First Big Ride -1 (2009) Lansdowne – Pauri


“It is said that finest of our memories are the ones when our young mind was unaware to the ways of the world.”

BIRTH OF AN IDEA

During existential years of my young self, my singular attention was on my profession, years passed I felt drained and longed for breaks to reinvent myself. During one of those days, I used to recall my want for travels especially motorbiking trips in the Himalayas.

In 2007 just after the release of Turbo Gems brother and I relocated to Dehradun and months later I acquired my first motorbike a 200cc cruiser from Bajaj.

In Dehradun, I had the company of “Mamu” my uncle, a travel enthusiast with whom I had a long travelling history. We both started to do biking trips around Dehradun extending them later to further places such as Chakrata etc.

FINALLY, A TRIP

One of my long-standing to do biking trip was visit all my ancestral places and also the places in I had spent my childhood a trip for nostalgia I suppose.

One day I settled up on my plan and allocated 3-4 days for my trip. I also happen to share it with Mamu, and being a traveller himself he joined with adding an itinerary of his own. So my original plan of 3 days was extended to 6 of over 850+km ride.

The first part of the trip being my solo ride to Lansdowne and Pauri while in second Mamu were to join me at Pauri and proceed to his part of the trip which was to visit his business contacts for some work.

  • Dehradun> Lansdowne.
  • Lansdowne> Takeshwar> Lansdowne.
  • Lansdowne> Satpuli> Pauri.
  • Pauri> Rudrayaprayag> Agastyamuni> Ukhimath> Chopta> Gopeshwar.
  • Gopeshwar> NandPrayag> Devprayag.
  • Devprayag>Chandra Badni Temple> Rishikesh> Dehradun.

Day 1 Dehradun – Kotdwar – Lansdowne 150KMS

dehradun to lansdowne

Lansdowne being my hometown was familiar to me. I started at about 10 am and reached ‘Nepali farm’ within an hour.

I have now entered the Rishikesh – Haridwar single lane highway, this time of the year there is heavy traffic of the peak tourist season. Being tourist route all commercial vehicles dominate the proceedings on the road. Aggressive tourist bus drivers will blink at you, even for the little space on your side of the road.

Traffic ahead of Doiwala presents another set of problem with sugar cane carriages that clearly want to outdo their engineered specifications for capacity, shape, and size.

It is only after you have wiggled out of Najimabad that you can feel relaxed and start enjoying the nature.

After Kotdwar and upwards of Dugadda is all charming hilly road with excellent forest cover; Closer to Lansdowne, one finds those majestic conifer forests with brown pine leaves. The hill floor and roadsides are covered with ‘Pirul’ a local name for pine leaves which adorn the hills with its brown shade.

It took about 5 hours of an uneventful ride for me to reach Lansdowne. I went straight to my ancestral home where my Uncle lived with his family.

While chatting with them I got a news that one of my cousin and her husband also have arrived at their residence at Lansdowne. Another of my Uncle was posted at Lansdowne in those days.

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LANSDOWNE TREKS

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Later that evening we all got together and went on for a trek in one of the most scenic parts of Lansdowne. This trek starts of from Jaiharikhal road leading to the playgrounds of KV Lansdowne a 6-7 km of an easy trek.

I was familiar with this trek as I have done this many times during my childhood with my dad or my granddad. Trekking on older routes around Lansdowne presents a great way of exploring the real charms of the place.

There is a small trek available and accessible to tourists known as ‘Thandi Sadak’ it used to be evening walkway for British, back in the days no Indians were allowed, like everything their empire fell and so did the prohibition.

We all enjoyed that evening and it was decided that we all should get together next day for a trip to Tarkeshwar.

Day 2 Lansdowne – Tarkeshwar and Back 50Kms

Next day we all went to Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple about 40 km from Lansdowne. An enthralling tale in itself, that experience is duly noted down here.

