Cycling the Turanhalli Forest on my MTB

The trail to the forest began with a mild slope; we were visiting the forest for the very first time and had literally no idea as to which path we were headed at and where it was going to lead us.

The Weekend Gateway:

They say “When in doubt, pedal it out.” That is what I literally did this time round. Yes I say ‘this time round’ because I always suffer from ambiguity when it comes to planning out my weekend getaways. I was chilling at a Bar in Bangalore with few of my friends, when we were chaotically planning our excursion for the coming weekend. After an unsuccessful stint of planning and a couple of rounds of drinks, one of my friends declared – “Let’s go mountain biking.” Though he was not sure about what he said then, he later boasted off his inebriated decision making. Yes, because the experience was an amazing one altogether.


Amateurs doing it for fun:

We set out for Turanhalli forest early in the morning at around 6 on our rented high end MTB’s. Oh and just so that you all know, none of us has any prior experience of professional cycling, all we have behind us is the experience of cycling immaturely and aimlessly during the precious days of our childhood. Although we lacked experience, all four of us were physically fit enough to cover the entire stretch of 50 odd kilometres.

Cycling in the Forest - Turanhalli on my MTB

The Cycles:

We rented the cycles from the well-known Pro Cycles store at Indiranagar. At Rs. 650 apiece we got quite a fair deal. The cycles were of the brands Scott and Giant and definitely lived up to the expectations.Cycling in the Forest - Turanhalli on my MTB

Cycling the Turanhalli Forest:

The distance from Koramangala (our starting point) to Turanhalli was 25 Kms and we reached our destination in under 90 minutes. The weather was pleasant and we enjoyed the ride apart from the usual tiredness. This part of the journey was literally child’s play when we compare to what the forest had in store for us.IMG_20160710_092607
The trail to the forest began with a mild slope; we were visiting the forest for the very first time and had literally no idea as to which path we were headed at and where it was going to lead us. With contrived oblivion we kept on riding like wanderers until the slope began to get steeper and our thighs began to burn. We decided to take a pit stop at the top of the cliff and carried our MTB’s all the way to the top. The cliff served to be the perfect vantage point for a major part of the forest, we could literally see one end of the forest and the dense foliage that constituted that part of the forest.IMG_20160710_111124
While we were gathering our breath and deciding on the path back, we saw at a distance of few metres from us, a group of professional mountain bikers climb the steep slope we were struggling on with the greatest ease. Fascinatingly enough they were heading towards the dense forest that was in front of us, in matter of few minutes they got lost among the dense outgrowths.
What next? We considered ourselves to be no less and followed suit, hoping that we will reach to the other end as well. Things didn’t turn out as pretty though, we got lost and were unable to find the cycling trail. We unsuccessfully searched for a sufficiently long time and in the end decided to lift and drag our bicycles and hike downhill until we see a possible trail to ride our MTB’s on.IMG_7089
Luckily for us, we had an idea of the direction to be followed and reached a trail just on the basis of our instincts.IMG_20160710_111109
It was definitely an amazing experience and could have been easier and less adventurous if we had done a bit more research on the trails amidst the forests. The forest is not as big as one would imagine but beautiful nonetheless.

‘A Trip that changed my life’

70+ stories about life changing experiences of travelers and writers from across the globe. A charitable cause – a better world for the children

Project Alpha




Project Alpha is the brainchild of Hung Thai, an author based out of Chicago and more importantly an avid traveler. He writes about his travels at Up Up and a Bear. During one of his trips to Peru, Hung came across a tiny little girl from an extremely poor community. The few moments he shared with the kid and the days from his poor childhood inspired him to find ways to support organizations working for the welfare of children. Project Alpha is one such initiative, just that it is grand in ways that it involves 70+ travelers and travel writers from all across the globe.

Travelers from all around the world




All these writers have come together to write stories based on a theme – ‘A Trip that Changed My Life.’ The book will be published in August 2016 in the US in English and all the revenue that will be generated from its sale will be donated to charity, international organizations Save the Children & Unbound.




How does our campaign work?



