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Old 18th May 2011, 09:56   #16
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

Hi,

This looks like a very interesting TL as you are using a Swift to go to the last village in India. Waiting for more information on the route and of course more pics. Cheers.
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Old 18th May 2011, 10:24   #17
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

Vikram, just mindblowing pics to start with.
Surely as somebody said before, pic 9 deserves its place on the wall. Fantastic journey it would have been.
Need the complete story soon and fast and as already others have warned you , don't even think of getting lazy and abandoning the travelogue.
And this journey on a swift!!!! where are those people who used cry about it's low GC??
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Old 18th May 2011, 10:48   #18
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

Post deleted by the Team-BHP Support : Please do NOT post one-liners that add little or no informational value to the thread. We need your co-operation to maintain the overall quality of this forum.

Please read our rules before proceeding any further.

Last edited by GTO : 18th May 2011 at 15:05.
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Old 18th May 2011, 10:55   #19
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

A trip to the Last Village of India, the title itself was exciting and more exciting were the mere sight of the scenic beauty captured by you on lens. Keep them coming Vikram and dare you abandon this mid-way through and leave us in lurch.
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Old 18th May 2011, 11:06   #20
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

Nice pics , love the bright sun and snow glowing, the rivers flowing at full tilt mixed with the Redbull Pakodas

Which month was this trip experienced in?
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Old 18th May 2011, 11:47   #21
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

Amazing pictures!Some of them are real gems,could you please share details of your stay as well(cost,name of the place etc).Thanx
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Old 18th May 2011, 11:53   #22
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

Great stuff Vikram. You just started your travelogue and you already have us on our toes hitting F5 F5 F5. Awesome!!! Come on, you need to finish it asap

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
I just can't get to understand the amount of places one can visit in India. There is simply no dearth of locations for a road trip.
Well said!! This is truly Incredible India
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:03   #23
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Thanks all for your kind words. I am still writing Day 1 and should be ready by tomorrow or day after. As done earlier, my thanks and responses are in bold.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rk_sans View Post
@fine69,
Wow !! i do not have words to explain it.
You should frame the pic 9. Simply awesome pic.
Thanks, Pic 9 is one of my favs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sachinj12 View Post
I envy all you folks up in the north. Its a stone's throw away for you guys. This really ain't fair *sigh*.
Well it wasn't really a stone's throw away.
Brilliant photos,a bit more info on route and accommodations would be helpful
Sure, I'd try to post maximum details possible.
Quote:
Originally Posted by IQBAL VEERJI View Post
There is another LAST VILLAGE OF INDIA it is MANAin uttaranchal ,3 kms from Badrinath.
I have been going to Sri Hemkunt Sahib and Badrinath for the last 32 yrs, but unfortunately cannot make it to MANNA , Pls some one open a thread on this last village .. Regards.......
This is great, I'll find more info on this and probably visit this sometime.
Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Very well done - we want more - puraani yaadein taza ho gayi.
Thanks
Though i think the pics are overly processed. They are beautiful but processing has added a halo in the earlier pics which is unnecessary!
I don't know much about photo processing and the only thing done was Auto-correction of color and High Pass Filter effect. For some reason the pics look better in their original size, I had to resize them due to size (KB) constraint.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
Wow, nice pics. Brings back fond memories of Chitkul. Will surely go there again.
Thanks for sharing this. Eagerly awaiting the rest of the travelogue.
Thanks
Cheers,
Jay
Quote:
Originally Posted by parsh View Post
Great photo-travelogue fine69. Glad to see the Swift put thru such a helluva journey. The road after the landslide, pic 8, seems like a road to no-return. The snow-scapes are damn good as well, especially liked the one with your backs facing camera, pic 13. Do add more snaps and some write-up.
I was skeptic of taking our Swift (that too a diesel) up here but it didn't give us any problem whatsoever.
The pic after the landslide is an example of how blind the blind turns were and there were hundreds of them, more on that later.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sami316 View Post
Hi,

