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Old 2nd June 2009, 10:30   #1
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Talking An Unplanned Trip To Gangotri..

"Originally written by Shekhar Walter,Experienced by 4 of us"
Where "I" is Shekhar,"Shobhit (Me)-Driving Swift","Manish & Nitin" as Manish and Nitin.

Let me first tell all the readers that I got the motivation to write this after reading through many of the posts at Team-BHP. Your stories truely inspired me to pen down this incredible journey which I went through, where one thing led to another and a simple rafting trip to Rishikesh turned into a full blown adventure at Gangotri.

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Me, along with three of my colleagues and friends, Nitin, Manish and Shobhit, work night shifts at an RPO in Mathura Road, New Delhi. Fortunately all of us have a zeal for adventure so we decided to go for a road trip on one of our weekends in May. The thing I like about Delhi is its proximity to the Himalayas and the fact that you have the option too choose from so many weekend getaways if you are a mountain lover which all of us are. So, for a couple of weeks during our “sutta” breaks at work, all of us banged our heads as to were we should go. Ultimately, thanks to Nitin we zeroed in on Rishikesh as me ,Manish and Shobhit had not experienced the thrill of rafting yet and Nitin’s description from his previous three visit’s was too tempting for us to resist.We planned to come packed to office on the evening of 9th (that is when our shift starts)hoping to leave on 10th morning(Saturday) at 2:00 am and getting back to Delhi on Monday morning. We decided to go by Manish’s car (A Maruti Swift) and Shobhit declared himself to be our driver for the trip (we din’t have a choice because he came up with nice excuses like “you know I get scared when someone else drives”). The fact is that the car steering for him is just like a toy to a kid , so we gave in coz frankly the rest of us guys preferred sitting back and chilling out.
A day before the journey, me and the other guys took Manish’s car for a quick check up to get it ready for the road…yes…the the lazy bum Manish had not even bothered to get the coolant filled or the pollution done!But the guy is funny and he played a big hand in keeping us entertained in very tough times ahead as you will come to read..he and Nitin completely keep going at each other even in office and the rest of us laugh our socks off!
On the D day (U will come to know why I call it that!), me and Nitin came to office by my car(He parked his bike in my parking) and Manish picked Shobhit up. The whole evening we were too excited to work and fortunately, it being a Friday, we were lucky not to be too loaded with work. At 1:30 Shobhit started pestering everyone to leave as he could’nt wait till 2!. At night only the four of us are in office so finally we managed to squeeze out at 1:45 am.
We stopped by my house and finally, we did a high five and started at around 2:30 am. We stopped by HCL BPO in Noida to grab a few chicken and paneer tikkas and also stocked up on cigerettes, chips and cold drinks. The drive through the night was pleasent with no jams and we reached Meerut quite quickly, engrossed in our banter. Also, we joked on the way about wanting to reach Snow mountains and feeling the snow, but we quickly dismissed the thought as we had to be back by monday. We could not possibly travel to such a place and back in 2 days! Between Meerut and Roorkee we had sporadic heavy traffic in some places but after that it was all clear. We reached Rishikesh at 1:00 am( because of our longish breakfast on one of the dhabas on the way and photo session breaks!). Forunately, Nitin knew the rafting guys at our hotel so we got a 2:00 pm slot from Shivpuri.

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After dumping our luggage at the hotel we left for Shivpuri on a Jeep, which carries the raft on top of it. It took us nearly 20 minutes to reach there. It was a 16 km journey we had to cover downstream from Shivpuri to Ram Jhoola in Rishikesh. There were 8 people on the raft, 4 of us and another group of 3 with the instructor. We were a little tired because we had’nt slept for nearly 24 hours but the touch of the cold water refreshed us again. The rafting was immensely enjoyable, especially when we crossed the level 4 rapids named Roller Coaster and Golf-Course. I can go on and on explaining the rafting to you and fill up the post but I will save it for another day coz this was just a small part of our adventure. (Although it was meant to be the sole object of our exercise!).

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By the end of it all of us were very tired and hungry with our shoulders aching. We went back to the hotel, took a bath and went to a nearby restaurant and ate like wolves. I think all of us agree that it was the most any of us had ever eaten!This was Saturday evening at 7:00. Before collapsing on the bed we decided on leaving at around 4am the next morning for Chamba, which is a hill station around 60 kms from Rishikesh and be back by the evening. Then we could leave for Delhi at night so that we could be there by Monday morning as we had to report for work at 6pm.

