Category Archives: Tourism

The Valley View Homestay, Ranikhet

Homestay or hotel for tripper is completely one’s own choice. Homestay is exactly like B&B i.e. Bed and Breakfast. In Home stays you are accommodated as a guest in a private room with an en-suite bathroom and all sorts of luxuries. They are usually run by the homeowners who enjoy welcoming and interacting with people. Homestay does offer some advantages over hotels along with comfort. One gets to know more about the local tradition and culture as compared to staying in the hotels.

Valley View Homestay Ranikhet

At Ranikhet all types of accommodations are available and for the first time, I choose Valley View Homestay Ranikhet over hotels to have a different feel. The gesture offered was up to the saying Athithi Devo Bhava which means the Guest is God. The staff and homeowner both considered an honor to have us as a guest at their place and they made all efforts to make our stay cozy and comfortable.

Valley View Homestay, Ranikhet


The Valley View Homestay, Ranikhet is located on the National highway between Almora and Ranikhet, approximately at a distance of 6 km from Ranikhet Golf course. It is a quiet place curated with love, labor, and patience.  Each point gives you views of lush green wide valley decorated in pear, apricot, peach and apple trees. In the evening sky in painted beautifully in hues of red and orange. At night the village lights, give the feel of twinkling/flickering Diwali Diyas from the balconies. If it’s cloudy than for seconds you feel you are floating among those. It is a bird watching paradise for bird lovers.

 Entrance to The rooms of Valley View Homestay, Ranikhet

Rooms & Tariff

There are 7 rooms from deluxe to honeymoon suites and tariff for each range from Rs. 2500 – Rs. 4500/-. Each room has its own aroma and gives a different view of mountain peaks and valley.

Rooms at Valley View Homestay, Ranikhet


Amenities at Valley View Ranikhet included everything (TV, the Internet, Power backup, Laundry service, room service etc) to give you a real home feel. Rooms are clean; linen is beautiful and crisp with matching decor.  Bathrooms are well lit and spacious. There are so many cozy corners to curl up with a coffee mug and enjoy the nature to fullest.

Garden & Amenities at Valley View Homestay RanikhetFood

For food, they use local produce, natural ingredients of their own farm. The menu is multidimensional from Indian to Chinese to Italian and continental. Each meal is a wholesome preparation from fish and chips to macaroni. Snacks are served in the rooms whereas meals are served only in the small polished dining area.

The Cafe

Adjoining rooms, there is The Cafe an ideal place to munch over homemade cakes, pies, muffins and Cafe special platters. One can also buy local made chutneys, pickles and jams too.

The Cafe at Valley View Homestay Ranikhet

Some places nearby:

  • Ranikhet Golf Course
  • Local Ranikhet market for Kumaoni specialties
  • Orchards and Gardens
  • KRC Museum and War Memorial
  • Jhoola Devi Temple

The Beautiful Binsar Valley in Monsoons

The elevated pitch of modernization and civilization had turned most of the Hill –Stations to Hill Cities. These hill cities with the luxury of Wi-fi, pizzerias, television, etc may be attractive for most but not some. At the same time, some hill stations managed to not be the part of the league and took a bold step to protect themselves from the destruction of commercialization and civilization. The beautiful Binsar Valley, 23 Km from Almora in Uttarakhand is one of them. In 1988, the Forest Department of Binsar took steps to preserve and conserve the forests of broad oak leaf.

Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
Road to Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Binsar is not a village or town but a wildlife sanctuary spread over 46 sq. Km. It is a big natural swath of forestland, painted with pine and oak trees.

Inside Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
During Monsoons Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Once you enter the Binsar Valley registration fee (Rs 150 per person and Rs 250 for the vehicle), you are in a different world and era. The place had its own natural aura. It seems time clock had frozen years back for this place and sunlight never had an opportunity to kiss this place. While climbing the narrow and snaky roads, chances of spotting wildlife and birds increased as compared to humans.

Evenings at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
Evenings at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Days in the Binsar wildlife sanctuary are quite long and different from other places. There is nothing much to do except listening to your own heartbeat with a cool breeze in your ears and trailing the long and dark trails of thick forests till sunset and Zero Point. While wandering on the ridge you can spot Deer, Gray Langur, Wild Boar, Jungle Cat, Jungle Goat, etc and different varieties of birds. If you are lucky enough then sometimes you get a glimpse of leopard too. At 7 Km from the registration point, on the green meadows stands Bineshwar Mahadev temple, known for its architectural excellence.

Bineshwar Mahadev Temple- Binsar
Bineshwar Mahadev Temple- Binsar

During clear skies, from zero point one can get the magnificent views of resolute standing peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul, Shivling, Kedarnath, etc at a range of 300 km.

