A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which.
To the days when I have spent more days on the journey rather than the destination itself. Kumaon, you won me over every other plans! Always a sacred feel whenever I heard this word.
Also, a friend ruined my solo as I told him and he got ready to come up with me at the very last moment!! So after 2 years, I was going to have someone with me in such journey. He joined me up from jaipur.
The curvy roads, hills and Ghats. Blooming spring flowers, orange, purple and yellow! Purple flower tree- Jacaranda was my favourite one. They were in full bloom everywhere. Narrow streams passing through the mountains will continuously be there to be with you in your journey. Local people selling Kaafal. Sweet shops, smiles on the people’s faces. Shy children. People struggling for transportation. Landslide affected areas. Finding new Himalayan birds. Breeders of sheeps . Rough roads or no roads at all. And endless beauty throughout your ways that won’t let you get bored even after hours of travelling.
Uttarakhand. You’ve my heart! For what you have taught me. The main plan was to visit Dharchula(to cross the Indo-Nepal bridge over Kali Nadi) and Sarmoli for its Homestays.
I broke my journey at Jaipur and took another train at 2.35pm till Kathgodam. Which is the base railway station if you want to travel uphill. From there, you will get state transport buses or shared taxis to various places. And let me tell you that if you want to catch one, then do plan your journey such that you can reach Kathgodam earliest in the morning. As these shared transports run on their very specific timings.
And if you reach late then be ready to do the private cabs or extend your stay for more!
I reached Jaipur at 8am, 13 hours of general coach travelling! I stayed at Neverland Hostel for 120rs. As I wanted to get fresh and also covering up Jantar-Mantar. It has the world’s largest sundial and also is a unesco heritage site! It consists of 19 instruments for finding the location of the stars, declination of the planets and knowing the celestial altitudes. But it was damn hot.
Some days, I love virgin places. And on others, you may find me walking among the crowds and still finding my sole place!
Nilesh joined me from Jaipur. The roaming texts! The idea of crossing the man made boundaries. The constant question through my journey was how would I greet the holy Himalayas. It’s been long since I have been there. Would I cry like before when I would see the sunlight hitting the majesty at the first place? Peace, power and calmness all in one. I was still having the refreshed memories of the time, when on Sandakphu, we watched the glorious sunrise over Himalayas. Shining snow on ground everywhere. And I just stood there, simply amazed through the beauty the place was perceiving. And may be that was the infinite moment of the lifetime!
We reached Kathgodam at 6am and got the bus to Pitthoragarh at 7am. Our bus hault was at Almora. So we passed through the whole city. The colorful houses and the purple flowers were the main attraction.
And after Almora, the actual treacherous road started. With the landslide work going on at every 15-20 minutes, BRO was ready to stop us at any time! Hills on our right side and the river passing on the left. Well, I have one moment where the boulders started to fell down on the road all of a sudden and the driver was reversing our bus. When I have already imagined myself drenching down in the Himalayas! We reached Pitthoragarg at 5pm. The last bus to dharchula had already left. So we shared the jeep with two men at 2400 INR. So there were only four of us in the place of 12 people!
We gave lift to the many locals on our way. It was raining and kind of thunderstorm. I tasted the best of the Chai here. You need to tighten your seatbelt for this journey. There is no proper road! But the bestest view one can ever get. And we were enjoying some last rays through the valleys. Dharchula is a ghat area. We were having a chattering with these two guys and they were informing us about the area bit more. They were working in Gorkha Regiment. Reached Dharchula at 10.30pm and decided to stay at Yash hotel near Arnab Chawk.
Next morning, at 5am when I woke up and opened the window, I was totally surprised and shouted to! As I forgot that we were in the Ghat areas and though surrounding by the mountains. We went for a walk. And reached the border bridge over Kali Nadi. It was 5.30am and the bridge opens at 6am daily. So we wandered a little and sat at the river bank. The atmosphere was pleasant. And it started raining. Well, there is no sign that we could see the rise as it was cloudy. The way the river was flowing! Another infinite moment when I was not regretting that why I hadn’t visited Rishikesh. This place is equally beautiful with least number of people. I decided that next time, I will come up without time limit. It was raining, and the flow of the river was increasing. At the strike of 6am, both the gate opened and the local people started indulging in their routine.
We crossed it and on the other side, stopped at a tea stall in Nepal. Mostly the conversations were being made through smiles and expressions! We sat there watching the rain. After half and hour, it took a short break and meanwhile we trekked till Dungari mahakali temple. The best thing I liked about this area was that even in such hilly area, there are lots of kids who were going to school taking umbrellas and wearing raincoats. They were having the same curiosity as of mine. And it was a narrow streets for first few minutes till the Darchula border. And then a rough road on the ghat side. It was 3kms somewhat uphill hike. Jeeps are also running but we wanted to hike. And it was the best decision, we realized it later. As there are surreal views you will get once the village is over. Locals were busy in their routines. While passing through Landsliding areas, I was thinking that why were these people not moving from these areas? How do they manage to commute in monsoon seasons? I found my answer here. Why would anyone leave such place? Jumping, running and soaking all the beauty in my heart, I went on. Sweetest people of all. After an hour, we reached there. Offered the prayers and sat there .A small stream was flowing beside the temple was tranquil. I was still in a shock! As I haven’t expected such beauty from this place. Due to lack of time, we wouldn’t be able to visit Narayan Ashram and ascot deer sanctuary. We drove through Askot yesterday night. And we headed back with many pictures. I bought one Dhaka topi from Bazaar and picked up few pebbles to take back to the home. When we returned the umbrella to the uncle, he laughed saying that he thought we must have lost in the town as we came back at 10.30!
