It’s a long way to Munsyari

For a month debate raged in the Pike camp as to which route we should take from Kinnaur to Nepal. Haz favoured continuing with our original plan of cycling and hiking the whole way from the Pakistan-India border to east Nepal. Neil just wanted to teleport to Pokhara to catch the best season for trekking.

Haz won; but only on condition that we moved quickly, sparking a two week dash across one of India’s hilliest states.
Our days soon developed a routine. Rise at 05:30, depart at 06:30, breakfast at the first dhaba (basic restaurant) that showed signs of paratha production. A climb through terraced fields then pine forest to a pass. Substantial khanas (rice, dal, veg curry) for lunch, bottles of Pepsi when we passed a fridge. Dairy Milk if we caught sight of a ‘chocolate cupboard’. For the first time in our cycling lives we put on weight.

Afternoons brought fast descents to a hotel room in a riverside town, for some relaxation in front of the T20 World Cup. Days and great rivers blended into one. Was it the Yamuna we’d crossed yesterday? Or the Mandakini? Did it even matter? It was all Ganges to us.

As none of these riverside towns were at all appealing, we cycled 12 days straight before finding somewhere we liked: Munsyari with its sublime setting in the shadow of Panch Chuli. Our well-earned rest day was spent busking in the main square. N on harmonica, H wailing away in her beautiful alto voice a ditty she’d been singing to herself incessantly on the many Uttarakhand climbs:

“It’s a long way to Munsyari
it’s a long way to go.
It’s a long way to Munsyari,
to see mountains capped with snow…”

Here’s the link to our Uttarakhand photo set on Flickr. A selection of these is below:

Breakfast at a dhaba in Tiuni
In a dhaba in Uttarakhand. Eating big meals in these places 3 times every day gave Neil muscley legs for the first time in his life.

Cycling through pine forests in Uttarakhand
Cycling through pine forest.

On the descent to Purola
On the descent to Purola.

Aloo paratha, curd and veg
Aloo paratha, curd and veg. The Uttarakhand breakfast of choice.

Chai-guy on Radi Top, a 2,250m pass in Uttarakhand
Chai-guy on Radi Top, a 2,250m pass in Uttarakhand.

Climbing up to a pass in Uttarakhand
Climbing to a pass, with a band of friendly cricketers for company.

Crossing the Mandakini
Crossing another great Indian river. This one is the Mandakini.

Street scene, Karnaprayag
Street scene, Karnaprayag.

Early morning near Sama, Uttarakhand
Early morning near Sama.

Landslide = no traffic
Landslide = no traffic, and great riding.

Descending from Sama, Uttarakhand
Descending from Sama.

Carrying bags across a landslide near Sama, Uttarakhand
Carrying bags across a landslide near Sama.

Diary writing in Munsyari
Diary writing in Munsyari.

Samosas in Munsyari
Munsyari samosas. There were a couple of great dhabas in this beautifully sited town. This place had the best chai we sipped in India. Next door the khana (dal, rice, veg, pickle, papad etc) tasted great, and was incredible value at Rs35.

Early morning in Munsyari
The view from our hotel in Munsyari. Panch Chuli (6,900m) on the left. This was one of our favourite towns in the Indian Himalaya, rivalling Kalpa and Kathi.

Looking into Nepal
Looking into Nepal on the longest day of our trip. We didn’t want to cycle all the way to the plains to cross into Nepal at Banbasa/Mahendranagar, so had spent the previous few days asking around to see if we’d be able to get over the border up here in the mountains. In one town we met a friendly English teacher who said “of course you can go to Nepal, I know the border guards!”, which led to Neil having a 15min trip over a pedestrian suspension bridge into Nepal. There were loads of varieties of gin on sale in the small Nepali village visited, and lots of Chinese tat, but sadly no immigration facilities, so we ended up with little choice but to cycle the 2 days to the official border crossing. 

What a lovely scene
What a lovely scene! Somehow we’ve managed to resist putting up ‘cow in rubbish tip’ photos up till this point, but as we took so many such photos in Uttarakhand we thought it’d only be fair to share a few.

So you think fly tipping in Britain is bad?
Ugh. Fly tipping or just the local open landfill site? Incredible filth.

Chicas near Lohaghat
Some local chicas in Lohaghat.

Our delightful hostess in Lohaghat
Our delightful hostess in Lohaghat.

Cow eating rubbish
A final cow shot. This is the last photo I took in India – just as we were crossing a British-built bridge into Nepal.

2 thoughts on “It’s a long way to Munsyari

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *