Dilli Se Munsyari Tak – Reaching Abbott Mount

For a very long time, we wanted to go to Abbott Mount in Uttrakhand. A close friend, who runs a camp at sat-tal called Getaway Jungle Camp, has been dropping this name for almost last 7 years. He was looking at Abbott as a possible venue for his next camping site. His description of the place has led to a mental picture and over time it got developed as we got some more information about it. Almost as if you are making a new place, first there were mountains, then a cottage, then a steep path leading to it which can only be traversed in a 4 X 4 and so on. Among other things which got imprinted in my mind was the long distance and the place seemed very far and hence needed right kind of drive planning in terms of stops and breaks. All of this was enough to decide Abbott Mount as the place to halt for a night, on our long trip to Munsyari. Yes, I forgot to tell you that though we always wanted to go to Mount Abbott and that it is very far, we decided to go a little further, all the way to Munsyari. We planned to take a breakfast break post Rampur Fatak (some people also call it a railway crossing) and were looking at crossing the fatak as soon (how can you cross a crossing, almost feels like being a double cross) as we can after all we had a long way to go. Second break was to be at Tanakpur, the Indo-Nepal border town with some time left to do sundry shopping. I was already beginning to imagine a city full of cargo jeans shops and bright Shiva Tee(s). Post Tanakpur, we would break for a long tea session at Champawat, a place which is on the tourist map of Uttrakhand and the name sounded very fascinating and finally we would take that steep and be at the cottages before it gets dark.

The bigger plan of Munsyari was discussed, deliberated and dissected multiple times. We also spoke to our Pahar experts and were rudely reminded by a close and knowledgeable friend that it would be a pain to stop at Tanakpur so keep driving. So we knocked it off. Then came Champawat’s turn which though a great tea-stop, but so would be Abbott Mount and in the end, the plan was to simply start early morning, try to make good progress and be there at Abbott by afternoon.

We were to be joined by a friend from Mumbai the previous night and on the morning of …. June the group of 6, two pairs of young parents, started on the journey to the Him-Nagar of Uttrakhand, Munsyari at about 6 AM in the morning.

Though I am very tempted to write a lot about road, I would hold my horses at least for the first stretch. This is the route we were to take and we did take this route only.

1. Delhi – Hapur – Moradabad – Rampur (NH 24)
2. Rampur – Bilaspur – Rudrapur (NH 87)
3. Rudrapur – Sitarganj – Tanakpur ( NH 74 -> NH 125 )
4. Tanakpur – Champawat – Lohaghat – Abbott Mount ( NH 125)


View Directions to Abbott Mount in a larger map

Please click on Delhi Nainital road review to get most recent updates for Delhi – Moradabad – Rampur – Rudrapur.

We had planned to not make a stop before we cross the crossing and we did that. The crossing got over in a breeze. This was a rarity and a good enough achievement to stop for our breakfast break. It was to be at ‘New Mehfil Restaurant’. Pretty good food, fresh and tasty Aaloo paranthas but overall hygiene needed much work. Not recommended since there are many good joints on the way. We were doing good in terms of time and by 1030 we moved on from Rampur towards Rudrapur. The rest of the drive till Rudrapur was very routine for me and my wife though my friend from Mumbai was very excited and would look at this GPS-eqipped phone every few KMs to ensure that we are on right track. This would have been my 50th drive on this route, if not 100th. From Rudrapur, we had to take a right turn towards Tanakpur.

We passed through Sitarganj, with lush green paddy fields in full action in a slightly overcast weather and moved on before my GPS-enabled friend noticed a big water body, on his phone that is. This was not in plan but looking at the size, we got curious and realized that we are moving towards that water-body only. After a while, it was right next to us, a real huge lake. At the bridge, we came to know that it is ‘Nanak Sar’. Since we had a long way to go, we moved on after clicking a few pictures and failed attempts to upload them at Facebook.

Nanak Sar close to Sitarganj

Nanak Tal close to Sitarganj

We crossed Tanakpur before 1200 hrs and we were beginning to climb.

Tanakpur lived to its expectation of a bustling town which we tried to get past fast. We were very close to Indo-Nepal border and ‘Mahendra Nagar’, the big town on Nepal side, was only 12 KMs away. At one place, we even saw a board marking some temple in Nepal at a detour of 3 Kilometers. We were very tempted but the training of all the past years of Abbott being so far didn’t give us enough courage to fall for it and we kept on our way.

All roads lead to left towards Himalayas. At Tanakpur

All roads lead to left towards Himalayas. At Tanakpur

At Tanakpur

At Tanakpur. One from the car.

From Tanakpur, we were about 90 KMs away and we got very hopeful of hitting Abbot Mount for a late lunch but we thought too soon. The road from Tanakpur to Abbott via Dayuri , Chalthi, Champawat is a complete hill road with its own quota of turns and curves. At many place, because of landslides our progress was greatly reduced. The drive was spectacular with mist keeping company like a faithful escort and the tar quality demonstrating the fab job BRO do.

