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Old 27th June 2011, 16:57   #1
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Post Yatra of Confluences and Holiday of Identity

Before I start with the details of this log, let me thank people who have helped in making this travel possible. Thankyou “hvkumar ”, “Turbanator”, “IQBAL VEERJI”, “wanderernomad ”, “roy_libran” and “micrographics” for helping me to plan the route, travel and sharing the facts and other details.


Thankyou Rajesh Khanna (a dear fried) and his colleagues (Ashutosh and Manish) at Idea cellular of Uttrakhand Region for helping in finding accommodation at different locations and keeping me informed of updated route conditions while I traveled.


Last but not the least, I would also like to Thank my Friend and Colleague at Sopra Group "Jyotiprasad Bhatt" who helped me book my last minute holiday accommodation in the beautiful hills of …..( I will tell you later)


Prologue:

The year has been hectic and demanded a holiday. I wanted to go on a drive to Ladakh but family wanted to go somewhere in Uttrakhand or Kashmir. After a lot of planning and re-planning, the duration was fixed. For various personal and professional reasons, week 25 was finalized. The location was yet to be fixed. It could be home “Kashmir” or it could be Kumaun (with focus on “Kousani’ and Binsar”) or it would be somewhere in Garhwal region. Days before the holiday were very tense as Lady of the house was busy preparing for a certification exam.


Being a petrol-head, I wasn’t too interested in staying at one place but wanted to drive around in Hills and hence focused on Garhwal. The Plan was chalked out. It will be a Yatra combined with a Holiday. Obviously, a lot of driving in Hills will be involved. We will drive all the way to Shri Badrinath Jee (JAI Badri Vishal), spend some time there, come down to Govindghat next day and make Gangheria the Holiday spot for couple of day. The holiday part did involve the adventure of walking of 7 hours or Mule ride of about 4 hours but because of the prospects of walking in the ferry land (read “Valley of Flowers”), nobody complained.


As I had never gone beyond Rishikesh, naturally a query was posed in relevant section of the forum for help http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...y-flowers.html (Route Query - Badrinath and Valley of Flowers). The help did pour in and in great detail. Because the route was unknown to me, I was a little nervous. Also, I had heard about terrible road condition from Joshimath to Badrinath Jee and not to forget the gate system for traffic, making it more (un)predictable.


We had planned to leave very early on Saturday 18th June 2011. Friday 17th was hectic as I had a big to-do list to complete. With complete focus on to-do list (which involved changing the wiper blades of the vehicle too), the same had a tic mark against all tasks by 7:00 PM. I reached home and I wasn’t feeling good. In short, “Cometh the day and I was sick”. Wife, though very supportive, for sure was upset because of the “Holiday Plan getting…….” and so was I. The decision was taken to not to Start on Saturday. I spent most of my day sleeping and re-planning (if we can start tomorrow). Visited Doctor in the evening and got a “GO” for the travel. It was decided to move Sunday early Morning. Somehow, though not my style, I had not made any reservations for this trip. Being a big GMVN and KMVN fan, I had faith that I will get accommodation in GM/KM-VN hotels or others at places where I Planned to Stay. I was Jittery about “No reservation at Gangheria” and that would have a huge impact on this whole plan. Remember, Gangheria was our Holiday destination looked forward to, by everybody including me.

Some Teasers


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Last edited by sanjaykaul : 30th June 2011 at 14:48.
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Old 27th June 2011, 17:04   #2
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Default Re: Yatra of Confluences and Holiday of Identity

Hello,

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Old 27th June 2011, 18:04   #3
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Default Day 1 -- Noida to Srinagar (Uttrakhand)

We had planned to start at 5:00 AM sharp to beat the traffic at Ghaziabad and Modinagar. We started 15 minutes late and I guess it wasn’t that bad at all. I took NH24 till Oriental carbon and then a part of NH 91 till I got onto NG 58 in Ghaziabad. Our plan is to travel to end of NH 58 till its end. The milestone said “Manna 540 KM” and we are looking forward to Darshan of Lord “Badri Vishal” and “Keshav Prayag - The confluence of Alakhnanada and Saraswati river”. Rivers in India are adorned as Goddesses and of course river confluences are considered very sacred. We were destined to visit the different Prayag along the river Alaknanda and pay our homage to the goddesses in their most adorable formation that help sustain life on mother earth. No wonder goddesses are referred as mothers as well.

540 KMs in plains is not challenging but the story changes dramatically when more than 300Kms of this travel is along the banks of Alaknanda in the mighty Himalayan region.

We found a little traffic on interiors of Ghaziabad and a lot of cars on NG 58 while traveling towards Modi Nagar. I guess everybody was traveling early morning towards Haridwar-Rishikesh.

I generally don’t go beyond 100KM/Hr (On Highways) but some stretches on the new toll road were inviting and hence 120-130KM/HR was achieved and sustained for few minutes (Only). The Meerut – Muzzafar Nagar Toll road will be one of the only few toll rods in India where every kind of vehicle right from a cycle rickshaw to a bullock cart to a Mercedes will be running side by side.

