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Old 6th June 2023, 14:25   #1
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Summer Story '23 : Parts of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

'23 summer gave me the chance to revisit the childhood days where we used to plan for a summer vacation. Being an IT professional, you don't get much time-offs but having a wife who is a school teacher can allure you to relive those merry days. So with a draft plan on my mind, I picked up my phone and rang my dear Samba "da"(no need to mention about his TeamBHP handle, samba nam hi kafi hai) and my dear elder brother Sayata (SayataC). That's how it started, my first drive to the northern states of India with my wife. Here goes the itinerary of my trip:
Day1- Kolkata to Aurangabad
Day2- Aurangabad to Lucknow
Day3- Lucknow to Bhimtal
Day4- Bhimtal to Binsar
Day5- Binsar to Kausani
Day6- Kausani to Mukteshwar
Day7- Mukteshwar to Lucknow
Day8- Lucknow to Varanasi
Day9- Varanasi to Asansol
Day10- Asansol to Kolkata

Now that the itinerary is all set, it's time to book the hotels which got completed in no time by 10th of March. For the all the hotels at Uttarakhand we chose KMVN properties except at Bhimtal and rest was done on location basis. AND NOW THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS!

Finally the wait is over and two months passed like a breeze. Itís the first week of May, when I got my car checked at a local workshop and installed 120W GVAA LED headlights and 90W BLACKCAT LED fog lamps. Here is a brief of the perquisite checklist:
Wheel alignment and balancing- checked
Tyre Inflator- checked
Jump cables- checked
Medicines- checked
First Aid- checked
Dry foods- checked


Day1- Aurangabad


I work in an US project which means I am a night owl but by hook or crook I called it a day at 1 AM and went to sleep hoping no calls from my client. The risk paid off and I was able to get a sound sleep of about 4 hours. As the luggage were packed well in advance and loaded on the back seat, we were in no rush to start and took our time to say good bye our baby dog and our parents. We were able to start sharp at 5:30 AM. Keeping on mind that there is a road widening work in progress for the whole stretch between Palsit and Durgapur, I tried to keep a good pace in order to cross Bardhaman by 8 AM.
After crossing Palsit toll, the diversions started and by the time I reached near Renaissance crossing traffic started to build up and there was a congestion of about 11 minutes as shown in Google map kept extreme left and followed the local cars over the unpaved side roads to cross the congestion and in no time was again moving to drive swiftly. The diversions were a constant till we reached Panagarh toll around 10 AM. Once we crossed Panagarh Toll, the road condition changed towards good.

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Sugarcane juice break

We continued for another 3 hours amidst scenic roads of Topchachi before we stopped for lunch at a roadside dhaba near Chouparan. We wanted to keep the lunch as simple as possible and after a break of about 30 minutes we started for our last phase of day1. Our first stay was at Gargee Surya Vihar at Aurangabad. Upon reaching the hotel we were cordially greeted and our rooms were provided.

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Stay at Aurangabad

The room was very cosy with all the modern amenities. Soon after having chicken sandwich and cold coffee, I had to join office as I was not on leave on that day. However, it was Friday and anticipating less work pressure, I rather spent the evening watching IPL and planning to order food for dinner with my wife. Dinner was served quite late as there was a rush but they made amends with the sumptuous bharwa tangdi kebabs. After dinner, we did not waste any more time as we had to start early next day and reach Lucknow, where more delicacies were waiting for us. We called it a day!

Day 2- Lucknow


Next day we woke up early and was able to start by 5 AM. Bihar is full of diversions and with truck traffic, we were able to reach Durganti by 7 AM from where we took a side road to cross the highway using an underpass to take the Durgawati-Ramgarh road. We continued down the road for another 2 hours for about 78km to reach Ghazipur from where we got connected to Purvanchal expressway. The road condition for this stretch is good but the road is narrow and congested at places. It will be ideal to cross this area at night or early morning when the traffic is minimum.

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Purvanchal on sight!

Just after resuming our journey on the expressway in 20kms we crossed the first toll where we enquired about nearby gas stations. We were assured that in next 20kms we will get gas station on our way, which we did. The car was fuelled and after taking a short breather , we again started till we crossed next 80kms in an hour to take a halt on a rest area. Now it was time to refuel our tummy with roadside maggi and tea. After this short pause, we headed towards our next stay at Lucknow and covered the next 200 odd kms to reach Lucknow city at 12:45PM. We booked our stay at Hotel Arif Castles, another nice and clean hotel with comfortable room.

