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A Humbling drive through the Himalayas

Looming mountains and snowcapped peaks

By Sudhir BhattathiripadPublished about a year ago 3 min read

It was supposed to be a long drive, the indispensable Google maps said that.

Having spent a few days in the sleepy, charming towns of Almora and Kausani, we were headed up the hills. While planning the trip, almost on a whim, I selected Munsiyari, as it was closer to the Himalayas and also looked gorgeous with the imposing snow-capped mountains looming large.

The distance from Kausani to Munsiyari is about 165 kilometers and the maps indicated a 6 hour drive, which indicated a slow drive for sure. These long hours would take us to an altitude of 2200 meters.

As the morning broke, we drove out of Kausani and headed northwest. Like most of the roads we had traversed, the single road snaked out of the town and dipped down from the hills. It was going to be a roller coaster of a drive this one. We would be descending into the small town of Garud, built around the Baijnath temple, and continue to stay down while we reached Bageswar and continued past it.

As we go past Bageswar , yet another of those temple towns, the clouds get a bit darker. There is a hint of rain in the air, and the temperature drops a bit.

After another half an hour of driving and the terrain changes, we are now climbing, the roads are narrower and the mountains grow in size. The climb is relentless and the valleys get deeper. The green and blue-topped houses spread out on the stepped hill base grow smaller. Everything is small. the hills are enormous, dwarfing all that is around, Many of the hills in the distance seem like giants, resting peacefully under pine-covered blankets and watching us struggle.

A snaking river appears in the distance as we go around the wave of hills coming at us. For a brief period, we go down a mountainside along a road carved from a stony face, and get down to the river. Now it is the other way around, the peaks are far away in the skies, we are deep in the valley and the feeling of being tiny hasn’t changed. A metal bridge takes us across the river and the climb begins again.

It is relentless, there is no respite as the mountains keep coming up, and just get bigger by the minute. The weather has changed again, the sun is out , but the wind remains cold.

Sitting back in the rear seat as the hills loom large, you realize the sheer insignificance of us human beings in the larger scheme of things. The proportions are all skewed, and we are nowhere. It is just the misplaced arrogance of the modern man that seems to blind all of us to this glaring fact.

With just 20 kms to go to Munsiyari, the mood changes. The stern-looking, rocky mountains have now softened a bit as the air gets a bit chilly and the snow-capped mountains, start peeping out from behind the otherwise hideous hills. The famed Panchchuli range starts to assert itself, taller and wider, looking like well-dressed gentlemen in white coats. It is a better roll now, the jerks are ignored as we take in the beauty through the car windows. To someone from the plains, and used to the heat and horror of places in Central India, this is pure succor. A bit too cold perhaps, but still a great escape.

Driving for almost an hour, with the peaks keeping us company, we turn around the last climbing bend and ease into Munsiyari. A town with a few hotels, catering mainly to the hikers who haunt the place.

The town is hardly a street or two long. Small tin-roofed shops, dominate the streets. Many rooms are piled up on each other, offering homestays and inns. Men in jackets are walking around, they seem to be guides who would take you to the hills.

Just beyond the streets, are the few houses and shops dealing in everyday wares. They are a bit below the road level.

Above the road level, as you lift your eyes, you face the real deal.

An array of mountains, blanketed in snow stand majestic. They are gracious in welcome while reminding you of the fact that you are just an irrelevant and short time traveler in the midst of their infinite timespan.

Welcome to Munisyari…….

PS….. Having spent a day and a half in Munsiyari, it has to be said, this is not a place for middle aged , frail weaklings like me. It is a place for the guys who are tough enough to trek around the place. For those Bravehearts it would be more fun and adventure.

But then in life the journey is often more fun than the destination.

Sudhir Bhattathiripad


travel advicefamily travel

About the Creator

Sudhir Bhattathiripad

I believe that sport mirrors life and its ups and downs.

I write stories , match reports, and tributes on Football, Cricket, Tennis, Chess etc.

My blog : Be A Sport

Twitter : @tvsbhatta

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    Sudhir BhattathiripadWritten by Sudhir Bhattathiripad

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