Category Archives: Trek

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 12 & 13 (19, 20 Jun 08)

This entry is part 13 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 12, 19 Jun 08

to Haridwar

5.30 am, Its 5.30 and I cant resist my bowel movement. I need to shit… aagggh!!! my stomach needs an overhaul. By 6.00 Vj’s alarm is ringing, but we decide to cut it off, my head is aching and I don’t feel very healthy, my head is aching a bit, we decide to go back to sleep. Finally around 7.30 we wake up, but it is dark outside, I wonder if its a morning or an evening. Its raining, heavy clouds over the Hrishikesh. We prepare for our ‘check out’. At 9.00am we are at the ashram office, Vj finalizing the details, its raining. I hope it does not rain on the Ram jhulla where we would have no cover to run for. 15 minutes later, ‘Parmarth Niketan’ settlement is over and we move for the Vikram stand on the other side of the river. Things weren’t lucky for us on this trip, and my fear comes true, we were just at the halfway of the bridge and the clouds break lose. The heavy drizzle turns into a torrential downpour. We are left with no option but to run with the big bags till we find ourselves with other fellow tourists under a shop shelter.


We wait well over 30 minutes and the rain has gone from bad to worse. Few more minutes and luckily its back to the ‘heavy drizzle’ and we move on. By 10.15am we get a Vikram for Haridwar which is approximately 28kms from Hrishikesh, just a hour plus journey. Around 10.45 and we are in the Motichur forest zone close to Rajaji National park and the rain is now insane. It continues well till the borders of Haridwar. As if heavy bags and wet clothes were not enough, a huge traffic jam at one of the national highway junction is added to our misery. It takes about quarter of a hour for that to clear and we reach ‘Har ki pauri’ by noon.


Noon, We were lucky enough to find a cycle-rickshaw to port us to our local stay at the Gujarati Ashram. The poor fellow waded uphill amongst bustling streets full with cattle, people, cars, pulling around 170kgs of payload just for Rs. 20. At the ashram, luck seemed to be on ourside, when we got a decent room (for a trekking nomad) with an attached toilet/bathroom. We dry ourselves and rest. I’m for sure not feeling normal. Seems like I have temperature. Mallik calls, with bad news, his train is cancelled and now has to fly back to Mumbai. We move out to find food, same old ‘bhojanalayas’ with big fat tandoori rotis and spicy curries, we didn’t want those but weren’t spared. At food, we wondered if we should stick to original plan of the train or book the flight tickets, finally we too decided on shortcut route, flight. We tried to find a cybercafe on the main road, but couldn’t some of the vendors didn’t even understand what we were searching for. Haridwar in this context is quite backward to Hrishikesh, which due to its more foreign influx has somehow kept itself updated. Luckily we find a cafe just close to our lodging. We were lucky to find some tickets vacant for the Mumbai bound flights and book it.

It was almost 4.00pm when we reached back to our room, with nothing to do, we decided to rest. We had planned a evening aarti at Har ki pauri had it been our original plan, but now after booking for a 10.00pm bus to Delhi from Haridwar, that idea was out. My head was still aching and some body was tired, we decide to sleep. 7.00pm, I can’t sleep anymore, perhaps I’m uncomfortable for a sound sleep. In the balcony its cool breezy evening with beautiful colors at the horizon of Haridwar. We click our final snaps of our tour from the balcony of the Gujarati ashram. Go get back on the streets around 7.30pm to have tea and cancel our rail tickets. Vj gets a shave from a local saloon and feels better. By 8.00pm we were packing our bags for the final time, it was more than 12 days back when we had packed our bags for the next day flight for the very first time, wondering how we were gonna make the trek with the 10kg + bags. The chapter was finally on its last few pages.

9.00pm, After checking out of the dharamshala, we were at the travel agent’s shop waiting for a cycle rickshaw to pick us for the bus stand. We wait for almost 30 minutes, getting restless that the travel agent is just not willing to arrange for the cycle rickshaw. Finally he arranges one by 9.30 and we were on our way to the bus stand, in pitch black darkness somewhere around the corner there was a pack of buses, where the fellow asks us to get down, the cycle-rickshaw fellow checks with other fellow who gets a sheet of paper and probably ticked at our bus seat numbers. The bus is full of Gujaratis, Vj jokes he has no respite from them. It feels like being in a bus from Rajkot to Junagarh. Around 10.30 the engine whines and the tyres roll taking us into a new day for the last journey in our trip, back to Mumbai!

Day 13, 20 Jun 08

The seats of the bus are not ‘ergonomic’ a word we really didn’t care at the begining of the trip, but with the last moments with a tired body it made a lot of difference. My neck was aching, the bus stood still, I woke up, the bus was waiting at a restaurant for the tourists to break for food/washroom. It was 2.30am in the morning. After a few minutes its rolling again. I make a head rest out of my wind cheater and luckily have some sound sleep till 4.30, when the conductor of the bus calls for ‘Last Stop, ISBT !’.

That meant we were in Delhi, the bus was circling around some big area lighted with tall lamp posts, somewhere I saw ‘ISBT’. We were circling around the Delhi bus stop, ISBT. Few minutes later the bus stopped and our bags were yet again on our backs, for the last time. There were many auto-rickshaws offering a ride to the airport, with ranges of Rs. 150 – 300. We decided to check at the bus stop. Luck couldn’t favour us more, in front of us we saw slick bus with electronic signboard ‘IGI Airport’

5.00am, The bus moves and we move through the Delhi’s posh and wide roads, circling many government buildings, the Red Fort till we reached the Airport by 5.45. We have some biscuits to soothe our burning stomachs and wait. With us there was group of foreign models probably from Eastern Europe, opposed to us they were very well dressed, with their make ups and energetic. We at the other end were tired, dirty from night long bus ride. I decided to brush my teeth and take a dump at the Airport. Felt a little better, but my body ached, fever for sure, we waited restlessly for our call of ‘Indigo’ flight for Mumbai.

