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A Road Trip to the sacred Adi Kailash from Bangalore - Om Namah Shivaya! - Episode 1

Nestled in the remote corners of the Himalayas, Adi Kailash stands as a testament to the raw beauty and untouched wilderness that India has to offer. Our journey from Bangalore to Adi Kailash was not just a road trip; it was a soul-stirring adventure filled with mountain fun, adrenaline-pumping escapades, and unforgettable memories.

Adi Kailash holds profound spiritual significance for Hindus and various other communities who visit this remote mountain in the Indian Himalayas. For Hindus, Adi Kailash is revered as an abode of Lord Shiva, often referred to as 'Chota Kailash' or 'Little Kailash' due to its resemblance to Mount Kailash in Tibet, considered the celestial home of Lord Shiva. It is believed that a pilgrimage to Adi Kailash is spiritually enriching and equivalent to visiting Mount Kailash itself.

Beyond its religious significance, Adi Kailash is a place where spiritual seekers and nature enthusiasts alike find solace and inspiration. Surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty—towering peaks, glistening glaciers, and lush green valleys—the mountain offers a serene retreat conducive to meditation and introspection.

The spiritual aura of Adi Kailash, combined with its remote and rugged terrain, fosters a deep connection with nature and a profound sense of reverence among all who make the journey. It serves as a reminder of the sacred bond between humanity and the natural world, inviting pilgrims and adventurers alike to embark on a transformative journey of the soul.

In this blog post I'm narrating our trip along with details so if anyone wants to plan this trip, feel free to leverage. In case you have questions, feel free to connect.

Itinerary and Route Plan - Bangalore to Adi Kailash

Day 1: Bangalore to Nagpur

We started our journey early in the morning from Bangalore and headed northwards towards Nagpur, covering approximately 1,000 kms via Telangana. The route from Bangalore if pretty smooth and you can easily cover this in 15 hrs instead of 18 hrs as suggested by Google.

Highlights: Passing through the lush landscapes of Karnataka and Maharashtra, enjoying local cuisine along the way. You also drive on the Hyderabad ORR which is amazing to ride on. Just be careful and do not overspeed here as you'll definitely get a ticket otherwise :)

Day 2: Nagpur to Bareilly via Bundelkhand Expressway

Leaving Nagpur, we took the Bundelkhand Expressway towards Bareilly, a distance of about 800+ kilometers. The route is pretty good with empty roads literally and the quality of the roads is superb.

Route Details: The Bundelkhand Expressway offered a smooth and scenic drive, with minimal traffic. It connects seamlessly to the Agra Lucknow Expressway, enhancing connectivity.

Highlights: Enjoying the empty roads and picturesque views along the expressway. However, it's advisable to carry sufficient food and supplies as amenities are limited en route. The last 30+ kms from the exit of the expressway to Bareilly wasn't good and had broken stretches so make sure you cover this in day time.

Day 3: Bareilly to Pithoragarh

From Bareilly, we drove towards Pithoragarh, covering around 350 kilometers was a mix bag. We had to drive on some good and some bad and some very crowded areas via Pilibit Tiger reserve.

Highlights: Witnessing the transition from central India to the foothills of the Himalayas, enjoying the scenic views en route.

Stay: We stayed at the KMVN property at Pithoragarh which was one of the best out here.

While at the hotel, I checked for the Inner line permits to be done for Adi Kailash and understood that we could do the Medical here at Pithoragarh and then get the permits done at Dharchulla to save time. We went ahead and got the medical done next day before proceeding to Dharchulla which took a couple of hours.. Please note the hospital BP machine is not calibrated and shows high BP for everyone.. we had to do couple of times and still it was showing high even though we were all OK. The doctor just ignored and gave the certificate...

Medical certificate from the Govt. Hospital. You would need one Passport size photo and Aadhar card xerox copy for the certificate.

