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Old 11th April 2018, 22:31   #1
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Default Snow-laden Himachal and Heavenly Uttarakhand

Caution – It’s a huge travelogue along with 300+ snaps and many videos.

Prologue

Initially the plan was to visit Spiti Valley during October2017. However, because of my wife’s sudden international office trip we dropped the plan during October. With months of sundry preparations and countless planning finally we were about to start in December. Even the previous day the trip was uncertain due to some family issues. We love travel, with all its concomitant worries.

I would like to thanks my wife who has written most of the portion of travelogue in very descriptive way.


Vehicle Preparation:

For such long trip, it is important to keep the vehicle at its best of mechanical condition to avoid any kind of possible problems. I just did some preventive maintenance to my vehicle which was as follows:
  • Replaced the front break pad as it was already 36000 KM old.
  • Top-up some raw coolant to make sure that the coolant percentage is more than 50-60%.
  • Front upper and lower ball joint changed as it was 65000 Kms old and heard from many people that bolero with IFS has a problem with arm ball joints. In case of any such breakdown, there is no option other than towing the vehicle.
  • Propeller Shaft changed under warranty as some noise was coming from yuk-teeth during acceleration.
  • Periodic maintenance service.
Till the date the Lazy Turtle performed very well in any and every terrain. Therefore, I was very much confident about the vehicle. Like always this time, also Lazy Turtle performed well other than a small issue we faced while returning from the trip that I will explain on day wise details.


Other Preparation:
  • Miscellanies things required for smoother trip:
  1. For the vehicle:
  2. 20L fuel Jerry Can and Spout.
  3. Jump Start Cable.
  4. OBD device with Bluetooth connectivity.
  5. 50 feet long ¾ inch diameter nylon rope.
  6. Manual Tyre Inflator and Puncher kit.
  7. Shovel (bought during Mustang Valley trip)
  8. BG Diesel Fuel Conditioner
  • For Camping:
  1. Camping Stool
  2. Sleeping Bags
  3. Tent and Tent Light
  4. Air Bed and Manual Inflator
  5. Gas Stove and Butane Gas Canister
  6. 50L ice box with full of ready to eat or easy to cook food items.
  7. 15L Water Jerry Can
  • Other Utility:
  1. Head Torch
  2. Rain Coat
  3. Big Umbrella
  4. Packing Tape
  5. Car DC to AC (220V) Adapter
Itinerary:

Day 1: Kolkata – Gopuganj
Day 2: Gopiganj to Karnal, Haryana
Day 3: Karnal to Narkanda, Himachal
Day 4: Narkanda to Kalpa, Himachal
Day 5: Kalpa – Rakchham–Chitkul – Jeori
Day 6: Jeori-Sarahan-Hatu Peak-Narkanda-Shimla
Day 7: Shimla – Mansar – Kahan – Paonta Sahib – Dehradun – New Tehri
Day 8: New Tehri – Sari Village – Trek to Deoria Tal
Day 9: Deoria Tal – Sari Village – Chopta Valley
Day 10: Chopta – Kanakchauri – Trek to Kartick Swami
Day 11: Kartick Swami – Kanakchauri – kausani
Day 12: Kausani – Tejam – Brithi – Munsyari
Day 13: Munsyari – jauljibi – Askote – Pithoragarg - Abbott Mount – Lohaghat
Day 14: Lohaghat – Mukteswar
Day 15, 16, 17: Mukteswar - Kolkata

Unlike the other trips, this has some different edge of enjoyment because of some versatile activity during the trip.

Glimpse

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Resting in such place is like living in a Palace

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The old transport meets the modern road

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Eyes of the Lazy Turtle glittering in the midst of snow clad mountains

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The world never stop moving even if you stop

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Their school days are better than our holidays

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Neither the ice nor the rocks can stop you if you want to move ahead

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If you want to come second, Follow me.

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Herds of blue tents under beneath the dusky sky

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Mirror mirror everywhere ! Come and visit like I'm here.

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Follow the steps to the zenith

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The world is still green and this place is lust green

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Flowing along the map like the river flowing beside us


To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 15:15. Reason: formating
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Old 11th April 2018, 23:38   #2
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Default Re: Snow-laden Himachal and Heavenly Uttarakhand

Day 1 (Kolkata to Gopiganj, UP):

First day was a long journey so accordingly I needed to have good sleep and rest. Early morning around 6:00 am, the car snarled. I gave it ample time until the sound of the huge engine thrummed in my ears. Due to the Christmas holiday, we face unexpected density of cars till Asansol who were traveling to enjoy the holiday at Mukutmanipur, Shantiniketan and Garhpanchokot. After crossing the border of West Bengal, the roads were not a hurdle this time and I made it till Gopiganj, Uttar Pradesh by evening. We were well versed with ready food and liquids to keep hydrated and filled on the go. The plan was to go another 50-60 KM for the day, however due to driving in dense traffic for 1st 200 KM we got tired soon and first day’s sojourn was at a highway side Shakti Dhaba.