Tarkeshwar Mahadev is a secluded and scenic temple of Lord Shiva hidden beneath large Deodar trees, in Hindi Deodar is known as ताड़ hence the name ताडकेश्वर / Tarkeshwar. Incidentally it is also another name of Lord Shiva.

Day 3 Lansdowne

The 3rd day was spent enjoying the tranquility of Lansdowne and having fun time with family members.

Day 4 Lansdowne – Satpuli – Pauri 80Kms

This being the fourth day I was excited about my solo ride to Pauri a place around which both my parents and thus I trace our lineage from. I was going there after a gap of over 10 years.

Well prepared and well fed with tasty ‘aloo parantha’ I left at around 8 am towards Jehrikhal – Gumkhal.

The smooth empty and winding hilly roads and fresh air accompany you till Satpuli a small town downwards of Gumkhal. Satpuli is a transit town in this part of Pauri Garhwal region.

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Satpuli town as seen from Gumkhal side. June 2009

Ahead of Satpuli, I encountered dust and broken roads as the road broadening work was in process and I kept wading through thick dust and unpaved patches till 20kms. I reached to top of the hill which opens up in the periphery of Pauri the little town.

REACHING PAURI

For about half an hour more I enjoyed the nature and I entered the areas that present first vista of the whole Pauri city on the mountain, I stopped to take few pics.

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Far View of the Pauri City 2009

I was happy to note that it was 2009 and Pauri still managed to hold onto its charms well. Those charms which had me in her spell when as a child I used to roaming freely, running hither-thither along with cousins having a grand blast, being king of the hills.

I kept recalling my way down to the farthest place in Pauri where my Mausi (Aunt from maternal side) lived and I managed to reach straight to her house. This house being one of the oldest buildings of Pauri is extremely well-built and well kept.

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Mausi’s Bungalow at Pauri

Here just after a couple of hours later Mamu was to arrive to begin the second leg of our journey a day later.

Mamu reached in time, I went to pick him up from the bus stop and we both returned back home to have lunch with family. After lunch, Mamu suggested visiting our maternal home 15kms just ahead of Pauri.

FIRST VISIT TO ANCESTRAL HOME

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The pathway to reach our village from the Main road.

We left at about 3 pm the drive took us about 30mins till we reached a place from where we had to trek down to the house. It appeared easy downhill as it usually is but not when we had to head back the same way uphill.

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Our ancestral home
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The Village temple and our home below

It was purely nostalgic moments as Mamu described his life back then in the Hills, all the family members of the ‘कुटुंब’. Their lives back then, the forests below our house where they all use to forage for wood as everyday fuel. The school building up on other hill in which my mother and her siblings ‘went to’ stood till today.

Talks moved on to the golden times they had when they were kids. He showed me the stone engravings they left on the courtyard floor stones when they were mere kids.

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Date when the house was built
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Possibly this was etched by Mamu, but he wasn’t sure but his year of birth coincided.
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ओखल or Okhal the stone whole used to crush Dals or to make podwer of various spices.
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बाघ बकरी -Bagh Bakri traditional board game.

Ours was a small village consisting of only a few buildings sporadically placed currently from one of those buildings from down below, came an old lady to meet us. To our surprise, she remembered Mamu when he told her his name. Mamu was out of Pauri for more than three decades and he seems to have lost that memory but he did recall some of her children.

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A sweet lady from the houses nearby.

Back in the day the village was family’s extension all families lived and cared for each other.  She was very old and a very sweet and loving lady, watching us come to our desolated home she had brought with her a jug full of water for us to drink in that sunny day we were us mighty thirsty too.

We paid our tribute to her and updated her know how about our family members, which seem to bring smile and tears to her eyes as she described the village and its current situation of deserted houses.

Apparently, she was the only one in the village left and one more family which lived in the houses above. Her son keeps visiting her from the city as she likes to spend time in the place she lived so many decades for.

It was an overwhelming experience of emotions and nostalgia and strangely it coincided with my age that is when all humans experience this connection in their lives.

We left our village with a heavy heart that day not what I was expecting when I woke up in the morning.

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