Karan and Ganesh were almost ready by the time I was fully awake from the sleep and out of my bed. Both were on their return journey heading home. Karan was heading towards Jalandhar while Ganesh was heading towards Noida to drop off his bike. They left pretty early morning. I am unable to recollect the time. I bid them goodbye and wished for their safe return.
Seeing them leave, somehow made me uncomfortable and soon, I too started to pack things up. There was nothing productive I was going to do being in the room alone (evil laugh). I was heading towards Kasardevi where I had pre-booked a backpacker type hostel just for 350rs/night.
Link to their chain of hostels:
I wanted to execute this trip in a very soothing and peaceful way and hence I had chosen such destinations where my travelling distance would be less and I can enjoy each and every sight along the way stopping whenever I wished. This wisdom has come after riding to many destinations and getting a lot of heartbreaks and setbacks. There are many beautiful places where you can enjoy your stay in a peaceful manner and also enjoy breath taking views. And, one such place is Kasardevi (very less visited place in UK). After googling much, I had found this place to be my kinda type. Plus, I had also got a good deal for staying.
I had my morning dose of coffee and then started to pack things up. I had borrowed foot air pump from Karan after what happened with Ganesh’s bike. It was mandated since I was going to ride solo from now onwards. I had the stepney with me, only the pump was missing the close the loop.
By the time I got my all stuff out in the open and near the bike, the time was around 9 am. Just like the Club Mahindra Corbett resort, this too deserved an equal credit for their rooms and hospitality. As I have said it earlier and now again reiterating it, this is purely not meant for solo backpacker (those on budget )travelers and only suitable for family kinda people. I wanted this place to be etched permanently into my memory and hence I took a selfie with the hotel manager before bidding him and the luxurious hotel a final goodbye.
The time was quarter past 9 and I was again on the road. The cold was not that much as by then the sun had come up nicely making the things easier. I brushed past the deserted Bhimtal lake and went in the direction that google took me.
As usual, I decided to not take the highway and instead took the longer and less traveled road via small villages. Soon, the population started to wane down and I was riding my way through dense vegetation on the serpentine mountain roads. The route was suggested by one of my local friend who happens to be of that region.
Till now, I was riding only on coffee and needed much energy to go ahead. Plus, due to dense vegetation, a little amount of cold had gripped me. I stopped at the first village I saw and parked my bike right in front of the small hotel I could see. People were happily lazing in the sun in-front of the hotel. That was a luxury for them and my luxury was getting some food to eat at that moment. Guess, some of sunshine was need for the bike too!
I parked on the main stand(I never take risks of using side stand on mountains, especially if I am parking on the valley side) and went inside the hotel. It was typical big shutter type hotel atop which houses were there. The shutter was wide open to let in all the morning sunshine. I took a chair and sat at the entrance just so that I could get maximum sunlight.
A tea was ordered first followed by the main course. It was a mixture of smashed ‘samosas’ along with gram beans topped with onions along with spicy curry. An omelette was followed soon after this and finished with an another round of tea.
I felt much energized after the heavy breakfast and around 10:45 am, I decided to move forward in my direction.
I stopped very frequently, wherever I thought that the view would be great or I could get a good frame of the surrounding things which were present at that moment of time. One such location was the bridge I encountered along the way and somehow I thought that a picture on this bridge was necessary. A small water stream was flowing underneath it. For some time, I just stood there and watched the water flow smoothly over the rocks making its way downward towards the valley side.
After riding for much longer time on the country roads, I joined the main highway at Chopara and headed towards Almora. It was past noon by the time I crossed Almora and then decided to take a break and eat something. As usual our lunch time. I had a plate of ‘onion bhajis’ along with tea. I also tried a local sweet, which looked similar to ‘Balushahi’. It was way too sweet for a spicy food lover like me.
From Almora, the distance was not that much and I reached the hostel around 2pm. Initially, I had trouble finding the hostel properly on the google maps but a call with the owner made the things simple. It is not nearly on the main road and you have to take a small service road adjacent to the main road to reach the base camp. From here, you have to climb steps to reach to the top and that’s where it is located. This is why it made really difficult for me to find it in on google maps.
Now came the difficult part. Since, we had to climb steps and reach to the top, taking all the luggage was going to be a good workout. We took 2-3 rounds to shift all the luggage to the room.
I had opted for dormitory type stay and when I looked around, I was the only guest at that moment of time. No one else was present. It is a 2 tier hostel with dorm rooms at the ground floor and private rooms for couples and families at the top. The dorm rooms can easily accomodate 20 people.
The hostel kitchen was out of stock of raw material since no one staying there currently and so after I got freshened up we went to the local market to buy stuff for the dinner.
Along the way, we passed through the famous ‘BABA cafe’ but it was closed as it was winter season. This cafe is pretty much famous among the tourists and travelers and is not to be missed at any cost when you pass by this area. The cafe owners have an interesting story and don’t forget to inquire about it when you visit them.
We returned back to the hostel and thereafter I decided to do nothing. I pulled up a chair and went outside and just sat in the open gazing at the beautiful Himalayas in front of me. They were as white as they could be. I ordered a coffee and just went into mediation mode.
There was complete silence around with at time the blowing winds through the trees making some noise. The hostel being situated atop a small hill, you get a complete 360 deg view of the valley in front of you and unobstructed view of the Himalayan range in front. A perfect place for a traveler like me seeking peace and solitude and the same time enjoying and being one with the nature. Perfect to unwind and dive into yourself.
I sat there till the last light from the sun was present. I felt quite relaxed having being spent some quality time with no one to disturb me.
With the darkness setting in, came the cold too. We decided to light up a bonfire to warm ourselves a little bit.
The dinner was being cooked by the hostel chef in parallel. I had told them to make a simple dinner of ‘Mix vegetables and Roti’ along with ‘Daal and Rice’. I didn’t want anything luxuries here.
The chef helped us in lighting up the bonfire and we all three soaked ourselves good enough sitting in front of it. After that, we all had the dinner. I shared some of my home brought eatables with them.
After dinner, it was time for some night photography. I was literally dying to take my camera out and shoot the stars (pun intended), because the views were just awesome and were paradise for a photographer like me.
I decided to make an timelpase of the stars and also shot some still photos.
The time-lapse was going to run till hours till the battery drained, a minimum of 4-5 hrs. I had no intention of waiting till this time outside and the cold by now had really overpowered us. So, I set my camera setup at the first floor and along with owner went inside the cafe and chatted for a while. We both exchanging our travel and life stories.
At around 9:30 pm we both went to sleep while I could hear the clicking sound of the photos being taking in auto mode at regular intervals. Such was the silence of the place. I had made sufficient arrangements for the dew to not affect the camera.
I had the whole dorm room to me since no one was there. I changed to my night clothes and slept peacefully.
I was eagerly waiting for morning to come as I wanted to see the Himalayas shining with the rising sun!