Journey to Ranikhet

Ranikhet is a hill station and cantonment town in Almora district in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.

It is the home for the Kumaon Regiment (KRC) & Naga Regiment and is maintained by the Indian Army.

 

Welcome to Ranikhet - a large poster greets the visitor.
Welcome to Ranikhet – a large poster greets the visitor.

 

This is an “off topic” personal page about a journey which I made in 2017 to visit the birthplace of my father AR (Bertie) Weyer.

My grandfather served with the Army in India for many years and Bertie Weyer was born in 1900 at the military hospital in Ranikhet Cantonment which is a hill station lying at an altitude of over 6 000 feet in the foothills of the Himalayas.  This was my second visit to India and the photos which follow cover the journey north from Naini Tal to Ranikhet.

I would heartily recommend to anyone visiting India that, if possible, they should take time to visit one of the old hill stations in the Himalayan foothills.  The scenery is quite outstanding. By far the easiest to reach is Simla (pop c 170 000) which is a relatively short journey of about 250 miles (c 400km) north of Delhi by mainline train to Kalka at which town a change is made to the famous world heritage narrow gauge railway which was completed in 1903. Simla was the old summer capital of British India from 1864 to 1947 and the government moved there each summer from the old capital of Calcutta and, after 1911, Delhi to escape the heat of the plains in the days before air conditioning. There are wonderful forest drives and some fine views of the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas.

Ranikhet (pop c 20 000) is further to the east and just west of Nepal but is much smaller than Simla and has no direct rail connection with Delhi or anywhere else. So, although it is a gem of a place, it requires more of a reason to visit – such as a family connection.  Being smaller than Simla, it is even more peaceful and less hectic but the views of the snow capped Himalayas well surpass those of the old summer capital. The road journey from Delhi to Nainital (south of Ranikhet) is over 200 miles or c 350 km and takes about seven hours. The name Ranikhet means “Queen’s Field”. After Indian independence in 1947, the Indian Army took over the military cantonment which had been established by the British in the late 1800s. The military hospital also survives and the Surgeon-Colonel in charge made my wife, Anna, and me very welcome and helped us to locate the building where my father was born. Being a serving officer, she declined my request for a photograph which is sad as she looked  very impressive in her army sari style uniform.  I must also record that Ranikhet Cantonment is kept in a very smart and tidy condition and is a credit to the Indian Army.

 

Map showing Delhi + Simla & Ranikhet hill stations
Map showing Simla & Ranikhet in relation to Delhi.

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Please click on the map and pictures to zoom in for a closer view.

 

Old British house overlooking lake at Naini Tal on the road to Ranikhet
Old British house overlooking the lake at Naini Tal on the road to Ranikhet
On the Mall at Naini Tal
On the Mall at Naini Tal – this photo shows the view from the next one. (Note flag pole appearing in both)

 

Attractive old buildings line the Mall at Naini Tal on the road to Ranikhet
Attractive old buildings along the Mall facing the lake at Naini Tal on the road to Ranikhet
Flowering Horse Chestnut tree beside the Lake at Naini Tal on the road to Ranikhet
Flowering Horse Chestnut tree beside the Lake at Naini Tal on the road to Ranikhet

 

The Kosi River between Naini Tal and Ranikhet
The Kosi River between Naini Tal and Ranikhet
Crossing the Kosi River on the road between Naini Tal and Ranikhet
Crossing the Kosi River on the road between Naini Tal and Ranikhet

 

An attractive scene near the village of Patli on the approach to Ranikhet.
An attractive scene near the village of Patli on the approach to Ranikhet.
The forested road as one nears Ranikhet
The forested road as one nears Ranikhet

 

Sign post in Ranikhet Cantonment
Sign post in Ranikhet Cantonment
Rosemount House Hotel, Ranikhet built c 1900.
Rosemount House Hotel, Ranikhet built c 1900.

 

An attractive old 'Planters Chair' at the hotel in Ranikhet. - lattice seat to keep cool and wide armrests to rest the sundowner.
An attractive old ‘Planters Chair’ at the hotel in Ranikhet. – lattice seat to keep cool and wide armrests for the sundowner.
Another 'Planter's Chair' at Ranikhet. Also known as a "long-sleever" on account of the extending arms to rest the weary legs.
Another ‘Planter’s Chair’ at Ranikhet. Also known as a “long-sleever” on account of the extending arms to rest the weary legs.