Around 8.30, we checked in our luggage and waited for boarding. By 9.15 we were in the fuselage. As I took my seat my memories returned when all 6 of us were in a similar plane all enthusiastic for the 2 week trip. Around 10.15 the plane took off. We didn’t have much to chat and discuss, both of us tired. As I put my head on the head rest, every single moment of the Dodital trek raced through, Mussoorie, Dehradun, Hrishikesh and all. By 12.15 the plane landed and it took us almost 1.30 before we ventured on the roads in the rickshaw, Vj’s friend came to meet at the airport and I hugged him thanks and all that for the trip and we to split into our own directions. The streets of Mumbai felt familiar but somewhat strange, from the lovely hillocks of the north, crisp clear skies, cool winds and snowy caps, I was back into Cement jungles and tar roads, nevertheless felt very happy to be back Home!!!

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 11 (18 Jun 08)

This entry is part 12 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 11, 18 Jun 08


7.00 am, In a ‘sleepy’ mode, we are bid goodbye by Mallik. He is still interested in another small trek to Neelkanth. It would be around 2 hrs of a simple trek, but none of us are interested, or rather should I say have the energy. Mallik is still enthusiastic to head back into the woods. I wake almost an hour and half later, a crisp morning in Hrishkesh feels splendid. I wake up Vj and ask him if he is interested in bath at the ghats. Rajo too agrees when I knock at his room. We wait for an hour till Amey and Nikhil get ready to be with us.

The Hrishikesh Ganga is cold as well !! But extremely refreshing. It felt like diving into a river of chilled Soda water, the rich silt brushing, with fizzling cool water running over the skin. Bathing with soap is not allowed so after 15 minutes or later (the sane period we thought would be good enough in the water without troubling our health !) we head back to our rooms for ‘proper baths’.


10.00 am, After a clean bath in warmer water we are hungry and wonder about our day’s breakfast. Vj has some Maggi packets left and we decide to prepare it. In a cool religious place, in an ashram you don’t realize how time flies by swiftly. It was almost noon when we finished our ‘breakfast’ and wait for Mallik to come back. Today is our rest day. So nothing more than rest and we are back on our beds.

2.00 pm, Yet again in our sleeps, its Mallik who is waking us up. This time he is coming back from the trek ! We all get back on our bums and listen to Mallik’s experiences about the small trek to Neelkanth. hmm.. this day is good, relaxing, chatting, easing out, one of our first days after the long trek and travelling. TPing.. its almost 4 when we realize we still have to have our lunch. Back on the streets move into the local food-joint trying to search for some appeasing menu item. We all were sick of the paneers, daals and big tandoori rotis. But that was not to leave us yet. After alu sabzi, daal and roti, we roamed in the adjoining street full of travel agents, middle-men, cyber cafes, etc.

Mallik check’s that his train has yet again flip-floped to ‘running’ mode. He has to leave today. Rajo gets home sick and wants to return to Sangli instead of Mumbai. Amey too doesn’t find the trip anymore interesting and wants to leave early. So as tickets get cancelled and booked, me and Vj wonder if sticking to the original plan is the right idea. However we stick to it. Amey and Rajo too are to leave today evening with Mallik and Nikhil. Mallik and Nikhil have got to leave by 7.00 to reach Haridwar for the next days early morning train to Delhi @ 6.00 am. Amey and Rajo book a bus ticket around 9.00 with the cyber cafe / travel agent for Delhi. All of them unknowingly having a flight from Delhi the next day.

6.00 pm, Mallik, me and Vj come back to the ashram. Mallik has to start packing, while others head off for marketing. By 7 Mallik has completed his packing and wondering why hasn’t Nikhil yet come back, who is to leave with him. We three venture out on the banks for the famous Ganga aarti. Over there the scene is captivating, just behind the big Shiva idol, is the west where the sun is setting behind a small hill, its golden rays piercing through the scattered clouds in the blue sky. A golden hue merging into the dark clouds. On the left the temple skyline is lit with a lovely pink/golden tone as the background.

Sunset at hrishikesh
Sunset at hrishikesh
Hrishikesh temple skyline at sunset
Hrishikesh temple skyline at sunset

After capturing the aarti, Mallik decides its time to leave and yet Nikhil hasn’t come back, sticking to military-like plan he leaves us with a hug, the long journey with Mallik on this trip had finally come to an end. We watch him with his backpack till we lose him in the crowds. Around 8pm the trio appears. Nikhil is in a hurry, obviously he has lost the company of resourceful Mallik, and now has to manage on his own. He decides to leave with Rajo and Amey for the Delhi bus and would get down at Haridwar station, unsure, but now his only option. By 8.30pm we are just two of us as even Delhi bus trio leaves. We decide to go back to the Ganga ghat to enjoy the last moments in Hrishikesh’s banks.

9.00 pm, We come back and decide that we cant have more of tandoori rotis, etc. Bread and butter would satisfy us for dinner. I remember I still have my ‘cup noodles’, so thats on the platter as well. We share a laugh the mess reminding us of ‘Mukti’s cousin’. Its almost 10pm and we pack our big bags for yet another journey to Haridwar for the next morning. Its almost after 10 when finally the lights go out for the last time in Hrishikesh.

