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Old 24th November 2014, 12:44   #1
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Default Gateway to the Himalayas - Rishikesh and Tehri Garhwal

I must confess that I lied when I told my family that I want to go on a pilgrimage to Haridwar and Rishikesh. The idea was opposed. Hardly a quadragenarian, I have no reason for pilgrimage - was the answer. Persistence yielded green signal.

A visit to one of our cousins, who recently returned home after studies in Delhi, blew up my cover. “White water rafting!” She exclaimed. Result - the initial plan of a solo journey now becomes duo with my father – in – law joining me. He is an Ex-Air Force man and his contacts arrange our accommodation in an Ashram in Haridwar and in Kerala House in Delhi for the return leg.

I opted for train journey for a change. Booked tickets in Kerala Exp with onward journey in Utkal Exp from Nizamuddin. Return by Jan Shathabdi to Delhi, stay for one day and onward journey in Kerala Express.

Meanwhile I left for another trip with family to Munnar http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ge-munnar.html (Monsoon - To the Sky Cottage, Munnar).

Four days to go for the journey and news breaks about cloud burst up in the hills near Derhadun. I am flooded with calls from relatives who knew about my trip. Another round of promises that we won’t go far up in the hills and no rafting keeps the plan moving.

Three days in train! I was thrilled! First day of the journey was fine. Second day I was restless. Third day I was in distress. The only ‘thrill’ was to use some acrobatics to climb up the upper birth and descent. The journey seemed to be never ending, especially the last leg from Nizamuddin to Haridwar. The Utkal ‘Express’ seemed to snake along taking its own sweet time.

Sunset somewhere near Nagpur
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The (in)famous Chambal.
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We reached Haridwar an hour late. Hired a tuktuk, to the Ashram known by autowalas as ‘Keralawala Aashram’ in Ganga Park. The tuktuk is an indigenous marvel. The three wheeled ‘hardly sprung’ junk of metal can seat six in the cabin, crashes into the craters and passes all the energy directly to spines and helps in massaging three days of numb back. A good 20 mins of manhandling brought us to the Ashram.

The caretaker had already made arrangements for our food and accommodation. We had our simple dinner and crashed for the day.

Plan for the next day was to visit major temples in Haridwar. The caretaker at the Ashram arranged another tuktuk. Sharmaji, the tuktuk driver, a friendly guy, was our guide and tuktuk driver for the day. Clear instructions were given to take us only to historic temples and not any of the new ones. But what took us by surprise was the climate. It was too hot and humid. I was expecting some rains as per accuweather forecast but we were baking in sweltering heat.

An old building in Haridwar
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Daksha Temple
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View of Ganga from Haridwar
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Rope way to Chandi Devi Temple.
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We visited quite a few temples, had darshan of Ganga Aarti and returned to Aashram. Had the same simple dinner and crashed for the day.

Ganga Aarti at Haridwar
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Next day our dear Sharmaji dropped us at a point where we could take a bigger tuktuk to Rishikesh. I thought a highway running tuktuk would be more comfortable. But I was in for a rude shock. The only thing that put the tuktuk firm on ground after being bounced of a crater was the weight of full load passengers.

We got down at the last stop and walked the rest of the way to Laxman Jhula.

View from Laxman Jhula
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Next destination was Neelkant Mahadev. Jeeps – mainly Bolero Maxx – ply on the route and offer a return ride for Rs. 120/-. For the first time in my life I witnessed the ravages of landslides. Big boulders the size of a bathroom, apparently brought down in the landslide a few days before, rests in middle of the road. Roads are caved in many parts. Although there were no ‘pagal nala’ to cross, we did cross some ‘nalas’ resembling what I have seen in pictures of Ladakh trips.

The journey in an overcrowded BoleroMaxx
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Road caved in
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After darshan, we returned in the same vehicle, had lunch, visited Ram Jhula, and Triveni Ghat and decided to return. The heat was too uncomfortable to make more visits.

