Auli would be the final climb of our Uttarakhand road-trip, post which, we were to drive back to Gurgaon with a night’s halt in Hrishikesh.
Drive from Pokhari to Auli
This would be another long arduous drive – about 125 kms that would take, perhaps, a little more than 4 hours, considering we’d driving up steep hills. Pokhari (Read: A Day’s Halt in Pokhari) is at 1550 meters, and Auli, at 3050 meters – that was the climb we were embarking on that morning. The drive shifts from navigating past lush green mountains to bare mountains as you go higher up. As is usual with the Uttarakhand drives, one or the other river is always flowing by your side, no matter which road you take. Along the Auli road is the Alakananda River, crystal clear, flowing in a deep gorge down below, as you make your way from one hill to another. And then there are those beautiful confluences – we crossed Karnaprayag and Nandaprayag on our way.
Surprisingly, and sadly, despite the height, we found the hills to be quite habited. We had perhaps hoped for just the wilderness. That was not the case. Even the military town, Joshimath, is fairly well populated, making it lot more concrete than nature. Pity. Post Joshimath, the drive gets extremely steep. Auli is just about 10 kms away….
Staying at the Garhawal Mandal Vikas Nigam Hotel in Auli
We took an immediate dislike to the Garhawal Mandal Vikas Nigam Hotel. Period. Why did the government have to build such a massive ugly concrete structure in such a pristine mountain top? They killed the place with those rooms that don’t overlook the hills, the dark dining room, the massive lobby that looks and smells like a railway stations waiting room. The rooms have their heaters and basic tea/coffee facilities thankfully.
The staff is good. And try their best to make your stay comfortable. Try not to get carried away by ordering exotic items from their menu — Stick to basic Indian food such as paranthas for breakfast and dal, chawal, roti, sabzi/chicken for lunch and dinner, and you won’t die.
My next post will be on experiencing Auli…stay tuned…
For the complete Uttarakhand Winter Roadtrip itinerary, where to stay, what to see and what to buy, read — An Uttarakhand Roadtrip Last Winters
(P.S: We have chronicled the summer road-trip in Uttarakhand in a separate series. Should you want to plan a similar trip, here’s help with itinerary, stay suggestions, shopping tips and food tips! Read — An Uttarakhand Road-trip This Summer)