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Old 7th June 2022, 16:08   #1
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Default Sailed through Uttarakhand in a Nexon & a Duster AWD

We work, we eat, we sleep, we DRIVE to the Himalaya.

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Pic courtesy- Bhpian DogNDamsel12

This time our destination was Uttarakhand. My initial plan was to visit Uttarakhand in April, but due to some work, it got delayed till May. Our old travel partner & close friend Bhpian arindam_Xeta was also planning to visit Uttarakhand in May.
We figured out that he would be able to spare around 11 days whereas I had 15 days in spare.

So we planned that we will explore the Garhwal part together and from there he will head back to Kolkata, while I will explore few places in Kumaon before heading back to base.
We knew there will be a rush of tourists & devotees in May due to the Char-Dham yatra, so we completed all our bookings by March itself.

The team-

Bhpian arindam_xeta aka Arindam.

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Sutapa, wife of Bhpian Arindam_xeta

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Pradipta aka Babula, son of Arindam da & Sutapa di

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Ayushi aka Mithi, daughter of Arindam da & Sutapa di

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Bhpian DogNDamsel12 aka Sukanya

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Yours truly

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Pic courtesy- Bhpian DogNDamsel12

The whole team -

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The itinerary -

13th May- Start from Kolkata at 6 pm.
14th May- Reach Lucknow in the morning and enjoy the delicious food.
15th May- Lucknow to Rishikesh
16th May- Rishikesh to Harsil
17th May- Gangotri, Gartang Gali trek, an unplanned drive on the road to Nelong valley.
18th May- Harsil to Tilwara
19th May- Tilwara to Chopta and back to Tilwara
20th May- Tilwara to Auli via Rudraprayag
21st May- Auli sightseeing
22nd May- Auli to Chaukori
23rd May- Chaukori to Munsiyari
24th May- Munsiyari sightseeing
25th May- Munsiyari to Bhimtal
26th May- Bhimtal to Lucknow
27th May- Lucknow sightseeing and enjoy the food
28th May- Lucknow to Kolkata

Things we carried for the trip-

For us-

Medicines
Pulse oximeter
Sanitizers and surface disinfectants
3ply and N95 masks
Dry food
Mineral water bottles

For the cars-

Jump-start cable
Tow rope
Extra fluids like coolant, engine oil, brake oil.
Few sealants
Tool kit
Tyre inflator

Few teaser pics to begin with-

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And a teaser video-


Last edited by Samba : 9th June 2022 at 12:58.
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Old 7th June 2022, 23:42   #2
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Default Re: Sailed through Uttarakhand in a Nexon & a Duster AWD

Day 1 (Kolkata to Lucknow, 1021 km, 16.5 hours)

Started from the Azadhind Dhaba on Nh2 (Gopalpur) at 7-30 pm. It was drizzling when we started, but in no time it had started to pour heavily with intermittent lightning and thunder squalls. The visibility was poor even though the wiper was set at the fastest wipes. It was raining so heavily that the flyovers on the highways were waterlogged. We had to be careful and slow. After crossing Panagarh, however, the rain subsided to drizzles and things got better.

We reached Asansol around 9-30 pm and had our dinner at the hotel Hindustan Residency. Resumed our journey from Asansol at 11 pm.
The Duster touched the 50,000 km mark on the way!

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A few kilometers after Dhanbad till Topchanchi the road was 6-lane and well-lit.
Post Topchanchi diversions were present till Barhi due to ongoing highway construction.

We crossed Aurangabad by 4-30 am and reached Mohania by 5-30 am. Took a small break and refueled our cars as we knew there won't be any filling stations at the Purvanchal Expressway, and we were not sure about the petrol bunks between Mohania to Ghazipur. Though, we saw that a few pumps were, in fact, present between Mohania to Ghazipur.

After a half-an-hour break we were back on the road by 6 am. Took the right turn after 10 km from Mohania at a place called Durganti.

From here it's a single-lane road with town traffic till we hit the Purvanchal expressway. This 70 km stretch via Ghazipur took us 1 hr 50 mins.

