Adventure: Cycling in the mountains of Kumaon

Working day 1

I started my journey at 8 on the chilly early morning of December 27, 2020, aiming for Chaukori 110 km absent.

For the initial 10 km, I cycled uphill and downhill and then for the following 10-15 km, it was really a great deal uphill. Right after a place known as Dhaulchhina, there was some reduction owing to cycling 25 kms downhill to Seraghat. By the time I attained the 2nd river bridge on the Seraghat Berinag highway, the clock confirmed 4.30 pm and I experienced a ride of 30 kms uphill to Chaukori. At 6 pm, it was pitch darkish but I had no selection but to transfer ahead. Fortunately, I was carrying a potent headlight. With a break to refuel my physique at a dhaba near Berinag (wherever apparently, leopards roamed the streets soon after dark!), I had to cycle through dense jungle to Chaukori.

Each particular person I achieved warned me of the risks of biking right after dim, but I was established. Just as my GPS monitor said I had included 99.5 kms with 9 kms to go, the headlight battery gave up! Fortuitously, a excellent Samaritan in a passing motor vehicle guided me with his SUV’s headlights till the Udiyari bend and then a group of regional fellas gave me a lift to my resort 4 kms absent. By now it was 11 pm, the temperature was about five degrees under zero and I was however only in my biking shorts and jersey!

A watch of Panchchuli peak

Times 2 and 3

Chaukori gives you a splendid see of the Panchachuli peaks. Following a extended ride, a little reduced-pace journey is proposed to give your muscle mass with an lively restoration, so that’s what I did. By the time I established off for Munsiyari, 96 kms away, the up coming morning, I was rested more than enough to consider I could do the journey in one particular day. But future experienced some thing various planned for me.

From Chaukori to Thal was a picturesque descent. The Ramganga river held me company and at one clearing, I stopped for a see of Panchachuli. Snacking on bananas – which operates very best for power and endurance – I rode upwards to Munsiyari, self-assured of arriving there the very same day. By late afternoon I was shut to Quiti, a relatively significant village about 44 kms from

Munsiyari, when out of the blue the chain of my bicycle broke.

The see of the Kumaon range from Chaukori is picturesque

Fortunately Quiti experienced a bike mend store and I was ready to continue on my trip. But following 5-6 kms, the chain broke again and I realised it would be most effective to simply call it a working day. A select-up truck took me back again to the mechanic where by I learnt it can just take up to a few days to provide a new chain from Haldwani. By now I had got acquainted with my fellow travellers in the truck and learnt about their home close to Birthi falls, the place I resolved to invest the night time.

Day 4

One particular of the men I had met on the truck was Puran Rautela, a trekking manual. I requested him to get me on a nearby trek and soon after breakfast, we left for the Birthi falls. Our itinerary for the working day was to arrive at the uppermost element of the waterfalls the place, seemingly, travelers hardly ever undertaking. The route to the top rated was steep and narrow and it took us shut to an hour to climb it. But it was unquestionably worthy of the work. Every single transform presented a good perspective of the extensive open valley.

Munsiyari is a city in the farthest corner of Pithoragarh district

To my shock, I discovered some cows and calves there. According to the locals, it’s a popular follow in these faraway villages to travel commercially non-practical cattle to unthinkable destinations to die. The good thing is, some of my contacts in Delhi led me to a rather influential woman managing an animal shelter in Almora and I compensated the villagers to drive the cattle towards a close by village in which the district magistrate arranged for them to be taken to a cow shelter in Pithoragarh.

Great deed performed, I spent the subsequent couple of times roaming the spot with Puran.

The writer writes about his escapades cycling all around the Kumaon location

Day 5

It was time to head towards Munsiyari, tucked away in the farthest corner of Pithoragarh district. The locals told me it would be a rough climb and they weren’t improper. There are a full of 14 steep bends en route to the top of Kalamuni and the roadways are extremely dilapidated. I was fatigued by the time I received there and the highway on the descent to Munsiyari was no far better. I thanked the heavens that I had carried gloves, simply because in any other case my fingers would have gone numb manoeuvring the bike by means of the potholes and big craters.

The city of Baijnath has a cluster of temples, out of which, Baijnath, that is dedicated to Lord Shiva has gorgeous aged architecture

I achieved the little hamlet of Munsiyari by early afternoon and checked into a homestay with splendid sights of the Panchachuli peaks, nevertheless I had actually discovered the most effective sights of the peaks prior to Munsiyari! There, I built superior buddies with a guy who experienced come all the way from Mumbai on his bicycle. He took me to a close by dhaba run by a graduate of the Institute of Hotel Administration in Goa, who experienced served standard momos in Ladakh to previous president APJ Abdul Kalam.

Day 6

It was time to trip to the Kalamuni leading again, this time extra relaxed simply because I currently knew the roadways I would experience. A mountain move is often surreal, but with weighty clouds and mild precipitation, I experienced to go quick and not get moist. Fortunately it was all downhill till Birthi falls and for a additional 15 kms. I built a tiny quit at Birthi village to say a remaining goodbye to the people I had achieved.

The author at Birthi waterfalls

For the up coming number of several hours it was a fantastic trip and I crossed Pithoragarh district with a little uphill trip, descending to the banking companies of the Ramganga river. My spot for the working day was a area identified as Shama, a hamlet 45 kms from Bageswar. From the river banking companies, it was an severe sharp climb of 16-17 kms and it was about to get dim. This stretch was the loneliest I experienced arrive throughout in Uttarakhand so considerably, and to my dismay it was a night time with out a moon. By the time I achieved Shama it was all over 8 pm and just about every store was closed presently. I was fatigued, but fortunately located a homestay and within the upcoming hour, I had a bellyful of rice, lentils and nearby spinach.

Working day 7

The homestay proprietor had requested me the night before if I’d like to be part of him for a morning walk to see the sunrise and I had merrily agreed. The ‘walk’ turned out to be a 4-km trek uphill! But just as I was about to curse him, we acquired to the major and noticed the best see of the full Kumaon vary of the Himalayas I experienced at any time viewed.

A picture clicked by Indranil for the duration of a stopover at Kasauni

Right after that I commenced my journey to Bageshwar and right after an hour’s steep climb, it was complete downhill to the banking companies of the Saryu river, with a majestic look at of the valleys all-around me. By late afternoon I had resolved to journey onward to the temple city of Baijnath.

I was welcomed by the distant seem of the temple bells for the duration of evening services. Relieved to locate a guest residence, I settled down, hoping to picture this location hundreds of years in the past. It was surreal.

The author rode from Delhi to Kumaon in Uttarakhand

Day 8

I experienced produced up my head the night prior to to check out the temple for the duration of the morning company and rushed there at 7 am. There is a cluster of temples, the most critical of which is Baijnath, committed to Lord Shiva. I have constantly been fascinated with old architecture and this place was extra than I had predicted. Soon after two several hours, I established off for the closing leg of my journey.

The very first halt was Kausani, the renowned tourist destination, which is a 15-km climb from Baijnath. But Kausani was fairly a hustle for me and I desired to head residence to Almora. Immediately after a great climb of 10-13 kms from Kosi, I rolled into city at dusk. Now I can get in touch with myself MTB (mountain bike) rider!

From HT Brunch, March 14, 2021

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