Some visit Binsar valley for a day while others prefer to stay here for several days in the lap of nature. There are five hotels and resorts and 2-3 homestays in total. The Binsar Forest retreat is an Eco-friendly homestay located at an altitude of 7600 feet. It offers the sounds and sights of wilderness along with spectacular views of Himalayas and Valley. The Grand Oak Manor offers you comfortable cozy rooms with an old history. The Marry Budden Estate also with the history of the 18th century provides you a luxury living. The Khali estate located at a height of 6600 feet offers you panoramic views of snow-clad mountains and valley. The KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited) guest house, located at 7600 ft was created to increase employment opportunities and community development of the Garwhal region. It does justice with the marvelous location providing all the spectacular views of valley and forest.

KMVN Guest House - Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
KMVN Guest House – Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Some Important Points to Take Care of:

  • Do not move around in the jungle after dusk.
  • Do not leave your children alone.
  • Do not throw lit cigarettes as it can lead to a fire.
  • Use electricity only when required.
  • Carry a sturdy pair of shoes and Umbrella for exploring this place on foot.

Weekend getaway to an old world charm – The Grand Hotel Nainital

Sometimes you feel like running away from the scorching heat, traffic of Delhi. That is what happened with me and my husband last weekend and we planned to rush out. But now the question was where to go? The limited options for weekend getaway from Delhi are Mussorie, Nainital, Jaipur, Shimla etc. Somehow we decided over Nainital. We started from Delhi at 2:00 p.m. and reached around 9:00 p.m. Thanks to NHAI (National highway authority of India) for making it a pleasant journey. We checked into our hotel “The Grand Hotel Nainital  on the mall road. It’s a colonial style hotel with magnificent panoramic views of the Naini lake.


The Grand Hotel - Nainital
Naini Lake View – The Grand Hotel Nainital


The Grand Hotel, Nainital was first built hotel by Britishers in 1872. They have maintained their architecture in traditional style – long open verandahs, stone walls, wooden floors, high ceilings, preserved firewalls and veteran style furniture. We could even found the ball room dance lounge and grand banquets in the dining hall.

Colonial Style Verandhas - The Grand Hotel Nainital
Long Open Verandahs – The Grand Hotel Nainital


In the room of The Grand Hotel Nainital there was everything; from water to glasses to neat and clean bedding, attached washrooms with traditional cloth drying racks, old wooden cupboard, tall mirrors, ethnic style lighting and carpeting throughout the room to make it comfortable during winters.


In The Grand Hotel Nainital , for meals we had to place an order and they are served only in the dining area, to give the perfect feel of grand banquets, whereas snacks are served to rooms, throughout the day.

Nearby, there are good eating joints which are open till 12 midnight.


March end and April starting is the perfect timings to explore this place. There was a blend of cool breeze with sun warmth during the day and evenings are chirpy, cool. At one point of time I felt the need of shawl or jacket, but without it was more joyful.

 Sitting in the verandah of The Grand Hotel Nainital, we could get the panoramic view of Naini Lake with tall trees around it and people chirping on the streets of mall road.At night around 11, strolling mall road hand in hand was an amazing experience. You can see wonderful reflections of light and moon in the water.
Reflections in Nainital lake - The Grand Hotel Nainital
Night View of Lake – The Grand Hotel Nainital


Staff was courteous, mannered and well dressed. The welcoming smiles on their face made you actually speak to them.

In short, I will say The Grand Hotel Nainital is a perfect blend of traditional and modern culture and a must visit once.

A Must Visit to the Fairyland – Chandratal Lake

Mountains are our second home and we can drive to them; any day any hour we need a break from the city life and pollution. And this time the exploration was to one of the most rugged terrains of Himachal i.e. Lahaul Spiti. So, we planned a 10-day road trip itinerary to Lahaul Spiti, keeping in mind a day’s layover in the land of fairyland i.e. Chandratal Lake.

Chandratal lake, Spiti valley, Himachal Pradesh, India

About Chandratal Lake

Chandratal or Chandra -Tal, is derived from two Hindi words Chandra meaning moon and Tal meaning lake. So, the lake is also known as the Lake of the Moon or Moon Lake.

The Chandratal Lake is fresh water, high altitude lake in the Lahaul Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. It lies at 14,100 square feet, spreads up to 2.5 kilometers and is the main source of River Chandra. From sides, it is enclosed by semi-arid brown mountains Moulikla and Chandra Bagha, which turns completely white in the winters. The Cirque in between these Himalayas provides a complete 180-degree view of the deep blue colored lake.

The Panaromic View of Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley, Himachal, India


Every high altitude lake in India is linked with some or other story. Similar is the case of this crescent-shaped, Chandratal Lake. So, let’s start with the story itself.

Story of Chandratal Lake

The Moon Lake, in Himachal, is believed to be discovered by shepherds. There are several stories linked to this lake and here we are reciting the ones we heard from Tenzin Bodh of the Tenzin Camps.

The first story is that the God Indra landed in his Chariot at Chandratal Lake to take Yudhishtra eldest of all the Pandavas, in the mortal state to heaven. So, the lake is considered as sacred and is visited by thousands of Hindu Devotees, every year.