We stopped for our breakfast just before the tool road ends. There are some nice Dhabas at the end of toll road as well. Maintaining the cool speed (not too fast) we crossed Patanjali Yogpeeth at around 9:30 AM. The traffic in Haridwar was already messed up (this is what I fear most every time I come to the holy city) and it took us considerable time to cross Haridwar. We reached the Chardham Y on Rishikesh Byepass (where one road goes to Gangotri - Yamnotri and other towards Badrinath - Kedarnath) at about 11:45 AM. Now I was confident that I will be able to do Srinagar today. I called a friend and requested for a hotel at Srinagar. In 10 minutes I was at Rishikesh check post at 12:00 and received the confirmation about the hotel booking at Srinagar. There is a nice GMVN at Srinagar which had quite a few rooms available. I had checked the availability on internet early in the morning. For the sake of information, It was quite hot in Rishikesh and Hardiwar.

I had expected a lot of “Char-Dham” Yatris on road but I was wrong. I believe Char-Dham sees more Yatrees from 15 May to 15 June which was confirmed by the purohits and security at Badrinath Jee. What surprised me more was something else. We will talk about that later.

Once we left Rishikesh, w e left civilization behind (of course some part of it was moving along with us for some KMs with big rafts etc).

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The road after Rishikesh along the Ganges was fine with some small bad patches. I had targeted to reach “Byasi” by 1:00 PM but was able to hit it by 12:30 PM.

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We crossed Kaudiliya and came across a traffic Jam at “Teen Dhara”. Most of the vehicles including buses who reach “Teen Dhara” around 1:30 to 2:30 stop there for lunch and hence the Jam. You may plan your travel accordingly. Took a small break of 5 minutes at Devprayag and continued towards Srinagar. Bad roads between Devprayag and Srinagar reduced the speed considerably. There are some Landslide prone areas but one of the longest bad stretches (near Uphalda) was not because of landslide area. I guess it needs some immediate attention which isn’t coming soon (Confirmed by people working on that part). Filled the tank at the petrol pump at Uphalda. The Petrol costs INR 66.01 there. The cost of fuel will go up while we continue on the journey and it makes sense to fill talk here.

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Reached Srinagar at 3:15 PM and checked into the hotel “Siddarth”. Because of our friends reference, we got an AC accommodation at a better price than GMVN. I did check GMVN as well and they had many rooms in Deluxe (non AC) and super Deluxe (AC) available. They didn’t have any economy rooms free though.

Hotel Siddarth (Phone 01346-250499 and email hotelsiddarth@gmail.com) is located on Main road just after the Bus Stand and about 50 meters before GMVN accommodation. The rooms in hotel are not as big as GMVNs but are OK for a couple to stay in. The bed was queen size and it was a little difficult for all to get accommodated in. As we were tired, it didn’t matter much. It was quite hot outside. Weather in Srinagar is same as that of Rishikesh. My Son started watched SUB TV (he is a big SAB TV fan) and I lied down. Within a few minutes I was sleeping like a log. My wife woke me up by 5:30 PM as she had ordered some Tea. We had tea and decided to check the town.

Srinagar is one of the important towns in the Garhwal region. It has “Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University” making it most suitable place in Garhwal district to stud. The town also known for the medical facility all over Garhwal region. The town boasts of 'Vir Chandra Singh Garhwali Government Institute of Medical Science and Research'. This medical college was established by Government in 2007. The town has a Combined Hospital and few Private Nursing Homes and clinics.

There are some DAM(n) activities also happening in Srinagar. The situation doesn’t look good though but then compromises are to be made. I am not advocating either for or against the subject as I am no expert but I was pained by its effect on environment.

The town has a good market. I bought 2 GB of extra memory for my Camera from the market. The town has a big Gurdwara where Sikhs stop over on the way to Hemkund Sahib.

Alaknanda at entry to Srinagar
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The Lone Rock
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Bridge across Alaknanda near Srinagar Bus Stand
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Me too
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On the banks, under supervision
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Throwing stones in water is fun to him
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Good shot
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Supervisor changed
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Anotherr angle
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Closeup
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We went to banks to Alaknanda to chill but found a lot of dirt spread. Spent few minutes there it started getting dark. Headed back to Hotel and it was time for SUB TV. Thank God it was SUB TV and not some cartoon Network. The evening was spent with some average food, splendid TV time and planning the next day.

The gate Time at Joshimath was playing havoc with plans. We didn’t want an early start again but starting late would mean 2:30 PM gate at Joshimath, which would mean another 3 hours to Badrinath Jee and that would mean “not much time” for darshan and to see around. Keeping all that in Mind, we decided for a 6:00 AM start so that we can target 11:30 gate at Joshimath. Anyways the BRO has boards everywhere saying “Start Early, Drive slowly and Reach safely” and we followed the advice.

At about 2:00 AM in night it started raining cats and dogs and rain was the last thing I wanted on such a road trip.
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Old 28th June 2011, 16:36   #4
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Default Day 2 – Srinagar to Badrinath Jee

I got up at 5:00 AM. The morning outside was composed which meant rains had stopped. I had no Idea how much it had rained and what havoc it had played with road conditions ahead. Had a quick bath and Called for a Tea. In the mean time Wife and Kid also got up and everybody was ready by 6:15 PM (we didn’t have breakfast). Checked out and started towards the journey that I had been looking forward to, since years.


