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|12th March 2008, 09:42||#1|
And quiet flows the Tirthan....
About 2800 meters above sea level, en route to Jalori pass, there is a hairpin turn, from where a very narrow road about 150 meters in length forks out.
The road is slightly wider than an indica, and rises steeply to terminate at a gate.
The gate was locked. But it was not really a problem. 10 meters before the gate was snow. About a foot deep, maybe more. It would not have been a problem, but since it was in my way, it was. After passing through a less threatening and smaller version of this "snow" island barely 50 meters back, with lots of drama and wheelspin, I had no intention of trying to pass through this one. An indica can do many things, from overturning Auto rickshaws to santros. but it cannot pass through 1 foot deep snow.
So I got out of the car, and walked through it, looking for signs of life. I found two specimens, who told me that the water has frozen, and I have to go back. Which meant, going back the whole distance in reverse gear. 150 meters only, should be easy, heh.........
Day 1 : The Search
After lots of asking on forums, both TBHP and non TBHP I got a slight idea of where exactly to stay near Jalori Pass, Shoja etc., area.
So by nine am(instead of planned 7:30) we were en route from Ludhiana.
the first stage of the trip is Ludhiana to Ropar, and is unarguably, one of the best rides in Punjab. Imagine an arrow straight road, lined with trees on once side, and a canal on the other. A few potholes spoil the fun, but its all worth it.
The next part, Ropar-Kiratpur Sahib is the craziest one. Horrendous road, with deep craters, and it calles itself a National highway.
Have you ever been to a toll gate, where taking the old road means a nice well paved scenic route, and taking the toll road means 2 kms of hell?
Well here you will see NHAI corruption at its shiny best.
The road is in tatters, all broken, and they charge toll for it.
The sceninc route is slightly longer, but crosses the same railway line twice. But its a small price to pay in time for what you get to see. Ever see a canal crossing a river on a bridge? Well here you see one.
Luckily most people don't know of this, but since I am almost a local to that area, I had the advantage.
After Kiratpur Sahib, starts the hill climb. A large section of this route is along the river Beas, but the route is frustrating due to large convoys of trucks going uphill at 2kmph.
Just before the Aut tunnel you take the bifurcation to Larji which is 6km away and as the regions last petrol pump. I didn't know about the last part, and still had almost half a tank full, so carried on. This was to cost me 50 minutes on day 2 when I would have to come to Larji just for a tank full.
Anyways this is where the actual journey starts. You leave the main road for a narrow inter himachal track, and its all up up and away.
Our destination was the forest rest house at shoja.
After Larji the first main town is Banjar. You get fuel there in black, and can't be sure whether its kerosene or diesel or some cocktail. So I just decided to push on, how much difference will 20kms or so make to the fuel level?
Well it does make a difference, esp when the entire stretch is brutually steep first gear only uphill climb.
Reached shoja, and took the narrow road upto the forest resthouse, to the clump of ice.......
So we did not have a place to stay, or to turn the car around for that matter. So no choice, just reverse gear.
MY wife had her head out of the window on passenger side, and me on the drivers side, trying to keep the car straight on the mud track.
Going forward it requires concentration, going back its just crazy!
Soon we reached the first clump of snow we had passed on the way above, and the front left wheel decided to dig in. Funny. Uphill it did not have a problem.
Gave some throttle, some steering twiddling, and the wheel was free, but the car was no longer straight, but at an angle.
Again some agonizing moments of finesse, steering, and we were on our way back.
Reached the hairpin, and decided to go to Ghusaini, and check out shringi vatika on the way, along with another 200meter road which led to Jibhi forest rest house, which was closed like the others!
Did not like the latter(appearances can be deceptive), and then moved on to the road going to Ghusaini.
Surprise, Sai Ropa had a well furnished forest rest house!
So this was it. Time to retire. But not before we had checked out the Himalayan trout house and Raju's at Ghusaini.
We were the only guests, and therefore had a custom cooked meal(you tell in advance, couple of hours for veg and by afternoon for non-veg).
That was the end of a very very long drive, a large part searching for places to stay!
Day 2: Whats for Breakfast? Fried engine oil, cooked clutch plats, smoked tires sprinked with grated ego
Some places cannot be described in words. The Tirthan valley is one such place.
This was what much of the scene looked like. Taken near Sai ropa.
First step was to go to Larji and get tanked up. Without fuel at 3100 meters above sea level is never a good idea.
After the boring formalities done and some crazy tire burning driving, we were en route to Jalori pass which I am told is just 5 kms from Shoja.
Only 5 kms is a very deceptive word. For example if I asked you to climb a roap only 5 kms long, would you say "only 5 kms"?
This road is close to that.
Firstly its not metalled. The snow has taken care of that. And then there are disguised humps and sharp pointy stones.
And last but not the least the steepness.
Every redlined your car in first gear? Yes? Of course. Its a petrol head forum. Let me rephrase the questoin. Ever engaged first, pushed the throttle to the metal, and let it stay there for 20 minutes?
Well that what I had to do, pattered with the occasional rock or snow hitting the crossmember, or something.
