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Old 29th March 2015, 23:37   #1
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Default In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village

As we were contemplating on our second car which would undoubtedly be an SUV for our road trips, it took us a year’s research to finally decide on which vehicle we would eventually buy. We needed a robust SUV which would mostly be used for roads trips all over the country. Therefore, we had to ensure we get the best that would serve our purpose. Other points we considered were after sales service and resale value. After test driving a Pajero, Captiva and an Audi Q3, we finally decided on Toyota Fortuner.

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-21.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-2.jpg

Initially, when we booked the car we had opted for black. My husband and I have a thing for the black color when it comes to cars. Our last three cars have all been black. This explains our affinity for this color. But I guess, that wasn’t meant to be this time. We were told that Toyota has stopped manufacturing Fortuners in black and they are launching even better colors. Well, they were right. We eventually went with Bronze Mica Metallic which was impressive at the very first look. Their 2015 model comes with some cosmetic changes which includes charcoal grey rims. The combination indeed is a stunner. Also, with the inclusion of the much needed GPS navigation system, it was an added advantage for us.

We were restless to hit the highways soon after we took the delivery of the car. We initially planned a long 15 days road trip to Coorg. But our planned road trips seldom materialize. I cannot plan road trips. They have to be spontaneous ones. I might chalk out an itinerary at the least. But lengthy discussions and contemplations are simply not my thing. This time around, our destination was somewhere else. Some plans were disordered and I declared – let’s just go wherever ! Wherever happened to be Dhanachuli.

There is a little magic, a little illusion, and a little allurement in the Himalayas. And, the temptation soars higher when you stumble upon a lesser-known destination. Dhanachuli just happened. A quintessential Kumaoni village, nestling quietly atop a mountain, with some breathtaking scenic views all around.

With a spouse, a three-year old and an SUV, I was almost set. After years of road tripping, we can just pack our bags and leave. So without any prior bookings at any of the stopovers during the trip, we left to drive about 1400 kms.

I came upon this charming little village while doing a light research on hotels in Nainital. Located a few miles away from Mutkteshwar, a prominent hill station in Uttarakhand, Dhanachuli stands with a terrific Himalayan backdrop. Driving down from Calcutta, it took us about two and a half days to reach here. Our first stopover being Varanasi and then, Lucknow, the next day.

We started out on 12th March, at wee hours of the morning. During any road trip we target to reach our destination city before sunset. Keeping in mind that we had to drive down about 690 kms to reach Varanasi, we ensured we left home not later than 4.30 am. As soon as we hit NH 2, I felt the thrills of yet another road trip, yet another experience on the highways.

The next 4 hours was a smooth drive with my husband behind the wheel and my daughter peacefully asleep on the rear seat. We stopped only when my daughter woke up and we felt the need for a hot cup of tea to refresh us.

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-3.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-4.jpg

From there on, our next halt wasn’t be before lunch time and we stopped near Topchanchi for a quick brunch at Shaan-e-Punjab. The day was getting hotter and I was kind of getting a little restless to reach the hotel soon. I didn’t make any prior reservations at any hotels in Varanasi. Therefore to avoid any kind of disappointment upon reaching the city, I started calling up hotels for a telephonic reservation. I called Radisson first and was told they were completely sold out. Next call was to Ramada Plaza and it was done. I made a little mental note, that with a child in tow, leaving without any reservations, is, after all, maybe not such a good idea anymore. It wouldn’t be a good experience to scout for hotels in an unknown city with a cranky 3 year old.

We reached Varanasi city as per our scheduled time which was around 5 pm. As we took turns from the national highway to enter the city, our energy level shot down amidst the maddening crowd and traffic. We followed the car GPS to reach Ramada Plaza. But the city’s chaos made us goof up roads despite the GPS navigation. We stopped to ask for directions but that didn’t help either. Everybody told us different routes which further confused us. Finally, at around 7 pm we managed to check-in. We freshened up, called for an early dinner and quietly hit the bed. Again, we were set to drive about 300 kms the next day. Our destination – Lucknow.

Our daughter’s first road trip was when she was merely 13 months old. And, since then she has surprised us with her enthusiasm to travel at early mornings. She wakes up before us and excitedly is the first one to be ready to leave. As my husband was clearing the bills at the reception, she couldn’t hold on to her excitement to sit in the car again and set out for hours of journey.

Our route was NH 56 that would take us to Lucknow – the city of Nawabs. We left a little late at around 6 am since the distance wasn’t a lot this time. But the heavy traffic and poor road conditions tired us and it also took a longer time to reach the destination. It would be wiser to take the NH 2 route and reach Lucknow via Allahabad and Raebareli. The roads are comparatively far better in this route as they are frequently traveled upon by politicians.

