IITK 82 Reunion at Naukuchiatal

What happens when a bunch of 50 year olds (or thereabout) who have known each other for over half their lives, get together at a beautiful place in the mountains? They magically transform into their 25 year old versions!

That’s precisely what happened when about 30 of our IIT Kanpur batch mates got together at Naukuchiatal – a beautiful lake in the Uttarakhand mountains.

The outing was planned months in advance by email, and the more enterprising members of the group had arranged for the venue and accommodation. People came from everywhere – mostly all over India, but we also had at least one member from abroad. Spread over 3 days, some stayed only for part of the time, and in some cases they traveled longer than they stayed. But nobody doubted that it was well worth the effort!

In my case, I traveled from Mumbai – along with Tushar who came from Kolhapur.

Naukuchiatal IITK Reunion - Rajdhani ExpressWe decided to take the train – Rajdhani Express from Mumbai to New Delhi

Naukuchiatal IITK Reunion - Sunset from Rajdhani Express Traveling by train after a long time, I realized how much more fun it is as compared to flying cooped up in a tin can

Naukuchiatal IITK Reunion - Lunch Break At Delhi we picked up Prashant Sagar who had flown in from Coimbatore, and we drove together in a cab to Naukuchiatal

Naukuchiatal IITK Reunion - Electric Rikshaw While stopping for a tea break at Rampur, we notice this really cool electric rikshaw. Priced at a decent 85k, it can run about 80-90 km in one charge and has a max speed of 22 kmph. For more info, check www.saeraelectricauto.com

Naukuchiatal IITK Reunion - Roads in UttarakhanExcept for a small bad patch between Rampur and Haldwani, the roads were quite good all the way from New Delhi to Naukuchiatal

Naukuchiatal IITK Reunion - Driving into the mountainsAfter Haldwani, we started climbing into the mountains, and the views of the hills with clouds hovering over them was a welcome sight

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - KMVN Rest HouseWe reached Naukuchiatal in 8.5 hours from New Delhi. The accommodation was in the KMVN Rest House, ideally located just next to the lake

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - KMVN Rest HouseThe gardens were in full bloom, with flowers of all shapes, sizes and colors

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - Walk around the lakeTo do justice to the beauty of the place, we ventured out for a walk around the lake.

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - Wild FlowersWith Dhanajay Mohan – a leading naturalist and senior forest officer as our guide, we learned about many plant and bird species

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - JettyThe lake has lots of options for boating and conoeing. A small floating jetty provides access for passengers to get on and off the boats

After breakfast, we went for a day trip to Mukteshwar, which is about 50 km up from Naukuchiatal. The road climbs uphill all the way, and one can see the change in vegetation as the altitude rises.

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - Way to MukteshwarWe took frequent breaks to admire the scene and the crisp cold mountain breeze

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - MukteshwarMukteshwar is at an altitude of 2286 meters (7500 feet), and gets its name from a 350 year old temple of Shiva known as Mukteshwar Dham, situated atop the highest point in the town, on the campus of the Veterinary Research Institute

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - MukteshwarWe walked down the treelined streets of the well maintained campus of the Veternirary Research Institute

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - MukteshwarUntil 1893 Mukteshwar was known for its shrines and temple before it was selected for serum production to protect animals from cattle plague. On the recommendation of the Cattle Plague Commission, the Imperial Bacteriological Laboratory had its genesis on December 9, 1889 at Pune and relocated to Mukteshwar in 1893

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - MukteshwarOne of our batch mates – Kanwar Singh’s father actually served here many years back, so the visit had a special significance

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - MukteshwarWe headed back after some hot tea, and were rewarded with some fabulous views of the hills

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - Hanuman MandirOn the way back, we stopped by at the “Bada” Hanuman Mandir, paying our respects to the giant statue of Lord Hanuman

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - BoatsAfter we got back to Naukuchiatal, it was time for some boating in one of the colorful Shikara boats

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - Boating in the lakeRowing a shikara is not as easy as it looks. Getting the balance of the two oars so that the boat maintains a single direction takes some practice – so I ended up making a few circles before I got the hang of it

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - Boating in the lake The views of the lake from the boat were truly amazing! The lake was brimming with water from the recent deluge, and the trees along the coast skimmed the water to form a beautiful symmetry in the reflection

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - Boating in the lakeThis small gate leading to the lake from a house hidden behind the bamboo trees looks picture perfect!

As it got dark, we gathered around in a circle and talked late into the night

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - KMVN Guest HouseThe next morning it was already time to leave – too short a visit but lots of fun!

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - Last good byesWe got together for a last morning tea served on the verandah overlooking the lake

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - Last look at the lakeA last look at the serene lake before we get back to our busy lives in the city

Nakuchiatal IITK Reunion - Last good byesAfter saying our good byes to everyone, we set off back to New Delhi

On the way back to Delhi, our cab broke down, and just would not start. It was raining heavily and we thought we would miss our train. Thankfully, Prashant’s quick thinking led us to call Sanjay Taneja who was also traveling to Delhi in his car. They happened to be just a few kilometers ahead of us, and they were kind enough to return and pick us up. What a close call!

Though this was a very short holiday, it was a special occasion for us all – with everyone expressing their realization that the friends we made during our IITK days were probably the best and closest friends in our entire lifetime. We also remembered our dear friend Ranjan who tragically lost his life this year, making us all aware of our vulnerability and bringing us all even closer together.

ashutosh

Adventurer, cyclist, musician, mathematician, data architect