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Only picture for the day during our lunch break

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Day_01_Map

Day 2 (Gopiganj to Karnal, Haryana):

Preceding day was also travel oriented as we transversed through expressways and highways. The Agra Lucknow express gave us the flight directly from Lucknow to Agra in no time. Landing to Agra, the road merged to Yamuna Expressway. We were lucky to enjoy a free trial of this expressway. With mere traffic on this expressway, I had the cognizance of developing India. For a rover good roads and less traffic is a boom. The Taj express opened its palm to Noida-Greater Noida express. While crossing Delhi, I felt the gust of the polluted air being suctioned through my nostrils. Though the windows of the car were closed, the vibration of honking horns could be easily felt. The fast pace of the traffic personified the life of the people in metro. By evening, we have entered Panipat and searching for hotel we stopped at Karnal. Fog has impaired the vision so much that it was impossible to recognize the vehicle just at an arm distance.


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Dinner in Punjabi Style

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Day_02_Map


To be continued ...


Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 15:35.
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Old 11th April 2018, 23:48   #3
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Default Re: Snow-laden Himachal and Heavenly Uttarakhand

Day 3 (Karnal to Narkanda, Himachal):

Starting early morning was out of question. With the outside fog, risk also started fogging in my mind.The car penetrated through the fog like a beam of light through darkness. I always believe that safety is not a part time job, rather it is an full time practice. Hence, I was the slowest one among the rest the cars, others seemed to have clear vision through the fog.After studying the driving pattern of all the drivers, I choice a sweeper car and followed it maintaining a safe distance gap. From nowhere an Innova entered and spoiled the resonance.

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Visibility at Karnal evan at 8:30 AM.

I gave the car pass to move ahead but it kept boggling around me. Later the car was lost in the herd but just at the onset of the city when I stopped behind a Zen in the signal, the same Innova bumped into. Losing control on the speed, the driver was unable to stop the car at the signal and punched its bonnet against the back of Bolero. The radiator of the Innova was smashed and had a breakdown. On the other had my silencer pipe was ramped under the rear foot slab and the back bumper has cracked, rest all fine. My car was pushed ahead and banged the Zen in my front whose bumper was in turn cracked and my front bumper was punched towards the bonnet. With the help of the police standing there, I managed to get only the claim money from the driver and closed the incident there.


Dangerous Fog Karnal to Chandigarh 9 AM

We were not willing to lose time, as it was just the start of the day. With the money I had, the car was serviced for the trivial damages caused. We had already lost a lot of time in all these mess and so had to rush towards the day-end drive and hence got in Narkanda by around 4:30 pm. This was the end of the day travel.While the view of the snow-clad peaks from Narkanda Circuit House was corking, the sunset on the other side colored the place with hopes for the remaining days of the trip and we enjoyed it with a cup of tea. The staff of Narkanda guesthouse made the stay cozy with their warm behavior. There is a restaurant in the market place “The New Himalayan Dhaba” which serves nice food. I captured the guesthouse in the darkness of the night as the white building shined.


Solan to Narkanda


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Sunset from Narkanda Circuit House

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Circuit House - Our stay at Narkanda.

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Day_03_Map

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 15:36.
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Old 12th April 2018, 00:10   #4
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Day 4 (Narkanda to Kalpa, Himachal):

In the morning hue Narkanda was invigorating and blissful. The staff of the guesthouse greeted us with morning tea and asked us to start off early morning as fog will again impair vision. He propounded the idea to visit Kalpa and then move to Chitkul the next day. Tabo was fully covered with snow so had no option but to opt out of it.

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Sunlight on Narkanda Circuit House

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View from Narkanda Circuit House

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Perimeter of Narkanda Circuit House

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View from Narkanda Circuit House

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Other side view from Narkanda Circuit House

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Other side view from Narkanda Circuit House

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Other side view from Narkanda Circuit House

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Ready to start for Kalpa

To be continued ...

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Old 12th April 2018, 00:18   #5
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Day 4 continued ...

In Kinnaur district, the roads are carved out of the large black rocks forming toadstool. The white bordered roads were smooth like black insulation tape. At some of the curves the peaks were carved out as if a palm curved for shelter.


