Roadtrip from Kolkata to Uttarakhand Kumaon Region

Friday, February 19, 2016

Warning - Long Post

I have never driven more than 600km in a day before. So any trip to the northern India was challenging for me. But then there were not so many places left to visit (ofcourse where my car can go) in West Bengal/Sikkim. The closest mountains was in Uttarakhand Kumaon region, which was roughly 1600 km away.

We started planning from Nov '15. 2 of my school friends showed interest. Kumaon region was completely unknown to me, I have only heard the name of few places, I didn't even knew where they resides on the map of India. So I started asking fellow bhpians about those places. There are few people I know like Aniket da, SS da from Delhi who are always updated about the roads conditions of these areas, they also helped me in planning the itinerary. We planned to stay in 7 different location, visit as many as we could and hoped to see some snowfall in Munsyari. Kumaon region is famous for outer Himalaya peaks and Panchachuli peaks. These peaks can be seen from places like Kausani, Almora, Chaurkori, Munsyari. But to reach there we should start from Nainital, Bhimtal etc. After reading many travelogues in Team-bhp and going through road updates and weather updates the plan was finalized. There were lots of places we could visit, but we had 8 days to spare. Luckily GoIbibo was giving large discounts on hotels which helped us reduce the overall trip budget. All the hotels were booked online (I will share hotel details and the end of the log).

Day 0-1- Kolkata - Lucknow

We started on Saturday night, i.e. 3rd Jan 2 am hoping to cross Jharkhand and Bihar in early morning. We were advised not to cross Jharkhand-WB border or that area at night. We reached Aurangabad at around 9:30 am, took a small break and had our breakfast. The famous UP-Bihar border was the next challenge due to the huge traffic jam. It took me almost 1 and half hours to cross that 7-10 km. Thousands of trucks and cars were standing still from morning. To avoid the traffic I had to take other side of the highway sometime. Some shots from early morning.

Because this was the my first time on this router I didn't know good restaurants for lunch. We stopped for lunch after Varanasi at a local dhaba. NH2 till Allahabad is in good shape, specially Allahabad bypas. Its a 3+3 lane highway with almost no vehicles at that time. It took me 30 minutes to cover 55km. After Allahabad we took the road to Raebareily then to Lucknow. After driving for 16 hours we have covered 992 kms to Lucknow at around 7:30 pm.

Lucknow as everyone knows is famous for its biriyani and tunday kebab. We hired a local Auto to visit Aminabad. Aminabad is a market place in the heart of Lucknow where once can find lovely biriyani and kebabs and lots of chikan embroided garment shops. We kept the shopping part for our return journey and only had a lovely dinner this time.

Lucknow as everyone knows is famous for its Biriyani and Tunday Kabab. We hired a local Auto to visit Aminabad. Aminabad is a market place in the heart of Lucknow where once can find lovely biriyani and kebabs and lots of chikan embroided garment shops. We kept the shopping part for our return journey and only had a lovely dinner this time.

Day 2 - Lucknow - Sitapur - Bareilly - Nainital

Next day we woke up at 7, had our complementary breakfast and started around 9. Lucknow in the morning looked almost same as Kolkata, the only difference was Kolkata has frequent traffic signals than Lucknow. Lucknow to Kathgodam was simple and plain journey, nothing much to write about. We took the Lucknow > Sitapur > Bareilly > Haldwani > Lucknow. Lucknow to Sitapur is 4 lane highway, Sitapur to Bareilly was devastating dual carrigeway and had lots of diversions. After Barielly roads were good, and once you enter Uttarakhand roads become better.

We reached Nainital and checked into the Hotel in the evening. Rest of the evening was spent doing nothing and most importantly we all needed rest after 2 days of driving.

Day 3 - Staying at Nainital the next day wasn't a bad idea. The entire day was spent roaming around the city and the entire evening doing little bit of shopping.

Day 4 - Nainita - Almora - Jageswar - Kausani

We woke up as early as possible and started for Almora. Initially I had planned to stay at Almora, but after reading few logs I changed my mind and planned for Kausani. Almora was quite near from Nainital, hardly 2-3 hours drive, so instead of staying at Almora we planned to visit Jageswar and go straight to Kausani. Both Almora and Kausani were nice place to stay, they had decent hotels and food outlets. But as we had planned to go further north going for Kausani seemed to be more practical. And then entire stretch was around 180 kms, and the road condition was good, so I hoped to make it by afternoon without any issues.

To be honest I didn't expect the road condition to be so good.

Almora Town

We crossed Almora and went to visit Jageswar. Jageswar is a very famous and old sets of temple, around 120 cluster of temples. The entire place was build on stones, and my God you will not want to step in there during winter and that too without shoes. Jokes apart, visiting this place was a very good idea and thanks to fellow Bhpian Aniket da who suggested this place.

