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Old 21st November 2015, 14:11   #1
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Default To Dev Bhoomi, Uttarakhand

I wanted to spend my Diwali at a quiet place, away from the cacophony of Delhi. Family intervened and it wasn't to be. But, I managed to get them on-board for a 4 day trip soon after Diwali.

With the dates fixed, next thing to decide was the place. Where to.
Since the trip was going to be with my parents, there had to be a few religious places on the list. Uttarakhand was a perfect fit. Moreover, after back-to-back HP trips, I wanted to venture out a little in Kumaon.

With help from some awesome logs on this region, I chalked out a rough plan.

Delhi - Chaukori - Baijnath - Bageshwar - Kausani - Jageshwar - Delhi.

Last edited by Dry Ice : 21st November 2015 at 15:37.
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Old 21st November 2015, 14:13   #2
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12/11/2015, Day 1: Delhi - Kausani

I wanted to leave before 7:30 am but Diwali festivities at home ensured we could not leave before 8:30 am. Near Ghaziabad, traffic started to build up. Narrow 2 laned road and unpredictable traffic made our progress slow.

We stopped at Bikanerwala, Gajraula for a tea break.

Roads cleared up a lot after this and we were making good time. The trouble started soon after Rampur. The stretch between Rampur - Rudrapur is absolutely horrendous. The huge potholes and criss-crossing vehicles (trying to avoid the craters) are a pain to deal with. This is the only stretch which can slow one down considerably on this route. Haldwani is another suspect but with the bypass now, can be avoided.

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Beautiful road through the forest, between Pant Nagar - Haldwani

Took a lunch break at Udupiwala, Kathgodam. Finding a spot to park was a little difficult. Seeing the crowd, I was expecting a slow service. But thankfully, they proved me wrong and we were out of there in under 30 mins! Probably the shortest lunch break for me while out on the road. Food was good too, better than the usual Sagar Ratna fare that I mostly avoid now.

Soon after Kathgodam, the hills started and we were on narrow winding roads. The road surface was good, with some exceptions here and there. At Bhimtal, took a small photo break.

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Kosi giving us company as we move towards Almora
Between Bhimtal and Almora, the sun started to set and we got to see Almora in a different light

Due to Diwali, all the houses were decked up with the usual decorative lights and it made for such a wonderful view. Sadly though, while clicking the pictures, I did not realize, I was shooting in jpeg! That's why couldn't recover much details from the shadow areas.

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After Almora, the traffic was virtually non-existant and all shops/houses along the way were closed. The deserted roads often made us doubt if we were on the right track.

We reached Kausani pretty late, around 7:30 pm. After dinner, roamed around a little and clicked some pics before retiring for the day. It was a clear night with little to no clouds and thus we were able to see the stars in all their glory. Something we always miss in Delhi.

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Last shot of the day

Last edited by Dry Ice : 21st November 2015 at 14:23.
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Old 21st November 2015, 14:31   #3
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13/11/2015, Day 2: Kausani - Chaukori (via Baijnath, Bageshwar)

The morning after greeted us with a wonderful view. Though the view wasn't as clear as one would have hoped, it was still a million times better than what we get to see from our urban homes. So I wasn't complaining at all!

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Spent the whole morning photographing the peaks and light's play on them. Post breakfast, we went to see the Pant Museum, which was a short walk away from the hotel.

Those of you who are not aware of the great man, you can read about him here - http://www.aazad.com/sumitranandan-p...l#.Vk3GdMqGBE4

My mother used to teach Hindi, so this was one place she was very keen on visiting.

Since the man was unmarried and without any heir apparent, Pant's paternal home was taken over by the Govt, and converted into this museum. It has various photos of him and his family. Items of daily use, handwritten notes, letters, personal photos etc are all showcased here. There is also a large hall which was constructed much later which contains all his writings. This doubles up as an auditorium for the Kavi Sammelan that is held every year on his birthday.

Official opening time of the museum in winters is 10:30 am. We were lucky enough as the caretaker was nearby and offered to show us around much before the opening time.

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Entrance

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Sumitranandan Pant's bust by the entrance

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View from the place

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Main Hall containing books and other items

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His bed, suitcase and sheets

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His table, chair and table lamp

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The large collection of books, some are the first prints of his books! Rare..

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His clothes

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A picture with Harivanshrai Bacchan. Amitabh Bacchan also seen at extreme right.

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Little birdies playing around in the compound

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Thereafter, we came back to the hotel. Settled our bills, and headed off to Chaukori!
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Old 21st November 2015, 14:41   #4
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13/11/2015, Day 2: Kausani - Chaukori (via Baijnath, Bageshwar) contd..