The rain has lowered the temperature and that had resulted in some fog along the Alaknanda and great white cloud formations on small hills and mighty mountains.

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Only after 4 or 5 KMs we came across a big slush segment. The trucks from other side had made a depression in slush along the tyre track and I decided to follow same (Mistake).

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The slush being full of gravel touched the underbody of vehicle and started making noise. I stopped and tried to cut to a little left so that I keep my left tyres on depression and right tires on slush plateau but couldn’t as the tyres lost traction. In the meantime there was a buildup of few cars behind. Requested couple of vehicle behind to reverse a bit so that I could move with momentum and they obliged. I was able to reverse back (a little) and then moved forward as planed (depression and plateau). The hurdle 1 of the day was crossed without any more fun-fare and that made me feel better. The Roads thereafter were dry which meant that it had not rained much and that was good news.

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We reached Rudraprayag at 7:15 AM and continued towards our destination. A small stretch after Rudraprayag is a bit tricky but drivable . We reached Nagrasu at 7:55 AM and reached the beautiful Gaucher Vally at 7:55 AM. I saw a board indicating that the place has an Airport as well. This would mean a lot for the travelers to Badrinath Jee, Hemkund Sahib and Valley of flowers but I heard it is not operational yet. Google maps does show a strip parallel to NH 58.

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Continued onwards and reached Karnaprayag at 8:12. We had made quite a bit of distance in time and this made me confident of being able to catch the 11:30 gate at Joshimath. However, we were still 80 KMs away from Joshimath and one has to be humble while traveling in Hills. My calculation indicated that I will take another 2.5 hours to Joshimath but I still wasn’t sure.

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We reached Langsu at about 8:50 and gave lift to a local Guy at Nandprayag. Mohan requested for a lift to Chamoli which is about 10 KM from Nandprayag. He works in Agriculture department at Chamoli.

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Mohan also assured us that we will be able to reach Joshimath before 11:30 AM but ½ KM before Chamoli, we found ourselves into a long line of vehicles indicating a big traffic pileup.

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As the road is narrow, if two big vehicles (say 2 buses) come across each other on this stretch, the traffic starts piling up. It is always better (even for small vehicles) to keep looking till the line of sight and if you see a bigger vehicle approaching, stop at an appropriate location where it can pass easily, let it pass and then move forward. This helps reducing traffic jam time and reducing overall travel time.


The Policemen at Chamoli were efficient and managed to open the jam fast. We crossed Chamoli town in 30 minutes. It would have taken longer if left unattended by police. After crossing Chamoli (I am not sure if it is after Chamoli or Pipalkoti) , there is a 2 KM stretch which has one way traffic and hence could result into a stoppage time of anywhere from a minute to 30 minutes depending on your arrival at the spot. We had to stop there for about 25 minutes. With the stoppage times added, we were now hoping that we will reach Joshimath by 11:30 AM. It looked tough but still doable. We picked Alu Parathas from a road side Dhaba (on the go) after Pipalkoti. We were moving at OK OK speed and were hopeful that we will get the 11:30 AM gate and suddenly my Son announced “Necessary Break”. We stopped at a small place just before a bridge (don’t remember the name of the place). It had about 5 or 6 shops. I think it was about 15 KMs before Joshimath.

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Soumil finished his task in a few minutes and we started at sharp 11:15. It was impossible to cover remaining 15 KMs by gate time and hence we started to make plans for killing time while in queue. All the while I was thinking that even if they start opening the gate at 11:30, they might let pass the vehicles that reach by 11:35 as well because of the long Queue (remember, I was traveling first time). I reached the Joshimath check post at 11:40 and paid INR 20.00 for entry. Crossed the town, the petrol pump on my left and continued towards Vishnupriyag.

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Crossed Vishnupriyag bridge at about 12:00 and continued towards Badrinath Jee at a nice speed. The Views right from Joshimath and especially after Vishnupriyag is breathtaking. Breathing the fresh and cool mountain air while driving and following the beauty of the Alaknanda is magical. All the while I was wondering “Where the heck is the Gate. Was that Check post itself the gate?”

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Last edited by sanjaykaul : 29th June 2011 at 14:16.
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Old 29th June 2011, 15:32   #5
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Default Day 2 – Srinagar to Badrinath Jee - Contd...

I was told by everybody that Road condition after Joshimath are very bad and looking at roads after Vishnuprayag made me feel extremely Happy.

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I was wondering why people would say that it takes atleast 2.5 hours to 3.0 hours crossing the 44 KM stretch from Joshimath to Badrinath jee. Remember I had said previously that one needs to stay Humble while driving in Mighty Himalayas and I was reminding myself of the same. The BRO slogans like “main pahaadi naagin hoon - tez chalne waalo ko dasti hoon” don’t help either.

