After refreshing with a cup of chai and aalu pranatha, I felt better. Satpuli is an ideal place to enjoy Garhwali flavored lunch, but is too commercial and noisy. If you are going by car, parking can be a problem. The road from Satpuli snakes upwards in circular style. After crossing a few kilometers one takes a sigh of relief as one reaches Paatisen, which means the plains. The road here for a few kilometers is plain and one enjoys beautiful views on either side of the road.
The road again had started climbing up. The Sun has risen. I opened the window and let the gush of cool air brash my face. My hair ruffled. The sumo picked pace and it became difficult to keep the window open. I closed it, put my head on my knees, closed my eyes, and tried to sleep.
Got up only when I could see the town (Pauri). One good advantage of traveling in the hills is that you cannot a miss a town or a village. It get noticed either from the top when you are descending or from below when ascending. The sumo stopped at Bubakhal, which is hardly four kilometers from the town. One can see the town below and villages on the other side of the valley from here.
A road branches to Khirsu from Bubakhal. Khirsu is about 19 kilometers from Pauri and is one of the beautiful places that one can visit from Pauri. I had already set my eyes on this much-heard place. It was just a matter of when and how.
Pauri is the district center and was a hub of many administrative activities of the district a few years ago. After creation of separate state of Uttranchal (now Uttrakhand) in 2000, many offices located here were shifted to Dehradun, the capital of the newly formed state.
Pauri has a small bus stand from where one can get buses to Kotdwar, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Devparyag, Shrinagar (not the one in J&K), and Joshimath. To take a bus to Delhi you have to get up early, only a handful of buses (perhaps two or so) ply daily in the morning hours.
The city is clogged. The main part is a bit noisy and polluted. The market here is divided into upper and lower bazaar. It is a good exercise to take a walk through the bazaar. Pauri is an excellent place for trekking and is certainly not for the one who loves being rooted. It is for the active and agile. A trek to the Degree College is highly recommended. The college is about 30-45 minutes trek from the road. The place is tranquil and offers magnificent views.
I enjoyed married part of my trip and was now eager to hit the road to Khirsu. I asked few cabbies and the price they quoted was quite steep. It was only 19-kilometers but the price did not match the distance. Taking a local bus was another option but the buses on this route are not very frequent and this meant wasting a lot of time.
I dropped both the ideas. Instead, I asked an old acquaintance, if I could borrow his Suzuki bike for a few hours, he agreed but said there is hardly any petrol. I said no problem. I thought petrol wouldn’t be a problem but it was not to be.
There are only two petrol pumps in Pauri, one is half a kilometer from the bus stand on Shrinagar road and the second is on Kotdwar Road near Bubakhal. I had to drag the bike for a few kilometers before I could kick off and hit the road to Khirsu.
The road though narrow but was in excellent condition. There is hardly any traffic and one can enjoy the beautiful views. The road at various stretches pass through dense forest replete with deodar and pine trees. Even in the month of May passing through the jungle send a chill down the spine. It’s quite cold.
A comfortable ride and 40 minutes is what it took to reach Khirsu. The highlight here is the park, which is surrounded by a dense forest from the three sides. It offers sweeping views of the forest, which looks like a crumbled green bed sheet. One could also enjoy a 180-degree view of the Himalayas from Khirsu.
The best part of traveling to Khirsu is that it has still to see the tourist influx. It’s beauty and simplicity is still intact. There are not many places to stay. The only place I could find was the GMVN tourist bungalow. There is not much for a gourmand here. The food is limited to local dishes, magi and chow mein.
After spending a few hours, I made my way back to Pauri. It was leisurely ride back, stopping in between to enjoy the sweeping views of the forest and chatting with locals. A good trip I thought.
Nearest Rail Head: Kotdwar
Place to stay: GMVN Tourist Bungalow (Khirsu), Hotel Madhuban (Pauri)
What to do: Trek to degree college, Kandoliya and Kyunkaleshwar (in Pauri)