My First Ride to Himalayas (Jun-Jul 2009)
The story was pending for a quite long time and may feel bit dated but going thru' will at least know the ups-downs of the trip...
Yes.... the story of the trip began with Bunty one of my college friend asking me to join him for ride to Leh/ Ladakh (he already had several bike rides to Delhi Bangalore, Delhi Kanya-kumari, Rajasthan and so on) which happened to be an out to out a trip of over 15 days plus trip which definitely is impossible for we guys since I was working with a private company and there’s enormous pressures most of the time. I started negotiating with him and bringing him down to about 12 days with my target being less than 9 days considering 1 working week and clubbing 2 weekends but ultimately the deal wasn't done since gap was too much....anyways it was silent but then 2 days later he again asked me for Sach Pass which would take about 4~5 days from chandigarh....so nothing like it and it was done but the important point was it was that it was Thu we decided and my bike was having no clue that it has to go through a rough terrain for next 1 week. I made several calls to Bunty asking & understanding the quick tips as it was first of its kind travel for me...I made the list and started preparing to furnish all those. Next morning the first thing was to fix-up the bike.....lot of stories kept on going thru' my mind about I shouldn't miss the necessary items at least. I frequently called up Bunty that it’s only the bike shall be ready I'll take all necessary ones from Chandigarh (since I'd only about 8~10 hrs for overall prep with my other activities on schedule) and you need to get those arranged. No time right now for me to think anything else. Meanwhile Bunty also got calls from one of the bullet club members, Adie, for joining the ride to Sach Pass. He told him about me also and the things fell in place.
So the next morning I gave bike to Service Center in Noida and requested for wholesome things to be done in next 3-4 hours. The request was accepted considering the reason for its urgency. The bike was ready and I picked up at around 3:15 pm and the next thing was to get the insurance of the bike done which was lapse for 91 days and I'd to pay all premiums...PUC also done since going for such a trip and I need not take chance at these fronts. So all documents were intact before I came back home and had a quick shower...packed up finally and left my place at around 4:00 pm (on 29th Jun 2009). It was tight 4 and half hrs ride to Chandigarh with peak summer condition and meanwhile I updated Bunty at few stops to update the time I might reach Chandigarh. I did not have much on the way but twice had melons which were the most required during that point of time.
I met Bunty at the Tribune Chowk at 8:30 pm while he was waiting. We went to Sec 22 and filled up fuel-tanks on the way and bought for us duck-back rain-coats for emergency use there. We had chilled beer (specifically only one each) at Sec 46 and enjoyed some nice people moving around and going back nostalgic to our college & hostel days. Got packed some chicken for dinner while we'd the same along-with his family. We set alarm for 4 am and went to sleep early. Bunty could not sleep the whole night because of the excitement rather I slept because I was on Day 2 and because of the 4-5 hrs ride was tired as well. He woke up at least three times that night to check the time which he told me the next morning.
The plan was to start the ride at 4:30-5:00 am on 30th June from Chandigarh and cross Manali and Rohtang pass and try and reach Koksar by evening. And then from Koksar reach Kilar next day and then cross the Sach pass and reach Chamba and then on 4th reach Chandigarh by evening. Plan B was to do Spiti valley which we’d to do exactly opposite to the Sach pass direction if Kunzum La (Pass) is open and Plan C was to go till Baralacha pass on the way to Leh and come back from there.
Meanwhile On 29th Adie told Bunty that another rider Loveen (called Rowdy) is also coming for the ride. Now we were four for the ride. It was decided to meet at a petrol pump near Mohali at around 5 am
Bunty woke up before the alarm went off and woke up me too. We were ready soon. Adie called up to tell us that Loveen would be a little late as he was still at the office (night shift at Dell call centre). We relaxed a bit and had a cup of tea. We were at the petrol pump at 6:45 am but there was no sign of other riders. Bunty called up Adie to enquire while he was just leaving. We all waited for Loveen and finally he arrived at about 7:45am and we started riding towards Manali. We had breakfast on the way and then continued towards Manali. Riding through the Aut tunnel was fun. We had lunch after the tunnel. Traffic was quite heavy as all tourists were rushing towards Manali. As we reached near Manali, it starting raining and as we entered Manali, it started pouring quite heavily. We decided to stay at Manali for the night. We settled in a small hotel near a bakery. Bunty & I had some drinks in the evening. Bunty was enjoying and so was everybody else. Our neighbours were goras (New Zealand & Israel) on bullet. We had dinner together and had a lot of talk regarding their experience of India and a lot of other things.
