Photoblog: Solo monsoon ride to Nainital and Mukteshwar

gauravtalan

Himalayan Monal
Monsoon is not really the best time to go for a ride, and especially in lower Himalayas. So I checked the popular weather apps to find a weekend with lesser rains to go for a 3-day ride to somewhere in Kumaon. It was not my first long ride but first on my new Dominar 400. As I am writing this blog, I have done a couple of rides after this one and I now realize how reckless I was during this ride. Even though the ride per se was beautiful and memorable, I will share a few mistakes I did on my first ride, which nobody should do.

Day 1: Delhi - Kaladhungi - Nainital - Bhimtal:

I started pretty early in the morning as some rainfall was predicted in the afternoon. I left at around 5:15 AM and it started to drizzle as soon as I left the Delhi border. I stopped and covered my luggage with rain cover and wore a raincoat myself. It was drizzling on and off and did not bother me really. I covered almost 80 Kms on the NH 24 highway when it started to rain heavily. There was no place to take shelter except a tree.

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I parked the bike and tried to take shelter beneath a tree. It was of no use as the rain was sideways and I was still getting wet. So, I decided to continue riding in the rain.

First Mistake: Even though I was wearing a rider jacket, knee guards, and also riding gloves, I missed an important riding gear and that is the riding shoes. I was wearing normal canvas shoes on this ride. It was not really a good idea as canvas shoes are not only fragile for such a long ride but also troublesome in rains as the water seeps in very easily in these shoes.
It was monsoon season and I had heard many bad reviews about the Moradabad - Rampur - Haldwani road. I did not take any chances and took the Moradabad - Bazpur - Kaladhungi road instead. It was a single road with a few potholes every now and then but not too much trouble. The only problem was frequent villages and hence unruly traffic on the road. It rained for a while and then stopped as soon as I crossed Moradabad.

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Somewhere before Kaladhungi

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I did not take any break between Delhi and Nainital except water breaks every one hour. As a result, I reached this point at around 10:00 AM which is less than 5 hours from Delhi.

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A hairpin bend before Nainital.

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Khurpatal

It again started to rain as soon as I crossed Khurpatal. But I had been into this cycle of being drenched and dry so many times during the day that it did not bother me anymore. Except, it was starting getting cold now as I was gaining the altitude. I still had the whole day when I was about to reach Nainital, so I decided to take a small detour towards Naina Peak (also known as China peak for some reason).

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Maggi time near Naina Peak

It had stopped raining but it was still very foggy. I heard that one could see a panoramic view of Nainital lake from this Maggi point but it was too cloudy that day. However, I refused to give up and decided to wait for the clouds to disperse and get some view. It did clear after sometime and the lake was clearly visible.

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Nainital lake from Naina peak

My destination for the day was Bhimtal and it was just 12:00 PM. So, I decided to spend some time at Nainital lake before heading towards Bhimtal.

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It was off-season and there was hardly any tourist in Nainital.

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Nainital

It cleared up a bit when I left from Nainital towards Bhimtal. It was a pleasant ride indeed.

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Bhimtal as seen from somewhere around Ghorakhal

I reached Bhimtal at around 2:00 PM and checked into my room. I stayed at Gharaunda Guest House which is nestled in the woods but hardly 200 meters from the lake. Nice clean and inexpensive rooms and good food. The caretaker Vardhan arranged some tea and pakoras which I relished sitting on the terrace all afternoon. In the evening, I went to explore Bhimtal and Naukichital.

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Near Jungalia gaon

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Naukuchiatal

I reached back to the guest house at around 7 PM and spent some leisurely time on the terrace while having delicious home-cooked dinner.

Stay for the night:
Gharaunda Guest House,
June Estate, Thandi Sarak, Bhimtal
Contact: +91 93113 66636


Watch this space for more....
Gaurav Talan
You can contact us on insta @himalayan_monal
Kanchan, Gaurav & Advika (@himalayan_monal) • Instagram photos and videos
 
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gauravtalan

Himalayan Monal
Nice. Good to see Kumaon greenary in monsoon.
How's Dominar for long rides? Have you had other long rides too?
So far so good. The performance is really good on highways as well as on the hills. It is not really an off-roader but does fairly well on broken patches as well. Apart from this one, I did a ride to Alwar and around from Delhi with wife and a solo ride from Delhi to Shimla - Kharapathar - Hanol - Purola - Mussoorie - Delhi. Will write blog on this one soon.
 

gauravtalan

Himalayan Monal
Day 2: Bhimtal - Dhanachuli - Mukteshwar - Bhimtal:

The plan was to have my breakfast and start early in the morning for Mukteshwar to spend some time at the viewpoint. But not all plans work out when its monsoon and when you are in hills. It rained all night and it was still raining in the morning. So, decided to take it easy and wait for the rain to stop. I had my breakfast, saw some news on TV, and was regularly looking at the weather forecast. At 7 AM, it showed that it will be clear by 9 AM. At 9 AM it said that it will be fine by 10 AM. The forecast for clear weather kept on extending and the rain neither stopped nor slowed down. At around 1:30 PM I decided not to wait anymore and start riding in the rain. Here comes the second mistake.
Second Mistake: My shoes were wet and so were my socks. I had only one pair of dry socks left that I did not want to wet. So I decided to do this ride in bathroom slippers. Also, I did not wear my riding jacket today. I put the rain cover directly on the t-shirt, got into my slippers, and started to ride. Bad Idea. Do not do what I did. Not only because it was cold up there but also because it is not safe to ride in slippers. Especially, a long ride in the hills and that too in rain.

