Dhanolti; January, 2013:
While you work in corporate, taking few days leaves for a bike trip is very hard to plan. It requires a lots of effort to reach out to you supervisor and get the leaves sanctioned. In that situation, you always look forward to combine weekends with a holiday which is coming on your way and you are entitled to avail. We did the same. I along with few of my colleagues planned for a bike trip to Dhanolti. Unlike Kasauli, this is going to be a tough trip, for sure.
Plan was to kick start our bikes on Saturday night, the 25th night of Jan and come back by Jan 27th. Dinner break, tea break and little rest on the way to Massoorie. Itinerary was quite flat, overnight drive to Massoorie via Roorkee on Friday night. Decide which hotel to check in. Take rest for few hours, Local sight-seeing on 26th. Overnight stay in hotel at Massoorie and next day drive to Dhanolti, sight-seeing and before early hours of evening cross hills and reach Dehradun so that by nightfall we could be in plains. Drive back to Delhi and join office the next day.
Though the plan was quite simple, we never thought that a wrong turn would change our entire trip into an adventure trip resulting into a more than 32 hours of non-stop biking followed with 4 hours of restless sleep.
Back then, I was working with iEnergizer as Manager. Abhishek Gaur, Harpreet Singh, Aman Sharma were my team mates who joined the trip along with. We decided to drive our respective bikes except Harpreet. Harpreet decided to share the ride with me.
25th Night – Way to Dhanolti
We met at Sitaram tea stall. Those who are from Noida and are working near Sector 60 must be aware of this Sitaram Tea Stall. It was our preferred and much needed hangout before and after office hours as we used to bitch a lot about our bosses there. Not only ours, it was in demand by HCL, ABP News, Tech Mahindra and rest other offices in Sector 60, Noida.
After finishing Maggie and tea, we started as per our plan. So far so good. In no time we turned left for GT Road and after few kilometres we took 2nd exit to NH34. After 17km drive, we followed the road merging into NH 334. Now we were heading straight towards Roorkee.
Dhanolti is hill station in Uttrakhand. It is 325 km (202 mi) from Delhi, an 8-9 hrs drive away. The nearest Airport is Jolly Grant Airport 82 km (51 mi) away, near Dehradun, and nearest railway head is at Dehradun, 66 km (41 mi) away. At an altitude of 2286m, this place is known for its quiet environs amidst the alpine forests of Deodar, Rhododendron and Oak.
We drove the entire night and reached Haridwar by around 3:00 AM in the morning. It was bone chilling cold and dense fog due to Ganges River. We saw a tea stall at the roadside and we stopped. The main reason was not the tea stall but the bonfire which made us stop for a while. We had tea and don’t know what happened Gaur took out a Bluetooth speaker from his back pack and played some awesome Punjabi Songs. Everybody started dancing right on the road side. All of a sudden, the environment was warm and there were excitement cum laughter all around. I resisted at the beginning however joined the team in no time.
It was already 4:00 AM when we continued on road. Aman’s Black Avenger was leading the track followed by my Silver Avenger followed by Abhishek’s Thunderbird. Fog was getting thicker. At one point, it was so dense that I could not even see my hands. On the other hand the local buses and cars are crossing us at their top speed. It was the beginning of our adventure and we were completely unaware of the upcoming events. Somehow, we traced a slow moving truck and followed it till we crossed Haridwar and turned on Dehradun road crossing Rajaji National Park. It was 6:00 AM morning; we left Dehradun behind and drove into the hills.
We follow a monotonous life. Sleep at night and stay awake during the day. We stayed awake and kept on driving that night. It was already more than 24 hours we had a nap. We were desperately in need of sleep.
Hills are usually colder and it was January. You can expect how much cold it would have been then. Our eyes were red and heavy. Early morning rays were pinching our eyes. Black shades and black visor were a kind of relief. We kept on driving and reached a diversion where we saw a sign posting; Turn left for Massoorie and Right for Dhanolti. We stopped; saw each other and the next moment, way towards Massoorie were left behind. We were heading towards Dhanolti now.
A wrong decision + A wrong turn = Adventure Trip ; We understood this after 3 hours of ride from then.
