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Old 16th March 2009, 09:40   #1
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Default Nightmares and Dreamscapes: A Trip to remember

Note from mod: This thread is closed. Please read only first page, and for rest of the travelogue look at this thread

If I looked back on my life, what would I remember?
The corner office? The VIP lounge? Nope, those memories have been stamped out. There are much stronger memories overwriting those. Like the ad says, I have been reclaimed and recycled. I remember many other things. Like service light talking to me in morse code "serves you right for buying a tata".
I remember the narrow road, and the lofty snow clad peaks, the thin air of 3200mts above MSL, the silence of an engine not running.

I remember the black colored lizard running across the road. I can observe it because I am not driving.

I remember the baspa river hundreds of feet below, how it snakes through snowfields. I can look at it and admire it because I am standing outside and admiring the scenery.

So some trips are ones you remember, every dreamscape crystal clear, and every nightmare very real.

This trip is such a trip. 1450kms, full of bits you never forget.

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The plan was simple, because simple plans are supposed to work
Sangla valley was 16 hours away, and 8 hours would mean somewhere around solan.
For the next day our PWD rest house was booked, and we would reach sangla around 6pm. easy peasy.

so we started for solan around 2:30pm, and thankfully without encountering any jams(Mukarba flyover has opened), we proceeded uneventfully up the hills.
Dinner was done at Gyani da dhaba, an excellent place at dharampur, and after that we started scouting for hotels. Since it was late at night, and we were still close to plains, prices quoted were ridiculous.
We decided to proceed towards apple cart Inn at kiarighat, and if we found a cheap hotel before that, well and good.
Well we found one, falcon's nest and negotiated 795 for a lousy room.
But what the heck, it was matter of few hours.
We slept before 12, it was going to be a long day tomorrow!

Last edited by tsk1979 : 17th March 2009 at 12:36. Reason: trying to fix thread
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Old 16th March 2009, 09:45   #2
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Tanveer, some things in life bring out the poet in us. Be it to announce joy or hurt, or an enigmatic mix of the two.
This introduction from you reads like one such!

I'm holding my breath, highly concerned as I am this year with the utter failure of snowfall in our mountains. Waiting to hear a first hand account of an area of Himachal which is perhaps the most beautiful and which has always had ample water. Heck, on the road to Chitkul you have to cross streams flowing across the so called road!
And the Baspa is never more than a stone's throw away.
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Old 16th March 2009, 09:47   #3
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Now awaiting for further log
bad that safari gave up on you,but the shutterbug in you would have appreciated it since it might have given you lots of time to click pics
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Old 16th March 2009, 09:58   #4
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Looks like this thread is going to be interesting, subscribing to it right now.

Lets just hope the safari did not bother you too much.
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Old 16th March 2009, 10:19   #5
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Sangla!!!! Very desperately waiting for the rest and the pics. A LOT of Pics!!!
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Old 16th March 2009, 10:26   #6
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@TSK, as much as the pain is obvious for all to see, I honestly think you should have tested it out a little more closer home before trying some mountaineering.

You would have done your checks, taken precautions, and there may be points I could have missed. Call it hindsight if you will - but a few sessions of local OTR & some highway drives, both where help is more easily available may have been a better approach before sterner tests like this one.
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Old 16th March 2009, 11:10   #7
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@Condor: I wouldnt agree on that, all he did was take up a long trip, which a new 10 lakh SUV should do without a fuss and also the issue was not a repeat one.
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Old 16th March 2009, 11:17   #8
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Originally Posted by Jaggu View Post
@Condor: I wouldnt agree on that, all he did was take up a long trip, which a new 10 lakh SUV should do without a fuss and also the issue was not a repeat one.
Exactly I have tested my vehicle for 12000kms, and the pipe never bent once. So how much more do I test, and how do I test!
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Old 16th March 2009, 11:24   #9
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Originally Posted by Jaggu View Post
@Condor: I wouldnt agree on that, all he did was take up a long trip, which a new 10 lakh SUV should do without a fuss and also the issue was not a repeat one.
After a major long-drawn trauma ? They practically replaced half the components under that hood - and given the trial and error it was quite a decision! I remember I was pretty ginger about the OHC after a tie-rod change and drove around a little before a long distance trip, and then again took it easier than I would over rough stretches.