Our next pit-stop, Baijnath was just 17 Kms away. Ladies spotted a "Shawl factory" and we had to make an unscheduled stop. After a bit of shopping this and that, we resumed the journey. Not before a pic of the steed with Trishul as the backdrop.

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We trudged along the winding roads with the imposing Trishul making an appearance every now and then. Roads were good throughout.

Something about the Baijnath temple - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baijnath,_Uttarakhand

Situated on the banks of Gomti, it's not a single structure, but more like a complex of structures. Apart from the main temple, there are numerous smaller temples around it. Legend has it that it was built in a single day by the rulers of this land - Katyuri. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva and Parvati were married here. Idols of Shiva, Ganesh, Parvati, Chandika, Kuber, Surya and Brahma are placed in different temples around the complex.

The main temple houses a idol of Parvati with a number of smaller figurines surrounding it. This main temple has lost its tower, and a makeshift roof protects it from the elements now. Water level is pretty low in Gomati and there seemed to be some construction going on right on the river bed. Maybe for a better tomorrow (?).

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The temple with the tin roof is the main one.

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Oops, our own leaning tower

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Main temple, side view

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Clicked from the road. Notice the almost dry river bed

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A closer look


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Main Temple entry

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Lots of things going on, on the riverbed

Parking can be an issue as there is a narrow street on one side and an equally narrow bridge over Gomti on the other. Right at the entrance there is space for parking a handful of cars. The local shared taxis also halt here to pickup/drop people. We moved ahead a little and parked on a wider turn.

We moved to Bageshwar from here, around 25 kms away.
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Old 21st November 2015, 14:53   #5
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13/11/2015, Day 2: Kausani - Chaukori (via Baijnath, Bageshwar) contd..

Bageshwar was a short distance away from Baijnath. Only 25 Kms or so. Unlike Baijnath though, Bageshwar temple is bang in the middle of the town. It is situated on the banks of Gomti and Sarayu. Lots of people perform the last rites of their departed family members here. While we were there, we witnessed one which was underway.

Though the structures seem well preserved even now but the encroachments all around them somewhat kill the essence of the place. Parking is also an issue if you are driving yourself. We managed to find a place some distance away.

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Main Temple

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Smaller temples in the same complex

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Another temple just some steps away

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More modern structures around the ancient temples

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Ghats where last rites are performed

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Gomti

After the visit, we started for Chaukori around 55 Kms away, our final destination for the day. The drive was very scenic with very less traffic. Stopped occasionally to click the odd pic.

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A distant town, captured from the road

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Close up

Finally reached Chaukori around 3:30 PM. Rest of the time was spent lazing around and just enjoying the views. Temperature plummeted at night, though the rooms were nice and comfortable.

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Nice view of Panchchuli peaks at Chaukori
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Old 21st November 2015, 15:13   #6
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14/11/2015, Day 3: Chaukori - Jageshwar

Woke up lazily and enjoyed the sunrise from our balconies. Had a nice stroll in the winter sun and later, a sumptuous breakfast of parathans and omelets.

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Beautiful Morning glow on the peaks

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Zoomed in

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Sun peaking through

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When the Sun was finally out and shining bright
Thereafter, trekked to a near by hanging rock. Nothing much, just a rock protruding out over a cliff. The views were great from here, so didn't mind the slightly taxing trek up. It got steep at places and slippery at others due to the morning dew. Thankfully all of us came back in one piece.

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The Hanging rock

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Our guide up ahead. The cute fella (on the right) accompanied us till the rock and back

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View from the rock

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Panorama, click to view full size

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At the Hotel parking. We were the only guests that day!
Settled our bills at the hotel, and set off for Jageshwar, a little over 100kms away.

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Beautiful Saryu

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Amazing colors
Stopped for lunch at a non-descript eating joint. OKaish food. Started back and reached Jageshwar around 3 pm.

Our hosts were waiting at the temple/museum parking as the hotel was not on the main route. One has to walk ~1.7 kms through the forest to reach it. Handed over our luggage to them and then went on to explore the temple. He left his younger brother behind to guide us till the hotel once we were done with the temple and museum.

About Jageshwar -

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This appeared to be a lot bigger than the other 2 temples we had visited earlier. The architecture was pretty similar, and even reminded me of the Kedarnath Shrine. This place had a bigger crowd and an equal number of Pandits! Even had a rate chart with details of what it will cost to have a particular type of pooja done.

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The temple complex


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Main temple, on the right, not in frame

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The temples are quite 'densely' packed

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I love my India. Do exactly what you are told not to.
We roamed around a little in the complex. Paid our respects to the Gods and then moved to the museum. Hardly a 100m away, it houses various idols that have been excavated at this site and Dandeshwar (around 1km away). On average, all of them are from the 8th - 12th century. Most of the God's idols are damaged in some or the other way and hence not fit for worship as per the religious beliefs. Maybe, that's why they had to be removed and also to preserve them in a way.