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Next morning at 3:30 I dragged Manish and Shobhit out of their peaceful slumber. As for Nitin, who shared the room with me, a mug of cold water splash from Manish did the job.We checked out from the hotel at around 4:00, waking the poor receptionist from his sound sleep and he was obviously not very thrilled.
It was still dark and as we walked towards the car which was parked at some distance, the cool breeze from the Ganges woke us up completely. Our hotel was just near the spot where the rafting ended. It was cold, starry and dark outside with the rumble of the water very clearly audible. It felt a little ominous but it was exciting.

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On the way we stopped to have tea at one of shops which opened early. We reached the gates to the mountains at around 4:30. The policeman there told us to wait till 5 as entry into the mountains from Rishikesh is not allowed before 5:00 am. So we parked and loitered for a while and visited the nearby temple. Finally, the gates to the Himalayas opened and we entered, having no idea about what we would be going through on the next leg of our journey!

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As the sun was rising and we were driving through the zig zag roads we could see rishikesh below and the river ganges.It was a sight to behold. Guided by the signboards we reached Chamba at around 8 am. We were running a little short on fuel and thanksfully there was a BP station just at the entry point. We got a full tank hoping it would last through on our way back to Delhi. There was a cold wind blowing and at one point on our way to Chamba when we got off for tea, we had to get inside the shop because of the chilliness in the air. Manish , who had spent five years in Dehradun, suggested that since it was just 8am we move on to Dhanaulti, roughly 30 km from Chamba. On our way to Chamba, we had come across the “Gangotri/Yamunotri-200 km” signboard a couple of times and we jokingly wished aloud how we could go there. I was the one who initiated the topic. In fact each of us wanted to go there in our hearts but we mostly kept it to ourselves except me occasionally because I had certain liberties being their supervisor!
We reached Dhanaulti at around 9:30am, parked near a good restaurant and gorged on piping hot Alu Paranthas, Omlettes and chai. The Gangotri topic came up again. Manish, who was the least interested in any thoughts about considering it suddenly became interested. And then, sitting right there having breakfast, with our hunger for adventure, we made our Quixotic plan!We were abundant on ideas but short on time…so we quickly asked the restaurant waiter how long it would take us to reach Gangotri. His reply was 6 hrs. Our calculations started. If we left now we could reach Gangotri by 5 in the evening, leave 2 hrs later at 7, we could reach Delhi in 15 hrs, by 10 in the morning, rest and easily go to work at 6pm. How possible it felt!We were so filled up with the urge that we were not ready to consider any obstacles and any comments to this effect were quickly squashed with rebuttals.To think that we would be getting to the source of the river on which we were rafting a day before was enough to blind us with thrill. We had no idea about the kind of roads we would come across or the fact that Gangotri road is notorious for landslides.Even Shobhit did not mind the exhaustive driving.Now you can see what I meant through the comment I made about him and the steering wheel and the toy.We had to drive back to Chamba and take a detour from there to Gangotri via Uttarakashi. It was approximately 200 km. We reached back to Chamba at 11 and took the right turn (it felt right!)to the 3rd and the most adventurous leg of our journey.So a high 5 came again and we were on our way-”Gangotri, here we come”!!!

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A little into our journey we decided to keep a tab on what was the average speed we were doing. No matter how swiftly we drove we somehow could not do more than 20km and hour on an average.The Ganges was flowing deep down and would stay with us till the rest of our journey. 2 hrs into the journey the Ganges water appeared to be very still and absolutely green. When we got a snap it seemed like a wallpaper, it was that beautiful. I would try and upload it here.
At around 3 we reached the detour from where a path turned left for Yamunotri and if we continued going straight we would reach Gangotri. We were a little biased towards Gangotri. Anyways there were a few shops there and most of them advocated Gangotri so our decision was reaffirmed. We stocked up again on cigarettes and water and continued on the way towards Gangotri, which was still around a 100 km away.We were seriously in a time crunch now and wanted to reach Gangotri before dark, since we only had a couple of hours there to enjoy the place. We crossed Uttarakashi, which is quite a big city compared to your normal hill station. When we stopped for a while at a gas station I could see in the horizon far away, there were some pretty dark clouds.
Ganges was now flowing in a thin stream parallel to us and the rishikesh rapids seemed nothing compared to the rapids it made now. The water was milky white. We were late but we had to stop.It was just too beautiful a sight.Green and white everywhere. Mountain, us, the Ganges and another mountain, from left to right and the snow mountains at the distant front. The valley was breathtaking. And I thought Shimla and Musoorie were beautiful!It started raining gently and we parked on the roadside and got another photo session done on the banks of the Ganges.

