Devlikhet-Dhooni Village: a weekend getaway

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Going to Neverland
Saach Pass has eluded me since my maiden attempt in year 2013. That time it was incessant rains and landslide that thwarted my first attempt to reach Saach pass. Four years passed, yet I could not visit Saach Pass. Perhaps, year 2017 would lend me the opportunity to reach the coveted pass.

Opportunity presented itself. Dussera coupled with a Sunday, following up with Gandhi Jayanti allowed three days of continuous leaves. Add one more day to it and Saach Pass could be comfortably done. It was a perfect plan. However, with greed setting in, we decided to add one more day and cover the cliffhanger road, the Killad-Kishtwar route too.

It was all set for a five day game. Praveer my most regular partner and one of his friend who wanted to shoot a documentary stuff were my co-travelers. Everything was hunky-dory just prior to a week before departure. Praveer’s friend had to back-out due to some work compulsion. Two days before the trip date, Praveer could not secure leaves and mine leaves were in jeopardy too. We had no option to call off the trip.

Still, we had three days at our disposal. Praveer offered to take us to his village Dhooni, Devlikhet near Ranikhet. It was a good proposition and we decided to relax at Praveer’s place at Devlikhet. Praveer’s cousin too pitched in.

Three of us decided to start in the mid-night to avoid the crowd on NH24 converging towards Nainital on Dussera morning. To our shock, traffic was still heavy. We could witness a mini-Delhi at Mama Yadav dhaba’s just ahead of Babugarh cant.

We drove non-stop and took the Moradabad-Ramnagar-Mohaan-Bhatronjkhan-Ranikhet route. We stopped some-where in between Mohaan and Bhatronjkhan for tea. We reached Devlikhet/Delokhet which is about 15 kms from Bhatronjkhan with a slight detour on the left from the road leading towards Ranikhet, by 8.30 am.

Devlikhet is a very small town with a market catering to nearby villages. However, it is surrounded by beautiful and dense forest and green pastures for cattle were in abundance. We stayed at Praveer’s uncle’s house which remains closed as no one lives there. A local girl uses the place to run a library for the local kids and youth.

After resting for a while and freshening up, we visited Binsar Mahadev temple, situated 2 kms from Devlikhet. Again the temple is situated amongst the woods and has a peaceful atmosphere. After our visit, we again came back to Devlikhet. I and Dhruv decided to explore a trail starting in front of our stay leading to an old temple built of stones. While, Praveer decided to pay visit to the market for something to eat. The trail was initially steep. Within 10 minutes we reached the temple. To our dismay, the temple was under renovation and it had lost its old charm with the layers of cement. Anyhow, the place was nice and peaceful. We spent some-time there and then we decided to head back to town.

We were hungry by now and decided to leave for Bhatronjkhan for a late lunch. In half an hour, we were at Bhatronjkhan market. Plan was to have cicken-rice. Dhruv had identified one nondescript shop where he had the same on his last visit. The fare served satisfied our taste buds. In another half an hour, we were back at Devlikhet and took rest. While Praveer and Dhruv slept for some-time, I decided to take a stroll in the woods. When I returned they both were up, feeling refreshed. We went to the market for evening tea and had some snacks along with it. We were feeling quite full hence decided to skip the dinner. Beautiful winds were blowing in the evening and made the weather a little chilly. We collected some dry wood from our neighbor and lit up a bonfire. Enjoyed the warmth of the fire for an hour or so and then we called it a day.

We woke up leisurely by 8 am. Praveer was still sleeping. I and Dhruv decided to go for a walk till Binsar Mahadev temple. Gentle breeze was blowing which was refreshing. While coming back, we took lift in truck. Praveer was up by now and we decided to visit the market for tea and breakfast. Bun-omelets’ were fulfilling. Today’s agenda was to visit Praveer’s ancestral village – Dhooni wich was 3 kms away by road then a 20 minutes downhill hike. Plan was to stay for the night at Dhooni. We picked up some meat for evening feast at Dhooni.

As soon as we came back from the market, Dhruv decided to leave for Dhooni on foot. I and Praveer decided to rest for a while before joining him at Dhooni. We slept for hour and half and then around 3.00 pm left for Dhooni. First 3 kms were by road and we parked the car at the roadside on a bend. From there we walked downhill amidst greenery and farms. We could see Chillies getting dried in courtyards and roofs. In ten minutes we reached a village where Praveer’s father’s maternal uncle lived. We paid a visit to him and after a round of tea and pakodas we left with his blessings.

In another ten minutes, we reached the Dhooni village temple which was situated a little before the village. Another 5 minutes, we entered the Dhooni village. Village had a lovely setting with greenery all around. The village was surrounded by trees and old houses with tiled roofs. Praveer’s house was at the other end of the village. It remains abandoned for most of the part. I was impressed by the chaukhat of the main door and windows. It wore an antique look though obscured by the bright blue paint.

We dumped our stuff and went to one of his uncle’s house where the meat would be cooked. His uncle ran the only shop in the village and it was well stocked up. Also, his place acted as a sort of club where the elders of the village passed their time by playing card while youth used the roof of the shop to play carom. We joined the youth of the village and played carom till the lights faded away. Meanwhile meat was getting ready at the shop itself.

Once the meat was ready, we devoured it in no time. By 9.00 pm we were finished with dinner and decided to return to Devlikhet instead of staying for the night at Dhooni. Primarily due to the absence of a functional toilet at our stay. The return leg was a little scarier with complete darkness and fear of a possible leopard attack. It took us little more than 30 minutes to reach the road head where our car was parked. We breathed a sigh of relief. In another 10 minutes we were at our home in Devlikhet. We watched a movie and then slept peacefully.

Again we woke up leisurely. We packed up and left Devlikhet by 10.30 am but not before we had one last cup of tea at Devlikhet market. We stopped at Bhatronjkhan for breakfast. Dhruv went again for Chiken-rice at the same shop while we went to Lucky restaurant which seemed to be the happening place of the town. The journey further till we hit the highway NH 24 was uneventful. Thereafter it was painfully slow due to massive traffic and resultant jams after Gajraula till Pilkhua. We reached at Praveer’s place at Sadiq nagar by 10.30 pm. It took us 12 hours to reach Delhi. It further took me another 30 minutes to reach home. Though the trip was no match for the adventure Saach pass would have been still it was an enjoyable little detour from the busy and bustling Delhi.

(photographs will be posted next post onwards)
 

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Going to Neverland
vehicle in use: owned by Praveer - my third trip with this car
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tea break
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parked at Devlikhet
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road towards Devlikhet market
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our stay was just after the tall building
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Devlikhet town
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Binsar Mahadev temple
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temple is surrounded by beautiful forest
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main entrance of the temple
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Going to Neverland
Bhatronjkhan
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good place to eat chicken-rice
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raddish - maha(mooli)
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other eatery option - Luck restaurant & hotel
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FRH Devlikhet - only stay option at Devlikhet, now they set up tented accommodation as well during summer months
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evening bonfire
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Going to Neverland
walking down towards Dhooni village
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natures bounty - a huge lauki
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an old structure at Praveer's house
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beautiful window chaukhat
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old of the village playing cards to while away their time
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we joined the youngsters in carom - we lost mostly but won few games as well
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hows that for 1.28 kg cucumber - mind you that was not the biggest one of them
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