With Indiegogo, you basically pre-order the ‘The Trip that changed my life.‘ You just choose the package you’d like to buy, pay for it, and once the campaign closes we get the books printed especially for you! The reason for us taking payments for the books in advance is to get a heads up on the number and type of books required. This is especially important as we have no budget to make the books and all the money is going to charity. ‘The Trip that changed my Life‘ is a special limited edition book, so we need to get our production estimates spot on.

Barring the cost of production, all the money will go to charity. So not only do you buy yourself an amazing book that shows you the world through the eyes of some lovely globetrotters but you also contribute for a great cause.

Come travel with us!

Where is the money going?

Minus the small production fees for actually making the books, every single penny will go to Unbound and Save the Children.


Unbound supports communities by helping mothers and their families build a healthy environment, improving the community and lives of the children in it. They spend 92.5% of the donations they receive on helping people.



Save the Children supports children all around the world and put together safeguards for their future. Their programs include education, disaster and crisis response, health and nutrition, protection and many more. They save 89% of their donations to use helping those that really need it.

You can help







Trekking to Triund too mainstream? This place is a better alternative

The advent of social media and its ubiquity has led to the commercialization of trekking sites in India. This leads to discovery of new sites and change in trends

Commercialization of Treks


The sprawling Indian Himalayas have always been one of the strongest temptations for the intrepid travellers who love to hike or trek. Venturing into the unknown territories of the Indian Himalayas a decade ago was something that was carried out only by a certain set of fearless mountaineers. Although in the past few years, trekking or mountaineering has become an activity that can be associated with a larger, more diverse set of people. The increasing number of adventure and travel related companies and the use of social platforms as channels of information and knowledge made more people believe that such treks are doable. More and more people came to know about such treks and the packages offered by the adventure companies made it really easy for people and instilled confidence and assurance in them.

triund crowded
Triund becoming too crowded

There are an umpteen number of travel companies and blogs that educate/inform people about various treks across the Indian Himalayas. This trend has caught along really well with the Indian youth, so much so that places once unexplored have now almost neared commercialization. One such very famous trek in the Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh is the trek to Triund. The once lesser known hidden spot has in the past few years become the most heavily populated trekking destinations in India. The high frequency of visitors has turned the spot into a commercial camping site as trekkers can rely on getting all the facilities up there. They don’t have to go through the hassles of carrying their own camping equipment or even food for that matter. One can get literally everything that one might need on a trekking trip.

Triund – mainstream?

Although the ease of access and availability of essentials has pulled in a large number of people to the site, it has actually started losing its true essence. Genuine trekking/mountaineering enthusiasts have actually started loathing Triund because of the abundant facilities and the large crowd and they strongly feel that it has become too mainstream and that fact has further deprived the place of its quirks and quiddities.

The better alternative – Kareri Lake

As a result the set of people who love to frequently trek in the Himalayas seek for places less explored and away from the hustle bustle of the mainstream treks. One such trekking destination which is yet to be commercialized is Kareri Lake.

Kareri Lake – on the drier side during this season

Also known as Kumarwah Lake, Kareri Lake is a high altitude, fresh water lake south of the Dhauladhar Mountain range. It is situated at an elevation of 2934 metres above sea level and is more or less surrounded by lush green meadows mottled in grey by the plethora of boulders that lie in the most beautifully unsymmetrical manner.

How to reach there?

The trek starts from village Kareri. The nearest station is Dharmshala that lies at a distance from 491 kms from Delhi and is well connected by road and air.In order to reach Kareri one needs to hire a car from Dharmshala. The first half of this journey will be smooth but the other half gets really difficult as the road is in a really bad condition. If you are travelling in your own cars (sedans), it is highly advisable to just park them at the Dharamshala Bus Stand and not take it all the way up to village Kareri.

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From village Kareri, you’ll need to walk for 13 Kilometres until you reach the magnificent glacial lake. It is a beginners level trek with a few demanding patches and can be completed either in a single day or two days depending on your fitness levels.

Although it is a very easy trek, the locals strongly advise to compete the trek under professional guidance.