We left for Munsiyari and again we missed the direct taxi! So for 80kms, we had to change four taxis. The route was Dharchula-Jaul Jibhi-Baram-Bangapani-Munsiyari. It was raining and only wow views on our way!
At Baram we waited an hour long for the next jeep. It was a small village and a river was passing by. A bridge and so many rocks aside the river. The drive to bangapani was the fastest one! And luckily we didn’t miss the last taxi here. And also the Panchachuli peaks has started playing hide and seek as we were passing by one hill to another. A tear rolled down, as finally the child in me was witnessing its perception of Himalayas.
We also passed through Madkot which is famous for its old wooden houses.
The main reason to visit Munsiyari was to experience a home stay at Sarmoli. And to meet Mallika virdi which is a mountaineer and working for women development in that area. It was around 1.5kms uphill walk from Munsiyari bazaar. So we walked there. And the best sunset view was on the way. It was showering where we were but The Panchachuli was chilling in some last rays of the Sun. The football match was going on the ground below and it was freezing cold. I was not aware that these home stays need to be prebooked. So we tried connecting Mallika and came to know that it was all booked and there was a space for one night only and that too for 1500 for a single person! So we didn’t stand a chance here! But the best thing was talking to Mallika. I haven’t ever ever heard such warm and welcoming voice. asked for any one day trek and she said that she was having some karyshala going on so wouldn’t be able to provide any guides even! The failed attempt! Kumaon’s guest house was there in the Bazaar, but we were tired enough to walk there and No proper internet so couldn’t be able to book hotel online. The Sun had set now. And also it started raining and no street lights!
Finally we managed to bargain our stay at Panchachuli resort at 1200 for two nights. I remembered Nilesh’s face while we were passing through this! He looked so terrified!Well, we did a three hours rain and sunset hike just upon an arrival! Also be prepared for frequent electricity cut offs when you’re in the town.
It was just 5am and I opened the window! The Panchachuli was shining. We could see the whole view easily from the window only. With the guidance of Mallika again, We left for Balanti Potato farm, to which you can trek by yourself. Did a hitch-hike till the base point. And trekked uphill among the pine trees. Panchachuli on behind and cloudy atmosphere. So many small flowers and ladybugs, I found on my way. The chirping of the birds were silenting all the other sound. Content state of the mind. The hush among us. Stillness of those trees. We had a lost moment at last but we found the locals who guided us.
Here was a moment of proud on myself. Like, I planned and I checked these two places. I allowed myself to play the games with the days. I watched. I waited. I listened. Another point was that my tatqal tickets weren’t booked and I didn’t panicked even! I was literally calm!! HOW?!
No thoughts of yesterday and no worries of tomorrow. Having the hold of every passing by moments. A fun time with sheeps.
Upon descending, we found so many shiny rocks. A stream at the end point. There was a proper road and we started walking. further we hitch hiked till mid way. And the man dropped us 4kms away from the town. So again a long walk through the local trail.
At station road, we ate momos at Johar restaurant and it was yum. Also they were having a great music system. In the evening, we visited Nanda devi temple which is 3kms away from the city. We walked all the way by observing the locals. Peaceful to be there and immersing yourself into the nature. It was raining heavily when we returned from there. The hotel manager let me cook the dinner that night. Had a dinner in a hall without light and with the sound of raindrops.
Next day, we had a taxi to Kathgodam at 5.30am. The sky was crystal clear after last night’s storm. And the last rise in Musiyari, I saw. It takes 12 hours to reach there. We had an amazing trekker from Howrah and also one trek organizer.(who almost on the phone calls scheduling his all treks planning all the way)
The Bengali man was the most enthu trekker I’ve ever seen. I was just watching his excitement of all the places while he was conversing. We had lots of kaafal in our break. On the way, I saw nature trail for trekkers for Thamar kund and also passed by Kala muni temple. We also checked the Birthi falls. Which is at 30kms from the town in our way. After Thal, it was a summer feel.
Another thing I noticed is, these people do not panic much in the transportation matter. And meanwhile Kaduskar was going through his”what to do not” phase as he hadn’t booked his bungee jump in advance, and then everything was booked for the next two days. Totally fun to watch him! We reached in the evening and after a brunch, I bought a general ticket to Ahmedabad in just 305rs! Well, I was knowing that the journey was although going to be real tough! Kaduskar left for Rishikesh from Haldwani. And I managed t get the place to seat. The next 12 hours were the hardest due to such people. Transition from such cold to the 45` temperature was tough though.
With sleepy eyes. Tired, hungry and sweaty, I finally reached Ahmedabad after 33 hours in general travelling! After having all the venture of adventures and experiences, finally I was able to bow down to Himalaya. As someone said it truly that Comfort and growth cannot coexist.
Kumaon, next time I will come alone to measure the every inch of your beauty without the time boundaries. Till the time, keep mesmerizing and keep shining!