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Old 11th July 2014, 17:39   #16
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Default Re: Sojourn to the last Indian village : Chitkul

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Originally Posted by nix1976in View Post
While travelling, am not a city person at all so crowds put me off and Shimla has hordes and hordes of people at any given time....It is undoubtedly a wonderful place but commercialization has ruined it.
Yeah Nikhil...
No hard feelings about that mate.
And Exactly my point about the scale of people coming into Shimla each year for a holiday sojourn.
The hordes of people you see in Shimla are the seasonal tourists who come to the hills to beat the heat of the northern plains. And believe you me, Shimla isnt getting any colder by each passing year.
I vividly remember the temperature needle never crossing 25-27 degree barrier during our childhood and now it is close to 33 degrees on the hottest days of the summer.
Commercialization /Globalization ... any name you put it...

However your blog was refreshing that you took the road less taken to cover a lovely little place up in the hills away from the clamour of the city life.

Hope you had a great time.

Cheers
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Old 11th July 2014, 17:52   #17
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Default Re: Sojourn to the last Indian village : Chitkul

Moving on from Chitkul, we made out way through to Sangla over the narrow roads and made it back to NH22 near the Karchham dam where one needs to turn right towards Reckong Peo.

Narrow roads and vistas towards Sangla and Karchham dam turn off from Chitkul.
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Petrol Pump with a view
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This is the point where we rejoin NH22 from the Sangla turnoff. The road on the left goes towards Peo.
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First views of the Kinner Kailash
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The roads all the way to Kalpa are good and we checked into Hotel Golden Apple by around 11.30pm. The room allotted to us was lovely and afforded an awesome view of the Kinner Kailash range...one has to actually look up to the mountains towering overhead.

All the pics below have been taken from our room at the Golden Apple Kalpa
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Up close with the Kinner Kailash
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Last edited by nix1976in : 11th July 2014 at 18:20.
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Old 11th July 2014, 23:42   #18
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Default Re: Sojourn to the last Indian village : Chitkul

Some more views of the Kinner Kailash as the evening approached..

The Reckong Peo monastery's main tower can be seen in the distance around the centre of the pic.
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View from the terrace as the clouds moved in
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Quaint village roads leading down to Reckong Peo town where we drove down to do some souvenir shopping
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Some of the road shots of the movie 'Highway' were taken on these roads
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It was dusk by the time we reached the monastery..
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Came back to the hotel by around 8pm....watched some TV over scrumptious chapatis and chicken curry and crashed for the night.

Onward to Sarahan tomorrow

Last edited by nix1976in : 11th July 2014 at 23:49.
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Old 13th July 2014, 15:53   #19
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Default Re: Sojourn to the last Indian village : Chitkul

Very nice travelogue Nikhil!! Never heard of the place called Chitkul neither the views around the Indo-Tibet border. The pics are simply amazing.

I must say you both are a daring couple to self drive all the way from Mumbai!!

Thanks for sharing!!
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Old 14th July 2014, 17:53   #20
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Got up to these views of the Kinner Kailash Range..
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Its so difficult to tear one away from views like these from the window of your room. Gazing out at such vistas along with your bed tea is a surreal experience.

A zoom shot of the Reckong Peo monastery...
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Still Sarahan calls and we start off around 9am after breakfast and make our way down to Peo and then join the main highway towards Cholling. This time around on the way back, we had to wait for around 30 mins at the Cholling bridge to make our way up towards Urni village which will throw us out near Tapri.

I got talking to some locals and a cop there and was told two things.
1) A stretch of 4 kms of NH22 from tapri to Cholling has been washed away and the river has taken over that section. They had repaired a section of the road but it proved to unstable and sunk in again so we are in for the long haul.
2) The bypass road towards Urni village is a steep narrow track which is unpaved on the Cholling side. The cop told us that this road was not meant for any traffic and is unable to take the heavy loads of constant bus and truck traffic. They have begun reinforcing the edges of the road with rocks but they seemed apprehensive about how the road will hold up in case of heavy rains.

Am adding a caveat here that this information is just on basis of my interaction and may not hold true but just wanted to give a heads up to travelers on this route to get information beforehand.

Some pics of the bypass road.
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The 19 kms bypass does not really pose any problems at the moment just you need to make sure that one doesn't get stuck behind any truck or a bus since they would really slow you down.

Once we joined the NH22 at Tapri it was smooth sailing till the turnoff towards Sarahan. The roads up to Sarahan are lined with flowering plants and trees all over the place...a lovely little drive.

