I had prepared my itinerary well in advance as the journey of over 1500 Kms. culminated over a period of 14 days.I had booked rooms at the ‘Tourist Rest Houses’ run by the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam and was truly satisfied with the choice I had made, as this Semi-government organization has its rest houses located in most desolate and nondescript places and provides you with the best of services available in such places.
Entering Uttar Pradesh
We started the journey in my own car with the assistance of an hired hand, who undertook the journey more for adventure & passion rather than monetary or other benefits.I prefer personally driven cars as the drivers then tend to listen to your directions, rather than impose themselves as in case of most drivers from the hill region and also from hiring agencies in New Delhi.I had a bad experience way back in 2007 when I undertook the journey for the Chardham circuit in a hired vehicle.We started on the 5th of June, 2010 early in the morning at 5.00 A.M with the intent to avoid heavy & slow moving traffic on the Ghaziabad-Moradabad sector.
The Toll Plazas
Having got past the border at Ghaziabad, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of road & lanes laid down by the NHAI on the NH-24 and made the journey very comforting, albeit dotted with numerous ‘toll plazas’ whose toll rates ranged from Rs.5/- (one side) to Rs.40/- maximum.However, as the development work is underway and over head passes being constructed at many small & medium sized villages & townships enroute, the journey was speckled with small hiccups while passing by these places.Having reached Gajraula at around 8.00 A.M having driven approximately 160 Kms. from Dwarka, New Delhi we stopped over for a brief breakfast at a road side Dhaba called the ‘Giani Dhaba’, the food served was fresh and refreshing.
Approaching the Kumaon hills
Stopping by the Kaladhungi forest
Leaving Gajraula, we headed towards Moradabad and after negotiating the run through some well carpeted roads, we turned towards Bazpur and having passed through Tanda, we headed into the Kaladhungi forests.Here we stopped by for some time, absorbing the nature & appreciating the forest that lay sprawled all around.Then we passed by Choti Haldwani region and gradually the climb started towards the hills of Nanital, which were gradually nearing.We had to enter Nanital as we had to refill our petrol tank and to my dismay found the place overflowing with people & vehicles.As the petrol was unavailable at the Petrol pump situated at the entry point we had to make way to the Petrol pump situated below near the Lake side next to the Bus stand.Having upped the tank we proceeded towards Bhowali and due to lack of proper signage, first headed towards Bhimtal and then had to get back to the road which went towards Mukteshwar.
Village women carrying firewood
After having gone past some nondescript villages like Kainchi & Gagar, we reached another village which was fairly big.By this time it was late in the afternoon and hunger pangs had started getting to us.Because of motion sickness suffered by some of the vehicles incumbents, it was decided that some snacks & cold drinks would be appropriate for the time being.We parked our Car by the road side and found that some local music was blaring loudly and as we located its source, we found that a marriage party was underway in a village across the valley and the ambient atmosphere of the place was carrying the sound across the valley with clarity along with the breeze.Having gorged enough Pakoras, which were lip smacking, made in true ‘Pahari style’ containing some green leaves & potatoes, topped with some cold drinks we were ready for the final stretch.We passed by a few more nondescript villages namely Khabrar, Kashiyalekh and finally having got past Bhatelia, we headed towards Mukteshwar, our first destination in Kumoan where we were to stay put for next two nights.