not nearby, I am covering these two together as both are near to Shimla, but on differing directions. Shimla is now an ugly and looming slab of concrete on the mountains. But Naldera, with its golf course and a resort, is worth checking out. A walk through the forests and its ‘pagdandis’ is rejuvenating. Chail has a palace turned into a resort- again, with a splendid sight right at the top.

d) Nagarkot– In Nepal, please see my post on this

e) Mt. Abu– Situated in the Aravalli range, on the border of Rajasthan, this quaint hill station is famous for its Nakki Lake and Dilwara Temples. The minute and polished sculpting in this Jain temple is indescribable. I liked walking through the Mall road which ends up in the tranquil lake. The lake is quite large, and boating (especially rowing) is quite an exciting exercise.

f) Panchgani and Mahabeleshwar– These are part of the southern mountains, and in Maharashtra, a few hours drive from Pune. Like Kullu-Manali, the two are always clubbed together. It has been some time since I visited there, so the memories are not all that vivid. But I do recall standing atop a plateau of Panchgani; the panoramic view requires a huge cinemascope screen. Incidentally, at that time N.Chandra was filming Narsimha there (so you can know how way back I went there). Since a song was being picturized on Ravi Behl and Urmila (both non-entities at that time), it held no star value for me, so I skipped it. Mahabelshwar has a lake- boating recommended.

g) Lonavla and Khandala– The latter was made quite famous by Aamir and Rani Mukherjee (remember Aati kya Khandala from the film Ghulam). En route to Pune from Mumbai, these two neighboring hill stations are not very high up. Lonavala’s chikki is quite famous and tasty too. I went there many years back for a conference.

h) Shimla and Mussoorie– Again, I club these two together as they are nothing but crowded mass of cement and concrete. The road to Mussoorie is particularly bad, and unlike a drive through Himachal, the highway is pretty dull and unexciting. Since a lot of Delhi crowd comes to both the places, all I can say is allegorically, if Shimla is populated like Karol Bagh, then Mussoorie is a Lajpat Nagar central market.

i) Nainital- Also commercialized, but to a lesser extent than the above two. Has a few interesting sights. The lake is small and nothing much. Again, driving there is a pain.

j) Siliguri– This is not exactly a hill station, as it is on the foothills and very plain. But there is a lot of greenery and tea gardens worth viewing around the Siliguri-Jalpaiguri belt. The town is small, quaint and contained. Like Kathmandu, the mountains are just nearby especially the beginning of Bhutan.

So, this is a small list of hill stations that I managed to see. There is so much more to visit, I hope I do get time to travel around more. Some of the ones that I am longing to visit are Lahaul and Spiti (have you seen Paap? It is shot there!), Dharamsala and McLeodganj, Leh-Ladakh, Srinagar and Pahalgam, Ooty in India. In Nepal and Bhutan, the list includes Dharan, Pokhara (again, a valley), Dhulikhel, Kankani and Thimphu. Abroad, the Swiss Alps is what I look forward to.

Some day, I will realize my dream. Some day…

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It is six a.m.The sun’s golden streaks hesitantly color the azure sky. The birds softly twitter. The air is midly nippy.Despite the bird’s musical chirrup, shop there is a deep silence; a silence which doesn’t hurt but balms the frayed and frittered nerves. I haven’t brought any woolens. I wrap the hotel’s white bedsheet, page like a shawl, approved and step into the dawn’s welcoming arms.

I walk out of the gate and move upwards on the road; it carries the sign which displays Trekking/Walking Route in English and Hindi, at the end of which a cemented block will inform that it is a path on which Jawaharlal Nehru (India’s first Prime Minister) walked on. The narrow road is empty and snakes upwards in multifold curves. The fresh air meets resistance from my city-sooted lungs but soon they acclimatize. My nostrils tingle as they greet the sweet smelling blended fragrance of pine and early morning.

The silence permeates within the body welding with the soul and stirring the heart. The pine trees on my left are tall, deep and dark. A careless wind blows through them and they shudder like a beloved caressed by her naughty lover. Beyond them the cliff slides precariously into a sharp drop, allowing however for some restraint where a few sloped-roof houses audaciously defy the mountains. In this deep jungle, leapords reside and sometimes they cross into the human territories. I throw a furtive glance, but the wild cat is invisible.

On my right, the hill rises to the next level where there is more greenery interspersed with some houses. The constant chitter of the birds holds the silence tenderly in their soft musical arms. A squirrel races up a tree. A dog in front of the house perks his ears but recedes to his vigilant sleep.

My thoughts and dreams are alone with me. They nag each other like quarelling siblings, each taking precedence over my attention. I smile at both indulgingly allowing them to randomly express themselves. They will not get time once I am back to the city. The peace and tranquility of this place intoxicates me and tickles my senses.

A lady fills water from a tap jutting out from the hill side. Shyly, she smiles. A boy on a bicycle passes by, with an incongruously modern cell-phone contraption playing music in his ears. Thankfully, my own mobile operator has chosen to stay unconnected. Last evening while driving to here, through stunningly picturesque valleys and vales, my colleagues had broken the entire charm of the place by constantly checking their network availability and loudly proclaiming if they detected one bar on the cell phone instrument’s signal strength meter. Some even ventured to call home through that tenuous connection stridently repeating every sentence as their voice cracked over the network. I appreciate their concern to call up home but since we were just a few minutes away from the main town center a little wait wouldn’t have been that bad. I think it has become an obsession to be always wired and connected and dry patches tend to make us uncomfortable and fidgety!

