Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 6 : of the Great Indian Road Trip @ Manali

Day 6: April 8, 2013

We got the much needed rest at the Mahindra resort and got up early to start on our journey to Manali. Ashok had discussed with many people bout which route to take and they had all suggested that from Mashobra he should take the Shimla bypass road and take the highway to Manali. They all assured us that the roads are very good and we will have no problems on our way.

6:50 am                : Leaving Mashobra         :Trip reading       : 2828 kms
7:10 am                : Passing Oaksland Tunnel
7:16 am                : Passing Victory tunnel

Ashok keeps asking for directions regularly as he believes that it is better to ask for directions than to get lost and travel in the wrong direction and loose precious fuel and time. Since Shimla is a town full of turns, curves and forks, we had to ask directions every minute. When we came across yet another perpendicular intersection, we asked a yet another person standing at the bus stop and he told us to follow a tempo that was going just ahead of us as that tempo was going to Darla Ghat. We followed his advice and started following him.

7:30                        : reached Tutu                   :Manali 245 kms away                    : came on NH 88
7:20                        : Sarog

We reached a point where the road sign said Hamirpur – 135 kms. We suddenly encountered the vast sinuous Beas River flowing next to the highway in all her glory. The majesty of the mighty river was spellbinding and awe inspiring. It was a beautiful sight to behold and we were taking in the beauty of the river like greedy and hungry people. The highway and the river flow adjacent to each other throughout and it is quite a sight to drive next to the mighty river. Even in the middle of summer, the mighty Beas was flowing in all her majesty, fed by the melting snow of the Himalayas. The river is fill of beautiful round rocks that have been weathered by the river and her force through thousands of years. The soil formed finally after eons of weathering is a fine white coloured powder with some glittering mica mixed together and is a wonderful sight to see.

7:30                        : Gana Hatti
7:50                        : Talaghat
8:30                        : Darla Ghat

We stopped at Veeshnu Dhabha to have breakfast. We had the world’s best Aloo Gobi paratha. This Dhaba is run by an elderly gentleman called Daulat Ram Sharma and his wife and serves one of the tastiest home cooked parathas. The had a very tasty mixed vegetable pickle to go with the parathas which has goose berries, mango, garlic, chillies, carrot and a host of other vegetable to go into the pickle. It

made the tastiest combination and I bought two packets to take home. The only thing that prevented us from having too many parathas was the fact that we were driving through steep ghat sections and did not want to have an upset stomach during the journey and keep throwing up throughout the way. Now I regret why I did not have a couple more parathas.

Breakfast                             : Rs.320 including two packets of achar.

9:45                        : Chukala
10:30                     : Manali 160 kms away

The roads are bad upto Bilaspur for about 30 kms. After that the roads were became really good and the driving conditions improved a lot. The drive continued as our eyes feasted on majestic waterfalls, soothing apple orchards, temples, Gurudwaras, gorges, curves, the various moods of the Beas river and the sleepy towns with their active inhabitants. We encountered many Nepalis carry heavy loads on their bags on the innumerable road construction sites throughout the highway.

11:20                     : Sundar Nagar
11:30                     : Lunapani, Mandi District
12:15                     : Pandoh Dam                    : Trip meter 3000 kms                     : 123999 kms to 126999 kms

We came across a walkway bridge after Pandoh dam. We were very excited to see the bridge and stopped to stretch our legs. We tried walking across the cable stay bridge which was swaying. The local school children were walking across the bridge to go to their school and we were scared even to set foot over it. But somehow we mustered all the courage we could get and did manage to walk up to the halfway point and click a few photos.            

We drove on a massive dam that has been built to block the mighty Beas. Bhakra Beas Dam and Photography is restricted. The road is continuously dotted by small tea stalls and dhabas with slate stones topped roofs.

We also found a spot where we could climb down from the highway and reach the banks of the river. I wanted to collect a few round and smooth stones to carry home as a souvenir and also to give to anyone who wanted them. As I was walking down to the river bed my left leg got stuck to some metallic wires and I fell flat on the ground. When I tried to get up, I could not get my leg out as it was stuck in those wires.  

Amrita was walking behind me and she panicked and started pulling my leg out. But her small hands could not get my legs out of the wires and she started shouting and calling out Ashok’s name who was a little ahead along with Apsara. Ashok came running and saw the trip coming to an end once more when he saw me sprawled on the ground in an awkward angle. I told him to just help me to get my leg out of the wires and once my leg was out I stood up and burst out laughing seeing their concerned faces.

Once we got over yet another shock, Apsara, Amrita and I suddenly turned into little children who have been unleashed into a toy shop and are allowed to pick up whichever toy we want. We collected quite a few beautiful smooth stones and carried them to the car using Amrita’s hoodie as a gunny sack (her idea) and started our journey to Manali forward.

12:30                     : Aut
1:15 to 1:20         : We travelled through a tunnel from Aut to Thalot which is 2.8 kms long and is Asia’s largest traffic tunnel. It has a 4-lane well tarred road and is 10.5 km long 4.5 km wide with beautiful well paved sidewalks and good
Lighting. The tunnel has reduced the distance to Manali on the Manali – Kirkut highway

1:15                        : Thalot
1:35                        : Nagrein
1:45                        : Bhunter             : Manali 50 kms away
1:50                        : Mandi

We started smelling the scintillating aroma of Pine trees at many stretches. Many Apple orchards greeted and welcomed us. The trees had bloomed and we could see the Apple flowers in all their glory. It was surprising to see that the Apple trees are so short and stout. It is a wonder that a tree so small produces on an average 250 to 300 fruits every year.

We came across any small hydro electric projects that produce electricity on the river Beas. From this point on the road became a little narrower. On one side is the huge rocky mountains and on the other side is a deep gorge with the Beas flowing. We even passed a stretch where there are two gorges on either side of us and there is a small 10 feet road in the middle for us to drive on. It takes great skill and experience to drive through these roads.

We kept passing by many youth on motorbikes with orange coloured cloth or scarf draped on their heads. On enquiring I found out that they are saffron clad Sikh youth who were on their way to Manikaran which is a holy place of pilgrimage to Sikhs.   

1:55                        : Kullu Town

The Beas River was in full flow in all its strength here. No wonder the entire stretch from Kullu to Manali is laden with many River rafting shops beckoning the adventurous kind to try this highly adrenaline inducing sport. It looked very enticing and me and the girls wanted to stop and try it out, but, Ashok said that we will do it on our way back. So we moved on.

2:45                        : Katrain
2:50                        : Patil Puhal                         : 18 kms to Manali
3:15                        : Manali town
3:30                        : Snow Peaks Club Mahindra Resort

We checked into the resort and decided to take rest for the rest of the day. We had finally arrived at Manali and were raring to go to Gulaba point tomorrow to see and play with snow. Rohtang pass would open only in May around May 15 or May 17. But even Gulaba point would be good as it was just 30 kms from Rohtang pass. We will do skiing and play in the snow and have great fun tomorrow.

We spent the night in the resort at the fun zone dancing to some nice Bollywood hits played by the DJ, had some good dinner and slept a dreamless sleep and rested our tired bodies, fulfilled minds and gladdened hearts.

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