For that I will personally recommend you to use the services of this amazing adventure company by the name of Trek Trails. It is run by three working professionals who are avid mountaineers and somehow find time from their busy schedules and manage to organize amazing treks. They have hired professional and experienced guides and porters who assure your safety.  The camping equipment ranging from tents to sleeping bags are of the prime quality and once you reach Kareri Lake, they organize Yoga sessions which at that altitude take you to a different dimension altogether.

Trek Trails
Trek Trails

Here a few pictures from the Yoga sessions among the lofty Dhauladhars!


conducted by trek trails

Kareri Lake is also the base to Minkiani and Baleni Passes which can be crossed to reach Chamba. The ascend to these passes are comparatively difficult and may require mountaineering expertise.

Enroute Minkiani Pass

The trek to Kareri is most definitely the better alternative to Triund for obvious reasons and is set to see a larger footfall in the coming years.

First female amputee to climb Mt.Everest

Thrown from a running train, run over by a train, lost a leg but still managed to climb The Everest.

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”

The woman this blog post is about experienced one of the worst falls and turned out that falling was to her just another way of flying. Arunima Sinha, world’s first female amputee to have ever climbed Earth’s highest peak, Mt.Everest. Its almost impossible to even
vicariously relive the pain that she went through.The story that precedes her feat is something everyone should definitely know about.

The Tragic Incident :

Sinha was traveling in a train from Lucknow to Delhi, she was at that time a volleyball national player and was heading to Delhi to appear for an examination to join the CISF. She fell victim to a brutal mugging incident. Few thieves who were also in the same berth as her tried to rob her off her belongings. Sinha though the strong(strong would be an understatement)  woman that she was, tried to resist them but was unfortunately overpowered by the thieves. They threw her out from a running train and she fell on a parallel rail track. She lay motionless on the track for a long time and during that time another train ran over her leg!

How she recalls it in her own words was “I resisted and they pushed me out of the train. I could not move. I remember seeing a train coming towards me. I tried getting up. By then, the train had run over my leg. I don’t remember anything after that.”

Although it was not just the train running over her but the numerous rats who fed on her wounds while she lay there unconscious that added on to her misery. She lay on the tracks for hours until she was rushed to a hospital. She had suffered major pelvic and leg injuries and the doctors had to amputate her leg in order to save her life.

Reborn as a mountaineer :

The tragic event was by no means an obstacle for her. While in hospital, under all the excruciating pain she developed an even stronger, more formidable mindset. While still being treated in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, she resolved to climb Mount Everest, She was inspired by cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who had successfully battled cancer, “to do something” with her life and was encouraged by her elder brother  to climb Everest with a prosthetic leg which was arranged by raising funds with the help of a swami of Ramakrishna Mission, Vadodara.

Right after she got discharged from the hospital, she contacted Bachendri Pal (the first Indian woman to climb Everest) over a telephone call and signed up for training under her at the Uttarkashi camp of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation. She excelled during her training and before climbing Everest she conquered two 6000 metres peaks, Mount Chhamser Kangri (6622 metres) & Island Peak (6150 metres).500x333xDE26_ARUNIMA_SINHA_1408027f-e1429049911149.jpg.pagespeed.ic.yuNdmINvu2

An year later Sinha alongside Susen Mahto (a TSAF instructor who had accompanied her in ascending the Chhamser Kangri peak) she began her ascend to Everest.

The Ascend to Everest :

It took her 52 days to reach the summit. During the final part of the ascend she crossed myriads of dead bodies, that was not at all demotivating for her as she had in a way been resurrected after the train incident. Her prosthetic leg came off and she literally had to hold it with one of her hands to keep it in place.She was running low on Oxygen supply because of the slow pace that corrobarated her amputee tag.
Even that didn’t affect her as when she reached the summit she wanted her companion to record a video of her, that was really time consuming and could have led to her demise but she was oblivious to any form of negativity and just wanted to soak in every bit of that moment. While descending she almost run out of her Oxygen supply but as they say fortune favors the brave. Another mountaineer who was carrying extra oxygen provided
one of his tanks to Sinha who eventually accomplished a near impossible feat.604x453xMt.-Everest-2-1024x768.jpg.pagespeed.ic.wE-rW2bNmt

Aftermath :

Arunima Sinha is now dedicated towards social welfare and she wants to open a free sports academy for the poor and differently-abled persons. She is donating all the financial aids she is getting through awards and seminars for the same cause. She has written a book “Born again on the mountain”, launched by Prime minister of India Narendra Modi in December 2014.618x446xpm_inaugrates_book.jpg.pagespeed.ic.4_DvO7ZagA

She was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India, in 2015.


