Chakrata and its surroundings with its wilderness and natural beauty is an ideal place for an exciting mountain biking weekend trip. This region is blessed with many vantage points having magnificent views of the snow clad Himalayan range also it has a delightful green forest cover on its hills comprising of Deodar, Himalayan Oak and Rhododendron trees. Situated above the Yamuna valley it can be approached from either Dehradun-Vikasnagar side or the Dehradun-Mussoorie side. Chakrata town is a very small & quaint town and was established as a British cantonment about 125 years ago. Other attractions of the region are the old forest guest houses set up by the British in remote locations, the enchanting Tiger Falls, ancient temples, sparsely located villages and high alpine meadows. The incredible beauty of this region had been cut off from any tourism related activity till a couple of years back owing to an army intelligence establishment here. Foreigners are still not allowed to visit this area. Being cut off the entire area is still very pure in natural beauty and completely untouched by any haphazard development. This region is inhabited by people of Jaunsar-Bawar tribe.
On the first day of the ride we ride all the way to Chakrata town from a point close to the lodge. We explore Chakrata on our bikes before we start cycling down to the beautiful Tiger Falls. We enjoy the beauty of the falls and then board our vehicles to drive back to the lodge. For this trip you will be based at the scenically located Himalayan Eco Lodges & Camps at Viraatkhai (near Chakrata) (www.himalayanecolodges.com/viraatkhai.php). This lodge having cottages and tents is set atop a series of step farms overlooking the Yamuna valley and is 24 kms from Chakrata town towards Mussoorie. Standing in splendid isolation at an altitude of 1900m, the lodge offers breathtaking views and holds special promise for genuine nature lovers. Far from the hustle bustle of urban life, all you are likely to hear are sweet bird songs and the rush of mountain winds sweeping across the valley. This lodge can be reached easily by road from Dehradun, Saharanpur or Mussoorie. Other than the splendors of the Himalayas that you experience on this ride, it is also the accessibility of the trail that makes this ride quite enjoyable. On Day Two we transport ourselves to Mussoorie (48kms/1.5 hrs). The ride starts about 3 kms before Mussoorie along the bypass and takes you through some absolutely pristine locations like Suakholi, Buraskhanda, Dhanaulti & Kanatal. All these places are just small establishments. Riding distance for Day 2 is about 60 kms out of which around 25 kms is going to be uphill and the rest is level and moderately downhill. We will be riding for a long distance on the ridge line with fantastic views on either side of the trail. Highlight would be the close look at some of the snow capped Himalayan giants like Nanda Devi, Trishul, Bandarpoonch, Chaukhamba & Kedar peak. You will surely enjoy riding through deodar & oak forest sections along the route. We will be for most times riding above 2100 mts on day 1. Big attraction of this ride is the spectacular setting of the Himalayan Eco Lodge in Sursinghdhar (www.himalayanecolodges.com/sursingdhar.php) where you stay the night. This extremely comfortable lodge overlooks the giant Tehri dam & lake and has a superlative view of the snow capped Himalayan ranges right in front
Day 3 ride we warn adrenaline junkies, if any in the group, to hold their horses and not completely let loose on the long & inviting downhill sections. Today we will ride for about 45 kms out of which about 12-15 kms would be moderately uphill while rest is downhill. The ride today is through a beautiful forest section which seems to be completely cut off from everything and has thick mixed forest almost all along the trail. There is about 8 kms of riding on non tarmac road where one will need to ride a bit carefully. Time permitting one can extend the ride and go down further towards Rishikesh.
THE RIDE PLAN
Day 0: Thursday, April 17
We will all meet at Rajeev Chowk Metro station, Connaught Place, New Delhi, at 10:40 p.m and depart for Viraatkhai (near Chakrata) at 11:00 p.m.
