Dhanaulti : Reigniting The Passion

Discussion in 'Travelogues' started by Vargis Khan, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    There are times when you discover something new, know something new about yourself, find a new hobby or simply did something that you liked doing and before you even realize it, it becomes a turning point in your life. Hobby becomes a passion and pretty soon your whole life starts to revolve it. I have known people whose even careers were based on their hobbies. While I agree that sometimes chasing a hobby as a career might prove to be a hit on the monetary side but sometimes, that satisfaction, that happiness that you get out of it far exceeds the monetary satisfaction.


    Years ago, one such moment of my life was when I along with a friend of mine accidentally landed in Dhanaulti on a motorcycle. My father served in Indian Army and I spent most of my life moving from one city to another, changing schools and friends, as my father kept getting transferred. I travelled around a lot as a kid and I believe this is why I grew a fondness towards being to new places. However it was not until after college and after I started working that this fondness took shape as a hobby and then ultimately moulded itself into a passion. That year when I first visited Dhanaulti, I had just been back from a trip to Dharamshala and Mcleodganj when a close friend of mine, Lavish, suggested a visit to Gangotri on his 180 CC Pulsar motorcycle. Now the trip to Mcleodganj and all my trips before that were way different than what Lavish was suggesting. Those were trips in SUVs, with big groups including ladies, sometimes with families and sometimes with friends where everything was meticulously planned. What Lavish had in mind on the other hand was a 1000 kms motorcycle ride in the months of monsoon, something that neither of us had done before. I must admit that we were very apprehensive about doing it but ended up doing it none the less. I will not get into details of that trip here (if you are interested in reading about it then follow this link ) but we could not reach Gangotri, ended up riding in rain for almost 8 hrs and landed in a small village called Dhanaulti in Uttarakhand, about 25 kms from Missouri. Though that trip was painfully inconvenient, I still could not deny the fact that both of us thoroughly enjoyed. That particular 3 day ride changed something within us. It changed how we looked at travelling, how we had enjoyed it and that was the time when my hobby turned into a passion. Pretty soon, we were riding our motorcycles all over North India and started to even prefer motorcycles trips over cars.


    I do not exactly remember how or when but then the hassles of life caught up and the frequency of our trips started to drop, up to a point where I did not get out of Delhi for more than 2 years. I missed it, craved for it, longed for it but the 9 to 5 schedule at work and then personal affairs at home kept me tied so much that I just could not either find time and when I did, I was so tired that all I wanted to do was to lie down on the bed and have a few days of relaxing. That longing for being on the road however never did fully die.


    Then came the time when I was going to buy my first car. It was not exactly my first because I did have a car at home but it was going to be the first that I was buying out my own pocket and not my father's. The passion to travel around kicked in here as well and I bought a Mahindra Thar, a 4X4 jeep that everyone says is not exactly a city drive. My family too was against me buying it but I did still and things once again started to change. I knew I had to change my lifestyle and get back to what I enjoyed doing the most. It was a time for a change, to take another trip after months. It was time to reignite the passion and what better place to go to other than the one that gave birth to the passion in first place. Yes, Dhanaulti.
     
  2. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    I must admit though that Dhanaulti was not the original destination planned for this trip. We only had 2 days in hand, a Saturday and Sunday so going somewhere far was anyways out of question. We had decided on visiting Lansdowne which is merely a 6 to 7 hrs drive from Delhi but then somehow along the route, the destination changed and by evening, we ended up in Dhanaulti once again. Just like it happened the first time I went there. The most important thing about this trip though was that it was the first time I was going to drive a big car in the hills. As a matter of fact, it was the first time I was going to drive a car at all in hills, big or small. It was 4 of us on this trip and out of the 4, Wasim and Vikram had almost zero experience in driving and I had zero faith in Shoaib's driving so it was going to be only me on the driving seat. So far, all my mountain trips were on motorcycles and I would be wrong if I say that I wasn’t nervous with the thought of driving an SUV in Himalayas before this trip.


    We all work in night shifts so the idea was to start early morning Saturday, reach Lansdowne by noon, spend the evening and start back to Delhi by Sunday noon. Wrapping up work took no longer than expected though and by the time we got on the road, it was already way past 4 am. First destination was my place so I could pick up my bag and this too took longer than expected. We ended up spending more than an hour at my house and it was close to 5.30 AM when we started from my place. We got out of Delhi fast, crossed Ghaziabad and first break came before Muradnagar to get a much required cup of tea.


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  3. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    After Muradnagar, we left the highway and turned on the Upper Ganga Canal. Whenever I am on the Delhi Haridwar highway, I always prefer to leave the main highway at Muradnagar and then take the canal road all the way till Haridwar. First reason for doing so is to avoid the highway traffic as there is almost next to none vehicles on this road. Second reason is that it feels nice to be driving on a road with green fields on one side and a canal on the other. Beware though that if you are planning to take this road, DO NOT under any circumstance travel on this after dark as this road is also notorious for robberies and murders even.

    Up until now, Lansdowne was still the agreed destination for the trip. Idea was to stay on the canal road until Khatauli and then turn towards Bijnor from there. Shoaib was a little apprehensive about Lansdowne and wanted to go to Dhanaulti but I wanted to visit Lansdowne because both of us had been to Dhanaulti multiple times before however 3 out of the 4 of us, including Shoaib, had never been to Lansdowne and it was 5 years ago that I was there last.


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  4. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    We kept on the canal road, took a few breaks and in slightly over an hour, reached Khatauli. This is where the entire plan changed. We had two options here, either turn right and head towards Khatauli to go to Bijnor from there or stay on the canal road until Haridwar and continue to Dhanaulti. I stopped the car and asked the other three. Shoaib was still persistent about Dhanaulti and eventually we all agreed to what he wanted to do. Rather than turning towards Khatauli, we stayed on the canal road and headed towards Haridwar.

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    Stopped for a tea break on the way


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    While we were busy having a tea, Wasim borrowed this bicycle from a villager and started to have some fun of his own.

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  5. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Up until the end of the canal road, which is about 25 kms from Haridwar, it was a smooth drive. There was no traffic at all but the moment the canal road ended and we came back on the highway, it was as if the entire traffic was waiting for us to arrive. We got into a massive traffic jam and it took us well over 2 hours to cover the last 25 kms to Haridwar and then another 2 hours to cover the remaining 25 kms to Rishikesh. By the time we crossed Rishikesh, it was already way past 2 pm.

    After Rishikesh, the hilly region started and the drive once again turned pleasant.


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    Another tea break.


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    Wasim posing

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    This would be me


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  6. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Another break near this waterfall


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  7. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Came across this water stream and time for another break


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    Selfie time for Wasim


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  8. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Breaks were too often and so were the photographs



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  9. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Nap time for Wasim and Vikram


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  10. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Some more clicks


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