I woke up early since I wanted to capture the morning timelapse of first sun rays hitting the mountain. The tripod was already there, sitting in the balcony because it was capturing the night sky the previous night. I just had to change my battery and put in a fresh one. The time was around 6:30 am.
While the recording was taking place, I completed my morning chores and went upstairs to take in the surrounding view. It was still dark as the rays had not reached me. There was silence everywhere and occasionally interrupted by chirping of the birds. The air was cold.
Only after having my hot cup of tea that I somehow felt better. The cold in my body started to fade away. And, so here I was, enjoying the beautiful view of the Himalayas in front of me with a cup of tea in my hand. I did not leave until I was drenched in the sunshine.
I was staying in Hotel Rudraksh and I found it to be complete bang for the buck. I got the room for 500 rs including the dinner and the room was so large that at-least 5 people could stay in it comfortably. I would definitely recommend it for Solo as well as family people.The hotel is some 2-3 kms before the main Kausani bazaar. It is perfectly located and guarantees unhindered view of the Himalayas.
I asked the hotel person about the things to do in Kausani but he did not surprise me. It was a regular place, somehow made famous by tourists. The unique thing which I saw that it had Tea gardens which were right opposite to our hotel. But, still I decided to take a stroll along it’s streets on my bike after a heartful breakfast of Aloo Paranthas and Tea. After that, I started my day.
I did not set any destination and first had to reach the bazaar. After reaching the centre point of Kausani, I decided to take a narrow road and see where it lead me. After driving for some 10-12 kms, it looked like there was no ending to it and so I returned back. While returning, I gave a lift to a boy who wanted to go to the bazaar. On the way, we stopped at a place where I was getting an unobstructed view of the entire Kumaon range and so I clicked a photo!
Upon reaching the bazaar, I couldn’t decide on any other place to go. There was one Astronomy shop where you could gaze at the ‘Space’ during the night time but right now, it was daytime!
Alas! I decided to retrace my step back towards the hotel. I thought of roaming the Tea gardens which I eventually did and in no time, I felt bored. It was someone’s farm and no body was there and it wasn’t any typical touristy garden where lot of people can been seen peeping and investigating the Tea plants. I bought some Tea from the nearby shop and then went directly to my hotel room for packing the things up.
My sole purpose for coming to this place had been to see it. There was lot of talk seen on the internet which had made me put this place on my plan. But, frankly speaking, I found this place just like any other hill station would give to you. Only, in this case, you get the Himalayas with you. I could say, Munsiyari was better than this and for the readers reading this Blog, you can skip this place and try get to stay one more day in Munsiyari.
My next destination was situated on the northernmost part of the Uttarakhand which was Auli. It was going to be a tough job reaching the place since it was almost 200 kms from Kausani and the time was also approaching noon. Being winter, you don’t get much daylight time and I knew that I was going to ride in the dark for most of the time.
I left for Auli at around 13:00 hrs.
The roads were good initially with which I thought that I would be able to cover the distance but after sometime, they turned worse. At many places, road expansion work was going on. They were making proper tourist roads so that people won’t face when doing the “Mini Char Dham” pilgrimages of Badrinath and Kedarnath. At places, we had to stop for quite some time before the road got cleared of debris.
While checking out of the hotel, I had filled my thermask with tea and whenever we were being stopped on the road, I managed to sip in few cups. The distance to be covered was large and time was precious. I could not afford to pull off the road to some stall and get myself a cup of tea.
At times, the road would get widened while the other time it got narrowed.
While passing through a village road, I could see the shop vendors making some delicacies sitting outside. The smell was so attractive that it pulled me closer. By that time, I had already gone ahead and so had to turn back. I could see some fresh Jalebis being taken out from the pan of hot oil and put into the sweetened liquid while others were dropping in Samosas to get it fried. I decided to have samosas accompanied by hot tea. By now, I had started to feel the hunger and so I had to eat something and not just make off with tea. The aroma had intensified my hunger even more. At around 17:00 hrs, I left the shop and hit the road again.
Soon, the light was fading away as I pulled aside to refuel. In no time, I was going to ride in the dark. I still had to cover almost 70 kms. Again, I found myself waiting in a long queue for the road to get cleared. I was amazed and struck that even at this hour of the day, the work was going on. I guess the UK government was in a hurry to complete the road at any cost. These roads are even used by the military as they go towards their forward bases located in Mana Village, which is the last Indian Village on the Indo-Tibet border.
The roads again narrowed and now it was tough driving in the night. The temperature had dropped and also, the light from the incoming vehicles hit me straight in the eye. I had to be very careful in my judgement to overtake vehicles in front of me.
After riding for quite some time, the traffic thinned out and I was mostly alone on the road. Just then, as I was cruising around 50-60 kmph, suddenly, out of nowwhere a drunken man came onto the middle of my path and lucky that I was concentrating hard on the road ahead that I swerved my bike towards my right on the mountain side and avoided colliding with him. The valley was to my left and had it been on my right, then, surely I was going down many feet below in the darkness. This is one incident I will never forget in my life. It shows that just how much attentive you should be while driving in the night.
The time had crossed over 20:00 hrs and it was getting very cold. I was shivering to the extreme. I still had many kms to cover. I had lost my confidence over the near miss and owing to extreme darkness with no street lights to support, my bike speed had dropped.
Braving the twistys, I finally arrived in Joshimath. Auli was still 10 kms to go. I was almost on the verge of breakdown. Cold was at its peak and I badly needed warmth and shelter. I raced towards my destination.
Finally, I arrived at my destination and stopped at small roadside restaurant to ask for hotels. Just when I thought that everything was over, I got a shocker from the restaurant guy. The rates were in the range of 3000-4000rs per night. The rates were at its peak as 31st December was not far and Auli being a favorite destination among romantic couples, the place is a hot spot. I was really in a fix as what to do. I was no way going to spend that much amount for a night. Also, most of them were full owing to year end.
I asked the restaurant guy to provide me shelter for the night inside. I told him that I would manage somehow instead of spending the huge amount. What I did not see was that he was offering tent stay along with running the restaurant. The tents were pitched right behind the hotel. But, somehow I rejected his proposal of spending the night in the tent as it was extreme cold. But, he assured me that everything would be fine. He even agreed to lit a bonfire for me so that I could get warm before I head inside my tent. My dream of sleeping inside the restaurant went for a toss.
So, the deal was done and I unloaded the luggage and kept inside the restaurant. For quite some time, we were inside the restaurant sipping tea along with few other people and heating ourselves with the electric warmer. It was so cold that I was in my riding gears only. Then, I had dinner and felt relived when I got to eat hot rotis which were being made parallely and served.
After dinner, I warmed myself in front of the bonfire for almost around 20 mins before I head inside the tent. The necessary stuff was taken inside and I slept without even removing my shoes and riding gears. Such was the intensity of the cold. I had taken 2 sleeping bags. I was inside one and another was taken over me to give me double protection.
Later in the night, I woke up several times as the cold was unbearable. I kept on wriggling inside the tent and kept on changing my sleeping postures. Finally, even I don’t know, somehow I fell asleep.