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Within a few minutes I saw a big sentence painted on a Board. “Welcome to Nanda Devi Bioshphere reserve”. I just wanted to sit there and keep looking at surroundings but I had kept that for return journey.

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In another few minutes we were at Goving Ghat. Time was about 12:40. The distance of 18 KMs had taken an hour. The scene at Goving Ghat reminded me of Amritsar Bus Stand. The place was seeing unprecedented rush of Hemkund Sahib Pilgrims this year and the authorities there were nowhere ready for the same. Both the roadside parkings were full to brink, and there were vehicles parked on one side of the road for almost 2 KMs (A KM before and after Govindghat).

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We stopped for few minutes, spoke to couple of pilgrims and situation didn’t look too good for our Gangheria Visit. Anyhow, today’s plan was to be somewhere else.

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We continued and reached Padukeshwar in few minutes. Till now the rods were good (only a small but a deadly 200 meters stretch before Govindghat) and were a pleasure to drive on. We crossed the Hanuman Chatti bridge and started the climb to Sri Badrinath Jee.

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BRO and authorities are trying very hard to keep the road motorable and the results will show in a couple of Years. We continued and realized we actually took almost 2.5 hours to reach Sri Badrinath Jee. The last 10 KMs are taxing physically and mentally. A very narrow road, very rocky and a couple of water crossings made it quite taxing. We reached Badrinath Jee at about 3:00 PM. While paying INJR 10.00 entry fee, I asked the gentleman present there about the gate myth and he said “there is no restriction for LMV. The Gate timings of every 2 hours is for Buses and other bigger vehicles”. This meant we could start our descent towards Goivind Ghat anytime tomorrow morning. Makes me happy but I anyways didn’t want to come across big buses on that 10 KM stretch and try to make place for them. There hardly is any place to do that.

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We entered the town and drove straight to Devlok Badrinath. The whole place was booked for some package tour and hence no availability. Not even a single room. Turned back and found a hotel named “Hotel Shankar Shree, Phone – 9411532740 – Mr. Sarjeet Bhandari” Teriff was finalized as INR 1300 for a modest room. It has a nice restaurant also at the Ground floor which seemed famous with people. It saw a lot of rush during the dinner time and that is where I stuck a conversation with a gentleman Sikh from Punjab and asked him about the rush at Gangheria. Details on that later.

Last edited by sanjaykaul : 29th June 2011 at 17:03.
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Old 29th June 2011, 17:25   #6
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Default Day 2 – Srinagar to Badrinath Jee - Contd...

We checked-in and settled down in room. It was cold at Badrinath Jee and we were not prepared for the same. We had picked a jacket for our Son but none for us. In a few minutes we planned to go to 1st destination of the day. Before Visiting the same, I planned to go to temple to get the Kapoor (Camphor) arti ticket. It seems I was late for the same and the slot for the day was booked. The next available slot available was Chandi Arti. I bought the ticket for Chandi Arti and was told to come back by 5:00 PM. The entry to temple for darshan would happen at 5:30 PM.

I bought the ticket, walked back to the place where car was parked through the steep market road and we all started towards our 1st destination of the day “Keshav Prayag - The confluence of Alaknanada and Saraswati River”.

We reached Manna “the last Indian village” in another 5 minutes and stopped for the customary photograph near the board.

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The waterfalls on the left side (Narayan Parvat side) looked beautiful

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Parked the car in a jam-packed parking before the village gate and started towards the darshan of confluence.

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The Village folks were having some festival and were celebrating with some local dance.

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The Village has a guest house too

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In a few minutes, after traversing through the bylanes of the village, we reached the spot from where we could have the darshan of confluence. “Keshav Prayag - The confluence of Alaknanada and Saraswati River". I have no words to explain the feeling. I felt elated. I felt light.

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Manna is also famous for it being the last Village on Indian side of the Border, Bheem Pul and India's Last shop (India Kee Akhri Dukan) and few more things (Actually, "India Kee Akhri Dukan" has become a good marketing tactic. Have seen this board ant many places like Wagah border side, Bagsu falls at McLodGanj and some other places too). It is said that when Pandavs were moving towards heaven via “Swargarohan Mountain” they had to cross the gushing waters of river Saraswati. Bheem put the stone across the river so that Pandavs could cross and continue their quest to reach to heaven.

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There is a famous Babajee sitting with Bhabuti all over his body near Bheem Pul. Saw a lot of people paying homage. We paid ours too.

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It was getting late and hence we rushed back to parking so that we could reach temple on time. Village people were still there but the Dance had ended.

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Neelkanth Parvat was shining in its glory

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and the board said we were far away from home, in gods own courtyard

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We reached the temple on time, stood in queue for about 30 minutes and had great darshan of Lord Badrinath Jee from inside of the temple. Jai Badri Vishal.

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It was getting colder. While coming back from temple, we bought couple of Jackets (for me and wife) to keep warm.

