It has been a long time plan to do an international road trip. One fine evening a simple phonecall to Babu happened and we ended up finalizing a trip to Muktinath, Nepal. After months of planning, 4 brave hearts decided to embark on this journey. Me and Danish will ride the car from Delhi while Babu and Suman will ride the motorcycle from Durgapur. We will meet in Pokhara, Nepal and then continue further.
Day 1 – 21 March 2019
I started at 5 AM in the morning from Dwarka, New Delhi. Reached Badarpur at 6 AM and Danish joined me. We decided to stop at the first food plaza in the Yamuna expressway after the toll plaza. Had nice breakfast and hot tea and then cruised the empty roads on Yamuna Expressway till Agra.
The roads were all empty as it was holiday on Holi. We cruised at 100+ kmph all the way till Lucknow. The Agra-Lucknow expressway is much more fun to drive than the Yamuna expressway.
Interestingly at the end of Lucknow expressway, just after the toll plaza there is a pile up of all crashed cars and the scene looked like more of a hollywood movie set.
It tool us 6 hours to reach Lucknow. The city itself is quite big but has nice buildings and wide clean roads. Actually without any traffic on road we breezed through the city in an hour and stopped at a dhaba for lunch.
From Lucknow the road goes to Ayoddhya and then to Basti and Gorakhpur. The road is in great shape and you can expect 100+ kmph speed all the way through.
We reached Gorakhpur at 4 PM in the evening and we had Mishra’ji waiting for us. Vinay works with us in office and he was at home due to Holi. Thankfully we had great welcome and a nice tour of the city in the evening. The city is famous for Gorakhnath Mandir and icing in the cake – we met Yogi Adityanath – Chief Minister in the evening at the temple.
The temple complex is quite big. The whole area has been well maintained and there is a beautiful lake with colorful fountain. The place outside the temple has lots of places to eat. The city is undergoing a complete makeover thanks to Yogi Adityanath – you can see big hospitals (AIIMS), nice hotels, big universities coming up. People around looked really happy.
Delhi to Gorakhpur will take maximum 10 hours by road excluding stops. The road condition is excellent all the way through. Gorakhpur has multiple hotel options including a new Radisson hotel. The place is developing very fast thanks to the chief minister of the state who hails form the city.
Day 2 – 22 March 2019
Crossing over to Nepal
We started from Gorakhpur – Mishraji’s home at 6 AM after a cup of tea. The road from Gorakhpur till Sunauli border is smooth and it takes around 2 hours with stops to reach the border.
Near the border the road entering Nepal is blocked by huge line of trucks waiting for permits. Almost all private vehicles take the wrong side to reach the border and the cross over to Nepal.
At the border crossing is quite easy and paper work is hassle free. We got our Bhansar and Road Tax Permit in 1 hour. We got a Nepali sim card with unlimited internet and started moving towards Pokhara.
After crossing over, we called Babu and Suman. They started from Kathmandu and we planned to meet at Mungling, where the road separates for Sunauli. Mungling is where Prithivi highway meets Mahendra highway.
We reached Mungling in the afternoon and had lunch – the first Thakali Thali with fresh fish from the river. Finally at 3 PM our friends arrived and we moved on towards Pokhara. We called up Billabong Hotel for a dorm room and reached there by evening.
It has been a long day and finally enjoyed the pubs around Phewa Lake and planned for the adventure ahead.
The bridge at Mungling
Paradiso Bar and Cafe – Phewa Lake
The complete team
After 2 days of long drives ( 1250 kms ) it was time to do short distances now on at relaxed pace and exploration of the amazing beauty around.
Day 3 – 23rd March 2019
Our plan for the day was to get the permits ( ACAP – Annapurna Conservation Area Permit and TIMS – Trekker Information Management System). For visiting Kathmandu and Pokhara and Terai region no permits are required. But if you want to explore the higher areas inside the conservation area, these are necessary.
We woke up early in order to catch the sunrise. We planned to visit the World Peace Pagoda which is south of Phewa Lake, Pokhara and provides a birds eye view of the lake, Pokhara town, Sarangot and the Himalayan range. People generally visit Sarangot for sunrise, but we were staying there at night and hence the pagoda plan.
The views are amazing from Pagoda.
Himalaya as seen from Pagoda
There is a good road all the way till the parking of the Pagoda. From there you need to climb few steps and reach the temple. Further up from Pagoda, there views are even better. While going from Pokhara, there is a short cut off road till the Pagoda but not worth taking it. Google maps may guide you through the bad road and ask if you see a bad road.
After breakfast we spent the morning getting our permits. Then we started for Sarangot after a good lunch by the lakeside.
Sarangot is just 10 kms by road and actually only 3-4 kms as the crow flies. However the main road was closed due to construction and we had to take a long detour and finally reached Sarangot late in the evening.
We stayed at Sarangot – Hotel Mountain Garden who provided us room at NPR 1200. The views are good and this is close to the view point and also there are views from room towards north.
Sunset from Sarangot
Day 4 – 24th March 2019
You can be amazed by the beauty at sunrise
The sunrise from Sarangot is brilliant. It took only 10 minutes to reach the view point and it gets quite busy by the sunrise. You can see from Dhaulagiri in far west to Manaslu in the east while Annapurna Himalaya is huge and amazing just in front.
After breakfast we started our drive towards Muktinath. Our intention was to reach Kalopani but we will see where we can reach. From Sanrangot the road till Beni is in bad shape. The road is broken and muddy and some sections with lots of dust. On the way we stopped at Kusuma, the main district town towards Beni. Here are 3 hanging cable bridges which are among the deepest in the region.
The beautiful bridges of Kushuma
The amazing hot springs of Tatopani
The rides parked near the lodge
We reached Beni at 1:30 PM and then stopped for lunch. The place is very busy with tourist – pilgrims from Nepal and India visiting Muktinath. We had a good lunch and packed water bottles as it is going to get costly from now on. Soon after leaving Beni, we hit the first road block between Beni and Tatopani. The block in the afternoon starts from 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM. So we managed to reach Tatopani by 6 PM and decided to stay the night there.
The road between Beni to Tatopani is very bad – read no roads. Expect speed of 10-15 kmph and actually there is no rush. Enjoy the beauty around drive slowly. Some sections are narrow and are good for one car only. Expect lots of dust and near zero visibility when a car crosses you.
We read good reviews of Dhaulagiri Lodge and decided to stay there. It is just above the hot spring and we parked the car and bike near the springs. The lodge itself is very pretty with nice garden of orange trees. This is a very busy lodge and being famous, do not expect great hospitality. The food is good though. If we get a chance we will stay at some other places rather than the arrogant hosts of the beautiful lodge.