Kalavantindurg Trek

Kalavantin Durg, the small steep hill adjoining to Prabalgad was our motto of the day, Dec 6, 2008.

With Mallik, his cousin, Raksha, Vj, Rajo, Janki and Neeraj adventured the steep, kindof scary trek.

View the Gallery

Travelling Directions

  • Get to Panvel, Bus or Train (Central Harbour)
  • From Panvel ST Bus Depot, take a bus for Thakurwadi, and get @ the last stop, the base village

Approximate time of Trek: 4-5 hrs (including the return to the base village)
Difficulty: easy to medium, if you are not scared of heights.

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 10 (17 Jun 08)

This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 10, 17 Jun 08

To Dehradun & Mussoorie

5.00 am, I wondered if I’d been here for a vacation or a torture camp, every single day of this vacation I’d been up well before 5.00am. Today’s excuse, ‘Trip to Mussoorie’. We get ready by around 7.00 and cross Ram jhula. A Vikram’s ride leads us to the bus stand. The bus stand was nothing more than a empty ground, with rubbish in corner and a concrete post, where the officials handed over the tickets. We waited there for a Dehradun bus, which took about hour and half or so. All the bus lined up weren’t the ones required. Finally one with Dehradun showed up, a small mini bus. The crowd was bad and we somehow managed to get in. Vj and Mallik couldn’t make in the same bus but another standing by the side. Both these buses left at the same time though around 8 am! The route to Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand was good the highway cutting through forests. The roads were decent enough. I was standing most of the time later got a seat just to let off my weight off the legs.



9.30 am, We reached Dehradun, got down near a highway crossing. We had to take a vehicle for Mussoorie from the railyway station where the taxis and the bus stand stood. But before we could do all that.. we were HUNGRY. We headed into a sardarji’s dhaba and made ourselves comfortable in an odd half dhaba – half restaurant ambience. We pushed about more than 2 aloo parathas each. While eating we understood that those were half aloo half onion, WHY !? cause the kitchen had made it that way.. We didn’t care! parathaas.. aah! Some of us topped it with a sweet or salty lassi, guys weren’t sure if they got what they ordered. Anyways after the bill we headed towards station. At the station the taxi stands, etc were buzzing with the daily routine. Cab drivers eager to make every tourist his passenger, the careless bus drivers and ‘I care a shit’ attitude of the bus company employees.

After a few economical discussions on a cab-ride or bus ride, we decided on the later and … the crowded one. A Mussoorie bus, rumours came through the crowd that the bus was at the close by junction, and people started to run wildly towards the junction, as the bus approached the area, the conductor just refused to open the doors. We were halfway between running wildly and being civilized.. actually it didn’t really help. Somehow we managed to get into the bus. The bus left around 10 am and took another hour to reach the hills of Mussoorie.


The ride to Mussoorie was just as wonderful as the name it self. Mussoorie overlooks the doon valley and is at the right top, a hill station ofcourse. The road leading to Mussoorie is a zig-zag winding one, all the way from the base to the town itself. It was raining lightly and the road was glittering. We reached at the Musoorie bus stop aroun 11.15. The bus stop, main bus stop of the town was just big enough to accomodate about 5-8 buses and had a small waiting room. It showed that Mussoorie was probably out of the range for the locals, but for just big industrialists and rich men which was evident from the extremely busy roads jammed with big cars honking in arrogance.

We decided to stroll along the Mall Road and enjoy the lovely climate. The rich and fashionable made their presence felt. Road cleanliness and town maintenance seemed to be the no. 1 priority of township government. There were trash bins all periodically, ad boards of keeping the hill town clean and beautiful. We made sure the lovely road just leaning over the edge overlooking the Doon valley was the place where we had ample of photos. Pressure is building inside my stomach ! The walk led us to the taxi stand where we hired a cab for Kempty water falls around 12.15 pm.

Kempty water falls are about 5-7 km down from Mussoorie, we arrived at the falls locked in a bad traffic jam. Our driver suggested that we move ahead on foot while he’d park the car. Even though being a Tue, a working day it was extremely crowded. All I could see were people. The Kempty water falls are lovely water falls in which the water actually flows over the huge rock faces, not the typical fall in which water comes off from a ridge. So its calm and beautiful. At the base there is an artifical catchment, which creates a pool like effect where people can enjoy. But that causes a lot crowd problems in that specific area. Its still raining. We climb some places for a better view of the falls, and all that leads to uncontrollable pressure. I ask Vj and Mallik to wait at a restaurant, while I can have a dump, I purchase a mineral water bottle! and search for a place/toilet/sulabh shauchaalay. But nothing is to be found, finally I find a place right underneath a hotel which is built on the edges and supported by coloumns wooden and concrete both. I knew this was the place. aaa aahh !! Phew ! I came back washed hands at the same restaurant where all were having their late-late breakfast. And then we headed towards the main fall, the rain has now started to come hard. So we wait near one of the restaurants near the fall, and we decide enough of this crowded nature. We’d seen more beautiful, incomparable vistas on our trek, this was just shit! So we decided to head back to the Cab and leave back for Mussoorie around 2.15pm.

At the Mussoorie bus stop we purchased tickets for Dehradun, and went to a shack for tea. We heard the bus roar behind us.. so we asked the guy…

भैय्या जलदी करना

to which another person responded in a jovial way..

अरे मसुरी आए हो आराम से खाओ पियो !! जलदी क्या है ?

हमारी बस छूत जाएगी…

he replied again..

अरे ऐसे कैसे छूटेगी !