We went back to hotel and after a few minutes went to restaurant downstairs for dinner. While waiting for our order to be served I stuck a conversation with a gentleman Sikh from Punjab about his Visit to Hemkund Sahib. He said that he has been to Hemkund sahib 6 times since last 6 years and this being his 7th Visit, he has never seen this rush ever before. He also told me that Gurdwara at Gangheria is finding it very difficult to cater to yatris staying there for night. The quantity of blankets available is inadequate and people even sleep on stairs because of lack of space. He indicated that most of the Hotels at Gangheria get filled by 12:00 noon and hotels are going for the Kill. A room that would usually get rented at a tariff of INR 1000.00 gets rented for INR 3000.00

I discussed the situation with the gentleman owning the hotel and restaurant and he spoke positively about helping to find an accommodation for us at Gangheria (ofcourse at a cost higher than the accommodation we were staying in currently). His maternal uncle (mama) owns a hotel named “Hotel Kuber Phone – V S Chauha-->9411767129, 9917979792, P S Chauhan-->9412407006 ” at Gangheria and would try for finding us accommodation there. Unfortunately, for next 2 hours we tried to call him (on all 3 phone numbers) but could not contact him. Gangheria was virtually inaccessible. Hoping that we will be able to contact him in the morning we went to sleep.

Last edited by sanjaykaul : 30th June 2011 at 18:06.
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Old 30th June 2011, 14:59   #7
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Default Day 3. Badrinath Jee to ……….

Got up at 6:00 AM. Neelkanth, Nar and Narayan peaks were all covered by clouds. The surroundings were dreamlike and it looked very beautiful. It has rained this night as well. Today I wasn’t nervous at all. I had treaded the unknown road already and my confidence was up.

I though of calling the Gangheria hotel again and alas there was no signal. Airtel had gone completely NADARAD. Tried selecting a connection manually, found Vodaphone but it refused connection. Aren’t they supposed to help cross connect (I don’t know). Something for TRAI to ponder on. Found that hotel had an STD phone too and tried from there but Gangheria remained incommunicado.

Thinking that “Lets see at Goving Ghat” we started from hotel at 7:10 AM. Few buses were waiting for the gate to open at 7:30 AM. Crossed them all (at about 7:25 AM) and started the descent towards Hanuman Chatti.

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I had targeted to reach Govindghat in about 1.5 hours but we reached Govindghat almost in an hour only.

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It took me few minutes to park the car so that I could try around, find some more details and plan accordingly. Found a place to park and started towards Gurdwara road at Govindghat. It took me some time to reach the cluster of hotels down (on the way to Gangheria). Spoke to a few hotel owners if they have anyways of providing accommodation in Gangheria and all declined. While walking, one of the guys who had come from Gangheria said that almost 20 thousand people are up there (actually 20K looked a big number but I wouldn’t have confronted him). I didn’t want to take risk with my 5 years old son and hence decided to give up the V. O. F. and Hemkund Sahib plan.

The complete road towards Govindghat Gurdwara was also filled with Bikes and small vehicles and the Parking down (on the banks) was completely full.

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At Govindghat we had the darshan of confluence of river Alaknanda and Laxmanganga which flows down after the confluence in the form of Alaknanda (and it will continue to be called Alaknanda till Devprayag). Lakshman Ganga or Bhyundar Ganga is a Minor River that flows through the Bhuyandar Valley ,From Hemkund Lake. It Merges With Pushpawati River in Ghangaria and then forms a Tributary to Alaknanda in Gobindghat.

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With heavy heart we decided to move towards Karnprayag. Because of this we missed photographing the confluence at Vishnuprayag. "Vishnuprayag is located at the confluence of Alaknanda River and Dhauliganga River" and lies between Govindghat and Joshimath. It is said that the sage Narada worshipped Vishnu at this spot, and the Lord, pleased with his tapasya, had given him his blessings.

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While driving up towards Joshimath, we spotted a young guy atop an apricot tree. Being a Kashmiri, (knowing all positives’ and negatives of apricot) it was difficult to not to stop. We asked him to get us some from the tree. We also spotted a walnut tree in the same orchard and asked him for some walnuts too. Kid was happy to sell them for few bucks. Paid the money and started towards Joshimath.

Stopped for fuel at Joshimath. Didn’t like the attitude of gentleman manning the fuel station. He was rude and because the meter didn’t have the cost on it (It had only one display), I think he overcharged. It is better to take fuel from petrol station which is about 8 to 10 KMs after that.

Though we were making good distance, I wasn’t interested in reaching early to destination. Holiday plan had gone kaput and nobody was happy about it. We had painted a great picture of Valley of flowers in the mind of our son and he was very upset.

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We stopped for breakfast after Joshimath and charged camera batteries while we had yummy parathas and a wonderful cup of tea. We continued descend and crossed Pipalkoti, Birahi, Chamoli and reached to next confluence on our agenda “Nandaprayag”.

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At “Nandaprayag” confluence, Alaknanda is met by Nandakani river and flows down in form of Alaknanda. This place seems to be of great mythological significance and figures in many tales. It is said that a great king “Nanda” performed Yejna at this place to seek blessings of God. According to the legend, the wedding of Dushyant and Shakuntla also took place here. It is also said that the confluence is named after Kind “Nanda”, foster son of Lord Krishna (not sure of this story as Mathura and Brindavan are quite far but in those days, it seemed people moved faster than we do in present times)

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We paid our respect to the confluence and moved further. The sun was playing hide-and-seek with clouds till we reached Karnaprayag.

