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Old 28th October 2009, 14:51   #91
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Malling Nullah is closed more time than it is open! When we went by, we were lucky the road had just reopened after 10 days, and we ourselves had to wait nearly an hour for the rubble to be cleared. I guess Nako has good hotels only because of the frequent problems at Malling Nullah!

The earlier road was a disaster since it was lower down in the Valley (near the river bank) and had more landslides - I think on one occasion 3 kms were completely washed away and the road was closed for over a year. The higher road (present one) was built to take care of the landslide problem but that has not succeeded. I believe they are building an alternative alternative road on the other bank of the River Sutlej, I also saw traces of the under-construction road there - that side seems to have no streams/nullahs and has more solid rock foundation.

And here are the photos we took there at Malling Nullah:




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Old 28th October 2009, 15:03   #92
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The new bypass that everyone talks about is exactly that green arrow stretch. Its one terrible place. That old road is completely history, this is the only one now. Waiting for your next episode.
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Old 28th October 2009, 15:08   #93
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See the capiton comment in this picture of Malling
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Old 28th October 2009, 15:16   #94
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@ Jay, In any case, this road is only temporary and I understand that the new road on the other bank will take another 1-2 years to complete.
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Old 29th October 2009, 09:54   #95
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Default Day 9

Finally it was sunrise and by 7:30 or 8 o’clock, the world became more bearable. We inched out of our rooms and started to brush our teeth.
Of course there was no hot water! And my teeth fell off. Well, the mirror said they were still attached to my gums, but the nerve endings at my gum region could not load these attachments!

Meanwhile, our hotel guy made some hot tea for us and I gulped down the tea along with residual toothpaste in my mouth. It tasted funny.
But I could atleast feel my teeth.
Post a few more cups of tea and alu parathas, we were ready to go. We checked out, loaded the luggage back into the car and started for the nullah region.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-01-start.jpg



We thought of checking the nullah and if it didn’t show immediate promise, we would go and visit Yungthang and Leo. These were some 10/15 Kilometers from Nako. But I had only about 25 litres diesel balance and this plan would need fresh diesel supply.
We enquired near the helipad where all the stranded trucks are parked. Nobody had extra diesel. Forget diesel, they didn’t have food. The only truckers Dhaba there had run out of supplies and all those drivers, must be a hundred of them, had to survive those vicious cold nights without food.
Dejected, we gave up Yungthang and Leo plans and proceeded towards the Nullah. We were there around 10:30 AM.

Situation is same as yesterday.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-02-nullah-situation.jpg


The rickety JCB is picking up about 5 out of a million stones at every attempt and taking 10 minutes to shove them down the hill. The centre piece is sitting with full glory.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-03-rickety-jcb.jpg



We came across one important looking uniform clad gentleman. We asked him and got to know that he had ordered a bulldozer from Pooh, which would arrive any minute. Meanwhile, they are rigging the stone for blast. So, they would blast it into pieces and then bulldozer will clear the way. Simple enough.
Road should open up by 4 o’clock max. We hung around a little here and there.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-04-hanging-around.jpg



Slowly it was around 12:30 PM, no sign of blast or Bulldozer. Our important guy is also not present in the scene. The JCB keeps at it. And we are hungry.

Option 1 – Go to Nako and have food, come back by 4 o’clock. I am averse to the plan due to diesel situation. Although it’s barely 2/2.5 kilometers but the nako to Nullah journey is purely first gear 3500 rpm drive.

Option 2 – Go to helipad and check if the truckers dhaba could serve anything. Given the morning scene we have observed, a slim chance.

Option 3 – Maggi.




We concluded on option 3 and started prepping ourselves up. Suddenly there were a lot of hustle bustle. We looked up and saw the JCB trying to hide behind something and all bystanders and workers are coming back. We soon found out that blast was going to happen in five minutes and hence we need to shift out of our great vantage point.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-05-vantage-point.jpg


Well, we got no choice, and actually happy that something was to happen. We moved the car from the blast radius and come back to our view point.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-06-moved-car.jpg


They ask us to hide behind something as blast projectiles can hurt us. We do so and... BOOOOOM!
The resulting dust storm was seen to be believed. Pity that I left the camera in the car.