This looks like a very interesting TL as you are using a Swift to go to the last village in India. Waiting for more information on the route and of course more pics. Cheers.
Thanks
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordmanchau View Post
Vikram, just mindblowing pics to start with.
Surely as somebody said before, pic 9 deserves its place on the wall.
Thanks, my wife read this and believe it or not, this pic is getting enlarged and actually going on the wall.
Fantastic journey it would have been.
Need the complete story soon and fast and as already others have warned you , don't even think of getting lazy and abandoning the travelogue.
And this journey on a swift!!!! where are those people who used cry about it's low GC??
I'd definitely complete the travelogue.
Swift GC was adequate for this journey, though I experienced wheelspinning at one place but it was nothing serious.
Quote:
Originally Posted by srikanthpotluri View Post
nice pictures and cant wait for the complete log!!!! amazing start...
Thanks
Quote:
Originally Posted by traveloholic View Post
A trip to the Last Village of India, the title itself was exciting and more exciting were the mere sight of the scenic beauty captured by you on lens. Keep them coming Vikram and dare you abandon this mid-way through and leave us in lurch.
With the no. of warnings telling me not to abandon the travelogue I don't think I would, thanks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by absynthguzzler View Post
Nice pics , love the bright sun and snow glowing, the rivers flowing at full tilt mixed with the Redbull Pakodas

Which month was this trip experienced in?
Thanks, this was done last month, May, 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by ranjitp1 View Post
Amazing pictures!Some of them are real gems,could you please share details of your stay as well(cost,name of the place etc).Thanx
Thanks, I shall definitely be sharing all the details.
Quote:
Originally Posted by addyhemmige View Post
Great stuff Vikram. You just started your travelogue and you already have us on our toes hitting F5 F5 F5. Awesome!!! Come on, you need to finish it asap
Thanks, hope to finish this soon.
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:18   #24
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

Planning

The planning started just as usual - lying to my father that I'd be only going about 250-300 kms from Delhi (driving up to Shimla to halt for the night before I proceed to Narkanda, our final destination) and spending countless hours on t-bhp's travelogue/route queries section and other travel forums to figure out the actual itinerary - to Narkanda, Sangla & Chitkul. The itinerary was finalized as below:

Day 1 (22 Apr'11) - Delhi to Sarahan (stay at Bhimkali Temple Guesthouse, booking done)
Day 2 (23 Apr'11) - Sarahan to Sangla (stay at some hotel, no booking done)
Day 3 (24 Apr'11) - Sangla to Chitkul (stay at some hotel, no booking done)
Day 4 (25 Apr'11) - Chitkul to Narkanda (stay at Harsh Villas, no booking done)
Day 5 (26 Apr'11) - Narkanda to Delhi (home, no booking needed)

What made me tweak the itinerary were advices telling me to head as close to Kinnaur as possible on first day in order to spend maximum time there. It was indeed a great advice.

I was told that Delhi to Sarahan in one day wasn't going to be easy, the journey could take anywhere between 12-14 hours, I was nervous like hell. Nervous because last time I'd driven about 10 hours straight from Udaipur to Delhi with a very short lunch break and only bio breaks, I was sick for the next three days once back home and all my dreams (read nightmare) for about a week consisted of roads, roads and more roads (Rajasthan's super smooth tarmac became a nightmare for me, I still love the roads though). I didn't want to get sick upon reaching Sarahan and if I did the entire trip would go for a toss. On every forum I was craving for assurance from fellow members that Sarahan is doable and I shouldn't be worrying but deep down inside I was very worried.

Without losing enough confidence that makes me change the itinerary, I thought I'd rather prepare well for the trip than continue worrying. So I get the 12v socket installed in my Swift along with a mobile charger and got a tubeless tyre puncture repair kit. Well that's as far as I went with the preparation . I told my mom where we were actually headed (at least someone must know where I am going in case something goes wrong).