Traffic Jam
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HPDTC Shrikhand is right at the entrance of the quaint little town and I personally would rate it arguably among the best state run tourism hotel in the country. We had a lovely dinner at their restaurant which has huge glass windows opening up to the valley
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Our Cottage at HPDTC Shrikhand
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The Bhimkali mandir at Sarahan is a huge temple and has a lovely evening aarti.
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The restaurant at HPDTC Shrikhand.
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Nothing much to do at Sarahan except some walks around town, attend the evening aarti, have some good food and relax around the lovely cottage.

We started back at around 9am the next morning towards Shimla, we had no particular destination in mind and decided to stop whenever we felt fatigued.

Some views of the road down towards NH22 from Sarahan.
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Just as moved out of Sarahan, a tempo had busted its axle on a narrow section of the road cutting off all access. After an hour of waiting, we were diverted by the locals to another village bypass which they said will throw us out at the highway after 10 kms...so down we went off another off road adventure on the narrow village roads but this was much easier than the Tapri-Urni road but cost us almost a couple of hours.

After this, the drive was lovely and we made it to Narkanda and beyond in no time. This time I was determined to take the Shimla bypass and asked around before entering the town, was guided to the tunnel and even saw a sign pointing out the Shimla bypass...entered the tunnel and lo and behold was back in Shimla town again. Took over an hour to pass through the mess and to add to the chaos it started raining along with howling winds. The rains kept us company almost till Parwanoo where we joined the Himachal expressway and were down to the plains in double quick time. Passed through Chandigarh and were in Ambala by around 7pm. We crossed only 325 kms that day in almost 10 hrs of driving.
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Some lovely deodhar trees enroute...
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Noticed Haryana tourism Kingfisher Hotel right by the highway and checked in for the night.

Haryana Tourism.
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Old 14th July 2014, 22:20   #21
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Default Re: Sojourn to the last Indian village : Chitkul

Homeward bound...Left from Ambala at around 10am again with fluid destination plan....stop where the fatigue sets in!

After about 80 kms down the highway from Ambala, we stopped at the Haveli at Karnal and got the shock of our life when I realised I might have misplaced my wallet...frantic searching ensued and we turned the car inside out. We called Haryana tourism and got through after quite a bit of hold time, they gave us the number for the Kingfisher motel where we stayed and we managed to reach the hotel finally. They asked us to call back in 10 mins so that they can check the rooms but to my horror they didn't find the wallet in the room. All my cards, license and ID's were in it so I decided to turn back and look for it myself. Around 10 mins after the U-turn, I was waiting at the Karnal toll and wifey had a revelation and remembered she had kept the wallet in a side pocket of a bag. Heaved a sigh of relief...called the Kingfisher Motel and apologised profusely for the inconvenience caused, took another U-turn and started back...wasted almost 2 hrs in this mess!

The drive back was super smooth Ambala - Karnal - Panipat - Rohtak - Rewari breezed by and the turn off at Bawal came up by lunch time. ..joined the NH8 and luck was on our side as we made through the umpteen diversions towards Behror in quick time.

As we neared Kotputli, I was feeling confident of making it to Kishangarh for the night but as luck would have it we came upon a huge line of trucks. A quick inquiry lead us to understand that a bridge at Kotputli had developed some issues and the jam was around 10-12 kms long which takes more than 24 hrs to clear for the past couple of days.

As we moved towards the long line we saw a local RJ numbered Alto making a dash towards the wrong side of the highway. On a gut, I followed him as he made his way off the highway and got onto the village roads. I kept shadowing him till he stopped the car and got out...walked towards us and said he was local and was just going to his house nearby but but but...

He said I was lucky to have got off the highway and asked me to follow him so that he can lead me out towards the road that will lead us out f the mess and land us back on NH8.....sometimes you meet the most helpful people ever when you least expect it...thanks buddy.

Haryana!!!....detour towards Pavta- Mohanpura to bypass the Kotputli mess
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So our guardian angel took us through narrow village roads amidst mud houses, farmers tilling their land, kids playing ...general village life unfolded before us. He gave us written turn by turn instructions before dropping us of at a junction...moving ahead we were puzzled to see a "Welcome to Haryana" structure...we traversed these roads for almost 20-22 kms before finally chancing upon a RJ police checkpost which was directing traffic towards the UltraTech cement plant at Mohanpura.

Joined the NH8 and stopped for cuppa and raced towards Kishangarh. The Jaipur - Ajmer expressway was quite crowded as it was around 6pm but its a smooth ride towards Kishangarh. Messaged HV asking for a suitable place to stay but he asked me to drive on and halt at Bhilwara for the night. Took his advice and decided to push on...darkness set in and I realised that the stretch between Kishangarh and Bhilwara is quite desolate. It started raining and rained all the way till I checked into the hotel at Bhilwara as recommended by HV at around 9pm.
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Had some lovely pasta and brew to soothe my frayed nerves and crashed for the night. Had covered quite some distance and the ODO showed the trip meter at 800+ kms for the day. This included my misadventure at Karnal and the village bypass at Kotputli.