With one eye on the road, and the other on the temp gauge we trudged on. And hit 95000kms on the odo. What a place to do it. 2983 meters above sea level(thats what the GPS told me, confirmed by 6 satellites)
But very soon, to the recipe, was added some crushed ego.
We saw this
People using ice picks.
Checked out the path. Lots of broken ice. Big rock like chunks, spattered all over. Some tire marks too, probably a truck.
No 4WD needed, but definitely high GC. Which the indica does not have. in the battle of Nature and GC, Nature had won.
20mm more, and I would have trudged on, after all the pass was just a km away.
But it wasn't to be. Jalori pass is for some other trip, which will happen soon, and we decided to turn back from 3112 meters above sea level.
Luckily there was barely enough space to reverse the car, going 5kms down in reverse gear is not my idea of fun.
There was snow everwhere
We decided to check out Shringi Vatika more thoroughly(instead of a pass by as yesterday). So lunch was to be had there. The hostess politely informed us that nothing is cooked, but if we don't mind enjoying the scenery for some time, she can make fresh chicken for us.
Well so we enjoyed the scenery
After a nice home cooked meal, and checking out the cozy rooms, it was time to head towards the river, down down all the way.
The views were unreal
Went to the banks of Tirthan, and listened to the gushing waters
The whole day was spent roaming the area, and taking pictures, lazing around, having sandwitch at the Himlayan Trout House.
More pictures here!
Day 3 : The journey back
First we decided to take walk in the enchanted forest
And then got on our way.
Took pictures near the plains
Saw Anandpur Sahib
And last but not the least, the road by the side of the Canal
So thats all folks, a short travelogue for a long weekend.
|12th March 2008, 10:26||#4|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Last edited by adc : 12th March 2008 at 10:32.
|12th March 2008, 10:34||#6|
Join Date: Sep 2007
Thanked: 8 Times
Truly amazing journey mate and well-written too.
Am sure ur heart was somewhere up in ur throat during those icey stincts in reverse gear.
|12th March 2008, 10:47||#7|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
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Simply amazing pics Tanveer, I for one is yet to see snow in real life...alteast experiencing it through your pics for the moment.
Nice writeup as well.
|12th March 2008, 11:09||#9|
Join Date: Jun 2006
Thanked: 12 Times
Had heard about Shoja a number of times, but never thought it would be that good!
Sad you missed Jalori Pass. Even I have plans to go there sometime soon.
And your travelogue is extremely well written and photographs are excellent!
This has inspired me to do something similar, let's hope I do manage to visit some place this weekend, even if it's to nearby Kasauli!
|12th March 2008, 11:25||#10|
Thanks for your comments guys.
I too regret not being able to do Jalori pass. Some other time!
The funny thing about this place is that till around 2500 meters above sea level, its hot. Like in the plains. And within 5 minutes you can feel the temperature dipping.
And to see so much snow in beginning of March is really amazing. On the sides of the road the snow was 2 feet deep. If we had arrived 2 days earlier, we would not have been able to do this much too, because the bulldozer had started just a day back.
When we were coming down, we saw a bus climbing up. The bus goes upto 100 meters before Jalori pass and turns around. We should have taken the bus I guess!
As for the reverse gear. I definitely had my heart in my mouth. I really do not look forward to doing anything like this again!
Its one of the craziest driving things I have ever done.
Its for roads like this you need a SUV even if its a 2WD one.
There is no subsitute for high GC. Even on the way back, in first gear, I had to keep tapping the brakes to get speed in control. 4WD Low ratio would have done wonders there. I would not have had to deal with spongy brakes, and not to mention the penalties of reduced GC as a result of suspension nosediving while braking. I guess I also need aluminum skid plates.
In reverse gear the front skid plate(flimsy plastic) started scooping up the snow and I was scared its going to give under weight.
Well thats 31 hours of crazy driving for you
6+6 Noida to Ludhiana.
7+8 Ludhiana - tirthan area
4 hours over there
|12th March 2008, 11:48||#11|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Dec 2006
Thanked: 17 Times
Wow what a trip pal , its always been my dream to drive to the himalayas, i hope to do it this year ... lets see then i might be abale to put in some similar pictures on my travelogue....and dong this trip in an indica is even more fun ! I plan to take my Verna CRDi along when i go ....
|12th March 2008, 11:54||#12|
But do watch out for GC problems. Many stretches will have you scraping the bottom.
|12th March 2008, 11:54||#13|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Dayton, OH
Thanked: 16 Times
Man !! Can you import some of that scenery down south please..
In a way, its good that the roads are bad and access is limited. Otherwise, the Mongolian horde would have decended on the place armed with their Lays chips packet, mineral water bottles et all and turned the place into a rubbish dump.
|12th March 2008, 12:03||#14|
Join Date: Jan 2006
Thanked: 0 Times
Awesome!! Your travelogue sure gave me a strange kind of heart-ache.
The kind that refreshes some special memories with someone special.
I'll put the newly bought Safari to good use and visit the less-visited hills this year end.
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