PITHORAGARH – The Unexplored Treasure

After the Himachal trip in March and Kashmir Trip in April , I was again ready for a trip. This time I wanted to go to a far off place away from the mad rush of Delhi. The state decided was Uttarakhand. But I was really wishing for a solitary place. After searching on the net for few days , I zeroed it to Pitthoragarh. I finalized this place because this is an unexplored area of Uttarakhand, away form the hustle and bustle of tourists. As I was going alone in this trip, I booked my ticket on Ranikhet Express for 22nd June. I boarded the train on 22nd June from Old Delhi Railway Station. The train departed at 10:40 Pm and was supposed to reach Kathgodam at 5:15 Am. I slept after the train started form Delhi. Early morning at around 4am I observed the train was not moving. I got up and enquired. The people told that the engine had broken down and the train was standing at the Lal Kuan station.After an hour some other train reached Lal Kuan station at 5am. I just took my bag and rushed to the other train. Bought another ticket, and finally the journey resumed after a long pause. Reached Kathgodam at 6:15 am. The distance from Kathgodam to Pithoragarh is about 220 Km which is long ride on the totally curvy mountaneous road. Total distance from Delhi to Pithoragarh is about 510 Km.


Greenery all around

The first time I heard about Pithoragarh was in 2010 when I saw in the news that a cloudburst followed by heavy landslides had occurred in Pithoragarh. That is how I came to know about this place. In the news video, few hundred meteres of land was totally washed away and the town was completely seperated into two parts. Pithoragarh is located at an average altitude of 1700 m above the sea level. It is basically a district which is the miniature model of the Kashmir valley.Pithoragarh, is known as the gateway to the Himalayas from the north as this road leads to the Kailash Mansarovar. It is the eastern most district of Kumaon, and is bordered by Tibet on the north and Nepal on the east.Pithoragarh lies on the old trade route to Tibet.


Road to Kailash Mansarovar

I moved out from the Kathgodam station in search of share taxi. Mainly all the share taxis from Kathgodam were going till Almora. I heard only 1 taxi driver who was calling for Pithoragarh. One person was already sitting inside the Alto. I was the second. The driver waited for more passengers.I asked the driver that how much time it would take to reach Pitthoragarh. He told that it would take around 10 hours to reach there depending about the road conditions because this route is a heavily landslide prone area. When there were total 5 passengers the driver started the car. At about 8:15 am we crossed Bhimtaal. Just after crossing Bhimtaal, there was a landslide.


Road clearance work after a Landslide

So we had to wait for half an hour as the BRO people were clearing the road. We were cruising on the NH-87 and in another couple of hours we reached Almora. The road was good and greenery all around on thee hills. Kathgodam to Almora was around 82 Kms.


Approaching Almora


The turn for Ranikhet

At Almora, one passenger got down. Then our driver sahab again got down in search of a passenger and brought one after 20 minutes.Almora is located at an altitude of 1700 m above the sea level. In the meantime , I bought the famous Kumaon Sweets- The Bal Mithai from a shop. We again resumed our journey.


KMVN Sign Boards


View from Amora

After one and a half hours we reached the point from where Jageshwar temple was just 3Km. This temple comprises a cluster of 124 large and small stone temples . Jageshwar is located at an altitude of 1870 mts. Jageshwar is believed to be the site of first of the twelve Jyotirlingas, The Nageshwar Jyotirlinga. Jageshwar is the 8th Jyotirling among the Twelve. The time was about 12:45 Pm. One thing which I noticed on this track was the hills of this side are different from the Garhwal side. The mountains of the distant Kumaon have very loosely bounded soil which is the main cause of the landslides there. According to the local people in the rainy days sometimes whole of the hill gets washed away which affects the National Highway badly.


Jageshwar Dham


Way to KMVN Jageshwar


Some views


Loose dusty rock surface

After another couple of hours we turned on NH-9. The roads were practically good till now because it was not the monsoon season.After half an hour we reached the Gurna Devi Temple. The driver stopped the car, I went into the temple and did the Darshan.The time was 3:30 pm and Pitthoragarh was still 18 Km left. Started the last leg of the journey. Finally at 4 Pm, I reached Pitthoragarh. From the taxi stand went straight to the hotel. The driver charger Rs 550 from Kathgodam to Pithoragarh. It took me total 19 hours to reach Pithoragarh form Delhi.


Way To Patal Bhubneshwar (About which Nandan Ji had written few days back)


My favourites – The green sign Boards


Spiral Roads

It was a long tiring journey of over 500 Kms. As I went into the room, I was having a headache. Took some rest. But after some time my body also started aching. I was down with fever. I really did not want this as the next day I had reserved for Dharchula and Tawaghat. Finally took the medicine and slept that night hoping that everything would be fine tommorrow.

