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Old 9th October 2016, 21:44   #1
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Default Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon

“It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey to get there”.

Nothing could be more apt for this trip. The winding pine covered roads gave us as much pleasure as the destination and this trip is a sheer delight for those who love to drive (even though we had our fair share of bad roads). Our Himalayan trip was long overdue and finally materialized in the first week of October. My wife was the brains behind the trip and after filling up Excel sheets with her plans, we embarked on this much awaited trip with our 3 year old daughter in tow.

Our itinerary was as follows:-
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-kumaon.png

Day 1- Dehradun to Ranikhet
Route (320kms/ 8hrs): Dehradun-Haridwar-Najibabad-Kashipur-Ramnagar-Ranikhet (The road is 90% in a good condition with repair work presently being done at Kashipur and Najibabad. Crossing into the Corbett Park is a treat).

Stayed at: KMVN TRH, Mall Road (Rs.2100 per night with Bed & BF)

Ranikhet is our favourite hill station. It is a quiet picturesque place and unlike Nainital or Mussourie, Ranikhet is still free from crowds. The Mall Road is litter free and lined with beautiful pines and not Pizza and Chat joints, as is the norm these days. The silence and the serenity offered by these beautiful roads can be best enjoyed by long walks/ cycling (available on rent). Kudos to the Cantonment Board for preserving the originality of this hill station.

The KMVN TRH Mall Road is a very good place to stay and enjoys a convenient location on the Mall Road with comfortable rooms and hospitable service. Prefer this accommodation to KMVN Monal (also in Ranikhet).

Pine flanked roads
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-tree1.jpg
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-miles-such-roads.jpg

Day 2- Ranikhet to Chaukori

Route (130kms/ 5hrs): Ranikhet-Almora-Jageshwar-Berinag-Chaukori (The Pine lined road is in an excellent condition and a pleasure to drive on).

Stayed at: KMVN TRH, Chaukori (Rs.1900 per night with Bed & BF)

Located at 2010m, Chaukori is a small village and enjoys an excellent view of the Himalayan range. The panorama of the Panchachuli peaks, Nandakot, Trishul, Nanda Devi is mesmerising. There are two very good options to stay- KMVN and Ojaswi Resort. We stayed at KMVN and it is a beautiful location, which enjoys commanding views of the Himalayas and has a beautiful lawn to keep your children busy. Best place to curl up with a book over your favourite cuppa and enjoy the vista. We stayed here for two nights.

P.S. Though we had planned 4 nights in Chaukori and Munsiyari, there was too much cloud cover and the views were not the best, except for early mornings. Rare for this to happen in October. Those who have visited Bandhavgarh and missed the elusive Tiger can relate.

Enroute Chaukori, we stopped at Jageshwar temple complex. The temples are said to be about 1000 years old and are well preserved. However our experience was marred by the numerous Pujaris, trying to lure us for a puja. There is a small museum nearby, maintained by ASI and is not to be missed. Prior to Jageshwar, there is the ancient Dandeshwar temple, which is also worth visiting. The temple is located adjacent to a stream and is very peaceful.

Views from Chaukori
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-chaukori.jpg
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-chaukori2.jpg
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-chau.jpg

Jageshwar temple
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-jag.jpg

Day 4- Chaukori to Munsiyari

Route (130kms/ 5hrs): Chaukori-Thal-Munsiyari (good road interspersed with very bad patches).

Stayed at: KMVN TRH, Munsiyari (Rs.2400 per night with Bed & BF)

About 30% of the road is non-existent but the locals ply on this road in Altos and should not pose a problem. The road is dotted with numerous waterfalls and gushing streams and the drive is very pleasant. The Birthi fall is a beautiful place for a stop by. It has become increasingly difficult to find a water fall free from Chips and other plastic junk and this is one such fall. Stop by TRH Birthi, order some food and just walk up to the pristine waterfall (10 min).

Located at 2200m, Munsiyari zooms in your view of the Himalayas. However, I prefer the view from Chaukori. Munsiyari is the base camp for Milam glacier and many trekkers embark from here. Khuliya Top and Thamri Kund are good short treks, though incessant rains and a coughing daughter stole our chance. We visited the Nanda Devi temple and Tribal Museum, which are the local places of interest. Darkot is a weavers village (famed for Angora wool), often frequented by tourists. There is a shop run by ‘Saras NGO’, which sells woollen products and is a good place to shop.

Views from Munsiyari
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-panchachuli.jpg

Road to Munsiyari
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-climb-munsiyari.jpg

Mineral water, anyone?
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-stream.jpg

Day 6- Munsiyari to Patal Bhuwaneshwar
Route (130kms/ 5hrs): Munsiyari-Thal-Berinag-Raiagar-Patal Bhuwaneshwar (Gangolihat) (Road is good but a 20km stretch under repair short of P. Bhuwaneshwar)

Stayed at: KMVN TRH, Patal Bhuwaneshwar (Rs.900 per night with Bed & BF)
An ancient cave temple, devoted to Lord Shiva. The entrance to this temple and the following tunnel is quite narrow, and is a nightmare for many. However, the passage is well lit and has steps leading down. One has to squirm a bit through the passage (only for 2-3min but feels like eternity) and then the cave opens up. The stalactites and stalagmites are beautiful. Advisable to take the services of the local guide (fees at entrance), who not only guides one down but also has an interesting mythological story weaved around the limestone hangings. There is a lack of oxygen, as is to be expected but if one is physically fit, going down is just a matter of confidence. Please do not take small children along. Overall, a wonderful experience. Photography is prohibited.

