Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Himalayan Raid 1.0 - Yamnotri trek, Dodhi tal

The Route Taken
It was decided on the very day I cam to Delhi, that I have come to Raid the Himalayas. Shashank was another guy who shared the same mental state as me. We had decided that we would be leaving somewhere nearby to the likes of Dehradun or Mussorie. I was bit adamant on going further deep in the region. However it was decided that we would be first be leaving for Dehradun and then decide further from there.

We were thinking of departing on a day before Diwali, but as fate had it, we were over delayed. Shashank came at my flat for the night, at Noida. Now the latest plan was of departure at Morning. Due to unforseen evens, we got delayed way to much and ended up visiting the Jantar Mantar and India Gate. Did some shopping for the Himalayan climate from Palika and nearby. Bought a bed also, I had no furniture as I shifted from Pune with just 2 backpacks. It was the night of Diwali. Hoping to see some good firework show, we were downed to see the less number of rockets lighting up the Noida-ian sky. Still I was secretly happy, due to the less pollution that would be happening. I personally practice a no-cracker diwali.

Shoo-ing people off from the frame

Jantar Mantar

The next day was Friday, 24th October. Shashank had some official training apptitude at office. Now we both were dying to get on to somewhere and the office apptitude was ruining the plan. So, I became Shashank's Chachaji Mr.Jaiswal and called his training director, stating that he is unwell and has a breathing issue due to yesterday's pollution. All went good and Mr.Mehandroo fell for the trap. The plan to get ourselves a decent holiday was on.
At morning breakfast..

The start via Ghaziabad

The running buffalo was fast!!

Climbing the curves of Mussorie

Roads of Uttarakhand

Now, we started getting ready. It was already 11AM. We went to Shashank's place at Chattarpur for get some good jackets, as he was getting in mood to scale higher heights of the himalayan Garhwal region. We started from Chattarpur, crossed over into Noida at around 5PM. By the time we were on the Ghaziabad Meerut highway, dusk was creeping in. The traffic was bad, the people around lacked road sense completely. The people crossing over the highway were directly running past the ongoing traffic. It reminded me of the monkeys at Mt.Abu who were doing the same act, just the difference was that here it was humans acting the same way as of the monkeys. We realised that we were sent via a longer route via Dadri and Hapur through Meerut. There was no turning back now.

It took was hours cutting through the heavy traffic. In between that, some Apachian guy with his newly wed lady clad in a light brown silkish saree started racing with us for no reason at all. Infact, he came so close to some of the other vechicles that we thought he just had an accident, but he would rise again to race against us. Total idiotical mindset, I pity the poor girl sitting as pillion on his white Apache.

It was dark soon and not long before that, we crossed into the Meerut bypass. Short stops followed till we crossed over Muzaffarnagar. The road was the Saharanpur road. It was bad, I mean very bad. Patches in between are so bad that unless you are experienced in proper offroads, you will have a fall. It was reminding me about the roads of hell between the highway and Kota city via Chambal. Well the experience of that last week, helped me a lot to get through this. I was soon getting the reason of people around Delhi getting Cars and SUVs mostly. With such roads, you will mostly get alive unscratched if you are in SUV or a car, or unless you have great hands on biking.

We stopped just past Deoband for dinner. The cold was just coming into the picture. The wind chill was adding up to that. We had dinner, veg. There were quite a few families with some super hot babes. All staring at our bikes and us in the biking attire. I am now used to get such looks, been getting them for a few years now.

Post dinner, we suited up. The cold was now bitter and wind chill harsher. We rode for some time and then stopped for a drink around Hassanapur. We unintentionally stopped near a puncture guy, resulting him to come out while smoking a bidi. We were taken highly aback when his dog came out. This dude had huge a St.Bernard as a pet named Tigger who was highly friendly. A breif chat ensured with which we found out that he had rescued Tigger after his owner had abandoned him after his breif accident. A rod had punctured its forehead near its eye. Its so sad that people after adopting such beautiful beasts tend to abandon them when they are injured or ill. These sick people really do not deserve to own a pet.

After spending nearly an hour playing with Tigger and chatting with the guy, we carried on. We reached Dehradun at midnight. After that we started climbing Mussorie. The corners were deadly with the tarmac even deadlier. I am terribly confused about the fact that Uttarakhand roads in such bad state whereas the state boasts a very high number of tourist spots. We checked into a decent hotel on the outskirts of Musoorie for the night. It was a 3star hotel, but being already past midnight, he charged us only 1300Rs for 2 persons instead of his charted rate at 2500 for the night. Thanks to the bargaining skills of Shashank for that. I could never had bargained below 2000Rs at max!!

