Short Weekend Drive to Kanatal and a forest trail

Alpha

Going to Neverland
The third week of April was full of holidays and presented an opportunity for a long leave and a long trip. But that was not for me. Leave for Mahavir Jayanti on Wednesday went by and had no off for Good Friday and ensuing Saturday. The masses were travelling and I was just looking at the pictures sent by friends on facebook. One of my friend tagged me in a post regarding Kanatal and its awesome weather on that particular day. On Thursday, Nitin Thapa, one of my good friend and colleague wished for a 3 day trip to mountains from Friday onwards. He wanted some away time from office to get rid of stress. I too wanted a break but the tyres of my Thar were completely worn out and I had planned to get some new shoes for Thar on coming Sunday. Hence, we had to ask Manish Mishra, another friend and colleague to accompany us for the trip in his Thar. However, he was busy on Friday. We kept churning out the possibilities of a leaving on Friday itself. From a 3.30 pm start to the night drive, every option was on table, however we could not leave by Friday night on pretext of some thing or other. We decided to move on Saturday morning and destination was Kanatal.

Manish came a little late to pick me up from my home. He pick me around 6.45 in the morning instead of 6.00 am and then we picked up Nitin Thapa from Ashram around 7.15 am. Thereafter we picked up speed only to get a bump near the cut for Upper Ganga Canal road. Another traffic mess at one of the crossings on the canal road set us back by 40 minutes or so. Around 10.00 am we stopped at Mashoor Chotiwala restaurant on the canal road for breakfast. The food was nothing great to write about. We cursed the traffic mess otherwise we would have had hearty breakfast at The Cheetal.

Upper Ganga Canal Road
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massive traffic jam at one of the crossings..it set us back by almost 40 minutes
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the gang
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break for breakfast
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farzi Chotiwala
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food was pathetic, even tea was not upto the mark
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cane juice was refreshing
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Manish and Thapa ji enjoying the hospitality
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thanda thanda cool cool
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Alpha

Going to Neverland
After we went a little ahead of Purkazi, the traffic police stopped the traffic from Delhi side heading towards Haridwar and diverted the traffic through Laksar. This created a lot of confusion amongst the travelers. However, with no option one by one every vehicle took the Laksar road to Haridwar. The roads were narrow which slowed us down, however we joined the Haridwar road around Kankhal and that too without losing too much time due to this diversion. Crossing Haridwar was again very slow with traffic pile ups. We took a break at Raiwala for lunch. The food was good. Recharged once again we headed towards Rishikesh. Took another brief break at Natraj Chowk at Rishikesh and enjoyed few glasses of Shikanji and Jal-Jeera. Roads till Narendra Nagar were very smooth which have been widened under Char-Dhaam road project. However, after crossing Narendra Nagar, the entire stretch till Chamba was in shambles with road widening activities. The roads were dusty and at times it was hard to view anything ahead. It was a painful stretch and we negotiated it slowly. Took a tea break after Fakot.

Lunch Break before before Risikesh
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do do dhanno
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beautiful fields at Fakot
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Alpha

Going to Neverland
Around 7.00 pm we crossed Chamba and found Goodluck homestay at Arakot. We got two good rooms at Rs.800/- per room. We checked into our rooms and rested for a while. We had an offer for dinner at from Anil Bisht who runs the Kaudia Adventure Camp near Kanatal. However, we were too tired to visit him in the night for dinner. We excused ourselves and instead promised to join him for breakfast next morning. Around 10.00 pm we went to Chacha Sip n Dine restaurant which was barely 500 meters before the home stay. We had a very nice experience there. The food was wonderful. We ordered Chicken Biryani, Pahadi Daal and Veg Garhwal Gold. All items were cooked very well and tasted wonderful. We came back tummy full, satisfied and crashed into our beds.

Arakot, after crossing Chamba
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abode for the night
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rooms were basic..Rs.800 per night
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went for dinner at Chacha..500 meters walk from the home stay
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interiors
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the spread
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Chicken Biryani was amazing
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so was the Veg Garhwal Gold, made up of Onion, Capsicum and Tomato
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Pahadi Daal too was yummy
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Chutney of the house was real hot
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a wonderful experience at Chacha
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Thapa ji with Chacha ji
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the night was beautiful
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Alpha

Going to Neverland
Morning was absolutely beautiful with clear sunny sky. We got ready to leave by 9.30 am. We reached Kaudia Adventure Camp near Kanatal and met its owner Anil Bisht and had a hearty breakfast with him. While discussing about tourism around the area, we came to know about the forest trail which they organize for their visitors. He said they conduct a five kilometer forest trail in Gypsy however, we can go up to 10 kms where we would find a small grassland (bugyal) and a Shiv temple at the top of the hill. It sounded interesting and we took the directions from Anil Bisht.

beautiful morning views from the home stay
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Kaudia Adventure Camp
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lovely breakfast at the adventure camp
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Alpha

Going to Neverland
We started the forest trail at around 11.00 am and after initial 200 meters were into forest area with trees lining up the road. Rhododendron flowers were in full bloom and spread all over the track. The forest track was all katcha but well settled with wide enough for easy maneuverability but not wide enough to let two cars pass bye. After covering 5 kms we came across a small village. The organizers of forest trail drives conduct their safari till this village only. We covered another 4 kms of forest trach to reach Vaalkha village. From here we took the left track on a Y fork. The right one probably would have taken us to somewhere on Uttarkashi road. Just about 100 meters on the left track, we took the katcha road going uphill. It was a very steep ascent and extremely narrow at many spots. After covering a distance of about 1 – 1.5 kms we could see the bugyal in front of us. But the track finished before the bugyal. There was a chicken neck which was extremely narrow with ditches on both sides. Thereafter it was some uneven ground. However, for Thar no obstacle was difficult. It made it to the bugyal top without breaking a sweat. The top had wonderful views. We could also see clearly the Tehri reservoir. There was a small temple of Lord Shiva also known as Agaan Shiv Temple. We spent about 30-40 minutes at the top and after we paid our respects at the temple, left for Kanatal following the same trail.

Entry fee of Rs.200 had to be paid to forest department at this point
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start of the jungle trail
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Hill top
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time for posing
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Manish trying low angles
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Thapa ji superstar
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Alpha

Going to Neverland
Around 1.30 pm we were back on the Chamba-Mussoorie road. We took a break near Dhanaulti for lunch before taking another break before Dehradun for a final cup of tea in mountains in this trip. We took Dehradun – Chutmalpur – Gagalheri – Deoban route. Due to four laning works around Chutmalpur, the traffic was in a state of mess till the cut for Roorkee. Even the four lane road from Gagalheri was in state of disrepair with repair work going on. We took a dinner break near Khatauli. Thereafter, another mess awaited us at Modinagar. After negotiating all the traffic snarls this route had to offer we reached home around 2.30 in the morning there finishing this tiring journey in 13 hours. Though these short weekend trips are mostly tiring still we had a satisfying experience.

around Dhanaulti
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lunch break
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food was good
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just before Dehradoon
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last cup of the hill
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