They say that well begun is half done. This couldn’t be any truer for me, as my year started (damn its March already!) by visiting the beautiful Land of the Gods – Uttarakhand – which is also my native and thus holds a special place in my heart, and I’m so elated to share my travelogue and lookbook with you!
This was also a memorable trip as it was the first time that I was traveling with my school friends and in 10 years of our friendship hadn’t taken a vacation together, ever! So we started this long overdue trip with much excitement and anticipation, curious about all the adventures awaiting us in the mystique land of Uttarakhand.
Day 1 started with a flight to Dehradun from where we were to go to our first destination – Kanatal. Kanatal is popular for its camping sites and adventure sports activities, for which we were pretty stoked! After travelling through winding mountain roads for close to 6 hours, we reached the altitude of 7500ft, where Kanatal and out camp site – Camp Little Jaguar – were waiting for us to be explored.
We were greeted by the sight of the sun setting upon the horizon behind our camp site and got to witness our first breathtaking view of Uttarakhand, the beauty that it is. As for the climate, at 7°C, we thought the temperature couldn’t get any lower, but little did we know that we were in for a surprise. The temperature dropped to 0°C as the evening progressed and we experienced light snowfall on our very first night of stay there! It was a chilly night, a stark contrast from the humidity of Mumbai, but the bonfire kept us warm and cozy for the rest of the night.
On Day 2 we explored Kanatal on foot and tried a few activities like rock climbing, rappelling, valley crossing and zip lining, all under wisps of falling snowflakes. What a delight that was! Our beautiful campsite made for a picturesque view as the sun set into the horizon. After our exciting stay at Kanatal, it was time to head to our next and most awaited destination – Auli – which is a popular ski destination.
The journey from Kanatal to Auli was a long one, almost 8-9 hours but the serene view of the land and the lip smacking pahadi food on the way kept us company.
We reached Joshimath a small city at the base of Auli and from we had to take a Ropeway (cable car) to reach Auli. We were informed that the Joshimath to Auli Ropeway is one of the longest in Asia and would take us to our destination which was at an altitude of 9000ft in a record time of 20 minutes. It took us 10 minutes to reach half way and boy we were MIND BLOWN. The Ropeway provided a 360° panoramic view of the snowcapped Himalayan ranges. All four sides – the majestic Himalayas – adorned by Nanda Devi in between, which is the second highest peak in India. It was difficult to fathom so much beauty at once and we were literally pinching ourselves during the rest of the ropeway ride to see if it was all real.
We reached our ski resort Clifftop Club, still hung over from the mesmerizing view from the Ropeway, to be greeted again with even more stunning views from our hotel rooms. The temperature was chilly, the rest of the night went by of us trying to defrost ourselves from the subzero temperatures in front of the fireplace while playing a good round of friendship breaking UNO.
Exploring Auli the next day was the highlight of our trip. We wandered around on foot, basking in the beauty of Mother Nature around us. We played in the snow, clicked a million pictures, sat down on the edge of the cliff staring into oblivion, then took the cable car to a nearby village – mesmerized and awestruck by the scenery as always. Speaking to the locals about the land’s history and culture over a cup of steaming chai and Maggi was such a simple yet memorable experience.
The night saw an on come of unexpected heavy snowfall which was a treat in itself, making us little kids – and transported us back to school days again. After a remarkable two days, it was now time to say goodbye to Auli and head over to our last destination in Uttarakhand – Rishikesh.
After the peace and quiet it was now time for adventure and adrenaline, and what better place for it than Rishikesh! Yes, you heard me right, Rishkesh is not only a popular pilgrim spot but also the epicenter of all adventure sports activities, especially River Rafting!
Excited and terrified at the same time, we donned our helmets, said our prayers and jumped on the raft ready to take on the rapids. Already petrified of the water, since most of us hadn’t done rafting before, some didn’t know swimming, we were apprehensive on how our experience would turn out to be. All apprehensions went down the river Ganga, as it has hands down the most EXHILARITING experience of our lives. Right from being thrown into ice cold water, to bracing the strong rapids like champs and finally relishing over our victory with hot Maggi and tea at the river side. All in all, it was all worth it and so much more.
After our stint with River Rafting, it was time to explore the holy land of Rishikesh. It was a delightful walk from the iconic Lakshman Jhula overlooking the Ganges to the various flea markets selling souvenirs and knick knacks for that eager traveler who wants to take back a little piece of the land with them.
Our sojourn with the land of the Gods had now come to an end and it was time for the final leg of the tour – the Capital – New Delhi, where we had only two purposes – SHOPPING and FOOD! Our stop for shopping was Sarojini Nagar market – the quintessential blogger favorite place for shopping as we have all seen. And undeniably it was all true! It is one of the best places to pick up trendy clothes, accessories, shoes, etc. you name it and they have it. Delhi also reunited me with family – my long lost little niece (yes!) who hasn’t so little anymore – guided us through the popular hangout spots in Delhi. We shopped for 5-6 hours (guilty :D) and had sumptuous Delhi street food while doing so! Ah a treat to the taste buds (Dahi Bhalla chat – I still think about you). Our final stop was Hauz Khas Village where we headed to celebrate the trip that was and the amazing memories we had created! After a night of dancing, it was time to return to home sweet home with a happy head, ready to take on the New Year!
What my takeaway from this or any trip for that matter was that we should travel – not only because we get to see new places and change our Facebook DPs but also to experience and interact with new people, cultures, traditions, languages and achieve some solace from the hustle bustle of city life. Even though I’m from Uttarakhand, I hadn’t explored these parts of the land and boy was I pleasantly surprised. The rich culture and traditions made me proud of my land and I promised myself I would come back soon to make even more beautiful memories here!