I was planning to visit Chopta for so long and shared this with few of my friends. Like always, Mohit Miglani was ready without any second thought. Later, my cousin Manish and a friend Sumit also agreed to join us.
At last, we were 4 friends who are going to make it along with our 2 bikes (My Pulsar 150cc and Mohit’s Splendor 99cc). Mohit gathered the weather information from the Internet and warned me about the rainy conditions there for next 3 days and a snowstorm on the fourth day likely to hit the place but I was in no mood to listen or say, too keen to ride.
Day 1: Panipat to Haridwar (170 km)
We started early at 6am from Panipat and as soon we covered 10-15km from our home, rain started and on top of that, my bike’s plug burned. We then pushed this bike with the help of Splendor and reached to the nearest town “Sanoli”. The shops were all closed as it was too early in the morning to open up a shop. We found the mechanic’s house nearby, asked him to help us. He agreed to help. He immediately opened his shop, put in the new plug for a mere INR 100. By that time, the rain started falling heavily and unfortunately, we didn’t have any rain gear or anything to cover our luggage. We had a cup of tea there and waited for the rain to stop. As soon as the rain eased a bit, we started our journey again hoping that everything will be fine. It was drizzling continuously and we decided to cover our luggage using polythene, bought for INR 50 from Shamli (nearly 40kms from Panipat).
We had no other option but to ride in the rain. It was early Feb, now you can understand how we were feeling riding our bikes in rain. We were shivering, hands were numb but still continued to ride. Reached Roorkee at 12 noon, had a cup of tea there and forgot our only pair of gloves there (nothing was going our way).
After Roorkee, the rain finally stopped and our clothes started to dry. As we were about to reach Haridwar (mere 15 km behind), it started raining again. Soon we understood, God is not happy with our this trip but we continued riding on Rishikesh road after crossing Har ki Pauri.
We started to search for restrooms/washrooms nearby to pee and at that time our hands were so numb, we were not even able to open our zip but somehow managed that :D. At that point of time, we decided to stop for the day and stay at Haridwar. Took a nice clean AC room with a clean bathroom for a sum of mere INR 600 at Aggarwal Bhawan. We played cards (the only thing we are good at), take out our clothes from bag to make them dry, had a tasty dinner and praying to god to have some mercy on us.
Note: I would strongly recommend everyone who is planning to stay at Haridwar or a nearby place to stay at Aggarwal Bhawan. Good accommodation, clean rooms, and good food at a very reasonable price.
Day 2: Haridwar to Srinagar(125 km)
We woke up late this morning at around 9am hoping that the weather conditions have improved. Unfortunately, it was still raining and we made our mood to ride in the rain if it continues till our breakfast. We had our breakfast but nothing changed till 11am and we are still stuck in hotel rooms, so Mohit and Sumit went to the market to brought polythene raincoats which costs us INR 20 each only.
We were already short of time so had to move now. By the time we reached Rishikesh, we were shivering. Mohit also broke his eyeglasses and we wasted one more hour to get it repaired. Things were turning bad to worst. We had only 4 days to go Chopta and reach back home. We didn’t know if we could reach Chopta and how much more time/days it will take to reach us there. The weather also seemed upset with us and then Mohit and Sumit decided to return home from here.
Me and Manish were trying hard to convince them otherwise, our whole trip will be ruined. Finally, they agreed with us. We again started the journey from Rishikesh at 2pm. We were going at a good pace and road conditions were also good even after heavy rain. We were riding at a speed of 60-70 km/h as there was smooth traffic. Soon we reached Devprayag at 5pm where river Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meets and become river Ganga.
We had 2 cups of much-needed tea there. We were totally drenched by now so we decided to ride till it gets dark. The road was butter smooth and quite wide for the last 10-15 km to Srinagar. We reached Srinagar at 6pm and took a room opposite to petrol pump in the main market for just INR 250. We again take out our all clothes in the hotel room to make them dry for the next morning. Had a good dinner at Sainik dhaba, food was OK. We were coming back to the hotel after having dinner and saw the rear tyre of splendor was flat and alas all the shops were closed so decided to get it repaired in the morning. We then went to sleep hoping that weather would clear up the next day.
Note: Sorry no pics for first two days since it was raining all day.
Day 3: Srinagar to Saari village (nearly 100 km)
Another morning comes with another hope, I came out of room to have a cup of tea and was more than happy to see sunshine after two days. Me and Sumit had a cup of tea and started searching for a puncture shop but they were still close. So we packed our bags, had breakfast of aaloo parantha, it was 9am now and we rode for about a km where we finally found a mechanic. He took almost 45min to mend the puncture, till then we had another cup of tea which was much better than the previous one. We started from Srinagar at about 10am and hardly covered 12-13km before the disaster happened.