Next morning I got up at 7. But still had fever. Again took the medicine and waited for some time. But my body was not allowing me to get up. As health comes first than travelling, with a very heavy heart, I cancelled all of my plans for that day and took some rest beacuse I knew that the next day I had to do the return journey again of 520 Km and again it would be a long day of travelling. So in the afternoon just visited the local market. Pithoragarh is a very small place. Its main beauty is the greenery all around. There are lush green meadows all around which is a treat to watch. It lies in the centre of the western half of the Soar Valley meaning the Cool valley. It lies in the centre of four hills Chandak, Dhwaj, Kumdar and Thal Kedar. Pithoragarh is adjoined by river Kali at its boundry. The views from here are really very fascinating.


Greenery all around


Twisty Roads


BRO Sign Boards – All along the route


BRO Creates , Connects and Cares

The next day got up early and went to the taxi stand. I found the same driver. He told that he would go till Almora. Again got seated and the return journey started at 6:15 Am. At 12 pm we reached Almora where the driver made us seated in another taxi. From Almora to Kathgodam the journey was again comfartable and reached Kathgodam station at 2:30 Pm. I had already booked my train ticket. The train timing was 4 Pm. Boarded the train and reached back home at 12 Am.


Some Different trees


Bad Roads


Broken Rocks


Bhimtaal


Kathgodam Station

After reaching back I wondered was this a trip.After deep thoughts I thought Yes it was a trip but a little different one. Here I explored almost nothing about the place, but felt happy that covered most of the distance on a far and distant road. This was also a different and a unique experience of travelling and only travelling at its best.

42 Comments

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    • Sahil Sethi says:

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  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Dear Sahil,
    Beautiful photographs and very well narrated post. I have gone through the post very patiently, It seems that the journey was full of discomfort and disappointment and very very less enjoyment. May be the reason was a trip without Silver Queen.

    Thanks.

    • Sahil Sethi says:

      Hi Mukesh Ji , Thanks for your appreciation.

      I may not say that the journey was discomfortable, but yes the journey was hectic and tiring. Actually the journey of over 300 Kms in hills is always very tiring. And yes , without silver queen I really feel very incomplete.

      Sahil

  • Dear Sahil,
    First I would like to say that you are an ideal ghumakkar. The All Time Ghumakkar Or Best Ghumakkar title should be given to You . Going Alone without anyone sometimes is too boring even if the place is beautiful.
    Secondly the place is very beautiful and photographs are also classy specially i liked was of spiral roads.
    Keep travelling and posting ……………………………….
    Enjoyed…………………

  • Kulbir Siingh says:

    Hi Sahil,

    Aapki aankhon se kisi bhi jagah ko dekhna, hamesha ek alag hi experiance hota hai. Mujhe to hamesha hi aapki post ka intejar rehata hai. Very well narate.
    Keep up the ghumakkar spirit. All the best

  • Very well written , pictures are beautiful !

    I have been to very limited place of Kumaon as compare to Garhwal , It looks like that Kumaon is more beautiful than Garhwal.

  • Smita Dhall says:

    Very nice, Sahil. BRO does a really good job with road upkeep and maintenance – we experienced their promptness in the last few trips during the rains when the mountains kept crumbling and these guys would appear with their resources to mend the broken roads. And yes, falling sick, when you’re travelling all by yourself is a real bummer… ye bhi ek experience hai :)

  • ashok sharma says:

    its amazing,
    its beautiful.

  • Vibha says:

    I can imagine your disappointment at travelling such a long distance only to fall ill and not be able to explore the place. But am glad to see that you never for even a minute let go of optimism. As Vishal said, you are a ghumakkar to the core and your passion is very inspiring.

    The pictures are beautiful and so is your account. Looking forward to your next post.

  • Amit Kumar says:

    Hi Sahil. The images are not displaying either on my office system or my home laptop. I enjoyed the reading about a least visited location but missing the pictures.

    • Sahil Sethi says:

      @ Amit , The pics are opening fine on my laptop and also everybody else is viewing the pics and finding no problem . May be your net speed is a little slow. Try right clicking on the pic and then do show picture. Then you will be able to view them.

      Sahil

  • Pravesh says:

    Excellent Sahil, As like your other posts.

    Keept it up.

  • Anand Bharti says:

    it is very sad you could not complete the journey due to fever. Dharchula again a very beautiful place . I hope you will go there very soon and will pen down the memories of journey.

