|21st September 2023, 23:09||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2023
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Maiden road-trip to Kanatal (UK) in our new Tata Nexon Petrol
Thanks for accepting my first ever article in the forum.
This is about a trip to Uttarakhand in our then 6-month-old Tata Nexon XZ+ (HS) Petrol (in short).
It had been more than a year that we had taken a long road trip & with ever busy schedules we were fast approaching burnout. I have a deep fascination for Hills & so we quickly agreed to head to Uttarakhand for 2 reasons – First, I had never been there and Second, it was the nearest Himalayan touchpoint from Udaipur. And although we had just 5 days in our hand, we knew it was all we’d require to recharge ourselves.
Day 1, 26 May 2023, Udaipur – Jaipur, 7 Hours, 400 KM
So, with all the prep work completed we started on the afternoon of 26th May (For some reasons I prefer day drives) and made it to Jaipur around 9 PM via the NH 48. The weather was cloudy & there were few spots of thunderstorms we encountered near Kishangarh. Had a tea break to take in the moment – we were already relishing it. Entry to Jaipur was a bit tiresome as ‘puliya’ construction was in full swing. Since we had to leave early the next morning, I had booked Hotel Broadway Inn which is on the outer perimeter of the city and close to Dausa. The hotel is decent & staff is courteous, parking is available too. We ordered Roti – butter chicken & went to bed around 11:30 PM.
Onwards to Jaipur
Day 2, 27 May 2023, Jaipur – Kanatal, 11 hours 30 minutes, 620 KM
We had a target of starting at 0600 hours, and we met that target 30 minutes later! Anyways, we decided (after consulting Google baba of course) that we head towards Delhi, bypass it & take the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, go around Meerut & Muzaffarnagar, onwards to Rishikesh, left turn from Chamba & arrive at the destination just in time to view the sunset.
The NE 4 from Dausa is really well built, no stray cattle or humans, mostly empty & the weather was a welcome bonus – no, it wasn’t pleasant in any way. It was a torrential downpour that we encountered & wifey suggested that we rest somewhere. And that is another feature of the NE - you may rest only when there is a place to rest, else keep chasing one. But I continued to drive despite the black clouds pouring in & the crosswinds trying to push our car to the next lane, simply because the traffic was so less! Around 0930 we spotted one of the rest areas & immediately pulled up. Because of the rain (or some other reason I don’t know) there was only 1 of 3 restaurants open at that time of the day & they had opened just some time ago. This resulted in massive delays – took them 30 minutes to deliver one aloo paratha & 2 cups of chai. But we made the best of this stop & were rather happy to devour such warm food. We decided to stop next only for lunch (unless it is an emergency), which we did at a Highway Plaza near Meerut. There was a IOCL COCO pump before that where I had topped up the fuel tank first. Since the Plaza was a huge place having multiple options, we first went to Haldiram’s to have Dosa but they said it was not available then, so we went to KFC where the A/C was not working. We decided to sit there anyways, as we could not afford delays anymore. We gulped rice chicken and after a few customary photos, resumed our journey. And that’s when we started encountering traffic. And it continued from there to Haridwar where flyover construction is ongoing & as a result there were diversions & they brought the traffic to a standstill. We crossed Har Ki Pauri and once the traffic eased, stopped at a fuel pump for refilling the car before the climb begins. The open roads meant that I could maintain a higher speed to make up for time lost due to jams in Haridwar. However, to spice (read spoil) things up there was the G20 meeting organized here. Hence, many major roads were blocked & traffic diverted/slow moving. So, we encountered slow moving traffic once again. Things eased though once we crossed Chamba.
But it was already 6 PM by the time we were out of Chamba, so we knew that the sunset view from our night stay was not happening. Thus, we took it easy – cherishing the beautiful views our eyes were dying for. We took a couple of breaks including a (mandatory) chai break. By 8 we finally reached our stay – InstaView Kanatal.
Although it was May, but the night temperature went down to 10 °C. Thankfully, despite being a cottage they had all amenities (almost) like extra blankets, running hot water (not from a Geyser though) and a bonfire. Nothing beats the view & warmth of a bonfire after a tiring day in such temperature. Although we were mentally prepared for such conditions, but the body takes some time to acclimatize. Dinner was Chicken Rice served piping hot. We kept grinning ear to ear proud of our achievement until we fell asleep.
Black dense clouds in Dausa
Clear Again (Near Meerut)
Patanjali University, Haridwar
Har Ki Pauri
After Chamba, on the Mussorie road
Insta View Kanatal
Day 3, 28 May 2023 – Exploring nearby areas.
Wife woke up early to view the splendid sunrise as I kept snoring till 7. She got lucky because till few days ago, there was cloud cover which meant that viewing the Himalayan range with its Golden Crown was impossible. I could also catch a glimpse of the same just in time before another patch of cloud covered the view.
Breakfast was served piping hot as usual. We discussed with the caretaker Mr. Bisht about the day’s itinerary over some tasty Puri Sabji & chai. He suggested to visit the Surkanda Devi Temple first because being a Sunday there was bound to be traffic. And indeed, there was some traffic (which only swelled by the time!). The climb to the ropeway is manageable. We stood in the queue for about 30 minutes to book our tickets & then for another 15 minutes to get a cable car. Meanwhile, talking to the locals we were told that on that day there was a mela organized near the temple premises & hence a huge gathering was expected. We reached the top, roamed around a bit & descended before the traffic gets the better of us. However, on reaching the car (which I had parked about 200 meters away from the temple parking), we understood that moving onwards would be a pain. It was still a smooth drive out since people were still coming in.
