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Old 19th July 2012, 15:07   #1
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Default Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month (Skoda Yeti)

Do a Delhi-Manali-Delhi weekend driving trip through Friday-to-Sunday and you can be assured of one thing—Monday in mid-summer Delhi, back at work, is going to be one bleary and depressing day.

Those that the mountain bug bites though, it bites real hard, injecting a slow-working poison that courses through the veins for a lifetime. This pretty bug first bit me some two-and-a-half decades back, ever since I first set my sights on mist-covered hills, winding roads, lust greens and towering rock-faces. I slowly but surely graduated to the Rohtang Tops, Khoksars, Keylongs, Kazas, Tabos, Lahauls, Spitis, Khardung-Las, Lehs, et al.

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Over these 25-odd years, I have been ‘bugged’ incessantly, and life has been very kind to me, as I have traversed through every possible mountain road this beautiful country has to offer, especially up North.

Today, when I get the chance, I get go to the hills, and living in Delhi helps—drive in any of four directions and you are sure to reach the hills and mountains within 6-8 hours.

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Early in June this year, I saw a weekend coming where I could take the Friday off—and it was off to Manali with a few friends. To cut to the chase, it was hectic, tiring and the oncoming Monday was a disaster... Especially since the two friends bickered and had an argument through all of Saturday, ruining the trip for themselves, and for me. I promised myself… never again—enough of these holidays where you come back more tired than rejuvenated.

Two weeks later, Voila, another Friday that I could take off—and that dear little bug returned to bite me. Delhi-Manali-Delhi it was again, albeit with the catch that I reached out to two friends who I knew would not fight! They didn’t, and we had a wonderful time.

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One of the two friends is an ardent photographer and we struck a deal—he would click the pictures, I would do the writing, and we give to fellow BHP-ians our first T-LOG. It was a scary decision to take, since we knew that given the limitations of our short geographic travel on this trip (Delhi-Manali-Delhi, mostly a highway drive), and given the massive backdrop of all those great travelers and narrators on Team BHP, we would be hopelessly outclassed. But steel our hearts we did, and below is the resulting T-LOG.

Some pictures of Delhi in the early morning, as we make a quick departure from the city to avoid the traffic snarls over the first 200 kms.
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I hope this first-attempt TLOG cuts some cheese—that's because in all truth, it cannot be anywhere in the class of those that I admire through their writings, and those that have given me so much pleasure, reading the stories of their travels—GTO Sir, HVK Sir, TSK, ADC da, harshwardhan, rnbohra, Coooooolcat21, laluks and so many more TBHP-ians... Thanks a lot, and I hope you all like it.

Here are some teaser pictures of our three-day sojourn. More will follow soon, friends, along with the detailed writeup. See you soon.
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Last edited by rajeevn : 19th July 2012 at 21:18. Reason: Adding pictures. And removing vehicle registration car number, Sir. Thanks.
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Old 19th July 2012, 16:57   #2
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month

A teasy teaser! Keep them coming in mate. Eagerly waiting
Exploring the mountains of the north has been on my cards too since a long time.
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Old 19th July 2012, 17:09   #3
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month

Hi friends, I was grappling with picture placements within the text (figured it out now, I hope)... These, then, are the protagonists of this three-day tirade!

NilanjanM—the Cameraperson
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AnjaliS—the Motormouth
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SkodaY—the Wheels
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& RajeevN—the Scribe
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Introductions done, we will move to a journey planned at 11 pm on Thursday, and executed 4 am onwards on Friday, and all the trivia over the next 60 hours that made this trip a true delight.



And here are some pictures of what's to come...

Traffic Jam in Delhi at 4 in the morning!
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Empty roads at last—time to make up lost ground
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Truckers queueing up at 7 am—maybe that's what makes them grouchy on the roads later
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Chandigarh at last—7.30 am, we made good time
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Grey Matter—if it's in the bag, it's in the head as well, I am sure
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Punjab Ahoy! A short single-lane drive and then we could really stretch the Yeti's legs
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The short single-lane stretch which, ironically, you get on just after paying toll tax!
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But you soon forget that little bit, as you are faced with a Road dé Beautiful...
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That's it for now, headed home—will pick this up later today. There's lots more to come.

Last edited by GTO : 20th July 2012 at 09:45. Reason: Rule #11
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Old 19th July 2012, 17:33   #4
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month

Quote:
Originally Posted by RevvMusic View Post
A teasy teaser! Keep them coming in mate. Eagerly waiting
Exploring the mountains of the north has been on my cards too since a long time.