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We moved on. It had started drizzling quite briskly now and we were going as fast as the roads permitted. The roads were in good condition till Uttarakashi but suddenly now they were becoming narrower and muddier. We crossed a small town of Barihari. Suddenly, looking out from my window I saw a sign saying vehicles not allowed beyond this point after 8 am and before 5 pm. This was another setback. Now we had to stay overnight at Gangotri and leave the next morning and possibly go straight to the office.

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But these plans were laid to rest as our true nightmare started. It had started raining quite heavily by now and the mud on the roads had turned very slippery. Also, the roads were very narrow, barely sufficient for one bus through pass though. Rock boulders from some earlier landslide and the construction work going on also hindered our way. There was a time when a bus in front of us skidded and narrowly managed falling into the Ganges below.That was the one time we got a little scared as I was literally looking down on my right through the window to check as to how much margin we had before the deep valley and the tumultuous Ganges flowing below.
Suddenly our car was stuck in a huge pond of mud. It did not move no matter how much Shobhit tried. The car filled up with the smell of burning tyres. Also, we had a hurried traffic honking from both the sides. Ultimately, we got outside into the heavy rain and the slimy mud and with the help of a few locals pushed the car around 50 meters to a small town called Gangnani. It was actulally a conglomeration of 3-4 shops which formed the town. Our luck that just after here the roads got better. When we opened the bonnet a huge pool of smoke came out as the car was overheated. We filled up water from a spring nearby in buckets which we borrowed from a shop and threw it on the engine. We had no option but to wait around 30 minuted till the car cooled down. It started to get a little darker and colder. The rain had thanksfully stopped.We all had come in our t-shirts, not in our wildest imaginations thinking of this. Before us were beautiful snow capped peaks and to our left was a mountain a couple of huts about 200 meters up. To our right just below the shops the Ganges flowed and to its right was again a mountain. So we were sort of trapped in a valley.
We passed time by sipping hot tea and smoking cigerettes waiting for the car to cool down.Finally it did and we breathed a sigh of relief! Shobit turned on the ignition but the car did’nt budge. He tried for a couple of times more but still nothing. We were in for the shock of our lives as the most probable reason for the car not starting now was that the clutch plate had burned out! It meant that we had to get a mechanic and a clutch plate from somewhere. But the trouble was that we were in the middle of nowhere! A couple of passer by’s told us to go back to Barihari, which was around 12 kms on the way back and try and get a mechanic from there. Me and Nitin decided to go, then all of us decided against it as it was too risky walking 12 kms in the dark and even if we got the mechanic he would not come so late and if he decided to come, the Barihari border would be sealed at 8pm. Also we tried getting a lift but no one stopped in that terrible weather and at that time. So we were left with no option but to guts it out through the night.