While at the Dharchulla stay, we met with Rishi and his family who became good friends for the trip. He was also there for Adi Kailash trip and was driving a Jeep Meridien vehicle. Upon our conversation we decided to pair up for the trip and stay together at Gunji as the home-stays or properties at Gunji are only dormitories and generally have a 6+ bed rooms. As we were a couple and Rishi had his wife and kid along with him, we thought it would be good to gang up. It turned out to be the best decision and we truly enjoyed each other's company for the entire trip..

Us and Rishi's Family - Our buddies for the trip!

Day 4: Pithoragarh to Dharchulla

- Continuing our ascent, we traveled from Pithoragarh to Dharchulla, and then onwards to Gunji, totaling approximately 200 kilometers.

- Road Conditions: The route from Dharchulla to Gunji was adventurous, with off-road patches suitable for 4x4 vehicles. While 2x2 vehicles can manage, it's challenging. We encountered a couple of landslides on this route which was expected and also a lot of off-road sections. There were a couple of places where we felt the need for 4x4 capabilities of our car and with that it was seamless drive.

- Highlights: Thrilling off-road sections amidst breathtaking Himalayan landscapes.

- Stay at Gunji: We stayed at KMVN shelters. Please note Gunji only have Homestays and KMVN property which is basic and barebone dormitories. We were prepared to pitch our own tents but since now we got the dorms, we decided to use that instead. More on this later.

We started from Pithoragarh to Dharchulla which took us almost 4-5 hours as we drove slow and took lots of breaks for Photography and chilling out.

Lunch stop!!

Aloo Paratha's for Lunch along with chutney .. was yummm!!

Scenery along the route to Dharchulla. The temperatures were in 35+ degree celcius here and was pretty hot..

Such a lovely view!

Beautiful scenery!

Welcome to Dharchulla!

One of the sights on the way to Dharchulla

We reached Dharchulla around 4:30pm and took the KMVN Manas property as that's the best out there and we could secure 2 rooms for us as we had called from Pithoragarh already for the rooms. The rooms and property again here are basic but does the job. We paid around 3600 per room and 2 rooms plus the extras.

After freshening up, we wanted to visit the Nepal border area via the bridge that connects both countries. You need to show your ID and can pass to Nepal and then come back before 7pm else you'll need to spend the night at Nepal which we were in no mood for :)

Welcome to Nepal sign on the Nepal side of the bridge.. The India side prohibits photography so we couldn't take any pics out there..

The bridge connecting India and Nepal

Family pic at the backdrop is the Kali river between India and Nepal

The bridge connecting India and Nepal

Kali nadi (river)

Kali Nadi (river) and the bridge connecting India and Nepal. We were on the Nepal side..

Local barber shop / saloon in Nepal

Once you cross the bridge, you enter the Nepal where there's a general market for shopping some of the touristy stuff and general merchandise.

Look at the strong men and women of Nepal carrying loads of stuff on their head!

We spent some time on Nepal side and returned to Dharchulla on India side before it closes at 7pm. We had asked the hotel guys to help us with the permits for Adi Kailash and they prepared it for us at the cost of 800 INR per person. You get an SMS and an online link to download the permits and then you need to take the printout for showing it at the check-post..

Inner Line Permits

To embark on the journey from Gunji to Adi Kailash and Om Parvat, travelers must obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP) from the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM). This essential permit is mandatory due to the region's proximity to the India-China border. Before acquiring the ILP, travelers are required to undergo a medical examination at a government hospital (We got this done at the Hospital at Pithoragarh itself which took couple of hours). The doctors will check you fitness levels, BP, Pulse rate etc. The paper work is pretty slow and takes 2-3 hours. After this you can get the permits done through agents or get it done yourself (which would be time consuming I guess). We paid around 800 per person to agent who got it done for us at Dharchulla (Ping me if you need the contact details). This precaution ensures the well-being of individuals venturing into the high-altitude terrain of the Himalayas. The ILP not only facilitates access but also underscores the area's remoteness and the need for careful preparation before embarking on this spiritually enriching and visually stunning pilgrimage.