It had centralized AC with super comfy beds. After a short post-dinner snack of Tea and Bread toast (He had served a medium bowl full of butter) we slept like dead persons. Got up early at 6, no idea why the hell my sleep breaks every time at this hour since I left the comfort of my house. I used to sleep like a dead person for hours altogether averaging out at 12 to 14 hours a day with the record being at over 22hours of sleep!!

Next morning we got up and suited up. We had no idea of where to go and were just wandering around aimlessly on the road to Kempty falls. A small dhaba stated that we got to have breakfast over here in the lap of Himalayas. A breif photo session followed a short decesion making discussion. We were  to try and go towards Yamunotri as much as possible till the night fall and return the next day, no matter how much close we were to it. We started soon.

As soon as we descended Mussorie we got a taste of what we were about to be greeted by. A vast open Yamuna between white Grahwal Himalayan scene. We had to make a stop here for some photosession.

The Laughing Hermit

Spent around 40 minutes here before we continued. The road was not too good, but the scenicness was overwhelming. The Yamuna river flowing just beside the road. The temperature was low inspite of it being near afternoon and even the riding jacket with thermals were falling short. We continued straight through the hills. A patch in excess of 30kms were in front of us which slowed us down a bit. Just beside the road was a straight drop of over a thousand feet may be. The bus that was going on the opposite side of the valley down seemed as tiny as a match box. It was hard to even maintain a speed of 30kmph over here. A few kms after, as we were going, I sensed something very unusual as I was moving towards the cliff part without me turning towards that. A side look horrified me. The entire part of the hill was actually sliding down and we were right in between that. Shashank was leading approx 500meters ahead and I just sped up. Might had got saved by microseconds before the entire road was down the cliff.

Selfie toh Banta hai!!

The place where it landslided just underneath my bike's tire.

I was breathing heavily and was terrified beyond anything. Stayed shut even after a butt break after the patch was nearly done. I was terrified as hell and did not tell Shashank about any of this. The next patch was a great tarmac but the width of the road did not exceed the width of the tires of a truck. Got a taste of that when I got saved nearly by few millimeters onto an oncoming truck better known ass tipper in these parts, drifting through the way. I went offroad on the hill part opposite of the cliff part.

After completing this part, we ended up on the outskirts of a town at around 4PM. We had lunch of some Chowmein and Tea. Upon enquiring, we were told that we were very near to Yamunotri around 60ish kms. Till the time we finished lunch it was already 4:30PM and I was felling uneasy about the fact of riding in the Himalayas in the afternoon. The climate here has extreme variations with a possibility of shower. As we neared Rana Chatti, my dreadness turned into reality. It seemed like it has rained moderately a few minutes ago. The sun was covered in clouds and was in its last minutes of daylight. Ten minutes more and we caught up with light drizzling, the signature fall of an ending shower.

Stopped a bit to put the cellphones in a plastic bag. The temperature was dangerously low. My fingers were freezing. I took off the gloves as its not exactly waterproof. This resulted in further body heat depravement. I told Shashank to stop at the very first sight of a hotel. It was dark now, and we were crossing the perilious and treacherous himalayan roads, with the temperature lurking around 4-5 degrees celcius. The windchill was taking its toll with the aid of the freezing drops of rain. Suddenly, I stopped feeling anything beyond my wrists. I understood what happened. I was going to get a severe blow of frostbite on both my hands, due to my stupidity of removing the riding gloves which can sustain temperatures as low as 0 degrees. The gloves is DSG Aqua with excellent quality of internal thermal layer. Had bought it years back when I was planning for my first Leh trip.

The Daylight bids Good bye

The Daylight bids Good bye

Sunset of the Grahwal Himalayas

I think may be God heard my silent prayer, and with the next turn we found an abandoned wooden shack. Used it as shelter, as wood is a temperature resisting element. We parked and I raced in. I couldn't feel anything nor could move a finger. In the last failing light of dusk, I saw that my hands were turning blue. I was terrified beyond beleif now. Could not imagine my hands being amputated in worst case scenario. Can not live like the Thakur of Sholay. Put my hands inside my riding jacket for some time. A fifteen minute of the treatment, I could feel the numb cold fingers. Warmed up my fingers again with the flame from the lighter and again putting them inside my jacket.