My bike’s chain broke. We asked the locals about the mechanic, they said we could find one either at Srinagar or Rudraprayag. It was 13-14km each way so we opted for Rudraprayag. Mohit and Sumit carried on for a mechanic and we waited roadside. It again started to drizzle, we stood there under the roof waiting for the mechanic.
After about an hour, Mohit came with a mechanic who brought a new chain, a spare chain lock and the necessary tools with him. He checked the bike and said that chain lock will do the work, new chain is not required. We were happy about that. He took half an hour to repair the bike and then we started. We reached his service center at Rudraprayag in half an hour and decided to had our lunch there near his shop.
Lunch was okay, not that good. We started from there at around 2pm and covered only 15-20km when the small drops turned to heavy rains. We saw a shelter roadside which was empty so we waited there. Waited for around 2 hours before rain stopped, and then started again. Road conditions were quite good up to Kund from where you can cross the bridge to reach Kedarnath ji just about 50 km and the straight road goes to Chopta 35 km. First 5km from Kund to Chopta was like hell, steep climb with a number of U-turns, lots of mud because of rains. Splendor was having a hard time negotiating that patch. It was a continuous steep climb up to Ukhimath where we stopped for a tea. It was around 5 pm and we saw sunshine. The owner of the tea stall suggested us to go to Deoria Taal instead of Chopta because the roads to Chopta were completely broken and one can’t even reach there by walking.
He said u can hardly go to Makku bend, not ahead. Chopta is good 12 km from there and won’t be possible.
He also said, “tomorrow will be a bright day because if the mountains get a little sunshine in the evening, it is going to be clear next day“.
We took our time thinking and then started moving on Chopta road until the U-turn came for Saari village. The village was a mere 3-4 km from that point but man..the road was steep. We reached there at 6pm, had a room in Negi guest house for INR 400.
My hands were totally numb and were paining a lot. The owner lit the fire which gave us some relief. He prepared dinner for us (daal,sabji and roti) which was very good. It was too cold so we all decided to sleep on one double bed :D. We had to trek for Deoria Taal next day and we were completely unaware of what we will see.
Note: No pics clicked today also because of rain.
Day 4: Deoria taal trek 3km each side
Saari village – Rishikesh (200 kms)
The rain pitter-pattered on the rooftop whole night. I woke up at 6am next day, opened the window and saw it was all white, everything was under the white blanket of snow. I rushed out of the room, came on road and man what view was that. I was astounded, admiring nature’s beauty. We quickly got ready for the trek. Had a cup of tea and started the trek at 7am.
It is about 3km trek but quite steep with continuous 55-60 degree climb but due to snow and excitement, we didn’t find it that difficult. The whole trek route was full of fresh snow. After about 500 meters, there is a Naag temple. We were trekking continuously taking a break every 300-400 meters just to admire the beauty of nature. We reached the dhaba or say shelter where we had our breakfast, the lake was just 100mtrs from there. So we started towards the lake and when we saw the lake at first, we all jumped.
It was half frozen from corners and there was a blanket of atleast 1.5-2 feet of snow, all because of last night’s snowfall. We just drowned in the sheer beauty of the place. Also got a great view of Chowkhamba peak and other surrounding peaks from there, all snow covered. I think God rewarded us for our efforts despite facing many hurdles i.e. riding in rains, bike breakdown and all that:).
We then walked around the lake clicking pictures, playing with snow, throwing snow on frozen surface and all that. We spent almost 2 hours there and then started to descend. It took just 45 min to came down, took our bikes and started our return journey.
It was almost 12 noon and had to cover at least 150-170kms i.e to reach Devprayag or Byasi, if possible. I replaced the chain link of my bike which was making some noise at Agastyamuni. We then moved at a good pace, had very few breaks en route. Luckily the weather was bright and sunny. We reached Devprayag at 5pm and it was getting dark and cold but we decided to reach Rishikesh (last 35kms ride was in dark and that was really fun). There tends to be lighter traffic at mountains as it gets dark, just few trucks here and there ;).
We reached Rishikesh at 7:30pm, had a room for just INR 300 on Laxman Jhula road. The hotel was good, maybe because of off season they gave us a room that cheap. We had the dinner in our room itself, the food was delicious, watched TV and then went to sleep on our cozy bed.
Day 5: Rishikesh-Panipat (200kms)
Just a stop at Har ki Pauri, took holy bath, took Prasad and ganga Jal and then starts the boring ride, reached home at 3pm.
It was an awesome experience.