Soon after my SPITI valley trip in March’18, I had already got my new destination. Though it was NEPAL, which I have chased desperately for past 2 years, it boiled down to Uttarakhand. The reason being one of my close friend’s marriage in Uttarakhand as he hails from that place. So, there was no option left but to attend. This presented me with the perfect opportunity to explore the Himachal neighboring state. And so, NEPAL got left out again and instead, I started preparing for Uttarakhand.
There were still quite a good number of leaves left with me even after completing 14 days of my SPITI valley expedition and the marriage being in December, there was a good amount of time for me to plan. I thought of utilizing the remaining leaves and not taking even a single of them during the upcoming in-between festive seasons and make this one a big trip along with attending a marriage.
We started planning with booking our flight tickets first. The same thing as we did in SPITI trip. The marriage was on 10th of Dec’18 in Rishikesh. 10th Dec was Monday, so we decided to start our trip from Saturday itself which was 8th. So, myself along with my friends Anis (from Gujarat) and Ganesh (my flatmate) booked the tickets. Bimal ji (from Gujarat), at this moment, were not sure whether they would join the marriage or not, depending on his leaves getting approved. He had recently switched the job. Nitunjay (from Gujarat) was not going to join as he too was going to attend some close relatives wedding. My SPITI partner Karan (from Jalandhar) too was joining for this trip.
I started off by checking the Uttarakhand Map and list of places to visit. Later on, as I scrolled the map for days to come, it became harder for me to fit in all the places within my stipulated tour period. The places were many, and the days were few. With this, I decided to utilize all my balance leaves for this trip. So, the trip dates were final and it were 8th Dec – 30th Dec, a mega 22 day Tour of Uttarakhand.
However, this was not possible for all the people due to some personal and professional commitments. They agreed to spend at least a week starting from 8th, but still, at this moment, it was not clear. Anis and Bimal ji were to come from Ahmedabad while Ganesh and Me were gonna fly from Mumbai. Karan was going to come driving his bike all the way from Jalandhar.
Later on, Bimal ji too booked the ticket but they were not in the same flight as Anis. Mine and Ganesh’s flight were also different, the reason being 8th December was Saturday, and he had to work in office unlike me. He was going to fly on 8th evening, while I on 7th evening. But, in the end, his flight got canceled and he too had to book my flight, forcing him to take leave on that day.
Amidst all this, I was carefully planning the trip with activities and places for each day to visit. The plan was made final at-least for the first week starting 8th of Dec as none of them were continuing with the trip after that. Ganesh had got a leave of around 1 week while Anis had got only 3 days of leave. Bimal ji were not sure of the duration of stay but they were confident that it would be less than a week. Karan too would not be staying for more than 7 days. Once all this was confirmed, I moved ahead in the planning phase. Till now the plan was as follows:
Anis and Bimal ji to fly from Ahmedabad and land directly in Dehradun. Sagar(Groom to be) was to pick them up and drive to Rishikesh and make arrangement for their rented bikes.
Karan would drive down from Jalandhar and meet Me and Ganesh in Noida(A friend resided here, he was going to collect my shipped bike). Ganesh was taking a rented bike from Noida itself.
The activity plan was as follows:
DAY 1 (8th Dec’18): Noida- Mussoorie (Catching up Anis and Bimal along the Way)
DAY 2 (9th Dec’18) : Mussoorie- Mussoorie (Sightseeing all Day)
DAY 3 (10th Dec’18) : Mussoorie-Rishikesh(the place of Marriage)
DAY 4 (11th Dec’18) : Rishikesh-Rishikesh(River Rafting and attend Marriage)
DAY 5 (12th Dec’18) : Rishikesh-Rishikesh(Bungee Jumping)
DAY 6 (13th Dec’18) : Rishikesh- Corbett (Safari)
DAY 7 (14th Dec’18) ): Corbett-Naukuchiatal(sightseeing)
After Day 7, I was to be continuing solo and the final plan was not yet frozen. Karan, Ganesh would be staying till Day 7 while Anis would be staying till Day 5, Bimal ji, who were going to return after Day 5 stretched to Day 6!