The dust cleared out in 5 minutes. Everybody was keen to know the result on that huge piece of rock. Well, it’s sturdier than the loksabha, sitting just as pretty. The blast has only caused small scale fresh land slide, and all the debris cleared by the JCB yet, double dosage comes down from above. We are back to square zero point five.
Our important guy comes back into the scene, observes it carefully for a while and announces – looks better. Well I didn’t quite agree but well, he should know. Upon interrogation from the ladies, he said the bulldozer is almost there and now they would dig a road from below the rock. If such a blast hasn’t moved it, it was not gonna come down on its own, at least not very soon. The 4 o’clock might get to 5 o’clock, but it’s gonna open.
We’re decidedly happy. Who wouldn’t be?

Gleefully we return back to our maggi procedure. We open our grocery (we carried more than enough to supply nako for a whole winter), and find we got all arrangements for more. And also we have good 4 hours to kill.
So plan shifts to Khichri plus potato French fries (In Bengali – Khichuri alubhaja). And hence starts our first high altitude cooking ceremony.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-07-high-altitude-cook.jpg


The ladies quickly erect up a kitchenette by rearranging some stones.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-08-kitchen.jpg


While cooking is in progress, I walk around a little. The chill is hanging in the air.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-09-chill.jpg



The truckers have a hard time starting their engines.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-10-truckers.jpg




One guy, tries to push start his truck. The truck doesn't start but it rolls to the middle of the road. A Malling Nullah (actually Kaza) - Shimla bus comes from the other side, but can't pass. Quite a traffic Jam.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-11-traffic-jam.jpg



I check back on the cooking freqeuntly. The little stove is struggling hard against the cold wind.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-12-cold-wind.jpg



The river originating from Malling Nullah is semi - frozen down below.
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-13-frozen-river.jpg




It is cold, wind is hard and the stove is really weak. But we keep our patience and finally the rice and dal to gets cooked. We keep it aside half cooked and fry the potatoes. Once that’s done, the khichri needs a final boil and meal’s ready.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-14-cooked.jpg


As such I am quite averse to this particular dish. But at 12047 feet, 4 or 5 Celsius ambient temperature and prospect of reaching Kaza tonight makes the Khichri taste like honey.
We finish off the meal, washing utensils (in a small stream – runaway offspring of the great Nullah itself) and packing up by around 3:30 PM.


The bulldozer had arrived by then on a blue truck and was being assembled. The JCB was also back to work. Our guy surfaced from somewhere and told – “looks difficult today. Tomorrow noon is final”. And he bhrooms off.
We are beyond getting depressed. We've wasted a day we don't have.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-15-depressed.jpg




I pointlessly click some photos around. Somewhere back in mind I feel this might be my last photo opportunity for the trip.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-16-frozen-river-2.jpg
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-17-frozen-river.jpg



We pack up in a short while and go back to Nako. Meanwhile a lot of fresh input has arrived at the scene and have booked up the two hotels at the bus stand. And anyways I was not one part inclined to go back to the stinky dungeon.
Someone in the bus stand, probably staff of one of the hotels advised me to climb the narrow road towards irrigation bunglow. Inside there were some good places he said. The road was quite steep, very narrow and had a drain on one side. But no choice!
We climb up that road and reach the Kinnnaur Camps.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-18-kinnaur-camps.jpg


They looked very nice from outside. Luxurios tents, clean surroundings. Ladies like it at the first look, but they demand Rs 4000/- per tent!
Ok, Fine! We negotiate it down to Rs. 1100/- per tent. That’s steep too, considering we were simply held up there and this expense was pure extra. But, I too liked the place.
We settle down quickly. The garden and the seat out is beautiful. Although the wind is cold, but we are somewhat acclamatized. The gorgeous view and nice surroundings eases the midns a little bit.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-19-gorgeous-views.jpg
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-19a-views.jpg



Mom takes special initiative in bringing us back to a smile.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-20-mom-cheering.jpg



We enjoy some tea and I engage into a very very old traditional game called “Baghbondi” with mom. I have last played it at our Maternal place, some 25 years back.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-21-baghbondi.jpg



A little while after, we get a little upbeat. Tomorrow we are reaching Kaza, and have a nice place to stay tonight.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-22-stay-tonight.jpg




After sundown even the hilly donkeys try to get cover, we are simple habitants of comfortable plains. However, the tent feels much better insulated than the room we stayed the earlier night. We spend the evening chatting about childhood stories and stuff.
Problem surfaces in the form of dinner. They don’t serve food in the tents, we have to go to the dining tent for that. And it’s open air.
I could barely eat and by the time we’re back at the tents, I have a grinding headache. It’s just about 12000 feet so I guess it’s not AMS, and I don’t have any trouble breathing. Just the head.
The tent guys supply us with some hot water bags and that helped.
The sleep was quite peaceful, didn’t wake up much.
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Old 29th October 2009, 10:32   #96
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Malling gives me the shivers everytime I look at fresh pictures. Have heard some interesting stories from there, including a friend whose motorbike was carted across in by ropes and pulleys.