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It was 6:30 and nearly completely dark. First thing we did was try to call home. That was another problem as we had no signal as only BSNL worked there and there were no pco’s in sight. We borrowed a phone from a passerby and all of us informed our respective homes. Even with BSNL we had to stand on our heels or look for specific points in air to keep the phone in order to get a signal!I called up my sister and just manged to say “didi,I was going to Gangotri and……” the call disconnected. She must have panicked!Fortunately she later told me that she had called back on the number and the man whose phone we were using told her that our car broke down and we were o.k.
Then we had to think of a place to stay at night. One of the Shop’s had a room attached to it(which the owner must have built to accommodate stranded people like us!). Anyways, the view from the room was incredible with the Ganges flowing rapidly right down the window. You have to be there to know how beautiful it was!But we also did’nt want to leave the car outside like that so we ultimately decided to spend the night in the car. We were not sure of the place we were at or the kind of people there. We then got together and decided on our course of action. We stocked up on the food (chips again, the only thing available there!). It was 7:00 pm and absolutely dark now. The shopkeepers started pulling the shutters down and left. We were all alone now. I decided that we should pull out the jack and keep it with us along with some stones inside the car , just in case we had the need to use it. Me and Manish volunteered to get out of the car first incase we had a need to fight if attacked.
It was unbearably cold outside and pitch dark so we had our last smoke and everyone got into the car. Shobhit and Manish in the front, me and Nitin at the back. Half and hour must have passed and a dog started barking outside, which we later came to know was “kaalu” ,one of the shop owners dog. There were three things which kept us awake throughout the night.
1)The dog kept barking and everytime we felt he saw somebody
2) Every 5 minutes Shobhit saw a figure in the dark he woke everybody up
3) It was damn cold, even inside the car and the roar of the river down was a little scary(we could hear it even with the car windows shut)!.
We were sure to miss the office on Monday and I was thinking of a way to inform my boss. For the fist time in my life I realized how dependent I was on the mobile phone!It was the longest night in my life.
Finally day came. At around 5 am me and Manish covered ourselves with with a blanket each and started on the 12km trek to Barihari to get a mechanic. The walk unexpectedly was not tiring as we had so much beauty surrounding us. Fans of Shimla , Nainital or Musoorie please don’t mind but this beats them hands down. When we were thirsty we drank from the streams of water falling down the mountain. We reached Barihari at 8:00 am and went straight to the only mechanics available there. To our great dissapointment, these guys were already told that there was a red broken down swift ahead but they did not have a clutch plate. So we would have to go all the way back to Uttarkashi to get the clutch plate. We quietly thanked them and took a jeep from Barihari to Uttakashi which is around 30kms . The sun was out and the roads were in better condition than the previous day so we reached Uttarkashi at around 10 am. Manish got a nice nap on the way, my shoulder being his pillow!
Fortunately we saw an auto shop right next to were we got off at Uttarakashi. Suddenly we became conscious that we were looking like refugees with the covered blanket and all. So we took it off and headed straight for the shop. We told our story to the shopkeeper who said he might have the clutch plate. For a moment there we were so relieved. But 10 minutes later he came back and told us that he has the clutch plate for every other model except SWIFT as it is a new model!!I could not believe my ears! The only option now was him calling up the Maruti showroom in Dehradun through which the clutch plate would be loaded on the 1 PM bus which would reach Uttarakashi at 7pm. Even if we could get a mechanic by then no use going back coz the Barihari border would be sealed by 8pm. So me and Manish had to stay overnight at Uttarkashi and poor Nitin and Shobhit one more night in the car!! We got a decent room to stay in a hotel just above the auto shop which was run by the shopowner himself. His name was Suleiman. We then went out in the search of a mechanic who agreed to go with us at 6am the next morning to put the new clutch plate for 1000 rs. The new clutch plate had already set us back by 3500Rs. So with nothing more to do we had a breakfast of Aloo Paranthas(yeah…again) and went to sleep. We were afraid that with us not back by the evening they (Shobhit and Nitin) would panick but fortunately they called from some one’s cell and we told them. They also conveniently lodged themselves into the Shop owners room, the one with a beautiful view. In In the night me and Manish explored Uttarakashi on foot a little bit and had a hearty meal of roti, paneer and dal which we thoroughly relished!I also called my boss and home and tried to explain our situation in the best way possible!
We woke up early morning at 5 and spent half an hour finding the shopowner who was supposed to get the clutch plate and another hour roaming twice across Uttarakashi with the shopkeeper to search for the bus which had bought it. Finally we got everything and left with the mechanic towards Gangnani at around 7:00 am. We reached at eight and the mechanic whose name was “Dhanoi” started his work. We nearly broke our backs trying to lift the heavy engine while he put the plate in place. At around 1: 00 pm he gave us another shock. He said that the new clutch plate is also not working. We were seriously getting worried about getting stuck there for a long long time. We wanted to pull our hair out. I told him to try again and after breaking our spines for 3 more hours finally we made it! The car was moving again. All of us breathed the heaviest sigh of relief in our entire life! It was 4:30 now. We had requested one of the shopkeepers to prepare Daal Chawal for us which he kindly did. Now call it foolhardy or the spirit of adventure, while eating we decided if we had come so far why not make it to Gangotri!!Anyhow, we couldn’t leave for the return journey at night so again all of us got all starry eyed. I have not seen four people so obsessed with adventure! So we left Gangnai, saying goodbye to the shokeepers and the dogs Kaalu and Sheru, who had become friends in our solitude.
The last leg of our journey was about 60 miles but absolutely worth it. I have seen photos of Manali-Leh highway but this too was absolutely beautiful!We were surrounded by snow mountains on all four sides and the Ganga now was a thin stream about 10 meters wide. We reached Gangotri afte dark at around 8:00 pm. It was freezing at -1 degree and we were still in t-shirts!As we were parking the car we had the same smell of burning tyre again and the car stopped moving. This had to be it!!We thought the clutch plate had gone again!I then decided that two of us will have to go back to Delhi tomorrow morning come what may or we might loose our jobs. So we had another night of sleeping in the car. Fortunately there was a kind soul, a driver form Delhi, who lent us some heavy blankets so we survived another night!!
As luck would have it, the car started the next morning!We did a quick Darshan of the temple and left for the return journey to Delhi at around 7am. We had a lot of fun on the way back.Manish was driving this time and Shobhit had Vodka for the first time in his life and kept talking non stop from Haridwar to Delhi and we had a lot of fun at his expense(we still do). Also we were quite relaxed, though we did’nt know if we still had our jobs or not!We reflected back on the trip and agreed that this has to be the best ever. Though we were faced with hardships we went through it with a cool head and the experience brought all of us closer!!
We finally reached Delhi at 11:00 pm on the 14th May.The next day was spent giving explanations at office and to family members. Finally everyone recognized what we had gone through and my bosses even had the patience to listen to the complete story. One of them went to Gangotri in July!!
At the end I want to thank all you guys who took the time out to read my post. This was the best trip of our life and taught us a lot about surviving in difficult situations. It made us aware of the beauty and the wrath of nature at the same time. Given a chance to go over the trip again I wouldn’t want to change anything!

