Winterline is undoubtedly the most suitable title (for obvious reasons, ofcourse ... a deep meaning that I will share later in the blog) for my recent bike trip in Garhwal area of Uttarakhand. A Bike trip in Garhwal area in winters was pending from long time and after half-hearted approvals from the family members and on few conditions (that I will not ride after 4:00 PM or in Fog/harsh conditions), I finally got the chance to explore the majestic hills of Garhwal (The so called heaven of Uttarakhand or the Dev Bhoomi ). Thanks to my brother for his bike and the related accessories. It wasn't the first time I was visiting these hills but what made it different and special from my previous trips was the excitement of exploring the area on a bike.
Day 1 (Paonta Sahib to Mussoorie): After having heavy breakfast, we started from my brother's place in Paonta Sahib (on Himachal - Uttarakhand Border).The 1st destination was to reach Mussoorie (80 kms from Paonta sahib). Bharati was sitting with a heavy backpack, a big handbag and a water bottle and i was inquiring about her comfort level at regular intervals, as the whole intention of the trip was enjoyment and not suffering. We hardly covered 10 -11 kms when we noticed a strange sound coming from the bike, I stopped and tried to understand the fault which was way above my understanding. I finally decided to stop at a small bike repairing shop, after 10 mins of inspection and swinging his tools from left to right, the mechanic informed us that it was a minor fault which he had fix now and we can continue with our journey.The major attraction on the way to Mussoorie was the IMA building, visible from the roadside. With it’s strong patriotic presence, it brings goosebumps in every Indian, crossing the junction.Our stay was at Hotel “Mussorie Gateway”, situated at a natural, serene location, near Library stand. The Place is quiet, covered with Deodar trees and the rooms provides great valley views. Hotel Staff was friendly and they informed us about an ongoing winter carnival in Mussoorie, the “Winterline Carnival” (25-30 Dec) - a rendezvous of singers, dancers, magicians, chefs and travel enthusiasts from all over India. We started our afternoon session with the awesome mouthwatering Garhwali food at the Garhwal food festival at Mall road. After lunch, we started for the “Gun Hill point” which is the second highest peak in Mussoorie, and can be reached through a ropeway, the afternoon sky was clear, providing us great views of the Himalayan peaks of Bandarpoonch and Gangotri. It was a beautiful evening, in Musoorie , a perfect time to capture the unique phenomena of nature, visible only at Mussoorie and few parts of Switzerland… the amazing ‘Winterline’. It can be viewed when the setting Sun drops behind the vast horizon, overlooking the valley. The horizon is a mauve and grey coloured strip with yellow and orange coloured line at the upper end of the strip. The combination of colours make for a pretty picture that leaves the spectator spellbound. The Winterline appears for 4 months from Oct to Feb and is one of the most captivating sights of the “Queen of the hills”. Day 2 (Lal Tibba,Dhanaulti,SurkundaDevi & Chamba): I will never forget in my life what I saw early morning that day from my room’s balcony. It was the glittering lights of the Doon valley, creating the illusion, as if millions of stars came down to earth that day, welcoming me to the “Queen of the hills”. I used a chair and few pillows to create a false tripod for my camera, placed my camera there, prepared some tea and sat down to witness the stunning beauty of the Doon valley. After the early delights, we started around 7:00 am for Lal Tibba (the highest peak of Mussoorie) to get the morning shots of the Himalayan peaks. The way to Lal tibba is a steep 5 Km drive from the other end of the Mall road. Char Dukan is another famous spot near Lal tibba, known for its mouthwatering breakfasts. The next Destination was to reach Chamba (60 Kms from Mussorie ) via Dhaunaulti and Kanatal. The weather was kind, the air was pure and the road was full of jaw dropping views of the lofty Himalayan peaks. We stopped at least a dozen times to capture the snowcapped peaks before reaching Dhanaulti. Dhanaulti is a beautiful town at an altitude of 8000ft above sea level, famous for it’s oak and rhododendron forests and scenic views of the Mighty Himalayas. We relaxed a bit at the famous Eco Park and then started straight towards Kaddukhal (the base of the Surkunda Devi trek).I parked the bike near a prasad shop and we quickly started the upward journey. Surkunda Devi temple is at a towering height of 10,000ft above sea level, the climb was horribly steep, bone tiring and heart pumping. I was sweating like a horse and that was the first time i felt AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), we stopped almost 20 times before reaching the top but the crystal clear, crisp views of Himalayas from the temple was the biggest reward from Mother Nature for all our efforts that day. After returning to the base and relaxing for a while, we started towards Chamba. We reached GMVN guest house in Chamba around 3:30 PM. The GMVN guest house is located near main market and offers spellbound views of Kedarnath and other Himalayan peaks, travellers can see the full Himalayan range right from their rooms. It’s the cheapest, safest and the best option to stay in Chamba. The famous “Classic Hilltop resort” of Chamba is also visible from this place. The staff served the evening tea at their small garden backyard and It was the time for witnessing the setting Sun behind the mighty Himalayas, I found a sturdy tree branch, fixed it on the ground and fixed my camera on it to take the pictures of the Himalayan peaks (getting coloured red by the setting Sun) in the diminishing light. It was a long tiring day and a bowl of hot mushroom curry with Chappatis was the most satisfying thing to end the day on a good note.