Thanks, RevvM—sure, I intend to do just that and try and make this a sensible and enjoyable read...
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Old 19th July 2012, 20:39   #5
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month

As the road to Kiratpur flew beneath the racing Yeti, we saw a train chugging along to the left, parallel to the smooth highway and pretty close by. What has to happen in a situation like this happened—the Yeti and the train had a go at one another, without moving toward one another, Thank God. Needless to say, the Yeti won, but not before we had hooting from those on the train, who had perhaps not seen a Yeti before...

Some shots from that meaty, though short-lived affair...
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And finally, victory for the Snowman (Yeti) in clear sight!
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It was getting on 10.30 am by now and we decided to stop by for breakfast. All of the food at home from last evening (we didn't know till 11 pm last evening that we would be leaving in the morning for Manali) had been packed and was with us. Some scrumtuous aloo paranthas were ordered at 'ROKY Dhaba', the Yeti got some rest and we stretched our own legs for a bit. A bit of an insight here—I am a bad person to travel with, for those who like repeated or long stoppages. Driving is a passion and so long as the car is moving, that's most of my holiday for me; the journey literally being as important as the destination. But stop we did, for the lady and gent with me had beewn screaming 'HUNGER' for over an hour now and any further movement in the car could have been them beating me up for not stopping at all. So stop we did, at Mr ROKY's Dhaba. My thanks to my co-travellers, for the aloo parnathas were delicious!

That's ROKY Dhaba looming up fast, and the Yeti taking a breather
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Immediately after the breakfast, we stopped at a fuel station to top up, and it was just as well. We were still in Punjab, and the attendant informed us that all fuel pumps in Himachal Pradesh were on strike that day and we were unlikely to get diesel anywhere before Manali, and perhaps not even there. We topped up the tank, used the wash room, and prepared for the remaining half of the drive. We took off with screeching tyres from the fuel pump... only to come to a grinding halt in exactly a minute. Why? A TRAFFIC JAM at the border toll collection booth!

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TRAFFIC JAM! Why on Earth can we not get more organized in our toll collection procedures? There was an ambulance too that was stuck in the jam. We hoped it turned out okay for the folks inside...
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The first view of the mountains... And the beginning of ACC country, with the cement giants hoardings and signages becoming as synonymous as the twisting roads and the fast-changing foliage alongside.

And soon after, the first time that I saw a police force in our country going all out on the social media. We were rather tickled and impressed to see Himachal Pradesh Police putting up small hoardings around bends on the road, listing their Facebook page details and seeking 'followers'. Kudos to them for embracing the future, and using all possible means to keep our roads and brethren safe. Enough said in text, let's let the pictures do some talking.

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Some more brisk driving and there it was—the approach road to Pandoh Dam. I have been to Manali many many times, but it is when you reach this spot that the feeling really sinks in, and the drive to Manali really begins. This is when the terrain begins to change its shape and contours, and the mountain vistas begin to take on a different hue. Nothing compared to the dramatic changes that happen in Lahaul and Spiti, but changes nonetheless. This is where the euphoria begins to sink in—that you are a-headed to Manali!!

Some final pictures of this spot, and we move on at a lesisurely pace, without knowing what menace lies waiting for us once we cross the Dam and move on the precipitous road aboce the reservoir!! Coming soon...

Thanks for reading.

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Last edited by rajeevn : 19th July 2012 at 21:00. Reason: Adding pictures to take it up to the permissible limit of 30 per post. Thanks.
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Old 20th July 2012, 09:48   #6
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month (Skoda Yeti)

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th July 2012, 12:40   #7
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month (Skoda Yeti)

Seems like you have built up a nice plot to travel thru your travelogue. Every one has their own style and its all taken very well here in our very own TBHP (just some cardinal to follow thats all)

Now that you have a good teaser and a statement in 'Lightning strikes twice' which needs unraveling of the plot, so keep it coming and we will enjoy the journey with you!

Last edited by girishglg : 20th July 2012 at 12:42.
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Old 20th July 2012, 13:54   #8
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month (Skoda Yeti)

Good narration and nice clicks of Yeti.

Can you list down the traffic snarl portions of the journey? It will help me in my Manali-Delhi/Chandigarh trip next month.

My favorite pic of the lot is though of the fuel pump - boy, looks like a loaded one
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Old 20th July 2012, 15:31   #9
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month (Skoda Yeti)

Excellent pictures of Yeti and nature, lovely narration of the trip also. It will be interesting to read how Yeti performed, did you take it through some rough/bad roads so as all its wheels come into play?

