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Old 2nd May 2011, 18:16   #1
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Default A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

When we first identified Rohru and Chanshal Pass as the destination for our next trip, we were quite certain that we wouldn’t find any better than basic accommodation in the region, and were even willing to camp a night or two. However, I then remembered that I’d read about the Dwarika Residency on one of the threads on an online forum, and thus passed on this info to Aarti. Always the first one to find out more about good places to stay, she promptly Googled it, and voila! It looked as pretty as a picture on its website. The slightly higher tariff, though a problem usually, was okay for this trip as it was a short one, and more so because we had a personal milestone coinciding with it.

Before I knew it, Aarti had booked the place for three nights, and we were all set by mid-March for our end-of-April trip. The next task was to find out more about the region, which I did so, though only a few days before the trip. So the Chanshal Pass was obviously on the itinerary, although we were a bit skeptical on it being open, and then there was the Giri Ganga temple which looked good from an online forum's post. A few other options included driving up till Tikkar village and also trying out the road till Sarahan, apart from our usual enthu to off-road on the banks of a river (Pabbar on this trip).

The travellers: Aarti & Harsh
The machine: Our very own wild a$$ - Tata Safari 4x4, we call it Kiyang

Day 1: New Delhi - Ambala - Solan - Chail - Kufri - Theog - Kharapatthar - Shelapani: 480 kms(15 hours)

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50081.jpg
Sunset near Kharapatthar

Day 2: Shelapani - Rohru - Chansal pass (almost) - Rohru - Shelapani: 160kms(10.5 hours)

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5105.jpg
Had to take a U-turn 8 kms shy of Chanshal pass

Day 3 (morning): Shelapani - Offroading - Shelapani : 5 kms (2 hours)

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5106.jpg
An early morning off-roading session (4L action)

Day 3 (afternoon): Shelapani - Kharapatthar - Giriganga Temple - Kharapatthar - Shelapani: 42kms(6 hours)

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5183.jpg
A shot of the Dwarika residency

Day 4: Shelapani - Theog - Shimla - Ambala - Delhi: 480kms (15 hours)


A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5193.jpg
Solan
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Old 2nd May 2011, 18:23   #2
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

I am surprised you did not stay at Rohru itself at HPTDC. Its a nice hotel!
As for driving times--- 15 hours! Looks like roads have gone from bad to worse!
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Old 3rd May 2011, 00:07   #3
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Default Day 1: New Delhi - Ambala - Solan - Chail - Kufri - Shelpani - Part 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
I am surprised you did not stay at Rohru itself at HPTDC. Its a nice hotel!
The occasion (personal milestone) required a resort type of an accommodation, hence Dwarika was the natural choice!

Continuing with the log
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
As usual, we left home by 4:30 am, expecting it to be a 12 hour journey, but it was not to be so for various reasons. The drive on NH-1 from Delhi to Ambala takes considerably more time these days due to the widening of the highway construction going on. A typical 3 hours drive has now been converted in to a 4 hour slog. We reached Ambala at 9:00 am after a pit-stop for breakfast at McDs.

Surprisingly, we did not get stuck on the highway from Ambala to Kalka, not even on the narrow roads of Pinjore and Parwanoo! Soon enough the winding path towards Shimla began, and with some clouds for company, it was a pleasant drive all the way till Dharampur, which was supposed to be our stop for an early lunch. Going by Mayur & Rocky’s (the hosts of the show ‘Highway on my Plate’) suggestions, we stopped at Giani Da Dhaba for a fantastic lunch of lemon chicken and garlic naan. I’d thought of taking a snap of the dish, but sadly could not control myself and finished it off in a jiffy!

We reached Solan around 1 pm, and thinking we were doing good on time, decided to take the more picturesque but longer (in terms of time) route through Chail to Kufri, instead of the crowded NH 22. The pine-lined, narrow winding road towards Chail was pleasant to drive on and gave a lot of photo opportunities. With all the time on our hands, we meandered slowly towards Kufri. A pleasant snow-shower later, we managed to reach the ugly highway back by 3:30pm. It had taken us 11 hours so far, and we were still about 70km away from our destination.


A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49431.jpg
A beauty shot of Kiyang till it's still clean

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49531.jpg
A lovely place to have lunch, near Sadhupul.

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49551.jpg
A cute dog, which was happy to see us (and likewise)

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49571.jpg
A haunted mansion near Sadhupul where we had taken shelter some years back, for a night

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49621.jpg
Satsang Beas: ever wondered what that is?

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49711.jpg
A new born pine cone

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49721.jpg
Lovely colors

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49751.jpg
A beautifully located house

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49791.jpg
An angry monkey

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49811.jpg
Which really did not prefer to be shot

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49831.jpg
Lovely pine-lined roads beyond Chail

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49891.jpg
New vistas opened up atop the ridge

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49961.jpg
And then there was sleet!

