Thursday, June 17

The hills are alive...

There are many roads from Uttarakhand to Himachal... and we decided to take the most difficult of the lot to reach our 9th Mahindra Homestay, Krish Rauni at Matiana.

We left Camp Corbett at Kaladhungi after lunch and thanks to a board I saw at the Ramnagar entrance to Corbett National Park we took a road that was on the southern fringe of the park (via kashipura, Afzalgarh, Nagina and Najibabad). We got fleeting glimpses of some birds and wildlife as we drove to Haridwar for the night. After finding that the rooms at Ginger were dirty we stayed at a very decent Hari Heritage.

The next morning we continued on NH 72 to Dehradun, and beyond. In Dehradun we took a break to pick up some wildlife books at The English Book Depot on Rajpur road, and some great hindi MP3 cds in the market near the GPO.

From Dehradun we could have taken the 'plains' road to Chandigarh (via Herbertpura and Narayangarh) and reached Shimla via Parvanoo. But we chose to climb the Himalayas (again) and Herbertpur and head north on NH 123 up to Kalsi and then took the road to Tuni (a small non-descript town near the Uttarakhand-Himachal border on the Tons river) via Chakrata.

A good part of the last leg of the day was done in pitch darkness. Thank goodness for that.. the narrow roads and the cliffs were beginning to scare me... in the dark all I could see was the white marker stones on the cliff side of the hill roads and I felt secure... what you can't see can't scare you... right?

We found a small hotel (3 rooms only) in Tuni, who served us some rajma, roti and chaval for the night and gave us a decent room to rest our backs in... amazing that we actually found that place in the dark.
Uttarakahand has a lot of power problems and sometimes in these remote villages there is no electricity for at least 3 days.

The next day between landslides, dangerous cliffs and lovely birds we took off to Matiana. A few meters after we crossed the Tons river, which is the largest tributary of the Yamuna, we were in Himachal Pradesh.
The roads got better (but still had it's share of landlsides)... so we reached Matiana (via Hatkoti, Jubbaland & Theog).

In Himachal, the best part is that you get to see apple orchard on the road sides and... in season... you can pick as many apples as you want and nobody cares!

We stopped for a breakfast of samosa and chai and one small village... probalby just a few hundred people. Two young boys were staring at our car... the number plate... us... and wondering “where the hell have they come from”. Finally they asked us and when we said Chennai... they had no idea where that was!

We tried to explain, Chennai also known as Madras, samandar (sea), south india... nothing seemed to ring a bell... and then all of a sudden his face lit us - “Chennai Super Kings” he yelled. 

Wow! The first real good and useful thing that has come out of the IPL... it has improved the general knowledge of the kids in these remote places.

Because it was not yet apple season we decided to eat apricots - hundreds of them... little did we know that when we reached our 9th Mahindra Homestay, Krish Rauni at Matiana, we would have Apricots for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


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