It is an account of my weekend trip to Uttarakhand by motorcycle. Summer months in Delhi always give me an itch…an itch to travel and get away from the sweltering heat and also from the din of the city and my routine 9 to 6 existence. With so many long weekends around this time I along with one of my colleague and his two friends planned a bike trip in the last weekend of June. We planned to visit Dhanaulti. The trip was as much for getting away from the hot humid weather of Delhi and have a breather from the our busy work life as for getting away from the cacophony and clamor of our lives in Delhi. In some ways it was good but as always it turned out to be unexpected.
Well I was expecting a few things as I have been to Dhanaulti during my college life twice. It was around 10 years ago that I last visited this secluded off the beaten path paradise. Back then even 10 people in the park were surprising. There were a few hotels only and a few food joints. But oh boy! How things change.
We left for Delhi at around four in the morning to avoid the traffic but were stuck in a traffic jam in UP despite being on motorcycles. We took it as excuse for breakfast. Soon we moved ahead but one of the bike started having trouble. At Dehradun we had to stop for more than 2 hours as the bike went under maintenance.
A few words about Dehradun: I wonder how people call it a weekend getaway. It is nothing less than Delhi. Too much crowd, hot weather and too much traffic. It might have been better a decade back but my first experience was not that impressive. It is – in my opinion – as good as Delhi.
As soon as we left Dehradun and neared Mussoorie, things began to look better. Traffic was less and the weather was getting gentler. The road were in very good condition and I was having a rollicking good time on my Man O’ War.
The scenery too had changed. It was mountains and valley and lush vegetation. And soon we entered Mussoorie. With the benefit of hindsight, I could say that it is a sin to travel on weekends to destinations such as these. It appears as entire Delhi and nearby places are in these otherwise less visited escapes from Delhi. Once again too much crowd and traffic greeted us in Mussoorie.
Most of the hotels were sold out and there was not even space to ride our motorcycles. After long hunting we finally found a hotel and checked in. A hotel in name only but after all we just had to spend the night for we were off to Dhanaulti the next day.
In the evening we went out promenading. The weather was cool and we had great time but since it was night there wasn’t much of a view. However it was relaxing and calm as the tourists were mostly settled down.
We woke up early the next day and decided to visit the famous Kempty Falls before riding towards Dhanaulti. At around 8 in the morning we were at Kempty Falls, yet another overrated place. Don’t get me wrong but when I venture out of Delhi my foremost concern is to get away from the crowd and cacophony. That is why I prefer Mandi over Manali; Narkanda over Shimla or for that matter Ilaqa over Triund.
To my disgust I was in the middle of a meena bazaar even in Dehradun, Mussoorie and now at Kempty Fall. So many people vying for space inside the pool. The place is highly commercialized and way too crowded. There are all kind of people, the attention seekers, the shrill shouters, the merrymakers and the selfie experts.
Whereas my companions decided to give it a go and jumped in the pool I decided to stay back. After half an hour their excitement abated and they came out whereas I guarded their belonging and took some pictures just to remember I was here.
After we had a hearty lunch comprising of aloo paranthas, we moved back towards Mussoorie and onwards to Dhanauli. As we moved on the weather only got better and the views scenic. We halted a few kilometers before Dhanaulti where some kids were selling berries. It was a good place to halt. On one side there were mountains and on the other was the undulating valley interspersed with deodar, oak and rhododendrons.
Even the winding highway looked surreal vanishing up beside a cliff. Oh how I love to ride. When the roads is like this who wouldn’t fall in love with his motorcycle and road trips. I mean that is why we own RE don’t we…to commune with the Himalayas.
To let ourselves commune, rediscover and reclaim. A ride in the mountains truly moves your soul as you feel the nature not from the confines of your window seat in the car but as oneself, the cool breeze brushing past your face as you ride along truly one with it.
Digressions apart, soon we arrived in Dhanaulti. It was a 10 year hiatus but I was not in for this much of shock.
Yes it was shocking.
Dhanaulti has transformed. I don’t know for better or for good. But I believe this would be my last trip for the only thing that comes to my mind after visiting Dhanaulti is the name of a book. It is called ‘Paradise Lost’.
It truly is. There are hotels and shops and crowd filling what was once a serene sleepy hamlet. Way overpriced accommodation, too much commercialization and raucous crowd is all it takes to ruin a paradise which was once comforting, tranquil and would soothe your soul.
The park is littered, calm is gone and you have to vie for space. May be this is a long weekend phenomena but I was here on weekends too way back in time. The place has become popular. Very popular indeed.
We decided then and there that it was no use spending time in the park. It would be as good as spending time in the Lodhi garden sans the tombs.
Most of the rooms were full hence I suggested my companions that we should try for Chamba. That is where I have stayed quite a few time when I visited Chamba. And the hotel where I stayed has perfect view. So once again I was back in the same hotel in Chamba. It is the first one you will come across when you are riding there from towards Mussoorie.
It has cozy rooms with hot running water and TVs. The rooms are well turned down and clean and the view are just amazing especially on misty days a regular phenomenon I was told due to the Tehri Dam.
Next day it was Tehri Dam visit before commencing towards Delhi via Rishikesh.
That’s when shit happened. I mean nothing terrible but something worse which I found out after I returned. All the photos of my camera which were shot at Tehri got messes as the knob of my DSLR got accidentally turned from AV mode to Manual. Every single one of them ruined and that is where we took most of our photo. I mean visit to Tehri Dam and the boat ride was highlight of our trip but I have not a single picture to remind me of it. That I was not taking the pics didn’t helped the matter.
After spending more than an hour, it was time to ride back for we had to reach Delhi and in my heart I knew we were going to be late. Very late.
It was around 3 in the evening that we arrived in Rishikesh. There my companions decided to take a dip in Ganges near Laxman Jhula. We spent close to an hour there.
Boy…It was getting late. When we arrived in Haridwar there was a massive traffic jam which took us close to 2 hours to negotiate despite the fact that we were on two wheelers. It was a crazy off-roading experience when we had to like ride down a hill and climb back. One of the three vehicles in our group got separated and I along with my colleague Sandeep were left behind.
I was a bit worried in the beginning as I was riding alone but when I found Sandeep I relaxed. After tackling the traffic jam we rode together and it was already dark. My helmet was not helping either as the visor was scratched. I couldn’t see ahead at all so had to keep it opened and man there was a lot of dust that my eyes were taking. It was like crying all the way back to Delhi.
Looking back it was hell of a ride. Not as fun as the Ladakh or Dharamsala trip but memorable and painful nonetheless. I made it home 3 in the morning. It was a ride to remember.
I even thought to name this blog as Teen Jat, Ek Bihari, Karne Nikale Bike ki Sawaari 🙂
You see the rest three in the group were jats!
P.S. This post was originally published at http://www.ghumakkar.com/mussoorie-dhanaulti-chamba-motorcycle-diary/
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