Online Permit Screenshot

This is the Permit what is checked at every check-point and is signed once you pass it. Upon return it is again checked that you've returned successfully. The process to make the permit was seamless through the agents.

Day 5: Dharchulla to Gunji

From Dharchulla, we ventured further into the heart of the Himalayas towards Adi Kailash, navigating good roads on some stretch and fully off-road conditions in some stretches. After waking up in the morning, we quickly from fresh and proceeded towards Gunji. The KMVN property as I said earlier was basic but proveded breakfast which was also basic stuff with Parathas, Poha, Sandwiches and some Poori Aloo. We quickly had breakfast and then proceeded further on our journey. The route to Gunji was expected to be in decent condition barring few landslides and off-road patches..

We got our permits done here at Dharchulla so we were all set for the journey. It took almost 15-20 mins to get the ILP checked at the first check-point before we could proceed further. It was a little annoying process as there was huge crowd and there was only one/two people to take care of the process. This is where the government should do something to expedite the process. I mean they already have all the records and bar code on the permit issued, as they record the entries with hand every-time you cross a check-point, it becomes a choking point.

Anyway we made the entry and proceeded further enjoying the scenery and landscapes of the beautiful valley.

Darchulla - Nepal, as you see it from India side

As soon as we move a little further there was a landslide and the traffic was halted for the same, so we had to stop and wait for the BRO folks to clear it which took around 15-20 mins.

One of the waterfalls that you see on the way. Was a good spot for some Photography and Fun!

Waterfall en-route Gunji

Waterfall en-route Gunji

Landscape en-route Gunji

Some Photo-opps en-route Gunji

Some Photo-opps en-route Gunji

Some Photo-opps en-route Gunji. Not sure if you can spot me and the car in the photo but this was an awesome spot for taking a good shot of the valley..

Another spot for a lovely view of the river flowing down below..

The bridges connecting the mountains and valley

One of the places where you see such mountains cut for making the roads.. great sights and scary too..

On this route you get one or two climbs which are a little hard for 2 wheel drive cars. Our friend's Meridien got stuck here couple of times .. but was fun..

You will get this natural FoC car wash waterfall en-route :) We took full liberty of washing our car here .. ha ha !

Natural car wash!

The beautiful landscapes

The stunning scenery along the way

Mesmerising views..

Lovely sights all the way..

Lovely sights all the way..

One group pic to banti hai :)

We stopped on the way to have tea/coffee and recharge ourselves ..

Coffee in making

Beautiful vistaas..

Lovely valleys ..

After driving for a while, we reached this spot from where if we go towards left, it goes to Adi Kailash and if we go right we will reach Gunji which is about just a kilometer from here. We decided to go towards Adi Kailash route just to explore further as we were here early and had nothing to do at Gunji. This route took us to Nabhidang village and there was a small Temple that we could explore..

A small Shiva temple .. was a great soothing experience..

Om Namah Shivaaya!

Om Namah Shivaaya!

Shiva Temple

Om Namah Shivaaya!

After sepnding about 30-40 minutes, we went back to Gunji village and checked-in to our most luxurious resort we've ever stayed :)

At the KMVN Guest house :) These are dormitories and are meant for minimum 7 beds. We got this even though we were only 5 people. The facility is very basic made of tin with common toilets outside the room. Yuo get electricity here only after dark. The dinner is served in a common place for everyone which is also very basic and is only VEG!!

Dinner time!

The parking is very tight here and specially when you have a full house, then there will be many cars / taxis parked here. Though it was fully packed place, it wasn't a problem as we didn't had to take out the car until morning!

We had dinner and slept for the night. It was pretty cold at night but as we had good blankets and all, we were good for the night. It was a good good night :)

Om Namah Shivaay!

Next morning - we proceeded with our journey to Adi Kailash which I will be narrating in the next episode of this Blog.

@ Adi Kailash

Stay tuned for further journey to Adi Kailash and Om Parvat!


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