If you have missed the previous part, you can click the link below to find out what happened before
Day 1 – 23rd April, 2010 | Galu, Kufri to Kalpa, Kinnaur Valley
I know that day two has already started but we need to sleep for few hours. Around 6.30 AM we went to sleep and after a knap of around 2 hours I was back awake. I knew, it would be very long and tough day as I had figured out the continuous drive would be impossible for sure. There would be lot of breaks in between and that too some long ones. One by one everyone started getting awake and by 10.30 AM all were on course of the breakfast demand. So, we ordered breakfast and the order kept coming. The guy was serving the breakfast in rooms that too on second floor, hence it was quite an exercise for him. The rooms at hotel were nice and cozy, and food was also good but I felt food was a bit over priced 🙂
Finally at 12.10 PM we left from this place in hopes of reaching Sangla by late evening. Our next planned stop was HPTDC Cafe Satluj, Rampur for the lunch and since Rampur was 90 KM from here we expected to reach the place by 3 PM. We clicked few pictures at the parking and left to stop at Theog for the Petrol. After reaching Theog we saw congestion for the first time and thought Shimla would have been worse. There were quite a few vehicles in queue as it was the only Petrol Pump in the niche I believe and my friend Deepak goto into a mild argument with an over smart guy jumping the queue. It’s always pathetic to find literate but uneducated people and these are in numbers even in urban cities like ours. You can find them everywhere especially when there is a jam in your lane and these jerks passes by you from second lane to block more traffic, considering how smart they are. Surprisingly most of them are working for big MNCs (A bit of Off Topic I know 🙁 )
Well the argument was over and we had to move. After buying few fruits for the ladies we went off admiring the scenic beauty of the route. The trees were loaded with yellow and blue flowers through out the highway and it was great pleasure to drive there.
Just stopped a bit to take some shots here. Well there was dirt in the air so visibility was poor and hence resulted in some faded pictures. But, I feel we can enjoy them too 🙂
We reached Cafe Satluj, Rampur around 3.45 PM and they initially refused to take order as tandoor had been closed 😯 but after a few requests and primarily seeing group of 10 people the manager agreed. The food was bad rather worst if compared to all other junction in the entire trip. Well it’s a bar cum restaurant so you can enjoy some beer here as well, if you are tired of driving sane :D… Well we asked the manager when could we reach Sangla, he told another 3 Hours, you shall be there and seeing a distance of 100 odd KM we believed so. It was already 5.00 PM :shock:, I felt that we took it so easily that we had covered just 100 odd KM in 5 Hrs effectively 🙁 and the rush begins.
It was getting dark as we entered Kinnaur Dwaar and the trip silently had taken a super adventure shift which we were totally unaware of it at that point of time. First thing that happened, a generator was being towed by a monster mini truck with hell lot of tiers in it and was barely walking (f*** dead slow). A lot of time got wasted just before that carved road where every tourist takes the photo because of it. After almost wasting 30 minutes or so, it finally gave us the pass.
Second surprise was to find few droplets of rain had already fallen on the wind screen just prior to Bhawanagar. We reached Bhawanagar at 7.10 PM and got down. Uphill we saw extremely dark cloud cover which were visible due to moonlight and discussed whether we shall go ahead to reach Sangla or stay at Bhawanagar only. First step was to call Mr. Negi at Sangla Hotel and he asked us not to attempt coming here as it’s raining heavily with thunderstorms and lightening at Sangla. We knew we had to be quick to make a decision as at Bhwanagar as well weather didn’t look promising. We decided to stay 🙁 here at Bhawanagar only.
Third surprise came in when we asked local that is there any guest house or hotel we can take to have night’s rest. They told us that at Bhawanagar they don’t have any of them 😯 and we may ask few GOVT. rest houses. First one we went to ask I believe a CRPF guest house at the very last end of town. There was that guy at the main gate who told us that rooms are there but he need to ask some senior person. He went in and meanwhile it started drizzling. The senior came up and told that there are orders by his seniors not to let any tourist in the complex. We asked that we can plea to his senior and he can see that we are only asking because the weather is really bad. But, he refused to let us take that step and asked that we can check Vidyut Board rest house.
We went to Vidyut Board rest house couple of 100 odd Mtrs back towards town. We saw that the ground floor rooms were all empty and even the entrance gate was not opened for that floor. We went downstairs towards the basement like thing and found a guy there. He took us to the dining area where one man was eating like nuts and other was serving. We described our situation and he called up at some senior. There as well we had no luck. They asked us to go back to Jeori, 35-40 odd KM back 😯 as there are few private hotels which can help our situation. I had never pleaded that much to get a paid room and it’s just to make sure that girls with us are safe enough. Unluckily we were not successful in doing so and it was 8.00 PM already :)…
I had the list of rest houses for the entire route with me (Thanks to Rajeev at BCMT :)) and saw that at Tapri we can find a PWD rest house. This rest house even had more rooms than any other nearby and there are high chances that we can sneak in there. Everyone decided to foray ahead into the most adventurous part of the journey "night drive with rainfall in Kinnaur".