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_49971.jpg
With a bit of snow in it

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50021.jpg
Vistas from Kufri-Theog highway (or NH-22)

We’d assumed that there would be a reasonably good highway till Kharapatthar from here onwards. Unfortunately, that was a gross underestimation of the ‘bad roads’ we’d read about from Theog to Kharapatthar. Work on four-laning the road from Theog to Rohru has been on since four years, and will still take another year or two. Hardly tarred and full of potholes, the road is a nightmare, especially if you’ve already driven for 11 hours. Anyway, it took us a good three hours to reach from Theog to Mandhol, a village 7 kms away from Kharapatthar, and another 20 minutes to cover the 1.5 km jungle track from Mandhol to the Dwarika Residency estate. We finally managed to reach the place by 7:30 pm, thus making it a 15 hour drive in all, longer than what it takes to get to Manali from Delhi, and we were thoroughly exhausted.


A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50081.jpg
A beautiful sunset just before Kharapatthar

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50131.jpg
Sun setting over Kuppar slopes
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Old 3rd May 2011, 09:58   #4
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Default Day 1: New Delhi - Ambala - Solan - Chail - Kufri - Shelpani - Part 2

When we saw the estate, all our tiredness seemingly faded away in an instant! It looked even prettier than it had on the website, and we knew at that moment that the weekend would be lovely.

Sudhir Khimta, the owner of Dwarika, was waiting for us, and after quickly freshening up, we had a cup of tea with him. I had especially taken a bottle of cognac to enjoy up there where it’s still cold even during the summer months. We then explored the lovely house, and Aarti, as was expected, was first thrilled at the prospect of spending the weekend at the house, and then got depressed at the thought that she may never own such a pretty house!

The house, and the estate, is indeed lovely. After a 1.5 km drive through a beautiful pine forest on a jungle path, which, in the rains, would definitely become an only 4x4 track, you end up in a small parking lot. From there, it is a 2 minute walk through an apple orchard to the house. With the typical sloped roof, the contemporary looking house with a stoned path leading up to it and a pretty fence around it looks like a toy house in a fairy tale. The location too is perfect, on the edge of a hill, with a wonderful view of the Pabbar valley below, and the mighty snow-capped Himalayas in the distance. The lights from Rohru at night give the place a surreal feeling. The house itself has four rooms, and a very charming living room, complete with a fire place, and a library corner. Soft, soothing music plays in the background always, making the place a perfect getaway from work.


A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50161.jpg
The view of the drawing room and the small dining area

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50181.jpg
The view from the drawing room towards the entrance

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50201.jpg
A small cozy living/reading area, just besides the stairs

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50211.jpg
The stairs that climbed up to our room

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50231.jpg
The drawing room

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50251.jpg
Fixtures/Items in the room

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50301.jpg
The dining area for four.

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50331.jpg
Some miniatures lying around.

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50351.jpg
A well stocked Kitchen

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_50381.jpg
A nice cozy fireplace

After a good Indian dinner, made by the ever-smiling Vikram and his assistant Vinod, we retired for the night with a smile on our faces.
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Old 3rd May 2011, 09:58   #5
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Harsh nice start. We too did a Narkhanda trip mid march and return was through kufri - Chail (MDR 8). Winding roads with less traffic. Sadhu pul was as nice stop over. We took our safari down and spent around 1 hr there. Kids liked this spot. We didnt find these table chairs at that time there.
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Old 3rd May 2011, 18:37   #6
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Awesome start Harsh. Loved the photographs and specially that Pine Tree covered road. Can you also post a map of the route you've taken?
Also the Dwarika Residency looks to be in a really beautiful surrounding. Can you please post the links and tariffs. And how many guests can this place accommodate at a time?
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Old 4th May 2011, 11:20   #7
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by v&v View Post
We didnt find these table chairs at that time there.
Thanks vinod. I think these tables & chairs are more of a temp arrangement. Definitely must be illegal IMHO.

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Originally Posted by kaushik_s View Post
Can you also post a map of the route you've taken?
Also the Dwarika Residency looks to be in a really beautiful surrounding. Can you please post the links and tariffs. And how many guests can this place accommodate at a time?
Sadly i do not have a map of the route, will a GPS track do? You can find more details of the Dwarika residency here.

Continuing with the log
Day 2: Shelapani - Rohru - Chansal pass (almost) - Shelapani: 160kms - Part 1

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
We’d planned to wake up early the next day to catch the sunrise, and also push off early for our day-trip to Chanshal, but plans on a vacation are just as stable as the government of Pakistan! All thanks to a tiring drive and a few pegs of cognac the previous evening, we got gloriously late in leaving. After an ordinary breakfast at Dwarika (it was not bad, we’ve just been spoilt by the likes of Johnson’s Lodge in Manali and Raju’s Cottage in Gushaini), we finally got our act together and started moving towards Chanshal by about 10:15am.