The young guy was waiting for us near the car. It took us nearly 30-35 mins to cover the distance through the woods. Contrary to what I was told, this path was pretty steep at places for elders. Thankfully, both my parents are physically very active and took it in their stride but it can be an issue with older or not-so-fit senior citizens.

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The Hotel

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Bon-fire place


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A 'natual' seating arrangement
Evening was spent around the bon-fire with pakodas. The air was pretty chilly and we retreated to our rooms after spending a few hours by the fire. The hotel is completely surrounded by forest and there isn't much to do other than laze around. Your mobile won't have signal so no pesky office calls! There is also a smallish stream flowing in the valley below, one can walk to. Overall, it was a different experience, but may not be liked by everyone. If you need your basic luxuries, it's better to stick to any of the numerous hotels that dot the road near the temple.

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The 'path'

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A reassuring marker, to console you, it's near!

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Some rocky sections

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A dilapidated bridge

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The small stream that is your constant companion

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Confluence of streams!

PS: Most of the pictures of the Hotel/trek path are from the next morning.
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Old 21st November 2015, 15:30   #7
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15/11/2015, Day 4: Jageshwar - Delhi

We slept early after a homely dinner (but very tasty!) and thus were up early. Time to head back to the mundane life. Got some paranthas packed to have on the go.

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Walking back along the stream

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The walk back took the same 30-35 mins and soon we were at the temple parking with the steed all fogged up due to the dew.

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Zero visibility.

Thankfully, no drama in starting up and we were on the move by 8:30am. While coming, we had missed to stop at DandeshwarMahadev and that was going to be the first pitstop.

About Dandeshwar -
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Main Temple, houses the swayambhu Shivling

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Smaller temples around it

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Kuber's temple

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Protected from the elements

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Carvings

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Beautiful roads leading to and from Jageshwar (effect of Sonia Gandhi's recent visit?)

After the darshan, as we were leaving Jageshwar, saw a marker for Vridha Jageshwar, was tempted for a moment but then decided against it as we were already behind schedule. Next pit-stop was the famous Golu Devta temple. It is something one needs to experience, can't be explained in words. Faith does indeed take strange forms.

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Golu Devta Mandir - entrance

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Watch your head here!

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Affidavits, letters, bells - billions of them!

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Among all the letters, couldn't help but notice this innocent plea to Golu Dev. Hope they got fulfilled.

From here, it was a straight run till Kathgodam, Udupiwala, where we stopped for lunch. We were making good time and were hoping to hit Delhi before 8 pm blissfully unaware of the mess that lay ahead.

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Wide roads between Almora - Bhowali

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A Railway crossing near Rampur

Crossing Haldwani consumed almost an hour and later we wasted ~2 hours stuck in a jam at Bilaspur. As we neared Delhi, the usual long holiday chaos at Tolls greeted us and thus it was not before midnight, that we reached home. 16+ hours for a ~450km journey.

The End!
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Old 21st November 2015, 15:34   #8
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Hotels

Kausani - http://uttarakhandkausani.com/
Run by the same guys who own The Milam Inn, Munsiyari. Initially I had planned for Munsiyari and was already in their touch hence booked this one.
+ Basic hotel
+ Good view
+ Good food (especially wonderful fulkas!)
+ Excellent staff
- Construction shows it's age
- Not the most clean

Will I stay again? Probably not.

Chaukori - http://www.ojaswiresort.com/
+ Good clean hotel w/ modern construction and all amenities
+ Good view
+ Excellent staff
= Ok food

Will I stay again? Probably yes! Transit stop for Munsiyari.

Jageshwar - http://www.jageshwarjunglelodge.com/
+ Basic hotel w/o much luxury
+ Good location, secluded
+ Good homely food (fixed menu)
+ Super Excellent staff
= Clean
- Parking is in public space.-

- Parking is in public area. ~2kms away.

Will I stay again? Maybe. If I visit Jageshwar again.


Route Map -

Delhi - Ghaziabad - Moradabad bypass - Rampur - Rudrapur - Haldwani - Bhimtal ... then as the pic below -

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Last edited by Dry Ice : 21st November 2015 at 15:36.
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Old 23rd November 2015, 11:02   #9
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 23rd November 2015, 15:41   #10
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Fantastic thread Dry Ice. Didn't read it thoroughly but really enjoyed watching your pictures. My native place is in Pithoragarh and I have visited some of the places whose pictures you have posted. This reminds me.... I really need to visit my 'roots' once again.

A very big thank you!!
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Old 23rd November 2015, 16:05   #11
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Enjoyed your travelogue. Thanks for sharing. A few months back I had driven from Bangalore to Uttarakhand, visited some of the places you highlighted.

