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Old 20th January 2013, 14:10   #1
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Default Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

We decided to do something different this winter. Each winter as it's been our tradition, we take-off on a 2-week holiday to some winter destination and Himachal being the prime place that always won our hearts each year

However, this year based on many recommendations, we decided to visit Himachal's poorer cousin Uttarakhand.

More of the dilemma and subsequent decision is here :-

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...esh-delhi.html (Delhi-Nainital-Auli-Chopta-Rishikesh-Delhi)

When I say poor, I dont mean in terms of dearth of places to visit NOR lack of any breath-taking scenic mountain ranges and other visually delights that can equally make you gape and let's your gaze transfixed on them as if you just got a shot in your arm of high dose of adrelin.

Uttarakhand is definetly the poor cousin of Himachal Pradesh in terms of branding and marketing by the UK State Tourism Department, which HP seems to do so well and results are there to see in terms of hordes of tourists who visit it.

Thanks to Tsk1979, SS_Traveller, Phamilyman, Anil Choksi (non-TBHPian) and all others who contributed on the thread above who helped me choose Uttarakhand as our destinationr

What we encountered during our trip was a fabulous diversity of awe-inspiring Lakes, Mountains, Snow, Valleys, Bad roads, Scenic Roads, visually appealling locations of Garwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN)
guest house and much much more.............

Lakes

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-lake-1.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-lake-2.jpg

Mountains
Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-mountain-1.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-mountain-2.jpg

Snow
Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-snow-1.jpg

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

Bad Roads
Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-bad-roads.jpg

Scenic Roads
Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-good-roads-1.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-good-roads-2.jpg

Last edited by mobike008 : 20th January 2013 at 15:55.
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Old 20th January 2013, 14:27   #2
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

OK, Hopefully, that should set the pace of this travelogue and you can expect to see some decent pictures ( Not like the other photo gurus of our forum though).

Let's dive deep into the actual trip itself and I'll try to infuse as much information into this TL as I can recollect so this thread is useful for other people who wish to undertake a journey to these beautiful places in Uttarakhand.

This trip was undertaken during Dec 3rd week. However, I had an small problem to sort out first.

I love winters while my better-half hates it with an equal passion and same goes for her parents too in Delhi. So to keep all the parties happy, we decided to break it down to 2 mini-vacations

Mini-Vacation 1

Entire family spends 3 nights in Nainital. Upon completion of this period, wifey and In-Laws head back to Delhi in the Vehicle we came in.

Mini-Vacation 2

Another cousin joins us on the third night in Nainital in a different cab.

From here on, we split into two different groups heading in two different directions. Family towards Delhi and 3 Musketeers towards the pristine and not much explored terrains closer to Himalayas in Uttarakhand

Below was the itenary of our trip to Uttarakhand

Day 1 : Nainital

Day 2 : Nainital

Day 3 : Nainital

Day 4 : Joshimath

Day 5: Auli

Day 6 : Syal Sur

Day 7: Kaudiyala

Day 8 : Delhi

Delhi to Nainital (Delhi->Hapur->Moradabad->Haldwani->Kathgodam->Nainital: 300kms)

Pretty much a breeze except for getting caught in a nasty traffic jam at one place which delayed us for almost an hour. We could reach Nanital only by 5pm on Day 1

[b]Nainital to Joshimath [/B](Joshimath->Ranikhet->Nandaprayag->Joshimath : 300kms :

This indeed was a challenge and now i know why many folks here thought its not a doable stretch. We did a very early morning start (imagine doing that in 3C-4C temparatures) at 6:45am from Nainital and for the first two hours everyone of us in the car where freezing cold with our hands and feet numb.

I do not recall the exact route we have taken but, it was through Ranikhet and Nandaprayag and we lost our way more than twice and ended up going back more than 15 kms each time. Neither us nor our driver knew the route. Hence, the inevitable wrong turns. Out of the 300kms, about 100kms there is practically there were no roads and we were averaging almost 15kms-20kms per hour on those roads.

Despite all these hurdles we reached our GMVN guest house in Joshimath at around 7:30pm after enjoying some of the most scenic mountain roads that I ever laid my eyes on. This road was so sparse in traffic, sometimes we had the feeling we were the only ones on road as no vehicles for many many kilometers.

Joshimath to Auli (15kms) :

This is a very narrow road and we let our a huge shriek as we witnessed our first snow on this road. Plenty of it on sides of the road. We were so ecstatic that we spent more than hour on the road enjoying the snow, climbing up the snow and taking pictures etc.

Btw, if a truck or a mini van comes from opp side. then either one of you have to keep going backwards till you find a gap enough to let the other vehicle pass. Real narrow road. coming from opposite side.

Auli to Syal Sur (130kms) :

This was done through Auli-Joshimath-Helang-Gulabkoti-Pipalkoti-Mayasur-Bhimtalla-Rudraprayag-Syal Sur

Again, We lost our route on this section also a couple of times as NOBODY has heard about Syal Sur......It was a tough time to identify the GMVN guesthouse as none of the localities could guide us and as usual the GMVN numbers were not working.