Started nice and early the next day from Bhilwara at around 8.30am after a nice breakfast. The roads are awesome and we wereon the Rajasthan-Gujrat border by around lunchtime. Saw a turn off towards Godhra just after Shamlaji on NH8 and took the turnoff. Its a beautiful spanking new road marred by a few small towns where the speed slows down a bit. The only hitch I found was that after the end of this road at Kalol, we need to trace back 35 kms towards Baroda to join the NH8.Just after crossing Baroda, we stopped at a huge food plaza for some Subways around 5pm and decided to push on to Mumbai.

Made it home by around 10pm...almost 850kms for the day. The end of a lovely roadtrip with 4545 kms (66158-61613) on the trip meter!
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Last edited by nix1976in : 14th July 2014 at 22:22.
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Old 18th July 2014, 11:11   #22
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Default Re: Sojourn to the last Indian village : Chitkul

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonblr View Post
Very nice travelogue Nikhil!! Never heard of the place called Chitkul neither the views around the Indo-Tibet border. The pics are simply amazing.

I must say you both are a daring couple to self drive all the way from Mumbai!!

Thanks for sharing!!
Thanks Jason, glad you like the pics and thanks for the compliment. Chitkul is an awesome place with some really good vistas...pls do plan to make it sometime!
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Old 23rd July 2014, 10:44   #23
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Default Re: Sojourn to the last Indian village : Chitkul

Guys,
Would anyone have updates on the current road conditions after Tapri? Has the NH22 been restored and if not..then how is the condition of the Tapri -Urni- Choling bypass road?

A friend is driving down tomorrow...any pointers?

Regards,
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Old 14th August 2014, 21:10   #24
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Default Re: Sojourn to the last Indian village : Chitkul

Am appending a trip to Haridwar and Rishikesh in this same thread to keep continuity of my travels to the hills and also because this trip does not warrant a new thread as such.


So...due to some unfortunate circumstances I was back to the hills within a month of my drive to Chitkul...however this was not strictly a road trip since we flew down to Delhi before taking to the road.

The afternoon flight took off amidst heavy rain on time however we soon ran into some turbulence and there were a few heart stopping moments as the plane pitched around for a bit...then when I glanced outside the window I saw this....divine..
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Landed around 6pm and picked up a friends Altis and moved towards Meerut...the delhi traffic, though stifling seemed to be better than Mumbai and we were out on the highway by around 8pm. The realty market at Ghaziabad seems to be booming but the traffic and roads are pathetic. The truck traffic was heavy all along the highway and it was painful progress. We stopped for dinner at Jhilmil Dhabha somewhere after meerut...lovely food.

There were a few diversions between Muzaffarpur and Roorkee and quite a few bottlenecks...one incident that stood out happened around 15 kms before Haridwar. We came up onto a small traffic jam with a few buses and jeeps stranded and I could make out some water flowing down the slope on the road...suddenly the flow quickened and the water flooded the road....shouts of "Nehar toot gayi" rented the air and there were frantic attempts to turn around get out of there...within 30 seconds the water piled up 12-15 inches..luckily we could make it out of there and with some local help took an interior road which was right by the Ganga Canal and made it to Haridwar finally by around 1.30am

The town was asleep but we could land up a good deal at a hotel near Har Ki Pauri and crashed for the night.

The Dharamshala at haridwar....clean and neat (cant say the same about the town though)
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Early next morning after the rituals, we roamed around the ghats for a bit and moved towards Rishikesh...checked out the Ram and Lakshman Jhoolas and started back towards Delhi.

Har Ki Pauri.
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Mansa devi from the road to Rishikesh
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The Shiva statue at Haridwar
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A Hanuman statue at Rishikesh
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Chotiwale...seems to be a famous brand up in the hills
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Rishikesh....the ganges shows its vastness here!!
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The return journey was quick and uneventful and I felt the roads were much better on the way back.

Dropped off the Altis and picked up another car...A JAGAUAR XF....for our onward trip to Ajmer. This one is a beast...pushes you back into the seat on every touch of torque...the back seat was even more comfy as if sitting on a pillow. Lucklily, we didnt get any traffic all along NH8 even at the dreaded Kothpuli area and made it to Ajmer in 5 hrs flat with some real enthusiastic driving. Though dead tired, I was a bit sad to get out of the jag!!

Pushkar
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After another round of rituals at Pushkar, we got into a train for Mumbai in the evening and made it back on time!...a hectic but satisfying trip.
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