We reached Purvanchal toll at 7-50 am.

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Once again took a small break here, as there were restrooms. From here till Lucknow it was a breeze. Reached our hotel in Gomati Nagar by 11-30 am.

We stayed at the Novotel Lucknow. It is a good hotel with quite a comfortable stay, decent food and parking.

Post lunch, we took a recharge nap and in the evening my friend Ankit came to meet us. He is not a Team-Bhpian, but he is a car & bike enthusiast who has done many cross country rides and drives.

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Ankit took the lead and guided us to taste the authentic dishes of Lucknow in the evening.

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All of us.

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It was an evening awesomely spent.

Last edited by Samba : 9th June 2022 at 13:07.
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Old 8th June 2022, 00:32   #3
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Default Re: Sailed through Uttarakhand in a Nexon & a Duster AWD

Day 2 (Lucknow to Rishikesh, 754 km 12 hours)

We started from Lucknow at 10-30 am. Depending on Google maps we reached Agra-Lucknow Expressway (ALE) in 30 mins. It was a smooth drive through Lucknow traffic.

This was more or less like a rest day for me, as Bhpian DogNDamsel12 aka Sukanya drove for 600+ km out of 754 km.

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The Nexon is on a roll on the ALE.

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Entering the Yamuna Expressway (YEW)

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With a couple of breaks we were on the Eastern Peripheral Expressway by 5-30 pm, and crossed Meerut and took a break at one of the wayside food malls.

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Took right after crossing the Uttarpradesh - Uttarakhand border. Crossed Haridwar by 9-30 pm and from there Google maps took us through Rajaji National park. A drive through Rajaji National park during the day would have been very scenic!

Finally, we reached our hotel, the Ganga Resort (GMVN) by 10-30 pm.
Location-wise this is a good hotel with ample parking space, but the rooms and food are pretty average. The maintenance is below par too.

Post dinner we went for a late-night short walk along the Ganges.

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Day 3 (Risikesh to Harsil, 236 km, 11 hours)

Due to the Chardham Yatra, we were cautioned about heavy traffic on this route. Our target was to start as early as possible, yet we were late. By the time we started our journey, it was already 9-15 am.

The morning in Rishikesh looked beautiful.

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The initial drive up to the Uttarkashi check-post was smooth.

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But at the check-post the local police stopped us for the Chardham Yatra online pass. We told them, we were not on a Chardham yatra, but they insisted that we make a pass from the nearby cyber cafe. It was a wasted 1 hour for us.

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It was getting cloudy and by the time we crossed the Uttarkashi town, it started pouring heavily. At places, we could see the small rocks/stones falling from the mountain and it looked scary, though the drive was extremely scenic.



After we crossed Uttarkashi, the point from where Harsil was just 24 km, we were stuck in a long queue of traffic. It was around 5-30 pm. Upon asking the other drivers, we were told, due to the narrow roads, the traffic is allowed one way. The local police allow only 2 hours for each side to pass. By the time they stopped the other side and let our side pass, it was 7-20 pm.
This was by far the most scenic place where we were stuck for nearly a couple of hours!

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By the time we reached our home-stay at Harsil, it was 8.30 pm.

We took up rooms at Sunder homestay in Harsil. Location wise it's the best place to stay in Harsil. Parking is available. The rooms were basic. yet were clean. The food was Veg but decent and the staff were friendly and helpful.

Last edited by Samba : 9th June 2022 at 13:14.
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Old 8th June 2022, 15:41   #4
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Default Re: Sailed through Uttarakhand in a Nexon & a Duster AWD

Day 4 (Harsil to Gangotri, a small drive towards Nelong valley & Gartang gali trek, 70 km, 7 hours)

After yesterday's rain, the morning was clear and sunny, the snow peaks were visible from our home stay. The bright sunny morning unfolded the beauty of Harsil.

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Our sole plan was to enjoy the Gartang Gali trek. It starts from a place called Bhaironghati, which is 12 km from Gangotri. When we reached Bhaironghati, we decided to drive till Gangotri and then come back and go for the trek. There was a rush of devotees and the parking was 1.5 km away from the Gangotri temple. Giving a visit to the temple would have easily taken us 3 to 4 hours which could have jeopardized our Gartang Gali trek. So we decided to return and head for the trek.