You Delhi folks are lucky to have the beautiful Himalayas so close
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Old 23rd November 2015, 18:08   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flanker99 View Post
Fantastic thread Dry Ice. Didn't read it thoroughly but really enjoyed watching your pictures. My native place is in Pithoragarh and I have visited some of the places whose pictures you have posted. This reminds me.... I really need to visit my 'roots' once again.

A very big thank you!!
Ah Pithoragarh! Missed it on this trip, due to limited time. Maybe next time, will cover it along with Munsiyari.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Enjoyed your travelogue. Thanks for sharing. A few months back I had driven from Bangalore to Uttarakhand, visited some of the places you highlighted.

You Delhi folks are lucky to have the beautiful Himalayas so close
Thank you! I do remember your Kumaon log vividly (some awesome captures). infact referred to it as well among others while planning this trip.
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Old 24th November 2015, 07:59   #13
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Thankyou Dry Ice for such a lovely travelogue, i also completed my virtual visit to all the places via your beautiful pictures, wish to convert this virtuality into reality soon. Such posts encourage me to forcefully take some leave off my mundane routine job.

Loved the cute WISH of the kid for remote enabled toys, may his wish gets fulfilled soon.

But taken little aback when i read about pundits putting up rate list of quality of pooja for pleasing the god according to ones status, and the last rites thing, i myself has seen half burnt corpses in and around haridwar which hurts a lot.

Finally a beautiful narration and awesome pictures.

Thankyou so much!
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Old 24th November 2015, 09:58   #14
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Originally Posted by Dry Ice View Post
12/11/2015, Day 1: Delhi - Kausani


We stopped at Bikanerwala, Gajraula for a tea break.

Roads cleared up a lot after this and we were making good time. The trouble started soon after Rampur. The stretch between Rampur - Rudrapur is absolutely horrendous.
Back in May 2015, our first break after Delhi was also at Bikanerwala, Gajraula. This looks to be very popular with frequent travelers on this route.

Sad to know that Rampur-Rudrapur is still broken. We lost considerable time on that section which meant we had to climb up the final ghat from Haldwani to Nainital just around sunset.

At Kausani did you stay at Hotel Uttarakhand? I thought so looking at the photos. I was impressed by the friendly and prompt staff.
The day we arrived, the receptionist greeted us with "Jay Maharashtra" LOL and even understood a bit of Marathi. He told us that they get a lot of tourist from Mumbai/Pune.

Last edited by freedom : 24th November 2015 at 10:15.
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Old 24th November 2015, 12:05   #15
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Originally Posted by naveendagar View Post
Thankyou Dry Ice for such a lovely travelogue, i also completed my virtual visit to all the places via your beautiful pictures, wish to convert this virtuality into reality soon. Such posts encourage me to forcefully take some leave off my mundane routine job.
Thank you! Please do and soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by naveendagar View Post
Loved the cute WISH of the kid for remote enabled toys, may his wish gets fulfilled soon.
Same here! I wish he got his toys

Quote:
Originally Posted by naveendagar View Post
But taken little aback when i read about pundits putting up rate list of quality of pooja for pleasing the god according to ones status, and the last rites thing, i myself has seen half burnt corpses in and around haridwar which hurts a lot.
The rate list was at Jageshwar. Being a Jyotirling, the commercialization and the crowd was expected. I don't get any religious feel at such places. They have become all about money. Pay more for priority pooja, darshan etc. etc. I particularly avoid places of religious significance these days, but this trip was an exception as my parents wanted to visit the temples.

Quote:
Originally Posted by naveendagar View Post
Finally a beautiful narration and awesome pictures.
Thankyou so much!
Thanks again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by freedom View Post
Back in May 2015, our first break after Delhi was also at Bikanerwala, Gajraula. This looks to be very popular with frequent travelers on this route.
Gajraula is to NH24, what Murthal is to NH1. Many dhabas at both the places. Plus, it's just the right distance for a break when you start from NCR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freedom View Post
Sad to know that Rampur-Rudrapur is still broken. We lost considerable time on that section which meant we had to climb up the final ghat from Haldwani to Nainital just around sunset.
The Rampur - Rudrapur is Bermuda Triangle of India. It gobbles up all funds allocated to it, yet remains the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freedom View Post
At Kausani did you stay at Hotel Uttarakhand? I thought so looking at the photos. I was impressed by the friendly and prompt staff.
The day we arrived, the receptionist greeted us with "Jay Maharashtra" LOL and even understood a bit of Marathi. He told us that they get a lot of tourist from Mumbai/Pune.
Yup, I did stay at Uttakhand. No complaints with the staff. They were all wonderful. But with so many options in the vicinity, I think one can find a better alternative.

Last edited by Dry Ice : 24th November 2015 at 12:09.
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