A day in paradise

Saat Tal near Kathgodam, a clutch of seven interconnected lakes amid thick oak and pine tree forests, is just what the doctor prescribed for a de-stressing getaway
Tanushree Podder

The Uttarakhand region is full of beautiful surprises. Saat Tal is one such place there. Amazing shades of green rise above you like a canvas painted in green as you drive towards the place. With the chilled winds blowing in from the Himalayas, the city-weary eyes soak in green bliss and one sits spellbound, staring at the beauty around. The rolling green meadows with the meandering river down below and the pine forests rise up like smiling phantoms. It is quite a blissful sight for the urban dwellers.

Most places have just a solitary lake but Saat Tal has seven of them. Located among breathtakingly beautiful hills, the forests here have amongst others a host of medicinal plants that make the place invaluable. The innumerable legends connected with the lakes are narrated to the tourists by the simple folks of the region. Not one of them sounds improbable when one is sitting near the lake mesmerised by the sight around.

The first view of the stunningly beautiful lake through the thick foliage is enough to enthral weary city folks and the enchantment continues as one drives through the verdant forests that resound with the twitter of winged friends while colourful butterflies tantalise the eyes. If one is looking for nirvana, this is the perfect place to find it.

Saat tal, a clutch of seven interconnected lakes, almost 4000 feet above sea level amid thick oak and pine tree forests scented with crisp jungle smells is just what the doctors prescribe for a de-stressing getaway.

Although a couple of lakes are no longer visible, there are enough of them to provide a tranquil holiday. Nal-Damayanti, the serene lake is just as romantic as the love story of the characters after whom the lake is named. A little distance ahead lies the Sukha Tal, which — as the name suggests — is dry. These along with Garud Tal, Purna Tal, Sita Tal, Ram Tal, and Lakshman Tal form the Saat Tal. To add to the romance of the place, one of these lakes, ringed by emerald hills, is said to be haunted.

Dozens of colourful boats bob cheerfully in the placid waters
Dozens of colourful boats bob cheerfully in the placid waters

Wherever there is so much of greenery, avian species are bound to flock there and so with Saat Tal. For the bird watchers, the adjoining forests are a goldmine. blue magpie, babblers, kingfishers, many kinds of barbets, lineated barbet, parakeets, woodpeckers, pheasants, whistling-thrush, jungle owlet, bulbuls, warblers, and magpies are just a few of the avian variety that throng the lakes and the forests beyond. There is also a precious bounty of colourful butterflies in the area. Not just that, there is a Butterfly Museum with over 2,500 kinds of winged beauties at Jones Estate.

Dozens of colourful boats bob cheerfully in the placid waters luring the travellers to a spell of paddling around the lake. Walking down the tiny bridge across the lake one arrives at a tiny church and the Methodist Ashram. Its story goes back to 1930 when an Englishman named Stanley Jones, a missionary and a friend of Mahatma Gandhi, laid the foundation of this Ashram on the banks of Saat Tal.

Interestingly, Saat Tal is not just about natural beauty. It is a trekker’s paradise, too. The adrenaline junkies can get their fix through adventure activities like trekking, biking, abseiling, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, rafting, river-crossing, jungle-safaris and night-camping. For a small fee one could even hone up the angling skills. A host of mahaseers inhabit the lakes making it worth the effort.


By rail: The nearest railhead is at Kathgodam, which is about 35 km from Saat tal. The best way to get to Kathgodam from Delhi is by taking the overnight Ranikhet Express, or the day train — Uttar Sampark Kranti Express. Cabs are available at Kathgodam to journey up to Saat tal.

By road: Saat tal is about 320km from Delhi. Take NH-24 up to Rampur and switch to NH-87 to go to Kathgodam, and then drive about 35 km to reach Sat tal.

By air: The nearest airport is at Pantnagar, which is about 75 km from Saat tal.

Places of Interest: The butterfly museum at Jones Estate, with its collection of 2,500 species of butterflies and 1,100 species of from the Kumaoni region, is a must visit. The museum was established by Federic Smetacek, better known as ‘the butterfly man. Another interesting place to visit is the Subhash Dhara, a freshwater spring that flows from the dense forest of Saat tal. The crystal clear water and the lovely location are a source of joy to the visitors.

Staying: For those seeking adventure, there is the Getaway Jungle Camp (Tel: 05942- 247301, 247022) and Saat Tal Camp (Tel: 05942-220083) for a true camping experience amidst towering poplars.

For others there is the KMVN Tourist Rest House (Tel: 05942-247047), which has a lovely location right opposite the lake. (Website:

Alternatively, the Country Inn is a good option. (Tel: 05942-248355)