;Land Of The Gods: Wanderism Rejuvenated
7 days of bliss, adventure & vigor... 1575 kilometers of life...
What a ride it’s been! Dense forests, malignant roads, curious curves, fierce rivers, mighty peaks & remotest hill stations. I lived by the TW3 tag line aptly, free to wander but never lost. I had planned for the most isolated places in Uttarakhand, but the outcome is even more enthralling. In spite of the loneliness in the air, I wandered into the most untouched places of the dynamic valleys.
Greetings to everyone out there! Kudos to the initiative by Wrangler & xBhp, to bring forth the vigor & love for motorcycling to a nationwide platform. I’d like to devote my sincere thanks to the organizers, the judges and my friends & family who voted for my travelogue in the prelims. I have come to believe that love for something so materialistic yet profound, shall go in vain unless gone too far.
Who am I?
I get startled when someone asks me if I’ve left my full time job. To my surprise, some of my friends believe that this is a part of my job, which I think is very thoughtful & I aspire so. My name is Rahul Arora and I’m from Delhi. I’m a mechanical engineer by profession, a writer-photographer-blogger by expression, a music lover by nature & a fervent biker by obsession.
Day 0 | 24th April’14: Preparation, Planning & Curiosity
The moment I had been waiting for finally arrived. I prepared a vulnerable itinerary that captures some of the most untouched parts of Uttarakhand. Major chunk of preparation involved compiling enough knowledge about the destination as well as the road conditions. A special thanks to my friends & family who have been there by my side every time I headed out to a new direction. I presume this ride to be one of a kind. I’ll be wandering in the thickest of the forests & eyeing down from the highest of the peaks in Uttarakhand. The itinerary is in place, everything else will be dealt on the road.
Day 1 | 25th April’14: Bon Voyage | Delhi-Haldwani
The day arrived. The most satisfying fact about the flag-off was that my parents & my friend joined me there. It was great to meet the Wrangler as well as xBhp officials. Onlookers stared as we clicked a dozen photographs, with Wrangler staff, xBhp members & my family of course.
Beholding warm wishes from everyone, I kicked off the ride of a lifetime. I got myself on NH-24 within an hour. And from there, it was just me & the highway. Roads were in fine condition. Especially, the one joining Moradabad Bypass-Rampur is a gem of a tarmac. But not for long; it took me hours to get past the pot-hole ridden roads of the countryside. Hence, I had to cut short the day’s ride to Haldwani instead of Nainital as initially planned. I reached Haldwani at 08:45PM, had a nice dinner & decided to call it a day.
Day 2 | 26th April’14: Into the hills | Haldwani-Chaukori
The uphill ride from Haldwani started with some broken roads, but soon the road conditions improved. I was riding through some curvy roads & all of a sudden the Naini Lake appeared. I clicked some photographs around the Naini Lake & the mall road, and quickly headed for the Snow View Point situated 6 kms uphill from the town. It’s situated at a height of 7460ft. asl & offers panoramic views of Himalayas. Next up on the list was Sattal, a cluster of seven freshwater lakes located 22 kms from Nainital. Oak & Pine trees filled the environs & it was lush green all around. Tourists enjoyed boating in the green colored lake while kids tried their hands at rappelling.
It was 01:00 PM; I saddled up & headed towards Almora. Going forward, I was past the townships of Seraghat & Berinag by 06:30PM. I managed to arrive at Chaukori at 07:15PM. The tiny hamlet turned out to be exactly as I thought, if not immensely silent & remote. It’s a small hamlet; luckily I got hold of a fine place to stay. I had dinner and hit the bed hoping for a mild encounter with the sun the next morning.
Day3 | 27th April’14: A mix of good-n-bad | Chaukori-Munsyari
Good-n-bad seemed just an apt title for the day’s ride. Good because I laid my sight on the humble Himalayan peaks for the first time on the ride & bad because the roads that I chose turned out to be terrible.
I left Chaukori at 09:30AM with my next halt set at Thal. And the roads to Thal were amazingly good. Accompanied with the oak & pine trees throughout the length of the road, I reached Thal at 11:00AM. Further, making my way through some really bad tarmac, I reached Munsyari at 04:00PM. Perched at a height of 7500 ft. asl in the Johar Valley, Munsyari offers panoramic views of the cluster of Panchchuli Himalayan range. I felt sanctified to be surrounded by the mighty Himalayan ranges clothed in snow touching the skies.
Day4 | 28th April’14: The appealing quaintness | Munsyari-Kausani
At dawn, the crimson light from behind the sky-shattering mountains filled the air with serenity. The sun peeked out from the cracks & conceded life to the world. The cluster of five peaks appeared ravishing. As the sun scaled up, the secretive Nanda Devi started to appear & surrendered to the crimson love.
I had a light breakfast, suited up & kicked off towards my journey towards Birthi Waterfalls, Girgaon. The roads from Munsyari to Girgaon are well-laid but the valley is seemingly dangerous. Vertical hills make up for a thrilling vista. Birthi Waterfalls, falling from a height of 126 meters, looked quite humble. I moved forth & making my way through Tejam & Sama village, I reached Bageshwar at 03:00PM.