A couple of pics from the road to Gangotri.

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Gartang Gali is a small 2 km trek each way. This trek can be completed in 3-4 hours. At places, there are few moderate climbs but overall it is an easy trek for no trekkers like me.

Pics from the trek-

The entry ticket

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Last edited by Samba : 9th June 2022 at 13:17.
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Old 8th June 2022, 16:00   #5
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Day 4 continued-

Pics from the Gartang Gali trek-

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We started our trek at around 12-30 pm and we were back by 3-30 pm. Grabbed some snacks and we went to the entry gate to the Nelong valley. Entering Nelong valley needs proper permit from Uttarkashi. We didn't had any permit. So we were denied entry and rightly so.
But on request from us, they reluctantly agreed to let us go for a drive for half an hour on that road. One of their officers accompanied us in our car.

The drive on this road was very scenic & beautiful, but one needs to be careful of the falling stones on this route. Skipping Nelong was a bad miss during this trip.
A video from the drive-



From the point we returned, Nelong was just another 15 km from there.

Few pics from the drive-

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Pics from the drive on the way back to our home-stay in Harsil -

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In the afternoon our home-stay guys insisted us to go for a drive till the Mukhba Temple in Harsil. It was just a 5 km drive and was told the drive to be a very scenic one.

Indeed it was a scenic drive accompanied by snow peaks and a waterfalls.

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Old 8th June 2022, 16:28   #6
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Default Re: Sailed through Uttarakhand in a Nexon & a Duster AWD

Day 5 (Harsil to Tilwara, 233 km, 9.5 hours)

We were mindful of the fact that the traffic was allowed in a one-way manner from each side at an interval of 2 hours before Uttarkashi. So, if we lose a couple of hours in the beginning, the drive will become more hectic. Locals told us that police starts to block one side from 10 am in the morning. Before that it is both ways due to low traffic.

We decided to start by 6 am and cross Uttarkashi before 10 am.
It was a cold yet beautiful morning.

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We crossed the narrow portion with some hiccups as there were too many buses on the way to Gangotri. Giving space to them on that narrow road was a challenge & it took some time to cross the section. The good thing was that all the local drivers were very cooperative.

We reached near Uttarkashi around 9-30 am and took left before Uttarkashi. This was a twisty route, totally devoid of traffic. Driving on this road was bliss. The road was scenic.
Had our breakfast in a roadside eatery located in a picturesque spot. The breakfast was basic and nothing fancy, but we enjoyed the overall ambiance thoroughly. This road goes through a town called Ghansali. We refueled our cars at Ghansali. It's a proper town with all amenities.

Finally, we reached Tilwara GMVN by 3-30 pm. All of us liked this property. It's a beautiful property with good rooms, and ample parking, and placed in a very scenic location, just beside the Mandakini river. The rooms we had also had a clear view of the river.

The afternoon was spent on the river bank. There is a proper way to go up to the river bank from the hotel. We enjoyed the stay thoroughly.

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Day 6 ( Tilwara to Chopta and back, 126 km, 6 hours)

Our plan was to drive till Chopta, enjoy the valley and return back. But in the morning, Gmaps showed us a road closure at Ukhimath. We inquired with a local driver and he confirmed that there was indeed a road closure. Due to heavy rains, a bridge connecting Ukhimath and Chopta broke down.

But the driver was a helpful guy, he suggest me another route through Bheeri. We were told this road was narrow, steep & broken. I was kind of happy hearing this as I was getting bored with driving on the good roads of Uttarakhand and I was badly missing the bad roads of North East or Ladakh/Spiti!

But when we reached the road, I was disappointed, it was neither that steep nor that broken! This road is not marked out on Google maps. Bheeri comes 6 km before Ukhimath. At Bheeri I asked at a local shop and they guided us through this route. I had to take a right turn just after crossing an iron bridge. For the whole stretch the traffic was sparse and the road goes through dense forest. We thoroughly enjoyed the drive.