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Few random snaps on the way from Narkanda to Kalpa.


Narkanda to Kalpa
To be continued ...

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Old 12th April 2018, 00:28   #6
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Day 4 continued ...


I have heard a lot of the apple gardens of Kalpa though this is not the season of apple but still the peaks of Kinnaur Kailash have a charm of its own. Kalpa is small valley at the foothills of Kinnaur Kailash range which seemed to crown the land.


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Entering Kalpa




Being an off-season most of the hotels were closed and the one open where selling off small rooms at inflated prices. Not much tourists where there and the apple trees have shed its leaves. A white snowy carpet was laid on the land decorated with greenery at some spots. The place had a picturesque beauty but only thing lacking was the bright sunlight. The gloomy dim light hindered the perfect photography of the place. At night the Shivling peak glazed as the black rocks made the white snow more contrasting on it. Temperature in Kalpa was freezing hence we rapped the bonnet with Plastic Tarpaulins and blankets for insulating effect.

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Kalpa Panoramic View


Kalpa Panoramic View



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View from our hotel room

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Few random snaps of Kalpa on the same day afternoon

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Last ray of sun


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Just tried to capture few snaps of the evening.

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Day_04_Map

To be continued ...

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Old 12th April 2018, 16:51   #7
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Day 5(Kalpa – Rakchham–Chitkul – Jeori):

The morning sky was mostly cloud, deep steel blue-greys that mirror the hues of the highway. Everything was a muted shade, like a matt photograph in a dimly lit room. Holding my camera in shivering hands, I captured the dusky rays over the peaks. Tea in hand, my fingers trace the steam swirling above the warm liquid.



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Kalpa at next Morning


Roaming around Kalpa


Distance from Kalpa to Chitkul was plain sailing and so it was sagacious to start late after the engine has warmed up. The insulation has worked wonders for us and the engine took a start with minimal number of cranks.

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On the way from Kalpa to Karcham

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karcham TRT


Road Near karcham


On the onset of Karcham, I had a look at the sign board mentioning the way to Sarahan. The thought kept bobbling in my mind that the next day I have to travel this much distance back. At Karcham junction across the bridge, the roads turned narrow. On the onset of Sangla, thin blanket of snow turned the place milky white. The snow hugged the house like a day old baby, new and clingy. Near Rakchham, the wooden huts seemed to get lost and the dense forest took its place. Certain kms ahead of Chitkul at the last check post, the officer on duty propounded to be back before dusk as the weather is expected to get worst.



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Tukpa valley Gate

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Some random snaps near Rakcham

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School at Rakcham

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Few random snaps towards Chitkul

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PointZero @ Chitkul Zero

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 00:41.
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Old 12th April 2018, 16:58   #8
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Day 5 continued ...

Snow-laden Himachal and Heavenly Uttarakhand-img_20171227_141317409.jpg
Chitkul
At Chitkul the morning light struggled through the murky cloud, but even in its weakness it was enough to blind. The air was of-course cold and the trees peeked out under their new white caps. The barren fields looked like an unfinished painting. So much of the canvas was still perfectly white, as if waiting for the artists hand to return. Footsteps and paw prints along the galloping river crisscrossed each other around the labyrinth of paths. This is the last village on border with China.We had tea and Maggie at one of the oldest shop in Chitkul.
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Few Random snaps of Chitkul



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On the way while returning from Chitkul

To be continued ...



Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 00:42.
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Old 12th April 2018, 17:04   #9
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Day 5 continued ...

On my way back I could not resist myself getting down at Raksham. While returning we had no idea as to where are we going to put up at night. My outlook was to make maximum use of the daylight and travel as much as possible for the day so that the next day would be smooth. As per the local people, I had the comprehension that on this route towards Sarahan Jeori is the big town where we can get hotel late till 8:00 pm. Google map succoured in getting a booking in a guesthouse there. At the time of dinner the restaurant owner described that the people transverse by the dilapidated road to Sarahan as the other road is closed for construction of a bridge.

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Near Rakcham Guest House

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few random snaps while returning from Rakcham

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It was already dusk while returning from Rakcham

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Day_05_Map
To be continued ...


Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 15:39.
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Old 12th April 2018, 17:09   #10
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Day 6(Jeori-Sarahan-Hatu Peak-Narkanda-Shimla)

No exception to leaving early for Bhimkali Mandir being mentioned the road conditions. The road was mix one where the pitch roads lasted for few kms and then a single road continued for around 10 kms to land at Bhimkali Mandir. The entrance of the temple beheld the bliss of the place. The inside corridor could not be anticipated from outside which connected the edifice on all four sides. Then we took another leap towards the silver door where we had to remove our shoes and socks. The spine chilling sensation ran across my body as I took the first step on the floor towards the main shrine. The guard said that it is warm inside the temple and it was so because there were carpets placed all around. Located at an elevation, the temple accorded the mystic view of the snow clad mountain peaks. Early morning hue scattered around the valley and filled the place with dense white fumes.