This time again, on our way I tried making reservations and was disappointed to know that Vivanta by Taj was sold out. Our next option was Clarks Awadh and by about 2 pm we were able to check in. This was Day 2 and I was slightly tired. As my daughter and I leaped at the luxury of a well deserved nap, my husband stepped out in search of the famous Tunday Kababs at Lucknow.

By the time it was 8 pm we had ordered our delectable Awadhi dinner. This is something I would recommend if you are putting up at Clarks. And their Galauti kabab shouldn’t be missed either. We rolled into bed early as we targeted to leave Lucknow for Dhanachuli by 4 am.

We planned to leave as early as we could so that we could reach Dhanachuli well in time. Knowing we would have to drive uphill and that would reduce the speed, we couldn’t afford to leave anytime later. We chose NH 2 crossing Sitapur, Shahjahanpur, Pilibhit, Sitarganj and Haldwani. The roads till Sitapur were pretty good as they were 4-lane expressways and well maintained. But beyond that the road conditions started deteriorating and the drive was an uncomfortable and unpleasant one till Sitarganj, which is located at the UP Uttarakhand border. The roads here are still under construction and hence this long stretch of bumpy ride. Around 12.30 pm we reached Kathgodam. As we started driving uphill from here, I promptly turned off the music and rolled down the windows, becoming one with nature. So peaceful. So rejuvenating. Te Aroha, a boutique mountain resort, where we had to check in was about 50 kms away from here.

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-5.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-6.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-7.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-8.jpg

The drive was breathtaking to say the least. We halted somewhere after crossing Bhimtal for some tea and calculated our arrival at Dhanachuli would be around 3 pm. The staff at Te Aroha constantly stayed in touch to guide us with directions. These tiny gestures have given them their well deserved reputation of being highly hospitable. As we were warmly greeted by the staff at the resort I was completely mesmerized by the pleasing view all around.

Te Aroha was initially a colonial style summer house which was later converted into a boutique resort. The property sits amidst the remarkable beauty of the Himalayan landscapes decked with huge terraces, antique furniture and colossal glass windows. This is one resort where guests are offered the finest hospitality beyond expectations.

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-9.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-10.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-11.jpg

Our second day at Dhanachuli was spent indoors, gorging on delicious Kumaoni cuisine. Heavy rains and foggy weather made us sit in our cozy room and enjoy the stunning scenery outside. A day like this is not wasted when all you see through your window is stunning mountains while sipping a cup of hot coffee. Next day was pleasantly bright and sunny, making it the perfect time for a short trek. We took a walk through the captivating little village, amidst the serene landscape. On our way through the trek, my heart went out to all the beautiful people of the mountains and their unique hospitality. After all, not everywhere will you find strangers offering you to come into their humble homes and lives for a while to sit down for a cup of tea.

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-12.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-13.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-14.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-15.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-16.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-17.jpg

Like every village in the mountains has a story to tell, Dhanachuli has many stories. The trip was short and it ended soon. But Dhanachuli has my heart. And I am going to go back, for more stories.

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-18.jpg

We waited for daylight to seep in the day we left Dhanachuli for Lucknow. This time around we took a different route via Lakhimpur. Till Pilibhit it was the same route and from there on we took NH 730A towards Lakhimpur. We joined back NH 24 after Sitapur for Lucknow. Hence we could this time avoid the road between Sitapur and Pilibhit via Shahjahanpur. The road between Pilibhit and Lakhimpur was a joy to ride as we crossed the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve. One just needs to be a little cautious while driving as you can be startled by monkeys and peacocks suddenly crossing the roads. Again, the road from Lakhimpur to Sitapur was slightly uneven. Beyond that it was the expressway and by around 2 pm we had checked into Clarks Awadh again.

Our next stop wasn’t Varanasi this time as we wanted to visit my husband’s maternal grandfather at his hometown Arwal, near Gaya in Bihar. This was about 520 kms from Lucknow via NH 2 till Aurangabad and then a left turn towards Patna. We took a day’s rest and enjoyed family time. Our much awaited road trip finally ended with some cherished memories as we reached Kolkata on the 20th.

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-19.jpg

In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village-bhp-20.jpg

Last edited by arundhuti : 30th March 2015 at 16:10.
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Old 30th March 2015, 09:42   #2
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Default Road Trip from Kolkata to Dhanachuli – the unknown, enchanting little village

First of all, welcome to the community. Great travelogue and lovely snaps. I love this colour on the Fortuner. Off-topic, do you stay near NewTown as I think I have seen this Fortuner.
Edit: the last snap does not have the tbhp sticker, did you remove it after coming back from the trip?