Next morning we left for Rohtang pass and beyond. There was a huge rush of tourist’s vehicles till Rohtang but as we crossed the pass... we were the only ones on the road and the scenery changed... we were in Lahaul valley. While riding down from Rohtang, I had two minor falls in a matter of 10-15 minutes. The first one was totally my mistake where I lost focus and while there were loose stones and I couldn’t control over it and luckily it was at very low speed and second one being take a right hand U turn very sharp and because of the inclination and weak grip on soil I lost control. But I tell you post that I was extra cautious for about 2 hours of ride so that there's no third there else I lose my confidence. I experienced that being on the lighter bike it's always easy to climb and the same rough while to ride from high to low. Adie gave some riding tips to me to avoid falls. No major damage to bike and me. The major issue being that Visor of my helmet was broken (which gave me ultimate problems till I reached Delhi)? We soon reached Koksar. You have to register at Koksar for going to Leh or Kilar. We were told that the way to Sach pass is closed due to heavy rains/ snowfall. So we reverted to our plan B. Kunzum pass was open. We decided to go to Spiti. The target was to reach reach Batal and cross Kunzum and try to reach Losar by evening.
I tell you one incident here, as usually I led our group most of the time with bit of more enthusiasm since others were the professionals or at least more experienced. But here while I was leading I reached a point where it was completely mud and water/mud was flowing from the mountain side on from my right to valley on the left. It was not very long and I thought I would easily cross easily but while I in the mid-way unknowingly placed my feet on mud since it was very slippery there I wanted to have some control on bike. I thought I waiting for other to join me so that I get some confidence there...but may be others were way behind. I thought of taking a risk and started again....it was slippery but crossed it in single stretch....coming out again I saw the place and started on my way again. It was really the moment where i remembered the God and I do not recall thanking him later. As we reached neared Chattru, it began to rain very heavily. We reached chattru and took refuge in a tent dhaba. It kept on raining and we lost vital time. We were forced to call it a day in the afternoon itself. We met a Canadian couple there and an Israeli joined in the evening. I and Bunty enjoyed the homemade desi daru of the dhaba owner. We all spent the night there in the tent dhaba (mere 30/- per head). Out of the world experience.... not for the weak hearted. The night temperature was about 10 degrees below 0... There was layer of ice on our bike seats in the morning. No toilets... so it was expose - your- bum-in the freezing cold weather. I relieved myself right in morning there near the river and there was no chance of anybody around since nobody can easily dare conditions. We started a bit late from Chatrru because Loveen got a bit busier saying goodbye to the white chick in the tent.
After a very exciting ride along the Chandra river thru' glaciers for about 3 hours, we reached Batal. Mid-way there was good scenery where we spent some time doing some skidding on snow clad mountains (keeping poly-bags underneath and skidding from top to bottom) and believe me it was working so well. But it was tried by all except Bunty since he was the hefty guy and could have damaged something. It's the same place where you can see in the pictures Loveen's bike in the snow standing if its own without it stand. It was nice fun there, river flowing on one side....felt like heaven. OK as we moved on we found the roads parting in 2 halves and there we needed to decide whether we have to ride on snow or cross water nullahs (water drains). Since I was leading I stopped for a while but other way too behind decided to take on snow road...and required more caution there. Was tough but had to cross thick show clad road cut between a glacier.....I crossed with little effort. The roads merged again. I thought of checking other guys decision there. Taking note of them they even stopped for a while there (Bunty & Adie) deciding which one to take on. They decided for water one. As they moved in the nullah (big water drains) was quite deep one and they had almost half of their bikes in water. But with no exceptional danger there but they almost drenched out to a lot. Anyways these were few of the good ones.
Through-out this charismatic valleys, passes we hardly had people seen....except for some people like us nobody there............and miles away we could find a small dhaba....and thinking how these people are living....but that's really the different spectrum of life...
Reaching Batal, Loveen realized that he had left his waist bag at Chattru tent. He was too busy with the firangi mem that he forgot to pick up his bag. His money and papers were in that bag. After a bout of cursing and blaming he went off to fetch his bag. He was again back in a minute and asked someone to accompany him. Adie agreed and told us to reach Kaza and he was supposed to catch up with us at Kaza
From here onwards it was me and Bunty alone and then no emergency arrangement of Air pumps since these were with Adie. We left ourselves to good hands of God and having belief in ourself. We went on to cross Kunzum pass. The air was thin and Bunty started feeling a little uncomfortable there. The sights that we came across cannot be described. Kunzum pass is at the height of 4552 Meters above the sea level. It was freezing cold (-5 degrees) in the afternoon. Just after crossing the pass, Bunty too relieved himself there. After that probably he felt fine. I think the sickness that he was feeling was due to that only. You had seen the pics of the nazaras. The scenery changed after we crossed the Kunzum pass. It was a moon like scenery with various shades of browns and yellows. It is a high altitude desert. Both of us were sun burned by now. It’s a place where you can get sun burned and frost bites at the same time. We reached Losar and rested there for quite some time. Then we reached Kaza and Bunty refueled his bike I did not felt the need there. We were thinking that Adie and Loveen must have gone toward Manali as it was 8th and they wanted to be back in Chandigarh by 9th evening. We were still about 450 kms from Shimla (it takes 20 hrs by bus to reach Kaza from Shimla).
