My Travelogues....

A Lifetime Travel...

02-June-2009 : I had returned to Chennai after the completion of Ajman Bank project. The day I landed, the first thing I did was to book tickets for me and my parents for a trip to Manali. I had already been to Manali once, with my brother. During that trip, I had decided that as soon as I get sufficient funds, I should take my parents there. After 3 years of wait, finally I could manage the required funds (Thanks to Ajman project per-diem). All the arrangements were done and we were ready to start the trip on June 6th. It was only me and my parents. The only worrying factor was that both of them were 60+ (67 and 62 respectively). I was just praying that there is no mishap

08-June-2009: We reached Manali. June is the beginning of the summer in the Himalayas. That's the period when the snow starts melting, the roads get cleared for transportation, the meadows start appearing. June till September is the period where you will have access to most of the hill area. The rest of the 9 months due to snow, most of the place will be unreachable. I was just hoping that there was enough snow in Manali to keep my parents excited. Afterall, thats what they had come to see. However, to our disappointment Manali was very clear. No snow surrounded hills. Just a few of them far off. The weather as such was also not bone-biting cold. One could walk without the services of sweater. It was tolerable chillness. The areas which were earlier filled with snow (during my visit with brother) were all green coated hills now. But the good news this time was Rohtang pass was open !! During my last visit me and my brother could not drive upto the Rohtang pass since the road was closed due to heavy snow-fill. This time, the road was open for visitors and that meant, the route all the way to Leh was also clear !!!! First day, we finished all the local sight seeing.

09-June-2009: We set out to Manikaran which has a natural hot springs. On the way, we noticed that 'River-rafting' was open in the Beas river. This was one more fun which me and my brother had missed because the river was half-frozen. I didn't want to missout on the opportunity this time. I checked with the adventure sports incharge whether it is advisable to take my parents. Upon the first glance of my father, he ruled him out saying that its too dangerous for him to get into the river. Second was my mother. She already had a troublesome spinal and had to undergo physiotherapy. But she is not the kind of person to let go off of something as exciting as a river-rafting. She loves travelling, loves adventure. It was obvious from her face that she was hoping that I would say yes to take her. The adventure sports incharge left the decision to me saying 'If you want to take a chance, go ahead take her'. And I did take a chance, felt she is capable enough to survive this. So we geared up for the big ride. After decorating ourselves with all the safety jackets and helmets we set out to get into the boat. After an instruction session of what to do and what not to do, we got in. We were told in prior that the ride will be very bumpy and holding onto the rope is the only way to stay inside the boat. I just looked at my mother, she gave a reassuring smile indicating that she can manage. The ride started, we will be covering close to 7 kms by river it seems. On the way there will be places of sudden dip or a fall, the boatsman told us. The river water was freezing cold as it gushed in everytime the boat bumped against a boulder. It was like driving in one of the worst chennai roads in a bike without shock-absorbers. But it was real fun and exciting. There was a particular point in the river, where it was a vertical fall. A huge wave of the river water hit us, causing the boat to tilt and bump precariously. Thankfully, the boatsman were trained enough to steer through all these. Finally we made it to the shore. It was an unforgettable little journey.

River-Rafting in Beas

10-June-2009: We started off to Rohtang pass. We had to start off as early as 4 o clock, reason being, the late you go, the more you will be stuck up in traffic midway in the mountains. There were quite a number of tourists and Rohtang is a prime location for Manali visitors. Sometimes the traffic jam in the mountains can be as big as 7 kms of continuous cars lined up. Once we were half-way up, we could start sighting the snow-clad mountains. The further we drove, the more we saw them. Finally we reached the spot. It was biting cold and the strong breeze added to the grief. We found it very tough to manage the first half-an hour, after which we got acclimatised. Infact once we started climbing the hill, by foot we started sweating. Since my father cannot climb the hills, we made him to wait inside the car. Me and my mother proceeded to the top. It was an awesome sight. All four sides filled with snow, the scenery was beyond words. I didn't want my father to miss all the gifts of nature. Hence we came down and arranged for a cart pusher. My mother also joined him. Together they were pushed and taken to the hilltop, to a vantage point where the view was breathtaking. We spent a couple of hours and started our way back.

Route to Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass

After returning from Rohtang, I was thinking what next. We didnt have anyother place to visit. We had seen everything in and around. We still had two more days to spend since our bus back to shimla was booked for 13th June evening. So I was just walking around the Mall street enquiring few tourist operators on whether there was anyother worthy place to visit nearby. It was all negative. Thats when the idea struck me. LEH...... I thought of taking my parents to Leh. Although my dream has been to make it to Leh by bike, still when I had close to two full days, I thought I will catch a glimpse of the place first. I checked with the tour operators. They said, there are public transportation available, but it will take close to two days to reach Leh since they will be camping at a place for the night (halfway) and then only proceed. That meant I would need atleast 3 full days even if am going to just touch leh and come back. The cost, if we take a private cab is close to Rs 20k for up and down travel. Also the back-breaking journey will be too much of an ask for my parents to undergo. Considering all this, I had to drop the idea. As I was wondering what next to do, a person approached me. He said he owns a private cab and that he will be able to take me to Sarchu and return back to Manali sameday, all for a mere 8000 bucks. Sarchu is a place which is half-way en-route to Leh. He convinced me saying that the drive through Manali to Sarchu will be a lifetime experience. But he warned me saying that the height en-route will be close to 16000 feet, where air will be so thin that oxygen intake can be a difficulty. He further added that taking old people there is risky. That made me thoughtful. Also one more concern was, the same drive option when I checked with a local cab, he said it will cost 15000 since it is a same-day drive up and down. I had my own doubts since this guy is offering me the service at almost half the price, that too voluntarily. But the temptation to visit Sarchu was too much, hence I struck the deal, on the condition that the payment will be made only after returning to Manali. He said that the cab will be waiting for me at next day morning 5 o clock