I also wanted to get a foot/electric air-pump but foot pump wasn't available in the local market and the electric air-pumps cost upwards of 900/- and that too with no warranty. What also got me thinking was that since I already have the tubeless puncture repair kit all I'd need (in case of a puncture) would be to travel to the nearest tyre shop to get air filled in after repairing the puncture, which wouldn't be difficult considering I'd have a spare tyre and even if the spare got a puncture too I'd still be able to travel to the nearest town.

Other thing on the list was some kind of mobile phone/GPS unit holder which can be put on the dash with the help of a double-tape but it was never bought because of the following reason.

People who want to know what GPS unit I was using, here's the story...
Initially I did not have any plans of getting a GPS unit for this journey but when I realized that I wouldn't be sticking to NH all the way I thought it was better to get one. I started searching for affordable GPS units and soon realized that with the least costly GPS unit retailing at around 8k I better get a phone that has GPS & A-GPS and install the latest maps on it. I go through the list of phones that have a GPS receiver and can work even without a SIM and to my amazement Nokia E72 is one of them and my father has it. So the next task is to install Sygic Mobile Maps (with latest version of mapmyindia maps) on the phone and get my father to lend it to me for the trip. I install the maps and my father agrees to lend me his phone for the trip provided I transfer his contacts to my phone (a blackberry). This was done around a week prior to the trip but it wasn't until a day before that I realized that transferring 1k+ contacts from Nokia E72 to Blackberry 8100 wasn't possible via PC or Bluetooth (may be there is a way but I wasn't able to figure anything out). So there was no GPS unit used.

I would've boasted that even without a GPS unit and with no prior knowledge of roads that I took I didn't get lost, but I wouldn't do that because I did get lost.

Last edited by bblost : 18th May 2011 at 16:49. Reason: as requested.
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:45   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fine69 View Post
Thanks, my wife read this and believe it or not, this pic is getting enlarged and actually going on the wall.
Hey, that's great!! that feels good, thanks to you and your wife.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fine69 View Post
Day 5 (26 Apr'11) - Narkanda to Delhi (home, no booking needed)
That was a nice one
So you actually went such a distance with out a GPS. Actually, we kind of stress too much on the importance of the GPS, when in India, we can do without it. But still it's a very important and good to have instrument on a long trips and particularly when you are going to remote places, where sometimes you won't find a human wandering to guide you in the country like India where they are available in abundance.
Pics mate, more pics!!!

Last edited by bblost : 18th May 2011 at 16:50. Reason: date in quoted post has been corrected. Thanks.
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Old 18th May 2011, 15:35   #26
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

err. how did you get lost on those roads? There's no option in the hills! There are never more than 2 options and its always crystal clear. a GPS is overkill for regular folks. How did you manage it all the same?
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Old 18th May 2011, 15:49   #27
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

I have a few specific queries, because I am thinking of heading to Chitkul again this June. But I do not want to break your flow here, so sending you a pm.

Last edited by bblost : 18th May 2011 at 16:50. Reason: Dates in quoted post has been corrected. Thanks.
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Old 18th May 2011, 16:08   #28
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Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
err. how did you get lost on those roads? There's no option in the hills! There are never more than 2 options and its always crystal clear. a GPS is overkill for regular folks. How did you manage it all the same?
Hey Hitanshu, give the guy a break mate! It was his first long hill drive (into the mountain wilderness) after all.
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Old 18th May 2011, 16:38   #29
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Hey Hitanshu, give the guy a break mate! It was his first long hill drive (into the mountain wilderness) after all.
That is immaterial. Bachpan mai koi gaya hoga family trip mai - basic geography would say that you cannot have too many roads on a hillside. Whatever.