The picture refueling "Do Not Rebuild", the one just above that looks like there are some platforms built on the mountains, are they to stop stones falling directly on the road? or do they serve some other purpose?
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Old 20th July 2012, 15:32   #10
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month (Skoda Yeti)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahul_sinha View Post
Good narration and nice clicks of Yeti.

Can you list down the traffic snarl portions of the journey? It will help me in my Manali-Delhi/Chandigarh trip next month.

My favorite pic of the lot is though of the fuel pump - boy, looks like a loaded one
Dear Rahul,

As Rajeev's co-passenger and official trip photographer (!) let me take the liberty of answering your question. (with your permission RajeevN...)

Be sure to exit Delhi before 5am - you will get a clean drive all the way to Chandigarh and with a short break you can be there in 3-3.15 hours or less.

To enter Delhi after 9pm is madness. The traffic starts a few kilometers before Sindhu Border Post and stretches well upto Majnu ka Tila Gurudwara (15kms into Delhi and about 5-7kms before Rajghat.)

One can expect moderate to heavy traffic on the Mohali-Ropar stretch - especially on the single lane stretch. Expect a good drive between Ropar and Kiratpur on the 6 lane expressway.

Between Punjab-HP border and Kiratpur Town (just before the expressway entry) the roads are inspired by lunar surfaces. Your moon buggy (it will feel like that) should do between 10-20kmph here.

The toll post jam on the Punjab-HP border is chronic and will cost you atleast 30 mins in the daytime, especially while going uphill. Downhill is less but exists, nonetheless, due to double/triple laning that happens on the other side. (See the pic in RajeevN's post above)

The towns of Sundernagar, Mandi, Bilaspur, Bhuntar will take 15-25 mins each to cross. Luck needs to be on your side here. If you come through Kullu town instead of the by-pass, expect to lose an hour of driving time, atleast. Hence be sure to take the by-pass which in my opinion is a far more scenic drive. Infact, I would recommend taking the Naggar Road to and from Manali instead of the regular route. Maybe 10kms longer but faster and incredibly scenic. You will pass through real Himachal.

The road along Pandoh Dam can slow you down if you get a truck/bus infront of you who decides to hog the road like it was an ancestral inheritance!

Manali town, especially the market place and Hidimba Temple is a traffic snarl in season. Will definitely be empty in the rainy season which lasts from July-September. If you do take the Naggar Road, to and from Manali - you will completely by-pass the mess of Manali town traffic during the peak season.

And thank you for your appreciation of the fuel nozzle pic. It's my personal favorite too.

Best,

Nilanjan
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Old 20th July 2012, 15:34   #11
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month (Skoda Yeti)

Quote:
Originally Posted by girishglg View Post
Seems like you have built up a nice plot to travel thru your travelogue. Every one has their own style and its all taken very well here in our very own TBHP (just some cardinal to follow thats all)

Now that you have a good teaser and a statement in 'Lightning strikes twice' which needs unraveling of the plot, so keep it coming and we will enjoy the journey with you!
Quote:
Originally Posted by rahul_sinha View Post
Good narration and nice clicks of Yeti.

Can you list down the traffic snarl portions of the journey? It will help me in my Manali-Delhi/Chandigarh trip next month.

My favorite pic of the lot is though of the fuel pump - boy, looks like a loaded one

Thanks, Girish.

And thanks, Rahul. There's some more writing and a lot of pictures coming in in future posts—hope that passes muster, and I can live true to this plot.

NilanjanM, our official 'trip photographer', is seperately listing down the places where you can expect heavy traffic or intermittent choke-ups. The next month, being off-season, should be a pretty breezy drive though.

(My two bits worth on the road—mostly good roads, the only bad, really bad part of the drive will be after Kiratpur on the way to HP. I have been to Manali 7 times over the last two years and this stretch has just not been repaired. The craters are deep enough to swallow small cars!).

Am in office now and will pick up the thread later today. Thanks again.
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Old 20th July 2012, 16:06   #12
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month (Skoda Yeti)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Excellent pictures of Yeti and nature, lovely narration of the trip also. It will be interesting to read how Yeti performed, did you take it through some rough/bad roads so as all its wheels come into play?

The picture refueling "Do Not Rebuild", the one just above that looks like there are some platforms built on the mountains, are they to stop stones falling directly on the road? or do they serve some other purpose?
Thanks, Mayank, for your kind words.