At Chopta there were many cars parked, most of them must have been on their way to the famous Tunganath Trek.
We preferred to choose a rather empty meadow and soak in nature. It was one of the best times spent on the trip. Lush green meadows with a shepherd and a herd of sheep were a sight to behold. We were lost in nature.

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On the way back we took the same route, but I was shifted to the co-passenger seat while Sukanya took the driving seat. Had a late lunch at Snowpod. It's a nice resort with interesting rooms and structures. The rooms looked good, but are on the costlier side.

Finally, we reached back Tilwara by 7 pm, had dinner by 9 pm, and called it a day.

Last edited by Samba : 9th June 2022 at 20:01.
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Old 8th June 2022, 17:47   #7
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Day 7 (Tilwara to Auli via Rudraprayag, 126 km, 6 hours)

This was going to be a short drive, so we lazily started around 10-30 am.
Rudraprayag was just a 30 mins drive from Tilwara.

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Just after crossing the Rudraprayag town, we were stuck for an hour. In a narrow passage, two buses crossing each other got stuck. It took around an hour to free them. From there it was a smooth journey with great roads and scenic beauty till Auli.

In places, it was raining. Arindam da was ahead of me, & at one place he called us and cautioned us about falling stones from the cliff. It was indeed a bit scary, but we crossed it without any fuss.

In the video below, at the 1 minute 05 seconds mark the falling stone area has been captured -



By 4-30 pm we reached Auli SKI resort (GMVN). It is located in a very scenic setting. The rooms were old but nice and comfortable with a wonderful view, but the food was just okay. Ample parking space was available in front of the Hotel.

In the afternoon we went up to the Hanuman temple for an uninterrupted view of the snow peaks.

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For the last 4-5 days we had survived on vegeterian food alone because of the Char Dham Yatra. We had no hope of getting any non-veg even at Auli. When a young waiter came to take the order from us, we reluctantly asked him what's available and he uttered 'Chicken'. We just jumped from our sofa and shouted Chicken!!! Babula was in another room and I called out for him saying, "Babula! They have Chicken!" The young waiter was puzzled with our excitement and thought he must have offended someone by uttering the word Chicken specially during the Char Dham Yatra. He almost ran like his life depended on it and we were running behind him to take the order! Later another senior waiter came and took the order and we all had a good laugh about the whole episode!

Last edited by Samba : 9th June 2022 at 16:17.
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Old 8th June 2022, 18:05   #8
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Default Re: Sailed through Uttarakhand in a Nexon & a Duster AWD

Day 8 (Auli sightseeing)

It was a clear and sunny day.

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Our plan was to take a ride on the ropeway. From Auli, the ropeway starts from post no 11. To reach post no 11 there is another ropeway chair-car from Auli Ski Resort. But on our day the chair car was on maintenance, and post no 11 was a good 2-3 km walk. The chair cars cost Rs 500 per person. So for the 6 of us, it would have cost us Rs 3,000 for a round trip.

The 2-3 km was a steep uphill climb ridden with boulders. There were local Gypsys who were ferrying passengers to post no 11. They were charging Rs 2500 for this 3 km ride. We decided to hire a Gypsy will going and while coming back we will get out from the ropeway from post no 8 and from there it was a 800-m-downhill-walk to our resort.
The 3 km ride was a bone-jarring ride that required the driver to engage the "low range". I wanted to take my Duster on that trail, but that required permission from the army. So had to settle for a hired gypsy.

The ropeway from Auli to Joshimath cost Rs 1,000 per person. They charged us for the kids too. So, it was a total of Rs 6,000 for the six of us. It's a 25-30 mins journey each way and the view from the ropeway was terrific.

Pics from the ropeway ride-

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Last edited by Samba : 9th June 2022 at 16:06.
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Old 8th June 2022, 18:24   #9
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Day 8 continued

We got off from the ropeway at post no 8. The walk down to GMVN was very scenic through the green meadows.

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A view any offroad enthusiast would love!

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Charged me 100 bucks just for taking one full circle!