But mudde ki baat hai ki hills = no GPS for regular destinations/roads!
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Old 19th May 2011, 20:17   #30
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Day 1 - Delhi to Sarahan

The D-day comes and against the original plan of starting by 4 am we get moving by 4:30 am only. I find absolutely no traffic on NH-1 (as I touched the first toll I'd sent a text to a fellow bhpian @lordofgondor to check where he was) and the only stop we make is at Haveli for a bio-break. Oh by the way not the Haveli that comes on the left while going to Chandigarh but the one that is on the right (I had to make a u-turn for that). We didn't stop for breakfast as I'd asked my wife to cook something that we could have in the car in order to save time. By 8:10 am we were at Zirakpur and I was expecting a sign-board soon that tells me to go from under the flyover towards Shimla. So we are getting down from this flyover and it doesn't take long for me to realize that we've entered - The City Beautiful, Chandigarh!! I feel frustrated because I was driving fast in order to save time and with that over-enthusiastic driving I didn't see the signboard as I was overtaking a truck just before getting on the flyover. Well, what could I do. We continued, this time strictly following the speed limits and I silently praying that the cops don't stop me for having dark tints. I'm now looking for a u-turn and we see one very soon. We take the u-turn, go under the flyover this time and make a left towards Shimla at 8:20 am.

The Road to Kalka

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09497.jpg

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09501.jpg

The next thing that I now await is a massive traffic jam at Kalka. Now I do get a traffic jam but after being in it for about 10 minutes I realize that its not Kalka, its Pinjore (I could see a Pinjore *something* park on my left so I'm assuming it was Pinjore). It takes us about 15-20 minutes to get through it.

The jam that we were in

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We get a small jam at Kalka as well but this one takes us merely 10 minutes to cross. So having crossed Kalka I now plan on driving as fast as possible to ensure that I reach Shimla by 12 pm.

As I am crossing this check-post…

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09526.jpg

…I'm stopped by a few guys wearing those shiny orange vests. I roll down the window and the guys demands Rs. 40/- as an entry tax to Himachal. It was a couple of years back that we'd gone to Haridwar (the whole family) and there were barricades put by local goons at every half a km demanding a toll. I thought this was a similar thing but being a grown-up now I didn't want to do the 'just pay the money and lets get out of here' thing. I ask him why aren't rest of the cars being stopped and he tells me "That's because they are paying the toll back there" (pointing 20-30 meters back towards a small room). I'm still not convinced (mostly because he was very rude) so the guy tells me that if I don't wish to pay it to him I could speak to the RTO officer directly (who's sitting in that room). Meanwhile my wife's been telling me to just pay the toll and get out of there. So I pay the toll, ask for a receipt, get the receipt and get out of there. For the next 2 minutes we are discussing if it was a legal toll booth or not and I spot a policeman by the roadside. I stop the car, get out of the car and approach him with the receipt. I ask him if it was a legal toll that I'd paid back there and the policeman assures me it indeed was and the receipt was legit too. I'm now convinced (or not) and we carry on with our journey after stopping for a fuel re-fill.

Enroute

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09532.jpg

Soon we encounter the typical loops and blind turns of the hills. I was not driving fast anymore but it doesn't take more than a few minutes to realize that I need to pick up some speed. I figure that I don't have to slow down to 20-30 kph at every blind turn because the other vehicles would be sticking to their lane and I don't have anything to worry about. I push the pedal and start enjoying the moderately fast driving (as Tanveer sir likes to call it) in the hills. I overtake a lot of cars, all responsibly and none on blind turns. However, I realize that its safer & less tiring if I follow a fast car instead of trying to overtake all of them. I start following an accord (what better car huh?) and we are now nearing Shimla (I'm still awaiting a text/call from @log to know where he is).

Shimla-Kalka Train spotted

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09534.jpg

Cute, huh?

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Waiting for the train to cross at the railway-crossing and the white accord that I was following

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09544.jpg

This is what early morning driving did to my car

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09547.jpg

This is what it did to me, I don't know why I have this weird sad expression

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09548.jpg

Finally the train came (after about 15 minutes of wait) and the passengers in it looked more excited than us.