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On the way towards Bhimkali Mandir


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Himachal Tourism Lodge and view from the lodge at Sarahan


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Few Random Snaps of Bhimkali Mandir







Towards Bhimkali Mandir (Early Morning)

To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 00:44.
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Old 12th April 2018, 17:20   #11
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Day 6 continued ...

From Sarahan we drove back towards Narkanda as we missed out Hatu Peak in that side. A travel of around 110 kms for 3 and half hours brought us to Hatu peak.


We took the road via kinnu waterfall instead of going through the Jeori again to enjoy the scenic beauty.


Sarahan to Narkanda via Kinnu

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On the Kinnu Road


The onset on the place seemed as if all people coming to Shimla have settled here towards the end of the year to see snow. The frozen lake has turned muddy and people walked over it overwhelmed. The roads were steep and narrow to pass even a single small car. Dense coniferous trees barred vision at the turnings. The lake was so chaotic that I made my mind to turn back without going up to Hatu temple.


Narrow road towards Hatu Peak

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Returning from Sarhan to Narkanda

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Cleaning time

The day was a jumbled one with to and fro movement and the loop ended up at Shimla. New Year celebrations have gained pace in Shimla and finding a hotel in the city was troublesome. After turning twice on the circular road finally made an exit thinking to leave the heart of the city and settle at the outskirt by the highway for the day. However just beyond the main hustle and bustle, we spotted a hotel along the highway. The city lights shimmered and stretched, growing and receding, striving and shrinking. The lights danced across the dark sky, each color slowly fading into another. End of the travel for the day. From the overall recap of the day I had the cognizance that I have to plan ahead for the next day. I made certain phone calls to anticipate the next day visits.

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Shimla from out Hotel

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Day_06_Map

To be continued ...


Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 15:40.
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Old 12th April 2018, 18:22   #12
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Default Re: Snow-laden Himachal and Heavenly Uttarakhand

Day 7 (Shimla – Mansar – Kahan – Paonta Sahib – Dehradun – New Tehri)

I opted out of the Tirthan Valley this time as I conjectured that there will be no snow there. This gave an extra day to spend at a place of my choice. I chose Tehri over Tirthan valley, after all something needs to be left for the next trip. Road to New Tehri was a simple long drive of around 350 kms. The greenery of the pine trees is only exception as compared to roads of the plains. After a tiring journey of 10 hrs we were in the GMVN guest house in New Tehri.


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At a local shop near shimla

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Random snaps while going towards Tehri



Solan to Paonta Sahib


Dinner was already ordered and it was palatable. Here also a Staff of the hotel was approachable and helped us in his entire endeavor to get a booking in Auli. Unfortunately Auli and Joshimath were overcrowded for the New Year eve. Though I would say it was boom in disguise as we switched our attention towards Chopta valley instead of Auli. The Staff provided us with the route map of Himachal with mentions of the GMVN guesthouse all around.




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Sunset at tehri

A friend of mine succored me in sketching out the plan for Chopta Valley. Even the rest of the plan was also molded by him.

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Day_07_Map



To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 15:41.
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Old 12th April 2018, 18:33   #13
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Day 8 (New Tehri – Sari Village – Trek to Deoria Tal):

Last night it was already dark so first thing in the morning was to capture Tehri dam and then move towards Sari village. Tehri is the highest dam of India at the foothills of Himalaya. It is a multi-purpose rock and earth-fill embankment dam on the Bhagirathi River and construction work is still going on since 1978. On the way the yellow shining sun started rising from the dam. It filled the sky with mighty colors of red and splashed the clouds with endless rays of pink. It was bright and mesmerising as it inviting me to stare, deep into the horizon. The condensed clouds seemed to wake up from the water surface to play in the horizon. Following human GPS I parked the car at the dam viewpoint wherein the ridges give the dam a womanly curve.

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Journey Started.. Early morning at Tehri Dam

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Tehri Dam at Early Morning



Tehri dam is a huge dam and at the time of the construction of the reservoir the town was drowned which gave birth to new township named New Tehri. I could perceive this while driving along the dam as it seemed never ending. Chopta valley is on the other side of Deoria Tal which a trekking route from Sari village. Sari village is around 175 kms from Tehri and takes roughly 6 hours of motorable road. My friend gave a person for contact how will help with all the requisites for the trek to Deoria Tal. When he came, there were few homestays in this area but it was not so now. The market has become oligopoly and competitive now. The trek route is tedious so we had light lunch, carried some food and water and started climbing uphill.