I was also getting nervous as I also wanted to be back in Delhi by 10th so that I resume office on 11th. We still had some daylight left so we left for Tabo. We reached Tabo at about 8 in the evening. We got a room in a small lodge. The food that they served was great. We met two more riders there (one from Delhi and the other from Kanpur). Next morning we started from Tabo at 6am. We decided to reach near Shimla by night and then decide what to do. We kept a good pace along with small pit stops for rest and photography. Soon we were near the deadly Malling Det Block. It’s an avalanche of stones. The road does not exist and a small mistake can land you in the deep gorge. Even a strong wind sometimes causes an avalanche here. We crossed it without any trouble. We reached Yangthang and had breakfast there. We missed going to the Nako lake which was about only 7kms from here (about 8kms from China border). We were keeping a good pace (doing 30kmph). After registering at Sumdo we entered the Kinnaur valley. The topography started changing. We started seeing grass and small shrubs and then small trees and then big trees. Soon we were in the green valley of kinnaur with fruit orchards and thick forests all around. It all started feeling very familiar. As we reached near RecongPeo, the temperature had risen and we took off our warm clothes and packed them back in the bags. We were resting at a dhaba near Rampur when we tried to contact Adie. He was three hours behind us. That son-of-a-gun had gone behind Loveen to Chattru. Before he reached there, Loveen had left for Manali with the firangies. He again chased us and reached Kaza by evening. He stayed at Kaza and was behind us since morning. He had seen our entry at Sumbo check post. After this we kept in touch with him. He asked us to contact him when we reached Shimla. We rode from Rampur to Shimla almost non-stop and reached Shimla ay 8pm. We called Adie, he was near Narkanda. We told him that we are continuing till Shogi (out-skirts of Shimla) and will have dinner there and wait for him there. Shimla was full of tourists. We hated that. We were dead tired by then. We were riding since 6am, it was about 14hrs of riding. My butt was numb and my back was bent.
We had food there and called Adie. He had reached Narkanda and was also dead tired. He had decided to stay at Narkanda and start for Chandigarh the next morning. He advised us to stay at Shogi and go to Chandigarh tomorrow. Sometimes the quickest way to reach a destination is to rest for the night. We inquired at the dhaba for room. The rates had sky-rocketed due to the tourist season. We decided to move on. On the way, Bunty again felt like resting and asked me to look for some place to sleep. It was already past midnight so the rates were absurd. Bunty was a bit angry & upset and still we moved on. To tell you frankly here ofcourse I was also tired but still wanted to move slowly and reach Chandigarh where we can have better sleep and have rest but Bunty was requiring some rest and of course I should not force him too and it's dangerous too to drive like that in mid of night. Thanks God to have me with such courage. Soon we were in Solan. We bypassed Barog and rested for some time at a dhaba near dharampur. From there Chandigarh is just one hour ride. We reached Pinjore soon. The ride from Pinjore till Panchkula was a nightmare. The road is new but has a lot of traffic coming at you with blinding headlights at full beam. We tried riding behind trucks etc to be safe. We saw atleast three accidents on this stretch that night. [As I mentioned before that having ride like that without the Helmet Visor is the biggest challange (naked eyes all along) the goggles i was having were meant for the day-time use only]
We felt a sense of accomplishment as we entered Chandigarh. We stopped at the Chandigarh border and shook hands congratulating each other for completing this ride. It was 3’O'clock in the morning. Soon we reached home.
Again I was ready for going onward to Delhi by 7am. Together we saw some pictures which Harry (Bunty's brother) had during his such visit a couple of years back. Finally they wished him luck as I rode towards Delhi...Again it was time for melons on the way to beat the heat. Lastly I'd really in state of de-hydration when just 9 kms to home I stopped and had coconut water to take respite. That was like heaven (or so called Amrit..). I reached home safely. Again no thanks to God....but somewhere I always had him in my feelings there.
Together we had done it. Went on a ride... open plan... crossed one of the most beautiful valley... crossed Rohtang La pass and Kunzum La Pass... stayed in tent dhaba... rode thru 10 feet of glacier snow and ice.. rode on highways and no-ways... saw the most beautiful and scary places... green valleys and yaks...beautiful girls of Spiti Valley. It was one hell of a Butt-numbing beautiful ride. I loved every minute of it.
If any of you is planning to go to Spiti... Plan for more number of days as we missed seeing many things due to shortage of time.
Aug | Kms - 1,675, The SACH pass ride in August 2013
Thu | 635 - 15th August 2013 night - Day 1 ended (Started 14,049 till 14,684 meter reading - from Indirapuram (Delhi NCR) to Banikhet about 7-10 kms before Dalhousie @ 1130 hrs late night
It is 15th August while Shalvin (my Riding pal) and I planned to meet up at a petrol pump at Dilshad Garden @ 6am in morning. Needless to say that I had reached on time and waited for about sometime before I connected with him over the phone as he'd just started from home, it means that he's going to take another 10 minutes or so. Fine and during the course of years I've got used to reach on time as always and have the experience to relax myself and wait for people. Once he came we overviewed our plan and just thought of starting while Shalvin told that he's not carrying his motorbike papers and shall need to reach home again to get these but he asked me to continue on the route and he shall catch up me.
