Heritage hotel: From Kathgodam the journey to Naini Tal is made by tonga, pony or dandy. Luggage is carried up by coulies. Should it be decided to make the journey by tonga, it would be necessary to book the tonga, or a seat in one, some days previously. This precaution is particularly necessary in the busy season, i e., during the summer when the demand for tongas is heavy. Should a tonga, or a seat in one, not have been booked, it is possible disappointment may result on arrival at Kathgodam.
Booking is done by addressing the Tonga Superintendent, Kathgodam : the fare is not paid till arrival at Kathgodam, where the tonga ticket is bought. Each tonga provides accommodation for three passengers, and each passenger may take light luggage, up to a maximum of 20 seers, on the tonga. This maximum may not be exceeded as it is the weight. prescribed by the Stage Carriage Act, under which tongas are licensed. The tongas are run by the Rohilkhand and Kumaun Railway, who also supply ekkas.
For ponies, dandies and coolies no previous notice is necessary, there are always plenty to be had at Kathgodam, their rates of hire are given in the appendices. There is a coolie jamadar appointed at Kathgodam for the purpose of taking charge of, and forwarding, passengers’ luggage. He is provided with a printed notice for the information of passengers who would do well to read the notice carefully. The jamadar is ordered to give a receipt for the luggage made over to him; this receipt shows the number of packages and their weight, also the amount paid for porterage. No further payment to coolies than that made at Kathgodan is necessary, and passengers should remember this, for coolies invariably demand further payment on arrival at their destination: this extra demand is called by them“ baksheesh” or “ duble majuri,” the former term is never absent from the lips of the Kumauni coolie.
Coolies will be required by those travelling up by dandy ; both dandy and coolies may be had from the jamadar, and he should be asked for a receipt for the amount paid. The number of coolies employed for each dandy is six, in the case of “ heavy weights” from eight to ten may be necessary. Messrs. Smith, Rodwell & Co. have a carrying agency at Kathgodam, and they undertake to send up luggage, their rates are the ordinary rates, except for conveyance of luggage by their express service, for which they charge double rates. They give a receipt similar to that given by the jamadar.
The journey by tonga is made by the cart road, and that by pony or dandy by the shorter road, viz., the bridle road. Leaving Kathgodam, a short journey of two miles, brings the passenger to Ranibagh : the bridle road begins here, it takes off from the cart road at the entrance to Ranibagh and runs through the bazaar. Ranibagh is not of much importance at the present day, its greatest importance lies in its being a military camping ground : it is the first place where troops, arriving from Kathgodam, camp on their way to the hill cantonments. Ranibagh is a sacred spot with Hindus, and has many legends. connected with it : it is the scene of an annual bathing fair held about the middle of January. The fair is attended by thousands. Ranibagh is also known as Chitrasila after the great variegated rock, which lies at the junction of the streams running down from Naini Tal and Bhim Tal lakes.
One legend runs that here the great gods Brahma, Vishnu, Siva and others, dwell, and there are temples here where they are worshipped. There is a great bar, or fig-tree, below the junction of the streams; on a leaf of this tree the god Vishnu floated over the ocean, and under this tree a sage Satapa Brahma performed austerities for several years, eating dry leaves, and his hands raised to heaven, by which he acquired great merit, and the gods granted him his heart’s desire, and in addition sent for the celestial artisan, who with gold and other precious metals fashioned the Chitrasila, and the virtues of all the gods entered into the rock. The sage was translated to the paradise of Vishnu. They who worship at the Chitrasila and bathe in the waters that flow around it, shall follow the holy man. The great variegated rock is not now visible: it was covered by debris brought down the river in the flood and landslip of 1898.
HERITAGE HOTEL IN NAINITAL : THE VERGOMONT STORY
There is a dâk bungalow at Ranibagh which is worked on the same lines as other dâk bungalows in the country: it is a large bungalow by the side of the cart road ; only a part is available to the public, a portion is reserved as a public works resthouse. Ranibagh is not a stage, i.e., tongas do not stop here for a change of ponies.
There are only three stages, higher up, between Kathgodam and the tonga terminus. Vergomont Hotel and the Roman Catholic orphanage are passed on the road a short distance below the Brewery. The hotel provides refreshments and the tonga may be stopped at the gate on the cart road, while those travelling by dandy or pony may enter by the gate which is on the bridle road; the road at this point is very narrow and more of a lane running between Vergomont and the Douglas Dale estates. The latter is now the property of a Nepalese lady, and is not open to the public as it was in former days, when owned by the popular Mr. Martin who called it “Rest by the Way”. This venerable genial gentleman, in company with his wife, was ever happy to receive visitors and to see to their creature comforts. The worthy old couple died a few years ago and the property passed into the hands of the present owners.
The Vergomont estate was purchased by the late Captain Mansfield, about ten years ago. He started fruit culture and a dairy and opened a hotel. Since his death his widow, Mrs. Mansfield, has continued the business. Rooms are available for visitors, and it is a favourite picnic resort.
The Orphanage is a Roman Catholic Institution, maintained by the Allahabad Diocese. It is intended for native orphans mainly, and now accommodates several Government orphans, viz., those who were sent in the famine of 1896-97. The Institution is under the direct management of a resident priest, assisted by nuns.
The story of Vergomont continues to present day and its doors have been opened to visitors as a heritage hotel in Nainital or even labeled as a heritage home stay in nainital to give visitors a unique stay experience and a slice of history.
We welcome you to visit the best heritage hotel in Nainital in your next vacations.
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