Mist is by design

Mist is by design - Tanakpur Champawat section

At many places, we could see debris, a result of a fresh landslide and the non-tiring workers trying to clear the route. The progress was steady but very slow and and we could reach Champawat only by 3 PM and were ready to have a hearty meal.

Since we are going to take a food break here, let me take some time and tell you a little bit about Champawat.

Champawat is your gateway to upper Kumaon (Lohaghat, Pithoragarh, Munsyari, Dharchula) and is a district. It is separated from Nepal by Kali river and that acts as an International Broder. Champwat district is pretty big and hence techincally it has mountains as well as the Tarai region. Main town is a cold area and in summers it is very pleasant but in winters it gets very cold. We stopped in the main market for food and it seemed like a good enough market where you can get almost everything which you need often. It is at/about 1600 meter which is not much but if you go a little further, you can gain height very quickly.

Bacche to Bacche, Ma Ri Ma

Bacche to Bacche, Ma Ri Ma

So we had good food. 2 Plates of Veg and 2 plates of non-veg thali and the customary photos. It was almost close to 4 when we were done and headed back to our car. We were very happy for the progress we had made and though it was getting close to evening, we were only 30 minute away from our destination if it was not for the flat tyre of the bulky car.

We got down to fixing it and called up our man to update him on our newly-found-occupation and were advised to instead look for a puncture-shop, for tyre replacement as well. So we did that and after about 45 minutes of character-building, we were back on the road. It was drizzling all through and we utilized our time by reading most recent road updates in the local newspaper and chatting with local folk.

It was not long when we were at the base of steep. Right after Lohaghat, you need to take a detour and I must say that it was a worthy steep for all the hard work we were into since morning. I was only praying that I do not get any oncoming vehicle since at many places it would have meant a lot of more character-building. There were occassional houses alongside road and a thick vegetation. The rains were still with us and one could feel a little nip. Since all of us were pretty well fed, the mood was good in the cabin and the steep led us to a large green clearing.

We now were without road and climbed (that is rode) a pathway which led to four large-hearted Deodars waiting in a quartet, tall and elegant. We crossed the natural portico and stopped since we were now at the edge of that little rock. Right there, at a fall of about 10 meters was our cottage.

Reached Abbott.

Reached Abbott.

It was almost 5 PM when we settled down and were having the great Himalayan sweet tea. Feeling a bit cold, we were wondering what is in store for us for next 7 days.

Sunset at Abbott

Sunset at Abbott

Bonus photo for those who read all the way till here, fabulous Sunset.

25 Comments

  • maheh semwal says:

    Starting a day with a story on Devbhoomi written by Nandan………

    There are two major part of Uttrakhand , Garhwal & Kumaoun. I am exploring less traveled areas of Garhwal & You Manish , Dada etc are exploring the other part of Uttrakhand ,in next couple of years I am sure that their will be 100’s of stories on Uttrakhand.

    No comments on your writing otherwise it will be like Suraj ko diya dikhana.

    Most of the time we use to pass through the same type of sign boards this was different ” Hug yours kids in home but belt them in Car.”

    Last picture of sunset is awesome.

  • Aditya says:

    Well…Well… The colors in the last pic have come out very well…. A view like this is worth all the pain and makes up for navigating through all the bad stretches along the way…. So what happens next???

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    Nandan ji…Apne sari yaad taaza kar di. I have loads of photos of this track mainly the signboards. I will post them later.

    Waise apko Rampur ka deadly fatak clear milta hai? Mujhe to hamesha deadly traffic jam milta hai…

    Nandan ji, personally after making trips to Kumaon, I have started liking Kumaon more than Garwal.

    Sahil

  • Nandan says:

    @ Mahesh – You are always very generous. I still envy your discipline in writing a well-strucutred story and have a lot to learn.

    Yes, seems like a lot of us were in Kumaon. With no offense, our host at Abbott told us that all the beautiful places are in Kumaon and all the religious places are in Garhwal. :-). More on this when I write next part.

    @ Astro – Yes. Shot in .NEF and did some re-touching in Adobe PS ACR editor since I needed to open that to save it as JPG and got tempted by some of the controls. But it was like this. The longer story is that we were suggested by our host to try clicking some good pics if we feel like and though it was just a 2 minute trek from our rooms but you needed to climb that distance so only couple of us took the bait and were very well rewarded.

    Next is about the cottage and about the place.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Sahil – Would look forward to your series of posts on this. There can never be enough of roads and mountains.

    We have discovered a work-around for this fatak and for last couple of times we were using that workaround. Take a right once you pass ‘Haryana Jammu Ka Dhaba’ and then ask around and after driving through fields you would come out right after the fatak. This is not suited for any vehicle during this season but as rains settles, I guess one can take this and you can try in Silver Queen.

    Anyway, since we didn’t see any Jam, we stuck to main road and it was like a breeze.

    Kumaon is definitely beautiful, I have seen very little of Garhwal so far.

  • Anandarup Nandi says:

    Great beginning to an epic journey Nandan. I don’t know much about that part of Uttarakhand. Your post will be an encyclopedia I am sure. Eagerly waiting for the rest.

