While Google Map says it’s merely a five hour ride, the road condition and stop overs will easily make this trip six hours one way
It’s often said that a road trip strengthens your bonds with loved ones. The crux of a road trip lies in spontaneity. But that being said, a well-planned road trip works the best because most of your doubts sorted beforehand.
One fine Friday morning, we pushed the gas pedal and landed at Jim Corbett National Park. The oldest national park in India lies six and a half hours away from Delhi. While Google Map says it’s merely a five hour ride, the road condition and stop overs will easily make this trip six hours one way. Besides there are a few points where you will definitely encounter a slow traffic, which may increase the driving hour.
Starting at the right time
It was early February and the infamous winter fog of North India has bid farewell, which gave us enough confidence to start early. We started from Noida at 5:30 in the morning. The target was to start by 5AM, but when seven people decide to go together there ought to be a delay. Thankfully ours was just half an hour.
There are three ways to reach Jim Corbett National Park. These are of 282 kilometres, 274 kilometres and 253 kilometres respectively. We had decided to take the last route, which takes much lesser time not because of less distance but also this route consists mostly of highways. However there are a couple of tolls in the route. You will need to shell out Rs 150 one way for tolls. This route runs through Ghaziabad, Dasna, Chaituli, Sikhera, Garhmukteswar, Gajraula, Joya, Moradabad, Kashipur, Basai, Ramnagar before reaching JimCorbett area. Every morning there is a terrific traffic jam at Hapur, thanks to its wholesale market where truckers park on the road. However this route bypasses Hapur.
On the way
It was still dark when we manoeuvred through Ghaziabad and hit the highway. The stretch till Hapur through NH 9 has some construction going on and you can’t drive above 50 km/h no matter how light the traffic is. Once you reach the Hapur Bypass road, you will suddenly see the road getting wider and you can push the throttle hard. And this is where we traced the first streak of sunlight on the eastern sky. There is a speed limit of 60km/h on this road. At exactly 110 kilometres after starting we were at Gajraula on NH 24 where we found a great range of options for breakfast. There were Bikanervala, McDonalds, Burger King, Haveli and many more. All these places have hygienic toilet facilities. So this should be your first stop. However you won’t find any roadside dhaba til Moradabad if you want the yesteryears charm. Don’t rush when you eat your breakfast. This is a part of the journey and relax as much as you can.
Your next stop should be Peerumadar after Kashipur, where you will find roadside eateries. These are again good options to take a break. There are a few tea stalls with charpai where you can have tea and relax. This area is just at the beginning of Uttrakhand and you can smell the jungle already.
After Moradabad, the highway becomes a two lane one and you need to stay cautious. The stretch from Kashipur to Ramnagar isn’t a very smooth ride. Earlier it used to be horrible, but it’s better now. And as we reached Ramnagar, the traffic jam began. To reach Jim Corbett you won’t be driving in Ramnagar for long, but the narrow lanes will eat your time. As you cross Ramnagar and proceed towards your stay, you would suddenly encounter serpentine roads leading to the hills.
Stay attentive, you might be able to see a deer or wolf by the road. Luckier ones can trace tiger as well! Kidding! There are lot of deer that can be traced but nothing else. If you are driving in the monsoon, be cautious, a lot of times rain in the Himalayas come down on the road as small stream.
Choosing the right car
The most crucial aspect of a road trip is choosing the right car. When you have to drive for six hours, you need a sturdy car with lot of safety options. For us, we drove a Toyota Innova Touring Sport Automatic, which came with six airbags plus a driver side knee air bag and ABS braking system. Touring Sport delivered a fuel economy of 15 Kilometres in a litre of diesel. The whole journey of 550 kilometres should ideally cost Rs 2400.
In case you need to refuel your car, you would gas stations every 20 -30 kilometres. However at some points these are located at an interval of 10 kilometres as well. In case you have other car issues, it’s a bit difficult since there are not many repair shops on the way. You would find decent workshops at Hapur, Gajraula, Garmukteswar, Moradabad and Kashipur only. For toiler breaks, gas stations are the best.
Jim Corbett is quite touristy for stay matter. There are tons of options from motel to five star resort. We opted for one at Dhikuli, which is near to most forest gates. Le Reserve Corbett, where we stayed is a luxury one with reasonable pricing. The Jungle Cottages are priced around Rs 7000 per night on most travel booking sites. They have quite good food options and the best part is the chef is a local villager so you can taste traditional dishes of Uttarakhand. The Kosi River is just a 5 minute walk from this resort and you can cross the river walking for an exotic experience with fishes tickling your feet.