At one point, we thought of even returning back as it was frustrating that nobody knew of this place and GMVN even has a guest house there. Infact, one localite spoke to me in a challenging way. [i]"Sir, I know each and every place in this area but, never heard of Syal Sur" [i]and this was just 30kms away from our GMVN guest house...LOL!!

I would highly recommend Syal Sur. It's an awesome place to spend 2 nights in complete peace and silence.

Syal Sur to Kaudiyala (125kms):

This route was done via. Rudraprayag-Agastyamuni to Kaudiyala and the roads were quite decent considering it was all mountains and we must have covered this distance in 4.5 hours. This was the fastest 125kms covered in our entire trip. Imagine our glee at the end of this particular journey.

Kaudiyala-Rishikesh-Haridwar-Roorke-Muzaffarnagar-Meerut-Modinagar-Ghaziabad-Delhi (285kms) :

We started at 10am and reached home in evening around 7pm with a 2 hours break at Rishikesh. Horrible traffic on this route and very less chances of overtaking as the traffic from opposite side is continous.

Below is a rough map of the entire trip that we undertook in Uttarakhand. The direction we chose looks like a pretty "Leaf" doesnt it?


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

Below are some pictures to give you an idea of the patches that we went through. Some were outstanding while others were really tough terrain


Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2946.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2953.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2955.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2958.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2966.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2971.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc2983.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc3078.jpg

Our Driver for the 2nd Mini-Vacation. Doesn't he look like "Mimoh Chakraborthy"
Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-auli_driver.jpg
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Old 20th January 2013, 14:36   #3
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Day 1

We flew into Delhi from Hyderabad a day before we were supposed to embark on our mountain journey. It was a good thing as it helped us acclimatize a bit as it was around 8C in Delhi and it felt cold as we were coming from a 20C minimum temparature in Hyderabad

We spent the night catching up with family and packed a smaller suitcase for this trip and had a late dinner and slept excitedly looking forward to the next day.

We had booked an Innova for Mini-Vacation 1, as we were a total of 5 passengers and we got a great deal for the car @Rs.10/Km with a minimum of 250kms per day + Rs.300 for the driver each day.

Our driver came in a little after 6:30am and we knew that we cannot be ready that early. Had to make him wait for an hour and we loaded our luggage and left around Karol Bagh, Delhi close to 8am.

Driver was a chubby Sardarji (no turban) and pleasant to talk too and car was well maintained and felt very comfortable and when I noted the odometer it had 150,000kms on it and I was bit suprised as the car felt almost new. The driver responded, its reverted back to 1.50 Lakh kms but, the original is a lakh more...LOL

Getting out of Delhi as we all know is the most painful part of the journey. Huge traffic snarls at Ghaziabad and one even bad at some small town mid-way

We stopped at Hapur at Shiva Dhaba and we enjoyed one of the best breakfast. Tandoori Paranthas, Curd and Pickles. These Paranthas were unfortunately served with yellow butter ( which i detest along with paranthas, as i love the white butter). Barring this combination, they were way better than the over-hyped Murthal Paranthas.

Here is some info for future travellers in a cab from Delhi to Uttarakhand if your travelling by a yellow plate vehicle.

I exactly dont recollect the amount but, below is a fairly close estimate of money spent on taxes before entering UK

Paid Rs.260 for UP Tax

Paid Rs.1350 for UK Tax


Apparently, the taxed have been hiked up just 3 weeks prior to our vacation (How unfortunate, isn't it???)

In short, be prepared to shell out approximately Rs.1500 only in road taxes for your road trip to UK (There is some calculation for the number of days your in that particular state)

All-Set for the Journey. Attached the luggage to the car. Seat-Belts on, Here we go

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RTA Office where we stopped to pay the tax before entering Uttarakhand
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Old 20th January 2013, 16:01   #4
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

This post gives you some glimpses of the scenes that you will encounter while driving towards Nainital.

I have experienced before and this trip has re-instated my previous belief. Man, UP state really lives upto the cliche' of "Most Populated State of India"

When your crossing the UP states while driving towards Uttarakhand, what you see is massive traffic everywhere and people everywhere on the roads.

Some random pictures of things/people/cars/other things enroute......
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Old 20th January 2013, 16:09   #5
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

As we were getting closer to Nainital, the temperature was dropping rapidly and the sun was settling down faster than in the plains.

As we had stopped for a heavy breakfast, we just stopped for some snacks and hot cuppa tea somewhere just before getting on to the ghats of Nainital.

I refrained from eating anything and just sipped on a hot cup of Elaichi Tea which refereshed me for the evening.

After that we started our ascend on to the ghat around 4pm and I was able to snap away a few shots from the moving car of the fading sun lingering on the mountains and reflecting a lovely hue on to the ghat roads
Attached Thumbnails
Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc1400.jpg  

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc1415_01.jpg  

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Old 20th January 2013, 20:40   #6
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

We reached Nanital around 5pm and since the driver knew the place quite well, he took us straight towards our hotel which was on a road upper to the "Mall Road" which leads to the Nainital Zoo

The road is so steep and narrow that only one vehicle can go up successfully and guess what, the hotel we stayed was the only one from several on that steep road that provided a "Jeep Service" to go up the steep road from 10:00AM to 9:00PM as its a good 1km.

