Thursday, June 30, 2011

Uttarakhand Tourism welcomes you to Pithoragarh

Of the famed Kashmir beauty, I had only heard… One visit to Pithoragarh (PTH) and I’m already thinking, if this place, often touted as the miniature Kashmir because of its geographical features, is so beautiful, what would the real thing be. Small villages scattered in an extremely green Soar Valley, ice-capped peaks in the distance, clouds floating above houses and hotels, beautiful soft-spoken Kumaoni people – all set to leave you wondering why on earth has this place not been on the tourist radar so far…

It is then that you also realize the answer to the question you posed to yourself... It is then that you remember the scary hairpin bends and steep landslide-struck roads that you negotiated to reach this place from the more famous Almora! Almora is around 4 hrs from Kathgodam (the nearest rail head - KGM). Then you travel for another two hrs before you reach Daniya. The road gets adventurous after that – and the last hour of journey after Ghat – it is surely not for the faint hearted!

But if you braved those roads and reached here, its time for some bliss... terraced fields all along the hill will be the first thing that catches your attention...
Complete hills have been carved into concentric circles of farms (apparently if want to purchase farmland, you need to purchase a complete circle). The town is not really blessed with the best of hotels but then, for an outdoor person like me, it didn’t really matter. In the distance, on a clear morning, you can see the Panchachuli peak from very close outside the main town. The church at the Chandak pass gives a panoramic view which is sure to leave you flabbergasted for not having come here earlier...

I had to travel further the next day and so retired early the next day. Nothing is as refreshing as waking up to the early morning sun. Leaving at 6, I set out for Dharchula – a small town around 4 hours away – on the Indo-Nepal border. From Jajar Deval (just outside the main town of PTH) to Kanalichina, the roads were pretty good. If Ghat-PTH road was tough, the road there on is perilous! Of course, the extremely cautious and experienced driver (Bhuvan) made it more of a joyride. A few miles before Joljibi, you meet the river and then on, its a journey with the cascading river as your companion. The Gori and the Kali rivers meet under a hanging rope bridge which connects India and Nepal. It is where you realise what absolute BS it is for man to create borders – exactly similar terrain and people (in fact even the currency) on both sides of the ‘border’! Leave alone everything, the chai in the same small glass tumbler tastes exactly the same!

Here on its pretty much a nice ride in the river-valley – on the Mansarovar Yatra Route - till you reach the NHPC colony and the military area of Dharchula. Dharchula is a warm place (a comfortable t-shirt would be ‘good’ attire) situated in the valley along the same Kali river. Oh btw, from Joljibi to Dharchula, the Kali river acts as an international boundary between India and Nepal! You can cross over without Visa and can carry personal daily goods but nothing tradable. You buy a Pepsi bottle woth Rs.25 – give a Rs.50 note – and get Rs.40 back (exchange rate is 60paise to a Nepali rupee) :D The hotels leave much room improvement. Rains are frequent and heavy at this time of the year (pretty much through Apr-Sep). No phone connections work except Nepal Telecom (the STD Booths charge Rs.10 per min to call India).

The return was tiring - one that even gave me a sun-burn because of the harsh mountain sun! I travelled to Haldwani in 12 hours - battered and tattered but extremely satisfied and pleased :)

1 comment:

monika singh said...


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