Sitting here at Throttle Shrottle cafe in Gurgaon on a cool and breezy evening. Sipping a hot cup of tea, I acknowledge that I am thankful to the people who have come and gone in my life. They have always created a path for me to travel places on my motorcycle.
Munsiyari has been close to my heart ever since I visited this place last time in March 2015. It is a small town located in Kumaon region of the state Uttarakhand at an altitude of 2200 meters above sea level. This trip was equally special and memorable for me like the last time. I did this trip because I love this place and my friend Ankur wanted to visit this beautiful Himalayan settlement. I knew the route very well to that extent that I can reach with my eyes closed (not literally!). Please keep you eyes and mind open when you are riding on the road.
The motorcycles which were used in the trip were:
- Mahindra Mojo
- Royal Enfield Himalayan (BS3)
The customary ritual of getting all prepped up for this brief Himalayan expedition was done a day before. The only task remaining was to hop on the motorcycle and start riding to the destination.
The route from Delhi is mentioned below:
Delhi – Rampur – Haldwani – Kathgodam – Bhimtal – Almora – Binsar – Bageshwar – Chaukori – Thal – Birthi – Munsiyari
90% of the roads were good except for a few bad and dusty patches from Rampur to Haldwani because there road construction is under process. A concrete road is being laid out in patches which will soon make travel from Rampur to Haldwani effortless and will save a lot of time.
Day 1: Delhi to Almora (376 kms) – 25 March 2019
We started the ride very late at 7 am since I woke up late. Exited Delhi via National Highway 24 which is under expansion phase. The weather was cloudy and the air had the chill but my riding jacket was my ultimate automatic climate control device. We had our breakfast at Shiva Dhaba on Hapur road. Trust me guys, the paranthas you get in Murthal are absolutely tasteless and not freshly prepared but here at Shiva Dhaba, we ordered Aloo Parantha. It was crispy, hot and stuffed properly.
After having a sumptuous meal, we carried on with our ride. The scenery on both sides of the Hapur and Moradabad bypass was painted with green fields. The density of the traffic was very less, so we were going at a good pace and covering more distance. We reached Rampur and took a left turn to Haldwani from the bus stand. The traffic increased and the heat also but it was still manageable. The road conditions deteriorated after Rampur. Sometimes I wonder it’s been almost 2 decades, this road is still not fixed. We took a lunch break near Pantnagar after eating dust and gravel as starters. The mountains were visible in the distance which kept our excitement level at bay. The hill climb started at Kathgodam, a small town located on the foothills, which was bumpy but steadily the road conditions improved. We took a water break in Bhimtal on the lakeside and carried on our journey. As the altitude increased, the temperature dropped and our zeal soared.
Leaning over the twisting road was a bliss. We reached Almora at around 7.30 pm and by the time we reached it was dark. The last 30 kms, we had to ride in dark. We stopped at the first hotel which I saw and easily checked in since room was available. Best part about this property was that proper parking was available for us to safely park our bikes. I will give the hotel details at the end. We had dinner and slept.
Day 2: Almora to Chaukori (127 kms) – 26 March 2019
We did not have a definite plan, we decided to start ride towards Munsiyari, capture a lot of photos and if it gets dark, take a room in the next town. We ate breakfast after exiting Almora. The roads were excellent on this stretch. The pine trees of the Binsar Forest were really fascinating and this place always has that tinge of golden color which makes it even more attractive.
After Binsar, we reached Bageshwar and from this town, there are two roads which lead to Munsiyari. One route is via Kapkot, Sama and second one is via Chaukori. We opted for the latter one since I knew that the road condition of the former route is not good. The green pastures on the road to Chaukori are a treat to watch. Cops stopped us to check our bags and filmed a video. They only checked one bag from each bike, just to show they followed the protocol. Then they briefed us about the directions to Chaukori.
We reached Chaukori just before sunset and to our surprise almost all the hotels were full. We kept searching and finally found one. We were able to park the bikes in front of our room. Funny thing, there was a steep incline to reach the room and Ankur did not gain enough momentum so that the bike could climb and he went in reverse gear. Lucky! He did not fall and I helped him to get the bike up. Hunger forced us to order dinner early, we ate and slept.