That was an elevated road leading us to the top of the hill when we saw white patches on both sides of the road. OMG! Is that Ice? Oh Yes! That’s the snow. We screamed out of excitement. Hard solid snow must have fallen a week back. The clock was ticking at 9:00 AM and Harpreet asked from one of the heads who crossed us ‘the local people’, Is there a snow fall at Dhanolti? With a smile, the local replied; go forward, you will see plenty of snow. You will love it. He did mention snow but did not mention that the snow is not fresh and is weeks old.
Excitement does wonders; but over excitement does not. We became over excitement as soon as we saw snow.
We drove to another few Km towards Eco-Park and hell yeah! White snow all around. Eco-park was 4 km away on the top of hill. So we have 4 Km white snow patch to cross. Fun filled us with over excitement and we raise the accelerator. Crossed 100 meters in snow and then we took a break. By then, we were no more feeling sleepy, eyes were wide open and we were refreshed as if we just awake. That was the start of excitement, going to turn into adventure and a tiring bike ride which I could not even think of. Bang ! that sound, someone has fallen. He was none other than Mr. Gaur. We all laughed.
People learned from the mistakes they have committed themselves or from someone else’s mistake. We learned from Abhishek’s mistake. Haha – be careful while you are walking on hard snow.
We stayed there for 30 mins played and had lots of fun. Soon we started on our bikes. As soon as I started, my bike slipped and I along with Harpreet was on road, lying flat. No injury but now this was the turn for others to laugh. We stood; lift my bike and drove again. This time I applied break to control bike along with clutch and to my surprise bike was out of control. I was heading towards the valley that too in speed. My face turned red and I was blank. I thought of nothing but to jump from my bike deliberately.
I did so and that was the second instance when I fall. This time no laughter but everybody was scared to death. I was smiling out of fear. That’s weird. I said Harpreet to drive as I was scared and trembling. I announced, “now, it’s Harpreet’s turn to fall. This was to make everyone comfortable. But, the next moment, my both legs were in Air and I was again on road. That was and is the worst plunge ever. This time everyone laughed out loud.
After an hour, we were 1 km away from ECO-Park. That was the time when we had to drag our bikes. No one was driving anymore. We struggled and dragged bikes for a Km and reached on top of the hill. View from the peak was nostalgic and worth all pain. You can actually see the Himalayan snow peak range from the Eco-Park.
ECO-Park is the main attraction of Dhanolti. There are two Eco-parks, “Amber” and “Dhara” about 200 m apart from each other. Both have been developed by the Forest Department of Uttrakhand with the help of local youth. About 60 local youth, both male and females are employed as Guides, Gardeners, Service providers, Ticket Collectors, Information Providers etc. It houses a protected patch of small forest containing Deodar Trees. There is an entry fee of INR 25 for Adults and INR 10 for childrens.
One can also visit Surkanda Devi Temple which is – 8 km (5.0 mi) from Dhanolti, on the road towards Chamba famous for its Ganga Dussehra fair in autumn. It is part of the Devi Darshan triangle, which offers trekking opportunities around Dhanolti – Surkanda Devi, Chandrabadni and Kunjapuri.
A popular sunrise view point is must to visit often known as Aaloo Khet (Potato Farm).
We crossed Eco-Park and for our surprise it was all snow. On the roads, over the hill, on the roof and everywhere. Here the things got more troublesome. From locals we got to know that we were required to cross a patch of another 4 km that too the upward direction. Dragging bikes for another 4 km was not an easy job to do especially when you are tired not slept for more than 32 hours and has not had anything to eat for more than 14 hours. We saw each other and decided to cross the patch first and get the hell out of Ice.
It was already 2:00 PM then. Weather was getting colder and some people said to cross the patch as soon as we can as by evening the snow will become more slippery. We gathered our strength and started dragging our bikes. By 5:00 PM, we were out of snow and could see green forest all around. We took a break, had Maggie and started driving. We all were tired and was not in condition to drive bike any further. Therefore, we mapped our direction to reach Haridwar via Rishikesh. We crossed Chamba, and reached Narendra Nagar. It was 9:00 PM already and had to take rest. We took the only guesthouse on rent, had something to eat and then the next moment we were in our beds.
Next day, we drove back to Delhi and joined office the following day. Now whenever I tried to remember my Dhanolti Trip, I recall only our adventure and excitement. Harpreet, Abhishek and Aman and I are working with different organization now and barely in touch. However, I am sure this blog will bring smile on their faces.
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