Auli, the showstopper of our tour, the day finally arrived. We will find out if the hype was real. We had heard so much about the place. The day before, we bought tickets for a 7 a.m. bus from Dehradun to Auli. Bus started from near BJP office, somewhere around the parade ground. Prior to that it was pure chaos in the morning since we had to means of transport to get to the bus stop. Hesitatingly, we decided to disturb the sleep of our home-stay owners. Fortunately he had contacts with an auto-rickshaw guy who took us to the bus stop. We got comfortable enough seats on the bus and were on the way.
The road to Auli goes from Dehradun via Rishikesh, Devprayag, Vishnuprayag, Rudraprayag,Karnapayag, Nandprayag, Pipalkoti. 4 hrs into the journey, we stopped for lunch break of about half an hour at Teen Dhara and back to the thrilling journey on the one of the most cliffhanger roads for the next 6 hrs. Total distance of around 290 kms from Dehradun takes around 10 hrs and can be stressful if not for the beautiful views, pleasantly cold weather all throughout. Road construction work at some places cause a lot of dust but apart from that, its mostly a comfortable ride considering the time duration.
Buses also run from Rishikesh and Haridwar and take slighly less time since they are some 30-40 kms closer.
Joshimath (Base Location):
Our bus reached Joshimath around 5.30 pm. Joshimath is one of the 4 math established by Adi Shankaracharya across India. Small town with all basic amenities, mainly visited by tourists in winter who plan to enjoy the beauty of Auli. We can get a Ropeway ride to Auli, one of Asia’s largest. We stayed at Hotel Bluemoon on first day and then Hotel Dronagiri.
It was very cold. Auli Ropeway was only metres away from our hotel. After slight freshening up, we had our dinner at a small hotel and then slept to wake up early and avoid the rush.
Next morning, we got our tickets on the 2nd slot, around 9 or 9.40 am. It was an amazing experience and felt like the drone videos we see that slowly reveals the landscape as it inches its way up. Video can be found here. Soon we were able to see patches of snow and suddenly the air of excitement inside the car lifted up. Scanty snowfall meant that we only found patches of it yet. We got down at the last gandola station and made our way towards the direction of snow. Far off, we could see the top of Gorson Bugyal. We hiked up a few meters and suddenly found a good thick cover of snow. A year has passed and I still smile thinking about this experience. This was the first time I have seen snow outside if my refrigerator.
I slid, jumped, made snowballs and dug our feet in the snow as much as possible. Did possibly everything a first timer would do and then some more.
We decided to try our hands at skiing. Its cost was around 700/- including the gear and trainer charges. I couldn’t get much hang of it but Manish did better than me. But, we both had sore sides due to constant falling and slipping. But it was worth it and definitely something to try out.
Anyhow, we then decided to trek to upper Auli, to a height of about 11,000 ft. The view at the top was out of this world. We saw Hathi ghodi parbat, Nanda Devi in full glow.
After spending some time at the top, we decided to go back. The wind had picked up speed and it started getting very cold in the middle of the afternoon. It turned out to be a successful trip, even though we missed the snowfall. It certainly lived upto its hype and had there been snowfall, there would have been no doubt left in our minds about its beauty and splendour.
We had to return the next day as our holiday time was up. But the memory of the places, people, bus ride, bike ride will remain with me forever. It’s has been more than a year already but as you can see I have recounted the trip as it was yesterday.
Special places give you a special feeling and they always stay with you occupying a place in your mind .You can revisit them as a happy place in trying times to lift you up. We did this trip on our own, without any tour operators. It wasn’t a big challenge, but we didn’t know that when we started. So it sure feels good that we made our first trip a success. I was never big on travelling but it has become an acquired taste and slowly becoming my passion.
Thank you for reading.
You can read other blogs here.