Next, we did the booking of our stay in Mussoorie for 5 of us. Being a traveler, finding a decent and cheap hotel was tough as we scrolled through google, pages by pages. Finally, we did find a decent one, a hostel type named “BUNKOTEL” which were charging us merely 200/person/night with all the facilities excluding food. We had really hit a goldmine! The next booking for Rishikesh was being arranged by Sagar. So, we didn’t have to really worry about. Being a Mahindra employee, I had booked the Club Mahindra Corbett by paying only a booking amount of 300/night. That’s it, only 300rs for Mahindra employee, without the inclusion of food. Corbett Safari was booked externally as the package offered by Club Mahindra Corbett was expensive and we made a good deal with some external private safari with 4000rs. This rate was being offered as a package with a hotel stay, a hotel, which we had tried to book earlier because at that time we were thinking of staying in Club Mahindra Mussoorie. But due to some issues related to policy, we could not book it. Also, a Mahindra employee can book only one hotel at any location at a time and Club Mahindra, being present at both the locations, I went for the Corbett one. Since Ganesh too works in Mahindra, he had booked the Naukuchiatal Club Mahindra resort for us. So, in all, we had to pay only for the Mussoorie hotel, for the rest, it was either managed or at free of cost with a nominal booking charge of 300/night. The details of the Corbett Safari will be shared in the subsequent blogs.
As always, this time also I decided to make this trip more memorable and so I designed a custom Tshirt as well as a sticker for this trip. By this time, my entire route was finalized day by day along with hotel bookings. I had booked hotels only until certain days on the trip and left the rest to explore myself to find the hotel. Mind you guys, finding a decent hotel of your liking takes a heavy toll on you. You need to dig deeper into Google and not just scroll through the surface. After reading many blogs and other stuff on the net, I managed to pull out some off-beat hostels and camps which were not only cheap but also offered scenic view too! All details will be shared later.
The highest mountain in India, Mt. Nanda Devi fascinated me a lot when I went deeper into my study of Uttarakhand before the trip. I wished to see her up close and with this regards, I designed the sticker as a tribute to her. Not stopping here, the tour T-Shirt included the entire Map of Uttarakhand on its front depicting the route I would be taking to cover all the places. Moreover, as time passed, I was so hooked to this place and wanted to learn more of it, that I ordered a book written on Mt. Nanda Devi titled “Nanda Devi: A Journey to the last sanctuary” by Hugh Thompson before my trip began. This was necessary to calm my senses and eagerness to visit this land.
December, being a winter season and particularly, Uttarakhand, I knew the challenges. So I packed according to that. I knew this was going to be tougher than SPITI valley because I was going to enter at peak winter season. Was prepared for snowfall if it would ever happen. So accordingly, the luggage was packed and the bike was made ready. Nothing special, just a good pack of winter clothing and nothing new to the bike. This time, I even scrapped the idea of taking a snow chain for my tires and decided to take the adventure to next level. For SPITI at-least, I was carrying a jute rope, but here, there was nothing. The temperatures in SPITI had turned me into an alcoholic(situation based) and so here also I was going to carry 2 nos 750ml bottles of rum. That was a must.
So the baggage consisted off:
- Good Winter Clothing.
- Medical Kit
- Rum Bottle.
- Tool Kit with necessary spares (considering solo ride)
- Camera Equipment.
- My Riding Gears.
So, with all the flight bookings done, hotel bookings done, itinerary prepared, t-shirts and stickers done, the only thing left was to make arrangements for my bike to reach Noida before me.
This was accomplished by contacting one of my Delhi friend’s friend who happens to run transport business and to whom I had called for transporting my bike during the SPITI trip (In the end, I had sent it through train). After seeing some minor damages on the bike which had happened during the bike return journey to home after the trip got over, I decided to try a much safer option by transporting this time with Truck, even though the cost was more. And so, calls were made and the deal was finalized for transporting the bike to my friend’s house in Noida for 8000rs one way, which then became 8500 later as the date of shipment came closer. I had no other option this time as I was damn adamant by sending it through truck this time because of safety reasons.
And with almost every piece of the puzzle in its place now, it was just a wait and watch the game and let the date of 8th Dec roll in.