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Old 21st October 2012, 14:06   #1
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Default Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

Prologue

Life has been taken for granted, camouflaged by the fast pace of all the good things, glorified by all the successes in life, and turning blind to many things including the changing you. A few changing tides make you grounded and force you to really slow down and take a look at yourself. I was reminded of a poem by James Shirly, from my high school, which made me sit back and introspect.

"The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;"


One of life's long cherished wish, a thanks giving, a pilgrimage, a get away, had been in my mind since ages.

One fine day my good friend BolBolero shoots an email and tells me a plan to drive to Uttarakhand. Chota Char Dham - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri were in the plan. I was quite passive in the discussions which followed.


Days later while I was thinking about the plan the same poem came back to my mind

"There is no armour against fate"

Is it providence that the plan has to come now? Is it that the time has come for me finally to do it? I don't know. But then of all the times, Why Now? Why Not Now? The inner call was strong - may be it is now or never.

I called BolBolero and confirmed my availability for the Uttarakhand Trip just 7 days before he was to start. By now the trip had a lot of participants - most friends from our IPHE (HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)) drive, and a few new ones. I was keen on meeting BolBolero, KSM-Vtec and Jeep Captain again. I was asked to be in Delhi on 22nd September 2012 where I will be picked up for the onward drive to Uttarakhand.
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Old 21st October 2012, 14:55   #2
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

The Plan

Day 01 : Reach Delhi, Drive from Delhi to Haridwar, Evening Ganga Arati at Haridwar
Day 02 : Drive to Yamunotri base
Day 03 : Trek to Yamunotri, Darshan at Yamunotri, Drive to Uttar Kashi
Day 04 : Drive to Gangotri, Darshan at Gangotri, Drive back to Uttar Kashi
Day 05 : Drive to Kedarnath base
Day 06 : Trek to Kedarnath, Darshan at Kedarnath, Drive to Rudra Prayag
Day 07 : Drive to Badrinath, Darshan at Badrinath, Drive to Mana, Drive back to Joshimath
Day 08 : Drive to Auli, Auli, Drive to Ranikhet
Day 09 : Drive to Nainital, Nainital, Drive to Lucknow
Day 10 : Lucknow, Return to respective home town



The Team

For Privacy reasons I will not divulge the names of the members.

BolBolero, KSM-Vtec+3 friends, SS, KP, VB, laluks + BIL, akaush and his parents, JP and his fiancée, BM, CV, MS, CK, Jeep Captain, Gamer, Uncle S, Uncle M, AP+2




The Convoy


BolBolero's Bolero from Mumbai
Jeep Captains Bolero from Wayanad
JP's Indigo from Tamil Nadu
MS's Punto from Bangalore
CK's Indica from Mumbai
Mumbai Roadster AP's Swift from Mumbai
akaush's Ritz from Haryana
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Old 21st October 2012, 15:14   #3
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

A sneak peek into the drive.


Ganga Arati at Haridwar
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Somewhere in Kempty Falls
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Yamunotri
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Gangotri
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We offered our prayers
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Vishnu Ganga (Alaka Nanda) at Gangotri
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We tried to fly
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We drove through difficult terrains
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Old 21st October 2012, 15:25   #4
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

We took a pony to Kedarnath
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Some came by chopper too
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Kedarnath

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Rudraprayag - Confluence of Mandakini and Alaknanda

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We went to Badrinath
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Badrinath
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We went to the last Indian Village
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Saw Saraswati River gushing through the opening in the mountain
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Had coffee and laughs at the last cafe of the Indian Border
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Saw some beautiful shadows
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Old 21st October 2012, 15:36   #5
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

We saw some beautiful cloud formations
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We drove through some beautiful roads

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We befriended our soldiers

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Tried some tricks
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Gazed at Nanda Devi
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Bid bye to Auli till next time
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Went to Nainital

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Enjoyed the lake at Nainital
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We enjoyed the breeze and calmness

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We drove through foggy roads

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Old 21st October 2012, 18:52   #6
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

Day 0
21st September 2012


After a hectic day at office took a flight to Delhi as to reach there by 22:00 hours. My BIL picked me up and went straight to his house. After a delicious dinner crashed on to bed.

Day 1
22nd September 2012


Got up lazily since the meeting time fixed for the start of the drive was around 11:00 AM. Had a lavish and leisurely breakfast. By then BolBolero called me and gave his update. He was expected to reach the meeting place by 11:30AM.

Both me and my BIL were in for this trip. Like me he too wanted to do the Char Dham Yathra. And having heard about our driving episodes, he was quite interested in joining me for a drive.

We took a rickshaw and went to Delhi Noida Delhi (DND) Toll gate where we were supposed to meet.

In some time akaush, BolBolero, MS, CK, JP, Jeep Captain and AP reached DND Toll Gate. We all got into the cars and the convoy drive started by around 14:00 hours.

Our target for the day was to reach Haridwar for the evening Ganga Aarti.

Haridwar is the gateway of pilgrimage to the Chota Char Dham - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Haridwar is at the right bank of Ganga at the foot of the Shivalik mountains.

We had to push a bit harder to reach the target of witnessing the evening Aarti. We reached the opposite bank of Har Ki Pauri by 18:00 hours just in time to witness the Aarti.