In the bus we knew why that fellow person said so. I happened to be the bus conductor of our bus. As we climbed down the hills around 4.30, the Sun was getting low and producing even more beautiful images around us to lock into our minds and cameras both. Golden yellow clouds surrounded by beautiful blue-green sky.

We reached Dehradun ISBT around 6.30pm and hopped into the bus, when suddenly people frantically got up and went into another bus which left earlier than ours, however it left us with more seats to adjust with. The long journey scenic journey of Mussoorie had come to an end, we reached Hrishikesh around 8.30. Yet again crossed the Ram jhula in darkness, with only the smells and sounds of the hissing river beneath. On the road back to the Ashram around 9.00 we managed to have some typical north indian food, chhole, tandoori rotis and daal. Sleep wasn’t far away at 10.00pm

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 9 (16 Jun 08)

This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 9, 16 Jun 08

Back to Hrishikesh

6.00 am, Rajo’s call ensures that we are ready for the long return trip back to Hrishikesh. Last night we’d asked Rana, Pratap Rana to help us get a taxi back to Hrishikesh. Around 7.00 Rana calls and says he can’t make it. He was unable to get this taxi in the union’s queue for the Uttarkashi-Hrishikesh trip. But he has arranged another fellow. He makes his presence at 8, and helps us host all the luggage on the carrier and drives the Maxx to the market area where he introduces us to ‘Bharat Gonsai’, our driver for the 5-6 hr long journey. He is a slim person with a typical gharwali skin, fair but pale, bony face with brown eyes. As we leave the Uttarkashi hills, the beautiful early morning just got better with the calm Sun being overshadowed by clouds which start to pour easily. Sun rays, Glowing rainfall, green backdrop, twisting roads and Himalayas, Beauty!!!


Almost half hour into the journey or more, the rains have started to fall hard. We’ve reached Dharasu band and all are hungry, and we pull the taxi near a road side shack. A typical North indian joint, Food items and its creation all at display. We have a heavy breakfast of chhole and Samosa, popularly called as ‘Chaat’ in many parts of India, But just a staple morning food here. With everybody gulping 2 plates each, energy replenished! In the car, everybody was enthusiastic about our future endeavours. We decided to have some conversation with the driver, Gonsai. But as opposed to yesterdays’ cabin crew, Rana, who was a dashing, street smart, well dressed fellow, today’s personnel wasn’t that great. Just a simple villager. He didn’t even answer our questions correctly, forget correctly in the right direction. I was just curious about the Car’s engine capacity,

इंजन कितने cc का है?

to which he replied

चार सिलिंडर का इंजन है

Me and Mallik were looking at eachother wondering if we should laugh, or not. We did in the end knowing that even our laughter wouldn’t put any questions in the driver’s mind. The long winding roads of NH 94 through the beautiful Himalayas make me feel bad as I’m not sure when would I be able to experience it again. A lot of last snaps of the ever towering hills and valleys keeps most of us busy for the first hour or so. After which the journey begins to grow monotonous. But soon we are amidst the ‘New Tehri’ region overlooking the deep blue catchment waters of mighty Bhagirathi. The catchment water view is well over a kilometre. The great expanse of the area, the beige coloured mountains, the eroded soil that creates a vast banks along the catchment, the huge blue water and all of that encompassed by tall hills of the Himalayas. Its a sight that one can’t just miss.


2.15 pm, We finally reach Hrishikesh, the climate had changed from cool 18-20 °C to around 21-23 °C. The taxi parked near the ST stand. Mallik had been here before, So we had a destination and a guide already. First was to look get into a Vikram to lead us to Ram zhula or the swaying bridge, we were to cross the Ganga and then have some food and go looking for accomodation in the Dharamshalas or the ashrams. We somehow get into a Vikram with all our big backpacks and the vikram’s 3 min. long journey comes to a halt near the bridge’s foundation. The bridge is steel cabled bridge with bindings only at the very ends. The plying area of bridge is just about 5-6 feet in width, with huge steel cables empowering the bridge. The whole structure reminds me of the Geometric figures in which two perpendicular lines were joined by set of lines. Our first steps on the bridge, and we knew why it was called a ‘jhula’ or a ‘sway’. Everytime it just vibrated with the heavy footsteps and at times swayed laterally. I was astonished to see 2wheelers making through the crowded 5 feet wide bridge in the crowd. When we were at the dead center of the bridge, we stood there while we witnessed the Ganga, or the Bhagirathi (name changed after Devprayag’s confluence with Alakhnanda) breezing past below our feet. Beige colored with the color of the rocks of the himalayas that it has been eroding from its journey from the Gomukh, Gangotri and so on. The monkeys at the bridge made sure that nobody is careless with belongings. The monkeys come down pick, snatch food items and climb back along the cables to the top of the bridge.

Around 2.30 we get to the otherside and into a very crowded, noisy restaurant, ‘Chotiram’. Even though its a Monday, its extremely crowded, We had to wait for few minutes before we could get a seat to sit. I was amazed to look at the Menu card. The rates were as high as a decent Mumbai hotel, which means that for a localite this hotel was way to expensive. Or perhaps it was not meant for the localite but just for the visiting tourists and foreigners. We had a thali, and we moved quickly from the choking place, out on the narrow streets of Rishikesh. Outside the hotel there was a ‘chotiram’ mascot, a fat, bald man with lots of makeup sitting right at the entrance gate. Man !!! this hotel knew how business was done in the Metros!! Our next aim was to find accomodation. Every ashram or dharamshala that we visited was way to crowded, which also meant Mallik and Vijay came back with ‘no vacancy’ response. We failed in our first 3 targets, all these ashrams were lined up parallely long the banks of the Ganga, the road about 12-15 feet wide dividing the Ashrams’ boundries and the ‘ghat’ on the banks of Ganga. We were not too worried about accommodation, we had a lot of problem while trekking related to sound and dry sleep. So we knew we could manage anywhere. But ‘Parmarth Niketan’ didn’t disappoint us. It was almost 4.30 when we finally made an entry into the rooms. We had booked 2 rooms with 2 beds each. One person in each room was extra and we had to manage. But the neatly laid soft bed with bedsheets, pillows was like heaven to all of us who had endured wet, cold nights in Bebra and Manjhi sleeping in wet sleeping bags. We got fresh, washed many clothes and moved out for ‘Hrishikesh Discovery’.