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The cloud looked menacing! But it was a photographer's delight!

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It drizzled a bit and we again got a clear view.

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Special arrangement for the kids to sleep!

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This was the last day with Arindam da and his family. The very next day our plan was to head towards Chaukori and their plan was to come down to Haridwar. All of us were a bit sad as the group was going to split. We thoroughly enjoyed each other company for the last 8 days.

Last edited by Samba : 9th June 2022 at 16:01.
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Old 8th June 2022, 21:18   #10
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Default Re: Sailed through Uttarakhand in a Nexon & a Duster AWD

Day 9 (Auli to Chaukori, 246 km, 7 hours 40 mins)

The morning looked beautiful and we were in no mood to leave Auli!

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This was again going to be a long drive for us. We started from Auli at 8-50 am.

Somewhere between Auli to Joshimath.

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The road was more or less traffic-free and it was smooth progress. From Karnaprayag, Google maps showed a left turn, which goes through Gwaldam.
This route was super scenic with the Pindar river accompanying us for a long time.

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Near Gwaldam the typical beauty of Kumaon unfolded. The Garhwal side is raw, whereas the Kumaon side looks more green and decorated.

Took a short break to enjoy the silence of this place.

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The ariel view of Bageswar town.

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Finally, we reached Ojaswi Resort in Chaukori by 4-30 pm. It's a nice cozy stay in the lap of nature. The location is excellent with good rooms, parking & good food.

View from our room -

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Last edited by Samba : 9th June 2022 at 16:00.
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Old 8th June 2022, 23:47   #11
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Default Re: Sailed through Uttarakhand in a Nexon & a Duster AWD

Day 10 (Chaukori to Munsiyari, 95 km 4.5 hours)

I knew this would be a very scenic drive. So wanted to take it easy with loads of breaks. It was raining since morning. The weather outside was cold.

After a heavy breakfast, started from Chaukori around 11ish in the morning. I was enjoying the drive through the rain & fog/mist.

We took numerous breaks to click pics.

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Birthi falls

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A video from the drive-



After a 4.5-hour-drive we reached Munsiyari around 3-30 pm.

We stayed at Hotel Vijay Mount. This hotel has a panoramic view of the peaks from their view rooms. The rooms were comfortable, clean, with good food and ample parking space.

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After we reached, the rain subsided & the cloud slowly started to clear up. We started to get a glimpse of the Panchachuli peak.

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Day 11 (Munsiyari sightseeing, 38 km, 4 hours)

This was again a rest day from driving for me since Sukanya took the driver's seat. We visited the Kalamuni top, the Nanda Devi temple and the Munsyari Helipad.
From morning it was raining incessantly.

A glimpse of Panchachuli in the early morning.

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Kalamuni Temple

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Somewhere between Kalamuni top to Munsiyari

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Old 9th June 2022, 00:23   #12
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Day 11 continued

Our next visit was to the Nanda Devi temple. It's located at a very strategic location. From this place, all the peaks can be visible on a clear day. This is a beautiful place to visit in itself, even if it's a cloudy day.

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From Nanda Devi temple our next location was to visit a small village where a lady runs her cottage industry. But unfortunately, after entering that road we had to use the 4wd Lock to cross a certain portion. There was deep slush. It was already 5 pm. The distance was 5 km and the road looked deserted. We decided not to take risks and turn back, since in case the car gets stuck we won't get any help at that time of the day.

Next, we visited the Helipad.

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From the helipad, we returned to our hotel & the weather started to clear up! We got some amazing views of the peaks for the rest of our stay.

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Tried my hands and luck at night photography.

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Old 9th June 2022, 01:23   #13
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Day 12 (Munisyari to Bhimtal, 262 km, 9 hours)

The sky was clear the previous night, hence we had anticipated a fabulous sunrise, so we set our alarm at 5 am.

And, we were not disappointed!

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Had a lot of distance to cover. Plus we got up by 5 am, so without being lazy and sleeping again, slowly we got ready and started our journey by 8-10 am.

