Sunday, January 11, 2015

Himalayan Raid: Northern Base to Munsiyari

 Another run of the Himalayan Raid completes, marking the very first Himalayan Raid of 2k15. Route: Northern Base (Noida) - Moradabad (Nepal road) - Rampur - Haldani - Bhimtal - Almora - Binsar - Pithoragarh - Munsiyari with heading back via Bageshwar - Almora - Nainital - Kotdwara - Haldwani - Bareilly - Moradabad - Hapur - Northern Base (Noida) Covered over 1700kms in three days.

Date: 8th Jan'15  To 10th Jan'15

It was cold early morning at the Northern Base at Noida around 5am while I was still sifting through the pages of facebook when this totally crazy desire struck me. It was an insatiable desire to see snow. I hadn't slept the night and here I was getting ready to go on a god-knows-how-long ride to see snow. The cold water bath in this cold weather, delayed me a lot. I hope you know what it is to take a bath when the temperature hovers around 5-6 degrees. I took off at around 8 and another hour was spent trying to buy RedBull.

 Northern Base to Munsiyari
By 9 I was on the Ghaziabad-Bareilly highway (also known as The Delhi - Nepal Road by few). It was entirely covered with light fog. The traffic was not so much as generally seen. After a few kms, it subsided enough to go at decent speeds. By Hapur, traffic was almost nil.

Stopped for a bit to drink up a can of the Redbull as I was feeling fatigued. The roads were covered in light fog. Pretty soon I was nearing Moradabad. A check-post appeared on the highway checking for documents for the 2wheelers only. Thought it was good to ask them the route to Nainital, which turns out to be a good idea. There is a road from Moradabad via Kashipur which is in worst of conditions. They suggested me to go via Rampur.

The Nepal Road - Bareilly Expressway
A few more kms from there and there was a huge diversion ahead with on left leading towards Rampur and other Bareilly. As you take the left, the entire scenery of the highway changes to two laned towards Rampur as you cross by the station. There is a road opening towards the left, the Nainital highway, I missed it and continued straight ahead. Landed in a beautiful scape of fields and man made forest. The road was in pretty bad shape with craters formed all over, but the view was compensating.

Somewhere near Rampur railway crossing

Through the backyards of Rampur

Through the backyards of Rampur

After negotiating through the cratered road, crossed a railway crossing to join the Rampur-Nainital Highway. As I was much fatigued, my speeds were less and it was nearly dusk as I reached out towards Haldwani. A few unforseen events like 2 massive accidents that had blocked the highway had also their share of delaying me. Saw the most gruesome accident ever!

It was nearly dark now. The road was filled with trucks and other morons all traveling with their3 high beam on. If that was not enough, there were tractors with huge trailers of sugarcane simply parked on the single laned road. To add up to the harassment, there was a Mandi ahead where the sellers had decided to encroach the road space for their shop space. It was Rudrapur.

Once Rudrapur was over, the road became decent enough and the traffic reduced to a barely 50% thus low jams. I could feel the fog/dew whatever it was. It was simply floating droplets of invisible water and as soon as you strike it, you are all wet and temporarily semi-blinded with the droplets sticking up the visor. Somehow continued, but soon decided to stop at the very first hotel/lodge I see enroute.

Stopped at the first few hotels and enquired the rates, which were 2200 per person, I being alone had to pay 2200 for the night. I decided to continue into Haldani city and take up a hotel there. I had heard that they were cheaper. Sure enough, as I came into Haldwani, just before the left turn towards Kotdwara there is a dharamshala. Now, as the thumb rule goes, where ever there is a dharamshala, the hotel rates dips. Got myself a decent hotel for 250bucks a night along with Tv and heater and covered parking. Now thats a steal. Enquired for food and was informed that near the degree college towards Kotdwara, infront of Punjabi Rasoi, you get tandoori fish, best local delicacy. Sure enough it was appetizing.

Inquired for snow nearby to the locals and I was informed that Nainital doesn't have snow however the areas beyond Almora may be having snow along with the nearby areas like Mukteshwar and others. Got my hopes high and tried confirming the next day's destination for snow. Binsar seemed a better bet then and was finalized.
The Bunsen Burner

Tasty Kachodi chat - one of the best I tasted in the country

Soft soft round round.................Gulab Jamuns :P

The next morning, I roamed around for an hour. I soon realized that that these towns woke up late around 11AM. I could not be there then. Ventured out to have breakfast and fix up my glasses (the screws had come off). The shop nearby served the local delicacy of kachodi chat and big sized gulab jamuns prepared on a bunsen burner because using the gas stove was too mainstream.

Pretty soon I was off towards Kotdwara from Haldwani. Climbing the curves of the foothills of himalayas were refreshing. Turned towards Bhimtal on the right and went towards Bhowali bypassing Nainital. Reached Almora soon and enquired about snow, to be informed that there are no snow at Almora or anywhere nearby. The guy even crossed the road, looked briefly over the mountains and informed there is no snow either at Mukteswar and other places I left behind.

I continued towards Binsar. Was informed again that there is now snow and was told that there may be snow towards Pithoragarh. The roads were very smooth and the traffic was less than minimal. Being a work day, I guess, it was only the locals around. Not much of tourists.