Day 3 (Tehri Lake & New Tehri): The day started early in the morning with a beautiful sunrise .We reserved that day for the Tehri circle, that offers the stories of the legendary town of old Tehri (submerged into the Tehri lake), the emerald waters of the Tehri Lake (Asia’s biggest man made lake) and the beautiful city of “New Tehri” (Uttarakhand’s only planned city). Tehri Dam and lake is around 24 kms from Chamba, the serpentine road was not in a good condition, had many dangerous bends and few bad patches. The biggest lake of the state provides a breathtaking view of the hydroelectric dam which is considered as the miracle of the modern engineering, various adventure sports activities recently started in the lake is turning Tehri in a major tourist attraction. After spending few hours at the lake, we decided to have our lunch in new Tehri, which is the most beautiful and the only planned city of Uttarakahnd (14 kms from Tehri Lake). The city of New Tehri nestles at a height of 1,550 meters overlooking the massive artificial lake and Tehri dam. I was stunned with the beauty of the city - the well planned markets, the roads and the colourful houses amidst the oak trees, but the biggest surprise was the big bold ad of the acceptance of the Sudexo coupons on the front glass door of the restaurant, where we had our lunch . While returning, we selected a much shorter, scenic route to Chamba (only 11 kms ).
Day 4 (Chamba to Mussoorie): It was 31st Dec and the queen of hills was eagerly waiting for us to celebrate the new years eve. We started around 9:00 AM from Chamba for a long drive back to Mussoorie via Kanatal, reached our hotel at Mussoorie in the afternoon and slept there for few hours. We woke up to the sound of loud music…Bang!! It was evening and the celebrations had already started in the hills, the Mall road was full of glittering lights, the crowd was under a high octane atmosphere and the queen of hills was performing live in front of thousand of her fans, on her best composition, the “Winterline”……
Day 5 (Mussoorie to Paonta Sahib): We started from Mussoorie to finish the final part of our amazing Garhwal bike trip - a distance of 80 kms to reach our final destination, Paonta Sahib...
Travel details -
1. Rs 8,000 - Hyderabad to Delhi (Flight) - air tickets for 22. Rs 1000 - Delhi to Dehradun (Night Train) - Train tickets for 2 3. Rs 200 - Dehradun to paonta Sahib (Bus) - Bus tickets for 24. Rs 12,000 for entire Bike trip including food and stay -
- Paonta Sahib to Mussoorie (Bike)
- Mussoorie to Gun Hill (Rope way)
- Mussoorie to Lal Tibba (Bike)
- Lal Tibba to Dhanaulti (Bike)
- Dhanaulti to Surkunda Devi base (Bike)
- Surkunda base to Surkunda Devi Tempe (Trek)
- Surkunda Base to Chmaba (Bike)
- Chamba to Tehri Lake (Bike)
- Tehri Lake to New Tehri city (Bike)
- New Tehri to Chamba city (Bike)
- Chamba to Mussoorie (Bike)
- Mussoorie to Paonta Sahib (Bike)
5. Rs 9000 - Delhi to Hyderabad (Flight) - air tickets for 2