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Approaching Sari Gaon


Approaching Sari Village


The route is a steep 2.3 km and you have to put up at a tent there. I was carrying my sleeping bag but renting a porter to carry them uphill is more expensive than renting a tent with sleeping bag there itself. Even Sari village was chaotic for year-end celebration. We started at around 3:30 pm and reached at the top after 2 hours of steep trek. I swear the place is worth the hardship, the setting sun from the top was soothing to the soul. Sun sank lower in the sky behind the mountains, light of day draining away, and the brilliant crimson colour subdued in the fading light. The tents crowded around the lake replicated a herd of blue birds paying homage to the mighty sun as it goes to sleep. A number of groups have been there for the day and everyone was enjoying the place in their own way. A group of young boys played guitar at the rock and some were spending time with their loved ones. Soon the moon took the empty place of the sun and the snow-capped mountains glittered in the darkness.


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Trekking route towards Deoriatal

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Camp Setup at Deoriatal


Deoriatal Camp at Evening

There were canteen at a distance of 50 mts from the lake who had contacts with the people down in the village and would help you with dinner and locate your tent. I also got a token and a skinny little boy hopped in front of us to show us our tent. I did not like the one offered and told him that I will be taking a tent of my choice. No issues and he agreed to my insistence and brought me two sleeping bags from the offered tent. I went back to the canteen to have tea and asked the man to send the dinner at my tent. At night, the place was chilling and it was difficult to warm ourselves in that single sleeping bag. My wife almost stole a sleeping bag from one of the spare tent, which saved us somehow. My friend has asked me to get up early morning to checkout the sun rise and so I followed the good habit of “early to bed early to rise” just kidding the actual reason is that we were tired to death.

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Few random snaps of Deoriatal at Night

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Day_08_Map

To be continued ...


Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 16:49.
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Old 12th April 2018, 18:47   #14
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Default Re: Snow-laden Himachal and Heavenly Uttarakhand

Day 9 (Deoria Tal – Sari Village – Chopta Valley):

It was 5:30 at morning and I got out of my tent. Some people were awake till early hours of the day and walked around the place. I walked straight to the high rock to confront the mountains and looked straight in their eyes. The sun woke up slowly changing the colour from orange hues to radiant white. The sun rays showered on the mountains and the reflection casted an image on the crystal clear lake.The lake is known for its wide 300° panoramic view of mountains like Chaukhamba, Nilkantha, Bandarpunch, Kedar Range, Kalanag, etc. The lake refers to the place where Pandavas were asked questions by Yaksha. Localsbelieve that it was built by Bheem to appease his thirst after Yudhister asked him to build his own lake.


Panoramic view from Deoriatal at Early Morning

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Early morning at Deoriatal

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Reflection of Chaukhamba at Lake

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Time to leave such beautiful place

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Fees details

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Our Host at Deoriatal

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Way to down trek

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Guess the reason of metal band

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Tea break during down trek

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Way to Sari Village from Deoriatal


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Beautiful view of Sari Village from the trekking route


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Priest and his day
To be continued ...


Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 22:33.
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Old 12th April 2018, 18:55   #15
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Day 9 continued ...

In the morning we did not spent much time the reason being that we had to get down or else we will not get any room to freshen up down at Sari village.

Getting down was difficult for me because of my legs as repetitive bending ached my knees. The scene was same down the village as we expected though after waiting for a while we got a room for few hours. Sari village was done now it was time to turn towards Chopta valley.


My friend said not to stay at Chopta just spend some time and move to the next place but personally I felt that camping here would also have been exciting and so I did so. It’s a large valley spread over a large area. The valley provided a 360 degree view the Himalayan range. The Chopta temple was at the tip of the valley but it was so crowded that we couldn’t make it in my car. As the sun fully revealed itself it seemed to swell and the contrasting snow in the valley contracted my pupil. There are many trekking routes from Chopta however I was not physically prepared for that. Next time I will be fit and will come here to make it. Even here also there were people all round and scattered tents where placed by various groups. We searched for a beautiful place to set out camp which was easily accessible from our car.


Drive through Chopta Valley

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Few Random snaps of chopta valley



360 degree view of Chopta Valley from our camp area


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Day_09_Map
To be continued ...


Last edited by PointZero : 13th April 2018 at 16:50.
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