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Old 23rd January 2013, 17:26   #31
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Default Re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Hey Avi, nice pictures there, and an interesting travellogue. Your practice of taking off 2 weeks in a year is good, hope I too could follow it!!
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Old 23rd January 2013, 18:04   #32
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Default Re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Great coverage of Nainital there mate! Nice pictures of the (frozen) falls and the lake. But I think it's time we moved on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
... Otherwise, IMO most food that you get in the mountains isnt that tasty...
I'd beg to differ here! I've had some of the most tastiest dishes (veg/non-veg, snacks/main-course) in them mountains. You just gotta find the right place. Especially, the hyped restaurants. I've had at a few and found that they all serve typical plains(y) stuff. But maybe it's the tourists that set such expectations.

On the other hand, you find gems in hole-in-the-wall outlets frequented by locals.
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Old 24th January 2013, 18:50   #33
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Default Re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Quote:
Originally Posted by PVS View Post
Hey Avi, nice pictures there, and an interesting travellogue. Your practice of taking off 2 weeks in a year is good, hope I too could follow it!!
Thanks PVS. Well, over the last 10 years, my annual vacation in December each year is going bang-on except for one year when my sister was visiting during that period.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
I'd beg to differ here! I've had some of the most tastiest dishes (veg/non-veg, snacks/main-course) in them mountains. You just gotta find the right place. Especially, the hyped restaurants. I've had at a few and found that they all serve typical plains(y) stuff. But maybe it's the tourists that set such expectations.
Iam sure you must have had good experiences. What I am saying is the food isnt good but, it's just not as tasty as you will find on the plains or cities. The most edible items that you can relish (according to me) in the mountains are :-

a) Maggi
b) Egg Burji/Omlette
c) Roti ( if you get Tandoori which is RARE)
d) Dal
e) Pakoras (Mixed & Onion)
f) Paranthas ( Again, rare to find good places in mountains who serve good ones)

Apart from above, every other dish is just about average in taste. Just good, not excellent

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
On the other hand, you find gems in hole-in-the-wall outlets frequented by locals.
I agree with you on this one. When you arent expecting, Bang!! your served with an amazing meal. Two incidents that I can recollect were :-

a) Machan on Mall Road, Nanital
b) A small vendor selling hot samosas, Onion Pakoras while enroute Joshimath from Nanital. This stuff was simply out of this world

DISCLAIMER : My BIL wanted to contribute to this thread by write a brief note of our Nainital-Joshimath journey. So he wrote below post and as he's a non-member, I am posting on his behalf

Next day, we woke up at 6:00am and were ready to leave by 6:45am. I must confess, we all were still in our dreams when we embarked on our second leg of our vacation hoping our cab driver wasn't in the same mode as us. Keeping our fingers crossed, we hoped he wasn"t.

And, along we went to our next destination which was joshimath. Now we can't recall what happened but, just after driving for a few kilometres our car hit a small-bump and there it was, one of the most inconvenient thing to be part of when you a hire a cab, our Odometer stopped.LOL

We gathered our hearts again and asked our driver not to worry as we had the whole trip figured out to our last destination inch by inch. He tapped the odometer a few times hoping it would come-alive but sadly to his dismay, it didn't and he left the remaining calculation of kilometers to us( what else could he do ).By us, I meant google-baba who helped us all the way to our last mile.

We stopped for breakfast an hour later. But there was something amiss. The driver was not in his right senses. I think he was busy asking questions to himself "What if they make an idiot out of me and tell me the wrong distance to every place and I end up with a criss-crossing entire Uttarakhand and some such crazy thoughts"

After a sumptuous B'fast of bread and omlette at a very small dhaba where they even provided us an angeethi to warm ourself as it was freezing cold at roughly 8:00am. After getting ourselves filled up, we drove on some very beautiful roads that was very unexpected.

A few kms ahead we had a crossing and google baba suggested that we go left but, our driver (another self proclaimed google baba himself ) told us that we need to go right and the road would connect us to a bypass.

After about 10 kms we reckoned that we had taken a wrong turn as GOOGLE was showing we were on a wrong path and a few kms ahead even the FAKE GOOGLE BABA( OUR DRIVER ) said we are lost.
We decided to go against the age old cliche' "men dont like to ask directions, we just find them".

We decided to ask a localite and he said the exact same thing what google was suggesting all along - "You guys have taken a wrong turn and the turn was left behind some 15kms behind. I don't know how but the guy had a sudden urge of peeping inside the car and seeing the phone in my hand with google maps open, he said u took a wrong turn even with GPS - Gurrrrrrrr, EMBARASSING.

I gave the same Gurrrrrr look to our driver and he drove onto the right road from there and swore that he is resigning form the job of being a GOOGLE BABA. LOL

This particular stretch we got lost so many times, as none of us knew the way and sometimes we took a wrong turn for 2-3kms and sometimes as long as 15kms. However, what impressed the hell out of us was the almost 95% accuracy of google maps but, we werent taking chances as taking a wrong turn means lot of back-tracking.

