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Old 29th October 2009, 22:33   #106
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530 kms - that is the extra distance we travelled in 2004 to go to Kaza. That year also, the Malling Nullah was closed and we reached Spello and turned back (instead of going on Spello-Malling-Kaza route). Took the long route via Jalori Jot and Manali and completed three-fourths of the circle to reach Kaza (Spello-Jalori-Manali-Kunzum la-Kaza).
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Old 29th October 2009, 22:47   #107
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beautiful pics sen, Toothpaste residual with tea, sounds interesting

best technique I learned is, carry a 2 liter thermal water bottle, before leaving hotel ask them to fill it boiling drinking water. Keep cup noodles with you.

That boiling can be used for

1. Quick cup noodle
2. making tea and coffee,
3. provide relief in extreme cold

And I think carrying a stove with minimal cookery stuff is more fun and insurance in emergency.

While leaving from leh to Khardungla, I filled the thermal bottle with hot water, at khardungla mixed a little in another bottle with cold water to make it drinkable at almost below zero temp, and after 6 hours I could make a perfect cup noodle from the left over water.
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Old 29th October 2009, 22:53   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
...
While leaving from leh to Khardungla, I filled the thermal bottle with hot water, at khardungla mixed a little in another bottle with cold water to make it drinkable at almost below zero temp, and after 6 hours I could make a perfect cup noodle from the left over water.
That's a seriously intelligent idea! I will most definitely adopt it from now on.
I mean stove and all is fine, but arranging that would be too much hassle for shorter duration trips. This would take care of simply any situation.



Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
530 kms - that is the extra distance we travelled in 2004 to go to Kaza. That year also, the Malling Nullah was closed and we reached Spello and turned back (instead of going on Spello-Malling-Kaza route). Took the long route via Jalori Jot and Manali and completed three-fourths of the circle to reach Kaza (Spello-Jalori-Manali-Kunzum la-Kaza).
That's what!
But, one needs to have atleast two days extra to cover this distance!
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Old 30th October 2009, 07:53   #109
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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.
Empathise with you but there is only so much that can be done without compromising safety. You have yourself observed stones hitting people constantly. While you may think it is idle time pass two things are important:
1. Doing such a task (JCB/Bulldozer) in a hurry is just asking for trouble.
2. Many times work is also stopped to let the gradient rest and see is slope is stable.

The misshapen tank of bulldozer attest to fact that some times in the past the driver did have a lucky break.

Nature is more than match for human efforts.
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Old 2nd November 2009, 12:24   #110
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Sensaab, there is no postings for the past couple of days looking out for more!
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Old 2nd November 2009, 15:14   #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sen2009 View Post
That's a seriously intelligent idea! I will most definitely adopt it from now on.
I mean stove and all is fine, but arranging that would be too much hassle for shorter duration trips. This would take care of simply any situation.

..........

That's what!
But, one needs to have atleast two days extra to cover this distance!
Sen, Great story that and pictures. I understand your frustraitons, but that circuit is known for closures due to landslides etc., there's only so much you can do against nature, when She takes a deep breath and blows, you're helpless. Given the variables, I think the BRO is doing a wonderful job out there.

Giving below link to a travalogue on the trip I did to Tribal Circuit in August, we also carried rations for an emergency, we were lucky, the roads were open, the rain Gods were with us and we had an almost smooth trip.

A'Bad-Chdh-Kalpa-Chitkul-Delhi-A'Bad - India Travel Forum, BCMTouring.com

--

Last edited by ramkya1 : 2nd November 2009 at 15:19.
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Old 2nd November 2009, 17:04   #112
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Default BRB... and back!

Guys, I am sorry for the break.
Had gone on one more trip tis weekend.
Have to thank Dear HVK for that sugession.

I'll be back with the next update in no time.
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Old 2nd November 2009, 20:57   #113
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Cool travelogue this, really enjoying the way the trip is unfolding. Great going!