But cooking khichudi and alubhaja in the shade of the great Malling, takes a true foodie to do do such a thing instead of making maggi!

Question though: With all the supplies in your vehicle, did you even for a moment consider opening a temporary dhaba for the stranded souls and recover the extra hotel money?
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Old 29th October 2009, 19:09   #97
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Sen da, this surely is one grand family adventure. Loving it and gotta complement your sense of humor. Nice, very nice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by genesis View Post
Question though: With all the supplies in your vehicle, did you even for a moment consider opening a temporary dhaba for the stranded souls and recover the extra hotel money?


That bus struck behind the truck would've made sure you get a steady supply of customers!
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Old 29th October 2009, 20:42   #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Sen da, this surely is one grand family adventure. Loving it and gotta complement your sense of humor. Nice, very nice!





That bus struck behind the truck would've made sure you get a steady supply of customers!

Thank you sir.

On a serious note - we should have given our ration stock to those truckers. We brought 95% of that back home.
I just didn't think of it then.
Maybe more experience exploring my country will create this judgement in me.
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Old 29th October 2009, 20:50   #99
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The message of the day - Always carry food provisions when you go on trips to the hills, one never knows when one will be stranded, where your next meal is going from. Although I don't go fully equippped with stoves like Sen2009, I do carry Maggis, Dry Fruits, lots of water, biscuits, chocolates, etc, to safeguard against such contingencies.
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Old 29th October 2009, 21:14   #100
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My contingency supplies always include some ready to eat prepacked food of the MTR variety. Dry fruits & chocolates are calorie dense nutrition and really helpful. Besides they also help save luggage space and the need for carrying a stove.

Sen da, my experience in such situations has been, that if you have more than 50% of the day ahead of you and the situation looks less than 50% chance of turning in you favour, then its better to move ahead with plan 2. 99% of the times it is the right choice. In your case I would have certainly not waited for another day, considering that the bulldozer was not there by 11am. But yet to see how your story unfolds..!!

Am thoroughly enjoying your writeup.
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Old 29th October 2009, 21:17   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
The message of the day - Always carry food provisions when you go on trips to the hills, one never knows when one will be stranded, where your next meal is going from. Although I don't go fully equippped with stoves like Sen2009, I do carry Maggis, Dry Fruits, lots of water, biscuits, chocolates, etc, to safeguard against such contingencies.
I agree with the golden advice, but when you going for a 10-15 days trip, its not a big deal to carry a small stove and other cooking aids.

It will help in such unwanted circumstances and maybe for fun, you can cook yourself few meals.
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Old 29th October 2009, 21:32   #102
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I do carry an electric coffee heater which can heat water if required.
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Old 29th October 2009, 21:37   #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
The message of the day - Always carry food provisions when you go on trips to the hills, one never knows when one will be stranded, where your next meal is going from. Although I don't go fully equippped with stoves like Sen2009, I do carry Maggis, Dry Fruits, lots of water, biscuits, chocolates, etc, to safeguard against such contingencies.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
My contingency supplies always include some ready to eat prepacked food of the MTR variety. Dry fruits & chocolates are calorie dense nutrition and really helpful. Besides they also help save luggage space and the need for carrying a stove.

Sen da, my experience in such situations has been, that if you have more than 50% of the day ahead of you and the situation looks less than 50% chance of turning in you favour, then its better to move ahead with plan 2. 99% of the times it is the right choice. In your case I would have certainly not waited for another day, considering that the bulldozer was not there by 11am. But yet to see how your story unfolds..!!

Am thoroughly enjoying your writeup.
Contingency supplies are absolutely essential.
Full fledged cooking is ofcourse a littlre too much. I'll keep maggi, rice and dal from my next trip.
This time we carried way too much stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by simply_sunny001 View Post
I agree with the golden advice, but when you going for a 10-15 days trip, its not a big deal to carry a small stove and other cooking aids.

It will help in such unwanted circumstances and maybe for fun, you can cook yourself few meals.