A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5041.jpg
A view from our balcony at Dwarika

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5043.jpg
Another shot from the same balcony at about 8:30am. These peaks must be towards Sarahan.

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5047.jpg
The beautiful Dwarika residency.

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5049.jpg
A 2 min walk gentle walk from parking lot through the apple orchards leads one to Dwarika

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5050.jpg
Framed!

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5051.jpg
Fencing done was also done with a certain panache. The peaks beyond are towards Sangla

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5053.jpg
Some pitunias in the garden

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5063.jpg
Abstract

We took the direct route towards Rohru through a track on the hill. Though narrow and hardly tarred, this road was much better than either the Theog – Kharapatthar or the Kharapatthar – Hatkoti – Rohru route. A word of advice to those who intend to travel to Rohru – after Kharapatthar, take the narrow direct road towards Patsari village instead of going through Hatkoti. The 35 odd kms to Rohru took a bit more than an hour and a half, of which the worst part was from Patsari, on the banks of the Pabbar River, till Rohru.


A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5064.jpg
View towards Rohru on the drive down towards Pabbar

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5065.jpg
The view of Rohru town on it's approach

A huge “mela” in the middle of Rohru town ensured that we got further delayed in our progress, and it was only about an hour later that we managed to cross the river to begin our climb towards the village Larot. The road from Rohru stays on the right bank of the Pabbar River until one climbs at the end of the road to a non-descript village after Chirgaon. The road from here is non-tarmaced, narrow and terrible, and one crawls from here on towards Chanshal in the super-frustrating first gear. We knew, even before we had begun the climb, that the pass was not open yet (as several locals had mentioned it), but given our past experiences with locals and their knowledge about “opening” and “closing” of places, we decided to try our luck.


A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5068.jpg
Watch-out for these boxes in the next edition, the drive towards Chirgaon

To be honest, the climb till the village Larot is actually quite mundane apart from a couple of nice views of the majestic peaks around. Or maybe it was the cruel afternoon sun and dust, coupled with the nightmarish road, which made the drive quite humdrum. I mean I don’t mind off-roading, but I’ve never loved Rohtang either.


A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5070.jpg
Somewhere above is Saar tal

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5073.jpg
The ridiculous climb towards Chanshal

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5074.jpg
This was one of the better patches

Beyond Larot, a thick pine forest welcomed us, which was the only saving grace of the drive towards Chanshal. The kaccha road through the pine forest was refreshingly beautiful. On a turn, I braked suddenly seeing some uneven road up ahead, and my heart sank. The brake pedal touched the floor, which could only mean one thing – the brake fluid was leaking, AGAIN! I immediately parked the car, and asked Aarti to press the brake while I inspected underneath, and my worst fears were confirmed. Kiyang was indeed leaking brake fluid again, and again it was on a climb. It had been fixed once last year in July (Ladakh log), and once more sometime in Feb. 2011. I kicked myself for not carrying the right sized spanner and some washers, but was thankfully prepared with plenty of spare brake fluid. We decided to trudge a little more carefully from that point on, and not to take any undue risks, such as putting on snow chains, as we’d earlier planned.


A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5079.jpg
Dense pine forests are a perfect spot for a break

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5083.jpg
Snow!

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5084.jpg
Patches like these were crossed

Finally, at about 2:30 pm, after crossing a couple of snow patches on the road, we came across a patch which was difficult to maneuver without snow chains. I tried walking on the snow patch, and it was rock solid, the tyre ruts created by the dozer deep. The hard ice would’ve hit just about near the leaking brake washer. I walked a bit, and found that the dozer was parked just up ahead on another bend, which meant that this would be the end of the road for us as far as Chanshal was concerned. We tried crossing the patch once without the snow chains, but soon realized that we couldn’t do it without further damaging the washers. Thus, with a heavy heart, we decided to take a U-turn and head back towards Rohru to get the brakes repaired.


A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5086.jpg
The dead-end

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5090.jpg
Tried taking Kiyang in a manner, so that the deep rut was avoided.

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5092.jpg
Obviously, traction was hardly there without them snow chains. So got back in the rut

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5103.jpg
Hard ice hitting Kiyang at it's weakest point

A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011-dsc_5105.jpg
Decided to give up and head back
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Old 4th May 2011, 20:41   #8
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Yes Sir, GPS track would do and will check the link too. Those early morning photographs are just amazing, as if calling me to get down on the road and head down there. Lovely place.
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Old 4th May 2011, 23:35   #9
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Wow! That's a very nice log as Harsh and the photos are awesome! Just one query. What was the tariff at Dwarika? A very fine place to stay and the surrounding views look amazing!
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Old 4th May 2011, 23:53   #10
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Brilliant triplog, nice pictures - out of the world vistas, what can one ask for.

