Paul and Rita - India and About, 2005/6 - Uttaranchal


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Uttaranchal was part of Uttar Pradesh until November 2000 when it became the 27th state of India.  It comprises 13 Himalayan districts, and has some of India's most magnificent mountain scenery.  We


Itinerary - click link to jump to day

12th October - Paonta Sahib to Dehra Dun  
13th October - Dehra Dun

14th October - Dehra Dun
15th October - Dehra Dun to Haridwar
16th October - Haridwar
17th October - Haridwar to Najibabad



Wed 12th October, 2005

Checked out the Drona Hotel, looked a likely contestant from the description in our guide book, but when we enquired at reception we were told the whole hotel had been reserved for government ministers and employees since 2001!  A few hotels further up the street we found a reasonable room for 400 Rs. Took some time to convince them that we didn't think it was safe enough to leave our bikes outside on the roadside, eventually they allowed us to leave them in the reception area, plenty big enough to hide them in the corner.

Everything worth seeking out in this town seems to be based on Rajpur road, so we headed up there to find something for dinner.  There were a lot of pedestrians thronging the streets as we made our way, it was only when we were at the Kumar Restaurant on Rajpur Road that we were told it was the festival of Dussehra, which is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, legend being that on this day Lord Ram & Lakshman defeated the demon king Ravana after a ten day battle to end the scourge of evil from this earth, or so we were told.  They set fire to a big effigy of Ravana, a bit like Guy Fawkes I guess.  We saw a lot of kids with big smiles on there faces, carrying either a bow and arrow or a decorated ball on the end of a stick.  That description probably doesn't do it justice, but they were obviously symbols of the battle.  The festival was all over by the time we had finished our meal, all bar a few fireworks in the distance as we walked back to our hotel.  Back to Itinerary

Thu 13th October, 2005

We had a number of things to sort out today, in particular, booking accommodation in Corbett National park for next week.  There was a tourist office in the Drona hotel down the road, presumably it wont be reserved for the use of government ministers only!

It wasn't, but he had some bad news for us.  Corbett NP is closed until 15th November.  What do you mean its closed.  We've been looking forward to going there and seeing some tigers for weeks, if not months, nay, years! (well, almost). Our Footprints guide book doesn't say its closed. Yes, it is closed from June 15 to November 15.  B****cks!

Okay, plan B.  The only problem is, we don't have a plan B.  We'll have to make one up.  In the meantime, there's a nice little hill town called Mussoorie, 15km as the crow flies from Dehra Dun, that's awaiting a visit from us, or so we like to think. A quick pit stop for breakfast of masala dosa (don't you just love that curry taste for breakfast?) and we negotiated a 300 Rs taxi for the two of us up to Mussoorie.


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Fri 14th October, 2005

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Sat 15th October, 2005

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Sat 15th October, 2005

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Mon 17th September, 2005

Wanted to get an early start to try and beat the heat, its been getting hotter as the days have worn on, mainly because we've gone down to lower altitudes, we now about 300 metres above sea level.  Managed to get on the road by 8am, after what we had hoped would be a quick cup of tea and coffee in the hotel restaurant, but it took them 10 minutes to make it.  Typical.  The streets were not as busy as yesterday, but still took a lot of dodging of foot traffic, cycle-rickshaws and autos to get down the Upper Road.  Turn left at the second circle is the direction we were told to take for Najibabad. Calling it a roundabout I suppose would have been a misnomer, as traffic tended to treat it as any other road obstacle in India, drive around it any way you can and if you can't, drive in to it! So calling it a circle is probably a good idea.

The bridge over the Ganga was fairly busy too, but we managed to find a place to stop and take some final photos of the town and the people bathing in the holy waters.  I dont think they minded, they weren't stripping off or anything, so I don't think we were intruding too much.  
On the south side of the bridge we could see acres of tents set up in uniform rows.  This in the location for the 15th National Scouts and Guides Jamboree, the first time it has been held in Uttaranchal, a big roadside sign told us.  The Prime Minister had flown in yesterday to see them, pity he couldn't find time to drop in and see us, we could have made him a cup of tea. 

Several bridges later we were over the many channels of the Ganga at this pint in its journey.  Haridwar is the last place where the Ganga passes through a gorge of the foothills of the Himalayas and starts its 2000km journey across the planes of Northern India to its final destination in the Bay of Bengal.  A bit like us really, except we're going to nip up to Darjiling for a cup of tea, I'd like to see the Ganga do that!

Just outside of town the building disappeared and were replaced with trees, bushes and grass, what a pleasant change of scenery in such a short space of time.  And so quiet, too. Quiet, that is, until we were overtaken by 7 combine harvesters, obviously finished their harvesting and off to work somewhere else.  Each was loaded with people and their luggage, including a few motorbikes, big spare tyres for the combines and various other parts.  They were only traveling a little faster than us, so when they got held up a little we caught them up and overtook them, until they gained on us again, went passed and the whole process began again.  This did become a little tedious, so we took a longer drinks break to let them get away.  

We crossed over several new bridges on the way, some several hundred metres long. The road surface around them is still sand and grit, and the bridges have 3 inch high ridges running across them at 20 metre intervals, obviously waiting for a layer of tarmac. They'll be nice when they're finished.  Before the bridges were build, it looks like the traffic had to gross the rivers using a causeway, could have been well dodgy in wet weather.  We were only thinking how lucky we were that the bridges had been built and it the monsoons had finished, when we came across a bridge that hadn't been finished and the river flowing over the middle of the causeway was going racing quite quickly before it dropped over a 10 foot waterfall.  We looked around for a pedestrian bridge, but of course there wasn't one in sight, up or down stream.  Two young boys on bikes carrying small loads of firewood overtook us, so we watched to see how they would cross.  They dismounted and waded through the water, but they had flip-flops on and were used to it.  I could see us having to take our shoes and socks off and following suit, but some workers high up on the bridge above us had other ideas, they were using sign language to indicate we should cycle through it.  
Egged on, but slightly worried about my camera and other valuables getting a drenching, I waited for a suitable gap in the traffic then set off.  The water wasn't too deep at first,  but the concrete surface under the water was a broken up and after several metres dropped down several inches and my feet were dragging through the water as I cycled on. I couldn't see what was coming up under the water, but having watched a few vehicles go through before me, I was fairly confident there were no huge holes waiting to swallow me up.  After a few tense moments when I hit several small ledges of concrete, I made it to the other side, with only my shoes a bit wet.  Come on Rita, its easy.
Rita was not quite so willing to try, and at first tried to hitch a lift across from a passing truck, but having seen me do it and with the encouragement of a small disabled kid who was hopping about beside her on his one crutch, she put the bike in low gear (to make negotiating the concrete obstacles easier, more power) and took the plunge.  Well, not literally.  Following the boy with the crutch, she was soon across, and she didn't even get her shoes wet.  The boy was really pleased when Rita gave him 5 rupees for his efforts. 

Soon after that great crossing (in our eyes, anyway, wait 'til you see the pictures, read the book, watch the film)  we reached the border of Uttar Pradesh.

Continued on our Uttar Pradesh page    

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