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Old 30th December 2012, 13:50   #31
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Awesome photos and brilliant narration

I like the way you had posted the photos that is not related to the prologue timeline. Beautiful. Rating 5 stars (that's anyway a given for a log from you, i think)
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Old 30th December 2012, 14:29   #32
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Hi Nilanjan,

Very well articulated and great pictures. Have been following your escapades on a regular basis, but silently. This is one journey which is very fascinating because of the Corbette factor and places associated with him. Staying glued and yes keep it pouring, fast.

Regards
Sid
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Old 31st December 2012, 14:04   #33
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Stunning pictures. I like your style of interspersing your pictures from the trip with the narration. Rated it 5 stars. Will await for the rest of the travelogue to unfold. By the way are you already on your trip to Kolkata?
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Old 4th January 2013, 21:39   #34
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Absolutely brilliant stuff!! Did this circuit in 2010, reliving it here again.

Thanks for taking us there. Rated 5 Stars.
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Old 5th January 2013, 10:03   #35
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Wow is the word, Nilanjan.

Coming from you, it can't be better. The Himalayas, whether Garhwal or Kumaon are just lovely. Driving around Kumaon is always on my "bucket list". Hope we will realise that some day and your TL will definitely be the benchmark for that. Keep it coming.
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Old 6th January 2013, 02:40   #36
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Quote:
Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
Awesome photos and brilliant narration

I like the way you had posted the photos that is not related to the prologue timeline. Beautiful. Rating 5 stars (that's anyway a given for a log from you, i think)
Thanks mallumowgli.

Quote:
Originally Posted by me_sid View Post
Hi Nilanjan,

Very well articulated and great pictures. Have been following your escapades on a regular basis, but silently. This is one journey which is very fascinating because of the Corbette factor and places associated with him. Staying glued and yes keep it pouring, fast.

Regards
Sid
Thanks Sid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Stunning pictures. I like your style of interspersing your pictures from the trip with the narration. Rated it 5 stars. Will await for the rest of the travelogue to unfold. By the way are you already on your trip to Kolkata?
Thanks. Calcutta trip got cancelled because I tore the ligament of my right ankle when I slipped and fell while hiking in the Nilgiris.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinayrathore View Post
Absolutely brilliant stuff!! Did this circuit in 2010, reliving it here again.

Thanks for taking us there. Rated 5 Stars.
Thanks. Which places did you visit?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
Wow is the word, Nilanjan.

Coming from you, it can't be better. The Himalayas, whether Garhwal or Kumaon are just lovely. Driving around Kumaon is always on my "bucket list". Hope we will realise that some day and your TL will definitely be the benchmark for that. Keep it coming.
Thanks Fauji. I somehow like Kumaon more than Garhwal - more childhood associations, more greenery.
-----------------------------------------

The twittering of birds woke me up. The sun seemed to have been up for a while. I had missed the sunrise, but had managed to catch up on much needed rest. I got up and went outside to the balcony.

Mohaan KMVN cottage
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The air was cool, the sky was a brilliant blue, and I could hear the sound of rushing water. The entire KMVN campus was covered with Sal trees, and there were a few of them right beside the balcony. When I looked up, I could see a gorgeous combination of blue, green and gold as sunlight filtered through the leaves.

Waiting for the moon...a couple of minutes before the moon popped up behind the peaks
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I ordered for coffee and breakfast and went to boundary fence (meant to keep elephants and boars away). There was a creaky watch tower made of wood, but the view was nothing special. The river view was better from the foot of the tower – when one of the staff came to serve coffee, he said that he had seen tigers on the other side of the river a couple of times when he was sitting below the tower.

Morning coffee in the balcony
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D was up by the time I went back to our stilted cottage. He too seemed refreshed like me. We had a leisurely breakfast of Alu Parathas and Egg Bhurji (my staple breakfast when in the hills) in the shade of the Sal trees. Hot water was there in the bathroom (one can’t always be sure of getting running hot water in one of the less popular government lodges such as the Mohaan KMVN), so I had a long shower – first hot, then cold. We checked out around 10:30 AM, warmly thanking the KMVN staff since they had served us till midnight.