Nainital-Joshimath is approximately 280kms but, we must have travelled more than 325kms and did some good timing and reached our GMVN guest house at 7:30pm in the evening. Most of the roads were quite drivable but, atleast 100kms were really terrible and were averaging 15kms-20kms an hour.

That's the place where we stopped for breakfast

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2210.jpg


A few pictures of the fantastic views that we crossed while driving towards Joshimath

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We encountered several of these type of lovely twisties

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Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2301.jpg

Now comes the downside part of the trip. A few pictures to give you a glimpse of the bad patches that we crossed. Our driver ( who was a himachali) didnt crib even for a minute even when many times the car's underbody took solid hits

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Plenty of such beautiful sights of river flowing through the valleys

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2313.jpg

Back to the bad roads. More as as we were coming closer towards Joshimath


Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2328.jpg

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Beautiful river streams near Rudraprayag

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Last edited by mobike008 : 24th January 2013 at 18:53.
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Old 25th January 2013, 14:21   #34
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Default Re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Woah, I don't even wanna imagine moving out when you did so way early in the morning! And nice anecdotes about the driver and getting lost episode. Time to hit the Garhwal region now. Needless to say, the mountain views are awesome. Pity about the Nainital-Joshimath route, looks bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
...What I am saying is the food isnt good but, it's just not as tasty as you will find on the plains or cities...
Ah, now I think I understand what you mean!

Edit: But I still would beg to differ as I can't stand criticism of anything that is in them mountains.

Last edited by lordofgondor : 25th January 2013 at 14:23.
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Old 27th January 2013, 09:42   #35
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Default Re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Continuing on this journey leg......

We were excited that we are coming close to the land of snow. As we were told by many that "Auli main Pakka Snow Milega Aapko" ( You'll get snow for sure in Auli)

After reaching Joshimath town around 7:15pm, we went to the wrong GMVN guest house was on the lower grounds. Then we were told that there is another one on a slightly uphill road and finally reached there at 7:30pm

Check-in was bit of a problem as everyone at reception were busy watching a cricket game ( I am not a fan, so no idea which match it was) and since my blackberry got discharged, i couldnt show them our reservation as well

They asked me to charge the phone at reception and show them the email. I felt that was a bit discourteous but, what the heck they need to be sure. Right?

Anyways, we checked in at 8pm and had a restful night

Quite reasonable tarrif at most GMVN Guest House except at Auli. Btw, we paid extra bed charges and taxes at the time of check-out at each place


Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2450.jpg

Room was huge. Actually there were 2 rooms But, decor was as you can see basic.

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Lovely view of the mountains from the guest house

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A short video shot from the moving car as we are driving by the River towards Joshimath



One of the examples of the road conditions on this route

Attached Thumbnails
Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2418.jpg  

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Old 28th January 2013, 18:22   #36
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Default Re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Avinash Sir,
Should say it has been a fantastic thread so far, marking it in my favorites.
Eagerly awaiting your next installments of travelogue. Was supposed to visit this last year November to attend my friends wedding but a busy schedule kept me out of it.
Needless to say you are helping me experience what I have missed.
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Old 29th January 2013, 17:11   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
Avinash Sir,
Should say it has been a fantastic thread so far, marking it in my favorites.
Eagerly awaiting your next installments of travelogue. Was supposed to visit this last year November to attend my friends wedding but a busy schedule kept me out of it. Needless to say you are helping me experience what I have missed.
Thanks Ku69rd, appreciate your kind words. Yeah, it was a lovely experience and was glad to discover a new part of our country. You should make a trip out there soon, preferably in winters


Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Umm... Avinash, Nainital is boring. Looking
forward to the more exotic!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonstop-driver View Post
Looking forward to the next leg of journey and pics!
Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Waiting for you to move out of Nainital
Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Looking forward to seeing the pictures of Joshimath and Auli. Auli must have been lovely in winter.
Alright guys, Finally after torturing you with Nanital pictures, i have moved out of that place to Auli. Hopefully pictures from here will be found more appealing

Next day morning, we got up around 8am, freshed up and checked out of the GMVN guest house about 10am and headed towards Auli which is roughly 15kms from Joshimath.

The road going up towards Auli is extremely narrow and you need to keep praying that another vehicle does not appear magically from the opposite end and if it does you need to reverse all the way till you find space for other vehicle ( chances of it is bleak)

We were elated to sight snow for the first time. And, trust me, it was everywhere in loads. We spent more than an hour just enjoying the experience and trekked up one side of the hill etc.

Here are some pictures and a couple of video from our journey up towards "Auli"


Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2468_01.jpg

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Three Muskeeters

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Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2515_01.jpg

First view of GMVN Guest House, AULI

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2512.jpg

Enjoying the views of snow en-route Auli



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Old 31st January 2013, 09:21   #38
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Default Re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

As we reached the top of the ghat/narrow road, we spotted our GMVN Guest and since it was just a little before noon, we decided to stop for something to eat as we hadnt eaten anything since morning except for coffee.

There was this nice looking place with tables out in the open to enjoy the view of the mountains.

My BIL (Anupam) went inside and tried his hand at cooking and we ordered for some hot omelette, Bread, Maggie and Tea.