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09550.jpg

All along I was thinking that whenever I'd be entering any town/village I'd get signboards indicating the location but it was only after crossing a couple of them that I realized such wasn't the case. We stopped at Dharampur to have breakfast but only bought tea and took out the home cooked bread, omlette & paranthas. There's nothing like home food far away from home and we thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast.

Quick stop for some pics

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09554.jpg

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09566.jpg

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About 25 kms before Shimla I get a call from @log who tells me that he's just touched the Chaba-Luhri road. For some reason we were thinking that he was behind us but it turned out that he was way ahead of us. It was only after I spoke to him did I realize that since we'd crossed the railway crossing I'd been driving very leisurely. Well first time in the hills, I just could NOT enjoy the drive. Thanks to his call though, I now knew to turn left at the first traffic light that I get when I enter Shimla.

We reached Shimla at exactly 12 pm and just before I could take that left through the tunnel I see a couple of guys running like crazy towards my car. But I know what to do (thanks to my trips to Udaipur, Jaipur etc.), just continue driving without giving a damn to these idiots who, by the way, could even jump in front of your car just to make you hear them out. It took us about 30 minutes to cross Shimla and be at that fork where I take the road to Naldehra instead of Narkanda.

To Naldehra

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09576.jpg

A few minutes on this road and we decide to roll down the windows, for the weather outside is cool & pleasant. My wife is still annoyed at the fact that this album has more pics of our Swift than her. Believe me, hers' is more. Few pics of our Swift though :P

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09585.jpg

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To Basantpur

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09605.jpg

Before we reached Basantpur I got another call from @log who told me that the Chaba-Luhri road was almost non-existent. But I wasn't going to take this road anyways. A last minute update by another bhpian (I can't thank him enough) had me plan the route from Shimla to Rampur via Naldehra-Basantpur-Kingal. I tell @log that I'd be taking the Kingal road and he asks me to update him on the condition of the road so that he has the option of taking it while coming back. So we are on this road to Kingal and extremely happy since its super smooth tarmac, a job well done by BRO. After about 5-10 kms we see a dam kind of thing besides a wooden bridge. Is it a dam? Do I stop the car and get out to look or continue driving straight? I continued driving straight, passing the wooden bridge on my left and wondering if any four-wheeler actually crosses that bridge.
Less than 50 meters and the road turns bad, we continue moving and it gets worse. We cross a small village and there's no road anymore, well the road's there but its not made of tar, pebbles instead. This slows us down to 5 kmph, no kidding. It starts getting narrower to just about one single lane but not before I have to let a bus and a sumo taxi overtake me. They are driving at about 20-30 kmph and there's no way I can keep up with them. I check the odo reading in order to later calculate the total distance of this bad stretch. We continue and within 2-3 minutes the bus and sumo are out of sight. It looks like this isn't a road less travelled, its the least travelled!

We pass by a few workers who are pebbling (repairing) the road and they look at us as if they haven't seen any of our kind. Another 5 minutes and we pass by another set of workers on the road. Wife tells me to ask them if we are on the right path but men will be men! So now its close to 45-50 minutes that we have been on this road, the only signboards we've seen is for a village called Badalaaya and I think that since we've already been slowed down to snail pace why not take a break and click some pics too. I stop the car and get down. I click a few pics of the car and see a bike coming from behind. Just to assure my wife that we were indeed on the right path I ask them if it was the road to Kingal and as it turns out, IT WASN'T!!

This is where I'd stopped to click pictures when I met the guys on the bike

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09612.jpg

I was told that we had come about 12-13 kms the wrong way, we were supposed to take the wooden bridge and it wasn't besides a dam but a concrete bridge that had collapsed - Bridge collapses in Shimla - News@glance: Mumbai building collapse, price rise & more. Just when we had crossed it I and wife were arguing whether it was a dam or a bridge but having witnessed no collapsed bridge ever I never thought it could be a bridge.

