Tiger Falls, Nature's Hidden Gem

For a change, not a solo ride. My riding buddy Aditya got this last Saturday(May 21st, 2016) off and he did not want to waste this opportunity to ride at all. Initially we shortlisted Sambhar lake in Rajasthan but then it was ruled out because of the heat which was already getting on our nerves with soaring 47 deg in Delhi. Leaving this heat behind for a while and riding to a colder place was the/our only option. Next option he suggested was Chakrata,Uttarakhand and to visit the Tiger Falls there. Without thinking twice I agreed and just like that an impromptu plan was finalized. But we just had two days in hand which meant it was a long but short ride.

As usual, the argument between me wanting to start early morning and him trying to delay it by sometime happened. We all know that if we plan to start at say 4am then it means we start at 4:20 because God knows why we forget to count the time needed to gear up, fixing the luggage on the bike etc. Anyways, I was able to leave my home at 4:10am from Gurgaon and met Aditya in Delhi and by 5:30am we were both on the road. 

The Route
Done enough study about the existing travelogues to this place and the following routes were the options-
1. Gurgaon-Panipat-Karnal-Ladwa-Yamuna Nagar-Paonta Sahib-Vikas Nagar-Chakrata- about 356km
2. Gurgaon-Ghaziabad-Meerut-Muzaffarnagar-Saharanpur-Vikas Nagar-Chakrata- about 350km

But the second route was clearly not advisable because UTTAR PRADESH TRAFFIC however we had to make a quick  stop at Saharanpur to meet Aditya's relative. The final route looked like this in that case and this was 380km total distance from Gurgaon.

Getting out of the city was slower than expected because of the EARLY MORNING traffic jam we faced at Azadpur but we managed to crawl our way out of it somehow and hit the highways. Coming out of a traffic jam we opened throttles like dogs running away from the sterilization vans.

No, we don't make the mandatory stop at Murthal for breakfast. 

We stopped at Karnal for breakfast after covering almost 100km at this Dhaba. We wondered if had missed the right turn which leads to Yamuna Nagar while riding over one of the fly overs but we had not as we found out while checking the map during breakfast. Its amazing how quickly you can feel hungry during riding and its important to have breakfast and hydration on the road. We were both carrying hydra packs as well to keep us hydrated.

Yamuna Nagar is the hub for timber business and there were lot of heavy vehicles overloaded with wood on the road. We spotted some of the tractors doing a wheelie because of the weight it was carrying. Make a quick but safe exit from this place as traffic jam might pile any time because of these heavy vehicles. As we were riding out of this place there were many trees by the roadside for miles ahead and I thought that these trees are protecting us from the Sun rays, soon they will be cut to be loaded on these tractors! After we were out of Yamuna Nagar and we had taken the right towards Saharanpur, Suddenly I got low fuel notification. It has never happened that I have ridden more than 10km after getting the low fuel message. Tensed as I was getting as we moved, the low fuel odo had crossed 21km and we were still going and there was no sign of a petrol pump! Aditya kept consoling me that we are gonna find one soon but it didn’t help. However I kept my calm and kept riding in low rpm. Spotted one petrol pump soon for a refuel but I was amazed that the bike has done almost 24-25km even after a low fuel warning. Anyways we kept moving.

Next stop was Saharanpur and I had already told Aditya that we can’t stop for more than 30 mins at his relatives. As expected, we were offered with all sorts of fruits and beverage and breakfast options but we didn’t want to spend time on that. Thankfully within 40 mins we got done with the visit and came back on the road towards Chakrata, which was supposedly 2 hours far from Saharanpur (it was not). While we both kept arguing if we could visit Paonta Sahib on our way while going, I wondered how’s that green stretch I saw on the map gonna be. It turned out to be the most beautiful stretch of our ride. 