It was ok to plan and I started little slowly so that Shalvin is able to catch me soon and we then ride together. To my surprise Shalvin was with me in 10-15 minutes upon starting to ride.
Another thing we saw that it was cloudy sky and we had decided to pack our bags little better with polythene and ourselves with raincoat so that we do not wet ourselves during the start of the big journey we'd planned for next few days, the SACH pass I'd always dreamt for past few years from the time I knew about it. The name along-with the Killar valley was on top of my mind - for the name sake because I'd always wanted to ride to the most adventurous tracks but somewhere in one corner of mind had the fear factor. Not to defend but I think it’s always required to have it at one corner so that we always do it little more cautiously.
The plan was to ride the same day till Dalhousie which would be about 650-660 kms from place we'd started.
The highlight of the Day 1 was Rains throughout the way, Fuse issue on my bike and had to identify the issue, change, get repaired, and add on more fuses on the way many-a-times. The check and repairs done near Karnal while we just took left from Highway in order to escape long traffic at Karnal that time but we found a shop open which was really of great help. Otherwise you know 15th Aug most of the market places were closed.
We'd spent total of almost 3 hours getting my bike repaired for the fuse issue at karnal then at Nangal where we spotted Enfield showroom open and we got lot of things checked. We passed through Una, Talwara, and Pong Dam. Later stayed at Youth Hostel@ 300 per room, had good breakfast next morning near Dalhousie. The place was good to stay, as such bikers need a cot and rest is all done as we are always ready to take a nap and get some charge to ride for long distances.
Pong Dam was amazing, though no pictures of it as it is not allowed but when we crossed the dam our eyes were wide open and we could not even halt on the dam but we rode slowly and have the great view. It was a massive structure & felt like an ocean of water on our right and deep below we could see on left where the direction of water was. The dam is said to have combat missiles for security reasons but what the place it was. It was evening at the time we crossed and we're really happy to see such mega structures that we could saw, much bigger than the Nangal. We're told that there is a Guest house at the Dam where we could even look forward to stay next time we're around. It would be a great experience.
PONG DAM – DISTANT VIEW POST WE CROSSED OVER
I also recall here that on 16th Aug I'd long calls from office with Sunil & Ankita (both are part of my working team) for some BAE while they were being pressurized by Pune sourcing team and they were facing challenge and I'd to guide them and show them direction. Mean to say that till this stage I was engrossed with office stuff as well and post this point there was no scope to think since it was going to be totally different terrain while we will not be allowed to look beyond the road we're riding. That was the place where network was available and post that point it was going to be all over till next few days and we'd be not able to talk to our family back home.
Fri | 125 - 16th August 2013 night - Day 2 ended (Started 14,684 to 14,790 approx - Banikhet to Bairagarh) - Bairagarh is @ 2800 m
I'm writing this while we're staying at the PWD Guest house at Bairagarh. What is place it is, the view all around makes you feel on the best place on earth. It’s a situated on a hill and you can see tall mountains all around. To reach this place we'd to pass through some deadly water crossings and one known by name of 'Shukrali' where we'd to wait for more than 2 hours as there was land slide and all that mixed with water had damaged the ‘raasta’ (way), i don’t want to specifically mention road because there wasn't anything like that. This is extreme land slide area but we could manage since there wasn't any rain during the day made things bit easier for BRO working on it. Post the Shukrali we were again quite slow as the ‘raasta’ did not allowed to speed up at all. I think by later evening we were somewhere nears our next halt at Bairagarh but never knew that there's going to be another major task to complete. It was hardly few kms to the Guest house where we had this complete sludge and vehicles were waiting to cross while we'd XUV and some other Mahindra Pik-ups waiting. The point we'd to cross was an incline, needless to say soft muddy mountain on one side and deep valley on another. The complete sludge was not allowing vehicles to move. We saw laborers around and requested to help us put some stones on it so that it makes the wheels move enabling cross this. It was difficult to convince and getting things done half heartedly took a lot of time. When Shalvin tried to cross it was just getting difficult for him to take bike further and I was trying to help him push the bike from behind never knowing that all that sludge will come over me. I was still wearing the rain-coat, i remember we wore it through-out the day while it was drizzling for good part of the day making things even difficult. Bust isn't it the interesting part for which we just travelled hundreds of kilometers. Unfortunately Shalvin had to reverse his bike as we thought to change the track and may things work for him in next try. I tried and with push from 2 people from back was able to pass through with lot of effort. Can't say I'm better but all because I probably got to the right path and with push could make it. Shalvin as well could do it in 2nd attempt..