It was an absolutely delightful experience and a wonderful way to start the drive, rather our pilgrimage.

Ganga Aarti at Haridwar



The lamps floating on Ganga. It is amazing to see the faith holding the lamps in the turbulent water
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The Main Temple
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The pilgrims at Haridwar
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Moon and Ganga
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A view of the banks
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I had a bath in the Ganga, the three dips as a symbolic of washing away your sins. Felt peaceful, and the power of the place was beyond description.

By 20:00 hours we moved on to Rishikesh, where we stayed for the night.
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Old 21st October 2012, 19:04   #7
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

Day 2
23rd September 2012

We left early from Rishikesh and headed towards Yamunotri.

We drove via Dehradun and Mussorie.
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BolBolero Bolero and akaush
Ritz
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A temple en route

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Land slide
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Reached Mussorie
- She is also called Queen of the hills!
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A sign board from Mussorie Town
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continued...
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Old 21st October 2012, 19:34   #8
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

Day 2
23rd September 2012

We stopped by Kempty Falls
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Somewhere up stream
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We stopped by at a nice viewpoint
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A tributary of Yamuna
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Jeep Captain enjoying the drive
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We were still 100+ Kms to Yamunotri by 12:00PM

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Roads started to deteriorate

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We reached a few kilometres before Hanuman Chatti, from where we just could not go any further. The rains and cloudbursts that lashed Uttarakhand till a few days ago had induced a lot of landslides in this sector. It was only this day that a few vehicles stranded on the other side for about two months came through. Probably the two Boleros would have gone through the slush, but it was next to impossible for the hatch backs and sedans in our convoy to do so.

We decided to get our vehicle parked at Rana Chatti, take a room and dump our luggages in there and either trek or get some vehicles from the other side after crossing the slush to Janaki Chatti for the night.

While we were sorting out the parking and luggages, I came to know about our beloved Sam. Felt really bad, and remained silent and in a state of shock.

By 17:00 hours we started our onward journey to Janaki Chatti after leaving our vehicles and luggage at Rana Chatti. A tempo traveller dropped us till the slush. We walked across the slush and reached Hanuman Chatti. We hired two Max's and went towards Janaki Chatti. The roads were totally washed away and it was indeed a wise decision to not even risk our Boleros.

We reached Janaki Chatti by 20:00 hours and settled ourselves into a lodge there. We got rooms for around Rs 200 for the night. We had hot dinner from the nearest shop and arranged for ponies for the next day. Some decided to trek the six kilometres to Yamunotri, while the majority decided on the pony.

By 23:00 hours we called it a day.
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Old 21st October 2012, 19:53   #9
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

Day 3
24th September 2012

We woke up quite early and got ready for our journey to Yamunotri.

The ponies came as planned at 04:00AM
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Jeep Captain and Uncle S ready for the pony ride
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By 04:30 AM we started our journey
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By 06:30AM we still had 2 kilometres to Yamunotri

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The journey though 6 Kms seemed unending
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Uncle M trekked all the way, he started very early too
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We started seeing the Yamunotri Glacier at a distance
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continued...
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Old 21st October 2012, 20:00   #10
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

Day 3
24th September 2012


We started to see the Yamunotri Temple and River Yamuna flowing from the mountains
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We took bath in a hot water spring before the Temple.

We offered our prayers at Yamunotri
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The origin of the Hot Water Spring
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We offered our prayers here

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Yamuna flowing from the mountains
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My BIL collecting the sweet Yamuna water

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Yamuna - Sweetest water I have ever tasted.

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Old 21st October 2012, 20:10   #11
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Day 3
24th September 2012

This guy wanted to come with us
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Some more pictures of Yamuna flowing down from the mountains
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A water fall en route

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We started our return journey

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We reached Janaki Chatti by 09:30 AM
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We had our breakfast and started back to Rana Chatti
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BM walking across a temporary bridge

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continued...
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Old 21st October 2012, 20:17   #12
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

Day 3
24th September 2012

We took to Max's back to Hanuman Chatti, and walked back to Rana Chatti

BolBolero and KSM-Vtec
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The flowing Yamuna
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The team walking to Rana Chatti
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The slush was getting settled
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We have a long way to go, all the Max's from the other side stops here, they don't risk the slush too.
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Old 21st October 2012, 20:27   #13
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

Day 3
24th September 2012

By 12:30PM we loaded our luggages back and started our drive towards Uttar Kashi

Roads were getting cleared of the landslides
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Bhagirathi
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Distances from Uttar Kashi

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Orientation of Char Dham circuit

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It was overcast, so we decided to stop at Uttar Kashi for the night
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BM and BolBolero

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We got ourselves a good hotel overlooking Bhagirathi River. Had a very good night's sleep to get ready for the Gangotri visit next day.
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Old 22nd October 2012, 15:55   #14
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Default Re: Chota Char Dham - A Road Trip to Uttarakhand

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 22nd October 2012, 22:47   #15
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Day 4
25th September 2012

Woke up early and got ready to go to Gangotri.

The view from the balcony - Bhagirathi River

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The team was already packing up

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But we were not taking our cars
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We had booked three Max's for the drive to Gangotri - The roads were really battered in this sector
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Hotel where we stayed
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By 06:30 AM we started towards Gangotri

continued...
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