We were surrounded lush green trees on both sides while riding on the smooth tarmac full of curves. I had to stop to take a pic and also switched on the video mode on the action cam. I so wanted to stop here for some more time to click more pics but had to keep going. But moments like these bring a smile on your face while riding and we love it. Enjoy a short video of this

(Shot on Xiaomi Yi, Read the detailed review here)
As soon as this green stretch ends you can take a left to make a quick visit to Paonta Sahib or go straight as we did onwards Herbertpur. Now further ahead there is a town called Vikas Nagar which is supposedly the last petrol pump before Chakrata as you would read on many other blogs. But there is one more petrol pump opened 3-4km after Vikasnagar and that is the last one. Please make sure you fuel up your tanks at this place as Chakrata was 55Km from here and to n fro there were no petrol pumps in between .

We skipped Paonta Sahib right now and I said we can visit it tomorrow on return. We kept on riding on the straights ahead until we reached Kalsi after which we started our ascent towards the hills. 

The road will test your skills and patience and at times you will feel that you are climbing to one of those passes in the mountains up there. Yes the roads are that bad with occasional good stretches. But it was dusty and gave more pain to our already numb bums. Battling this bad road climbing our way upwards, we reached Chakrata. As soon you reach the town you have to take the right towards the market and climb a little ahead further where you will find the stay options.

 There are some guest houses available like Himgiri, Aashiyana, Raja Guest house. After bargaining for sometime we finalized Aashiyana guest house (Rs. 800/night) and this room was better than Himgiri, however you have to park the bikes a little further ahead in the common shed. We reached our room by 1:45pm. There were no fans in the room and we expected it to be cold at night cuz during day time it was not so cold and we felt the need of a fan in the room.

We were tired and hungry by this time. After a quick shower we came out and started our walk in the market. There are not many options and Sher-e-Punjab dhaba is recommended.

We finished our lunch in no time and started riding towards Deoban for our visit to Budher Caves. People say that these caves were built by the Pandavas and are vast from inside. You have to crawl your way to inside. We had no idea what's in store and we were on one bike. The climb to the Forest rest house is about 25km from Chakrata and there is a 3km trek to Budher Caves. On our way we stopped to admire the view and take some pics. 

The fresh and chilled air here and the amazing view refreshed us instantly and I realized these are the moments we keep coming back to the hills and mountains.

Difficult would be an understatement for this trek. If you are planning for this, let me tell you that advance that this is one of the most difficult trek I have done (or not). First, you have to ride a difficult off-road stretch for about 1-2km till the Forest rest house.

 Make sure you are carrying water (because we were not and it was very stupid of us). Here you have to park your bike and start the treacherous trek. I recommend starting this trek in morning if you plan to come back down otherwise its(the top) a perfect place to camp for the night. After battling the difficult terrain, taking breaks and slowly climbing our way up for about 2.5km I gave up. 

There was no water and I was already mad because Aditya assumed we will get water here and asked me not to carry the hydra pack. I refused to move ahead as I had no idea how long we still had to go. At this point Aditya decided to move ahead and go to the top and I decided to wait under a tree. 

Its a different experience when you are sitting in a jungle surrounded by nothing but trees. The only sound you can head is of the birds and insects around you. I have been here before, or to a place like this, I thought. I realized I can sit here for hours and was happy to sit in silence for sometime. I suddenly saw a man coming towards me and walking casually his way upwards.

"Budher kitni door hain"

"Bas ye raha thoda sa aage"
"zyada door toh nahi hai na?"
"nahi nahi bas yahi par hai bilkul ye jo ped dikh ra hai iske aage"

Somehow I was hesitant to believe him because we have had similar situation in which we were told about the distance to a place to be x km, it actually turned out to be x+10km. However he was a local and was walking to his home so I started walking again thinking the top is not that far now. But after two mins I saw Aditya coming back, who was surprised that I was coming ahead. He told me that the top is still far from there and it will cost us lot of time if we go there. Although he had gone to the top and taken the pics, coming this far was enough for me. May be today was not the day or had we carried some water with us I would have walked to the top. Some pics of the top:

Well we came back to the rest house and asked for some water and by around 5pm we were on the bike riding back. Another suggestion is to ride on different bikes as it will make you move faster and will reduce the fatigue. We got back to our room in one hour before the dark. The route is beautiful and pleasing to the eye. After coming back we had some hot jalebi, momos and took a walk in the market till it was dinner time already. Long waiting at Sher-e-Punjab again but the good food here makes up for it. Tired enough by now, the only thing I could do was crash on the bed.

