Saturday, September 1, 2012

Drive from Hyderabad to Kuntala Waterfalls

Hyderabad to Pochera waterfalls 
Pochera waterfalls to Kuntala waterfalls 
Kuntala waterfalls to Hyderabad 


Total distance covered: 550 KM (door to door)

Driving time: Onward: Left Hyd 6-30 AM reached Pochera waterfalls 11 AM
Average mileage: 11 km per litre (Conditions: Ford Fiesta Petrol, 4 Passengers  , AC-on 50% intensity always, Luggage)
Cost of trip: Rs. 4000 (Includes fuel and toll)

Click here for the direction in google maps. 

This was being planned for quite some time. Last year around monsoon time, I came to know of these waterfall destinations. Since then it was in my radar. A lot of planning, pre planning, postponing, deferring, cancelling and then finally the day arrived.

The previous attempts of visiting were unsuccessful because of various reasons.  Travelers getting sick on the d-day, too late to get up in the morning, road blockage due to rain on one occasion, and most of the time, overcast sky and heavy rains were the biggest deterrent. However today the sky was clear, monsoon took a side step, sunny morning, co-travelers were in the pink of their health and so an ideal day to drive out.

So we packed our bags with breakfast, lunch, some snacks, toys for my dog and other accessories like my camera with all my latest photography gadgets tucked in a dedicated camera backpack. So here we are, all set for another long drive to a road never travelled before – NH 7 towards Nagpur from Hyderabad with all 4 of us geared up and looking forward to this.

Left home at 6-30 AM, took a break in between, walked and relieved my dog, started again and reached Pochera around 11 AM. Spent some time there and left for Kuntala waterfalls. Reached kuntala around 12-30 PM. Spent a good time there relaxing, had lunch and finally started for our return journey. The journey was all smooth throughout, with most of the road 4 lane. Only one railway crossing falls in between where we had to pit stop both ways. On our onward journey we took the road through nirmal however the bypass should have been taken. Didn’t regret though as the small ghat section was filled with monkeys, sheeps and goats (a lot of entertainment for our dog). While returning we took the bypass though. The return journey was smooth except got stuck in balanagar traffic and that was the killing part. Total drive of 550 KM with the steep walk and climbing of 400 stairs in kuntala was a bit too tiring for a single driver. By far, the most tiring of all the long drives that I have done till date. I don’t know if I’m ageing now or whether it was the effect of stairs multiplied with balanagar traffic jam, but for the first time I felt a little old now.

But all in all it was fun, with lots of greenery around on the way, smooth roads mostly, and beautiful misty waterfall of kuntala was rejuvenating. A wholesome experience of driving with pleasure aplenty. Not to mention, when you are with family, all these long drives become even more fascinating. A note of kudos goes to the car as well, even at 55,000 KM, being more than 6 years old, with totally worn out tyres, she was awesome on the road.

I hope the next trip comes soon. Let’s see which one I pull out this time.  

The mist around the Kuntala waterfalls didn't let me click properly. was worried about my camera getting wet. 

This was my first trip to Kuntala Waterfalls, I did this trip once again later - the Second Trip link is here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Drive from Lucknow to Nainital

Drive from Lucknow to Nainital - Kausani - Jim Corbett and back to Lucknow 
Total KM: 1160

It’s a long time since we last went to my home town Lucknow. So this time we thought we would stay for atleast a week instead of our usual 2 days. The moment we made the plan for a week including the sat-sun on both ends, mom gave an idea to visit jim-corbett. And the moment jim-corbett came into the picture, how could you miss out nainital, kausani, which I visited when I was only 10 year old. And then we never had an iota of doubt about the mode of conveyance. YES! It has to be a car drive, but of course not in my car rather in my dad’s car. So the itinerary was something like this:

09-Apr: Left Lucknow morning 6 AM, reach Nainital 3 PM
10-Apr: Trips to nearby sight-seeing like Saat Tal, Bhim Tal, Nakuchia Tal.
11-Apr: Left Nainital 8AM reached Kausani 2 PM
12-Apr: Left Kausani 9 AM reached Jim Corbett 3 PM
13-Apr: Bijrani safari
14-Apr: Dhikala safari, started from Jim Corbett 12 PM reached Lucknow 2 AM 15-Apr