 

 

The Mall at Ranikhet from a vintage postcard c1900
The Mall at Ranikhet from a vintage postcard c1900 – also seen to the right of the next photo taken over 100 years later!
Same old British buildings along The Mall, Ranikhet Cantonment, 2017
Same old British buildings along The Mall, Ranikhet Cantonment, 2017

 

Sweeping up pine needles at Ranikhet after a sharp morning shower.
Sweeping up pine needles at Ranikhet after a sharp morning shower.
Near the hospital in Ranikhet
Near the hospital in Ranikhet

 

Monkeys beside the road, Ranikhet Cantonment
Monkeys beside the road, Ranikhet Cantonment

 

Post Office Ranikhet, post date 1912
Post Office Ranikhet, post date 1912
Ranikhet General Post Office in Snow c 1900 (note snowman centre right)
Ranikhet General Post Office in Snow c 1900 (note snowman centre right)
Still surviving Post Office at Ranikhet, 2017
Still surviving Post Office at Ranikhet, 2017

 

Pine needles on the road after early morning rain; Hospital grounds on the left.
Pine needles on the road after early morning rain; Hospital grounds on the left.
Entrance to the Military Hospital, Ranikhet birth place of AR Weyer 18.09.1900
Entrance to the Military Hospital, Ranikhet, birth place of AR Weyer 18.09.1900

 

Colin Weyer in the grounds of the Military Hospital, Ranikhet
Colin Weyer in the grounds of the Military Hospital, Ranikhet
Example of original c 1890s building at Ranikhet Military Hospital
Example of original c 1890s building at Ranikhet Military Hospital

 

External covered walkway at Ranikhet Hospital
External covered walkway at Ranikhet Hospital
Building housing the maternity ward where AR Weyer was born 18.09.1900 Ranikhet Military Hospital, opened 1892
Building housing the maternity ward where AR Weyer was born 18.09.1900 –  Ranikhet Military Hospital, opened in 1892

 

Ranikhet church, on left, & parade ground in snow, c 1900
Ranikhet church, on left, & parade ground in snow, c 1900
Same church today, one of several old English Churches in Ranikhet.
Same church today, one of several old English Churches in Ranikhet.

 

Inside the church in Ranikhet
Inside the church in Ranikhet
The native bazaar in Ranikhet
Saddar bazaar, Ranikhet

 

A fine display at a fruit shop at the bazaar in Ranikhet
A fine display at a fruit shop at the bazaar in Ranikhet
Local cooking on an open fire at the bazaar in Ranikhet
Local cooking on an open fire at the bazaar in Ranikhet

 

Forests clothe many of the hills around Ranikhet
Forests clothe many of the hills around Ranikhet
Foxgloves beside a forest footpath near Ranikhet
Foxgloves beside a forest footpath near Ranikhet

 

Native women carrying firewood at Ranikhet
Native women carrying firewood at Ranikhet
Forest walk at Ranikhet
Forest walk at Ranikhet

 

Tall trees in the forest near Ranikhet
Tall trees in the forest near Ranikhet
Jhula Devi Temple to the goddess Durga in the forest at Ranikhet. Note the numerous bells
Jhula Devi Temple to the goddess Durga in the forest at Ranikhet. Note the hundreds of bells.

 

A short history of Jhula Devi Temple, Ranikhet.
A short history of Jhula Devi Temple, Ranikhet.
Rhododendron tree in flower at Ranikhet
Rhododendron tree in flower at Ranikhet

 

House at Ranikhet built by British c 1900
House at Ranikhet built by British c 1900
One of many incredibly peaceful forest walks at Ranikhet.
One of many incredibly peaceful forest walks at Ranikhet.

 

Back to the hotel at dusk after a relaxing forest walk at Ranikhet.
Back to the hotel at dusk after a relaxing forest walk at Ranikhet.

 

 

I hope to add more photos in due course.

 

Ranikhet as recorded in the Imperial Gazetteer of India 1885
Ranikhet as recorded in the Imperial Gazetteer of India 1885
Ranikhet as recorded in the Imperial Gazetteer of India 1908
Ranikhet as recorded in the Imperial Gazetteer of India 1908

 

Sadly, throughout our visit to Ranikhet the famous view of the Himalayas was obscured by mist.

However here is a photo from our hotel website which shows what we missed!

View of the Himalayas from the lawn of the Chevron Rosemount Hotel, Ranikhet.
View of the Himalayas from the lawn of the Chevron Rosemount Hotel, Ranikhet.

 

Travel Guide to Ranikhet

 

Finally a couple of family photos showing my father, Bertie Weyer, as a young boy in India.

 

Dora, Albert and Muriel Weyer, India c 1906
Dora, Albert and Muriel Weyer, India c 1906
AA Weyer and family, Jullundur, Christmas 1909. Dora, Albert Alfred, Albert Reginald, Sarah Ann and Muriel (Gladys absent at school in England)
AA Weyer and family, Jullundur, Christmas 1909. Dora, Albert Alfred, Albert Reginald, Sarah Ann and Muriel (Gladys absent at school in England)