A Nainital trip is a perfect opportunity to do a ride. While I would have preferred a long ride, had to make do with a short one. A trip to Nainital is always busy with several planned and unplanned things always cropping up. managed to keep May 1st (Fri) free for myself. Thu night descended with stormy clouds. I expected it to pass with a few showers. However, by midnight the weather had turned crazy. Stormy winds lashed the Kumaon hills coupled with heavy rains. Snuggled in bed I wondered if Saturday would be any better. Up at five, I peeped out. Heavily overcast sky. The fact it wasn’t raining was a little booster. Went back to sleep. At six, the sun started to peep out of the east Jubilant, I leapt out of bed. The ride was on. By seven I was out, driving down the Ayarpatta hills. And by the time I reached the lower end of the lake, I was predicting a clear sunny day.

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Lake Shore Tallital

Now, I wasn’t sure where I was headed. All I wanted was a relaxed day long ride. In the hills, one is spoilt for choice. The following options circulated in my mind:

  • Lake Tour: Bhowali-Bhimtal-Sattal-Naukuchityatal – Typical touristy stuff but the recent rains would have made both Sattal and Naukuchiyatal pretty. I could park the bike anywhere and take a walk down a jungle trail.
  • Mukteshwar Round trip: There is a road which starts just about Kaichi Dham and goes to Ramgarg and then a road that joins Mukteshwar to Suyalbari (below Almora). Have been wanting to explore this road for quite some time.
  • Almora/Kausani/Ranikhet: Head down to Almora and take the Kaisani road. Go as far as time permits and then return via Ranikhet. I could turn around at Someshwar or Kosi or Gwala Kote (there is a road through some excellent pine jungles)

The short ride to Bhowali helped me made up my mind. Last night’s storm had caused havoc. Uprooted trees and rockfalls were everywhere. Deciding to take the route most like to be hurdle less, I choose the last option.

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After the storm
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Rockfall on the main road. The rock was 3/4 size of the bike.

At Bhowali I turned towards Almora. The road descends down to Kainchi Dham. This stretch stays in shade till later part of the day keeping the temperatures way down. Finding a small stream replenished with last night’s rain, I experimented with some long exposures.

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Waterfall – Long Exposure
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Kaichi Dham

Down at Kainchi Dham, it was bright and sunny. I love the road towards Almora from Kaichi Dham. It follows a river gorge, narrow at places and wide open at other. The hills upstream beckon you with open arms with some splendid views.

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River Gorge and the road beside it

The road is also in an excellent condition in this stretch. I made pretty good time. Decided against stopping at Garam Pani to the famous Alu & Raita. Stopped for a few pictures at Kakrighat. The temple and the cast iron bridge offer some great photo opportunities.

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Temple reflections at Kakrighat
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Kakrighat Bridge

After Kakrighat the road starts its ascend towards Almora – gradually at first and then at a steeper incline.

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Tea Time

it had been almost two hours since I started. Time for a tea break. Stopped by a small village for tea and then started up towards Almora.

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River, Flowers and Blue Sky

At the “Almora – 9Km” sign, the first glimpse of snow-clad peaks show up. The visibility was quite low. Still a faint outline of the Trishul peaks were visible.

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Faintly visible Trishul Peaks. Look more like clouds

Few Km before Almora, I turned down towards Kosi. Initially the road is not in great condition as it crosses the mushrooming outcrops of Almora city.

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Wild spread of Almora town

And then the terrain suddenly transforms itself into a lovely jungle of Pine trees. The road is a black ribbon beautifully winding thorough this green wonderland.

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Winding through the pines
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Winding through the pines

At the bottom of the hills the road crosses the Kosi river. From here the straight road goes up to Katarmal Temple and then up to Ranikhet. The road on left goes towards Kausani.  A little ahead a small stream joins Kosi. Perfect spot for a river bath. I had stopped here for a bath on a previous trip to Katarmal Temples. The temptation to stop for another river bath was strong. Managed to resist it and keep going. The road next goes through some excellent pines again and enters the Someshwar Valley.

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Pines near Hawalbagh
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Selfie

Post Hawalbagh, the road enters the Someshwar Valley. This is a beautiful valley with some excellent views of terraced fields with Kosi river flowing below. The road is a mix of wide and well tarred stretches and narrow bumpy areas. There is minimal altitude gain or loss.

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Bridge on River Kosi
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Terraced fields of Someshwar Valley

It was still early and I decided to ride till Kausani. Was somewhat hungry, but decided to wait till Kausani.

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Cloudy Himalayas At Kausani

At Kausani, clouds engulfed the high peaks. Not much to see or photograph. Stopped by a road side shop for bun-omlette and tea. Pretty satisfying after a hungry morning.

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Late breakfast

The way down from Kausani gives a very different view of the Someshwar Valley. As a travelogue  once recommended to stop occasionally and look back. The view back is very different from the view front. Often better.

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More terraced fields on way down from Kausani

At Someshwar I decided to continue down to Kosi. There was time for a river dip. I was soon at the fruit juice factory. Over the last few years I have stopped here every time I crossed this place to gulp down a few bottles. On the Munsiyari Trip, I rested here for a while to shake off the fever. So a few bottles down and with some jam and pickles in my bag, I was off to Kosi.

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Fruit Juice Factory
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The squash options
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Splashing around

Just before Kosi village, I took a small trail down to the river. The water was cool and refreshing. Half and hour of splashing around and I was hungry again. Dressed up and left to search for food. Kosi village was busy and crowded. The few dhabhas in town were crowded, which is a good thing. It means food is fresh. 60 bucks a thali which consisted of dal, kari, sabji, raita with unlimited roiti and rice. What more could one ask for. I ate with a healthy appetite.

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Bridge at Kosi on Kosi

A heavy meal means the eyes automatically search for a place to nap. And I didn’t have to wait long. Few Km after Kosi (on way to Almora) a stretch of Pine jungle starts. Parking at a clearing on the side, I settled down for a nap.

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The towering Pine looking up from the bed of pine needles.
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Perfect place for an afternoon nap

I must have slept for half an hour when a stirring in my ear woke me up. Some insect buzzing around. I had to head back, yet I lazed around. It was heavenly lying there enjoying the balmy sun and the gentle breeze. Eventually and grudgingly I stood up and sauntered down to the bike.

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Abandoned

The setting sun on the mountains made everything pretty. It is like the glow engulfs everything in its aura, enhancing every aspect of existence.

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Standing tall and bright
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The Ridge

A quick break at Kaichi Dham for nibu-pani and I was back home in time for evening tea. Trip Stats Distance: 235Km Start Time: 0700 End Time: 1730 Expenses – Food: 263 Expenses – Fuel: 0 (tank was already half full)

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