Day 1: I was super excited as usual, although I missed driving my car on these lovely scenic places, but I guess it's fine. Atleast I’m on the road and driving, that’s itself is an achievement for me. This time it was even more convenient as both Dad and I were going to drive so the stress would be much lesser on any individual.  We left early morning from Lucknow, and happily driven till nainital. Reached there had our lunch and left for local sightseeing. The road to nainital was good till bareilly, after bareilly the road condition is not at all good with big potholes all the way till haldwani. We diverted a little bit in haldwani following Google maps, tried to reach kathgodam from the back of the station but lost or way and again had to crawl back in the kathgodam city traffic near the railway station. If we had stuck to the straight route then we could have saved 30 minutes easily. Journey was good till the end of day 1, with one minor hitch and a small difficulty in taking the car on the steep uphill in zoo road where our hotel was situated. It was kind of 45 degree uphill slope, very difficult if you have to stop the car midway. Wish I had an automatic.

Day 2: When inquired about local taxis for nearby sightseeing, they were charging a lot, so we again went back to our plan of driving our own car. And we did exactly that, much to our own delight. We visited all the taals and came back in the evening for local nainital market sighting.

Day 3: Left nainital at 8 AM towards kausani. The road was good enough, beautiful hilly stretch. Also a lot of stretch including valleys. Shot some photographs en-route  garam-pani a lesser known place where a natural geyser is available, with a stream of water flowing which is hot in winters and cold in summers. Awesome place, had our breakfast there. Then left towards kausani via ranikhet instead of almora. Kausani as usual was beautiful, very cold and could spot Himalayas the moment we reached. Who would have known at this stage what would happen tomorrow morning.

Day 4: Anyway, so the whole night it rained, and we were disappointed because we thought we wont be able to see the Himalayan range next morning. But unbelievable thing happened the next morning. We got up and the magnificent Himalayas greeted us in full glory. Even the locals said, this might be one of the best sightings in some time. We were undoubtedly lucky, and there I was with my Canon SLR, shooting since the time I got up. I just couldn’t help shooting as many pics as I could for these snow-clad peaks. Left kausani after breakfast and headed towards jim-corbett. We took a route less travelled rather hardly traveled. Because most of the people either travel to jim corbet from nanital or to nainital. Hardly anybody ever does the stretch of kausani to jim Corbett via tarikhet and bhatrojkhan, and we knew why was it true. Firstly, the hilly terrain was the toughest of its kind I have seen. So many places there was landslide. That route was not even good for bus travel, I wonder how come our Tata Indigo managed that stretch. It was deserted with deadly terrifying view across narrow stretches of road and very few vehicles. Anyway, finally we reached jim Corbett safely, and that is what matters. The twist and turns were very difficult for my wife, she has the problem of motion sickness and I knew it was going to be tough for her. But she recouped, we took some breaks and she managed to compose herself till the end of the mountainous track. Reached our resort and went for a nature walk in the evening.

Day 5: no driving that day in our own car, only safari in bijrani and dhikala.

Day 6: after the morning safari in dhikala, came back to resort, packed and left immediately for lucknow. 2 bad incidents happened on our return journey. Firstly, we took a wrong route which was some village road, just blindly followed google maps and that was the mistake. There wasn't a proper road for 50 KM, and it took us hours to cross that stretch. Finally reached Moradabad and had our lunch there. Left Moradabad, then the car broke down after 50 KM. I think some issue with the car charger / inverter that we were using which triggered some electrical malfunction in the car. Temporary rectification done and left the place by 7. Still a long way to go. I drove a little bit but then got tired again. Then again Dad drove for some time, finally reaching lucknow at 2 AM. I was dead tired when I reached lucknow. I am sure even dad was the same.

The trip ended finally, we had some bad memories and a lot of good memories. That’s what the fun of road trip is all about.