At "Karnaprayag" confluence, Alaknanda is met by Pindar River (that originates from the Pindar glacier, below the Nanda Devi hill range) and flows down in form of Alaknanda. This place has a great mythological importance and the name figures in many books and tales. It is said that this is the place where Karana did penance and earned the protective gear of Kavach and Kundal from his father, the sun god. The legend is that Dushyant’s and Shakuntala’s romantic dalliance occurred here (Remember, they got Married at Nandaprayag)

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We paid our respect to the confluence and moved back to our parked car.

This was the place where I wanted to take the decision of “Where to spend the quality holiday time”. We had on Dec 31 2010 planned a trip to Binsar but couldn’t reach to KMVN (the place we had our reservations in) because of snowfall. Most of the route of 11 KM after check post to KMVN Binsar was covered with almost a feet of snow and we abandoned the plan (Looks like Uttrakhand is not being fair to us).

(The picture from archives)

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I was planning to stay at Gwaldam for the night and then Head to Binsar next day morning. This will mean that we have enough time to soak in the beauty of this side as well and Reach Binsar early next morning/noon. I called GMVN Gwaldam and learned that there is no water available. The gentleman managing the guesthouse said that he is already finding it difficult to cater to dormitory rush (I think the trekkers were in full flow at this time). I was still OK with the idea of managing one night without (much) water but a call to KMVN @ Delhi and KMVN Binsar made me abandon the plan completely. They indicated “non availability of accommodation” till 28th of June 2011. Depending on the last minute cancellation wasn’t a good idea and I didn’t want to stay at Deena-Pani again (Did that on New Year's day). With a heavy heart and no plan, we started towards our next destination Rudraprayag “the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakni”

We reached Rudraprayag by about 3:30 PM and were diverted towards the by-pass that also takes one to Kedarnath. After crossing the small tunnel, I stopped the car and went down to the small hanging bridge to have Darshan of confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakni ar Rudraprayag. This confluence is named after god Shiva, who is also known as Rudra. It is said that Shiva performed the Tandav here. It is also said that Shiva played his favorite musical instrument the Rudra Veena here. There is another Narada related legend associated with this place.

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(This is Mandakni flowing towards the confluence)
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After having the Darshan, we started towards Srinagar and had to Cross Mandakni first (before Confluence) and Alaknanda (after confluence) to come back on main highway NH58. Immediately after getting back to Highway, we took a break at Hotel Vijay Raj. The place looks like a nice setting for 1st day stop incase one can go beyond Srinagar and doesn’t want to stay in Rudraprayag (while going from Delhi to Badrinath Jee). The hotel is around 3 or 4 KMs before Rudraprayag.

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The journey from this place to Srinagar was uneventful. The upcoming traffic was very less which meant almost no give way stoppages. Just before entering Srinagar, took some more pictures of the DAM(n) site.

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Checked into hotel Siddarth (had called them after Karnaprayag and booked a room), dumped my luggage and lied down on bed. The process of lying down to sound sleep has never been so smooth and automatic. When I got up, Taarak Mehta was looking at his oolta cheshma on SAB TV (again).

Ordered for dinner and started planning for some holiday time. The Idea was to spend some time in a quality property at Rishikesh. Because of the hot weather conditions, wife was not too keen in spending time there but there was hardly any option (or I couldn’t think of much). Called Glass house guys and got a –ve reply. Finally managed to hold rooms in other good properties (2 options) and told them I will reach to hotel by 1:00 PM tomorrow. With options in Kitty and delicious dinner in tummy, I went to sleep again. This night, I slept the longest since I started from home.

Last edited by sanjaykaul : 30th June 2011 at 18:19.
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Old 1st July 2011, 17:23   #8
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Default Day 4. Srinagar to Rishikesh (and to somewhere else)

We got up late. There was no hurry. The BRO slogan “Start early, drive slowly, reach safely” didn’t matter today completely (reaching safely did). It was not more than 3 to 3.5 hrs of drive form Srinagar to Rishikesh. With hotel reservation secured, we were ok with late start. However, we were not too keen on Rishikesh as destination for next 2 days.

We had the breakfast in hotel itself and started at about 9:30 AM. We had one important confluence pending, the mother of all confluences at Devprayag where Holy Ganges is actually formed. It is the confluence where Bhagirathi originating from Gangotri meets Alaknanda to form Holy Ganges and flows to plains.

We reached Devprayag and stopped at a location from where we could have clear view of Confluence and pay our respect.

Regarded as one of the complete showcase of legends, heritage & traditions, for most Indians, this confluence is no less holy than the Sangam at Allahabad. It is believed that Lord Rama and his father King Dashratha did penance here.
Another Legend is that the town is named after Deosharma, a sage, who led a life of penance here and succeeded in having a glimpse of God.

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You can see from the picture how different the water from two rivers is, and mixes to form the most revered river ever on mother earth.