Also we could see that with putting stones on the sludge all those vehicles zoomed past that stretch, few were before us and few after. We're getting closer to our halt for the day, totally exhausted from the last leg of the day where we'd to really struggle. When we reached the Guest House, Shalvin was the more active player and spoke and offered something to give us a room at the Guest house and may not enter into the register, this will make this money go to his pocket. I remember we talk (ME here) on not indulging into such corruption but I think it will not be possible and life may be even tougher for us, for all. The Guest Houses, resources may just get unutilized by people whom it is meant for ... Anyway we got the room, got ourselves freshened up, and had dal-chawal (lentil-rice). Another thing, the Guest House was so clean and we'd somewhere spoiled the same with all that mud we'd carried with our shoes, clothes etc. We're feeling guilty for it. And we tried to connect to family from there but it was only sometimes we got signals and we' probably had a brief call with our families from there. The next day was SACH pass day. Very enthusiastic for the big day for us.
Above 2 – Shukrali
Below 3 – Just before Bairagarh
My condition and during call @ home & beautiful view around… heaven isn’t it!!
17th August 2013 night - Day 3 ended (Started 14,684 to 14,790 approx - Bairagarh to Cheri)
About 80 kms this day (what a ride it has been– see pics below)
Bairagarh Guest House & at a point towards Satrundi leading to SACH pass
Sat | 80 - Above: Road and direction towards SACH pass
Trella to Satrundi (3400m) -
This seventeen kilometers long trail is largely well-defined and offers gradual climb up to Hazappad glacier, after the glacier the path ascends at steep gradient up to Satrundi. Satrundi is the base camp below the Sach pass that connects Pangi valley to Chamba The road from Bairagarh to Satrundi passes thorough one of the thickest forest in the area dominated by deodar, the forest is known as Kalaban (black forest).The mountain slopes are full of wild flowers of every hue. We crossed a few water crossing and stretch was very rocky at portions and it seemed to be like on track not so easy but had very beautiful scenery around.
water fall/ crossing to Satrundi (Shalvin struggling to get through)
Below: I was inspecting the patch we took our bikes from…
Satrundi to Sach Pass (4414m) – We reached Satrundi and where there was the base camp and with police post they verified our papers and took pictures for us which were part of their duty to account on who all have crossed the pass. SACH pass is another 4-5 kms from here. Normally, pass is not crossed in the afternoon but why we did because we're not aware. Beyond Satrundi, the region remains under snow almost throughout the year though the path is clear of snow in post-monsoon months. It was a good ascent and we crossed lot of snow path and were taking many small halts to gain our energy and walk around for a while and then start again. This is always helpful, I believe if we ride continuous we can commit mistakes and chances at these areas are always deadly. There is small temple at the top of the pass. Travelers offer a piece of red cloth and tie it to the trishuls (trident) affixed at the temple. Usually they also tie a piece of cloth on their wrist or stick it in their garments for the rest of the journey. Teashops function at the top for about three months. They serve tea, boiled spicy black grams, noodles, biscuits and light snacks. But there was nothing like that when we visited and besides Shalvin and me nobody there, God always with us to safeguard us from all those dangers we crossed. We did not stayed beyond 5-10 minutes and it's always advisable to move out from higher altitudes as there's lack of oxygen. I will always say that we could not even get the entire view captured with eyes for which we'd a very arduous ride.
On way to SACH pass, first one just after Kalaban and 2nd post Satrundi around a glacier
Above – All 3 pics on way to SACH pass, around the glaciers
Above – At SACH pass
Shalvin preparing for the deadliest Water crossing.. I have meanwhile crossed it Sach Pass to Bagotu (3600m) – The descent of eight kilometers to Bagotu is very tough. I remember I led the most of the ride and used to stop, look around, wait for my partner to reach me so that we're together when we climb down these descents, these were really-really deadly and when its descent the control over the bikes is most challenging and chances of skid is at every stone. It was frightening and i never done that before even closer to that. I was first to try this one with taking the complete grip on my handles and taking the bike inside and throttling it out closer to the mountain side but it wasn't straight and within the water I'd to turn slightly towards right to come out and in this my front tire hit a stone and with the jerk I lost grip on left hand and the bike trajectory took towards the valley on right and within million of second which I was in pitch dark and didn’t knew how to control and hold because it as well accelerated in order to come out of the drain. With no clue what happened I again hit a big stone kept on the edge of the road and which again changed the trajectory of bike towards the mountain and finally I fell on the narrow road but safe. Shalvin was watching everything from behind and told my how I got saved out of this. I thanked God but if I could have seen that happening from behind I would have never made up again. I've pictures of the place, you may need to have a look to realize what could have been the case if sach mein God not there with us.
The deadlier water crossing where I got my 2nd Life
...and one tough patch where we’d to think more than once.