Next day we had clear plans. Leave for Tiger Falls in morning, come back and leave. Here I would advise to leave early in the morning for Tiger Falls as you will be able to reach the destination before everyone and can enjoy the place without any disturbance or crowd, also no photobombing. Tiger Falls again is about 23-24km with last 1.5km stretch as bad but fun off-roading after which you have to leave the bikes. Here are some pics and  a video of that last 1.5km stretch

We still wondered if we could take the bikes further but after talking to the kid in the tea stall there we came to know that bikes really can't go further and you have to walk. Again, the kid told us that the falls is just 250m walking distance away, which turned out to be almost double of that. As you trek along, you realize you are in pure unpolluted nature and it lifts your mood.

You really can't see the falls until you actually reach the point, so that's why the title.

It's truly an amazing work of nature. The sight of water flowing from such a height charges you instantly while you admire the beauty of it. Although I am sure the water flow would be much stronger during reason, it was not that bad either. I wasted no time to take a dip in the water which was very cold! This place is a must visit.

Anyways, keeping a check on time we had breakfast in the hut right adjacent to the falls and started back which was faster compared to yesterday since we were on different bikes. After we came back to room and packed our bags, we were ready to leave by 11:20am and started riding. The return route is the same till Herbertpur after which you have to take the right towards Paonta Sahib (if you plan to visit it!). 

While riding back some 40 Km from Chakrata, you go through a town called Kalsi some 10 km before Vikasnagar and Aditya was constantly arguing with me to stop here to visit the Ashoka's Rock. As we were short of time I said no. However as we were passing slowly through crowded Kasli main market, Aditya asked me to stop as he saw a sign board on left stating the Ashoka Rock turn. I stopped and asked him to confirm from the on lookers who were looking at us in amusement that how far exactly we have to go from this left turn inside. As he was already feeling excited that we could visit it so he asked two different people loudly so as to make me hear over the bluetooth. The Ashoka rock is just 100 meters left turn from Kalsi Main market. It's one of the 14 Major Rock which were the first and most impressive, concerned with practical instructions in running a kingdom such as the design of irrigation systems and descriptions of Ashoka's beliefs in peaceful moral behavior. They contain little personal detail about his life.We quickly made a stop over, clicked pictures and was back on road to Ponta Sahib.

 By the time we reached Paonta Sahib it became very hot. As usual I was not interested in going inside so I waited in the gurudwara while Aditya went and offered his prayers.

After that a quick lunch in one of the restaurants nearby and we got ready again. What came next surprised both of us.

The road from Paonta Sahib to Yamuna Nagar is a long and straight stretch of beautiful tarmac which was extremely enjoyable to ride. Again the trees took care of the heat for this stretch and this gave us a good average speed while riding here. As you can see on the map, after Ladwa you have to take the left to reach Karnal and join the GT-Karnal road after that. We stopped again somewhere after Karnal for refreshments. One of the guys told us that he had seen us yesterday also on road and today he's also driving back. Good to get noticed lol.

Thankfully we faced no traffic jam while entering Delhi and I reached Gurgaon at 7pm.

This trip was longer and tougher than expected but sometimes you take back a much better experience to remember. Do visit this place, especially for Tiger Falls.

Total distance: 841km (Gurgaon)

Fuel: Rs. 2370 (Duke 390)
Food: Rs. 1325 for two. Rs. 662 per head
Accomodation: Rs. 400/head
Total expenses: Rs. 3432 per head
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