7 days, 7 stops: A road-trip through the Lower Himalayas

22nd Mar 2018
Photo of 7 days, 7 stops: A road-trip through the Lower Himalayas by Madhuparna Panigrahi

The joy is in the journey they say. Nothing beats the thrill of a journey that traverses the mountains and lakes, valleys and passes. A 7-day fun-filled ride through the winding roads of Uttarakhand highlands takes you to seven remarkable spots on the Himalayas. A road trip to remember, this journey will open your gateway to the lower ranges of the mighty mountain ranges.

Before you start…

Seven days on mountain roads, can be quite a challenge. If you are doing this kind of a roadtrip for the first time, you might want to head out when the weather is favorable. However, it is always better to prepare yourself for random changes in the weather with sudden rain, scorching sun or gushing wind, or even a snowfall.

Photo of 7 days, 7 stops: A road-trip through the Lower Himalayas 1/8 by Madhuparna Panigrahi

The best time for this kind of a road trip is during the months of March to June, which is also the peak tourist season in this region. Or if you like the chill on your bones, and love to dare the winters, you can also travel between the months of October to February.

Start from…

All roads lead from Delhi. No matter where you are located, you can fly down to the capital and embark on your week long escapade from here. You can get a chauffeur driven car for hire with Savaari Car Rentals. You can also hire a cab at every stop, which of course, would be subject to availability of local cabs.

Get, set, go…

Day 1 – Delhi to Haridwar

Photo of 7 days, 7 stops: A road-trip through the Lower Himalayas 2/8 by Madhuparna Panigrahi
Evening Aarti at Har Ki Pauri Ghat

Your first stop from Delhi metro is at the pilgrimage center of Haridwar. You can easily travel the 222 KM from Delhi to Haridwar by car, which takes about 5.5 hours, with regular traffic. To every traveler, Haridwar offers an opportunity to experience the upper Ganges in its full glory. If you are time for sunset, don’t forget to witness the evening ‘Ganga Aarti’, at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat, when thousands of oil lamps dazzle the banks of the might river. If you have more time to spare, go around the town, and you can feel the vibes of a place, even ancient than the town itself.

Day 2- Haridwar to Dehradun

Photo of 7 days, 7 stops: A road-trip through the Lower Himalayas 3/8 by Madhuparna Panigrahi
The travel map

As you cross the holy city, the roads start narrowing and take you through the foothills of the Himalayas. It takes about 2 hours to reach Dehradun, which is about 60 KM from Haridwar. Known for its lush green slopes, dainty cottages and an old world colonial charm, Dehradun makes for a great stopover to enjoy the exquisite beauty of the hills and valleys. You will find plenty of options for accommodations from budget city hotels to quirky cottages. But for the real vibes of the town, stay at one of the British-era cottages, now turned into hotels and homestays.

Day 3- Dehradun to Mussoorie

Photo of 7 days, 7 stops: A road-trip through the Lower Himalayas 4/8 by Madhuparna Panigrahi
The sleepy town of Mussoorie

Wake up to the fresh alpine breeze and the fragrance of pine trees and head to Mussoorie. It takes barely 1.5 hours from Dehradun to Mussoorie by car. Stop by the 19th century Christ Church, reflecting awe-inspiring Gothic architecture with stained glass work and stone carvings. Or explore the colonial mansion of Sir George Everest, which, though in relics, still speaks of his imposing past. You can also trek through the natural surroundings of Kempty Waterfalls for an added adventure. Pad up at one of the cozy mountain resorts or homestays for the night.

Day 4- Mussoorie to Rishikesh

Photo of 7 days, 7 stops: A road-trip through the Lower Himalayas 5/8 by Madhuparna Panigrahi
View from the rafts

After you have explored Mussoorie to your heart’s content, your next stop on the route is Rishikesh. At about a 2.5 hours’ drive, you can reach the Himalayan town. Known for all kinds of adventure sports, a trip to Rishikesh is incomplete without a round of river rafting. Get your adrenaline pumping, as you swish down the frothy currents of the upper Ganges, overlooking the breathtaking Shivalik mountain ranges. After a thrilling ride, unwind at one of the spa resorts, perched on the banks of the Ganges.

Day 5- Rishikesh to Jim Corbett National Park

Photo of 7 days, 7 stops: A road-trip through the Lower Himalayas 6/8 by Madhuparna Panigrahi
Royal Bengal Tiger at the Jim Corbett National Park

After exploring the rugged terrain of the quaint hill stations, it’s time to drive down the mountain slopes and see the changing landscape of Himalayan wilderness at the Jim Corbett National Park. One of the largest wildlife sanctuaries, Jim Corbett is home to 586 species of animals including the Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, spotted deer, wild elephants, Himalayan eagles and other avian members. The sprawling natural reserve calls for a jungle safari and encounter the wild side of the Himalayas. The national park area offers budget stays at one of their forest camps and jungle resorts, at a decent budget.

Day 6- Jim Corbett National Park to Ranikhet

Photo of 7 days, 7 stops: A road-trip through the Lower Himalayas 7/8 by Madhuparna Panigrahi
The winding roads of Ranikhet

Almost the penultimate stop on your week-long road trip, a 5.5 hours’ drive from Jim Corbett National Park, takes you to the cantonment town of Ranikhet. This quaint hamlet in the Almora district, is a picture-perfect settlement with lush meadows, cozy cottages and terraced grasslands; just about right for a relaxing pit stop. Yet another hill town with traces of the colonial past, Ranikhet’s vintage bungalows adds to the charm of the town. For an insight into the good ole days, consider staying over for a day and experience the classic charm.

Day 7- Ranikhet to Nainital

Photo of 7 days, 7 stops: A road-trip through the Lower Himalayas 8/8 by Madhuparna Panigrahi
Boats at the Naini Lake

From one scenic town to another, a drive of 1.45 hours from Ranikhet, will take you to the Himalayan resort town of Nainital. And, that marks the last stop on your weeklong road journey. Lakes, rivers, hills and splendid views of the mountains, Nainital is indeed the apt place to end a long road trip. Relax on the Naini Lake with a boat ride on the serene waters. Or, take a cable car ride from Mallital to Snow Peak and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the entire horizon, lined with the snow-capped peaks, dotted with verdant slopes. After seven days on the road, you would want to let your feet up and soak in the Himalayan beauty. Stay, explore, eat and shop for trinkets and souvenirs from the Tibetan market, for your travel memoirs. And, as the sun sets on the emerald waters, behind the frosty snow, head to one of the lakeside cafes and restaurants and toast to a great journey that brought you here.

Heading back...

The journey always complements the destination. Seven days, seven stops and a lifetime of memories. That’s what a road trip always brings to the roadrunner. Once you complete the travel triangle with these prominent landmarks of the lower Himalayas, you would discover a whole new side to life, to travel and most importantly, to yourself! As you make your way back home, the air, colors, and the aroma of the mountains will linger in your senses for a long time to come! Until, once again, on your next holidays, you hit the gas and blaze the trails of Himalayas, and build another bagful of memories for a lifetime!