Quote:
Originally Posted by amip View Post
Sen - great read - following with interest. You were lucky to see vultures - very rare to spot them now. I'm surprised to hear that you hadn't seen them at close quarters before - there were hundreds of them in most schools when i was growing up - but like many other things - have disappeared over the years.
The number of vultures in India have gone down drastically in the recent years, almost to the verge of extinction. The main culprit, they say, is the drug diclofenac which is widely used to treat cattle, whose carcasses in turn are staple food for the vultures. The effect of this unintentional poisoning on the vultures is a loss of ability to reproduce. By the time our researchers found out the truth, large scale damage had been done and these birds had disappeared from most places in India where they were seen abundantly, earlier.

Lets hope the himalayas provide a safe haven for whatever is left of their species.
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Old 2nd November 2009, 22:35   #114
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Sen da, kothaye..??
Speed up... and where was this other short trip you did..???
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Old 3rd November 2009, 03:41   #115
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I've spent the last couple of hours going through the entire thread. And wow! Its so captivating, feels like one is part of the journey! Keep writing, eagerly waiting for the next post!
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Old 3rd November 2009, 08:48   #116
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Default Day 10 End

We kept discussing the "flightplan" in detail.
We evaluated scenarios like getting trapped in Kaza if Kunzum get closed while we are on the worng side.

Even after a lot of discussions, we could not firmly conclude on the next action.
Should we go back or should we try Kaza by manali?

By this time, we reached near Rampur and it was around 9 o'clock. People were exhausted.

So, I proposed that we stop for dinner at Rampur and we do the "modified coin toss" to finalize.

The Modified Coin Toss is slightly different from the normal coin toss one sees in cricket mtaches. In this coin toss, one decides the head-tail scenarios before tossing the coin. After that it's tossed and while it's rotating up there in the air and just crosses the crest of it's path, everybody looks at it and realizes what they really want!

Initially I though of doing the coin toss post dinner. But, as soon as we disemarked at Cafe Sutlej in Rampur, my mom asked me to toss it.
I did so and in less than 5 seconds we decided to do it through Manali.
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Old 3rd November 2009, 10:01   #117
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Default Day 11

We woke up around 6 o’clock. It was Monday but we had no blues. Because, today we will go to Manali via Jalori pass. It was about 200 Kilometers drive, so we’d need the whole day.
The roads here are much simpler than what we have driven on for last few days, so progress was decent.

We reached a small but crowded town called Oni around 8 o’clock.
Breakfast was non-delicious alu paratha and some worse cabbage curry. The tea was better though. Post the tea, I came out of the shop and lit up while ladies settled the bills. The shopkeeper cum waiter came running down and hissed in my ear – “smoking here is fined at Rs. 500/-“. In a reflex I threw it off and stomped over.
You had to see the laughter among the guys. They simply took me for a ride! Although pissed, this piece of practical joke eased off my mind a great deal from the yesterday’s trauma.
With a smiling face I promised him that I would certainly break his leg if I ever spot him at any corner of Mumbai. And we left...



The scenery was beautiful. The greenery, the pine/ Christmas trees, the river, the streams were enchanting after three days of barren yellow at Nako.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_01-beautiful-scenary.jpg



The climb to Jalori is a plain broken dirt road. Something got into my front right wheel (some stone chips I guess) and kept making an irritating noise. I ignored it and moved on. We reached Jalori around 10 o’clock.
Jalori is like a poor man’s pass. One needs to be told that this is a pass. It was the first pass my sister had ever seen and she needed to be pacified with stories of snow covered passes coming up.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_02-jalori.jpg

We loitered a little, made ample fun of the driving advisory board and pushed on.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_03-advisory.jpg


About 30 minutes after leaving Jalori, we came across this beautiful dam. It also had a temple on the far side. The color of the water was amazingly green. (No snaps of the sluis as it said "no photograhy" in bold big letters.)

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_04-lake.jpg
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_05-lake.jpg





From there progress was quite fast, and we hit the Aut tunnel around 12 o’clock, and was in Kullu by 12:30. First glimps of the Beas was enchanting. We got down at one place and soaked in the view for a few minutes.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_06-beas-first.jpg



Initially plan was made to reach Manali by 1:30 – 2 o’clock, check in to a hotel, get some rest and explore Manali Van Vihar in the evening.
But soon we came across a number of boards pointing towards Manikaran. We haven’t been to Manikaran last time we were in Manali. So we decided to check it out, given that we had some time in our hands.
The first 30 Kilometers were peaceful, the last 2 kilometers was traffic jam.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_07-jam.jpg



We slogged hard dodging hordes of sheep and reached Manikaran around 3:30 Pm.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_08-sheep.jpg




We parked at manikaran gurudwara. There is a wide clean path from Parking to Gurudwara which was taken by mom and sister. I followed my wife's newly acquired mountaineering skills to the same destination.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_09-tool.jpg

The bengalis passed a number of remarks, like -
"Ki Dada, tool debo?" (Should I give you a stool to step on?")



