Driving tours, golfing at one of India’s oldest 18- hole golf course (Government House-Nainital), sailing at Naini Lake, snow peak spotting from Kilbury, bird watching at Pangot, Binsar and Naukuchiatal, boat rides at Saattal and treks and hikes in the Kumaoni Himalayas are just some of the exciting must dos in store.
You could trek down to the tiny river below the cottage for an impromptu picnic, while the beer chills in the swiftly running water. Collect pebbles, soak your feet in its refreshing coolness…ah bliss. On the way stop by, first at the tiny shrine under a canopy of trees; jump over the gate and pay your respects. Further on, the colonial house you see, is now a govt horticulture outlet for fresh honey and saplings. Remember to take your binoculars and a bird and butterfly guide book. The Cottage can arrange for a local guide who’ll take you to Jeolikot’s nooks and crannies.
Tiny Jeolikot has some interesting buys hidden in its folds. Walk down the paved road to the tiny river below the cottage and you’ll pass the govt apiary and horticulture dept, where you can buy fresh kiwi fruit, mushrooms, olives and strawberries. Also pick up some fresh wild flower honey.
Right opposite the Cottage, a few shops sell saplings and tiny potted plants. Kumaon’s famous geraniums in many colours are tempting.
The cottage is also a great base for quick trips to temple towns and to explore the hills. It is the gateway to Kumaon’s lake district, and Binsar, and Kausani, Ranikhet and Corbett National Park are just a few hours drive away. Tramp the hills to discover ancient shrines, a cemetery or mysterious old ivy emblazoned cottages to unravel the idiosyncrasies of Jeolikot’s colonial past.
On a clear day you can drive to Pangot and Kilbury (also a bird sanctuary) on a drive that skirts Nainital for views of snow clad peaks. Enroute stop to savour the dazzling view of Naini lake from a hilly perch. A leisurely exploration of the Saattal lakes can be followed up with a drive to Naukuchiatal, where you can spend a lazy afternoon identifying the numerous avian visitors on the lake.
Drive further up N.H.-87 (from Jeolikot) and, avoiding the left curve up to Nainital, continue straight to Bhowali, an important junction in the Kumaon foothills. Pleasing views of pine forests and the occasional startled langur accompany you to this market town. From Bhowali, a road leads up to Khairna (where it forks, the left fork taking you to Ranikhet, and the right fork to Almora), another leads up to Ramgarh and Mukteshwar, and a third to Saattal, Bhimtal and Naukuchiatal. Home to a huge TB sanatorium and an Air-Force Station, Bhowali also has a large bazaar where you can pick up Kumaon’s famous bal-mithai sweets, fresh apricots, plums, pears and mangoes in season, and ripe berries served in a paper cone with a sprinkling of chaat-masala.