At 8.10 PM Bhawanagar, we asked few locales about Tapri and road conditions. They said it’s around 25 minutes or so (10-12 odd KM) and "company ne double sadak banai hui hai sirji!!, Chale Jao!!" (Company has created a double lane road through out and no problems at all) We were happy to listen that and went off.
Fourth surprise was waiting as the road conditions was not that good due to all the rain, just after 2-3 KMs from Bhawanagr and we found a board stating Tapri as 19 KMs :shock:. Everyone was praying that we shall get out of this and get the rooms at least at Tapri. Our progress was dead slow and due to bulldozer chain engraved marking on the roads there was a feeling that I had a flat/punctured Tyre. I thought to myself, you f****** luck, today itself you have to take every revenge :). I stopped the car and went down to check it and thanked god that it was not the case. After 10-15 minutes we found the other car saying that they had a puncture and same was the story with them 🙂 but again precious time was getting wasted there. My friend Neeraj said he was just thinking about puncture and off we went but thankfully everything was fine and I told him to f*** down his thinking for time being :)… A hint of smile to all scary faces…. 🙂
Fifth surprise, there came Tapri and it was 9.30 PM. We saw a big rest house with few rooms light off and few on and thought they were empty rooms. Meanwhile en-route we had pleaded Mr. Negi to provide some help and talk to these guys to help us. Every time we called there new guy with new name picked up the phone but finally one said if we can reach Tapri by 10 he may help us. Here as well we had no luck. We also said that guy at rest house, we may pay for room as well as his share extra and he can keep it in advance. But, due to some strange reason he refused. We asked him to provide one room (especially for girls) as rest of us can sleep in car and we won’t require any food as well. But, nothing didn’t let that bast***d at the rest house let us in and rent us a room. We called Mr Negi at Sangla hotel and he said that we can come here as we have covered so much already but also asked us to reach before 11.30. We though it can be done and there is no point sitting here and spending whole night.
Sixth Surprise, It was 10.00 PM and here we go ahead crossing Wangtoo area. There at Wangtoo I think GPS showed us Madhu Hotel but I think it has been washed off as GPS instructed to take a U-Turn into the River :). Thankfully we were not relying on it totally. Well immediately after crossing Wangtoo area the slush begin to cause problems. There was as high as 15 inches on slush on the road and driving through it at night with rain got my balls in the mouth every time. There were at least 5-6 major slush stretches where everyone had to step out of the car, walk into it, help me out and just to give it enough ground clearance so as to make it through. Under belly was rubbing against it at times and gravel causing so much noises. As my car especially was loaded so much as it was kissing everything coming it’s way. It was tough time driving in that slush. All I was concern and cared were two girls (my wife whom I love so much and my friend’s wife whom he loves so much) with us else we could have slept anywhere in the car. But today I feel we should have done it at least in the Tapri rest house parking which was free from any danger of land slide at night or rocks falling from above.
Seventh Surprise, any ways once we reached Karcham we had to take a right towards Sangla. The board showed a way to Sangla which when we all looked "we had earth swept below our car and I said let’s just go home". There was a mud track going beneath a huge crane and besides a generator and it looked like fresh fallen rocks were lying there. Just to make sure we asked some one is this the road to Sangla and thankfully he said "NO". You shall cross the bridge and then take a right. We were happy and didn’t knew that the happiness will not last longer. As we took the right I didn’t feel good about the road and imagined that if the main Highway is in tatters due to rain what could this single lane narrow road be like few KMs ahead. Right from the start that road didn’t look good at all with slush over it and just after few 100 Mtrs we had torrid time giving a pass to a truck carrying rocks in it to be dumped at one sight nearby. And immediately I decided that we cannot take this further and we are heading back to highway, so that we are in chance of at least some civilization items running every now and then with us. It was even difficult to take the U-turn towards National Highway and everyone felt that it’s good decision. We decided to reach Reokong-Peo / Kalpa and from there we won’t go anywhere even if we didn’t get any hotel.