Ram Jhula
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I did not want to return in a tuktuk and took a bus. Sharmaji, promptly picked us from the bus stop and dropped us at the Ashram.

Dinner was the same simple meal which I did not have any complaints but wondered how the inmates had the same menu day after day. Since the rafting plan was cancelled, we had one more day at Haridwar. A quick search on Google finalised Chamba, Kanatal and Dhanolti. I called the taxi union of Haridwar and they arranged a Taxi for the trip.

<To be Continued>
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Old 25th November 2014, 12:34   #2
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Default Re: Gateway to the Himalayas - Rishikesh and Tehri Garhwal

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 1st December 2014, 12:01   #3
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Default Gateway to the Himalayas - Part II - Kanatal, Mussorie and Delhi

The Indigo, arrived dot on time much to my surprise. It was one of those very rare instances where I travel at the back seat in a car. Although most part of the highway was paved well, there were craters which seemed to come from nowhere. And the Indigo contained them pretty well. I can’t imagine my OHC crashing into such craters.

Ganeshji, the taxi driver was friendly but talked a lot. Not a chatterbox though. When I told him that I want to go to Mussoorie as well, he talked us into visiting Tehri Dam too. That was completely not in my plans but yielded to his persistence. That was additional 40 kms up and down for not so interesting location unless someone wants to see one of the highest dams in India.

Tehri Dam
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Our ride for the day
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Tehri catchment area - HDR attempt
Gateway to the Himalayas - Rishikesh and Tehri Garhwal-tehri-hdr.jpg

The Tehri dam detour delayed my plans. Leaving Chamba to Kanatal changed the landscape. The air was cooler, landscape greener and sky more blue. The road meandered through valleys of apple trees and deodars. We missed an opportunity to by arm fresh apples at Rs. 40/- a kilo, an opportunity which we later regretted.

Somewhere after Chamba
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Beautiful roads
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The next stop was at Sirkunda Devi in Kanatal. I was in no means fit to hike 2 kms to the temple. Hence took a pony ride to the top. First few minutes were scary as I thought I would fall off the horse. On the move, I got the knack of holding on by balancing on the saddle. As we reached towards the top, I felt rather sympathetic. The horse was gasping for breath. If the climb puts such a stress to a horse, then I wouldn't have reached the top if I walked.

‘Tired’ from the pony ride and the last few feet that I had to walk, I rested on the bench for some time. The cool breeze and the stunning vistas quickly charged me up.

Arch door of Sirkunda Devi
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Sirkunda Devi Temple
Gateway to the Himalayas - Rishikesh and Tehri Garhwal-sarkunda-temple.jpg

After darshan of Sirkunda Devi and some photo-ops, I descended. Helped by gravity, the return was quick and it only took some 20 mins to reach the car parking.

Way down to the parking
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Gateway to the Himalayas - Rishikesh and Tehri Garhwal-dsc_1978.jpg

It was already 3pm and we had to skip Dhanaulti Eco Park. So we had our rather late lunch from GMVN restaurant in Dhanaulti and proceeded towards Mussoorie.

Roads were nicely paved and had some inviting curves. A GJ regn Scorpio passed by and I wondered whether it was another tbphian. The hills had a different aura to it. Unlike those we see it in the South. It could be the Deodar forest that makes it look different. Mussoorie is indeed the Queen of Hills.

Indulging curves
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Basking in the enchanting beauty of Mussoorie, I thought ‘This is how it is to be happy’. But that thought made me feel guilty. I shouldn't have been here alone. I ought to be here with my family. It was a mistake to make such a hasty trip. Just a stroll in the mall road is not enough. This place needs to be explored patiently, admiring its beauty.

Colonial style street light
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Eerie looking tree
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We had to return soon as we had to reach Ashram before 9pm. I had to skip the Camel Back road and other places. So with a vow to come back to Mussoorie when it snows, we started our descent.