  • Sharma Shreeniwas says:

    Nice details with good Pics specially Bacche to Bacche, Ma Ri Ma.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Nandi – Would try. Get well soon and take good care.

    @ Sharmaji – Thank you Sir.

  • Smita Dhall says:

    der aaye. durust aaye. nice and funny, yes.

  • Stone says:

    Fantastic post Nandan, always a treat to read you.

    Loved the reference to “Character building” parts :-)

    Anxiously waiting for next post(s) and really curious to know what one can do there for 7 days, though personally I can spend my whole life there doing nothing ;-)

  • Vibha says:

    You are always an inspiration Nandan. Thanks for the lovely post.

    Though the last picture is beautiful, you needn’t have rewarded us for reading till the end. I don’t think anyone who starts reading this post can stop in the middle.

    Eagerly waiting for the next part….

  • Nandan says:

    @ Smita – Thanks. I can still make you laugh after all these years then it must be good :-)

    @ Stone – Thanks. “Char Building”, I guess becomes a big part of traveling, esp when you are driving on Indian roads.

    @ Vibha – Thank you. I have not been writing for a while and it gives me immense satisfaction to write one after a long time and getting continued motivation from so many of you.

    I look forward to many more comments from fellow Ghumakkars.

  • Pravesh says:

    Hello Nandan,

    Reading your post was really pleasing but it left me with an urge to travel more and more.

    I am really thankful to this wonderful forum, because, never in my life, i was dying so much for a travel.

    Thank you very much to you for sharing this experience.

  • Nandan says:

    Thank you Pravesh. Thank you for sharing your stories and for motivating comments.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    I have been hearing about Munsiyari, Abbot Mount and Champawat (Jim Corbett wrote a couple of stories about his adventures in this small town) for ages. I wish I was thirty years younger to travel through these difficult hilly terrains. Nevertheless, after reading your inspiring write-up, I feel – it’s never too late.

    The sunset picture is simply mesmerizing.

    Looking forward to the next part of the story.

  • Nandan says:

    It is never late. The road connection is very good and in a good weather, one can drive till the cottage so we are good on that part.

    Thanks for your motivating comment.

  • Pat Jones says:

    So the old war horse is still doing good, eh? Seems she has shed her inhibitions so its easier to spot her. Fab sunset makes up for the misty ones, especially the Tal that is supposed to be there :-)

    After hitting ‘we need more of you’ couldn’t resist a line. The family has gown so much it has become impossible to keep up.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Nandan,

    It was an elaborate account on this part of Kumaon. Thoroughly enjoyed since I was also there during similar period.

    I am amazed (once again) at the speed you manage to clock on your journeys. Ghumakkari at its superlative form…

    Way around the railway phatak – sounds interesting, because I observed this time, while languorously waiting our turn across tracks – some vehicles miraculously appearing from the wilderness, nudging us aside.

    Mt Abbot is a well known destination on that part, so awaiting more info.

    The roads that your 4×4 rode on are worthy of venture by any adventure seeking tourist :-)

    Thanks.

    Auro

  • RahulB says:

    You are KILLING ME!

  • Nandan says:

    @ Pat Jones – Yes, it is. :-) along with the rider. Now you can choose , more options.

    @ Auro – Indeed. The road is now good enough for any vehicle, there is a pucca road for almost the whole stretch. Next part is scheduled for Aug 1 , short one, talks about our stay. Do not take that workaround-road till Monsoons are over. We tried it on the way back, just the heck of it and almost got trapped in mud-slush.

    I think I am way short of doing my 10K hours (http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article4969415.ece), so long way to go.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Rahul – :-) Send us some details of local travel, which you must be doing out there.

  • Nandan says:

    Ghumakkars – The second part is up at – http://www.ghumakkar.com/2011/08/01/abbott-mount-buntys-cottage-review

    Please read as you find time.

  • Vinoo Kripalani says:

    Great to read about Abbott Mt. It was in the year 1916 – I think that Col. J.H. Abbott who was looking for a place in the Kumaon hills had to call it a day and camped on the hill (Jhumma) opposite what is now called Abbott Mt. During the night he saw a falling star and it described the letter J in the sky. That was a sign for the Col and next morning he was at the ‘Mount’ and decided to locate his colony there.
    I had a property there called – Sunny Villa.
    Abbott Mt was the most beautiful hill station for me and my family and friends. Still miss it and more than me my children – who are all grown up now with children of their own.
    The first time that I reached the Mount was at night and I took the road, which you say needs a 4×4, in a Landmaster (the forerunner of the Ambassador) with a Matador diesel engine and no hand brake!
    Those were the days!
    I used to start driving for the Mount, from Agra at 4.00 am and reach the Mount at 4.00 pm with a short stop at Tanakpur for fuel etc.
    Abbott Mt then was a lovely and isolated place. I wonder what has become of it now?

  • Nandan says:

    @ Vinod Kriplani – Many thanks for your warm comment. To hear some golden words is a treat.

    I have been there just once and I think the place has not lost the old world charm. It still is very lovely and quite isolated.

  • Anand Bharti says:

    Dear Nandan, eagarly waiting next details
    about munsiyari trip
    bout munsiyari trip

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