Eight Surprise, It was all dark and river was flowing very down as we were back to highway and on course to Peo / Kalpa. There was a water outlet of Hydel Project at Karcham having tremendous Kinetic Energy and you can see it bouncing all cylinders in all direction where ever it was touching down the hill into the river. Well the shocker night didn’t let us a chance to catch it in the Camera. We move ahead and after some time I found a steady stream of water coming down from my left, just besides the edge of the road towards river. I was confused to see it and expressed my confusion to everyone. Everybody said it must be rain water coming down from that side as on the other side towards mountain it was already running since the beginning. I got relaxed and started to concentrate on the drive and immediately I put the brakes :shock:. F****** crazy me there was a water crossing gushing with full blow due to rain and we didn’t have any clue how deep it could be. I asked everyone to step out and my cousin’s checked it in the car’s light. I was just feeling scared. Scared of falling down with the water flow into the river, scared of how deep it could be to get us stuck. I folded my hands, said a prayer, so do my wife who refused to step out and slowly crossed it successfully. It was the turn of the other car now and he also managed to cross it. It was maiden water crossing for both of us (drivers :)) while on drive and I never thought it would be right in the midnight. Blood was rushing everywhere in my body and everyone was stunned while going through it and delighted after crossing it. The water was freezing cold
Ninth Surprise, Just as the whole high drama was happening around I got a nature call and it was getting uneasy to control it now. So I decided to have it right beside that water crossing in the middle of nowhere, with a single soul around, surrounded by the daunting peaks, listening the music of water gushing through that crossing and mixing that music with flowing river down the ridge I openly release all the pain :D… After a wash with that freezing cold water whole body felt the chill and took me few minutes to get back to stable state. Ohh god..it felt so great at that moment. I asked Deepak about how he felt, and he said dost no words. You are making me drive of my life and I said so do I :)…But hat’s off to him as it was his major one in such terrain.
After that there was one major stretch of slush which now we had got used to and we reached Powari at 11.00 PM. We were very happy to find a ITBP jeep and they were shocked to see us driving in night in that region. Initially they acted as if we were ghosts passing by but finally recognized us by asking to take the road going uphill to reach Peo / Kalpa
Last (Tenth) Surprise, It didn’t end but at Powari drizzling had stopped. There were so many boards of the hotels and we went on calling everyone only to get unanswered rings but we kept going to reach Peo first. After reaching Peo we found a Police guy standing there and managed to find few hotels at the Main Bazaar. We had a chat with him while my cousins checked the hotels. He told us that it has been bad weather since past 4-5 days and raining heavily every where in this region. He told us that he is shocked to see us and appreciate the effort we would have put to reach this place at mid-night while raining and slush present. Meanwhile my cousins were here and told us that all the hotels looked too shabby for a stay even. It would be better to stay in car.
Since so much drama had been through everyone wanted to have a sound sleep and we decided let’s just try the last halt that’s is Kalpa. We started the ascend towards Kalpa and after few KMs found aboard to PWD, Rest House. We stopped the car and went to check it. No one came out even though we shouted our a*** at that place and we decided to continue till Kalpa. (HPPWD S*CKS!!! ) Just after crossing the local hospital we had to take the U-turn uphill but we followed the straight road. If we had bad luck ever so long it was this day of our lives :)… After sometime we found that same Policemen who told us that we we reach the main bazaar again and we shall turn back to take uphill road beside hospital. That road was so narrow that it took 5 attempts to reverse the car.
At 1.00 AM midnight, finally we reached Kalpa and found HPTDC, Kinner Kailash. We parked our car at steep slope and shouted everything out of us only to find no one opening the door. En-route we saw lot’s of publicity boards for Kinner Villa and we even had a word with someone on phone at that place when we were near Powari at 11.00 PM. Last board we saw showed it 1.5 KMs from there and we thought let’s try it finally as at least we know people are present in that hotel. Meanwhile I was getting some symptoms of nausea as it had been just 2 Hr of sleep in last 2 days. My head was getting heavier and but I managed to drive till Kinner Villa.
We saw the gate opened and I tried to push the car through it in the parking only to find that car refused to go up and started coming down from the ascent. It could be either I was exhausted or car with such load. There as well we shouted like as**s, beat the doors like crazy, rang the telephone so many times only to be unsuccessful in getting the door opened. This was it at 1.15 AM , we called it the day and decided to sleep in the car only with temperature so close 0 Degree Celsius (0 Deg C). Now the problem was to park the car in such a way that no one has tension of getting down the slope. Luckily god had a pit exactly for us just aside the hotel where we parked the cars side-on and more defensively got the stones behind all tires.
Everyone went to sleep after that in the car itself in the hopes of entering the hotel in the morning. Well the snow at the Kinner Kailash peaks in the middle of the moon lit night, looked so awesome.
The journey ahead-