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To the ski slopes of Auli

Shivendra Pratap Chaturvedi, Anurag Pandey, Chetan Pandey, Shafi-Ur Rahman and Sajal Ghosh of Ashok Leyland, Pantnagar, rode to Auli in the Himalayas on their mean machines and came back with memories to last a life time

Auli is a ski destination in the Himalayan mountains of Uttarakhand and we had planned our ride a couple of months ago keeping in mind the upcoming winter sports season on the slopes of Auli. We decided to leave on the night of February 12 from Haldwani - our excitement was palpable. It was freezing outside and fog added to the risk factor in riding. We could only go as fast as 40 kms / hour and it took us almost two hours to reach Bhowali, our first stop on the trip. Auli was still another 320 kms away!

Day 1: We started at 7 am from Bhowali but just 7 kms later, Chetan's bike broke down. Three hours later, having lost valuable ride time, we were on our way again. We took smaller stops and made our way to Joshimath by 10 pm, which is the base towards Auli. As the roads were blocked due to snowfall and with no other choice we closed the day in Joshimath after a pleasant dinner and a walk on its empty roads.

Day 2: Joshimath to Auli is just 16 kms - a 30 minutes jeep ride away. But snowfall meant the roads were closed. So we decided to trek across the coniferous and oak forests, across a completely white landscape. Thanks to our guide we were able to adapt in the climate and make our way across a breathtaking panoramic view of lofty peaks. We reached Auli by 11 am, checked in, and filled our stomachs with that most popular dish in the North - 2 Minutes Maggi!

Now, it was time to fulfil our dream - go skiing! We hired snow suits shoes and booked the ski-lift to take us up to the ski point. Unfortunately, we missed a ride on Asia's longest - 4 kms - cable car due to a mechanical problem. We hired ski equipment and took an hour's basic training which was sufficient enough to make us believe we were pros! After five hours of skiing we closed the day with 2 kms trek to our hotel.

Day 3: with day time temperatures in Auli at -10 degrees Celsius and 24 hours of snowfall, there was not much to do. We said bye to Auli and trekked our way to Joshimath, where we visited Badri Narayan. As a ritual, when reaching Badrinath becomes impossible, they bring the symbolic Badri Narayan to Joshimath.

Day 4: We left Joshimath on our bikes but the extreme cold made riding difficult. In the first half of the day, we were able to cover only 80 kms in about six hours. But experience always gives you confidence and helped us cover 280 kms in the next seven hours, despite the hairpin bends, where you can't make faults.

Our four day bike ride to Auli and back was filled with thrills, nature, devotion and the joy of biking at the foot of the Himalayas! What more can one ask for?

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