11-June-2009 : The clock struck 5. Me and my parents were all ready. I was still doubtful on whether this guy will really turn up. To my surprise, he was there, at our hotel doorstep, waiting with the cab. Feeling excited, we stepped in. It was the same Rohtang pass route again (To reach Leh, one has to pass through Rohtang). We could see all the visitors anxiously lined up in cars in Rohtang. We travelled past them. After almost 4 hrs of drive from Manali, the landscape suddenly changed. We were well past the Rohtang. The landscape after Rohtang is something only the following snaps can explain. It was like doorstep to paradise. For a moment, I didn't know how to react. Witnessing nature's pristine beauty at such a proximity was a feeling beyond words. And to realise that such places exist in our own country, made me feel even more elated.

Gateway to Paradise !!!

The journey beyond that was something.... what to say.. as the cab operator told, it was a lifetime experience. No tall building, no honking traffic, no mobile ringing, no irritating city life... It was just the silence of nature. The majestic Himalayas standing tall in front of me, like a vanilla ice cream, topped with some chocolate dip. We were at such a height that we could see the eagles flying deep below us in the valley !!! The mountains, separated by running river stream........ what a sight it was. Now I realised why we call our nation INCREDIBLE INDIA.......Incredible it was indeed. There is a saying "a picture is worth thousand words". The below pictures speak for themselves

The heavenly route near Baralacha La !!!. Altitude of over 16000 feet (This entire route is a two way)

Indian Army Camp

Army Convoy carrying supplies

Frozen River (This runs all the way to Pakistan. I think the river name is Tsarap)

The Vanilla ice-cream topped with Chocolate Dip (That's how the hills look...)

En-route to Sarchu, we saw a camp wherein food and snacks was served, at a very very nominal cost (A meal was just Rs30 I think). We were amazed to see a shop somewhere in the middle of this area, where it is nothing but mountains and snow. Literally we couldnt find any inhabitation in that place. The camp shop is mainly for visitors who frequent this route during this season.

The Himalayan Dhaba - the camp where we had lunch and stayed over for the night

On reaching Sarchu, we stopped at a camp site. It was beautiful to see small camps on the foothills of the mountain. We had a cup of tea in the camp and made a U turn towards Manali.

The Sarchu Camp

Just near Baralacha la pass, there was an oncoming lorry which got stuck in the snow. Since the narrow road is a two way and the truck was stuck right in the middle of the road, the entire traffic on both sides became standstill. Soon all of us started digging out the snow, to clear the path. Close to a dozen of us were involved in the process with shovels in our hands. The shovels only got disassembled, the snow did not even budge. After a struggle of close to 5 hrs in clearing the path, we finally managed to relieve the truck. By this time, it became very dark and cold. During night times, the temperature reduces to minus few degrees in that region. Moreover breathing also became tough.

Traffic caused by Snow-boulders

Lorry stuck-up in the Snow

After the traffic got cleared we managed to start our journey back. At around midnight the driver could not proceed any further, he suggested that we stayed back for the night in the nearby camp which was by the hillside (The same place where we had our lunch earlier). The accomodation cost per person is Rs 100. They provide you with couple of rugs, bed and a decent space. Despite all this, the chillness was unbearable. I could not sleep even for a minute. Whole night I was shivering, unable to withstand the cold. To add to this, the choking feeling because of less oxygen added to my trouble. Finally at around 4 o clock early morning, I couldnt bear the cold anymore. I requested my mother to wake up the driver so that we can start our way back. The poor guy, was woken up. After a cup of coffee, he started the vehicle. As much as I enjoyed the ride coming into Sarchu, to that extent I was wishing to get back to Manali and hit the bed. The ride was back-breaking with all rocky routes. We were waiting to see plain region. Surprisingly my father, aged 67, looked thoroughly normal, with no sign of tiredness. It was me and my mother who fell ill, the moment we reached Manali.

After a couple of hours rest we caught the bus to Delhi. The journey to Delhi was close to 17 hrs. It added to the tally of an already tiresome and continuous travel of close to 24 hrs (Manali-Sarchu-Manali). Imagine the toll it took on our spinal chord. But all this pain and continuous travel is worth the experience which we had had. It was a heavy and tiresome travel, especially on the last couple of days. But without that we would have never got an opportunity to see such wonderful places.


Swathi said...

I must say your travelogue is the best .I love reading your travelogue.You share your travel experience in a beautiful way.Thank you for sharing it. Chennai to Coimbatore bus

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A guy who loves travelling. A person who has a nomadic and indifferent approach towards life. One who oscillates between being an extrovert and introvert, depending on the mood-swings.

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