The hill on the right has shrunk and I can see another road moving upwards. The slope connecting the two is laid with a carpet of light green grass and pine trees dot it. A few children are playing. A couple of army personnel walk briskly on the upper road.

On my left I stand awhile taking in the breathtaking view of the valley descending below: the blend of coniferous forests with the sheer greenery of the slopes and the astoundingly crystal blue sky above arrests itself in my mind. I gulp the beautiful sight, almost guilty of the heaving sound my tired breath makes due to the uphill walk.

I move ahead and I notice that the road which I had just seen meets the one I was walking on in a junction. I am not wearing a watch but I sense it is getting late, so I walk back to Chevron Resorts, where we are staying.

My early morning walk on Ranikhet’s Mall Road is another marvelous experience which I will recall very fondly!

Ranikhet, a small hill station 1829 m above sea level, in the Kumaon region (and Almora District) of Uttarakhand (previously Uttaranchal), is 56 kilometers away from Nainital, but unlike the latter, commercialism hasn’t corrupted it. In a way Ranikhet warmly reminded me of Kasauli, perhaps because both the hill towns are cantonments; and, they have preserved beauty with a strict discipline. All along our drive last evening, we saw impeccably clean white and green buildings, in bright paint and in elegant condition. Unlike other hill stations, Ranikhet’s Mall Road is not its market place. The market (Sadar Bazar) is three kilometers away, at the town’s entrance.

Ranikhet, literally meaning Queen’s Meadow/Field, is truly a summer retreat in the true sense of the meaning far from the madding crowds, tucked beneath the mighty Himalayas, it is an oasis of harmony, quietetude and serenity!

Like almost all hill stations Ranikhet was also discovered and developed by the British (Strange that previous Indian rulers did not deem it fit to retreat to the hills in the scorching summers; I sometimes wonder how the Mughals could live in the blistering heat of Delhi or Agra during the peak summer seasons, especially since they did not even have the modern amenities like an airconditioner, or even a proper fan, not that the latter is of any good use – ask me! My fan fights a losing battle with the rising mercury daily!).

The British established Ranikhet as the headquarters of Kumaon Regiment and the Kumaon Regimental Centre, Museum and Memorial are still here.

With Indian middle class disposable income on the rise, travel within the country is increasing. Consequently, many hill stations (Shimla, Mussoorie, Nainital to name a few) have started resembling the very mass of concrete that people leave the cities for. In this sense, Ranikhet is still joyfully untouched and unsullied. Enjoy its natural beauty!

How to reach Ranikhet?

Ranikhet is well connected by roads – and good ones at that, at least the stretches that fall within Uttarakhand. There is a direct route from Delhi via Moradabad, Rampur (famous, or should I say notorious, for its Rampuri knives), Haldwani, Kathgodam and Bhimtaal. It’s the route which we used while returning. We were told that Rampur can be pretty crowded and often people get stuck in jams. Mercifully, we didn’t encounter any that day. This section of the highway is typically bad.

It takes about 8-9 hours to reach by car.

Alternatively, you can also reach there via Ramnagar, (Corbett), Mohaan, Taarikhet and Machhod (the route which we took while going since we were already at Corbett National Park) but I suspect this is bound to be longer, though you may avoid the tough Moradabad- Rampur – Haldwani stretch. Do check before taking your journey!

If you wish to travel by train, you will have to take a bus from Kathgodam, approx 80-85 kms away. Some info on reaching Kathgodam is found here.

Where to Stay in Ranikhet?

Several resorts are available. We stayed at a very quaint and decent place called Chevron Resorts(on Mall Road). The place is quiet, has pretty efficient service and it also offers independent cottages for family/honeymoon travelers. The staff will gleefully inform that Subhash Ghai’s magnum opus Kisna was shot here.

Holmes Farms Heritage Resort is another charming place, which initially belonged to an Englishman who had made Ranikhet his home. Today the resort retains the bungalow in its original form, replete with wooden floors, huge beds and high ceilings. It gives you a feeling as if you are in some surreal film setting. Reaching there is a bit tough since it is perched atop a hill with the road giving way to a dirt one mid-way.

More on Ranikhet here, here and here.

Related Reading – Hill Stations I Have Visited
Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh)

Additional Reading (Non Related)- Mark Presents The Blog Carnival On Satire – My post “Culture Attack” featured there.

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9 Responses to “A Walk In The Hills – Ranikhet”

  1. Mehak says:

    Gold mil gaya!!!!

  2. priyangini says:

    arre, I am first today. What a surprise?

  3. priyangini says:

    ok second, i am happy with a silver.

  4. Mehak says:

    Wah jee kya sahi desc hai..mazaa aa gaya….while reading, I imagined myself walking on the mentioned road…amongst pine trees n breathtaking views.

  5. Juneli says:

    Main aaee aaee 😛

    Lots to catch. Will come to read later on.

    Came here – haziri lagane ;). itne din se jo absent thii.

    Naam katne se pahele hazir de duun 😛

  6. Mehak – Gold mil gayaa jee 😀 Thanx…

    Priyangini – That was close! Silver aapka…

    Juneli – …Aaaja… Haazri marked. Ab padho 😀

  7. praney says:

    You are lucky to have such holiday.

    I feel envious buddy. Great Exp.

    But where are the pics??????????????????????

  8. Praney – Even i dont know where the pics are – i didnt carry a camera, so all were in my friends’ cameras, but whatever i got were of the Jim Corbett sector of our trip, and not of Ranikhet…

    True, the exp. was awesome!

  9. Megha Sharma says:

    Hi all,

    I am going to Shimla at Hotel Marley Villa,

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