Day 1: Friday, April 18
We arrive in HELC Viraatkhai at around 8:00 a.m. Here we will check into the lodge and freshen up and have breakfast. At around 9:30 a.m. we drive for about 10 mins to reach the starting point of our ride which is a couple of kms from the lodge. We check our bikes and gear and after an orientation set out on our ride. Today we ride for around 44 kms with pitstops and a lunch break. The first 24 kms are moderately uphill till we reach the cantonment town of Chakrata. This section is mostly through forested sections and ridge tops. Enroute we cross Chaurani, a famous camping ground during the British days. If the sky is clear we will get good views of the snow capped Himalayas. There is hardly any vehicle movement on this road and very few villages enroute. Chakrata is an old and small cantonment town with an old world charm. From here an 18 kms completely downhill ride will get us to Tiger Falls. Here we will spend some time enjoying the natural beauty of the falls and also take a dip in the refreshing waters before boarding our vehicles and driving back to the lodge. At the lodge we will relax in the comfortable cottages and soak in the natural beauty of the place. Bonfire, light music & a sumptuous dinner under the star spangled sky is how we end the day.
Day 2: Saturday, April 19
Wake up to a refreshing sunrise and clear views of the underlying valleys and big mountains in front. Enjoy the fresh mountain air with a hot cuppa of masala tea and the birds playing the orchestra. We will have breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and by around 8:30 a.m. start on our ride for the day. We are transported to just short of Mussoorie where we actually begin the ride. This takes about an hour and a half (48kms). Today we ride for around 7 hours with pit stops & lunch break. Today’s ride section is through one of the finest mountain road as we pass Dhanaulti, Kanatal & Chamba. Most of the ride is on a ridge with great views on both sides. There are mesmerizing views of the snow capped Himalayas from several vantage point. You will be riding at an average altitude of 2100+m and will cover a distance of around 60 kms today with 25 kms being uphill and rest being level and moderately downhill. At around 4:00 p.m we will reach the HEL Sursinghdhar where we stay for the night. All your exhaustion (if any) is sure to vanish the minute you reach this scenically located lodge at Sursinghdhar. Small hike around the lodge will do your senses a lot of good (optional). Bonfire, light music & a sumptuous dinner under the star spangled sky is how we end the day.
Day 3: Sunday, April 20
Wake up to a stunning sight of the sun rising from behind the famous Nanda Devi Mountain. Morning views from the lodge are to die for. Enjoy the fresh mountain air with a hot cuppa masala tea and the birds playing the orchestra. We will have breakfast at 7:30 a.m and by around 8:00 a.m start on our ride for the day. Today we will be riding for about 40 kms (3-4 hours). The ride section has about 10 kms uphill and rest is pure downhill rush. The ride today is through beautiful forested region with nice views all around. You start from the lodge and then ride towards Chaurani and then from there to Gaja and end the ride at Khadi. One can experience the thrills of downhill ride for extended periods today. We end the ride at around 12 have lunch and depart for Delhi. Expected time of arrival at Delhi is 9:00 p.m.
The course is ideal for beginners and novices. The experts will have the opportunity to further hone their endurance and mountain skills. The average riding speed on the track is about 15 kmph and there is a nutrition/hydration break every 10 kms. Do expect some headwind and side winds on the top of ridges. The weather would be pleasant during the day. Lunch is served hot at the halfway mark of the ride. For riders with tired muscles there is always the back up support vehicle at bay. Though we recommend you to bring in your own cycles on account of familiarity, one also has the option of hiring Merida 21-speed Hardtail bikes from us for the duration of the ride. First aid and mechanical back up is also available during the ride.
• SUPERIOR TENT in HELC Viraatkhai + DELUXE ROOM in HEL Sursingdhar
- Single occupancy – Rs. 11250 per person
- Double occupancy – Rs. 8900 per person
• DELUXE ROOM in HELC Viraatkhai + DELUXE ROOM in HEL Sursingdhar
- Single occupancy – Rs. 12500 per person
- Double occupancy – Rs. 9500 per person
• Optional Cycle rental – Rs. 2400 (Imported 21-gear Hardtail cycles, Helmet, Elbow & Knee pads)
Note: If you are bringing your own cycles, kindly dismantle and pack them into cycle boxes (available in the market) and they can be transported in the same vehicle that you will be travelling in from & back to Delhi.
