First drive to beautiful Kumaon

Yogesh Sarkar

There are places that we fall in love with, even though the hardships we encounter en route seem to make the journey difficult and at times emotionally unbearable. Then there are journey which are made epic not only by what we did during them, but also due to their purpose. Some are undertaken to explore beautiful places, some to seek divine help, some to reach a loved one, while others just to strengthen your friendship and renew bonds which seem to have weakened over time.

Idea for drive to Kumaon came quite unexpectedly, just as I was getting ready for my 6th Ladakh trip. Since I had never been to Kumaon earlier and nor had the pleasure of being accompanied by my best friends during a trip, I gladly agreed and soon a plan was put in place to meet Neha and Narayan at their home in Ghaziabad next morning, when the trip was supposed to begin!

Ghaziabad to Pithoragarh, the drive begins…

I managed to reach Narayan’s home by 3:30am after getting a bit lost due to Google Aunty (as you will soon discover, this was a common theme throughout the trip.) There I met Narayan and headed out in search of a petrol pump to get his beautiful Civic all tanked up before the trip. In the meanwhile, Neha arrived at home and started packing. Soon after, Mansi and Mohit (Neha and Narayan’s friends) arrived as well and we started loading the Civic with luggage.

Since none of us actually had any idea about Kumaon nor had we done any research beforehand, we decided to set the navigation to Pithoragarh (just about the only big town we all had heard about) and trusted Google Aunty to lead the way, hoping to decide what to do next, after arriving at Pithoragarh. Google Aunty too gave us a long but fast route on the map via Aligarh, Bareilly and Pilibhit.

With just a hint of color in the sky, cool breeze and beautiful clouds, we began our journey from Ghaziabad and were amazed by the empty road and fast progress we made, thanks to the route chosen by Google Aunty. Just as the sun started to appear, so did darker clouds and an hour later, things were actually darker than what they were!


Around Bareilly we lost our way as Google Aunty directed us to go through a town, where we encountered roads just about wide enough to accommodate our Civic and people looking in amazement to see what we were doing. After ditching Google Aunty’s directions and getting some help from locals, we were back on the highway and this time heading for Haldwani, which was supposedly off route! Google Aunty kept trying to get us back on the proper road by asking us to wade through fields; however we unanimously decided against doing that.

By now thunder gods were hammering down on our poor Civic and soon, she started chocking a bit. Now there was no way we were going to get back on the normal route, we had to make our way to Haldwani to get the Civic checked, before proceeding further. We once again turned to Google Aunty and before we could reach the Honda Service Center she wanted to take us to, we spotted one along the road and decided to visit it instead.

It was a nervous moment for all of us, our trip could be over even before we reached hills and more importantly, Narayan’s precious Civic was suffering due to unknown ailment. After an hour and a half of running diagnostic, attempts at overcharging for it and whatnot, it turned out to be a simple case of water in air filter which was promptly remedied by the visiting engineer from Honda! After this it was time to head back on the road and find some much needed nourishment, before proceeding further.

After breakfast, we decided to get back on track and began our journey towards Sitarganj and from there, towards Pithoragarh.

None of us had gotten any sleep last night and this was beginning to take a toll on Narayan, who was driving until now. At around 1:40am we decided to take a break, so that Narayan could get some sleep, before driving ahead. However sleep was the last thing on our mind, with such magnificent beauty all around us and restaurant’s terrace to play on :D.



Soon road quality began to deteriorate drastically and our Civic with 5 people on board was left crawling. However the beauty all along us was getting better by the moment.



However the journey was beginning to take a toll on the ladies in the car, since it has been over 12 hours since we started from Ghaziabad and all this was adding to the woes. Narayan and Mohit on the other hand were doing a fabulous job of navigating through the rough roads (they took turns to drive), even though both of them were dead tired by now. By the time we managed to reach Pithoragarh it was already dark and after trying to find a decent hotel for quite a while, we settled in for a somewhat decent place right across the bus stand.

Finding dinner too wasn’t easy, since by the time we came out of the hotel, most of the restaurant nearby had closed down for the day and those which were open weren’t really decent. Thankfully Google Aunty came to our rescue and showed us a few restaurants near Court. Though in order reach them we had to take out the car again, but finding a decent place for dinner and having some yummy food was well worth it.

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Kya baat hai YS. Narayan and Neha ne bhai tumhe permanent hire kar liya hai lagta hai. Ask Narayan does he want 'Little Little' :) Nice log. Waiting to get more pictures from the journey.