Every village I went, I had only one question to the locals. Where is the snow around? to which the replies were almost the same. You will get snow ahead. There were a feet of snow last week but now there is nothing due to the rain. And I would continue straight ahead. Around 3PM I was exactly 10kms from Munsiyari and was really dejected upon knowing there is no molecule of snow ahead left due to the rain/drizzle. Went ahead a bit and something caught my eye. There was some woods beside and something was shining. Well, I had finally found snow!! But the state of the snow was very dirty. The mission for the trip was snow, and I had found it. Although it was one of the dirtiest snow heap ever, my mission was thus complete.

As my mind swayed to the sun, I was startled to find that it was 3:30. I desperately wanted to reach back Nainital for the night. The roads were empty, but the asphalt layer were bad from Munsiyari to Pithoragarh. Stopped for some quick view to quench the thirst near Kabarkhan. The last glimpse towards the snow covered peaks.

Somewhere on the road

Ek selfie to banta hai

The view.. mesmerizing!!

Here I inquired the name of the mountain to which I got a reply of "This is Himalayas". Everyone answered the same and some even swore to God that it was Himalayas and the snow peaks were China. I had nothing more to ask, as I had got my answer. These simple folks had no idea of the peaks around them.
Vishvanath River

Almora view

The rope bridge

Somewhere near Pithorgarh

The view from Kabarkhan

Near Binsar
I was so glad while returning that there was not a single vechicle plying along side me. As a result, I was free to go faster on those curves. You need to respect the curves to come out alive. I was watching the sun go down from a corner of the eye. Bought some local sweets at the outskirts of Almora. I could smell the sweet aroma of these sweets of Almora from the distant curves around the hills. I am a great foodie and specialize at finding food with just smelling from a distant. At home, I used to be a menace, as you know, you can never hide the aroma. Hope you got the point :D :D

Rivers run along the roadside

It was around 6 when I reached the Bhimtal-Nainital diversion. Took a right towards Nainital. I was traveling fast. These Himalayan raids have made me faster onthis terrain. Could easily maintain an average speed of 70-100 on even the curves. Thanks to the roads.

Ahh yes... they are parallel..


Around 6:30 I finally made it to the point from where Nainital was visible. Continued further. The lake was a great view. Clicked a few shots from the phone, in a desire to compile them into somewhat of an HDR. The continuous shot was now a boon.

Nainital lake in the evening

First view of Nainital

First view with sunset..

The logo looks good

The lake of Nainital

The lake of Nainital

The lake of Nainital

The lake of Nainital

The lake of Nainital - from height

The lake of Nainital - further high

Asked around the way to Haldwani to some policemen loitering around. Was informed that I had to go around to Masjid road to get on to Kotdwara road as from 6PM to 8PM it was one way. They also asked if I could drop one of their seniors to Kotdwara as he had a train to Dehradun. I agreed. As the senior policeman climbed on the rear seat of the machine, he requested me to get to Kotdwara as fast as possible. I told, I will get you there, but please don't challan me. His short laugh (big mistake on his part) was the approval.

The curves were steepy at places with no lights. The oncoming vehicles were on full beam, frying up my retina for a few seconds. However, we reached Kotdwara railway station to be informed that the train just left, around half a minute back. The policeman, with a very heavy heart and a scared-to-shit face asked me again to drop to Haldwani station. I agreed. The roads ahead were full of fog. However, I managed to steer though that dense fog and reached Haldwani station before the train could. As I dropped him, I could see that he broke a lot of sweat as he accompanied me on the rear seat, in that cold weather.

After dropping him, I steered my way through the traffic of buses who had parked right on the road, to leave no place for a bike, well in its right mind. For people like us, we can go through anything and anywhere, well almost. The Puneri/Mumbaiya practice was handy here. I reached a takeaway chicken shop nearby "Chic-in" and ordered their specialty dish with jeera rice. Checked into the same hotel as yesterday.

The chicken was awesomely made with cream. It was a whitish chicken gravy and tasted way better than it looked.

The next morning I was out of the hotel to reach Delhi. A friend from Gujrat had come to Bareilly and I decided to visit him. Haldwani to Bareilly straight was great with a few bad patches in between. My phone which I had not charged since 7th evening was now going low on charge, lurking around 5%. A few photographs enroute and I was left stunned aback at Bareilly. As I reached Bareilly, I found the phone dead while trying to call my friend.

I continued from Bareilly towards Delhi on the Express way or The Nepal road. The road was really awesome. I had traveled on this very road on my recent travel to Baitada, Nepal. As I neared Hapur, I wanted to visit Hansi but no one around knew the way. With a dejected heart came back to my Northern Base. The highway ride could be summarized as 300kms of awesomeness and 50kms of kick-shit traffic, just near Ghaziabad.

I reached Noida at round 2PM on 10th Jan'2015. The snow mission was officially over now. The last Redbull was still heart throbbing, pumping energy. I could not feel a single ounce of tiredness and was on the brink of ready to get on another one.

As I lay on my cozy bed, covered in a blanket to fight the cold, all I would say, that these are just practice runs for whats about to come. The real adventure begins this June 2015.

Amidst the Jungle.. The wolf rests

Ek selfie toh banta hai mere yaar



The Last RedBull Break


Signature shot - Vehicle