It rained so heavily that the parking at the resort got flooded and I was contemplating moving the car onto the road.
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We did a drive around Uttarakhand during the hellish downpour that the state received in early October. Had absolutely no idea of the difficulties we would have because of the inclement weather but in the end, it turned out to be an enjoyable drive with some worrying moments thrown in every day on account of road conditions.
We drove from Bangalore to Ghaziabad as the initial leg and then started the Uttarakhand loop from Ghaziabad a few days later. We were hoping that a lowered Bimmer on 18-inch wheels could make it without incident. In the end, we did manage the trip losing just a mud flap in the battle at the Kashipur railway crossing.
Somewhere inside the Binsar forest
We started the trip from Ghaziabad and made our way to Ramnagar which was our first halt and a fairly easy drive. The weather made it a wee bit adventurous. It was raining nonstop and the roads had a lot of standing water making the drive slow. Visibility was also a big concern. All went well till Moradabad. The road from Moradabad to Ramnagar did not exist and I had a lot of heart-in-the-mouth moments negotiating craters in a car with minuscule clearance.
To make things worse, the traffic around me was not in the mood to slow down for the bad sections and literally boxed me into situations that were less than ideal but with some grit and wide-open eyes, we made it to Ramnagar without losing any part of the car. The Kashipur railway crossing was mayhem and we survived that one with a nice underbelly rub on a speed hump. All the training received negotiating Bangalore potholes and speed breakers came in handy and I passed the test with flying colors only to be stumped near the Garjiya Devi temple water crossing.
It was a furious stream and the force had brought along all sorts of large rocks onto the road which itself was broken. With lots of drama and lean angles that made people take pictures of our struggles, we got through that one. The place of stay was near and we reached there without further incident. Spent a few days at Corbett and the weather decided to keep us entertained by obliterating the sun and making everything around overflow with the heavy downpour. It was so bad that the parking at the resort got flooded and I was contemplating moving the car onto the road.
Mercifully, things didn’t get worse until our checkout and drive to Almora. Well, we checked out in style but could go no further as the water crossing we had passed on our forward journey had transformed into a fast-flowing river and the water crossing up ahead that we had to cross had halted buses and trucks. Taking on these in the bimmer was a no contest. We did a recce to see if we could attempt any of the water crossings and all along the road I heard people saying out loud, ”yeh tho gaya. Yeh gaadi nahi jaayegi.”
The car we drove had no chance of making it through those places. So, the two of us decided to book ourselves another place at Corbett bang in between the two water crossings and wait for the waters to subside. That evening we walked to Kosi to see the river and were taken aback seeing the trees being uprooted on the further bank by the force of the gushing waters and our own resort lost its metal railing and the boundary wall to the gushing waters. At this rate, in a few years, the Kosi will surely reclaim a lot of real estate of Ramnagar.
Bends are friends
Anyway, the weather cleared the next day and we continued our delayed journey to Nainital. The drive was beautiful and the scenery post rains were stunning. The roads were damaged in places due to landslides and water crossings but otherwise, it was a splendid drive. Made our way towards Almora and I must admit that the drive from Kenchi Dham towards Almora has been one of the most difficult I have had with the lowered car. Landslides, water crossings, culverts, stones, slush, narrow roads all came at us one after the other. It was a test of patience. I lost my cool at places and paid the price by taking a few under-body hits, then got back my wits and took extra care and this cycle kept repeating. In the end, we managed to reach Kasar Devi without breaking down. It was a very time-consuming and tiring drive even though the distances weren’t much.
One of the many stops we had to make
Blue skies tell a different story from what we endured
Kasar Himalayan holiday home was nice and cosy and had great views of the Himalayas. Went for a long walk to get some blood flowing into the posterior, which was levitating most of the time trying to save the car from getting hit on the bad sections. Grabbed a good sunset and had a tasty meal on our return.
Kasar devi temple
A view from the Kasar Devi temple looking down at Almora
The next day’s drive was through the Binsar forest and it was mega fun. The roads were brilliant and narrow and the pine trees cast long shadows on the roads as we blitzed around the landscape. The journey to Kausani was a great drive and we had a blast. We had chosen to do the longer route via Bageshwar and it was good fun all the way. Progress was slow on account of the many photo stops and “wow, wah, do you see that!” moments. We finally trooped into the Sun and Snow Inn at Kausani and were the only guests in the hotel which made the biting cold look worse but the relaxed staff was a bonus and we were pampered with some good hospitality.
Quiet and forgotten pathways
Went to the Gandhi Anashakti Ashram and joined the evening prayers and enjoyed the views of the Trishul and other peaks that were clearly visible that evening. Weather was clear but there was no guarantee that it would remain that way considering our experiences from the last few days.
Local maxima view of the peaks
We kept inquiring about road conditions with the locals as google wasn’t a very reliable option but what was considered “alright” was mighty difficult for a lowered car. We had to reach Ranikhet on the next leg and the road from Kausani to Someshwar was in shambles with a lot of culvert construction work. I was just hoping that we could somehow make it to Someshwar post which the locals assured me the roads were like butter. I had to stop at every bad patch get out of the car, clear the rocks, stop oncoming traffic and then slowly make my way across. It was tiring but we sailed through to Someshwar post where the roads were great but narrow. We cut loose and made up some time only to be slowed down by spectacular scenery every few kilometers. Nevertheless, the drive was fun.
One for the occasion
Ranikhet was fabulous and we loved the place with its tall deodhar and pine forests and the old-world charm. Chevron Rosemount was a great stay and gave us a stunning view of the mountain ranges. We hiked to the Jhula Devi temple and indulged in some shopping at the market during the evening. Rani jheel was a nice place to take a walk and is in close proximity to Chevron Rosemount.
The next leg of the journey was Pangot, near Nainital. This was another great drive from Ranikhet and this time we were in for a birding treat. We had booked “Jungle Lore” at Pangot and the place didn’t disappoint. Lots of species are present here and many enthusiasts make the trip to photograph and observe these avian delights. We did some off-road excursions to get a closer look at the peaks in the car and treated ourselves to some splendid views.
A glorious sunset
Lot many famous peaks in that mountain range
We were very sure we wanted to take a different route on our return to Ghaziabad and avoid the Ramnagar Moradabad section at any cost. We did that by taking the Thakurdwar Amroha detour and joining the Delhi highway without incident.
Alpine white car peaking at snow-white peaks
The car held fine until the railway crossing at Kashipur which saw some really obtuse driving from fellow road users and in the ensuing melee, I had to do a kamikaze move to save the car from being hit and lost my poor mud flap to one of India’s best-designed moonscapes. The last highway section went without incident and we brought our little journey to a conclusion.
Goodbye to the peaks!
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