The second night in Chopta was also noisy again, but with other people and fewer dogs. Binodh, by the way, is a great travelling companion, he has a cooker with him and so far I have always been able to have a morning coffee in bed!
The weather was again suboptimal, the rain at night and the clouds didn’t bode well, but we stayed dry after all. Prashant said goodbye for his way back to Rishikesh and Delhi and our plan was the next two temples from Panch Kedar. Since getting on the bike now works fine, I timidly tried my hand at taking photos while riding.
However, we should stop more often for better photos. The road was fantastically beautiful. Far up the slope, it went through beautiful vegetation with ever new great views of the mountains. Through the clouds it looked especially magical. There were hardly any other vehicles on the road, Binodh was singing and I was happy inside. But I don’t have any photos of it.
The area was a nature reserve, but we didn’t see much except a very large family of monkeys.
Once there was a lot of water on the road, so I preferred to get off and jump over the stones on foot.
Then the road wound down, there were great trees again and then a view of the mountain slopes where the 3-day trek was to start. It was hazy overcast, rather warm – and somehow I didn’t find it really attracted by the view. I remembered how stunning I found the high mountains near Joshimat on my previous visits – and then longing won out and we just kept going.
It was interesting that we once had to stop somewhere where our data was recorded and we were given a wristband with a code. If we get lost and someone finds us, they can match us up. It didn’t cost anything.
We got to the big road that leads not only to Joshimat but also to Badrinath and it was very busy. The gorge where the Alaknanda River flows was getting deeper, the mountains more spectacular, the road more damaged. I.e. traffic jams and dust. But with a motorbike, it’s really great – you’re allowed to weave your way past all the waiting cars and are even preferably often guided over the obstacle. Unfortunately, I was very photounenthusiastic, so there are no pictures of this either. I vow to do better!
After having such wonderful memories of Joshimath, they could only be disappointed. We drove into town – and found only a lot of traffic, rancid houses, shabby shops and scurrying people. The mountains were still magnificent, but covered in clouds. In 1995 I was there at the end of the season (Badrinath closes at the end of October) and in 2005 before the start of the winter season and everything was quiet. But tourism has increased enormously over the years anyway, so mainly inner-Indian. And so things were built and done and what seemed to me then to be a charming small town, this time aroused thoughts of escape. But it was relatively late and we definitely wanted to stay. There is the ski resort of Auli 15 km up the mountain, so I was hoping for more beauty.
But that wasn’t really it either – more about Auli in the next blog post. We then wandered along the road a bit and finally found shelter in a kind of homestay with a beautiful garden and a view over the valley. If only it weren’t for these clouds….
By the way: the motorbike consumes about 4 l per 100 km and 1 l costs about 1.30 Euros. And we often meet people from elsewhere who work here. The petrol station attendant is from Nepal and at lunchtime we had lunch with a Sikkimese woman who has a Momo stand and has been living here for 8-9 years because of her husband, who had found work with a larger company.
And it is so often written about the dangerous cows in India that stoically stand or trot on the road. At least with a motorbike you can easily go around them. It seems to me that the more nimble, unpredictable dogs are more difficult, as they are easier to run over. But we didn’t.
We definitely wanted to move our legs the next day – what became of that and how it is now with Auli will follow in the next blog post!