Immediately below the pass is an open space known as the Bhoot (demon) ground (ground full of ice with a Glacier is ideal for ice skating and ice skiing). There is a heavy rock lying on one side of the ground, which is said to represent a Rakshas (demon). People believe that before the pass opens for travel the goddess turns the demon into rock to avoid any harm to travelers. When the pass closes she brings him to life to serve her. In support of this belief, it is argued that every year this rock changes its position.
I would tell you about the incident where I almost got my 2nd life here. There was deep water crossing while the water from the rock shaped glacier over the path and was rushing towards valley. Both Shalvin held hands together and entered the drain which was completely chilling, it was clean water from glacier and we wanted to gauge the depth, stones underneath and thus could plan to take our bikes from there. It was deep one
Nearly 2 hours' descent takes one to Bagotu. Bagotu too was the base camp just as Satrundi on the other side of the pass when there was no road. It is an open space surrounded by very high cliffs and glaciers. There are few dhaba, prefabricated structure and a couple of tents.
Bagotu to Killar (2591m) - Killar is at about twenty kilometers from Bagotu. We’d lunch at this place while we got Dal-chawal and egg bhurji and a hot tea which was reall required putting us back for later part of journey. There is steep descent from Bagotu as well upto Dunai at a distance of five kilometers. After Dunai (3049 m) journey becomes less arduous. Killar is located along the Chenab river. The river is mentioned in Rig Veda as Asikni and Akesines is considered to be the Greek version of the Rig Veda name. Killar is the administrative headquarter of the valley. In comparison to other places in the valley, Killar is a small town buzzing with life. The matchbox-shaped houses packed together on the green mountain ranges make a striking picture. Mahlu nallah is the gateway to Killar. Killar has a temple of Dehant Nag.
Post that the entire stretch was full of mud almost like 30-40 kms and we'd to be really careful to make that before we reached the Cheri Guest House where we wanted to halt for the day. Thinking back on what the day it was with lot of escapes, mighty climb to Sach pass and even mighty descends to Bagotu where we'd to thing many times that whether we come with bike or leave the bike there and come down walking to save our lives. But truly love the day it was as I was closest to god and knew God was with me the entire day.
Above picture - On way from Bagotu to Killar Valley
Sun | 150 18th August 2013 night - Day 4 ended (Cheri to Chhatru Dhaba, just getting to Lahaul Valley from here)
The plan was to reach Batal but we fell short by 32 kms and landed to the same dhaba where I'd stayed 4 years back. This was relatively better stretch relatively to what we'd seen till Tandi where we topped up fuel again which is the only place till Kaza if we're going towards the Spiti Valley (further to Shimla)
I'd 2 minor falls during the day where I wasted some fuel and there were numerous water crossings today and about 3-4 were really tough and quite long ones where we actually had to get down in the water and check the passage we should take to cross. But it was fun as well to cross those although there were times when real struggle was there. But always we got the support from other when we got stuck up midst of any crossing. The scenery around was good and we'd the clouds sometimes and it was sunny for most of the day. There were lot of ascends and descends but nothing as SACH pass but as life is mix of fun, adventure and other shades so we were enjoying all shades of the life here thanking God to take us to the most beautiful places.
Mon | 175 19th August 2013 night - Day 5 ended (Chhatru Dhaba to Kaza via Chandra tal lake & Kunzum pass)
The key highlight of the day was Chandratal lake which we went ahead to see diverting our bikes from Batal. From Batal we tried making phone calls to our family as well. Not sure if we're able to do that since I'm writing this story after 14 months. The lake is 14 kms from Batal which means we needed to take these 28 kms which may take us additional 2 hrs. The road towards the lake was very narrow and required care if we try to take any speed. Challenges on this track with us finding nobody on the way. We reached to a point where it was mentioned 'No Vehicles ahead' and considering that as hold we marched ahead mountain over mountain and it took us about half hour or little more to reach the next place where we saw few vehicles parked. Alas we'd to walk back again. Anyways there was lake further to it and took some more time to reach and while we reached we were dead tired. You must know all this was at an altitude of 14,500 feet.
It was clear blue water and Shalvin dared to take off clothes and enter into the water. I did not but he came out shivering as it was very cold. We posed for few pictures and there was a group of 5-7 people who had come on some SUVs. We spend almost one hour before returning to Batal and then proceed for Kunzum Pass with altitude of 17,000 feet before reaching to Kaza.
Kunzum pass was not easy at all and when it is we're tired it will be ever tardier. The last time I did was when this pass was totally snow clad. I remembered things post 4 years and it was interesting.
We'd maggie at a dhaba at Losar and usually Maggie, omelette is something best we can have at these places.