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We continued our journey to Rishikesh with a small “Roasted Corn” buying break. While we crossed Byasi, the sun went behind a big blanket of clouds and it started raining a little. Suddenly, the idea of visiting a place above Rishikesh stuck me. It could be either Massouri, Dhanaulti or Chamba. Given a preference, I would want to go to Dhanaulti and that’s what I told my friend from Chamba. I requested him to find me accommodation in Dhanaulti and hold it for me while I drive down to place. He was quick on the task and confirmed me a reservation in GMVN Dhanaulti in about 10 minutes.

The news made everybody happy and we zipped through Rishikesh in the spurt of the moment. Took the Rishikesh Byepass and on the “Y”, took the Gangorti route towards Chamba. The climb to hills has started and my wife exclaimed “Sanjay, we were supposed to take fuel from Rishikesh”. We had not filled after Joshimath (and ta joshimath, because he was rationing, I had got fuel only for INR 1000) and Hills being hills, it doesn’t last long.

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Narender Nagar was only 7 KMs away and it being an important place on this highway, I was sure we will get fuel there.

Before Narender Nagar, a road cuts from right to bypass Narender Nagar. Dosent look like a good option because it is longer and Narender Nagar is a cool place to pass through (Not much traffic). At Narender Nagar, I was told that there is no fuel station in there and next station is at Nagni (just 13 KMs before Chamba). I was sure I wouldn’t reach to Nagni with remaining fuel. Thinking to go back to Rishikesh to fill tank, I asked a man in uniform if there are any other option available around (what people do incase they have an urgent need). He smiled and told me to move further and I sure will get fuel in agrakhal which was about 10 KMs from Narender Nagar. I was told that some of the puncture repair shops (and one specific shop) keeps emergency fuel there and 2 liters can be managed. This was good enough to reach Nagni.

I kept climbing amidst the extreme mist and fog at some places. Had to switch on headlights, fog lights and even blinkers sometimes. It was amazing how climate can change within a distance of 10 KMs.

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We reached agrakhal and enquired at first possible place for fuel. Got 2 liters for INR 175.00. I tried to bargain for INR 150.00 but the gentleman flatly refused. Didn’t want to take the chance and hence bought the fuel. The quality looked OK and hence emptied the bottle in tank.

Continued on NH 94 towards Nagni where we were supposed to tank-up for rest of the journey. Though the whole vista was great, just before the Nagni fuel station, the tree roof looked beautiful.

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Fresh Vegetables being produced for we city dewellers

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We tanked-up and continued towards our today's destination. Reached Chamba and took the left turn on main chowk towards Dhanaulti. Dhanaulti is about 30 KMs form Chamba. Chamba City like any other municipality maintained city has bad roads. The beautiful metalled rods start immediately after you see the last house of the town. The 30 KM distance form Chamba to Dhanaulti is a pleasure to drive.

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We reached Dhanaulti in an hour of so from Chamba and checked-in at GMVN. We had a deluxe room waiting for us. This would be our holiday spot for the next 2 or 3 days. Today, my son wouldn’t let me sleep because he saw the Eco Park just behind the hotel and he wanted to pay a visit to all the rides ASAP. A visit to the park, so be it.

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A short visit to parks resulted in some splendid activities, walks and relaxing moments.

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Back to hotel, watched some TV, had delicious dinner, watched some more TV (must have watched so much of TV after a long long time) and went to sleep.

Last edited by sanjaykaul : 4th July 2011 at 13:22.
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Old 4th July 2011, 13:01   #9
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Default Day 5: At Dhanaulti and around

When I looked at the watch in the morning, it was already 9:00 AM. Everybody else was sleeping. Decided to call for breakfast else it will get late and we will miss it (the breakfast was part of tariff).

Everyone got up, freshened up, had a bath and settled for breakfast. Breakfast was of Paratha, Puri Baji and Butter toasts.

It was time to visit the park again. My son was curious about few rides and we wanted to explore the jungle area.

We entered the park and some people were already there. It was misty.

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We decided to take a walk into interiors of the dense forest and spot few birds.

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While we were walking, my wife exclaimed and shouted “Sanjay”. She had found something. I ran towards the place and my joy knew no bounds. She had found a tree that shared my second name:-). I know we aren’t descendants of trees but isn’t this unique? Now next time you go to jungle, please don’t start looking for a tree sharing your second name. There isn’t any , unless you are a “Kaul”.

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Son wanted to get on the Burma Bridge again (3rd time).
He also came down on the long rope slide (don’t know what it is called but everybody seemed to have fun)

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After spending some time in the park, we decided to pay visit to a nearby temple named “Surkanda Devi” which is vary famous with locals. With us, it is difficult to keep the faith out and a visit to famous temple is always "ON" even when on a holiday.

The temple is at about 2 KM of steep trek from Village Kaddukhal located about 7 or 8 KMs from Dhanaulti (On Dhanaulti – Chamba route).

The legend is that Sati, the wife of lord Shiva, gave up her life in the yajna started by her father. Lord Shiva passed through this place on his way back to Kailash with the dead body of Sati whose head fell at the spot where the temple of Surkhanda Devi stands

The temple board (or whoever is maintaining the premisis) is building a new temple that is expected to be completed by Mind 2012.

