Diwali at Khirsu

It was almost a year that I had not been into the hills. So, when I got a chance during Diwali holidays, grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Me and one of my colleague were looking for a place that is a bit secluded and away from the hustle-bustle of urban life. Search was on and we zeroed in on a small hamlet near Pauri called Khirshu (a place offering magnificent view of Chaukhamba). The most thrilling part of the plan was to tour by bike.

We started from Meerut at around 9 in the morning and in four hours were at Kotdwar. We rested a bit before entering into the hills. The ride was smooth till we crossed Jwalpa Devi. The road was being relaid at that time and with no prior information we continued on the treacherous track expecting it to be a small phase. However, it was not to be and it tested endurance of us as well as the bike. The ordeal ended only after 20kms. By that time, we had lost a lot of energy and more importantly time. The descent to and ascent from Satpuli is also time consuming, and hence by the time we reached Khirshu sun was setting. The best part of this place is the thick unexploited forest that one needs to traverse before reaching there. It is small village with couple of private hotels and a GMVN Tourist Rest House to stay.

On Diwali morning after breakfast, it was turn to move up the opposite hill to Furkunda to have a nice round about view. The road upward was bumpy and quite steep.

On reaching the top, we decided for a short trek to Rahkhal on the adjacent hill. A densely forested hill, Rahkhal is rich in wild life and very less frequented by human. It was quite scary through the thick unexploited forest, and we decided to retreat after encountering couple of cobra nests enroute. After coming back to Khirshu, we headed towards a view point giving breathtaking views of the hills around and also the majestic Himalayan snow peaks.

A satisfied day in the lap of Himalayas was perfectly rounded off by crackers and warmth of local villagers in the evening.

Next day morning we headed for a trek to Ulkhagarhi (a temple atop a hill that can be reached after a trek of about 2 kms amidst very thick forest). Prior to our way to the hill top we were made aware of the presence of big cats in the area by the localites and were engulfed with an eerie feeling on founding scratch marks on tree barks.

Descending back from Ulkhagarhi, we visited the Kandolia temple at Pauri. There was some surprise stored for us in the evening at Khirshu. A soccer match between two neighbouring villages was on offer as if to give a grand welcome to handful of tourists.

Till now, however, we were deprived of the best of views of Chaukhamba and the adjoining peaks. The morning we were on our way back, reserved the best for us. The smog after diwali was gone and it was a clear for a perfect view. Khirshu gave us back for what we had been there. A fantastic view of the Himalayan range. A view point from Pauri also gave us splendid view of the Himalayas.

But then, a journey without hiccups cannot perhaps be termed as an exciting one. On our way back from Satpuli, some 3 kms uphill the tyre got deflated and we had a torrid time rolling back the machine to Satpuli with backpacks. Ultimately we had to change the tube. By the time we reached Meerut it was dark but the memories are still afresh!