Our biggest woe was the KMVN. It lives up to its name of ‘Patal’ and is a hell in itself. Very poorly maintained and not recommended at all. It is advisable to stay at Chaukori (just 35kms) and make a day trip to the temple.

Hotel Hell- KMVN Patal Bhuvaneshwar
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-pb1.jpg
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-pb2.jpg

Day 6- Patal Bhuwaneshwar to Ranikhet
Route (130kms/ 5hrs): Patal Bhuwaneshwar-Gangolihat-Rameshwar (Diversion near bridge)-Almora-Ranikhet

Stayed at: KMVN TRH, Mall Road (Rs.2100 per night with Bed & BF)
The road from Rameshwar to Ranikhet (part of Pithoragarh-Almora road) is a driver’s delight. One of the best hillside roads we have experienced and the drive was a sheer pleasure.

Miles and miles of such roads
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-rani2.jpg
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-rani3.jpg
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-ranikhet-road.jpg

We stopped by at Katarmal Sun temple, which is close to Kosi village. We had missed it earlier. It is an ancient temple and is so located that first rays of the Sun fall upon the temple. Best time to visit is at sunrise; however we were here at noon. The 3km approach road to the temple is under construction and tests the off-roading abilities of your car.

Road to the Sun temple
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-road-sun.jpg

Sun temple
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-sun3.jpg
Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon-sun1.jpg

Day 7- Ranikhet to Dehradun Route (320kms/ 8hrs): Ranikhet-Ramnagar-Kashipur-Najibabad-Haridwar- Dehradun
Back to home.

1. Fill fuel at every opportunity especially from Chaukori upwards. There are pumps at every destination mentioned above, but one should not depend on the last pump for refuelling as they are closed at times due to fuel shortage or power failure.
2. Carry adequate cash, if you plan to move to Munsiyari. There are a number of ATMs (all SBI and mostly closed).
3. In the hills, the roads are mostly single lane and are dotted with passing places. Please drive slowly and enjoy the drive as the locals and commercial drivers hurl down the corners at high speeds. Best to follow defensive driving.
4. Stock up with dry food and water.
5. Include Kausani, Chaukori and Munsiyari in itinerary. Halt at P. Bhuvaneshwar may be dropped.

For the Petrol heads:-
Car- SCross 1.3 (Distance covered- 1310 kms with 1800m altitude gain, overall FE= approx. 14kmpl with AC). These are our observations on this trip:-
1. The 200Nm powered us easily through all the slopes. The handling is excellent and the steering is perfectly weighted. The in-cabin space and comfort are very good and wife and the kid were happily napping on the leather. Boot space is just okay for the three of us for a week long trip with warm clothing.
2. The 180mm GC is adequate, though the car did scrape once in a slush covered road, while climbing to Munsiyari.
3. The Climate control is a joy and the Adaptive Parking is a boon while reversing on slopes.
4. The Auto folding mirrors do help in squeezing through tight gaps (though we had a couple of brushes with the impatient ones).
5. GPS had no issues obtaining a fix. The remote roads were also mapped in HERE Maps. However, when in doubt, consult the locals.
6. The suspension is on the stiffer side and makes the low speed ride bumpy.
7. The NVH levels and engine refinement could be a lot better. Bluetooth pairing for media streaming requires re-connection, especially after the car is switched off and on again.

Last edited by GTO : 10th October 2016 at 12:41. Reason: Spacing :). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 10th October 2016, 15:50   #2
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Default Re: Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon

Nice travelogue Kunal. Kumaon is a stunning place indeed. It's one of those places that have remained sufficiently untouched.

The forests, mountains and ancient structures are very charming indeed. One look at the pictures will make a city-dweller want to get into a car or on a bike and head there. It's been a long time since I visited the place.

You have provided a good deal of information about the route and stay. It will definitely help other BHPians. Thanks.
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Old 10th October 2016, 19:09   #3
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Default Re: Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon

Hi Kunal,

Thanks for this. I'm sorry for your bad experience at KMVN in Patal Bhuvnaeshwar. Can you share more details. I would like to take it up with them as feedback.


Last edited by GTO : 11th October 2016 at 10:21. Reason: No PM business. Member can share right here on the thread itself
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Old 11th October 2016, 11:24   #4
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Default Re: Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon

Originally Posted by Tapish View Post
Hi Kunal,

Thanks for this. I'm sorry for your bad experience at KMVN in Patal Bhuvnaeshwar. Can you share more details. I would like to take it up with them as feedback.

After the excellent experience at KMVN Ranikhet, Chaukori and Munsyari, this place was a shock to us. We had the following observations:-
1. The rooms are damp due to massive wall seepage. No white washing/ painting done.
2. The linen and carpeting is unclean, making the rooms musty.
3. Many electric fixtures are hanging as are the wires.
4. The lesser said about the toilets, the better it is.
5. In spite of the prime location and virtually no competition, this place is totally neglected. It lacks maintenance and requires a thorough overhaul.
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Old 11th October 2016, 18:34   #5
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Default Re: Driving an S-Cross across Kumaon

Thanks Kunal, I talked to someone in the organization and he advised that you should make a formal complaint on the following email: kmvn@yahoo.com. Please cc mdkmvn71@gmail.com (Managing Director- Dhiraj S Garbyal) I'm told he is fairly responsive.

Hope this helps.

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