Pangot is a tinny village tucked away in the Kumaon hills of the Uttarakhand Himalayan state of North India. A tiny, peaceful hamlet that nestles just 15km away from the always-heavily bustling hill station of Nainital. And not even all Indians know about it!
So, welcome to Pangot a ‘Bird-Watcher’s Paradise’ in India – where magical forests echo with the mystical songs of hundreds of colourful birds that leave behind a trail which disappear into sunlit glades – that’s Pangot for me since I visited it just this summer!
The drive from Nainital to Pangot is through mixed forests dominated by thick ban-oak, pine and rhododendron.And amid these forests nestle some 580 species of birds.
We happened to lodge at the “JUNGLE LORE BIRDING LODGE” which is considered the pioneer for birding in the region. Set up by an eco-tourism promoter Mohit Aggarwal, the lodge rests on thick dense forests, where once you step out of the gate, in the vicinity itself you will find some 50 species of birds including the Laughing Thrush, the Oriental Turtle Dove, the Red-Billed Blue Magpie, etc. We even saw the barking deer in its close vicinity.
The best regions for birding here are the Woodpecker Point, Timla Pani, Gughu Khan, Kilbury Bird sanctuary and even the China Peak region. We spotted so many species of birds that I have lost count.
To name a few Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Rufous-bellied Niltava and even the Koclas amd Khalij Pheasants. The Blue-winged Minla was a pure delight to the eyes!
And if you trek to Naina Peak just on the opposite side, you will see many more species. A trail cocooned by vibrant rhododendrons, deodars and cypresses offers the perfect place for many rare birds to nest in peace away from human habitation.
In the evening of all the three days spent here, my favourite time spent here was when I watched watch birds play hide-and-seek while the Sun rays filtered through tall trees! What joy! Can never be expressed in words.
Tourists from across the world throng this place every year in the months from October to February when birds migrate from various parts of the world to this birding den of Uttarakhand.
Pokhra Dhar – a shallow pool in the region is famous for foreign tourists sitting for hours to get a glimpse of the – jewel-like blue Verditer Flycatcher; fronted and grey – hooded woodpeckers as well as the Luminous Maroon Oriole. And near the Pangot Nala there is an excellent picnic territory where you can look out for Spotted Forktails, Long-billed Thrushes, and of course the very shy yet lovely eyed Brown Wood Owls.
For those who wish to have thrill beyond birding, pangot also offers rock climbing, rappelling, zip lining and the Burma-Bridge.
The Best Time to Visit Pangot
Throughout the year, the place is pleasant. So you can plan your holiday as per the birds you wish to see here. The best is you take help of the experts in the region like Asian Adventures, which also owns the first birding lodge of the area- JUNGLE LORE BIRDING LODGE . Avoid the months of July to September when the region sees heavy rainfall.
How to Travel To Pangot
Reach New Delhi. Either take a train to Pathankot from New Delhi or take an Uttarakhand Tourism Bus to Haldwani. Both can be booked online. And from Pathankot/ Haldwani umpteen taxis ply to Pangot.
Top 3 Places to Stay at Pangot
• Jungle Lore Birding Lodge
• Kafal House
• Aranya Virasat
Do’s and Don’ts
a) ensure light cotton clothing for summer months, but do carry a light jacket as there is a huge variation in day and night temperature of the region.
b) Carry your windcheater and umbrella always; hills have unexpected rains
c) pack walking shoes since Pangot is a green zone primarily with taxis plying only on the main roads. You have to walk to other places in the jungle
d) Sunscreen is a must carry, especially if you’re are aiming to spot birds in the higher reaches of the hills.
e) The closest hospital is 15km away in Nainital, so better inform your lodge manager well in advance, if you have any health condition that demands immediate attention anytime.
As you can see, Pangot is a place, not many know about. So this must be your next stop, whenever you visit India. Afterall, you must be proud to show off something you explored which others haven’t! Cheers!