Our first stop was to see Laxman Jhula the first bridge @ Rishikesh. We took a Jeep to laxman jhula. Mallik was disappointed at the sight. He said the Laxman Jhula too was now made of Concrete and steel cables. Initial it was made of wood and cables which made it sway even more. It now was similar to the Ram jhula. We made sure we didn’t lose any opportunity of snaps on the bridge. At the other end we saw a vendor selling ‘shikanjhi’ or lemon juice with the added attraction of ‘Goti Soda’ (that was just for us!). Goti Soda is a Soda in glass bottle which is sealed with a use of a marble or a ‘goti’. The idea is that the air pressure within the bottle pushes the marble otwards to the nozzle, but since the diameter of the marble is more than that of the nozzle, the air pressure locks the marble at the nozzle. To break the seal is just to push the ‘goti’ inside with a thumb, which creates an odd sound, that like plucking a finger from the cheeks.

Next up was a gem shop, none of us wanted to purchase any but.. we were tourists and had to behave like wise, so window shopping. The shop boasted of Gems, Rubys, Turquoises, and many more, even that of a single headed ‘Rudrasksha’, I didn’t even know what ‘single headed rudraksha’ means till Amey explained it to me. I and Mallik were now interested by this cyber cafe, It was Euro 2008 and just like every Euro competition I was missing it. 10 days had past and I hadn’t made any match. So Mallik and I were browsing at this ‘broadband’ cyber cafe, checking emails, etc. While Vj, Rajo, amey and nikhil moved ahead into the streets and promised to be back at the cafe by another hour. There seemed to be another set of bad news, The train problem was still on, Gujjars making sure that we couldn’t sleep easy. Yet again we were considering Flight options.

An hour later we were back crossing the Laxman Jhula and on the streets window shopping, it was taking away lot of our time. We had to make sure we were back in Parmarth Niketan by 10.30. Another shop of shawls gobbles away more than an a hour. Rajo, Nikhil, Mallik, Vj all busy checking whats good in Shawls, kurtas, and host of other ‘khadi’ items. By the time we were again on streets it was almost 10.15. Which meant that there wasn’t enough time for food, So we decided to have sweetlime juice, each one of us had 2 glasses full of the juice, and on our way back even purchased biscuits, 4 packets of maggi, etc for a quick meal. At the ashram, me and Vj get out our eating apparatus and people cook maggi. I don’t feel like eating so sleep is next till our next day’s venture of Mussoorie.

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 8 (15 Jun 08)

This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 8, 15 Jun 08

To Gangotri

3.00 am, Its a curse, the alarm is a god-damn curse on the human race. Nobody is really interested to getup and be ready for the great Gangotri trip, one of the चार धाम places. I’m unable to download anything, how on earth will bowels work at 3.30am in the morning. By 4.30 we’re partially ready when the driver knocks at the door. Everybody is extremely slow to move ahead, but finally by 4.45am we are in the Maxx Jeep and heading towards Gangotri. Pratap Rana, our driver moves the vehicle inside the Uttarkashi market place and moves his pawn by saying, he is getting a ‘savari’ or another person in the cab. Mallik is fumed, he doesn’t not wont anyone else in here. There is a lot of heated discussion between us and Rana. He suggests that he can give back the advance and drop us by the market taxi stand. But somehow we continue. But he is rash in his driving, moving hard on turns, on potholes. That irks all of us. But we stay quiet, Amey does not he starts another argument with him on his driving. Rana backfires, that this is the only place where he can swiftly move his jeep, ’cause in the ghats it has to be slow and steady.

7.00 am, We are still climbing through NH 108, moving through hilly villages overlooking the valley in which Bhagirathi is raging like a mad river. I recollect my mother’s stories about some place where the river flow is so hard that it can break anything in its path. We try to gauge the speed of the river it could be more than 40kmph. That means its an extremely heavy slope towards Uttarkashi and the river does not spare anything in its way. The mountains themselves are big, overpowering, strong and hard. Even though they are beautiful there is something hideous about them, something like ‘Get off my way’ attitude. Another hour or later we are near Bhatwari. And there seems to be a massive jam. Rains and day’s sun are the miscreants. There has been a lot of landslide further in the distance, hence blocking the traffic on either ends. Just if the natural forces were not enough for the problem, there was rock drilling continuing in the rock for better roads. The vibrations just help the brittle rock to dislocate. We get down and walk on foot to see how far is the jam. It could more than a km. long. We still walk ahead and find the actual place where the landslide has occurred. The landslide has taken off 20-30% of the road into the valley. The road around too is very mucky, slushy. No firm grip around. There are still small pebbles falling down. A brave truck driver helps push big boulders on the road with his Truck, and we have some space to move. Rana calls us and we all run back. Rana, true to the character of a local driver in the Himalayan ghats, manoeuvres his jeep through the jam, quickly getting ahead of big buses and other lazy cars. He says its important to get ahead, cause another jam and we would be late. It is necessary for us to leave early from Gangotri as well and clear through these ghats in the sunlight. We had moved a little ahead of the problem and there was another minor jam, thanks to a Maruti 800 which was unable to move the puddle of soil, gravel. The driver was trying hard to move the vehicle, but his efforts were in vain, A young local driver jumped off from his cab and offered to drive the car through the muck, and asked some others for a push at specific places. And brilliantly he got the small-tired car from foot deep soil.