A drunk man of the highlands came up with his khacchar asking why we were here and what we were doing. A breif conversation
followed and he said that he lived in the exotic white building just opposite to the place we were standing. He offered us help but we asked him about the nearest hotel. He directed us to a hotel Anil just 5kms ahead. After after that, he carried on his way with his khacchar (a mix breed of a horse and a donkey) wearing just a shirt, a sweater and a frailingly thin windcheater.

We explored around the shack and we were a bit horrified to know that the shack was just off the cliff resting of some rotting bamboo support. It may just go down exactly like the last scene in the movie Welcome (Akki, Katz, Nana Pathekar and Anil Kapoor starred movie). The rain stopped in the next few minutes just before we freaked out and we went ahead as fast as we could to get to the Hotel Anil 5kms ahead. My hands were again getting the same torture with all due respects to the wind chill factor.

The hotel Anil is in Rana Chatti. Around 10kms from Phool Chatti. An excellent place to stay and the guy Mr.Anil is an excellent host, provided you can bear up with his devotional songs which he plays loudly on his speaker. Although this place lacks the perks of a 3star or a 5 star hotel its a must place to stay at if you are vising the place. Boasting a genset and his hospitality, he will get you most things you may wish for. Just don't ask for drinks, its a holy place.

He got us hot water to drink and for usage, warm blankets which were adequate to combat the coldness of the area. We got a room on the second floor and we never realised that it had such great view of the surroundings until morning. It started raining after we parked our vechicles in his shuttered shed. The cost for everything was a mere 400bucks. The dinner was ordered from a hotel and served on the dining hall below. The Rajma was the most amazing of the preparations, I licked shinig clean two bowls of the Rajma preparation until it finished.

Post dinner we were retired to the cozy beds. The blankets provided were highly adequate and we slept again light dead people. In the morning, I woke up early at around 6 and went out to the balcony for a view. It had snowed a bit and a lot on the hills. The phone camera images sucked as I tried to click a few pics in the low light. I was feeling too cold so I came back to the warm bed.

Around 8 we got up. The snow on the balcony and the road had melted. The snow on the hills just in front of the hotel were melting. The first view of the early morning rays of sunlight striking the snow capped mountain was mesmerizing.

Anil got us a bucket of hot water for usage. Too bad, I had already used icy water minutes before he got us the bucket. The icy water turned into ice as soon as it striked the mug. We got ready by 9:30 to get to Yamnotri. A short ride again through the treacherous and perilious roads led us to the parking point. After parking the bikes we went up to Yamnotri Temple and then further up to Saptrishi Kund. I still wanted to feel the snow, thirst never dies you know. After trekking for over 16kms upwards, the hunt for snow finally completed. We also trekked up the nearby glacial lake of Dodital.

After all the trekking we returned back to the parking and started off. The descent was damn quick, In no time we were at Rana Chatti. Bid our final adieu to Anil before moving on. Shashank was leading as I was stopping frequently for clicks. We were soon past Hanuman Chatti and reached Gangani where we had stopped yesterday for lunch on the Chowmein.

Upon enquiring we were told that there were 2 routes to reach Delhi. One was the route via Mussorie (via which we came) and the other one was via Vikas Nagar. We were advised highly against the Vikas nagar one which had a turn from the Yamuna Bridge. We were doing speeds of 70-80 on the highly thin tarmac, with cornering and all. The descent was faster than we could beleive. We were cornering on edges where there was no ground to do a touch down, it was approximately a direct thousand feet fall. A short distance ahead and we found a landslide ahead with a traffic jam. A Mahindra Bolero nearby belonging to the Govt. of Uttarakhand with a Govt. Officer and his family seated was also stuck up just beside us. Inside the car was the beautiful daughter of the Govt. officer who had taken me in the shining armor to her liking. She must be in her twenties. Gawd!  You cant guess the age of the girls these days with all those makeup.

A smile and a wink from here got me all confused and tensed. I am not at all used to this, and to distract of the activity just going beside me in the vehicle I struck up with a conversation. I am still repenting on the loss of the opportunity. The road opened soon with 2 cranes working on clearing the rubble. I over took their car with a last look at her. Damn she was too beautiful and yes, HOT!!
Landslide in front, The Bolero beside me

With the pleasant thought, I continued through the great tarmac until we arrived at the spot where I was amidst the landslide. Stopped a bit to click the pic before continuing again. Also had stopped at a restaurant for lunch and the only food that was available to the hungry travelers was Maggi and Eggs. Ordered a 3 plate Maggi with 6 eggs in it which we both shared. Adjoining to this place, was a tap from where water was flowing. Incidentally, this water was Jaribooti ki Paani and had healing capabilities. Additionally, this water will turn cold in warmer temperatures and warmer in cold temperatures and never freezes. True to his word I never found any source which could possibly feed this unending supply. This water tasted way better than any water you may have ever tasted, better than Bisleri or any RO. It was great. I still have a bit of it left, off the bottle we filled.