The roads in Uttarkhand are so twisty, that even after driving hard it's tough to cover 30+ km/ hour. The route Google maps showed us was via Thal, Berinag, Almora. I rechecked with the hotel guys and they reconfirmed the same route as well.

Around noon, we were a few kilometers before Almora and saw the board to Binsar. It was tempting. We took the road towards Binsar and drove for a few kilometers only to realize it will add another 3 hours and we will miss the afternoon in Bhimtal by the lakeside.

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So we turned back and continued driving towards Bhimtal. Crossed the congested Almora town by 2 pm and we reached our hotel in Bhimtal by 4-10 pm.

A small video of the drive.



We stayed at the Royal Rosette Lake View Boutique Hotel. This hotel has comfortable view rooms. The food was good and had proper parking space too.

We spent the evening around the lake.

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Day 13 (Bhimtal to Lucknow, 385 km, 6.5 hours)

We were sad, as we had to leave the mighty Himalayas behind and come down to the plains! But then again there is always a next time!

After a heavy breakfast, we started from Bhimtal by 9-40 am. The route we took was via Haldwani, Pilibhit, Sitapur, Lucknow.

The highway was very scenic going through the country roads & few forest sections through Pilibhit tiger reserve. At places, we were going through sugarcane fields on both sides of the road. Overall it was a scenic drive with less traffic.

Somewhere on the way

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We reached our hotel in Lucknow by 4-10 pm.

We stayed at Hotel Hilton Garden Inn at Lucknow Gomtinagar. A good hotel with very comfortable rooms, great food, a huge parking area but very poor service.

View from our room

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Old 9th June 2022, 01:54   #14
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Day 14 (Lucknow sightseeing)

It was a hot day!

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We decided to hire a cab and explore Lucknow instead of taking our car. So we won't have the headache to find a parking spot.

We booked an Ola for 8 hours.

Our plan was to explore old Lucknow, have a ride on the famous tanga, buy some fabrics with the famous Chikan art and spend the evening with my friend Ankit and his wife with some good food.

The clock tower

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Old Lucknow

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Rumi Darwaza

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Had a ride on this Tanga!

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The entrance of Bhool Bhulaiya. It was very hot plus DSLR was not allowed inside Bhool Bhulaiya, so skipped going inside.

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The famous Thandai of Lucknow kept us cool.

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Along the Gomti river.

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The shop from where we did some shopping!

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Food, food & food!

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A late-night drive in Ankit's Nexon.

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All four of us. (Ankit, his wife, Sukanya and me)

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Day 15 (Lucknow to Kolkata, 1002 km, 15 hours 45 mins)

A 1000-km drive on the 15th day of a trip always feels a bit stretched and long. So we decided to take it easy. The idea was to start from Lucknow in a relaxed way and drive till late in the night to reach Kolkata.

We took our own sweet time, & after having a good breakfast we lazily started from our hotel at 10 am.

We reached the Purvanchal expressway toll at 10-47 am.

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This time it took me 2.5 hours to cover the whole Purvanchal Expressway and we reached Ghazipur by 1-40 pm and crossed Mohania by 3 pm.

There was congestion at the Jharkhand-Bengal border. So we took the wrong side just after crossing the Nirsa toll and crossed the border in a jiffy.

Reached Asansol by 9-15 pm and had our dinner at the Hotel Hindustan Residency. The 800 km had taken us 11 hours 15 mins.

Our old friends, Chandranath da and Sunil da were also present there and all of us had dinner together. Both Chandranth da & Sunil da are travel enthusiasts and have done numerous cross-country road trips. Chandranath da is a veteran of Uttarakhand and even before our journey he gave me many useful insights for the trip.

From left to right - Chandranath Da's wife, Chandranath da, Sunil da, me, Sukanya.

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Started from Asansol by 10-30 pm and reached my home at 1-45 am. The truck traffic was huge and messy.
The return leg from Lucknow took us 15 hours 45 mins. Odo reads 1002 km.

Home sweet home!

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4,612 km of memories added!

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Last edited by Samba : 9th June 2022 at 20:20.
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Old 9th June 2022, 20:50   #15
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing Samba!
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