A road trip to the two extremes of Uttarakhand | The Financial Express

A road trip to the two extremes of Uttarakhand

We first went to where the road took us the farthest in Kumaon. We then repeated this in Garhwal

A road trip to the two extremes of Uttarakhand
A must-do activity is the day-long trek to Khaliya top, from where you can get 270-degree views of the Himalayas.

There are two kinds of Uttarakhand.

One is for tourists (easily accessible hill stations such as Mussoorie, Nainital, Almora and Lansdowne) and the other for travellers (for those who go beyond, to Munsiyari, Auli and Dayara Bugyal).

On a recent road trip to these two kinds of Uttarakhand, we found that touristy places are usually chaotic, relatively dirty, crowded, and one where you are likely to find more tourists than locals.

Places deep inside Uttarakhand, on the other hand, are calm and clean, offer local food, and provide a true escape from the hustle & bustle of city life. But reaching here is difficult, and easier on a two-wheeler than on a four-wheeler.

I chose two Royal Enfield motorcycles—the Interceptor and the Himalayan.

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Munsiyari (Interceptor)

No matter which major city you are travelling from (Delhi, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Agra or Chandigarh), Munsiyari is the farthest town in Uttarakhand. From Delhi, it is 630 km away, and can be reached after two days of relaxed riding (about eight hours per day).

Hotels in places such as Kausani, Binsar and Mukteshwar usually advertise that these are the best places to get 180-degree views of snow-clad Himalayas; in Munsiyari, you can almost ‘touch’ the same Himalayas from your hotel window.

A must-do activity is the day-long trek to Khaliya top, from where you can get 270-degree views of the Himalayas. Another is the road from Jauljibi to Madkote, which passes under waterfalls.

The ride: The Interceptor isn’t a motorcycle for extremely long trips, and the riding position will tire most riders in a couple of hours. But that’s on straight highways.

The Interceptor gets into its element on twisty mountain roads. It’s got an excellent lean angle, exceptional shockers, perfect riding position (for twisty roads), and never feels out of power while accelerating out of a corner. But it guzzles fuel—my unit returned 32 km/litre. A new Interceptor costs Rs 2.88 lakh (ex-showroom).

Gangotri (Himalayan)

Although not as remote as Munsiyari, Gangotri is still at least a day and a half from Delhi, at 530 km. I, however, covered the distance in one day, because I chose the right motorcycle—the Himalayan—and also because the smooth NH34 in Uttarakhand made riding easy.

While Gangotri is a pilgrimage town and crowded, places before it are as remote as they can get. One such town is Harsil, where in a single frame you can see three mountain peaks: Bandarpunch (where Lord Hanuman extinguished his burning tail, or so the legend goes), Swargarohini (stairway to heaven that the Pandavas took) and Kalanag (it looks like a black cobra).

A few kilometres before Harsil lies Barsu, from where the trek to Dayara Bugyal starts. It is the biggest bugyal (meadows that turn into ski slopes in winters) in this part of the Himalayas.

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The ride: The Himalayan is a tall motorcycle, so straddling it isn’t easy. But once on it and riding, it handles like a toy. On this ride (mostly constant 80 km/h in the plains and 60 km/h in the hills), the Himalayan returned overall fuel economy of 42 km/litre. The new Himalayan is priced Rs 2.14 lakh.

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First published on: 05-11-2022 at 01:30 IST