If in case you are planning to halt in this town, please pre-book since the options are very limited. We were just lucky that we got shelter that day else we were clueless about what next?
Day 3: Chaukori to Munsiyari (102 kms) – 27 March 2019
Day 3 started with Himalayan’s fork seal leakage, engine head leakage and even the rear sprocket was doing the Naagin Dance. The nearest mechanic was in Thal which was around 25 kms. We got ready, had our breakfast and started riding to Munsiyari. The mountains got even more beautiful, the roads narrower and the traffic was very less.
We reached Thal and found a mechanic but unfortunately he did not have spares for the Himalayan which is surprising on Royal Enfield’s part. I told Ankur, chuck it and let’s ride without worrying about it much. Leaving aside the problems, we enjoyed the high mountains, deep gorges and then came Birthi falls. Actually, you can see the falls from a distance. The moment we reached at the spot, it was crowded with lot of dhabas around. The last time I had visited there was nothing here. Just the falls!
We continued our journey towards Munisyari and eventually, saw snow on the side of the road. Then came the turn from where the Panchachuli (5 peaks) were clearly visible. Getting our riding boots into the snow was thrilling, after a long time. After a long break, we headed into the Munsiyari town.
The next task was to find a place to stay. As usual I stopped at the first hotel, finalized the room since there were no steps to climb and view of the snow capped Himalayan range from the room balcony was amazing. After dumping the luggage in the room, we set out for a walk into the town to explore the market and local eateries. We took a shortcut to the market and walking was blissful. We stopped by a cafe and had some coffee. Out of curiosity, we checked the room prices in the other hotel, they were quoting the same price but we had to climb three floors to reach the room. It was dark and we had to walk back to our hotel. We took the longer route and walked for 2 kms. As far as weather is concerned, it was chilly in the evening but pleasant in the day time. After reaching the hotel from a long walk back, had our dinner and slept.
Day 4: Munsiyari to Almora (222 kms) – 28 March 2019
We woke up to a very beautiful morning with view of the snow capped Panchachuli range from our guest room window.
It was time to head back home but before that we went to the Munsiyari Helipad and clicked a lot of photos. It is a very good spot to click photos.
I was planning to stay for an additional day but some urgent work came up in Delhi. So I had to leave. We stretched till Almora on this day and had to ride in dark for the last 25 kms. Riding through the Binsar forest in the dark was a bit scary. We were in no mood to search for a hotel, hence we straight away went to the hotel where we stayed earlier, hoping to get a room again and they allotted us the same room for the same fare.
Day 5: Almora to Delhi (376 kms) – 29 March 2019
We left Almora at around 8.30 am and Ankur met on his Instagram follower in Bhimtal. This guy took us to an undisclosed location from where the view of the Bhimtal lake was top class. The climb to that place was pretty steep. Thanks to his follower. As a normal visitor, we don’t get to know about such places and having a local connect definitely enriches experience. This was a great ending to our brief trip to the mountains.
We reached Delhi at 10 pm comfortably but Ankur had to stretch 30 kms more since he stays in Gurgaon.
Review: Good parking space, good rooms, prompt room service, food is ok, market is easy accessible from the hotel
Stay Duration: 1 night
Rental: INR 1000 per night (excluding meals)
Hotel: Sunrise View
Review: Good parking space, good rooms, prompt room service, food is ok, hot water is not available and basic things like bucket and mug missing from washroom
Stay Duration: 1 night
Rental: INR 800 per night (excluding meals)
Hotel: Balraj Inn
Review: Enough parking space, good rooms, prompt room service, food is ok, you will get homely feeling and nice views from the room. Good for bikers, as they don’t have to climb multiple floors to reach their rooms with all the luggage.
Stay Duration: 1 night
Rental: INR 1200 per night (excluding meals)
I am ending this blog now. If you have any questions or queries, please feel free connect with me.
Stay tuned for more adventures in the Himalayas!!!!