Its close to 10.30 and we are now close to Harsil, a beautiful hilly village before Gangotri, no other human settlement between Harsil and Gangotri, except for ITBP or the Indo Tibet Border Police checkposts. Harsil is beautiful, amidst the cool weather, High himalayas and lovely Apple Orchids that it harvests. We halted at a local ‘tapri’ for some food and chai. Most have ‘chole’ and ‘bun-pav’. Rnana urges us to be quick, so after a sip of tea, we are moving again. The climb continues and we spot our first snow-capped mountain in this area. They seem to be towering above us, the rain clouds trying to cover the snow. It was an amazing experience being in such a place and all cameras went snapping.

Its 11.00, and we are on a bridge, joining tow mountains, some 600m a river is flowing. Pratap Rana stops and narrates that this is the highest bridge over here, we are near Nelong Kopang, the Indo Tibet Border which is just few minutes away from here. Below the bridge he continues is the rivulet that is coming from China/Tibet which further joins the Bhagirathi coming from Gangotri, and he points to a far corner where the two rivers met. We continue from the place and soon we spot cars parked on either side of the road. The familiar parking problem in pilgrimage spots is no stranger here. We move on close to the actual place where Rana parks and says we should be running back by 1.30. It has taken us well over 4.5 hrs from Uttarkashi to Gangotri which is about 96km by roads. 99% of which are in high in Ghats.


The street leading to the temple is a typical one, with shops selling religious clothes, puja equipment and more. Mallik, Vj buy some yellow-saffron colored ‘gamcha’. The pressure inside my stomach is now building. As we enter the main area, we can hear water falling from somewhere, excited we move ahead towards Surya Kund, Where a small off-rivulet of Bhagirathi is jumping from a vertical cliff from about 30m and making a small pool below, the Surya Kund. The pressure, water flow is so much that it creates a mist of water in the surroundings. Videos and photos never far away from such places. We move towards the right climbing ahead on the path which has many aashrams, and other religious installations. Now I’m not really interested in all those, all I need is a toilet ! We cross through a wooden bridge to the other side, after I reached the other side of the bridge, we see a simple sign near the edge of bridge, कमज़ोर ब्रिज ! the whole troop now moves towards the ghats where people are trying to take a dip into the holy or rather chilly water. Even though Mallik has some fever, he decides that he’ll take a dip. Its close to noon and Vj joins him in the chill-party and we then head towards the temple. After a brief visit to the temple we are back on the main street. My friends are now finding a place to put more stuff inside their stomach, while I’m trying to find a place to do the exact opposite. Its now uncontrollable, while they settle for a hotel, I go ahead in search for a toilet, luckily I find a decently clean ‘Pay and Use Sulab Shochalay’. Aaaaa…hhh !!! I managed a Vartak Memorial at Gangotri. Light as a bird I join others for lunch.

Its 1.30-1.45, and we’ve started to head back towards Uttarkashi. Mallik is really sick, dives his head down and goes to sleep. Just close to Gangotri Rana shows us ‘Pandav gufa’. I wonder where all did Pandav visit during their ‘Karavas’ and ‘Agyatvas’. We find Pandav places from Nasik to Himalayas, 50% of India in length covered !? The ride back now seems tiring with the thought of 5 hrs of travelling back to Uttarkashi on the bad roads. We all doze off, intermittently getting up to check the spots, trying to store our memories.

Pilot Baba Ahram, Maneri

4.30 pm, Sign boards show Maneri and Rana asks us if we want to see Pilot Baba Ashram. We all are ready. The Ashram is a beautiful place loaded with flowers and statues. There are various flowers, roses, sunflowers, lilies and so on. Rajoba is quick to show us the flowers and various other plantations. He gets nostalgic remembering his Sangli garden and how it was destroyed. There are various statues of Indian dieties, Ram, Hanuman, etc. We spend almost an hour when I hear shouts, Rana wants to get back soon and we hop in the jeep and are back heading towards Uttarkashi.


We reached Uttarkashi somewhere around 6.15, at Devlok we feel exhausted with the day’s travel not more than 200kms but in those bad roads and the twisting and turning ghats, it was tiring. Mallik needs to go to a Dr., we find a local Dr. Bhandary and take him there. He gives Mallik all drugs for Stomach infection. Around 8.30 we leave Devlok for food, But we are not interested in Bhandary hotel’s meal so try to find alternatives. Luckily we find a juice store, where we jam-in various juices, purchase some Lichi. We come back to the room and start packing our bags for the next day’s long distance jeep travel to Hrishikesh.

Trekking in Satara

Satara is a place of plains showered with small hills all around. At times these hills are in a queue, gives an impression of being placed manually.


Vairatgad Fort (Wai T; 17° 50′ N, 73° 50′ E; RS. Wathar, 21 m;) in Wai 3,939 feet above sea level, lies nine miles north-east of Medha and six miles south-east of Wai. The base village is Vyajvadi.