The entire road to Jageswar was filled with devdar trees, but the tree in the temple compound was the tallest of all trees I have seen. They say that these trees are thousands of years old. Not less that 100 ft I assume

Jageswar to Kausani is 90 km which took me 3 hours driving sedately. The only problem I faced in Uttarakhand was finding a proper place to eat. Unlike Sikkim or North bengal there weren't many momo stalls or noodle shops around. So everytime we went out we always planned to have our lunch at hotel. And to have our lunch at hotel we tried to reach hotel by that time.

Day 5- Kausani - Munsiyari

I knew Munsiyari was very far from Kausani, but someone the hotel boy managed to confuse me and I thought it was only 60 km away . Naturally we slept very late and couldnt wake up before 8 am.

After that when we started the locals helped me to took the longer route. At Bageswar when I asked a local he confidently showed me the longer route, may be the route I planned wasnt in a good condition. Who knows. Initially I planned to go via Kapkot but later on went via Chaukori.

The road went alongside river Ramganga. At one point of time we saw complete turquoise blue colour water, where we decided to take a break and click some pictures. Places like this are worth stopping for.

The entire road was brilliant, only few kms before Munsiyari there were few hairpin bend where the road was broken and seemed to be under repair.

Even this time we managed to reach hotel before evening. The hotel we booked was the few kms before Munsiyari town. The reason we came so far to Munsiyari was to see snowfall and the Himalayas. Unfortunately both of them decided not to show themselves that day. We visited Munsiyari town in search of woollen cloths. Every hotels in Uttarakhand asked us to have our dinner as early as possible. Munsiyari wasnt an exception. The cook prepared brilliant chicken curry and roti. Both the hotels in Kausani and Munsiyari were located on the slop of a hill, naturally the Panchachuli was just infront, its just our luck was having a bad time. I did really enjoy the drive all the way long but my wife was a bit disheartened.

Day 6- Munsyiyari - Bhimtal

This was the day we would start our return journey. The morning was very cold and cloudy, so we couldn't even get a glimpse of the Himalayas. Still I woke up before sunrise with a very little hope of seeing the peak.

What we got instead of snow was frost. Due to chilling temperature at night there were frost all over the place. The hotel manager told that we were at least a week early for snowfall and showed us few picture of snowfall. Ofcourse they were beautiful and thats why we came so far, but alas we were not so lucky.
The days plan was to travel to Bhimtal which was around 285 km far away.

The trip almost came to an end, from the next day it was only a return journey. This was my longest road trip so far and yet there wasn't any fatigue any day during the trip. The EcoSport was a champ throughout, it never gave a single problem.

As usual there isnt much to write about the return journey, We stopped at Lucknow again to have biriyani. This time we asked few locals to find the best biriyani shop at Aminabad. This lead us to Alamgir, a small biriyani counter opposite to Tunday kababi. Not at all crowded but believe me I had the best biriyani till date over there. I would advise anyone who is visiting Lucknow to try this restaurant. Road trips are always fun, and when you have good co-travelleres road trip becomes amazing. People often ask why drive so much and take risks to travel when there are trains and planes available, I could never answer them and problem never can, The best way to make them understand I think is to take them with us in a road trip.

That would be all. Signing off with this last picture -

 Hotels - 
I have booked all the hotels from goibibo, as they were giving massive discount during off peak season. All the hotels except Nainital was fabulous.

1. Lucknow - Hotel Myriad. 2500 per room with breakfast
2. Nainital- Hotel Maharaja - Please dont try this
3. Kausani- Nature's valley resort- 900 per room. Brilliant view.
4. Munsiyari- Milam Inn - 1300 per room. Brilliant view again.
5. Bhimtal- Neelesh In- 900 per room. Just in front of Bhimtal 

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  1. Inspiring,exciting.well planned and structured and equally well presented. The travel writer prasanjet Nath.

  2. I so agree with your feelings about the magic and pleasure of road trip...My husband and I have covered so many places in Maharashtra including Goa...and honestly nothing can match up the pleasure of enjoying the sunrise and sunset behind the mountains while driving.

    Must say you have captured the whole trip in such a nice way that while reading I was feeling in the same journey. Awaiting for some more write ups in future!

    1. Good to hear that..Road trips are always fun, its funny though that people think of road trips to be risky and difficult..

  3. Sukrity...really impressed with the pictures. Will come back and read the full thing sometime. Keep the blogs coming. Siddharth(DBB)

  4. Keep enjoying. Nice blog writing.

  5. Well written. The pictures are just awesome. Makes me fall in love with India. I hope I can visit your country soon. :) And that eco sport, sounds like a wonderful travel buddy. Makes me think of bringing it home too. lol -donnA from the Philippines


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