Butterfly season
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I drove slowly towards Ramnagar, stopping for a while near Sunderkhal where the maneating tiger had roamed the previous year. It seemed like an ordinary village in the middle of the forest (the road passes through the village) – people were busy with work, kids were playing, vehicles were passing through.

Looking up from the Mohaan balcony
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One needs to take a left turn from Ramnagar towards Kaladhungi when coming from Mohaan side. There was a prominent signboard, so I didn’t have to ask for directions. We got stuck near a barrage for 5 minutes (the bridge is too narrow for two way traffic), and then came on a lovely straight road that went through the forest.

Mohaan-Ramanagar road
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Kaladhungi was some 30 kms away. There were a couple of small settlements on the way, but apart from that the road went through forest and typical foothills villages. There were greenish yellow fields beside each village, with darker green forest behind and then blue hills at the back. Looked like a picture postcard.

Is that hut for sale?
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We passed by Corbett Falls at Nayagaon, where the Bazpur-Haldwani Road meets the Ramnagar-Kaladhungi Road, and took a left for Kaladhungi. I slowed down as we passed the Boar River bridge, which Corbett wrote about. When he was a child, he used to sit with his sisters and friends on the bridge, with legs dangling above the river bed.

Camp Corbett cottage.
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Crossed Chhoti Haldwani, Corbett’s village, and Corbett’s house (now a museum) before taking another left for Nainital. The straight road went to Kaladhungi town, but our resort lay a 0.5 km ahead on Nainital Road. There was a forest checkpost after Chotti Haldwai, and immediately after that there was heavy forest cover on both sides of the road. This was the patch of forest where a young Corbett started picking up jungle lore – first with a catapult and then with a bow and arrows.

Almost every shrub was full of butterflies and caterpillars in the Camp Corbett garden.
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Camp Corbett’s gate was on the left before a bend in the road. I felt good as we waited near the locked gate, since there was forest cover all around. The watchman came running, and ushered us in. Later we found out that his dad (the watchman seemed to be around 70 years old) – used to know Corbett pretty well.

Sign that greets you as you are about to leave Camp Corbett premises and walk down the steps to the path leading to the river
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Anyway, after checking in, we met the owner. She briefed us about the history of the place, meal timings, do’s and don’ts etc. There was a nice garden in front of our cottage, and there were many butterflies fluttering around. There was a spot some 50 feet from the cottage that was an elephant passing zone. I asked about the way to the river, and went for a walk with my camera as my friend caught up with his emails.

Ramsey's Canal...mentioned in Jungle Lore. The river is on the right side. A tree has fallen across. Swift flowing water, 4-5 feet deep.
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There were steps going down to a 4 feet wide path, passing through heavy undergrowth. After 100m the path crossed a canal - the same canal Corbett writes about in Jungle Lore – the canal that was built by Ramsey more than 100 years back and supplied water to Kaladhungi throughout the year. After crossing the canal, the ground cleared, and I started walking parallel to the canal, looking for a track that would allow me to get down to the Boar River.

My shadow
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This stretch of the river was dry and sandy, full of tall grass and rounded rocks. I walked over sand and rocks to some rocks that were in the shade. Sat down for a while, soaking in the ambience and trying to imagine Corbett growing up in these forests. A couple of locals appeared some 100m upstream, talking loudly as they crossed the river bed. They startled a few deers that were resting among the tall grasses in middle of the river, and the deers ran to the canal side of the river. It was pretty warm under the afternoon sun, so after 20 minutes I retraced my steps and went for lunch. We were supposed to go on a jungle walk after lunch, and I wanted at least 45 minutes gap between lunch and walk.

Boar River
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Lunch was simple but tasty. We were served by Ganga Singh, who was to look after us during our stay. A very nice guy indeed, as we found out during the next couple of days. He came from a village somewhere near Kausani, and usually worked in Camp Corbett’s sister resort in Pangot, but had come down to the Kaladhungi to look after us - most of the other staff members were on leave. After lunch, he introduced us to Narsingh, who would be our guide for the jungle walks. Narsingh told us to wear trousers, shoes and full-sleeved shirts. Good that we followed his advice.