Tsk, that was a very brave move which unfortunately did not pan out. You must ask Tata for some for of compensation, at least (they will claim that the specific problem, I'm sure, has been fixed) Awaiting the triplog...
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Old 16th March 2009, 11:46   #10
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Default Day 2: Run to the hills

Nightmares and Dreamscapes: A Trip to remember-491732595_ruv5hxl.jpg
We started at 9am from near Solan, just 30 minutes behind schedule.
Since it was Mar 11, Holi, traffic was thin, we could reach shimla quickly, and by 11:30 we would be at Narkanda.
However holi is not without its pitfalls.
Lots of teenagers descend on roads, blocking it, throwing color, and demanding 10rs fees to let your vehicle to pass through.
So you have 2 choices. Pay 10rs at every village, get your clothes spoilt, color thrown on your car, or you can press one hand on the horn other on the accelerator, and watch them scurrying out.

I chose the latter, and at 11:30 we were sitting at Hotel Hatu at Narkanda, eating cutlets and omelettes for lunch, since official lunch time is 1pm. The road from shimla to Narkanda is okay for most part with few kms being really bad due to landslides etc.,

We relaxed there, and I noticed that it was like drought. No snow visible anywhere, and most landscape barren and littered with trees without leaves. The Hatu guys told us this year there was hardly any snow, and they expect water shortage if pre monsoon rains are not good

At around 12:30, we pushed off.
The descend to sutlej was uneventful, and holy reverlers were thinning out as lunch time approached.
The crowded Rampur market was empty, and we could breeze through. The road was
excellent, and I hoped my good fortunes with the road will continue till Bhavanagar atleast.
However as we progressed further from Rampur, road started getting bad patches. Lots of rockslides, and lots of dust.
The car became very very dirty, and I treaded very carefully and slowly on the rocky stretches.
On the way we spotted a broken bridge in the river, and decided to take a short detour to the other side of sutlej
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The car with TBHP stickers gracing the rear
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After that we went back to the main highway.
I expected the bleak scenery to turn green and cheerful, but no such luck. It became dry and rocky. The streams crossing the road were mere trickles, and sutlej had little water.

On the way we spotted a few holi revelers washing their cars, a santro and alto under a small waterfall, and decided to take the detour.
The alto had gotten stuck, but after a few minutes they literally lifted her out of the pit, and they went on their way.
So it was time for our white elephant to take a bath
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The water was crystal clear! You don't find such water in the plains
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Pics were taken by wife, as I did not get out of the car under the waterfall, after all you don't want to get the interiors wet!

After the wash, it was time to push off, and very soon we realized that the wash was useless. The real nightmare roads were yet to come.
Soon after Kinnaur dawar, the landscape became even more barren, and the road became non existent. All that remained was ruts and potholes, accentuated by the heavy Jaypee group trucks involved in dam construction near Karcham etc.,
At some places the pits were so deep that I was scared of grounding the 210mm GC safari.
Proceeded very very slowly, and even then every bone was aching, and all we could think of was when will this ordeal end.
On the way at Tapri, we filled up diesel, and from there roads turned even more horrendous!
It was very late afternoon, or rather evening that I turned towards Sangla.
I expected road to get better, and scenery to turn green. After all we had heard so much about the paradise like sangla valley.
No such luck.
The road remained horrendous, improving slightly. It was narrow, and the landscape bleak and dry.
The only sign of snow was on the high mountains. A really failed winter. Thanks to this countries obsession with monsoon, the mainstream press has ignored this winter drought, which is real, and affects us directly!