Our second place of visit was the Dhanaulti Eco Park. This place is simply mesmerizing & a blessing for the parched soul of a city dweller. Beautiful flowers & tall trees abound, we decided to take a hike and explore what was in store for us. And boy were we glad we did it …. I’ll let the pictures do the talking –
Post brunch, which included Maggi & Tea, we decided to return to base …. Except I decided to try some adventure sports. Contacted the caretaker Mr. Bisht & he suggested one just beside our place of stay. As it turned out, there were some hard ground rules that I had to abide by before venturing out. One, that I alone would be participating in such “mindless, childish activities”. And two, that I could choose ONLY ONE such activity. Hence, I decided to participate in the “Space Walk” (methinks).
It turned out to be quite an adventure & set the adrenaline soaring for sure!
We kept exploring the property till dinner was served and realized that despite being a cottage only property, they were running full house. And that, more and more people are now choosing such place to stay instead of the hotels, especially the younger ones. I do get the logic, hotels have all amenities that one could ask for, whereas such remote camping areas offer a nature’s touch & mesmerizing views.
Thanks for your time.
I shall complete the remaining part of travelogue in my next post.
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|23rd September 2023, 22:47||#3|
Join Date: Sep 2023
Thanked: 32 Times
Re: Maiden road-trip to Kanatal (UK) in our new Tata Nexon Petrol
Day 4, 29 May 2023, Kanatal – Tehri – Haridwar
We were a bit sad (as usual) having spent just 1 day in such a peaceful place. But the journey must continue! And so having thanked Mr. Bisht for his amazing hospitality (later we came to know that he’d spent 15 years in this business in Goa and returned here to stay with family only last year), we started for Tehri. The Tehri Dam is the tallest dam in India – as per some locals & Wikipedia. However, I wasn’t interested in that data. The view though, is something else. The authorities have initiated some adventure sports here too, so that business is good for the locals. So, we went for a boat ride & enjoyed the view.
It was almost lunchtime by the time we left Tehri for Haridwar. On the way, we stopped for lunch at Rishikesh at a hotel with a nice view of the Ganga – The Sitting Elephant. Quality of food was nice too. Later, our car was provided with a full stomach lunch.
Onwards to Haridwar, we were in time for the Evening Aarti. Kept the car at our hotel which was pre-booked (Hotel Pramila – again, very courteous receptionist Mr. Abhishek. I must say, this hotel maybe a decade old but the staff is experienced, and it shows in the way they treat you. No wonder it was running close to full occupancy).
The ‘toto’ ride from our Hotel to Har ki Pauri was relaxing since the crowd was increasing with time. After much jostle & confusion we finally secured ourselves a place a bit far from the ‘Ghanta Ghar’, opposite which is the main place of the aarti and hence is usually the best place to be seated. And although there are volunteers who ensure that people are seated, there is always a funny guy who tries to outsmart others & create ruckus. But we were just glad to be there & slowly we did make our way to the front seat! I would suggest visiting this place at least once, because despite the huge gathering there is something special that cannot be described in words, you just feel it.
On our way back to the hotel, we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant where once again you are reminded of the fact that this is an old place, very well kept, tidy and most of all people are courteous. The food too was nicely prepared & fulfilling. And now comes the best part – on our way back to our room, I informed Mr. Abhishek that we have a long drive the next day and so we’ll be leaving as early as 6 AM. He smiled at me & asked “What would you prefer to have in the morning?”.
I reminded him of early departure. To which he replied, “No worries sir, we shall even call you in the morning to wake you up if say so”.
That blew my mind, because I have stayed in some hotels that are more flamboyant or expensive with many more amenities, but none have offered this level of hospitality – that’s something money can’t buy
Somehow, this experience infused some much-needed energy preparing me for my longest haul the next morning.
Day 5, 30 May, Haridwar – Udaipur, 15 Hours, 940 KM
The day started with a blast – literally. I don’t know why or how, but I started making visits to the washroom (I hope you get it). My wife said something that I would not forget easily “Bhej khabar hojom hoy na” (“You cannot digest Vegetarian food”).
Anyways, a metrogyl tablet came to the rescue. And we were good to go. Our first pit stop was a food court after crossing Muzaffarnagar. Some of the shops were just opening / cleaning up when we reached, hence very less people. We decided to have South Indian as it would be easy to digest – given my condition early morning. Our next stop was just 30 minutes from here, as we saw several local sellers setting up their roadside carts to sell local fruits. We bought some mangoes, plum, litchi. Moving on, we took the Delhi – Meerut Expressway or NH3, onto the NE2, bypassing Delhi. And then onto the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway all the way to Kota.
It gets a little boring on roads like these where you must stop your car only at the designated shelters like the IOCL Swagat. Here you can refill your car, have food & access decent, clean washroom facilities. But they are so far apart, that sometimes you tend to miss the random dhabas that are dotted across the highways in India (and are a specialty). Driving tends to feel more like a task than an adventure. You tend to move from point A to B without the frills & drama. Maybe that’s a price to pay to avoid wayside parking, jaywalking, opposite side driving, rash driving, cattle crossing etc. But I guess it’s better than getting involved in a crash or something for any of the above reasons.
Since I was forced to drive for 3 hours straight, I jumped at the sight of one such shelter & we decided to have lunch there. Post Kota, the road goes till Mumbai, but since our destination was Udaipur, we took the State Highway which connects to NH48 from here. And the stark difference in the road condition, traffic, amenities was palpable. We reached home at 9:30 PM – that’s exactly 15 Hours. Mission accomplished - 3000 KM home to home. We realized we had office the next day & that excited us to the point where we simply ordered our dinner, gulped it and then slept like dead.
All in all it was a great trip.
Parting shot of our beloved 'Nexy' as my wife likes to call it, on the banks of river Bhagirathi (Near Tehri Dam) -
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