As we ride through the mountains it first shows her attitude to make us bow to her magnanimity. Once you accept that you are nobody in front her of every lasting beauty she reveals her true beauty.
Until we were in Himachal Pradesh I believed that we were on the right route and we could never get lost. But I was wrong and when I realized my mistake and surrender to the mountains it cheered us with its beauty that you can never understand just by reading.
And thus our journey into the mountains start.
Read the first part of this traveller story here.
Day 5 – New Delhi to Ponta Sahib
Ponta Sahib is a little town at the foothills of Himachal Pradesh. The ride to the places is amazing with green fields on either side. Narrow state highway roads and fresh air. You can see why people from Haryana are rich and its because of the endless fields they won. I would like to quote my friend Suman here. He said ‘There is so much greenery here that it hurts my eye’.
Ponta Sahib is more like a connecting place for the all the roads to the mountains. So this city has every kind of shops if you need to shop for something before you go into the mountains. They even have a Royal Enfield showroom here if you want to get your bike checked before you start the mountainous journey.
This town has grown into existence because of the Yamuna river. Rivers flourishes every land it passes through. We found a Himachal Pradesh tourism resort called Yamuna Resort just next to this beautiful river. Without a second thought we decided to stay here for the night. The room was huge and clean. This was the best hotel we stayed in the entire trip. Next to the hotel there is a Gurudhwara, which was quite interesting. And because of this worship place there wasn’t much non-veg food available. We had to walk to the center of the town to find some non-veg place. The non-veg food in this town isn’t great, so I suggest you stick with vegetarian food. We spent the night chatting about where we are going the next day and sipping on beer. We took a walk to the bridge crossing the Yamuna river and its something you gotta try. Felt really happy doing it.
Hotel: Hotel Yamuna (Government tourism resort. So the quality is really good and perfect for family stay.)
Day 6 – Ponta Sahib to (Wrong) Auli
It was a day of misery. And I blame Google for it.
The previous night I had told my friend that I wanted to see the snow. My wife always told me that Auli was the best place to be. When I was searching in Google it had suggested me that Auli was near. I thought to myself why not because I did not have a destination and this could be it. So I trusted Google Maps to show me the route to Auli. The first result to appear was the Auli in Himachal Pradesh. (The real one is Uttrakhand). It was just 144kms away with a travel time of 5hrs.
I started my journey with joy and within 25kms the tarmac road ended. After this the road was just bad. It was pure evil to my tyres and my back. The next 110kms after that was made of just rocks and sand and I could not gain more than 20kmph. I realized that my travel time will go beyond 5hrs because Google Maps calculates the time with a minimum speed of 60kmph. But the hope that I will see the snow kept me going.
When I was about to reach my destination I looked around to see any traces of snow. But all I could see was dry mountain with yellow patches of dried grass. I began to doubt if I was on the right route. When enquired with the locals nobody knew about this place either. This was making me worry even more. My doubt was cleared when I reach a police check post. The officer in charge laughed and told his colleague ‘internet mein dekh ke aajate hain’. (They just see it in internet and come). He told me that ‘Auli ek chota gaon hai. Vahan kuch nahi hai dekhne. Vapas chale jaao.’ (Auli is a small village. There is nothing to see there. Go back.) We told him that we like to go ahead and check for ourselves. After noting my bike number and address he let us pass through.
Once we hit the relatively better roads at Nerwa we decide to take a time out to figure out what we are going to do next. We now knew that Auli isn’t here. We want to see snow and we dint know where to go. The mountains made the internet signal weak so we started talking to the locals. Different people gave us different directions but we decided to follow our instincts. We thought that it was time to call it a day and wanted somewhere to settled down. Nerwa was big down with not so great hotels. So we proceeded to Chopal. It was relatively quite and we found ourselves a marriage hall/hotel. It started raining and there was Yamuna river next to the hotel. What better place than to stay here. Time to do some research and discuss where to go.
Hotel: Sorry! This village was so small that it isn’t listed on the internet. But you can check the location of Chopal here.
Day 7 – Chopal to Naugaon (Vikasnagar)
I was just so disappointed about the whole Auli thing that I let Suman do the thinking. I said lets go to Shimla because I know in Manali there will be snow. But Suman did not want to go a tourism place and instead explore unknown places. And Boy! That was a best decision. We decided to reach Barkot and eventually to Yamunotri.
This route will be taking us from Himachal Pradesh and into Uttrakhand. Till now the count has been GJ, RJ, HR, HM and UK. These are the number plates I counted as we continued our journey. The rest to add is UP and DL as we pass through Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi on our way down.
Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand are both mountainous places but I after this trip I would choose Uttrakhand any day. The beauty of this place is unbelievable. The roads are all tarmacked. Soft smooth and can gain speeds upto 50kmps in straight roads. Most of the pictures that gain appreciation are from this route. I don’t know when but I would like to travel to these parts again. Take this part of the journey slow and enjoy all roads. DO NOT RUSH.