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En-route Lucknow
After lunch, we took rest for a while and headed out for the Lucknow streets. We booked a toto and our first destinatiom was the Chikom factory.

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Bulan darwaza being repaired.

After some shopping, we headed straight to Prakash ki mashoor Kulfi to enjoy the delicacies.

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Kulfi!

Our next food stop was at the famous Tunday Kebabi. This place do not need an introduction, below pictures should tell the tale.

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Galawtis, parathas and kebabs!

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"Pan" intended

After having this sumptuous dinner, we went back to our hotel and called it a day.

Day 3- Bhimtal


I got my car refulled at a nearby gas station in Lucknow and started for Bhimtal at 5 AM. We took the Sitapur-Puranpur-Pilbhit-Haldwani route to reach Bhimtal at 11 30 AM. The road condition was excellent and mostly it was through the forest areas of Dudhwa National Park and Pilbhit Tiger Reserve.
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Through the forest!

We checked into our stay at Lake Retreat , which offers a great view of the Bhimtal Lake from the premium rooms which are on the second storey of the hotel.

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A lazy afternoon!

Afternoon was spent by boating on the largest lake of Uttarakhand and visiting the Aquarium cafe which is located in the middle of the lake. During the day the temperature was quite hot and as the day progressed it got cooler. The evening view of the lake was stunning and we spent few hours watching the night fall over the lake area.

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Serene Beauty of Bhimtal!
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Old 6th June 2023, 15:10   #2
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Re: Summer Story '23 : Parts of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Day 4- Binsar


Breakfast at Bhimtal was a humble one with Aloo paratha which provided the energy to reach our next destination. There was less traffic as we headed towars Bimsar and once we leave the town, we were greeted with beautiful winding roads surrounded by pine trees.

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On the way to Binsar!


We had our reservations at KMVN Binsar which is inside the Binsar wildlife sanctuary.

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Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary Gate!

On reaching the sanctuary gate, you have to pay nominal charges for your car and persons on board and enter the forest.
For next 2 Kms, the road condition is good but the last 8.5kms till TRH Binsar the rood condition is in a real bad shape. It tooks us 30+ minutes to cover the distance and reach the rest house. While check-in we got to know that there is no electric supply till date to that place and there is a power back up for only 2 hours which will be provided from 7 PM to 9 PM. We were a bit disappointed with this news, add to it the weather was bad which means no sign of the Himalayas.

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Glimpse of the rest house.

We set out for a small walk in the evening and reached a place where Vivakananda rested during his visit to Almora in 1890s.

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Swami Vivekananda's rest hose at Binsar, Almora.

Kept wandering at this inhuman feet accomplished by Vivekananda

As evening set in, we thought of creating a spooky environment and listen to ghost stories on youtube. If you are wondering, how on earth we got internet connection on such a place where there is no electricity. Internet was feeble and it took almost an hour to download an episode.

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Spooky scenes!

Dinner time is bit early there, so we had to complete the dinner by 8 30 PM.

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Sunrise at Binsar!

Next morning, we woke up early to try our luck to get a glimpse of the mighty mountains but we were terribly out of it. So we enjoyed the sunrise without the mountains and set across a 2 km trek to reach the nearby zero-point watch tower.
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Day 5- Kausani


We were all set again to start for our next destination and hope to see the mighty peaks this time around. We took an uncharted route set by Google baba and got connected to the main road after continuing for 30kms on an unpaved road. Our hope thinned after reaching TRH Kausani as the weather was gloomy. We upgraded our rooms from deluxe to royal cottages as we liked the royal cottage stay.
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However, one has to travel half a kilo-meter up and down the hill to reach the dining hall. Food is only served at the dining hall, only the evening snacks are being sent from the restaurant to the cottages. No sooner than we completed our lunch and reached our cottage, the clouds gave in and the nature presented us with a hail storm. It was a quite thrilling experience as well.

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The food quality and taste of this KMVN property is excellent with ample space of car parking.
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Old 6th June 2023, 15:37   #3
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Re: Summer Story '23 : Parts of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Day6- Mukteshwar


Hoping against hope I woke up early to check if there is any sight of the Himalayas. To my utter dismay, the weather was in no mood to let me have a glimpse of the mountains. So, we decided to drip our mood in coffee cup and gulp it down to cheer ourselves with some little hearts and cookies. Once it was done, we packed our bags and move towards our last planned destination of Uttarakhand trip. We took the road by 9 AM and moved along the winding roads to reach a narrow corridor of forest area which is 15 to 20kms before Mukteshwar. The road condition was really bad along that narrow corridor with frequent traffic coming from the opposite side. It took us half an hour to cross the stretch before we reached the wider roads connecting Mukteshwar. Upon reaching Mukteshwar, we checked in to the KMVN property. We met a friend of mine from Kolkata along the way, so we came down near Mukteshwar Mahadev temple to spend some time chit chatting among ourselves. Rest of the day was spent lazily in the KMVN property enjoying the view of the lower Himalayan Mountains.