Beginning of jungle walk. Ganga Singh carrying a stick.
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Our walk started at 2.45, and we needed to be out of the forest by 5.15. We went out of the resort gate, crossed the road, and entered the forest to start our walk. Initially we went through open country – trees above, millions of leaves lying on the ground, but not much of undergrowth. We could hear many parrots and woodpeckers. Try as I might, I couldn’t click the Grey Woodpeckers that stayed one step ahead of us. Though there was shade from the trees, after 10 minutes we started sweating (both my friend and I were wearing somewhat thick shirts, since we didn’t have any light full sleeved Tshirts). Narsingh –who looked close to 50 – seemed oblivious to heat, was surefooted as a goat and never seemed to need rest.

But then the going got tougher
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After a while we started going up and down small hillocks, through thick underbrush. The ground was full of pebbles and rocks, and one needed to be careful when putting one’s foot down. Sometimes we were going through shoulder high shrubs, blindly following Narsingh. I was just hoping that I don’t step on a snake. We didn’t have to worry about bumping into animals since an animal would have heard the group coming and moved away silently. Narsingh said that these paths are usually cleared every year before the start of season (i.e. when Corbett opens and guests start visiting – around mid Nov), and in any case the undergrowth clears (dries up) as winter approaches. He led us to a spot where he had found a tiger kill 4 days back –a half eaten Cheetal. We could see no sign of it –the tiger had moved it away. However, I could catch a faint rotten flesh smell where the kill had been kept beneath a bush.

Spider's web
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This walk gave me a fresh appreciation for folks who used to hunt on foot. And a realization that I had allowed myself to become too soft.

We didn’t see any animals during the walk, though we saw – from a distance –many birds, and saw some large spiders. The sun had dipped low by 4.30, and forest was looking lovely as rays came through at an angle the Teak trees and leaves. We came out on the main road sometime around 5, and went back to our cabin for a much needed change of shirts (they had become wet, heavy and cold). My friend got busy with some urgent work (he had brought his BB and BB tablet along), while I went down to the river alone.

A raptor soars in the lap of Pachachuli
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I had checked with Narsingh regarding whether there were elephants around, or whether there were any cats frequenting that path regularly, but he said that it was safe to go. It had started becoming dark, and I kept my eyes and ears open as I walked, since this was prime animal movement time. Sat alone on a rock in the middle of the river, making sure that I would be able to react quickly if an elephant, tiger or bear appeared on any of the banks. Gave myself 10 minutes to reach the resort limits. Which meant I would need to leave 15 minutes before it became too dark to see without a torch. I was carrying my torch, but walking in the dark beside the canal and on that narrow path was a little beyond my comfort zone, especially on the first day.

Jungle, late afternoon
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I felt peace as I sat there. Yet all my senses were on full alert. Darkness descending, a cool breeze blowing, the sounds of the jungle from both sides of the river,the cry of NightJars and Lapwings. I could hear a Kakar (barking deer) calling from far away. Some cat on the move. I finally got up when I heard the noise of breaking branches (elephant, sambhar or perhaps even a langur – didn’t wait to see), and beat a retreat from the river bed. It was almost dark, but I would be able to make it back without using my torch. As I was walking past the canal I prayed that I wouldn’t run into any bad tempered creature that might have come to the canal to drink (this stretch of river bed was dry, as I mentioned). Breathed a sigh of relief as I climbed the final steps and walked into the garden.

This spider was 8 inches long
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We had tea in the garden and then sat outside for a couple of hours till dinner time. I asked for a fire, and was told that we would have one next day – they needed to arrange for firewood. Heard some Sambhar alarm calls from the riverside. While having dinner I told Ganga Singh that we wanted to go for a drive to try and see some animals, and he recommended Kota Road (elephants, tigers) and Nainital Road (leopards).