All Manikaran has got is some hippie looking foreigners and a hot spring completely monopolized by a Gurudwara and a Temple. How can the Governement allow private/ religious establishments to proprietorize a natural phenomena. I was mighty pissed with the wastage of time. This is all that is left for nature lovers at manikaran!

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_10-hot-spring.jpg



Without wasting much time around there, we returned back.
On our way out of the Gurudwara, I came across the most ungrateful pack of three young guys. They asked me to take a snap of them, which I did. I took there snaps standing, sitting down, tilting aside.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_11-ungrateful.jpg



After I had finished, they took back their camera, checked the snaps and said - "We needed the water to be in the background"!
Then you should tell that FIRST!!
Whatever! We left.



Now we needed lunch. On the way up, we spotted many a dhabas and hotels on the way. I parked in front of a nice looking one. All got down and entered the hotel restaurant.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_12-no-lunch.jpg


The owner greeted us with a warm smile and informed that food was not available as the cook was “busy”. What can keep a hotel cook busy at lunch time other than “cooking?”!



We went a little further and found another one. Cook was busy cooking there.
But it was an Israeli joint. Hippie ladies were wearing quite outrageous dresses inside. I didn’t mind, but I had my mom along. However, we decided to ignore and got seated anyway. Mom was told that they were having some fancy dress competetion!

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-r_13-bhoj.jpg


The menu was like CAT question paper. You have to choose from what’s there, and plenty is there but you don’t have the slightest clue about what’s what!
My sister who otherwise claims herself to be an expert on outlandish food completely flopped. She asked if they served dal chawal?!
They didn’t and we had to choose stuff to eat from the CAT paper itself. So we asked the waiter to suggest, while maintaining an air that we are actually understanding what he was saying.
I mainly kept silent, I had my day with waiters already!
After much discussions and conversations, we ordered things like Pita, Lafa, Falafel, Bureka etc. Everything were cooked using wheat flour, that’s all I can tell for sure. They told those were veg stuff, but we wouldn’t know even if they had stashed dog meat in those.

We ate whatever we could, made a complete mess of there elaborate food dressing procedures and left. If there was a writer among the stoned hippies, she wouldn’t write highly about Indian food culture.



Post lunch, We reached Manali without much ordeal, and checked into a hotel near the mall.
The plan is to get up as early as possible and leave for Kaza.
So, we requested the hotel guys to give us a wake up call and tea around 6:30. And received the good news.
Rohtang pass was blocked on Tuesdays by GREF for road widening work. That’s what we needed. After such ordeal and set back, we were finally defeated.
Well, what could we do? It was not meant to happen. We won’t see Spiti.
We decide to take a day off and rest in Manali and go back. I wasn't even depressed!


Around 8 o’clock, I got out of the room and decided to take a stroll around the mall. Just for time pass, I entered a travel agents office and asked if he can rent out a cab for going to Kaza tomorrow. He quoted Rs. 5000/- for dropping off us to Kaza and said we would have to leave at 5 o’clock as road will be closed later.
I didn’t even thank him and came running back to hotel. We sort of beat ourselves to sleep.
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Old 3rd November 2009, 11:01   #118
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Thats some string of badluck you had there dude.
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Old 3rd November 2009, 13:17   #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sen2009 View Post
Around 8 o’clock, I got out of the room and decided to take a stroll around the mall. Just for time pass, I entered a travel agents office and asked if he can rent out a cab for going to Kaza tomorrow. He quoted Rs. 5000/- for dropping off us to Kaza and said we would have to leave at 5 o’clock as road will be closed later.
I didn’t even thank him and came running back to hotel. We sort of beat ourselves to sleep.
The plot thickens! Suspense creeps in, now waiting for the next post.