To the best of my knowledge, those platforms built on the mountains, right next to Pandoh Dam road, are to stop stones falling directly on the road. I slowed down there (the traffic police insists that no one can stop there, so I crawled across the dam road) and looked very carefully. The platforms are at various levels, and while they looked like walk-ways at first glance, the various levels are not connected to one another by stairs or any concrete gradient. So one would need to be 15-feet-tall, or a chimpanzee to scale them!).

Your query on the Yeti has to be met by me with an "Aaaah, Yeti"!

This was the Yeti's second trip the Manali (I got her in January this year) and I cannot underscore enough how impressed I am with the vehicle. It behaves beautifully on the highway, with the drive characteristics of a low-slung sedan. Put her on mountain roads and she still doesn't pull a muscle, and just wings around corners without complaining.

On bad roads (I intend to do a complete post on how the Yeti behaved on the Rohtang Top drive, there and back—let me not spoil that bit by delving deep here), let me suffice by saying that I am truly impressed with the performance. It ate up bad roads, uphill and downhill, and spat out the remains without losing (or loosening) a tooth!

Mind you, my vehicle before this was a Pajero, and they don't make better off-roaders than a Paj. I am still impressed with the Yeti... (The Paj now belongs to NilanjanM, our trip photographer—so we can safely say that now, we have the best of both worlds).



For posterity's sake, and to reminisce, here are a couple of pictures of my erstwhile Pajero—the first two pictures are of her (HIM, actually!) parked on the Manali-Rohtang Road, while the third one is of driving the brute up to Jalori Pass, between Aut and Narkanda! Hope you like them...

Parked on a ledge, mid-way between Manali and Rohtang La
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This is on the climb up to Jalori Pass, en route to Narkanda
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Old 20th July 2012, 17:31   #13
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month

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listing their Facebook page details and seeking 'followers'. Kudos to them for embracing the future, and using all possible means to keep our roads and brethren safe
My college colleague is SP of Mandi. He has put a lot of effort in using technology in every possible way. He has told me a lot about the changes he had made using the simple technology. I am glad that people like him are joining the civil services and making a big impact on everyones life.


I belong to Kullu and have done a lot of road trips from Delhi - Kullu. Now I am out of country and thanks to you and your trip for bringing those memories back in my mind. Like you, I especially love to drive after Mandi/Pandoh Dam, the drive after that is marvelous.
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Old 20th July 2012, 17:43   #14
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month

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My college colleague is SP of Mandi. He has put a lot of effort in using technology in every possible way. He has told me a lot about the changes he had made using the simple technology. I am glad that people like him are joining the civil services and making a big impact on everyones life.


I belong to Kullu and have done a lot of road trips from Delhi - Kullu. Now I am out of country and thanks to you and your trip for bringing those memories back in my mind. Like you, I especially love to drive after Mandi/Pandoh Dam, the drive after that is marvelous.
Dear erohit,

Please thank your college friend (who is the SP of Mandi), for making the difference. It's great to see such forward-thinking and positive-minded people in the government. There is hope!

Best,

Nilanjan
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Old 20th July 2012, 17:46   #15
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Default Re: Lightning strikes twice! 3-Day Delhi-Manali trip twice in a month

Quote:
Originally Posted by erohit View Post
My college colleague is SP of Mandi. He has put a lot of effort in using technology in every possible way. He has told me a lot about the changes he had made using the simple technology. I am glad that people like him are joining the civil services and making a big impact on everyones life.


I belong to Kullu and have done a lot of road trips from Delhi - Kullu. Now I am out of country and thanks to you and your trip for bringing those memories back in my mind. Like you, I especially love to drive after Mandi/Pandoh Dam, the drive after that is marvelous.
Thanks for your kind words, Rohit. And I must congratulate your friend, the Superintendent of Police, Mandi. The work being done there is, indeed, commendable. Even the regular checks that happen there on out-of-state vehicles are most stringent. While some people complain about them (and I have read about this in some T-LOGs), these checks are an imperative part to ensure sanity on the roads and a safe drive. Best of all, the policemen who did are no-nonsense and to the point—they don't smile up-front and be friendly, nor do they harass you. They are polite and professional, and do give a broad smile once you have sailed through and wish you a good trip. I haven't failed their inspection, so I don't know what they do if you don't pass!



Kudos to your friend, and I really wish more like him would continue to join the bureaucracy and the IPS—would make for reforms at the ground level, where they would have the most impact, and make for a leaner, cleaner and meaner India!

to your friend and his like.

As for loving to drive after Pandoh Dam, I humbly ask you to watch this space. I am about to reach that part in the T-LOG—it was fun of course, but it was frustrating and scary too, for reasons soon to be made clear... that's coming up now!

Thanks again.
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