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Last edited by sanjaykaul : 4th July 2011 at 13:23.
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Old 4th July 2011, 13:31   #10
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Default Day 5: Eco Huts Dhanaulti

After coming back from temple, there was something near the hotel that caught my attention. Just opposite to GMVN, across the road are some fine bamboo huts maintained by “The Dhanaulti Eco Tourism and Eco Development Committee”. I was a little curious about the setup and hence requested the guys maintaining the same for a “Dekho”. The happily showed around and this is what I saw.

This committee works in collaboration with forest department and maintains these “Eco Huts”, “Eco Park” and some other areas and activities at Dhanaulti. The committee has been doing splendid work since its formation and is generating considerable employment and revenue for the local people. The monthly turnover of the Committee is about INR 1.8 million and it employees about 22 local youth. I am assuming they pay part of the generated fund to forest department as well. They have 4 double bedded “Eco Huts” and a big conference room in addition to a finely maintained restaurant. The water is solar heated and the “street lighting” is also solar powered. Looks like a nice setup for a short summer break.

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Son wanted to Visit the park again but it became very misty and started raining.

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He had to remain confined to the luxuries of the room and wasn’t happy about it.

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Old 4th July 2011, 14:04   #11
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Default Day 6: Drive Back home

It was our darling son Soumil’s birthday today. Today we planned to drive back home and reach in evening. The return drive will be slow, with frequent stops etc. We had also decided to arrange for soumil’s birthday party for tomorrow. He wanted to call his friends over for the party and that needed atleast a day of planning.

It was very foggy outside. Had early morning breakfast and with customary picture done, we decided to drive towards Chamba.

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Stopped on the way to buy local squash of “Burans flower” (Rhododendron arboretum) and pickle of natural Amla and locally grown Fig. The gentleman produces a good quality of pickle without any preservatives and citric acid and has the unit just behind the shop. (Ramkishan Dabral -> +91-9411505874). He is very famous for producing squash of Burans flower as well and Malta.

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We also stopped near an apple orchard.

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We crossed Chamba and continued pour descent towards Nagni. Just before Nagni, we stopped to buy some fresh local vegetables.

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After Nagni, it was time for some agriculture lessons. We stopped near a place where some agricultural activities were on.

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Our son had been curious about how vegetables were grown and it was time to show him the reality. Back in Kashmir, this was an everyday affair for us but the new generation has lost it to urbanisation. He was explained how rice is grown. The half buried radish seemed amazing to him. He also saw a baby Cucumber which has been his all time favourite. Tomato farm was in its glory and farmer along with his family were all smiling.

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The small stream just next to farm was very inviting and within a few minutes our son was enjoying the clear water. This reminded me of my childhood how we used to jump into the water on every possibility (whenever we could steal some moments from our parents eyes while on agricultural farms). I was living my childhood again through my son.

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Farmer’s family gifted us some fresh tomatoes too.

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A Group of ladies was removing weed from the fields of paddy saplings. It is a difficult process because most of the weeds closely resemble rice plants, particularly at this stage.


Identification of weed species is very important in hand weeding. Sowing the rice in neat rows helps identification of weed and ofcourse there are other ways too.

For Monica, it was time to re-live her childhood and she got into the field with local womenfolk. She did get a bunch of weed out.

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After crossing Agrakhal, we reached the Byepass of Narender Nagar. Now that I had seen the interior of Narender Nagar and inspite of the Byepass being a little longer, I decided to take this route. After a KM or so, we had to come to a sudden stop because of this.

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Turned back (turned a few more vehicles on our way back), took the town route and reached Rishikesh and then Haridwar.

I wanted to cross the chaotic traffic of Haridwar before we stopped for lunch and hence our Lunch stop happened near Patanjali Yogpeeth (after Haridwar).

We had lunch and started for home. After crossing Rorkee, the last educational stop for the day was at a Mango orchard. Now he knows where mangoes come from, how are they harvested and how they turn yellow.

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We reached home by about 5:30 PM and rest of the evening was spent calling Soumils friends for tomorrow’s party and arranging for Cake and Return Gifts.

Last edited by sanjaykaul : 4th July 2011 at 14:24.
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Old 4th July 2011, 14:28   #12
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Default Day 7: Party time

The party happened, everybody enjoyed and the Holiday came to an end.

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Let's see if my Augst 2011 Plan for Ladakh becomes a reality. Till then C-ya.

(Sanjay Kaul)
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Old 5th July 2011, 09:59   #13
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Default Re: Yatra of Confluences and Holiday of Identity

Some pictures of "Not so good section of Roads"

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Old 5th July 2011, 10:07   #14
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Default Re: Yatra of Confluences and Holiday of Identity

Fantastic travelogue and great pictures. The Garhwal himalayas are always a delight for a self-drive tour. You may want to put up a map of the places covered and the route taken.
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Old 5th July 2011, 10:21   #15
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Default Re: Yatra of Confluences and Holiday of Identity

what a wonderful log, pics and journey. Truly a bible for Yatra on road. I will keep notes for my trip there in future
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