Barkot was a far fetch so we stayed at Vikasnagar just ahead of Naugaon. As this places isn’t very familiar not many hotels were listed online. So we asked the locals around to find a place to stay. Finally found City Hill Resort which was priced at Rs.400 per night with clean bathrooms and good bed with a view. Do not expect good food in this town. Maggi or Dumplins are your best food choice. If needed gulp down couple of whiskey and sleep off. Atleast that’s what we did.
Hotel: Sorry! Not listed on the internet as the town was small. Check location here.
Day 8 – Naugaon (Vikasnagar) to Yamunotri
The next morning we did not want to risk our breakfast here. We needed something good and better. We packed and left early to Yamunotri. On the way we found this beautiful hotel where we had our breakfast. I wish I had stayed here the night before. It would have been much better.
The rest of the journey was all uphill. Fill your gas tank, top up the oil and get going. My Royal Enfield bullet has served me well on these roads. I took her to the mountains happily slipping through the curves and enjoying the beauty of the mountains.
The roads are VERY risky. Just a small lapse of concentration and they will not find even the bones of your body. Respect the mountains or she will swallow you entirely.
The road is at its best and if you are careful and keep it slow you will reach Yamunotri in 4hrs. Make sure you stop at places to make some memories. Because you never know when you will get such an opportunity again.
Yamunotri looked like an abandon city because it was off season. The streets were small and I could image how crowded it will be during July. That’s the season when the snow has melted away letting people take the 6kms trek to reach the Yamunotri temple. I decided to ride to the end of the road where it all stops. I discovered a huge helipad at the end of the road and took a minute to see the beauty in 360 degree. We were hungry and cold although it was 2:30pm in the afternoon. We stayed at Hotel Yamunakriti Cottages which was newly refurbished ahead for the season. It had a room heater and Tv. The food was sufficient but the beauty of the place is something that we could take all day long.
That evening we decided to do a small trek to other mountain to capture the sunset. I knew that as the sun goes down the light on the mountains turn yellow before setting the night. I wanted to capture this as I was there at the right time. After trekking for 2hrs and setting the camera for another 2hrs to capture the time lapse here is the result.
Hotel: Hotel Yamunakriti Cottages (Perfect stay for family.)
Day 9 – Yamunotri to Barkot
Its been a really adventurous journey reaching the end of the road and to the foothills of the Yamunotri mountains. But now its time to return back home. Usually the down hill roads are tempting to speed up. So take care when you come down the road. Because there will be vehicles who are climbing and you will need to negotiate the small roads with them.
We started at 2pm from Yamunotri the next day and reached Barkot. It’s a small town with 3G internet connectivity which made me feel that I am back in civilizations. We stayed at GMVN Tourist Bungalow. It was a bit costly here as it was the biggest city after Yamunotri and all tourists stay here to start their journey the next day. So if possible skip this place and reach another city where it could be cheaper.
Day 10 – Barkot to Rishikesh
Beautiful, wide and smooth roads paved way to reach Rishikesh. This must have been the route that people usually take to reach Yamunotri and hence the government has taken care to maintain these roads. If you are looking to travel on a pleasant road then this should be way.
I took the help of Airbnb to find a place to stay for the day. We book up a room at a house near the outskirts of Rishikesh. The owner of the house kindly served us home made food for dinner and breakfast. Personally I feel that the food could have been better. But who cares when you have been on the most joyous trip ever.
Hotel: Ixora Villa (Private room in a house. Ok for a couple. No disturbance from the owner.)
Day 11 – Rishikesh to New Delhi
Rishikesh to New Delhi was a easy road. Tackling the traffic and reaching the city made me miss the mountains. But there is another life waiting and I had to get back to it. I found VRL logistics in New Delhi, packed my vehicle to Pune. The following documents are required to pack your vehicles to Pune. RC book copy, Driving License, Passport. Make sure you be there before 4pm otherwise it is difficult for them to take in your bike. I was charged Rs.3990 + Rs.400 for packing the bike safely to be transported. And there in ends the beautiful journey to Yamunotri which I never planned.
I am happy that I let myself wander and find new roads. Roads that taught me to be humble and feel happy for the smallest things in life. Like the dog who was just happy to play with my jacket. For the kids who were blessed to breath fresh air during their childhood I wish they never see the city life. I now understand why my wife love the mountains. She is from Deharadun by the way.
The mountains taught me how being healthy is the top most priority in life. Soon after I came back home I started using cycle on everyday basis. I stopped using petrol powered vehicles completely and I am happy with this difficult decision. Now this has opened another new adventure for me. How about me cycling to different cities? Who knows… the next article I write could be about that.
Thanks for taking time to read. – Mr.JCRP