Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Himalayan Diaries - Day 2 – Dehradun to Birahi, March 3, 2012

Owing to the late night, which as I mentioned earlier would become a regular feature for the rest of the trip, we just about managed to get out of Dehradun by 930 and hit the road. This time on the Bolero wit Mohan at the wheel. Hardly had we gone a few kilometres and Koni waned to drink chai. A few more kms and he wanted to smoke. Some more and he wanted to take a picture. We were to reach Birahi, a distance of about 220 kms from Dehradun, way up in the ghats, ahead of Vasu, Kiri and Aditya but owing to these constant stops we made little headway. Add to that Vicky’s penchant to tear about on any road in his Innova with his Punjabi flair, and we were bound to meet Vasu and Co much earlier than what we had hoped to. Koni claims to have been inspired by a road sign that said ‘Jaldi kya hai pyaare, dekh prakriti ke nazare’.
Dehradun to Rishikesh

The road to Rishikesh is plain but someplace before Rishikesh we start hitting the ghats. Lovely tall trees line up both sides of the road and one is reminded of the movies of the sixties where the heroine and her girl gang would be off on bike rides singing songs. The mellow March Sun shining through the trees and the fresh mountain air make it all the more enjoyable. There is a faint fragrance of the many hued flowers, trees, grass.
One of the many stops

We got a sight of the Ganga in the valley by the side of the road and followed it up into the mountains, stopping at the picturesque Kaudiyala for a snack of paneer pakoras and vegetable sandwiches and tea. 
The Kaudiyala resort facing the Ganges

Lovely rooms overlooking the Ganga and the resort itself is well located by the highway. 
The Ganga and the river bed with tents

Paneer pakoras, vegetable sandwiches and tea

We enquired with the GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) office and learnt that the rooms were reasonably priced (less than 1000 bucks if I remember). 

This GMVN is a good option for those planning to do these parts – affordable, well maintained and with good grub generally. We looked across the river at the tents on the river bed below, some rafts and rafters and moved on. We passed Dev Prayag, the first of the many Prayags where the different rivulets meet and converge to become the hoary Ganga before it heads down to the plains.

 Rudra Prayag, Karn Prayag, Nand Prayag are the other Prayags we see on the way and one Prayag, we miss. The mid point of this drive appeared to be Garhwal Srinagar and we stopped just outside at a lovely spot called Riverside Resorts and waited for Vasu, Kiri and Aditya to catch up. And so they did in a short while.
Kiran, me, Vasu, Koni and Aditya at the Riverside Hotel before Srinagar
Post lunch we adjusted ourselves in the two cars and started the ascent again stopping once more for a cup of tea just before Nand Prayag.
Tea time someplace before Nandprayag

 The roads are generally wide enough for a decent passage for two vehicles. But the landslides, rockfalls and parts where the road slips down are the stuff to watch out for. We caught a sight of two snow capped mountains, my first sighting of snow. 

The mountains grew bigger, the valleys deeper, the roads narrower, the weather colder. All along the route the Ganga flowed by peacefully below. 
First sighting of snow capped peaks in the background

Sometime at 730 p.m. or so we arrived at Birahi, a small town after Chamoli, where Ranjan was waiting. He had booked us in a GMVN Riverside Resort. With Ranjan aboard, the party was complete.
Vasu, Aditya, Ranjan, Kiran, Koni around the bonfire
Without further ado bottles were uncorked or rather, less dramatically, opened, finger snacks ordered and we settled down in the valley in a most surreal setting. The mountains rose steeply on all sides and we were at their feet, a few meters from the Ganga. A brilliant forest fire caught on the mountain top and lit up the moonlit sky which shone through between the mountain peaks. 
The mountain fire

The rustle of the Ganga behind us, the crackle of the wooden fire, the cackle of the boy gang. Full hearts, happy hearts. As the rest of us added layers to keep out the cold Koni discarded all but his T shirt and jeans and sat in the cold drinking merrily. Songs were played and at a suitable moment when the general mood had risen way above the mountain tops, we all took a torch, a guide and walked to the Ganga later at night, the songs accompanying us. 
Keeping out the cold but staying out

The night ended once again at 230 a.m., as we shivered in the cold, trying to convince Koni to eat and then move into the room. Bottles were emptied and all sensible topics and laughter exhausted before we dropped into deep slumber. I hoped that the cold would not affect the adventurer. The evening had really been surreal with the moonlight, starlight, forest fire, the mountains, the river and the company. For that one experience I could have willingly forsaken the rest of the trip right then.

1 comment:

shinny said...

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