Vairatgad photos

Nandgiri / Kalyangad

Nandgiri or Kalyangad Fort (Koreganv T; 18° N, 74° E; RS, Satara Road, 2 m. w;) 3,537 feet above sea level. Nandgiri aka Kalyangad, The hill with a big peepal tree in the dead center at the very top. Its so prominent that Nandgiri and its tree can be spotted from other hills in Satara. It is separated from the rest of the spur by a small gorge or Khind and stands on a lower hill than the Candan Vandan range close to its north-west. mmediately after entering the lower gate a steep footpath descends within the western was into a hollow at the bottom of the scarp. The hollow is about forty or fifty feet deep. When the bottom is reached the entrance to a huge cavern is seen which can only be reached by stooping. The cavern is full of water but very dark. Outside the gate and to the north there evidently were huge caverns but these have been built up with rough masonry.

Nandgiri/Kalyangad photos


Patesvar (Satara T; RS. Rahimatpur, 9 m, E) a peaked hill rising above the rest of the range about seven miles south-east of Satara, has on its north-west face close to the junction of the villages of Deganv, Nigdi and Bharatganv and within the limits of Deganv a series of cave temples. From Deganv a path strikes to the south-east and winds up to a khind or gorge from which by steps in places it proceeds at a very gentle incline for about three quarters of a mile along the hill side till the temples are reached.

Pateshwar photos


Parali or Sajjangad [The name Sajjangad that is the fort of good men or sajjan is locally said to be derived from the number of good men who visited it after it became the residence of Ramdas Svami] Fort (Satara T; 17° 35′ N, 73° 00′ E; RS Satara Road 16 m. NE; p. 1,196) about 1045 feet above the plain and 1824 yards in circumference.

The only entrance to the fort is by two gateways at the southwest angle. Both the gateways are in good order strongly built of cut-stone and flanked by towards and a parapet along the rock. The lower gateway which is partly under the rock is completely hidden from the approach and commanded by the upper gateway.

Sajjangad photos


Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 7 (14 Jun 08)

This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 7, 14 Jun 08

Bebra Ghat

My stomach is grumbling, I feel bad, need to go to the loo, I wake up, Its dark, everybody is sleeping. Probably its still night. I need to go. The loo I remember is not in the room, I need to get down walk and there is something built over there. I don’t have time to find a torch, I wake up Vj and aks for a torch. I get down the stairs, and walk towards the toilet scared of leeches jumping on my foot. Its liquid ! I return back and get into the bag, its around 2.00am. I’ve added myself to upset stomach list with Mallik and Vj.


6.00 am, Sound sleep in a nice warm rest house always has enemies. Rajo’s alarm, heartless. We somehow manage to fight our sleep and start getting ready. Viki will never start the day without some food in our stomach, ‘Daliya’ is the morning’s breakfast after a request by Mallik. We come outside all geared up for the last day’s walk, the owner of the house has a air-gun that we play around with and finally bid Bebra Ghat a final goodbye around 8.45. Down the hill and up again changing mountains for Agora. At Agora we gave a small halt as Viki returned the mattresses. Agora was yet again shining the early morning sun, with a lovely valley in the front, and itself being on a terrace field, Agora was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. There were many flowers that had blossomed and none missed an opportunity to captivate the nature.

Along the way, Viki showed us the Bhang plants, and various flora. At Agora he said, is a split for Bugiya Dayal, which on route towards Gangotri and Valley of Flowers. The Valley of Flowers blossoms best in August. Viki continued on his trek-adventure-talk, that during the peak season of Valley of Flowers the smell is so intoxicating that someone can get dizzy and fall. So to prevent that they keep smelling Garlic and chew it, just to fade of that fragrance of flowers. On our way I saw an Apple tree for the first time in my life. The apples were small and green in color, with just a haze of red pushing through.

My legs were tiring, and it felt I was climbing down with more than 20kgs. I now felt that a little climb could do some good for the legs. But what goes up must come down, so did we, kept descending… Finally around 11.00am we saw the Asi Ganga the rivulet that joins Bhagirathi at Sangamchatti, which meant Sangamchatti wasn’t far enough. 15 minutes later we were there, back in the civilization, roads, motor vehicles for transport, dry shelter, tapri for chai and more. We crossed the road and waited, Soon enough Viki came running, he had arranged for a Commander/Jeep to take us to Uttarkashi. We were moving through the jeep along the Bhagirathi river, for the first time since 5 days, we were travelling and yet not walking or climbing. The Bhagirathi continued to flow, shaping up people’s lives around it.


12.30 pm, The town was familiar, It was just a few days since we’d left from here, but felt like a year or more. We waded through the civilized world’s hassles, traffic jams, Bad roads, dirt, etc. We kept looking for an ‘affordable’ hotel/lodge, but didn’t find it easily. Finally we settled for one called ‘Devlok’. Had a ‘clean’ bath after many days, all these days it had been just a fast water flowing, I had a neat shave. And the last bath had been at Bebra Ghat while we were climbing towards Dodital. A neat dry set of clothes and we felt fresh instantly. We sent Nikhil with Viki to arrange for a cab for the next day’s Gangotri visit.

4.30 pm, Most of them are ready and we leave for food. We go to Bhandary hotel and have omelette bread and tea. Mallik has a slight fever. The omelette is wonderful ! Vj didn’t come and is busy washing clothes. We get back to the room with Paneer pulav and Dahi. I went to the top of the hotel, was just a concrete roof, with no boundaries. It was a splendid view from there, the towering hills on the left side with Bhagirathi and the ‘Zula’ or the bridge on it. I waited there for almost 2 hours till Rajoba came and got online with his phone and many others came up and were online.. While just stared in the hills. Viki sincerely called back, We had asked him if he could accompany us to Gangotri the next day, But he said it could be difficult for him, as he has to prepare for another big trek with group of army men.

