Hartola travel guide - Kumaon Himalaya

Anisha Sharma

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Hartola may not be readily accessible, but therein lies the charm of being here. Local sights, sounds and people make up for anything else that one might miss from life in the metro cities.

Rohit and Meetali Sharma fell for the orchards of Kumaon Himalayas and set up a cottage at Hartola. Hartola, in the fruit belt of Kumaon (in the state of Uttarakhand), is reachable via Kathgodam and Lalkuan railway stations. From here, a winding road up the green hills in an almost zero-traffic zone is well, truly Himalaya!
Hartola is one of the places that is still hidden in the magnificent Himalayas. Hartola is not a touristy place at all - no malls, no glitz, no noise. Fruit trees, snow peaks, glaciers, bird-song, instead take on a visitor’s senses.
Our late evening train from Lucknow railway station took eight hours to reach Lalkuan. It took us another three hours by road to reach Hartola.

Driving in the Himalayas

The three hour journey, taking us from the foothills to the Kumaon Himalayas was replete with scenic landscape, lush jungle, waterfalls and local life. The two of us – me and my wife Meetali headed up without an inkling that the place would soon inspire us to take up a cottage here, and go on to begin a resort right here in the orchards of Hartola!

Situated at a height of 8,000 feet, the Simply Natural resort facing the Himalayan glaciers is a home away from home.
Beside the pristine Himalayan setting, the glaciers and peaks, it is the orchards in particular with the heady fragrance of ripe fruit that adds to the meditative ambience. The Himalayas have always been a balm to the mind and body, going by the number of Rishis who made the Himalayas their home.

Organic fruit belt

Hundreds of wild and garden flowers colour the landscape here. Bird-song is heard all day. Apple, plum, walnut, apricot and peach trees along with strawberry runners run the local economy. To our delight we discovered that Hartola is under consideration for being the best organic fruit belt in India. No wonder the birds sing all day here. No chemical pesticides is a good omen for the health of local residents here – the people, the flora and fauna.

On our first visit to Hartola, it was the distant sound of temple bells mixed with the cheery bird-chorus outside the window that woke us. Smiles seem to be the order of the day here, we realized. This was just a beginning. We smiled as we readied to explore the surroundings. A trek was called for.
Soon enough we came across a spring and waterfall. The locals consider this water to be the same as that of River Ganga. The locals believe that all Himalayan rivers carry pure Gangajal. The water was sweet and refreshing.

While still in the midst of dense jungle we were met by another stream with a beautiful, locally crafted bridge. A drizzle and the slippery path only added to our already high spirits.

Our search for a place like heaven on earth ended as we found ourselves rejuvenated with tonnes of positive energy at Hartola! It may not be readily accessible, but therein lies the charm of being here. Local sights, sounds and people make up for anything else that one might miss from life in the metro cities.
While Hartola is worth a visit any time of the year, the snowfall in winter makes for an added attraction. When the apple blossoms appear just as the snow melts, we thank our stars for finding this haven in the Himalayas.

Travel facts: Hartola

Railway station: Kathgodam is 72 km from Hartola
Airport: Hartola is 342 km from Delhi
Road: NH24 from Delhi brings one to Hartola via Moradabad, Rampur, Rudrapur, Haldwani, Kathgodam, Bhimtal and Ramgarh.

Distance from Hartola

Nainital: 54 km
Delhi: 342 km
Kathgodam: 72 km
Bhowali: 43 km
Ranikhet: 95km