We spent lounging around for an hour enjoying our meal and scenice views around us before heading up and checking into GMVN, Auli

Lovely looking place where we stopped to eat a bite

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2521.jpg

BIL Trying his hand at cooking

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2537.jpg

Hot Maggie. YUMS

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2545.jpg

Omlette


Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2546.jpg

These were the steps to entrance to GMVN Auli. Whew !!!

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2548.jpg

This was the steepest tarrif on our entire trip. We paid Rs,3000 ++/Night but, well worth it

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2557.jpg

A few pictures of the hotel and room

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2555.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2558.jpg

View of the mountains reflecting on the window of our room

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2562.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2571.jpg

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Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2574.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2559.jpg

Minblowing views of the clear blue skies and mountains from GMVN, AULI
Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2577.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2566.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2576.jpg

Lots and Lots of snow in the backyard which was a few feet away from our room
Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2563.jpg

Last edited by mobike008 : 31st January 2013 at 09:23.
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Old 31st January 2013, 11:58   #39
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Default Re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Here is a short video of an almost 360 degrees view of the place from where we had stopped for breakfast.

Sorry about the conversation in the video. My hand signal was not understood by them

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Old 31st January 2013, 17:54   #40
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Default Re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

As soon as we checked in the power in the hotel went off and we wanted to go to the top of the mountain using the cable car ride

But, how is it possible with none of us having our phones nor camera charged.

So we hung around the hotel area and took in the outstanding beauty of snow clad mountain views from the hotel and waited for the power to come.

Finally around 2:00pm, the power came and we charged the battery for 30 minutes before embarking on the cable car ride which costs Rs.300 per person for a 2-way ride to the top of the mountains

There is a private hotel on top called Clifftop Hotel and tarrif there apparently starts from Rs.5000 per night. But, its an amazing place up there as you will see from the pictures in this and subsequent post/s

Auli is at 8000ft and the cable car ride which is a full 3-minute ride takes you a further 2000ft and you will be at a total of 10,000ft. Here it was the coldest that we ever felt in the entire trip. Must have been in (-) temperature even in the afternoon.


Fantastic views of the mountain. The best and closest that we saw in the entire trip

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2578.jpg

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That's the 3 of us enjoying the cable car ride

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2617.jpg

Here is a video taken while going UP on the mountain from the cable-car

Attached Thumbnails
Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2549.jpg  


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Old 31st January 2013, 17:56   #41
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Default Re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Seeing the last pic makes me glad I headed towards Kumaon instead of Auli from Chopta
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Old 31st January 2013, 18:05   #42
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Seeing the last pic makes me glad I headed towards Kumaon instead of Auli from Chopta
Yeah, there was a bit of a crowd and parking was little tough. For a self driven vehicle, it would have been a little hassle but, anything for those glorious views

We even saw a THAR from Mumbai with a couple and a bike laden at the back...Talk about driving...hehe!

Btw, I thought Chopta was shut-down as we were told all roads were closed and thats why we cut down our trip by a day. Were you able to go to Chopta?

Btw, Iam sure Munsiyari must have been amazing....we badly wanted to do that but, it was too far from Auli
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Old 31st January 2013, 18:16   #43
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Btw, I thought Chopta was shut-down as we were told all roads were closed and thats why we cut down our trip by a day. Were you able to go to Chopta?
All roads to Chopta were closed. But we still went to Chopta. Teeny weeny road closures do not bother the WE
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Old 31st January 2013, 19:21   #44
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Attachment 1045454

Hey Mobike, nice pictures there and an interesting travelogue. As narrow as the roads maybe, but that drive from Joshimath to Auli is one of my favourites. I've never been to Auli in winters and clearly, looking at these pictures, I should be planning a trip soon. Anything on the yellow-huts you see here in this picture? Is that a house or something owned by GMVN?
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Old 1st February 2013, 14:39   #45
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Originally Posted by Abhinav667 View Post
Hey Mobike, nice pictures there and an interesting travelogue. As narrow as the roads maybe, but that drive from Joshimath to Auli is one of my favourites. I've never been to Auli in winters and clearly, looking at these pictures, I should be planning a trip soon. Anything on the yellow-huts you see here in this picture? Is that a house or something owned by GMVN?
I never said the drive from Nainital to Joshimath was bad.

It was one of the most fantastic drives (comparable to the one I took in 2010 from Narkhanda to Tirthan Valley via. Jalori Pass in Himachal Pradesh) with about 150kms being decent roads with scenic beauty all around you and lots of twisty roads. The problem starts during bad stretches, drive for a few kms on some real bad roads and see further up some good roads and you think ( thank god! time for some good roads) but, within half-km again the bad roads start for many many kilometers

So it was an emotional turmoil. Happy for a few seconds and clinching our teeth for next several minutes

GMVN has only one property where we stayed. Those huts are (I assume) owned by private people. Btw, none of them were occupied as all were locked. Either people were out sight-seeing all at once or geniunely they were empty.

Same case for the log huts on top of the mountain too ( you will see them in next set of pictures that I will post soon)

There were many people going up the mountain in the cable car with luggage to "Clifftop Hotel". And, there a few porters who carry your luggage from the top landing point to the hotel which isnt too close-by
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