25-04-2017, 1000 hours, Mahrora, Uttarakhanḍ, India:
We reached Mahrora after a 5 km drive downhill on a narrow dirt road from Pangoot. Pangoot is around 2200 m approximately and is a famous tourist destination. People from all around the world come here during March and October to see birds and animals which migrate to these areas to escape the summer heat of the plains. It’s hot in the sun, but the cool breeze flowing through the thick forest around us is giving a pleasant feel.
Upon reaching Mahrora, which is somewhere around 1600-1800 m in height, we were dropped off to a point till where our car was able to manage to drive up to. This spot lay a few hundred meters away from the Geeli Miṭṭi Farms as told to us by the cab driver.
We have plenty of baggage and now the big question that arises is how to carry all of it up to the farm. Its heavy and we are just a few people at hand. So we decided to get some help and take the luggage to our destination in two shifts. While the four of us go ahead, carrying as much as possible, Ameen has volunteered to stay back with the rest of our luggage left for the second round. Walking to Geeli Mitti Farms now and it feels great!
25-04-2017, 0845 hours, Nainital, Uttarakhanḍ, India:
We have stopped at a small road side dhaba run by Mohan Pandey and Manoj Paṭhak. They have been serving Maggi, tea and omelette for the past 10 years, and that too throughout the year. It’s a make-shift shop on the road side, but the location is just amazing. While one can have Maggi at numerous shops in the area, the Maggi served here has a special mix of spices made by the duo themselves. And trust me, it’s something that just makes Maggi even more delicious.
What gets even better is that one can see the Naini lake while you enjoy sipping the hot tea surrounded by the forest around the location. The place has also been visited by Bollywood stars such as Preity Zinta, as told us by Manoj.
25-04-2017, 0810 hours, Nainital, Uttarakhand, India:
As we gained altitude to Nainital moving on the serpentine road, the forest completely transformed from what was covered with Sal to long needled pine, and now juniper and oak.
Upon reaching Nainital, the setting of the lake with the mountains towering behind was an amazingly beautiful sight. We got down, and for a moment, just got lost in the wonderful spectacle. The water with the golden and reddish carps swimming in the lake also refreshed us in a very subtle way.
As we have to go further ahead from here, we get going again on a narrow stretch of road towards Pahgoot. And guess what, we stop at the perfect spot for some tea and Maggi overlooking the lake from a mountain side.
25-04-2017, 0535 hours, Kathgodam, Uttrakhand, India:
With the sunrise, we reach Kathgodam and it feels great to be back in the hills again.
We meet with Mr. Lalit Budhlakoti who drives a Mahindra Maxx which is a typical jeep generally used by the people in hill states to commute. He owns the vehicle and is from Pangoot. He has been driving this particular vehicle for the past 8 years and is in this profession for the last 22 years.
The weather is great and it feels nice to breathe in the fresh mountain air blowing down the valley as we make our way to Mahrora.
24-04-2017, 1040 hours, Delhi, India:
After traveling in a taxi, then a plane and a taxi again, we have boarded the train to Kathgodam. As of now we have roughly covered somewhere around 1430 odd kilometres. Everyone though tired, are up and chit chatting as the train chugs down the track making it’s way towards the mountains.
24-04-2017, 1930 hours, Delhi, India:
After a 2 hour flight we have reached Delhi as the sun set. As we reached late in the evening, we managed to escape the notoriously famous hot weather of the northern plains. Come to think of it, the weather is more or less the same as it is in Pune during this period of the year. Heading to the railway station now to catch our train to Kathgodam. Excitement is also building as we get a step closer to our destination.
24-04-2017, 1505 hours, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India:
After making our way through the traffic and the humid Mumbai weather, we have reached the airport. Tanya had already reached and had been waiting for the rest of us. As she hasn’t used a rucksack before – which is specially designed for hiking – Ameen is helping her out in securing the numerous buckles all over the back pack.
After waiting for sometime Achyu also reached, while the team was catching up. We were enjoying the pleasant wind blowing through open space outside the airport in spite of the hot and humid weather conditions here.