I tried being macho and walked one-time and it took me an hour to recover

Our Hotel in Nainital

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc1473.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc1890.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc1440_01.jpg

View of the Naini Lake from corridor in front of our room. Absolutely glorious views from here. Will post some day-time pictures in subsequent posts

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc1554.jpg

Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"-_dsc1558.jpg
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Old 21st January 2013, 12:22   #7
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Note : Moved the Travelogue from Assembly Line to Travelogues Section.
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Old 21st January 2013, 12:31   #8
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Wow! talk of coincidences. I am just back from a trip to Garhwal region. Returned just Saturday last. I went to Mussorie, Dhanaulti, Chamba, Tehri and around. Had an absolutely marvellous time what with all the snowing and rains and the biting cold.

Sadly, this was an official trip in a hired cab and I spend most of the time working. So couldn't take snaps.
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Old 21st January 2013, 12:35   #9
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Good going. Loving the thread. Do you think a hatch is capable of doing these routes considering the road conditions? Keep on posting. Enjoying every bit of it and waiting for more.
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Old 21st January 2013, 13:12   #10
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Umm... Avinash, Nainital is boring. Looking forward to the more exotic!
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Old 21st January 2013, 13:41   #11
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

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Originally Posted by AbhishekB86 View Post
Do you think a hatch is capable of doing these routes considering the road conditions? Keep on posting. Enjoying every bit of it and waiting for more.
Thanks. The circuit we did was ok for any car right from an 800 to a bigger sedan to enjoy. However, the only major downside was the Nanital-Joshimath stretch where as mentioned before for about 100kms there was practically no roads and progress was extremely slow.

If you dont mind your car's underside banging on those roads, you can easily do it. Also, during the entire trip, never saw any of the popular hatches ( Swift, Punto, Beat, Figo etc) nor the sedans ( Verna, Vento or Rapid). On these mountain roads, only Alto, Alto 800 ( which we saw in plenty), Bolero, Scorpio type of vehicles.

Having said that, I would never take my Cruze on those roads

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Umm... Avinash, Nainital is boring. Looking forward to the more exotic!
Ofcourse Doc, for you Delhites, Nanital would certainly be boring. Even for us folks living in plains, I too found Nainital a bit boring ( good for a 2 day trip though). The exotic stuff will be unveiled soon enough
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Old 21st January 2013, 13:55   #12
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

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Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Umm... Avinash, Nainital is boring. Looking forward to the more exotic!
Couldn't agree more with SS-Traveller . Nainital is crowded and boring, with the lake being too dirty, courtsey tourists like us! Other lakes like Sat Tal and Bhim Tal are more better now-a-days.

Looking forward to the next leg of journey and pics!
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Old 21st January 2013, 13:55   #13
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Mobike008 im really looking forward to your travelog.

I dont wanna brag about uttarakhand(being from uttarakhand itself) but it really is an amazing place.

When were you in Nainital?? I was there in the month of December interning in the High Court. I used to drive every day from Bhowali(12 km's from nainital) and what a drive it is. Simply beautiful .

Someone asked above can the route be done in a hatchback.. Be rest assured the route from Delhi is good and you dont need to worry at all . In fact I was stunned by the number of Nano's i saw in Nainital. But what boggled me more was seeing a Reva in Haldwani !!

Just one word of advice:- To all those who say delhi is cold, well you haven't been to Nainital yet !
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Old 21st January 2013, 13:55   #14
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Umm... Avinash, Nainital is boring. Looking forward to the more exotic!
Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Ofcourse Doc, for you Delhites, Nanital would certainly be boring. Even for us folks living in plains, I too found Nainital a bit boring ( good for a 2 day trip though). The exotic stuff will be unveiled soon enough
Don't say this about my home . I know it has become a lot more commercialized than needed, but the place has a certain charm to it. In fact, there are a lot of unexplored places even within Nainital. Its all about finding those places.

Avinash sir, Amazing log.. Glued to the thread.

Cheers,
Tapish
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Old 21st January 2013, 14:16   #15
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Default re: Uttarakhand : A Bone-Chilling Winter Vacation in the "Land of Gods"

Nice start to the log mate! I was also visiting Garhwal region during December end. Your log is inspiring me quit being lazy and write my own too.

Talking about lack of place branding by UK govt., mostly I believe it's a good thing. Though they should definitely focus on upkeep in their rest houses. UK still has that old world charm that I so miss in HP.

Waiting for you to move out of Nainital.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
... I would highly recommend Syal Sur. It's an awesome place to spend 2 nights in complete peace and silence...
+1 to that. We passed the place while driving down to Rudraprayag from Ukimath. The beautiful valley with the river meandering through it and the location of the GMVN TRH next to the river looked awesome. Plan to go there next winter.
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