We came downstairs, and started watching the snaps, it was close to 7.30pm, we didn’t realize how time passed and it was 10.00pm and we yet had to have our dinner. we rushed back to Bhandari hotel and have Dal, Paneer bhurzi and roti. Back at the hotel, we went to sleep on the bed, something I hadn’t done since leaving home. But while we slept we had next day’s alarm already ringing at 3.30am for Gangotri.

Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal: Day 6 (13 Jun 08)

This entry is part 7 of 13 in the series Himalayan Trip: Dodital Trek and Uttaranchal

Day 6, 13 Jun 08


6.00 am, Rajo’s alarm is sickening. We get up and find a place for a food-dump. The guard again points that do not do it near the stream that feeds the pool. We find some good place, after that, I was feeling a lot better. Others too finish off, and start doing the ‘packing’ business. With a big backpack and loads of things to carry, the whole packing takes around 5 minutes or more. Viki as usual was up and running, around 8.00 we have our breakfast of Rice and Dal, Viki encourages us to push in as much as we can, as there is a lot to climb and so lot of energy to be consumed. Vijay is feeling nauseatic and drinks two glasses of Salt water, but that doesn’t help him vomit. The strange feeling continues to spoil his morning.


9.30 am, We finally leave for Darwatop. That was our first night halt between Dodital and Hanuman-chatti. Within 1/2 km in our route, and the rain plays spoil sport. It had been so sunny all morning, and now !!!! We stop under a big rock, The rains make it worse for trekkers, with the water in the bags, its even more weight to carry. 15 minutes into our first break, and the rain still hasn’t stopped, but worsened. We discuss the plan of a trek in these rains. We decide against the porters’ wishes and continue in the rain. Me, Vj and Mallik are still apprehensive, but Amey is fixed on the plan. So we continue ahead in the hard rains, Its not even a minute after we’ve moved ahead, and Viki finally calls for a stop. This time he orders that we should not move ahead. He continues that It would be too risky ahead in the rains, There is no stop from now right till the Darwatop. So we have no place for a break. The ration too would get spoilt and there would be nothing for food right until Hanumanchatti, So we’d be left with no food and shelter ! .. and we decide to return back. Its raining cats, dogs, elephants, aligators !! We got back to Dodital in 15-20 minutes, I headed straight for the tapari for some tea, while others went to the temple. The porters soon followed, one of them was drenched. He quickly came to the fire and started drying himself. I too followed.


12.30 am, I’m still at the fire, the rain is till bad, Rajo comes to call me and I follow him with my sack to the temple where everyone is busy drying themselves and packing their bags. Soon we had put the foot on the accelerator and heading downwards in the direction of Manjhi. Somewhere around 2.30 its Manjhi, the hazy, chilly Manjhi. The rains had disappeared as we descended. Probably they just didn’t want us to go further ahead. Our stomachs were crying for food, so Maggi was on the menu. Vj got out his wax stove and prepared maggi. While he did that we had some hot tea at Premsingh Ranwat’s tapri, it was the same place where we’d stopped for the night the previous day. There were some kids helping him, on of them was Manisha, she was from Agora village and had come here for vacations. We were discussing whether these kids came here for some work. The kids almost all girls were named like heroines, Priyanka, Rita, Sonam and more. We take snaps of our bags all lined up, our dirty and mucky shoes and leave Manjhi by 3.45pm towards Bebra ghat, which was going to be the night halt.

Bebra Ghat

Coming down from Manjhi we had to change mountains which meant some climbing, our mind was now set on ‘Rest – Go back’ mode. So a little climb was uneasy for us, but we continued through the rainy coniferous forests. Kacheru was on the way by 4.20pm, We discussed the correct pronunciation of the place, Kacheru, Kachori and so on. We halted for few minutes refilled our water bottles and floored the pedal again. Bebra village’s boundary invited us close to 6.00pm. We descended a little further in the village and found a rest-house 2 rooms Rs. 300 a night. Viki was asked to prepare everything tonite, Dal, Roti, Tomato chatni, all that he could manage. We didn’t have any other night halt now, so the ration could be used away.

10.30 pm, No food yet, we were already resting, planning our future tip details, arguing over whether we should stay in Mussoorie or not, etc. We had finally come back to the civilization mode, planning trips in Buses, cars, taxis etc. Viki finally came calling for food, but we were now too lazy to easily jump off our sleeping bags and beds, Yes the hut even had 3 beds ! quite a luxury. We forced Viki to tell some ‘bhoot ki kahaniyan’, something that Viki had himself promised but never implemented. At food, everybody was relaxed, noramlly the porters always seemed strenuous after the days’ porting and thinking about the next day, but today everyone was joking, enjoying. After food we went back to ‘our’ room and laid back. Viki came back again, with his Sherpa smile of his on the face.

आप लोगोंको कहानी सुननी थी ना !

And he narrated two incidents of his, one when he was carrying a cylinder on his back to his home, when the cylinder suddenly swayed and he felt that somebody had put a foot on his slipper. He is still recovering from change in motion when he feels a thorny hand on his back. He turns back to see nobody around. Another one he passed us was about his walk back to his home, which he feels is full of ghosts. He was walking through the ‘Shamshanghat’ when he saw a Bear-Man like creature on the corner, He tries to look properly in the dark but is dazed by the bright red eyes of the creature. He is scared to death and runs back. After that the every curious Vijay keeps asking Viki a zillion questions on ‘Bhoot’, ‘pret-aatma’. Viki finally departs and we fall asleep by 11.00pm.