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On our way to Mukteshwar!

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Foot hills of Himalya!

Day 7- Lucknow

Earlier it was planned, that we will start early in the morning around 4 AM and continue till Varanasi. However, being a lazy soul I decided to take some more time and start by 9 AM and reach Lucknow where we can replenish our sad souls with some biriyanis from Dastarkhwaan. We reached Lucknow at around 6 PM in the evening and we followed the same route that we took to reach Bhimtal from Luvknow. I would like to take a special mention of a roadside dhaba along the way, Dhillon dhaba. It is situated 30kms before Puranpur while coming from Pilbhit. Here, we took some rest and had a belly full of tasty lunch before we continued towards Lucknow. We booked our stay at Hotel Legen Inn at Gomtinagar area, this property is very well maintained with very comfortable room. After taking some rest, we booked an Ola cab as suggested by Samba da and reached Dastarkhwaan at Hazratganj around 8 45 PM. Our order was served in no time and we finished our food in equal time as it was lip smacking.

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Special mention- Chicken lagaan, never did we ever had such a preparation.

Day 8- Varanasi



We bid adieu to Lucknow in the morning by promising that we will return very soon for the foods again and hit the roads again towards Varanasi after refueling our car. It took me around an hour to cross the Purvanchal stretch of 115kms and take the exit towards Sultanpur. We booked our stay at Hotel Rivera Palace which is located near Assi ghat. The road towards the hotel was very congested but they provided a safe parking at the UCO bank campus infornt of the hotel. Soon we finished our lunch and called one local guy who arranges boat ride as suggested by my wife's friend. Afternoon brought in heavy rain at Varanasi and we kept wondering whether we will be able to take the boat ride . There is a rule that boat rides will remain suspended during storm and heavy rainfall. This time around our luck did not fail and we reached the pick-up point at Pandey ghat. The boat ride was designed to take us around 30 or 40 ghats including the famous ones and halt at Dashaswamedha ghat to let us enjoy the famous Ganga arati.

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View from the boat ride

I didnot like the place where the boat was halted to let us enjoy the ganga arati , as we were not getting a good view due to congestion created by the local boat vendors who also halted infront of us.We decided to let go of the boat and soon found a good spot from where we thoroughly enjoyed the Ganga arati that day.

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It was a 45 minutes show which started about 7 PM in the evening. After this we took the ghat road to reach the famous Godowlia chowk at Varanasi for some shopping. We entered an age old pan masala shop at the chowk from where we bought some delicious pan masalas.

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Anil's zarda

Later on , as suggestes by Anil da the owner of Anil's zarda we took the kashi vishwanath entry gate to reach a local rabri and kheer shop to taste the delicious rabri sweet.

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After a lot of walk and shopping we went back to our hotel where we completed our dinner and the food was really good.

We planned to wake up ealry morning and visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple and take blessings by offering puja at the temple. As planned we reached the temple sharp at 6 AM for which there was less commotion and we were able to complete all the rituals in no time. Our next stop was the kachori gali which is located near the main gate of the Kashi Vishwanath temple and can be reached by local transport in about 10 to 15 minutes. We visited the Neelu kachori centre first, where we had the khasta kachoris which was really very tasty. Walking down the alleys, in another 10 mintutes we reached the famous Ram Bhandar of Varanasi from where we had another plate of Kachori and Jalebi. After having full breakfast we returned back to our hotel where we contemplated next few hours over staying back in Varanasi for one more day. But due to shortage of rooms at the hotel we decided not to go around and book another hotel but rather leave for home.

Day 9- Asansol



We started around 12 PM in the afternoon and reached Dhanbad around 6PM and decided that we stay at Asansol as it would take some time from Dhanbad to cross the Beliyad toll , also the road construction work will slow us down. By the time we will reach our home it will be around 2 AM or 3 AM. It took one and half hours from Dhanbad to reach Hotel Hindusthan residency at Asansol as there was a queue build up near Beliyad toll. We took a good break and completed our dinner and called it a day.
Next morning we were in no rush to start as it would take another 4 hours before we reach our home.Having completed our breakfast we started at around 9 30 AM in the morning. There was less traffic towards Kolkata this time but saw a large queue buildup from Rennaissance to Palsit toll on the other side of the road. We were able to keep a good pace and reach home at around 1 30 PM.

