It is the onset of spring in North India and what better place time to travel to the jungles & hills of Uttarakhand for an offsite? But wait till I tell you about the famous, nay, infamous roads and the terrible drive from Delhi to Jim Corbett!
Drive from Gurgaon to Salarpur: We started off from Gurgaon at 6:30 am and after picking up a busload of colleagues, it was a long long drive to our destination – the Solluna Resorts at Jim Corbett National Park. The initial stretch in the morning hours was not bad untill we reached Ghaziabad. It’s a National Highway, but only in the books! Rickshaws, tractors, especially the ones coming from the wrong side and picking up people from middle of the roads make it a nightmare to drive.
Once you hit the Hapur Bypass road, the experience gets slightly better. Note, just slightly. The traffic eases and you hit the countryside with a vengeance. It’s the sugarcane season here and acres & acres of farmlands have only this crop along with some mustard plantation. It’s also the harvesting time and roads are lined with tractors and trucks carrying the cargo to mandis (wholesale markets) and sugar factories.
We crossed the Ganges and the bridge was lined with devotees throwing all kinds of puja items into the river, not to mention the crowded Ganga Snan Ghat (bathing place) where scores of people take a dip to ‘purify’ themselves. When will we Indians start loving our roads and rivers and take good care of them?? Just when!!!
Breakfast @Salarpur: A few miles down, you hit the only decent place to eat on the highway. This is somewhere near Salarpur. It is Bikanerwala first, then in a complex near BP petrol Pump, Café Coffee Day, McDonalds etc. It’s was around 10:15 am and we gobbled a couple of hot parathas – the perfect breakfast menu in North India. Nothing to die for though – the paranthas were average, served with dal and curd, followed by a sugar syrup they preferred to call ‘tea’!!!
Drive from Salarpur to Jim Corbett: Off it was towards Moradabad and that’s where the nightmare starts. You hit something called the Moradabad Bypass which is fine, ending in a place where you turn left – on Rampur Road. Well technically speaking, someone made a road there years back and then forgot all about it. Thousands of vehicles use it every day but the government never found a need to maintain it! Even battle hardened travellers like us wondered why we were there. The entire stretch from here to Corbett was one of the worst stretches I have travelled on!! The first 5 odd kilometers was ‘kuchcha road’ which simply means, ‘no road’. It was not a surprise that our bus stopped minutes into the same hitting a traffic jam that took us 1 hr to maneuver through – partly because of a broken truck & a railway crossing. Beyond that too was little relief – a pot-holed road seemed to stretch endlessly. Quite frankly, we decided that our driver was the most patient man on earth!
We approached Corbett only around 3:45 pm by which time we were famished and our bones hurt! Once past Ramnagar, we knew we had arrived. Sadly Solluna Resorts at Jim Corbett is at the other end of the Corbett forest area. This meant driving past another 1 hr through a one way hilly road that went over dried river beds/streams amongst other things!
We finally reached the resort around 4:30 pm. Just a day’s stay and the struggle to get back would resume, we pondered and sighed!