Moving ahead, I could easily reach Kausani by 05:20PM & the sun was still up. But I was little disheartened as there was no view of the Himalayas from the hotel, just clouds. Well, there was nothing I could do about the clouds, but the hotel interiors appealed to me. It was all carved out of wood, the furniture & the corridors were nicely pared. There was a long corridor with a balcony facing the valley over which the snow-clad peaks of Himalayas rest. Next was a fine dinner & I was off to bed.
Day5 | 29th April’14: Wander into isolation | Kausani-Chopta
While the Himalayas didn’t quite interact when I arrived in Kausani, they made it up to me at dawn. As I woke up to the crimson colored skies, the Himalayas looked placid. The creeks bubbled in the silence of the quaint morning & the chirruping of the birds filled the air. Looking at the need of the hour, I quickly wrapped up my stuff & left for my next destination. The hotel owner told me, “Sir, it’s not easy what you are doing! It takes a lot of heart to do so.” I smiled at the kind accolade & waved him goodbye.
I blazed through the townships of Karanprayag & Gopeshwar while the sun was still fierce. The roads were absolute pleasure to ride on. Once I crossed Mandal, the last station before Chopta, the roads almost disappeared. Broken at almost all places, the roads took me into the thick forests of pine, deodar & rhododendrons. It was 06:00PM already & the sun almost disappeared. I lost hope of catching the sunset from the hilltop.
I steadily moved on but it was boundless pain for my bike to climb those heights in those conditions. At last when the 2 km-stone arrived, a sharp hairpin turn got me face to face with the dipping sun. After all the pain I & my bike suffered, I was finally glad to have chased down the sun. Chopta turned out to be the smallest hill station I’d ever seen. The accommodation was cheap & very basic. It’s an ordinary hamlet perched at an astounding height of 8790 ft. asl, but is rich in flora & fauna. Plus, the view is jubilant. There are thousands of reasons why one should avoid visiting Chopta for its lack of basic amenities, but the serenity of the place is unmatched.
Day6 | 30th April’14: Down to the woods | Chopta-Lansdowne
As I already knew that there won’t be a sunrise to witness in Chopta as it faced the sunset side, I had a fairly sufficient sleep & woke up at 06:30AM. I ordered a morning tea while I packed my stuff & got ready for the big ride ahead. It was a long day on the road. I passed some of the flood affected zones of Uttarakhand & it’s good to see that things are steadily coming back on track. The roads were smooth at almost all the parts except for Augustyamuni where the landslides were frequent & disrupted the construction process.
I set course towards Rudraprayag some 70 kms down the road. Within in an hour, I was in Ukhimath from where the road to Kedarnath diverts. The place experienced some share of destruction in the floods of 2013 & seemed like coming back to life with average roads & rebuilt civilization.
Making my way through Rudraprayag & Pauri, I reached Lansdowne at 03:30PM. As soon as I entered Lansdowne, the scene changed drastically. There were no broken roads & well-kept neighborhoods welcomed me. Lansdowne is a Cantonment area & is home to Garhwal Rifles regiment. I settled in a cottage at the Tip-n-Top point that faced the sunrise side of the valley aptly. It was a graceful forest, opening up to a wide cliffside. While the birds chirruped distinctly, the mighty sun dipped in camouflage. I managed to capture the scene in all conscience.
Day7 | 1st May’14: The homecoming ride | Lansdowne-Delhi
As speculated, the modest sun gave a bright start to the day as it came out of the blues & enlightened the entire valley. I packed my bags & saddled up. I left the idyllic town of Lansdowne & headed to Tarkeshwar Temple situated 35 kms outside the town.
Perched at a height of 5900 ft. asl, the Tarkeshwar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is situated amidst a dense cover of cedar & pine trees. Around the temple, thousands of bells have been hung in order & when resonated in unison fill the place with tranquility. I took blessings from Lord Shiva & did my prayers. I didn’t miss out on thanking God for this opportunity of a lifetime to go for a dream ride. With the heart filled & spirits crowned, I made my way back to the exit.
I reached Kotdwar at 01:30PM & the sun was at peak. I stopped for lunch & tossed away the heat. I reached Meerut bypass at around 04:00PM. It took me an hour just to cross Meerut. Soon after I picked up pace, the roads seemed to converge on me & the moments from the ride flashed past me. Making my way through Ghaziabad, I reached the finish line, my home at 06:45PM. My father was already out in the balcony waiting for me to arrive. It felt great to meet my parents after a week-long ride. They sure are proud & that’s the most rewarding fact for me.
A journey ended, only to leverage the moments spent wandering into the almighty nature. It was great to be a part of the captivating journey of a lifetime with Wrangler & xBhp. It’s a superlative fact that I lived the moments with sheer love & passion. I’m heart-filled at the vehemence that I’ve felt throughout this ride & I aspire to share this with others. I wander for essence & this may never change. Cheers to those who love to wander!
Live. Ride. Smile. Find Yourself.