Everest was just the beginning, since then Arunima Sinha has managed to summit the highest peaks in four continents. Mt.Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, Kosizko in Australia and Aconcagua in Argentina.

Inspired by the grandeur of the accomplishment of the young woman, I would like to conclude by saying that “As we look back at our life, there are just a million different things that have happened, just in the right way, to allow us to make our dreams
come true. And we know, someone has all that under control.”

Trek to Machu Picchu – 10 Amazing Facts about the mystical Andean Beauty!

The Incan Civilization

The Inca civilization prospered in ancient Peru between the 1400 and 1533 CE.During their prime, their empire extended across the western part of South America from Quito in the north to Santiago in the south. During its reign the Inca civilization was the largest empire in America and also the largest in the world. Despite the harshness and vagaries of the Andean weather, the Incas successfully conquered people and exploited landscapes in almost all settings such as plains, mountains, deserts and tropical jungle. Well known for their unique forms of art and architecture, they built some imposing marvels of stone and rock, and their spectacular adaptation of natural landscapes with terraces, highways and mountaintop settlements still continues to inspire awe of the modern visitors who visit these beautifully mystical sites.

Machu Picchu – The Incan Wonder

One such architectural wonder produced by the Incans was Machu Picchu. Found in the year 1911 it still continues to intrigue and mesmerize the visitors from all around the globe. It is said to be an Incan citadel set up high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, above the Urubamba River valley. The architectural aspects of Machu Picchu that fascinate the modern day artists and builders are its dry stone walls that surprisingly fuse huge blocks
without using any kind of mortar, the perfect astronomical alignments and panoramic sites.


Inca trail
On the way to Machu Picchu

Here is a list of ten facts that corroborate the mystery that revolves around Machu Picchu :

1. During the 16th century Spain conquered almost all the Incan cities, however Machu Picchu was untouched because of its strategic location and height. It stands tall at 2430 metres above sea level and is nestled in the Andes. All these reasons kept the Spanish invaders in the dark.

2. Hiram Bingham, the explorer who is credited for finding Machu Picchu was actually said to be looking for Vilcabamba when he fortunately reached the overgrown ruins of Machu Picchu.

3. During his exploration Bingham collected a treasure of artifacts which he carried along with him to Yale University. Since then, there stands a dispute between Yale and Peru. The former claims to have given the artifacts on loan.

4. Though archaeologists date its creation to the 15th century there are many astronomical theories pointing in a completely different direction. According to these theories Machu Picchu’s origin goes back to the time between 4000 – 2000 BC.To throw more light on these speculations and reach a conclusion you can refer to the book ” Fingerprints of God” by Graham Hancock.

5. Due to fears of erosion the government limits the number of people embarking on the trek to 500, which includes the compulsory, locally-hired porters. The most popular way to reach this significant site is through the Incan trail trek.

6. Each year a race is conducted along the Inca trail. The current record of completing the 26 miles long trek is around three and a half hours.

7. The porters that frequently tread on the Inca trail are said to have experienced paranormal activities. Some stories involve the porters being dragged out of their tents. In order to counter the spirits of their past they carry sharp shiny objects with them all the time, even while sleeping!

8. Machu Picchu consists of more than 150 structures ranging from baths and houses to temples and sanctuaries.

9. Most of the stones that were used to build this Incan city were heavier than 50 pounds, the archaelogists state that no wheels were used to transport these rocks up the mountain and instead hundreds and hundreds of Incans pushed it up the steep slope.

10.The entire setting contains more than 100 separate flights of stairs. Most of the individual staircases were carved from one slab of stone.