At Chhatru Dhaba
Towards Batal, then Chandra Tal lake
Above: Shalvin reaching Chandra Lake, I was taking picture showing where he’s coming from…
Tue | 30 20th August - Day at Kaza, Kei Monesty, German Bakery. Move towards Nako, finally halted at Sumdo
We reached Kaza last evening, the road to Kaza was much better post Kunzum pass and we really stretched ourselves to reach Kaza. The turns and all those vertical mountains around were really good to ride and remember there was that straight road from where we can see Kei Monesty. I did not visit the monesty during last trip but I was not keen this time also but Shalvin wanted to go specially and further to Kidder which is a small village ahead of Kibber. I went to Kei Monesty but stayed back at hotel as had no real intentions to go for it. Anyways once Shalvin was back I did not hear any great experience. Kei Monesty was also ok ok kind of but surely I don’t feel like making another visit to the place unless a great company to go along-with. Other places we visited was the German Bakery there, which was obviously good and we enjoyed good snacks, cake and coffee I suppose (need to remember). We got our bikes check there.
I made a few phone calls to Ritu/ Anisha back home, spoke to Afrin and updated about the journey and places I'm moving around. Was satisfied on doing that. During the day we planned to move ahead towards Nako which is close to China border by about 11 kms or so. I remember the place we travelled last time along-with Bunty.
As we crossed places like Hurling which was a very typical terrain and all along was running deep which was completely black colored and we're about 25-30 kms away from Malling Det which we wanted to cross since it was said that the road is closed there and that too by a few days now due to land slide and it was about 4:30 or 5:00 pm so we wanted to be continuing our ride.
As we crossed Sumdo, it was metal road but lot of curves on the road. We were in our flow but at one of the curves which was a blind one & I was almost in centre of the road and shockingly saw a large Army truck coming towards me and instantly I applied brakes cautiously but due to some water on the metal toad my bike skidded but it helped me avoid any head on collision. The truck immediately came to halt seeing me fall on the centre of road and meanwhile Shalvin was also there. I skid along-with the bike but my left hand came under me and had a twist with no external injury. I was helped by Army men and Shalvin to get back but I felt extreme pain and was not able to hold the bike. Looking around Shalvin saw a house in that village and asked for some immediate help. We went inside and I was offered immediate help, chai (tea) and hot water etc. Extreme pain but did not realized that something serious but surely not in condition to move. With some hesitation Shalvin asked to check if a place around to stay overnight but the head of family there, Uncle told to stay at their place and can leave once comfortable.
Wed | 80 Kaza to Sumdo
We stayed there for the night & were offered hot water for some warmth at pain area and chai again and had dinner at their place with local subzi (vegetables) and rotis (chapaties). We felt privileged actually as we were though hesitant but we were treated as special people. Next morning, one of their sons took us to Army hospital around for medicine as I was full of pain the entire night and could not sleep well. I was given some pain killer, bandage to cover and some consultation for it. Coming back I tried to start my machine but was not able to press the clutch but with lot of effort I moved a few meters but while turning it back I fell again. So we decided to wait for more time. Meanwhile in evening we moved around and went into their garden and had fresh apricots, apples. Uncle even told us to try apricots from all trees and these shall taste all different and really upon doing we found it like that. It was good day and Shalvin had to thank me there on meeting with this so that we were able to enjoy a good day, but it painful for me as I'd that broken arm and feeling on how to go back while we were about 900 kms away from home
But we were still hopeful to start our journey again next morning. Now it was time to check the Malling Det whether its land slide issue will allow us move while there were different stories that may be bikes can go or its difficult to go for walk even. There is no alternate for this road, the only thing we could do is to go back till Manali which is 300 kms and then travel to Delhi for another approx 650 odd kilometers. Also in the situation I will not be able to ride, I was thinking if I could load bike from this place itself and go by some other means and let bike come later. Not sure on best alternate for me. Also the big thing in my mind was Ritu ko kya bataonga (what I will tell Ritu)
The day was very long for me with lot of doubt, uncertainty prevailing and how to reach back home and we cannot stay for long and we're so far from home. All that was giving me lot of questions in my mind. How to commute to office if it takes long to heal completely.
Thu | 200 Sumdo to Kaza
It was the morning when we really wanted to start somehow we didn't knew. Had breakfast and just wanted to move from the place. With some consensus I offered some money (I think 1,000/-) as something I could feel good. In-fact the support we got there was unmatched with money but I offered to Uncle and they took which gave me some satisfaction. We met all in the family there and moved out with bags not knowing how we will further take up. We'd already packed/ tied our bags on to the bikes and with shoulder bag I generally keep along-with (not much inside other that wallet, bike RC & something very frequently used). Ok I started the bike and warmed the engine for a few minutes and told Shalvin that I will try for a small round and then come back. I wasn't able to pull the clutch lever and with help from right hand it was made possible but is it something I will do. No way it's going to be tough otherwise it was taking lot of effort to pull lever and to reach even Manali I would need to pull it many thousand times. Anyways I started with Shalvin still waiting. I was able to do somehow and continued with no guts after about 200 meters to take a U-turn and still continued further till I saw road blockage while it was an extreme land slide area just about 1-2 kilometers further. I halted there and road was missing and off-road I can't do with current condition. You know it was narrow road, all stones around, curves all the way, land slide area, mountain on one side and deep river flowing on the right side. Probably I was trying to commit a mistake which is last for my life. I waited for Shalvin to understand that I need his help with no possibility to call and just expected God to send him message. Anyway about 15-20 minutes later Shalvin arrived and asked What's Up. I told him that I can't ride this way and we need to look alternates. We decided to somehow manage to reach the Sumdo check post which is about 13 kilometers further and the take a while to decide. During this 13 kilometers I rode but at rough tracks Shalvin would take my bike and get the stretched crossed and then for his bike. It will take us months to reach home...but all interesting and guys we need to be ready to face the extreme conditions and that will become memorable. Do you thing I will ever ever forget these 15 kilometers. NEVER.