You know what, I see parallels between your trip and the Tribal circuit trip that I'd done in July 2007. I also wasn't able to cross Malling as it was blocked for 3 days. So we headed back, stayed in Sarahan for 2 days, and headed to Manali via Jalori Jot to scale Rohtang and head for Spiti. Alas, I wasn't able to do the Gramphoo - Losar stretch due to a flooded Nallah, which I didn't dare venture into with my Maruti Esteem.
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Old 3rd November 2009, 15:00   #120
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Default Day 12 Part 1

We got up early, early means really early – at 3:30 AM. Everything was kept packed. So we left the hotel by 3:45 AM.
Funny enough, nobody stopped us anywhere, and we crossed Gulaba peacefully. It was still dark and the road was very very bad.
I figured that it was unlikely to be stopped ahead of there. So I decided to halt on the road side till a little light comes out. Attempting Rohtang in pitch darkness was kind of risky, I thought.

Slowly the first rays of the sun reached the earth and we saw this –

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-01-sunlight-1.jpg
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-02-sunlight-2.jpg




From there Rohtang took me about one and half hour. There was no traffic at all, but I drove very slowly and
cautiously. This was not fun territory, or so was I told.
Rohtang was completely barren, no snow anywhere and extremely cold.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-03-rohtang-shrine.jpg


We could barely stand outside for a minute for the customary snaps.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-04-rohtang-cold.jpg



The road is even worse after Rohtang. We were crossed by a military convoy, they left a small kiss on my right side mirror.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-05-rohtang-bad-roads.jpg
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-06-rohtang-bad-roads-more.jpg


We rushed off towards our breakfast halt at Gramphoo. It was some 13/14 kilometres down from Rohtang.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-07-gramphoo.jpg

We took a fairly long break there. The weather was cold but still bearable. I needed the break more as I drove such difficult terrain (in my standards) without the morning tea. Back home, I need the tea to just open my eyes.

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


First thing I noticed there was the absolutely cool looking urban tea tray! Quite a contrast to the other old aluminium utensils used there.

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


After gulping down some tea, I opened my eyes.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-10-open-eyes.jpg


This dhaba had facility for night halts also.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-11-night-halt.jpg



We had plenty of food there, Alu parathas, Maggi, Omlette and litres of tea. This was the best tasting food in the whole trip. If anyone visits Gramphoo, there are two dhabas. The first one when coming from Rohtang side is run by a lady (whom we affectionately named “Boudi” - meaning wife of elder brother) and is the good one. The other one is plain. Do eat her alu parathas.
“Boudi” asked us about our trip plans and requested us to eat at her on our way back too. We were just too happy to promise.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-12-food-plenty.jpg



We took off from gramphoo around 9 o’clock.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-13-leave-gramphoo.jpg


The road to Spiti breaks right from the Leh highway right after the Dhaba. We took the road.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-14-kaza-board.jpg
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-15-left-gramphoo.jpg


The map said there were three settlements on this road – Chatru, Chota Dhara, Batal till Losar. Afterwards, there are many small villages till Kaza.
To hell with maps. I'll go wherever this road takes me to.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-16-spiti-bad-roads.jpg


We crossed many a waterfall on the road, some big, some small some frozen.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-17-small-waterfall.jpg


The road was good somewhere, somewhere not so good.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-18-better-roads.jpg


We stopped many times, many places and stared at the Cahndra River.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-19-car-park.jpg
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-20-chandra-river.jpg


We crossed Chatru after about 45 minutes.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-21-chatru-bridge.jpg


The mountain looks the same even when you look back in your life through a broken mirror!

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-22-broken-mirror.jpg

It was becoming very tough to decide where to stop to take photos. Every place is beautiful.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-23-chandra-river.jpg
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-24-continuous-beauty.jpg
The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-25-more-chandra.jpg



The road is more like a river bed, all kinds of stones lying around.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-26-rocky-road.jpg


A little while later we reached Chota Dhara.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-27-chota-dhara.jpg

The scenary is beyond the scope of my language.

The Himachal Tribal Circuit - 2009-28-chota-dhara-more.jpg
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