The place will remain an enigma and the ambiguity may not be resolved ever. Who knows! All we can do is speculate and reach to conclusions.

Interview with Ruben Arribas

Ruben is a hardcore traveler, with 7 years of on-the-road experience. He has backpacked, hitchhiked and biked, and has traveled to 70+ countries around the world. He is always hungry for deeper life experience he gets through travel.

Travelling with Ruben Arribas 

Ruben is a hardcore traveler, with 7 years of on-the-road experience. He has backpacked, hitchhiked and biked, and has traveled to 70+ countries around the world. He is always hungry for deeper life experience he gets through travel.

What does travel mean to you?

Travel means everything for me. Since I started traveling 7 years ago, I can´t stop thinking of traveling. There is always a trip on my mind. Which country I will visit next and how is their culture going to be. It makes me feel alive everyday.


Can you point to any moment or experience in your life that influenced you in becoming what you are today?

My main influence when I was child were the maps, like literally. Apart from maps, my family has always been traveling around my own country or overseas. So I´ve always been curious about traveling. Now days if I see a map, I can stay a few hours looking for new routes or just remembering old travels.\


What is it that keep you driven towards what you do?

There are many new places to visit where I can learn many things. I´ve never been traveling around Africa, Pacific, Russia, Middle East.There are many countries that I want to visit and I have time to do it.

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Do you feel travel can drastically change a person’s perspective towards life? If you think it does what is it about travel that leads to the change?

Travel can change a person´s perspective. Meeting different cultures which are so different to yours. Making new friends everyday, trying different kinds of food. All these things have changed change my mind and how I look at different areas of life, and I would say the most of the travelers definitely feel the same.


What are the three things that you would never travel without?

I travel very light. My luggage is around 8 kilos. I´m bringing 3-4 t-shirts, pants and underwear, my toiletries and my cellphone to connect to internet,  and take pics, a charger and a locker.  Since I started blogging I always bring my laptop, too. I´m always carrying my sleeping bag, tent and my flashlight for my hitchhiking days when you never know where are you going to end up sleeping.

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Which is the travel book that inspires you the most?

Actually, there is a Spanish writer who inspired me about traveling. His name is Javier Reverte and I´ve read all his books. He writes his experience during his trips and also about their history. I love reading about travels, history and biographies. Now days I usually read on internet about travel blogs to get information for my trip.

Do you prefer to travel alone? Why?

I prefer traveling alone than with someone. It makes me feel much freeier, I don´t need to adjust to any plan. I can stop in a place for days or weeks if I feel like it. I meet more local people when I´m traveling alone. I can handle my budget better, my route and I´m meeting new people everyday. And it doesn´t mean that you are alone, sometimes you meet people on the way and you travel with them for days, weeks or months. It doesn´t mean that I don´t like traveling with someone. I did trips with someone too. If you have fears traveling alone, check this link

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Where are you now?

I´m living in the Philippines now with Rachel my girlfiend. She´s the other half of Gamintraveler. We are living and working full time with our blog And, I´m going to travel from Singapore to Thailand with Rachel for a month while we are working with the blog. We will update people in our social media channels, so make sure that you don´t miss anything guys🙂

What is the craziest thing that ever transpired while you were travelling ?

There are many crazy things while traveling. One of the  craziest was during my bicycle trip around Europe. I spent 5 days cycling in Lapland (Finland) and it was rainy, windy and cold weather. When I was stopped for lunch in the middle of the forest, I couldn´t find any place to sit down and mosquitoes were biting me while eating. It was hard to rest because of the rain and it was very humid in my tent. These days were really hard and like they say, ” what  doesn´t kill you ,makes you stronger. ¨ The reward was having a proper rest and shower after those days. (

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What plans do you have for the future?

For me future is next month haha. After the trip around Malaysia and Thailand I will be back to the Philippines and I will continue writing my stories in the blog. I will go back to Europe to visit my family and friends and who knows traveling around Europe or maybe I will prepare for my next trip. I have a few trips on my mind for the future. Traveling around Europe hitchhiking or by bicycle. Traveling Africa from North to South hitchhiking and getting local transportation. But nothing fixed yet!