It was almost 5-7 times we did to reach Sumdo and then seek some assistance with the response that we should try somebody who can ride and willing tom take you to Kaza, Manali or wherever. And then continue doing till we get another alternate. Till then I was not aware that I had a fracture but felt extreme pain because of tissue rupture. Shalvin told me that I should say that bone broken else we will not get help. I did the same and requested some people on road and looked road workers and in first or second attempt one person was ready and we'd used the reference that we stayed at Sumdo and he was aware as one of their sons was with Police check post and he met us there as well. He agreed to take me till Kaza (80 kilometers from there) and then could help further through someone. He just went for 10 minutes and wore some shoes from his home around that area and then we were on the way to kaza. It was good again and should have taken us 3-4 hours to reach there and the time we reached it was early evening. At Kaza network was there and he called some of his friends and introduced us there and seek help for us. Wow and someone we were supposed to meet the same evening at some place we agreed in the market to fix up the next course of action.
That guy did not take any money (not a single rupee) and told that you met an accident and how can I ask for any money and he then went off. What I should say for such incident - no words. We met his friends at market and had tea/ some snacks together at tea shop and planned for next day. It was planned that we shall meet at 6 am and the start ASAP and it will take us 8-10 hours to reach Manali and it was about 200 kilometers and in-between we'd Losar, Kunzum pass, Batal, Chhatru and many-many water crossing again. Interesting day tomorrow again.
Fri | 200 Kaza to Manali
We'd planned to start at 6 or rather meet at 6 and then start. And with things on time we're almost loaded on bikes and moving before 6:30 am. The journey is going to be tough as too many water crossings, steep ascents of Kunzum pass, Rohtang pass and tough terrain otherwise. It was 200 kilometers and we were supposed to take around 10 hours. As a pillion rider it is always tough as seat is not comfortable and makes it difficult. My rider friend was short of any warm jacket and what he wore was quite in-sufficient. I offered him one of my spare jackets and plain glasses and then he was comfortable for long ride. We had breakfast at Losar while there was the police check post where entries were mandatory. Shalvin arrived after about 10 minutes and together we had good breakfast. On to our next destination as Batal or Chhatru where we planned for lunch, preferably Chhatru as it is going to take us close to destination and I'd always more memories to this dhaba.
We earlier crossed this very long water crossing at night..
I think we had Rajma-chawal (Rice & kidney beans curry) and ofcourse it was all good and next plans was Manali and then in between was this Rohtang pass which has always been a nasty pass to cross as it always used to have lot of mud, sludge making ride miserable for riders. With all those countered well we reached Manali by around 5 pm and we landed to the 'Gaurav Guest House' again - this is our routine place at Old Manali and had good German bakery around and food there is awesome. I consulted Shalvin on how much to give and we decided and paid 2,500 Rs and it was ok for him and we parted with lot of thanks and wishes.
We than moved to market place and tried to tie with various shops who can share their drivers as riders but nothing came as workable and effective solution. Also we looked around for Delhi registration bikers around who could be of any help and if there is pillion rider I can go along-with him as riding partner.
Nothing got closed before we met a guy on Enfield from Mumbai who suggested us to handover bike to transporter and take the night bus which when we tried with his referal support for right agency was closed in about 2 hours. All set to go and bike was supposed to be packed for which we paid up advance and bike shall reach Sahibabad border in 7-10 days. And I spent some time looking around and dinner and was ready to take the night bus for Delhi. I was supposed to reach Delhi by 2:30 pm on Saturday. And by 2:30pm at home...quite convenient and meanwhile I can rest also.
Sat | By Bus Finally to Delhi, Indirapuram and back home after the most treacherous ride ever
Reached home around 3 pm and Ritu & Anisha shocked to see me without bike and with tied up bandage on my hand.
I was ok and I shared all that happened and assured that I was ok till we went to hospital in evening and Doctor advised that no option I will have to wear plaster for next 5-6 weeks to recover. I was shocked (but somewhere was aware internally as by that time there was clear swelling on my hand) and then agreed to go with whatever said and came back home smilingly as it was the first time I've been with such and you know World is going to ask about it. I never knew that this is the physical pain but as I know since I'm writing this post 14 months the time had taken a complete toss and till now I have not been able to smoothen my life because of my issues at work front.