Parting shot of Mussoorie.
Beauty of Mall Road is marred by web of electric power cables. I wish those cables were routed underground!
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It took longer and expected to reach Haridwar due to traffic blocks and reached our Ashram a little late. Relishing ourselves to the same simple dinner, we crashed for the day.

Sharmaji, the tuktuk driver woke up next day unusually early at 5 in the morning because he was entrusted to drop us at the railway station to catch Janshathabdi to Delhi. Promptly, he came on time and dropped us at the railway station. Due to our anxiety to reach railway station on time, we reached much earlier and we had to pay the price for that. The punishment was to spend half an hour on that stinking platform!

Parting shot of Haridwar
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Janshathabdi was thankfully quicker than the Utkal Express. As a first timer in the capital, I was glad that my father-in-law accompanied me. He was a regular visitor to the capital during his stint in Indian Railways after quitting Air Force. So he took charge and guided the rickshawala who claimed that he don’t know where Janpath 3 is.

Post - lunch we went to the underground market – Palika Bazaar, and the sheer number of shops confused me and I actually ended up buying nothing. I wanted to check out the luminaries and fixtures as I heard it’s cheap in Delhi. So we hired a rickshaw to Sadar Bazaar only to be caught up in a mad traffic block near the Railway Station. Rest of the journey was covered on foot and a madcap cycle rickshaw.

Finished with the market, we had our next stop at India Gate. We hanged around till sunset and then returned to hotel, had our dinner and retired for the day.

Salute to the Martyrs
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Gateway to the Himalayas - Rishikesh and Tehri Garhwal-india-gate-pan.jpg

Bubble blower
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Colorful horses
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Sunset
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The omnipresent auto rickshaw
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Next day was to bid farewell to the capital and to embark on a long tiresome boring train journey. I wish we had real superfast trains.

Sunset somewhere near in Andhra Pradesh
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On third day by God’s grace, we were safely at home but not before I entertained myself on the last 50kms by road to my home driving beloved OHC.

But, call of the mountains continues to haunt me.........
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Old 2nd December 2014, 20:31   #4
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Default Re: Gateway to the Himalayas - Rishikesh and Tehri Garhwal

Dhar's...u really made me nostalgic. Having been born and brought up in Dehradun, the picturesque Himalayas have always been a treat to eyes.
The pics are very beautiful and live up to the beauty of the place. Mussourie used to be a sweet hill station, but off late has become very crowded and commercialized. But the cold breeze and some of the off beat lanes still remind of its glory. Hope you had a great time in the land of Himalayas.
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Old 2nd December 2014, 22:28   #5
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Default Re: Gateway to the Himalayas - Rishikesh and Tehri Garhwal

Dhar, nice compilation and photos man. Did you cover Tehri Dam and Mussorrie on the same day? Google maps does not show any direct route from Tehri dam to mussorrie. Hence curious.
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Old 3rd December 2014, 03:17   #6
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Default Re: Gateway to the Himalayas - Rishikesh and Tehri Garhwal

Quote:
Originally Posted by justwheels View Post
Dhar's...u really made me nostalgic. Having been born and brought up in Dehradun, the picturesque Himalayas have always been a treat to eyes.
The pics are very beautiful and live up to the beauty of the place. Mussourie used to be a sweet hill station, but off late has become very crowded and commercialized. But the cold breeze and some of the off beat lanes still remind of its glory. Hope you had a great time in the land of Himalayas.
Thanks Justwheels!
I noticed some new constructions. Commercialization is ruining all of our beautiful places. Yes. I had a nice time and I am already planning for a snow time in Mussoorie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gopikb View Post
Dhar, nice compilation and photos man. Did you cover Tehri Dam and Mussorrie on the same day? Google maps does not show any direct route from Tehri dam to mussorrie. Hence curious.
Thanks gopikb!
Yes. Tehri dam and Mussoorie was done on the same day. From Tehri dam, we returned to Chamba and then took Chamba - Kanatal - Dhanaulti - Mussoorie route.
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