Me sitting...lonely mountain road, after sunset and moonrise.
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Before starting the vehicle, I took off the Lightforce spotlight covers (just in case). First we decided to try the Kotabagh road. Unfortunately, there were about 12-13 loud, drunken guys - locals on bikes - near the forest checkpost barrier on Kota Road. We crossed them and I started driving slowly but keeping a lookout for them in my mirrors. Kumaon is a peaceful region, but one needs to be careful about a group of drunkards. Rolled the windows up as the bikes started crossing us one after the other. Figured that with all this bike racket animals wouldn’t venture out, so turned the vehicle near a temple and went back to Nainital Road. There was a salt lick a km ahead, and we kept a sharp lookout as we approached it. No luck – only a barking deer walking parallel to the road. We went up for a few kms more before turning back.

Setting sun through a leaf
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Got to know that we missed an elephant that came near the resort gate a few minutes before we entered. Worse, we missed the Sambhars that had been calling hysterically. A tigress had entered the property with her cub (while we were out driving), and had been roaming around. All this we got to know next day morning. Oh well...one needs to be lucky regarding big cats!

A kid (Camp Corbett proprietor's grandson or someone from Chhoti Haldwani?) cycles down Nainital-Kaladhugi road.Camp Corbett entry gate/ signboard can be seen to the right.
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Old 6th January 2013, 13:16   #37
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

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Thanks. Which places did you visit?
Hi Nilanjan,

As you said, people from Delhi like me are geographically lucky when it comes to our proximity with the mountains. I have been to the Himalayas countless times from Kashmir to Arunachal. During that particular trip, we started from Delhi-Kaladhungi via Moradabad/Bajpur-Nainital-Bageshwar-Chaukori-Birthi-Munsiyari-Dharchula(For a small stroll in Nepal)-Pithoragarh-Jageshwar-Nainital-Delhi with night halts at 1 Nainital, 1 KMVN Chaukori, 2 KMVN Birthi, 2 KMVN Jageshwar.

Since it was August, it was raining almost all the time with almost no views of the peaks except some from Munsiyari.

The last time I went there was from 22-26 December 12 (Nainital-Mukteshwar-Jageshwar) which was for some work but had some great views. Will post some picture on this thread if you allow.

Regards
Vinay
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Old 6th January 2013, 13:33   #38
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Hi Nilanjan,

As you said, people from Delhi like me are geographically lucky when it comes to our proximity with the mountains. I have been to the Himalayas countless times from Kashmir to Arunachal. During that particular trip, we started from Delhi-Kaladhungi via Moradabad/Bajpur-Nainital-Bageshwar-Chaukori-Birthi-Munsiyari-Dharchula(For a small stroll in Nepal)-Pithoragarh-Jageshwar-Nainital-Delhi with night halts at 1 Nainital, 1 KMVN Chaukori, 2 KMVN Birthi, 2 KMVN Jageshwar.

Since it was August, it was raining almost all the time with almost no views of the peaks except some from Munsiyari.

The last time I went there was from 22-26 December 12 (Nainital-Mukteshwar-Jageshwar) which was for some work but had some great views. Will post some picture on this thread if you allow.

Regards
Vinay
Very similar to the route I followed. Please post some of your photos, especially from Dec.

I drive down to the Nilgiris very often. If I had been based out of Delhi, I would have taken weekend breaks every month!
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Old 6th January 2013, 20:40   #39
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Very similar to the route I followed. Please post some of your photos, especially from Dec.

I drive down to the Nilgiris very often. If I had been based out of Delhi, I would have taken weekend breaks every month!
Thanks Nilanjan! Here are some clicks from the recent December trip.

Early morning reflections on the Nainital lake. Note the arrow shape.
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The NandaDevi.
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Trishul, Nandakot and Nandadevi with first light of sun.
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NandaDevi at sunrise.
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The scattered village of Sitla from Mukteshwar.
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NandaDevi in day light.
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Panch Chuli peaks.
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Nandakot.
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Himalayan Raptor I guess.
Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip-dscf8416.jpg

Regards
Vinay
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Old 6th January 2013, 23:45   #40
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Amazing pictures? When did you do the trip? I was there in the last week of december. Went upto khulia top as well as that forgettable lake(from kalamuni top).
Stayed in Chaukori, Munsiyar, Kausani and Syal Sur
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Old 7th January 2013, 08:02   #41
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Awesome travelogue coupled with Brilliant pictures. Rated well deserved 5 stars. My to do list keep growing and growing.