Some More Pics--Click here

Last edited by Rehaan : 3rd June 2009 at 14:29. Reason: Please take a look at Team-BHP rule #11. Thanks.
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Old 2nd June 2009, 11:56   #2
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Wow! That was one hell of an adventure!

Well written, but would have loved it if you had broken it down to a few more paragraphs for easy reading. Nevertheless, the post does show the feeling that you had been thru! Great one!

And about the car - how did you manage to kill the clutch! And pouring water on a warm engine - please don't try it again.

And when you say burning rubber smell, I reckon now you know what it is, it is burning clutch.
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Old 2nd June 2009, 12:24   #3
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@ happy Wheels
Thanks a lot.regarding the clutch,i feel it must have already been week and we just added fuel to fire.Yup i agree now will not even dare to pour water on hot engine next time.(We were just getting impatient )
Well I request the mods if they could provide some spacing at least in last 2 paragraphs.
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Old 2nd June 2009, 12:32   #4
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Updated Link

More Pics Click Here
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Old 2nd June 2009, 12:49   #5
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Wow!! Now that's what I call modern day adventurism. Wonderful thread and a very eventful one at that. Sad that 2 had to spend an additional night in the car. If there's one reason I would move to Delhi, is its proximity to the Himalayas. Really enjoyed reading the thread and what a wonderful way to journey and spend a weekend.
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Old 2nd June 2009, 13:27   #6
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Travel condition in the mountains changes very rapidly during rain and snow. Its always better to plan a little ahead and have time in hand for any eventuality.

You are fortunate not to have cracked the engine head by throwing water to a hot engine.
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Old 2nd June 2009, 14:22   #7
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Great trip. Please post some gangotri pics here. I have problems accessing picasa.
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Old 2nd June 2009, 14:57   #8
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Quote:
Great trip. Please post some gangotri pics here. I have problems accessing picasa.
As requested

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Old 2nd June 2009, 16:10   #9
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If you want to cool down the car, open the bonnet and, just let it cool naturally.
Pouring bucket load of water may damage some exposed electronics.

Also no need to spin the wheels unnecessarily - it is bad for transmission.
Best is to just push the car out, slowly.

Everything else looks fun though.

Last edited by aerohit : 2nd June 2009 at 16:17.
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Old 2nd June 2009, 16:51   #10
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Wow!! Its great.
One thing I envy about you guys about the proximity of Himalay.
Keep adveturing!!
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Old 2nd June 2009, 17:37   #11
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Way to go Dude. Sometimes we should let the child in us come out and "really live" the life. All the best for the next trip. Do share travelogue (distances etc) if you made one.
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Old 2nd June 2009, 19:49   #12
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Nice travelogue. Memories such as the brakedown and the night you guys spent in shivers will remain etched in your hard drive for ever. They eventually become 'fond' memories.
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Old 3rd June 2009, 02:39   #13
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Quote:
If you want to cool down the car, open the bonnet and, just let it cool naturally.
Pouring bucket load of water may damage some exposed electronics.

Also no need to spin the wheels unnecessarily - it is bad for transmission.
Best is to just push the car out, slowly.
Thanks will surely take care of that in future..

@biswajit
We Delhites are lucky that ways...

@ Rishi
Quote:
Way to go Dude. Sometimes we should let the child in us come out and "really live" the life. All the best for the next trip. Do share travelogue (distances etc) if you made one.
Totally agree with each and every word.

@Jaysmokesleaves

Thanks buddy.Its a year by now and we remember it as if it was yesterday
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Old 3rd June 2009, 10:01   #14
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Thanks Shobhit for posting more pics. The urge to drop everything and head for the Himalayas has become unbearable now.
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Old 3rd June 2009, 10:24   #15
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Thats something called an adventure in the true sense! Hats off for the spirit to go till the end in spite of all these in between.
-regards,
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