I really don’t know why it took me this long to share this post. My trip to Auli Uttarakhand took place way back in February first week. It was my sister in laws wedding in Dehradun. After a week of crazy awesome wedding celebrations, we had one weekend before we had to head back to Gurgaon, our home.
I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. We decided lets explore a new place this time. Uttarakhand is so beautiful, as some of you might have seen from my previous travel posts. We had a couple of options in front of us, but my eyes were set on Auli. You see, back in 2011 when I first started my job in Mumbai as a consumer researcher, I had a boss. My boss had just come back from a Auli vacation with his family. He couldn’t stop going gaga about the place. His trip was sometime now, in April May which as you all know is pretty hot everywhere. So, to listen someone talk about snowfall and skiing while most of us were sweating at work, that struck a cord with me.
I never knew I would get a chance to visit this place. It was such a far, distant less popular destination back then, but marrying into a Uttarakhand family does have its perks. So, when the moment presented itself, I just put my foot down. It had to be Auli. It was just meant to be…
Travel Time to Auli Uttarakhand
It took us approximately 12 hours straight from Dehradun to get to Joshimath, Auli Uttarakhand. It was back breaking. Luckily I don’t suffer from motion sickness, so I was saved. But my husband, and mum in law had a tough time. The road to Auli is drop dead gorgeous with postcard sceneries all throughout but its all up the hills. Quite zig zag with crazy number of turns. So if you have a weak stomach, you better watch out.
The road to Auli goes through various historically relevant places, actually mythologically relevant places. One visits all the 5 prayags called Panch Prayags. RudraPrayag, KarnaPrayag, VishnuPrayag, NandaPrayag and DevPrayag. These places are marked important as two streams of river meet at these points. Sometimes Ganges with Alaknanda, sometimes Ganges with Bhagirathi.
These are small pockets where you will find people have made their houses, and its pretty crowded too. Entire villages have come up. You can find everything here, from local stores keeping fruits and veggies, to small restaurants serving everything from Punjabi to South Indian food.
We decided not to stop over for long at any of these stops. You see, driving in mountains is a tough job, and it gets even more tough when the sun goes down. The local drivers are pretty rock solid, but it is a scary scary business to be out in the mountains somewhere on the top with steep cliff a few inches away from the car tyres.
We had started from Dehradun somewhere around 8am. At around 3:30-4:00 pm, I saw the first signs of snow on a faraway mountain. I still remember how hard I squealed with joy. It was my very first time of seeing snow. I was a child all over again.
From then on, things got difficult. You see I thought now that I have seen snow, our destination will be just around the corner. Little did I know that it was another 4 hours or so to get to our destination. I waited and waited, and kept trying to keep track of that one snow clad mountain all along.
Mountains make driving rather slow, and even though we were driving at what 50-60 may be, we could only get to our destination by 8pm !! It was pitch dark. After 5pm, I could see nothing outside, which made the journey tougher. But we had arrived.
Our Stay at Auli Uttarakhand
We were staying in a beautiful guest house outside of Joshimath. Our rooms were really beautiful, and huge ! We had a separate dining space, bedrooms, and a super wide viewing deck. When we got there, all we could do was stay inside, and try and keep ourselves warm. It was -2 that day, and I was shaking like a leaf.
We were told to wake up early before sunrise to see the beauty all around. My excitement had no bounds. Just think of a over hyper active beagle. That’s what I was at that time. I had dumped myself in layers and layers of woollen clothes, but I was just not getting sleep. Sleep is for the boring guys, guys who have to wake up next day to go to their regular boring jobs in cities.
Nonetheless, the trips tiredness finally caught up with me, and I dozed off without realising. The next morning, when my eyes opened, the view was something that I will hold on to my entire lifetime.
There is something so surreal about mountains. It has a really eerie yet calming feeling that I cannot explain. I had felt it before, when I was traveling to Chakrata as well, and some other places in Uttarakhand. It makes you think about life, and perspectives, and what is ultimately important. I know it sounds like philosophy, a lot of crap…but that’s how I felt.
There were jawans living there protecting our borders 24/7. I met some of them. Talking to them, you realise how small you really are in front of them. Listening to them talk about the struggles of patrolling and working in a difficult mountain terrain like this, I realised how small and meaningless my problems were.
They are truly inspiring, and I was lucky to be in Auli on the day when jawans had their skiing exam. There were so many of them around. I don’t know but I felt some sense of pride just looking at them.
For those of you not aware, Auli is very close to the border area, and has some important places in and around like Badrinath, Kedarnath, Nanda devi all in the same area. You can pretty much look from one mountain to another, and that’s where they all are surrounding each other.
My morning started by running out of our room, straight outside to have my first ever *drumroll* experience with snow. There was no active snowfall unfortunately, but there was melted snow all around, and boy was I happy. I told my husband in the spur of the moment, “best decision I made was to marry you”. 😀
In the same compound that we were staying, there was a gorgeous little cottage like place, which was a viewing deck of sorts. We both like children ran towards it and just kept repeating, oh wow ! oh woww !!
The fun part
We had a quick breakfast, got ready and started our Auli official sightseeing trip. First stop. Cable car ride. We did both up and down, I tried several failed attempts at recording the entire experience…but overall, it was superb fun. There are two cable car ride options in Auli, one from Joshimath which is the longer one, and the second one is the one I took. It just takes you up a single mountain. But the height gives an amazing adrenaline rush.
We got up the mountain and trekked some more distance till we came to the absolute top. It was white all over, and it looked so heavenly. Pristine white snow all over, I could just sit and admire mother nature all day long. It was beautiful.
I have never skied before, but because the opportunity presented itself, I couldn’t say no. Best decision ever. It was so much fun. All I was made to do was ski down a slope, and I kept screaming the entire way. Once more, steeper please…to my surprise, I didn’t fall.
We spent the better half of the morning first skiing, then making snow man and then throwing snow balls at each other. It was a day well spent. We came back for a late lunch back at the guest house, but we were in for a surprise. The guest house guys there had planned a special lunch in their outdoor glass house. It was so cosy warm in there. We just sat and gossiped away the afternoon all the while soaking in the pleasures of non-materialistic life.
We stayed in Auli for just a day. The next morning we headed back to Dehradun. It took us 9 hours to get back. We had told the driver to rush in the morning so that we don’t lose out on daylight.
I wish for everyone to visit Auli once in their life, like seriously it has such magical healing powers. I came back a new person, a happier person from Auli, and its all thanks to this gorgeous place.