You've given me enough reason to (finally) get the skid plate installed for the 2012 season

Edit: which dSLR? A Nikon IIRC, no?

Last edited by phamilyman : 4th May 2011 at 23:57.
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Old 5th May 2011, 12:01   #11
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Great travel and travelogue too....
Pls advice me Harsh:
We are planning a trip to Naini, Almora in mid-June.
If we follow your footsteps to same route but on an INNOVA, upto where can we reach? (I am not confident till end, with Innova, though there wont be much ice mid-June...)
Please advice...
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Old 5th May 2011, 12:14   #12
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Hey Harsh, way to go mate! And join the gang of explorers whom the Chansal Pass has shown the backdoor. I'd tried getting to it in my Maruti Esteem, way back in 2007 and had royally gotten the car stuck in snow. Anyway, enough reminiscence, please continue with the stories and sights.

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You've given me enough reason to (finally) get the skid plate installed for the 2012 season
Kya baat kar rahe ho, abhi tak nahin! Lazy boy.
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Old 5th May 2011, 13:43   #13
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Chansal is a tricky pass.
The reason for this is that this can be blocked due to multiple reasons
1. Weather
2. Wood smuggling mafia
3. Religious stuff

For example, when we went, we pushed the indica over ice patches.
No issues.
But then came to a log in the center of the road.
Apparently, villagers sometimes block the road when they fear Chansal devi is angry.

Probably in 2009 or 2010 some ceremony was held to appease the deity, and hopefully, weather will be the only problem, if any.

There are some nice waterfalls around, though.
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Old 5th May 2011, 20:30   #14
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by KwokFist View Post
Wow! That's a very nice log as Harsh and the photos are awesome! Just one query. What was the tariff at Dwarika? A very fine place to stay and the surrounding views look amazing!
Hey Kyok. Thanks.
We got a discounted price of 2700 bucks a night including breakfast and dinner for the two of us. It indeed is a brilliant place with some excellent view. The altitude helps keep the place a little cooler than Rohru/Hatkoti.

Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Brilliant triplog, nice pictures - out of the world vistas, what can one ask for.

You've given me enough reason to (finally) get the skid plate installed for the 2012 season

Edit: which dSLR? A Nikon IIRC, no?
Get the skid plate boss, get it for the 2011 season, why wait till 2012!
Well you guess right, got a Nikon D3000 dunno what IIRC stands for though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunney View Post
Great travel and travelogue too....
Pls advice me Harsh:
We are planning a trip to Naini, Almora in mid-June.
If we follow your footsteps to same route but on an INNOVA, upto where can we reach? (I am not confident till end, with Innova, though there wont be much ice mid-June...)
Please advice...
Hey Sunney, you are barking up the completely wrong tree! Pabbar valley is in HP, you want to head towards Kumaon, Uttarakhand! Naini, Almora in mid-June, forget about snow either on the road or on any adjoining hills. Yes the peaks will be snow covered, but they always are!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Hey Harsh, way to go mate! And join the gang of explorers whom the Chansal Pass has shown the backdoor. I'd tried getting to it in my Maruti Esteem, way back in 2007 and had royally gotten the car stuck in snow. Anyway, enough reminiscence, please continue with the stories and sights.
Thanks buddy. Chanshal, it seems has sent many back! The climb itself is Rohtangish, which i personally do not like. Pretty decent altitude though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Chansal is a tricky pass.
The reason for this is that this can be blocked due to multiple reasons
1. Weather
2. Wood smuggling mafia
3. Religious stuff

For example, when we went, we pushed the indica over ice patches.
No issues.
But then came to a log in the center of the road.
Apparently, villagers sometimes block the road when they fear Chansal devi is angry.

Probably in 2009 or 2010 some ceremony was held to appease the deity, and hopefully, weather will be the only problem, if any.

There are some nice waterfalls around, though.
Yeah i remember your log and "the log" in your log. Wow! Did that just rhyme?
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Old 6th May 2011, 11:42   #15
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Default Re: A drive to Pabbar valley & Chanshal: Spring break 2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Chansal is a tricky pass.
The reason for this is that this can be blocked due to multiple reasons
1. Weather
2. Wood smuggling mafia
3. Religious stuff
Band on target mate! Next time I am carrying these with me.

1. Heavy duty Chainsaw
2. Plenty of religious flags on the car, maybe a Photo of some great Baba stuck to the car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vardhan.harsh View Post
Thanks buddy. Chanshal, it seems has sent many back! The climb itself is Rohtangish, which i personally do not like. Pretty decent altitude though!
You're welcome mate. And add to that the desolation while heading towards the pass, it's exhilarating! Hey, did you get to check the status of the road that was being built to connect Rohru to Dodra Kwar in Chansal Valley? I've seen some pics of the vistas beyond Chansal pass and the views are amazing.
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