The second story is – A shepherd used to come, sit and talk to the Moon Lake every day for hours. One day while sitting he saw a fairy. She wished to marry him and in return will fulfill his all dreams. He denied her proposal saying he is already married. Fairy gave him the solution that he can stay with his wife; & marry her too; without disclosing it to anyone. He was happy and didn’t tell anyone about this happening. One night while he was drunk and arguing with his wife he disclosed that fairy wants to marry him. It’s believed that was the last day Fairy was seen in the Chandratal Lake.

The first glimpse of Chandratal lake from Mountain top

Third Story is – Chandra was a daughter of Moon God and she fell in love with Bagha, the child of Sun God. It was love at first sight at Baralacha pass but heir love was not approved by their parents. So, both of them decided to elope and marry without parents’ permission at Baralacha Pass where they met for the first time. On the day of a meeting, Chandra reached bit earlier than Bhaga. When she didn’t find Bhaga at the decided location, she started running towards Kunzum La and back to Baralacha to search him. At Tandi, she saw Bhaga coming from the opposite direction. So, finally they met and the celestial marriage happened. Many of the trekkers, trek on this route to witness real beauty.

The River which flows at Tandi is known as Chandrabhaga River, which on entering Jammu and Kashmir becomes Chenab.

Also Read: Ladakh- The Land of High Passes

How to reach Chandratal Lake

The Chandratal Lake can be reached from Manali as well as from Shimla.  From both these routes, one needs to reach Batal and further take a diversion to reach moon Lake.

Route from Shimla via Manali (364 kilometers): Manali – Marhi – Rohtang Pass – Chhatru – Batal

Route from Shimla via Rekong Peo (533 kilometers): Shimla – Rekong Peo – Nako – Kaza – Batal

From Batal, the Lake lies further 13 kilometers inside, and it takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach the base camp.

The Trail to Chandratal Lake

The Moon Lake can be reached by trekking as well by driving from Batal. One can drive his/her own vehicles, hire a cab, or join in shared cabs & buses. Do; check the time of buses if you are going by bus. In case, you miss one wait for the shared cabs at Batal, as there are only limited options.


The last 2 – 3 kilometers of Chandratal Lake can be covered by hiking & traversing the mountain slopes, getting 360-degree views.

Condition of Roads

The road to Lake is narrow, made of mud and gravel, with lots of potholes. The whole stretch runs along the River Chandra and a few points, there are passing water streams and Pagal Nallas too.

Note: Try to keep your vehicle at a maximum speed of 20 – 30 km/ hour, taking care of the cyclist, bikers, and hikers on the way.

Road to Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley, India

Best Season to Visit Chandratal Lake

The best time to visit lake is from June to September. We went in August end and it was too chilly.

Average Temperature:

Summers: Days are warm but evenings and mornings are chilly and windy. At night temperature goes to 0 or below 0 degree Celsius.

Winters: Temperature varies from -10 to – 30 degree Celsius but the roads and accommodation both are closed.

Nights at Chandratal Lake

The nights at Lake are exceptionally beautiful. You can see countless stars, the whole of the Milky Way galaxy with the naked eye. The place is perfect for night photography as well to gaze at the sky for hours.

Accommodation at Chandratal Lake

Chandratal Lake is famous among both national and international tourists for trekking, and camping. Camping is not allowed near the lake. There are several camps for accommodation at a base, which is about 2-3 kilometers from the lake.

Camps at Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley

We stayed at Tenzin Camps. The tent had a double bed mattress with several blankets and quilts. Still, we were shivering, so Tenzin provided us two hot water bottles to make ourselves comfortable! That was really sweet of him. And there are separately shared washrooms for men and women.

Food: At morning and evening, you get an aromatic drink to fight altitude sickness. Lunch and dinner contain boiled Dal, Chawal, Sabji for vegetarians and meat for non-vegetarians.

At such temperatures water boils in almost half an hour, so if you want some to drink or for your personal usage let them know beforehand. Tent owners are kind enough to serve you drink at night.

Some Points to Remember

  • The road to Chandratal Lake is really narrow and bumpy so drive slowly
  • Get your vehicles properly inspected before leaving on this route and do carry extra spares; as you won’t find mechanics here for several miles
  • Don’t drive at night
  • Always carry enough woolens and windcheaters with you, as the weather is unpredictable here. If it is sunny right now, it may turn cloudy in next 15 minutes. Wear cap, especially during morning evening to avoid getting sick
  • Do carry sunscreen, sunglasses and first aid kit with you
  • Keep compass with you to keep the idea of directions and to avoid getting lost
  • There is no phone & electricity connection at Chandratal lake
  • Keep yourself hydrated to avoid AMS. If you are hit by it take help from your tent members
  • Avoid drinks at high altitudes
  • Try your photography skills

Tenzin posing at Chandratal Lake

No matter, how much you plan for this trip; the journey to this fairyland will still seem unplanned. The roads are adventurous and nature is just surreal.  The breathtaking views of snow-clad glaciers, arid mountains, green hills, river, and lake, leave you spellbound and force you to stay back or visit again. This crescent-shaped, high altitude glacial lake is for every traveler and adventure enthusiast.

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Chandratal lake, Spiti valley, Himachal Pradesh, India