Last edited by BlackPearl : 30th March 2015 at 09:45.
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Old 30th March 2015, 11:40   #3
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Default re: In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village

Welcome to Team-BHP Kolkata chapter! I enjoyed your short and sweet travelogue. Hope to see you and your steed in one of the future Team-BHP meets or events.
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Old 30th March 2015, 15:47   #4
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Default re: In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village

@BlackPearl

Thank you ! Yes, we stay in New Town.
We haven't removed the Team BHP sticker. Actually that's an old picture, when the sticker wasn't put.

@psurelia

Thank you ! Looking forward to the meets and events.
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Old 30th March 2015, 16:22   #5
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Default re: In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village

Thread moved from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 30th March 2015, 18:11   #6
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Welcome to the community.
Read the whole travelogue and I must say, the pics are very beautiful. Loved the alloys on the fortuner and it goes very well with the lovely shade.

Regards,
Swapnil
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Old 31st March 2015, 11:21   #7
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Default Re: In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village

Great write up there arundhuti and welcome to the community! It's great to see that even with a little child, the traveling bug hasn't been killed, but continued!

Quote:
As we started driving uphill from here, I promptly turned off the music and rolled down the windows, becoming one with nature. So peaceful. So rejuvenating.
Feels refreshing to just read that line and glare at the images. Can't imagine how good it must have been to see the real thing.

Given that the Fortuner has been assigned road trip duty, we're looking forward to more travelogues!
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Old 31st March 2015, 12:40   #8
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Default Re: In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village

@Swapnil - Thank you!

@Tushar - Thanks! Yes, the road tripping bug had hit my husband and me since the time we got married. Coincidentally, during our childhood we had done many road trips with our parents and had developed the passion since then. Nothing like having a spouse who shares your passion.
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Old 2nd April 2015, 10:18   #9
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Default Re: In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village

Arundhuti,

I really enjoyed going through your travelogue. Of the many travelogues on Team BHP, I don't think Dhanachuli has been explored much. Initially, I thought it to be in the NE India. It surely is a beautiful place.

The distance to Coorg might have been more and would have sure taken more time, but would have been a good read. There is always a next time though.

Maybe, in your travelogues, you may include a bit more details on the route, fuel (fuel economy as well as bunks), hotels & their tariffs, just a friendly suggestion as it will help travelers going that way to know what to expect.

Please bring on the next set, as you have got one of the better vehicles to explore India.
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Old 3rd April 2015, 01:59   #10
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Thank u so much Sheel. Next time I shall definitely give more details on the points u mentioned. Our next trip will most likely be Rajasthan during October when my daughter will have her school vacations. Though we want to go to Coorg as well, but I think it will have to wait till next year as we have already visited a hill station this year. And it's said that Rajasthan is the most beautiful state in India. I cant wait to write my next travelogue now.
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Old 3rd April 2015, 14:58   #11
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Hi,
a really crisp travelogue..! leaves the reader wanting more!!

with the vehicle you have got and the infections travel bug the entire family seems to have (kudos to the little kid!! am sure she ll be a great traveller herself!), you guys should head to the North East!!! some of the wonderful roads i had travelled (not driven, unfortunately!) on...!!

looking forward to more such travelogues..!

good day!
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Old 4th April 2015, 13:50   #12
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Thanks Sooshan ! Will surely plan a trip to North East. Yes! Thank god my li'l one enjoys road trips. Wouldn't have managed otherwise.
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Old 4th April 2015, 14:33   #13
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Default Re: In a Fortuner, from Kolkata to Dhanachuli: The unknown, enchanting li'l village

You know what ? I loved the travelogue, but u know what I loved more ? The way your car looks. The color of the car and the alloys match so well that it is almost like they are made for each other.

I saw your travelogue last night and I just could not get your car out of my head the entire day today and the whole night yesterday. Have made it a mission in life to buy a Fortuner and that too in the same color.

Happy driving.
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Old 4th April 2015, 20:22   #14
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Superbly narrated travelogue. Thanks to you, we came to know about this beautiful quiet village in the Himalayas. I totally agree to what you say about the Himalayas--they have a magic which never ceases to amaze you.

Now the car, the beauty. I will attend the next meet just to see this beautiful SUV in person. Just like humyum, I too make a resolution to buy this car. If you ever plan to sell this beast, please keep me in mind. I think that it is not gonna happen in the near future.

Forget buying a Jeep Wrangler. Just buy the T-Fort and leave home for a road trip. I can literally stare at this SUV for hours without getting bored. Enough said, I need a ride on the next Team-BHP meet

BTW, Welcome onboard. Have a beautiful stay.

EDIT: Please, please share some more pics! And please put up an ownership review thread ASAP.

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Old 4th April 2015, 21:00   #15
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Really nice write up. Reading your travelogue felt as if we were there ourselves.

Thanks for sharing.
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