Did you use any filters during daylight like ND or Polarizers?
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Old 7th January 2013, 12:19   #42
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Here are some clicks from the recent December trip.

Early morning reflections on the Nainital lake. Note the arrow shape.
Thanks for sharing. Loved the Nainital lake/arrowhead - great timing!

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Amazing pictures? When did you do the trip? I was there in the last week of december. Went upto khulia top as well as that forgettable lake(from kalamuni top).
Stayed in Chaukori, Munsiyar, Kausani and Syal Sur
Thanks. I went during the last 10 days of October. Dec end must have been lovely, with great mountain vistas and snow everywhere.

Had plans to go camp in Khalia top for one night, but had to rush back to Mumbai because of urgent office work - so the plan got shelved.

Where all did you find snow?

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Awesome travelogue coupled with Brilliant pictures. Rated well deserved 5 stars. My to do list keep growing and growing.

Did you use any filters during daylight like ND or Polarizers?
Thanks. I used a CPL filter for some of the photos. I am experimenting with CPL and night photography (using a tripod) - this was the first time I used a CPL and a tripod, and clicked so many landscape photos (landscape is a different ballgame calling for different technique and gear). I am more of a wildlife guy - see these threads:I am sure most of us have a big To Do list

My To Do (long roadtrip) list includes:
  • Manali-Leh-Srinagar circuit
  • Arunachal pradesh and Kaziranga/Manas
  • 7-9 days inside Corbett staying in the FRHs
  • More tiger shooting trips
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Old 7th January 2013, 12:25   #43
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Where all did you find snow?
We did not find snowfall, just a couple of cloudy days.
Speaking of snow we found lots of it.

road to chopta was snowed out, but we could manage to get to the top(barely) on 4WD and prayers
Munsiyar region had lot of snow near Kalamuni top.
Trek to Khulya top was done in knee deep snow. Coming down was mostly sliding down.
Even the kalamuni top lake trek was full of snow.

Chaukori did not have any snow though.
Ditto for Kausani.

These places get snowfall around mid jan usually.
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Old 7th January 2013, 19:59   #44
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We did not find snowfall, just a couple of cloudy days.
Speaking of snow we found lots of it.

road to chopta was snowed out, but we could manage to get to the top(barely) on 4WD and prayers
Munsiyar region had lot of snow near Kalamuni top.
Trek to Khulya top was done in knee deep snow. Coming down was mostly sliding down.
Even the kalamuni top lake trek was full of snow.

Chaukori did not have any snow though.
Ditto for Kausani.

These places get snowfall around mid jan usually.
Sounds like an exciting trip! Re sliding down: know what you mean, faced that during a trek to Dzongri and beyond (many years back).

Will look forward to the travelogue. Snow adds a different dimension to nature. Some stretches near Kalamuni are narrow, and vehicles would have had to drive carefully over slippery or black ice.
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Old 8th January 2013, 12:09   #45
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Hey Nilanjan, those are some cool & interesting pictures of the mountains and the atmosphere they create.

UK sure does have a binding charm!

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We did not find snowfall, just a couple of cloudy days.
Speaking of snow we found lots of it.

road to chopta was snowed out, but we could manage to get to the top(barely) on 4WD and prayers...
OT: When when're you there mate? We did the Chamoli to Chopta drive on 27th Dec through the Kedarnath Musk Deer WLS and had cool wildlife sightings. It was scary though as we'd encountered no vehicle/human life for almost a couple of hours, until we reached Chopta. And indeed, the drive few Km before and beyond Chopta was thrilling to say the least. At a few spots, I was indeed praying! On reaching Ukimath, the GMVN caretaker was astonished that we'd made it as two local taxies had taken a tumble the day before and no vehicles were plying on the same as per him! Spent the next 10 minutes chatting up with the taxi guys who'd gheroed me for road updates.
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