Top 3 places that you ever visited and would recommend to everyone?

South America, I recommend everyone to travel a few months around there and learn about their culture. Make an effort and try to learn the language, at least the basics, it will make your trip more fun. If I need to say a few countries, I would choose Colombia, Argentina and Brazil. Southeast Asia traveling a few months and learn about their religion, customs, people and food. Try to meet local people and try to live in a country for a few months. My favorite countries here are the Philippines, Myanmar, China and Thailand

Last place I can recommend 100% is traveling around India and visiting Nepal and Sri Lanka. India is very big and interesting country for traveling. Indian people are very friendly and getting used to with the food is challenging. I learnt many things traveling around India, I enjoyed Rajasthan, Varanasi and relaxing in Varkala.


What place does the 9500 kms long cycling trip hold among the many other amazing travelling experiences of yours?

I have no doubt traveling by bicycle was my favorite trip ever. I love doing sport, especially cycling. The possibility of combining cycling and traveling made me happy everyday. I would like to repeat the experience of traveling by bicycle in Europe. I enjoyed a few cities but the best part was enjoying countryside. People were really nice with me, supportive all the time during the trip. I made hundreds of new friends during that trip.

What advice will you give to people who want to take up travel as a profession while simultaneously living their passion?

My main advice is follow your dream. If you like traveling and you don´t have a lot of money, travel simple and try to make money on the way to continue your trip. There are many ways and people will help you, you will make thousands of friends and you will learn many things that you aren’t going to learn if you don´t travel.

About Ruben Arribas

Ruben Arribas is a Spanish traveler who has been to 70+ countries around the world. If you value real cheap travel guides and offbeat destinations, he is your go-to guy. Read his tips and stories in Gamin Traveler and join the community onFacebook and Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Road Trip to Auli – The skiers’ paradise

Road trip to Auli

The whole idea behind this trip actually conceptualized due to a fortunate stroke of serendipity. Prior to this, there was a different plan with more people which luckily for me, didn’t materialize. Thanks to the inevitabilities that college life brings along with it. So the cancellation led to a scenario as per which there were just two of us guys and a week’s time to wander. Now you’ll wonder why I call the above mentioned events a stroke of serendipity. Well because of two reasons:
1. Now we didn’t have any fixed plan in mind – Sounds weird but turns out that this way of travel assures you way too many thrills and surprises.
2. The mode of travel to be taken in the initial plan was a cab – Now we’re just the two of us, what better mode of transport than a motorbike?

So yes as it turned out, we hired a pulsar 220 from New Delhi. We chose  stoneheadbikes  to rent a bike as we had heard some really good reviews about it from friends and on reaching there the experienced owner, Mr.Khoman corroborated the reviews that we had heard from our friends. After a long assuring bike check and necessary paperwork Mr. Khoman gave us the keys of the scrambler.

Auli trip
Our Pulsar 220 from Stoneheadbikes

It was a bittery cold night in the month of February and it was highly advised to not travel during the nights. We left Delhi at around 10 PM against the advice of most. I don’t want you all to be under the impression that it was our boyish insouicance manipulating our decision, we just wanted to make most of whatever time we had. So we set off in the dark, sort of prepared to face the dank vagaries of cold.

As i told you before, we had no certain plans in mind. We were wanderers in the true sense of it. Oh by the way just so that you know, it was our first ever road trip on bike and the guy accompanying me didn’t know how to ride. So I was the only driver and the distance to be covered in the entire trip was 1000 Kms ‘only.’ Filled with effervescence and wanderlust we covered the first 100 kms of our journey in an hour and a half. We took our first pit stop
after crossing Meerut. A good meal, hot tea and we were on the road again. This time round we stopped only after have traveled for another 150 odd Kms. It was the holy town of Rishikesh, situated on the hallowed banks of river Ganges. We literally walked into the first budget hotel we saw, checked – in and then just crashed.