Day 10- Home sweet home
Although we missed out on the Himalayas this time, from the winding roads and scenic view of the mountains to mouthwatering food of Luckmow to the ghats of Varansi we added 3153 kilometers of memory. Until next time!

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Short summary of expense:


Petrol- 22k approx
Hotel accomodation- 42k approx
Toll- 3.5k approx
Food & miscellenous- on actual
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Old 6th June 2023, 18:10   #4
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Re: Summer Story '23 : Parts of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Excellent Travelogue with mesmerizing pictures. Proud of you brother .
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Old 6th June 2023, 18:30   #5
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Re: Summer Story '23 : Parts of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Wonderful trip, refreshes a lot of memories.

No photos of the panoramic views at Mukteshwar?

In favourable weather, the view from KMVN lawns (erstwhile TRH) is just mesmerizing!
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Old 6th June 2023, 23:02   #6
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Re: Summer Story '23 : Parts of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

I always enjoy reading TL on Uttarakhand specially Kumaon region. Excellent narration in basic language. I really liked your images. The entire article depicts your smile and happiness throughout the tour. The KMVN Kausani Royal Cottage is lovely.Thank you, AviC93, for this wonderful travelogue.
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Old 7th June 2023, 00:56   #7
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Re: Summer Story '23 : Parts of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Welcome to the Himalaya addiction club! But before it's too late, either take an anti-Himalaya vaccine, or mark my words!
Next you will plan for a more remote location at a higher altitude, then Ladakh, then Spiti, then Arunachal and this list will be a never-ending one!

Then one fine morning you will feel the itch to upgrade to a 4wd vehicle from your Ignis, and this will keep draining your money! When your friends will have a healthy bank balance, you will have great memories and stories to tell. Now the choice is yours!
So after 10 years do not tell me, that I have not warned you! That is why am keeping this documented in Team-BHP!

Jokes apart, this is really a wonderful travelogue. Am really happy that both of you completed this trip in a super-smooth way. Everyday, you shared the trip updates, & your timings were fantastic too. Special thanks to your wife, Srabani for her wonderful support. Keep road-tripping & keep sharing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by AviC93 View Post
So with a draft plan on my mind, I picked up my phone and rang my dear Samba "da"(no need to mention about his TeamBHP handle, samba nam hi kafi hai)
Okay, then let me grab this chance to photo-bomb few of my pics from Kumaon!

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Last edited by Samba : 7th June 2023 at 01:00.
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Old 7th June 2023, 09:38   #8
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Re: Summer Story '23 : Parts of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Excellent travelogue with a precise and to the point narration accompanied with beautiful pictures. What I really liked is that you planned your drives mostly during the earlier hours of the day and halted by mid day to allow touring of the locality at the destination during the later half, perfect combination.

I have not driven to uttarakhand but hopefully on a future date will undertake this route, seeing your Varanasi venture was a bonus, we have a pending visit for Malaiyo during the winter.

Incidentally during our last year trip to Himachal we had also made a pit stop at Gargee Surya Vihar of Aurangabad, really enjoyed their ambience and breakfast. But i think the ideal diversion to Purvanchal Expressway is through Sultanpur from NH731 after crossing varanasi ring road when one is headed towards lucknow irrespective of what google shows you on map. It avoids those narrow congested roads that you had encountered, and I think on your return journey the route plotting was ideal.

Keep more such ventures coming, all the best and yes I agree, no better guide than Samba

Last edited by haisaikat : 7th June 2023 at 09:39.
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Old 8th June 2023, 11:13   #9
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Re: Summer Story '23 : Parts of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Quote:
Originally Posted by AviC93 View Post

Day6- Mukteshwar

Lovely travelogue, like your previous posts. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

A query - when & where from did you procure those DRL integrated fog-lamp housings? I've been looking to get those for my Ignis, but not finding them anywhere. Would be glad if you could share some pointer.
(Apologies for a totally off-topic query, but I wasn't able to send a DM to you just yet.) Cheers!
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Old 8th June 2023, 14:05   #10
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Re: Summer Story '23 : Parts of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

These photos are absolutely fantastic! The food shots are incredibly appetizing and have me craving a meal right now. Every picture is so sharp and vivid. Great travelogue!
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