I'd take a minute to clarify why my basic geography sense had failed me as pointed by @phamilyman. If the bridge (in the pic above) would have been in place I would've most definitely taken it against the not so appealing road up front but due to lack of any signboards the decision was between a narrow wooden bridge towards an abrupt left and a not so appealing road straight ahead. Had it been a regular road, which means at least one soul in sight or a sign-board in place, I'm sure I wouldn't have been lost but this stretch was totally devoid of people and signboards.

So we take a u-turn, head back to the wooden bridge, cross it and are on our way to Kingal after having lost about close to 2 hours of daylight. Daylight was important as I had heard that at a lot of places the food joints start shutting down as the sun goes down and one doesn't find any open after 8 PM and it was beginning to look that we might get late. It was 3:30 PM by the time we'd crossed that wooden bridge and Kingal was still around 70+ kms. Now this road was one of the smoothest I'd ever driven upon but it was the typical 1.5 lane road (wider than single lane but narrower than 2-lane). One could have a lot of fun driving on this road only if there were no vehicles coming from the other side. Only 4 vehicles crossed us during this 80+ kms of Basantpur-Kingal stretch but everytime one did it was on a blind turn with no indication (horn/vehicle noise) of its presence and its sudden appearance was very scary. I was honking like crazy, 2 quick beeps at every blind turn, and with hundreds of such turns on this road imagine my wife's plight who's trying to enjoy the scenery, only I keep on honking (lol). Initially she thought that I was just trying to have fun and got irritated asking me why was I honking when the others weren't but the logic of 'honking is better than going down the valley' convinced her.

Landslide on the Basantpur-Kingal road, this took about 15 minutes to clear as they were already working on it when we reached here

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09618.jpg

Super smooth tarmac of the Basantpur-Kingal road

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I don't know what's the utility of this thing hanging in between the valley

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At around 6 PM we joined NH-22 at Kingal and the width of the road put a broad smile on both our faces. We pick up a little speed as the road is in good condition and wide enough to ensure that even on blind turns there isn't an issue till the time we're sticking to our side. The point of discussion now is whether to stop at Rampur to have dinner or continue to Sarahan and try our luck. Rampur was somewhere around 30-35 kms from Kingal and with the road condition changing from good to excellent it took us around 40 mins to reach there. As I'd read, Sarahan was about 1 hour from Rampur so we decided to continue to Sarahan hoping that we'd get dinner before the market shuts down.

Somewhere before Rampur

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Just after Rampur the road turned from excellent to good to really bad, but then there isn't anything such as bad roads, only impatient drivers huh? However, we were very impatient and hence the roads were bad too

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09647.jpg

We reached Jeori at 8 PM and Sarahan was now 17 kms (as per a signboard there) upwards of it. As you'd have noticed, there wasn't any stop for lunch which meant that we were really hungry and hoping that we get some food at Sarahan. It took us another 20-25 mins to get to the Bhimkali Temple complex at Sarahan. I parked my car, got the keys to our room and checked till what time the Cafeteria was open. Seems like we wouldn't have to sleep on an empty stomach after all, the cafeteria would be open till 9 pm. We put our stuff in to the room and headed directly to the canteen where home-cooked dal, rice and roti was dinner of the day. I bought a few chocolates for our trip and asked around if we could visit any place in the night to take a few pictures of the town below. Well we did get a few pointers but the moment we stepped out of the temple complex the entire town was pitch black so we decided to just go back to our room and go to sleep.

All along I was thinking that Bhimkali Temple complex would be more of a Dharamshala kind of place but to my amazement it turned out to be a great place to stay.

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09654.jpg

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09656.jpg

Road Trip to the Last Village of India-dsc09658.jpg

Place of Stay - Bhimkali Temple Complex
Room No. 7 (has big attached bathroom with huge geyser and hot water)
Tariff - 200/-
Food Quality - Very Good (home-cooked)
Canteen also has a grocery store inside which has all kinds of chocolates, wafers, biscuits, soft-drinks, small household utility items etc.

Last edited by fine69 : 19th May 2011 at 20:19.
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