The Egg Overdosed Maggi

Jariboonti Ka Jal

It was dusk when we reached the foothills of Mussorie road. A certain Mr.Joshi, the floor manager of JW Marriott met us on road while we were having a butt break. He inquired on seeing an MH number plate and when we told him that we were to reach Delhi tonight he freaked out. He advised us against it and even offered a place at JW Marriott, Mussorie at dirt cheap rates, but we were stubborn as hell. We climbed up the road in the bad light and crossed entire Mussorie hills in darkness. Went through a traffic jam caused by Mad drivers.

Soon we were going downhill and had a short stop as the RTR was on the verge of overheating and so was mine. We continued to Dehradun with a few stops in between. The buses were still being seen drifting through corners and so where a few cars. From Dehradun we took the road towards Haridwar although being warned by locals of frequent elephant sightings. This road was way better although a lot of it had small craters and being two lane without dividers. Near the junction to Rishikesh, we stopped for at a resturant for dinner and had Thali which costed 125Rs a plate. The sabjis served were Dal Makhani, Mix veg and paneer Makhani along with 4 Tandoori rotis with a bowl of rice and dahi. Some IBP forces were also having dinner who were going to Chandigarh.

It was around 11PM when we started again, being delayed at the resturant by over an hour. The roads were dark and very soon we crossed a Sign board stating something about Elephant Crossing. I was cool about it until I saw 7-8 wild elephants crossing the road after seeing a deer on the corner of the road. I was really repenting of putting up a Facebook status at the resturant of "Where are the Elephants". However, nothing serious happened. People generally switch off the lights and stop as the elephant might get agitated by the lights. The size of the elephants were huge as I could make out from a distance of around 200 meters.

We crossed into the outskirts of Haridwar on the road the Roorkee. The temperature was low and I was wearing a leather jacket and the riding jacket over 2 Tees to combat the cold. Post Haridwar till Meerut, we had to stop in between for some Power Naps.

Shivji Watching over

Around 3AM we reached Roorkee. Saw a board to IIT Roorkee. Had once got a preffered seat here in my pre-engineering days before I turned to do it from COEP. Meerut was near and there was consistent dense fog post Roorkee on the highway. Infact, at some places it was so dense that it was hard to see even the console of the bike. It was around the morning dusk after we crossed the Meerut Bypass.

We crossed over Modinagar for a last stop of Tea before I sped at over 140kmph to Noida. Shashank was behind. I did not know the route and got nearly lost into some village of Ghaziabad. Thanks to the young IT professional on the HH Hunk who showed me the way from the dustly railway crossing. I was a bit irritated on him though as he was riding at 25 and 30kmph at a completely empty road. After following him for around 30mins, I reached Sector 62 via the sides of Greater Noida I beleive. Ghaziabad and Noida may be a subject of a new tale of two cities. One has dusty villages with orthodox mentality while the other one is equally modernised. Ghaziabad villages are photogenic no doubt with the backdrop of mammoth buildings in construction.

I finally reach my flat at around 7 with Shashank following me after around an hour. Called office and informed that I will be coming in late. Slept till 11:30AM sharp as I got a call from back home from Pune inquiring about my status. With tired face and aching hands, I slog to office in complete hangover of the ride and sleep.

Sunset at Himalayas, on the Yamuna Valley

One last good bye to the massive Himalayas, well for a very short time. I will be back!!

Road stop at Mussorie while returning

This Dhaba had this funny board!!

Landslide prone area.

Now why there won't be a landslide after a shower? Its made of loosely held stones with mud

Himalayan Goat. They are beautiful.

Wonderful Woods

Tilasmi Jheel

Step Farming

Apart from the Kharadi IT Park at Pune, here is Kharadi Eco Park on Grahwal Himalayas

The Wooden shack that offered safe Haven from the rains the day before

Most of us got Cable TV. But these guys still see the DD National with a single broken antena

Himalayan Roads

The Sadhu and Sadhvi who traveled from Jaisalmer on foot. Respect and May they have a safe trip back home.

Hugeness of the roadside mountains

Tribute of a Burnout

Post Trek
In the Trek!