We reached the lovely sangla guest house(PWD) around 5pm, and went to search for the caretaker. Sangla itself was quite a dissapointment, but all we wanted was a nice soft bed to rest.
But fate had other things in store for us. The PWD guest house had water stopped. Due to shortage most hotels except 1 very small hotel had no water, and even that small hotel had limited water supply!
We just stood there gaping, and cursing PWD booking office not telling us about this! The caretaker also told us that PWD officials will start staying in this guest house only when water situation improves.
Somehow the nincompoops at the booking office had neglected to tell us about this small problem.
Reliance had no network here(inspite of the stupid call center guys telling me there is network, and inspite of sms from reliance telling me chitkul has reliance network)
Apparently towers were up, and they had undergone a trial run few days back but after that network had been switched off!
Only Airtel and BSNL. Note to self, get BSNL postpaid.
Anyways, we just stood there, hungry and thirsty.
Sangla valley was no go, we will have to go to Kalpa, and pray we would get a nice hotel there.
Clicked a few pics a few kms from sangla. It was bleak and drab. At that moment, all we could think was that why would somebody come so far? Just to see this stupid valley, breaking their backs
Clicked a donkey, a hairy donkey, and at that time I did not realize I was actually driving a white colored non hairy donkey
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Our white donkey
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The only sign of snow was on the high mountains. Not a rosy march I must say!
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The valley itself was bleak, and baspa was a small trickle
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One final pic, and off we went towards Kalpa
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By now every bone was aching, and the 40km run seemed to last an eternety.
Road from Karcham was even worse, and it was only very near to reckong Peo that we finally got some decent tarmac.
It was around 8 we reached our hotel.
It was almost occupied, and most of the staff was in happy holi mood and little high.
They gave us a nice room with 30% discount, and told us since its holi, food is not prepared yet, but if we could wait for few minutes we would get our dinner, anything we wanted, made to order.
And so an hour later, we had one of the best meals of our life.
The hotel staff of Kinner Kailash hotel(HPTDC) were the sweetest people, and their smiles were enough to take away half the tiredness!

11pm, we went to bed, tired but happy, that finally we had reached, and the never ending journey had ended!
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Old 16th March 2009, 12:07   #11
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Good travelogue. I am not sure if to appreciate this white elephant for all taking all these adventurous roads at ease OR to worry about those one incident that were reason for the whole nightmare.

Anyway, I dont want to change the tempo of this travelogue. Go ahead Mr.Tanveer
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Old 16th March 2009, 12:54   #12
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Nice travelogue and great pics ! I sure hope you had a good time (feeling one with nature and all that ! ) even in spite of the few hiccups....
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Old 16th March 2009, 12:56   #13
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Default Day 3, Part 1, Fun and Frolic

Nightmares and Dreamscapes: A Trip to remember-491895733_vbhj4xl.jpg
It was a late lazy day. Due to fatigue, and looming bad roads, we had decided to not try spiti circus, and just visit chitkul.
One more night we will stay at Kalpa, and next morning head home via Jalori pass, soak in the waters of Tirthan blah blah blah.

But tomorrow was still very far away. The service light was silent, the beast was rearing to go.

Before going to sangla, we decided to head towards roghi, 4kms from Kalpa, and visit the rocky goat trail. I was told mountain goats do that trail, well for all its faults, the 4L does make her a mountain goat.

A couple of pics from Kalpa.
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This is march, but the snowline has receded to june levels. The hotel guys told us that instead of regular 10 feet of snow, the entire season has seen 1 foot of snow. Thats why many other hotels are closed because of water shortage

We proceeded towards roghi, admiring the Kinner kailash, and finally reached the dirt trails, Went 20 meters forward, and decided looking for a U turn. Well it was almost a km away, and the trail was such that only a 4x4 or a M800 could do it.
Why a M800? Well I feel this little car can go where 200bhp offroaders can't go. It goes through small gaps, can climb rocks, and is so light that if you get stuck, you just get out and lift it out
Here are a few pics from a rocky trail. It leads to a small Nallah, which was a trickle.
We walked down

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The view
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We reversed under the tree
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The magnificent mountains
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We proceeded back, and clicked some pics of the cliffside. It was very scary. Straight cliff down. Must be a base jumpers wet dream
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Some more pics
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Mountain goats, the real offroaders
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After this it was time to head towards Sangla.....!
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Old 16th March 2009, 13:05   #14
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I see from the pics that the roads are pretty much the same as during my trip in Sept 08. The Jaypee section of the roads were bad but my dad in particular was enjoying the suspension travel of the safari while ignoring big pothole he could find while driving, only to remark later that - you can drive this thing even on the moon.

Its surprising and sad to see the absence of snow and the greenery seems to have reduced further.
Thats a nice pic of the hairy donkey. Had seen similar ones near Nako. They looked very content with themselves and jovial too.
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Old 16th March 2009, 13:07   #15
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Started with a teaser and left in mid-way gasping for more...
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