• COMFORTABLE TRANSPORT from & back to Delhi
• ACCOMMODATION of your preference (Single/Double occupancy) in Deluxe rooms/Superior tents in HELC Viraatkhai for 1 night and in Deluxe rooms in HEL Sursingdhar for 1 night. For details & pictures click on www.himalayanecolodges.com.
• GOOD QUALITY MOUNTAIN BIKES (if opted for): We would provide 21-gear Merida or similar mountain cycles to each rider for the duration of the trip. These cycles are maintained in good condition and are used specifically for these trips. For those taking the cycles from us, we will also provide the relevant safety gear like a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads.
• SUPPORT VEHICLES (for riders & equipment): There would be a support vehicle for all riders. This support vehicle travels along with the rider through the course and can be used for luggage, spares, as well as for riding to the camp after the ride finish. In times when you don’t want to ride on the cycle this support vehicle is always at bay.
• MEALS: We will provide all meals starting from breakfast on Apr 18 to lunch on Apr 20. The food served during the trip is a mixture of Indian, Chinese and Western cuisine. The emphasis is on providing a high-nutrition/energy mostly vegetarian diet.
• GUIDES: Professional and experienced guides would be accompanying you throughout the trip to assist you all along.
• FIRST AID BACKUP: A basic medical kit is always available at hand to all the riders with at least a couple of our team guys being able to administer basic first aid.
• CYCLE MECHANIC: There will be a cycle mechanic travelling along with the group. He will be able to handle basic problems and will carry basic spares with them (tubes, gear wires, puncture kits, etc.) but it is recommended that you carry a basic set of spares for your cycle if you are bring your own cycle.
• PERMITS: All required local Permits for the ride, if any, would be arranged for.
• All applicable TAXES
COST DOES NOT INCLUDE
• Any meals/services not mentioned above
• Any charges for video cameras, still cameras, etc.
• Cost of spare parts
• Alcohol, Soft drinks, Bottled water, etc.
• Personal expenses like tips, telephone calls, laundry, etc.
• Any costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances like landslides, road blocks, bad weather, etc.
OUR PLEDGE AND PLEA
We conduct all our trips following the principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ policy and try to keep our impact minimal. We will request you to participate in this initiative by first knowing more about it and finally contributing by adhering to the tenets of this policy. You are sure to enjoy this kind of mountain travel where you don’t compromise on any personal comforts and yet help nurture & preserve a habitat which is beautiful and a source of joy, happiness and life to many.
Mornings and evenings are going to be very pleasant bordering slightly cold so keep a light woolen jacket/sweater handy while afternoons are going to be sunny, warm and at times windy. You definitely should have a cap, sunglasses & a water bottle at all times during the ride. Maximum day temperature would be in the range of 22-28 °C while night temperature would be around 16-18 °C.
LIST OF ESSENTIALS
Mountain/adventure travel requires one to be adequately equipped with the right kind of personal gear. Since one is travelling in the wilderness there will be hardly any opportunity to buy anything once you hit the trail so we urge you to carefully pack everything into your bags.
• Light jacket/sweater
• Shorts (for riding – your choice)
• T-shirts – 3/4
• Small lightweight towel
• Water bottle (sturdy ones, no empty Bisleri bottles!!)
• Cap / Hat to keep the strong sun away from your face
• Day pack/small bag which you will carry on your back every day and keep your essentials in it
• Camera if you like (with fully charged batteries)
• Personal Medical Kit (there will be medical back-up for emergencies) with the following:
• High factor SPF sun block (minimum 30)
• Lip balm with SPF 15+
• Safety-approved Bicycle Helmet (for those bringing their own cycles)
• Knee / Elbow pads (for those bringing their own cycles)
• LOADS OF ENTHUSIASM!! AND A PLEDGE TO LEAVE NO TRACE.