  • Sanjay says:

    Vishal is right, The best ghumakkar tag should go to you.Beautiful pics and very nice write up.I always wait for your posts .

  • Sanjay says:

    sahil, how is the road condition from Haldwani to pithoragarh ?

  • vinaymusafir says:

    :( I can’t see the pics on my screen.

  • naman says:

    Dear Sahil Hat’s off to you and your willpower which takes you so far on public transport.Excellent pics tells us every detail of the area. As I am posted at Berinag and have to travel from Berinag to Haldwani/Almora/Pithoragarh on an official tour so often,I can understand the tireness/boring feeling of the traveling on this hilly roads. But the scenic beauty of tha area recharge the dull mood of the journey. As I always traveling on public transport Ican assure you that on a transport like this you can interact the locals which is not available on your own vehicle .
    Pics are as i travelling the route once again,familier with every pics, beautiful. Hope you will do the Dharchula trip soon and we will get again a nice post .Thanks

  • Nandan says:

    O O ….. Sad.

    Looking at these sign-boards is like a tonic for me so big thanks for sharing. Going as far as Pihtoragarh, all by yourself, using public transport is a BIG feat. Health is first and I am glad that it didn’t go worse but having just come from that area (Munsyari) , I can understand that the effort it takes to sustain all this and then falling sick and being alone.

    I was following your status updates on my comments during the same time and didn’t know that you were not doing well. This kind of perseveration is going to make you one helluva guy , trust me I feel very privileged to be around people like you who have this much grit.

    I wish you a gala trip sometime soon Sahil Bhai.

    • Sahil Sethi says:

      Hi Nandan Bhai ,

      I was waiting for your comment for so long. Finally it came. Thanks for going through. Not soon, I have few more trips to write . Not getting time currently , but will soon pen down. Waiting for your post on Munsiyari.

      Sahil

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Sahil,

    It was a very hearty and earthly description of a journey through Kumaon.

    Charm of such travels (and travails) has been aptly brought out in your description – likes of which always add new dimensions to our sense of journey-

    Compliments

    Auro.
    (

  • Amit sharma says:

    Dear Sethi Sahab,

    Thanks for sharing great pictures of untouched areas of Uttaranchal.
    Maza aa gaya pictures dekh ke.
    Keep Sharing it with us.

    Thanks & Regards
    Amit

  • sanjay chadha says:

    beautiful photographs of the region . really eye soothing .

  • Mayank says:

    Wow ! Thanks for uploading these pictures. These pictures literally took me down the memory lanes as I grew up in all these places. Feel proud to be an Indian from Uttarakhand :)
    Cheers !!

    Mayank
    Seoul, Korea

  • Manoj Pandey says:

    It remind me of my childhood and journies from Pithoragarh to Kathgodam and back to Pithoragarh.

    I was born & brought-up in Pithoragarh, did my 10+2 and then moved to Kathgodam for Grad, then Delhi for Post Grad. and right now in Hyderanad (AP).

    Its like more than 12 years I’ve not visited Pithoragarh, I want to go there and spent some time, refresh old memories.

    Thanks for the post, it was totally mesmerizing and nostalgic.

    ~Manoj

  • CA.RAJESH D.SHARMA says:

    Beautiful accurate and appropriate commentary and experience right from the horses mouth.Dear Sahilji,I am apractising Chartered Accountant and have to go to Pithoragarh for State Bank of India audit on April,3rd or 4th,2013.I was looking for a first hand experience about the conditions of the roads,climate,distance etc.I talked to the Branch officials and was strongly advised not to come by own car but hire a shared taxi from Haldwani/Kathgodam.But I am inclined to go by my own car,whether Swift Dezire or Santro.Can you advise me how I should proceed.
    The photographs are beautiful and,as I have said before,Your description is wonderful and very informative.
    Looking for your comments on above,
    With kind regards,
    Yours
    RDS.
    Gurgaon.

    • Sahil Sethi says:

      Dear Rajesh,

      Thanks a lot for your kind words.
      Delhi to Pithoragarh is a very long drive and very difficult to be done in a single day.
      Delhi to Haldwani overall roads are good. After Kathgodam, hills start and it is a long journey in hills. It would take around 6-7 hrs. Roads in hills are not that smooth and definately some bad patches would be encountered.

      But overall, If you have driven on long routes, there us no problem till Pithoragarh. Both cars would do fine. But you will have to take a halt, say a night halt at Almora.

      If you go by public transport, there are large number of shared taxis available from Haldwani and Kathgodam.

      Regarding Climate, April will not be very cold.

      Cheers,
      Sahil

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