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Bhimtal lake when I left for Dhanachuli

It continued to rain until around 2:30 PM when I almost reached Dhanachuli

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Drizzling en route Dhanachuli from Bhimtal

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Even though it was not the best weather to ride in the hills, it did offer some best of the views on the way

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It was raining on and off

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Children going back to home from school. This green bag was moving up the hill. There was a child inside it. I bet she/he was completely dry.

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Around Dhanachuli

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I had already traveled for more than 30 Kms from Bhimtal and it started to get cold when I was about to reach Dhanachuli. Dhanachuli sits at an altitude of around 2,200 meters which is higher than Nainital. Also, it was still raining that added to the chill. I reached Dhanachuli at around 3:00 PM.
There are two ways to reach Mukteshwar from Bhimtal. One goes through Bhowali and another through Dhari and Chaukhuta. I chose neither of the two. I decided to continue till Dhanachuli from Dhari and take a less traveled road that goes from Dhanachuli to Bhatelia and then to Mukteshwar. It is a beautiful route with almost no traffic on it. I even ended up giving lift to a man from nearby village on this road.

I did not really eat my lunch before I left from Bhimtal. So, I decided to have some food before I reach Mukteshwar. But, there were not many options as it was offseason.

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Butter sandwich, maggi and coffee in Mukteshwar

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Three children walking from school to their homes stopped me for a lift. There was no way four of us could fit on that motorcycle. And even if we did, it was not safe to do so. But they said that they are not in a hurry and only wanted a joyride. So, that we did. One by one of course.

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Entrance gate to the temple in Mukteshwar. It was already 4:30 PM when I reached there.

I paid my respect in the temple and straightaway headed to the sunset point to spend the rest of the evening there. There were hardly any tourists but there was a tea-pakora vendor in front of the temple. An opportunity not to be missed, especially when it is raining in the mountains.

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Garam Pakore in Mukteshwar

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Pakore served with local chutney

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My watch showed an altitude of 2280 meters at the sunset point, Mukteshwar.

Even though it rained the whole day, thankfully it was getting better at the time of sunset. In fact, thanks to the dramatic cloud formations, it was one of the best sunsets ever!

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Sunset point, Mukteshwar

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Sunset point

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There was still some time for the sunset. But I was in no hurry.

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Cloud formation

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Himalayan ranges from the sunset point.

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Sunset finally

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I stayed in Mukteshwar till around 8:00 PM and I had to ride till Bhimtal in the dark. I took the frequently traveled Mukteshwar - Bhowali - Bhimtal route while going back. And here comes the third mistake.
Third Mistake: If you are riding in the hills, and that too in dark, be prepared for this. You will be riding in solitude and suddenly after a bend, a dog will start barking and even chasing you. It happened to me also a few times. Each time, I tried to outrun the dogs by throttling up. Then I realized that it was too risky and not required. the trick is to slow down, make some noise or shout back at the dog. No guarantee it will work every time but it certainly works better than speeding up.

I reached back to the guesthouse in Bhimtal, had my dinner, and dozed off.

Watch this space for more....
Gaurav Talan
You can contact us on insta @himalayan_monal
Kanchan, Gaurav & Advika (@himalayan_monal) • Instagram photos and videos
 
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gauravtalan

Himalayan Monal
Day 3: Bhimtal - Delhi:

As it always happens, it was not raining on the day I was to ride back home. Still, I decided not to rush and started pretty late at around 10:00 AM in the morning.

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Terrace of Gharaunda guest house (where I stayed for these two nights). Please ignore the shoes. :p

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Starting from Bhimtal

I skipped Nainital while coming back and took the usual Bhimtal - Haldwani - Kaladhungi - Bazpur - Moradabad - Delhi route. I had my lunch at Sagar Ratna near Gajraula. The entire journey was smooth including the road between Kaladhungi and Moradabad. However, there was a massive traffic jam around Pilkhuwa at the entrance to Ghaziabad. It took me more than an hour to get past that jam. I reached Delhi at around 5:00 PM in the evening.

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Upon arrival :)

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A total of 775.7 Kms covered during this ride. Ignore the time as I had not set the clock yet.

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I got a really good mileage of 31 Km/L in spite of the fact that much of the ride was in the hills.

Brief Itinerary (with altitude in meters):
Day 1:
Delhi (225 m) - Naina Peak (2571 m) - Nainital (1959 m) - Ghorakhal (1810 m) - Naukuchiatal (1311 m) - Bhimtal (1370 m)
Day 2: Bhimtal (1370 m) - Dhanachuli (2152 m) - Mukteshwar (2280 m) - Bhowali (1703 m) - Bhimtal (1370 m)
Day 3: Bhimtal (1370 m) - Haldwani (424 m) - Delhi (225 m)



Thanks for reading!
Gaurav Talan
You can contact us on insta @himalayan_monal
Kanchan, Gaurav & Advika (@himalayan_monal) • Instagram photos and videos
 
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