Our first stop in our Uttarakhand road-trip was at Jeolikote, a little hamlet about 50kms away from the Pantnagar airport. The drive from the Pantnagar Airport to Jeolikote took us a little more than 90 minutes.
We arrived at the Pantnagar Airport at about 3pm on a mid-May afternoon, and it was very very hot. The taxi that we booked for the drive from the aiport to Jeolikote was charging us Rs 1800 for the 50km drive. We negotiated an AC drive up to the point where the hills start with the driver, unable to take the heat and dreading the vehicular pollution enroute.
As you get out of the airport, it’s a beautiful 4-5 kms of drive through the countryside lined with trees and fields. Soon though, we made our way through the chaotic little towns of Lalkuan and Haldwani, full of traffic and crazy honking. Typical of the usual Indian small towns, we found vendors selling every type of wares – vegetables, fruits, items of everyday use – by the roadside. We picked up some fruits as the we had had nothing since our lunch at Delhi airport.
Meandering through Lalkuan, Haldwani, you soon reach Kathgodam, an important town for people coming to/going out of Uttarakhand using Indian Railways. The drive up to Kathgodam is through the plains and hence, straight. Kathgodam onwards, the winding roads of the hills start, and most taxis switch off the ACs at this point. The air does start getting cooler. However, dust and vehicle smoke make you wish you could have the air-conditioning on. However, the roads are good throughout, which is why, you thoroughly enjoy the drive…
Beyond Kathgodam is also when the drive starts getting scenic. You see the first hills, the bends and curves of the hill-road, the mountain river that was just a trickle, the parched hills waiting for the rains and the customary bright orange mandirs of Lord Shiva every now and then.
We reached Jeolikote in good time, much before sunset time. Locating our homestay – The Cottage Jeolikote – wasn’t difficult at all, since every resident of Jeolikote seemed to know its owner, Ms Bhuvan Kumari. And with this started our wonderful wonderful Uttarakhand sojourn…
For the complete Uttarakhand itinerary, where to stay, what to see and what to buy, read — An Uttarakhand Roadtrip This Summer