I see you're from Rohtak. We crossed your towen on our way. The Sila bypass is a nice road there.
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Old 29th October 2009, 21:46   #104
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I see you're from Rohtak. We crossed your towen on our way. The Sila bypass is a nice road there.
Its called Shiela ByPass as the road passes adjoining to a big Multiplex called Shiela and yes the Roads are good in Haryana.

If i knew earlier, i would have arranged for a refreshment break for you.

Please dont mind to send a msg when you pass thru Rohtak next time.

cheers.
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Old 29th October 2009, 22:23   #105
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Default Day 10

We wake up early, around 8:30 AM, it’s early given the place.
After some quick tea and breakfast, we are off to the nullah. Need to reach early as the passage would be first come first serve basis. And there would be quite a queue.
But we were stopped before the Nullah by army guys, and asked to park among the trucks.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-00-stopped.jpg



Why?
Because, they are rigging a blast.
Also a Military Brigadier or some senior guy has arrived at the scene who can’t let civilians too close.
We wait for the blast and pray to god that may the presence of senior military official bring some pace into the work.
Boom, blast happens.
Rock doesn’t budge. Brigadier runs across the slide area and goes off.
JCB starts the infinite loop of picking up stones and pushing them off.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-01-jcb-left.jpg


The bulldozer we heard about earlier has arrived, but look at its condition!

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-04-bulldozer.jpg



It joins the loop from the other side.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-02-bulldozer-left.jpg



Together they make no visual difference to the existing scene.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-03-scene.jpg



We feel the area has actually deteriorated than what it was two days earlier. Our important guy is no where to be seen.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-05-area-gone-worse.jpg




Meanwhile, truckloads of military people arrive from both sides. From our side, the convoy was of food and essential supplies to be sent to Kaurik, Sumdo etc. From other side, God knows!
The JCB and the bulldozer pulls out, and military people queue up. The locals and tourists also join in.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-06-queue.jpg



The running across the slide starts and goes on. Road work is halted. Our ray of hope gets extinguished slowly and painfully.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-07-running-across.jpg




I can see us going back to the plains as we have exhausted all our reserve days trusting the road work guys commitments. I start feeling helplessly frustrated and razed. I just want to go up there and give the guys a piece of my mind. Ladies try to pacify... fruitlessly.
All the planning, all my preparations for 6 months, paying through the nose for the car... all wasted. Because they won’t even try. They will sit idle and watch army guys running across.
An hour passes by. Scene remains the same.

Meanwhile, the labourers (one’s wearing helmets) deal up with some local entrepreneurs. Instead of sitting purely idle, they start ferrying apple crates. That must have made them some quick buck, while we, the taxpayers watch silently. Their supervisor is nowhere to be seen.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-08-apples.jpg



Another hour passes by.
Suddenly some rocks come down the hill and hit the legs of one tourist running across. The hit was mild, so she somehow manages her balance and completes the run. Is it really worth? I ask myself!

Soon, there’s another one. This time its an army guy. He gets hit in the thigh, slides down and somehow holds on to a large stone. And quickly jumps and runs across the slide.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-09-army.jpg



Next up is a local female (I could tell from far by the Kinnauri cap she had on). The rock is bigger comes down real fast and before anyone could alert her, she’s hit near the shoulder. She slides down to the abyss... The ladies scream, everyone screams... there’s no hope.
From the other side of the ledge, two army Jawans came running down and grabbed a part of her dress. Rocks are still coming down, it’d be three instead of one life. The greater himalaya will tolerate only so much audacity!
They start running up. They would be at least 15 feet below the ledge and the female is hopelessly hanging. I don’t know how, but they pull themselves and her up... back to safety.

Well that was enough. We figured that the nullah will not open. Even if it does open, I am not gonna drive through there. And we need to go. If we stay put, we’ll see something we don’t wanna see.
So, we come back to the car and board up. Where we’d go? Nobody knows, nobody in a mental situation to discuss tour. We just wanna get out of this unholy cursed place of death.

After coming down the Kazigs, slowly people get back to their senses.
We have exhausted our balance days. It was already 11th and we need to be back on 16th.
Sister proposes that part flight option could be evaluated.
That would be to complete the loop from Manali side and then she, my mom and my wife will board a flight from Kullu and reach Mumbai before the deadline. We had enough dresses and stuff to pack a separate bag for my wife. Meanwhile, I would drive down to Mumbai.
It's a far fetched plan and needs many many variables to fall in place. Given our recent luck, I'm not hopeful.

But that plan still gave us a ray of hope. We could not decide but we pressed on.
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