We had covered just about half the distance and had a long way to go. More importantly keeping in mind the terrain from there on, it ought to be a challenging task. So we left Rishikesh the early morning next day. The road from Rishikesh to Auli is rather beautifully precarious. Mountains made up of slippery rocks to our left and a deep gorge down to river Ganges to the right. A really pleasing and awe inspiring sight only untill you see those
markings that read “Land Slide prone area” and a thought of a rock hitting you and throwing you right into the chilling waters of Ganges haunts you. To avoid such thoughts the pillion rider started playing loud music on the portable speakers that we were carrying with us and we were good.

The number of pit stops increase significantly in the mountains due to quite a few reasons. We would stop whenever we saw something exceptionally beautiful, to gulp down hot tea or just to rest our asses which by then were in some real pain! Yes sitting on the bike with heavy rucksacks on our backs for long hours on such terrain takes a toll on the ass. It was all in all a comfortable ride until the rain gods decided to shower their blessings on us. From there on things got a bit tricky. The bike tyres would not grip on certain occasions, especially the places that had recently witnessed landslides. So we continued with caution and that came at the cost of speed and eventually time.

Yet another pit stop

We managed to reach this small town called Pipalkoti, 40 odd kms from Auli. By the time we reached that small town near Auli, we were exhausted, drenched and cold.We luckily found a decent room at a government guest house of Garwhal Mandal Vikas Nigam. Our sojourn at the guest house was comforting, we ate a substantial dinner, spent a night and had a healthy breakfast. All that cost us a mere thousand bucks. At that point all that seemed like an affordable luxury.

The last stretch

The last phase of our journey was a mere 40 Kms long. The road from Pipalkoti to Auli proved to be the toughest stretch of the entire journey.

The slope being the steepest, the grey of the road mottled with occasional whites that were constituted by the patches of snow. The snow increased as we neared Auli. After 2 hours of cautiously maneuvering our scrambler on the challenging roadway we reached the town of Joshimath.Jyotirmath at Joshimath is the uttaramnaya matha or northern monastery, one of the four cardinal institutions established by Adi Shankara, the others being those at Shringeri, Puri and Dwaraka. From here you can reach Auli through a ropeway, which is also the second highest as well as longest ropeway of Asia. The 4Kms long cable car takes you up to a height of 3100 metres above sea level.

The two of us had thought of spending a night at Auli but it didn’t work out that way. When we reached Auli’s skiing resort we were amazed to find out that we were literally the only tourists there. Everyone present there other than us were locals, most of them were students of the skiing academy. After eating a maggi and omelette we rented skiing equipment and went up to the skiing instructor, who was also coaching all the students present there. Since it was our second or third try at skiing, we weren’t that bad at it. We bailed on the track once, maybe twice but otherwise we did well. Skiing down the
slope at those altitudes is exhilarating, I must say. The only thing that was literally degrading and made us feel terrible was the way and the ease with which school kids wafted past us,carving their way through the snow at high speeds, twice our speed to be very frank. From the skiing slopes we could easily sight the grand peak of Nanda Devi, standing at an imposing height of 7816 metres, the second highest peak in India. We also heard from the locals that the border to China is not far away. The Nanda Devi Devi National Sanctuary is home to myriads of trekking routes and quite a few peaks ranging from 6000 – 7500 meters.

Road trip to Auli
The skiing track in Auli

We skied our hearts out. We were there trying our hand at honing our skiing skills for more than two hours, after which we headed up through a trail that led to the forest nearby. We trudged up the steep trail and hung around in the forest for a bit….!

View from our guest house at Karanprayag

Since it was off season and there was not much to do, we decided to leave Auli the very same day. We left Auli around lunchtime and reached this place called Karanprayag by late evening. We chose the cheap comfort of another Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam guest house, it was situated right next to the river and offered scintillating views. Had spent a night there, we still had a couple of days left at our disposal. We decided to spend them at the town of Rishikesh, the town of temples, Yoga, Sadhus, Rafting and intrigue.

Road to Auli
Dinner at Little Buddha Cafe, Rishikesh

A memory to cherish for life

That was pretty much it. It was a great experience altogether and i would like to end it by saying that “We can’t know what’s going to happen. We can just try to figure it out as we go along.”