Monday, June 27, 2005
Day 2 : Dhali to Jalori Pass
The service center opened only by 10 and I had tea and samosa for breakfast while I waited. I got a call from tiger and I asked him to call back after watching the headlines. The mech at the service center prescribed a solution even before I could explain the problem completely. Took a test ride with me as pillion. The problem, according to him was wheel alignment, though I found nothing wrong with the alignment. But the mech is a mech and I had to agree to what the mech said. He took off the rear wheel and worked on it, took a test ride and said its fine now. I paid up and left with no hopes whatsoever of the problem being resolved, and found that I was right. Came back and this time, he said the swing arm bushes were gone and will have to be replaced. But anyway, they didn't have the required parts. By now, I was almost getting used to the wobble and decided to continue.
It was 1 in the afternoon and I decided to ride till Narkanda and then plan for the next destination, depending on how I keep up. There was heavy traffic around Shimla and neighboring towns. Reached Narkanda pretty soon and by now, I was able to maintain normal speeds in the hills. It was 3:30; I had lunch and decided to continue till Luhri where the climb begins for the Jalori Pass. On the way I saw this spot... Sutlej View and stopped for a break and a few snaps.
Views from Sainj
It was a good ride from this spot, down to Luhri. All along there was the river, and lush green farms on the hill sides and plain tracts of land along the river. I was getting hotter by the minute as I was going downhill. Coming down to Luhri, I saw the Sutlej was still in its fury, though the water level had receded since the floods started yesterday.
Satluj; Still furious
It was 5 in the evening and sun was still shining bright. I decided to make it till Jalori and call it a day. I was a bit low on fuel, there was a petrol pump in Luhri, but refueling now meant valuable daylight lost and thought I'll try my luck. The steep climb to the pass started soon. Luhri was at 765 mts and Jalori Pass at 3050 mts; an ascent of 2285 mts in a span of 52 Kms. There was hardly any traffic. The roads were good enough to do 80s in straight stretches. The wobble was hardly perceivable in uneven road surfaces. There were small villages by the road every now and then. I saw a signboard to a HPPWD rest house at Khanag and decided that was the place to stay tonight. The last stretch from Khanag to Jalori pass had very bad or almost no roads. This coupled with the steep ascent of 600 mts in 6 Kms (Khanag to Jalori Pass) and very foggy conditions made it a tough and enjoyable ride. There was a temple and a few small tea and refreshment shops at the top. It was almost 7 and getting dark now.
The temple at Jalori pass
The temple was closed for the day. I had tea at one of the shops and that was very refreshing. Making great tea is one thing these small shops in the mountains are experts at. This place was still out of reach of electricity. The shops made do with candles and Kerosene lamps at night. I inquired the shopkeeper about the sign board that I had seen about the rest house. He said why go there... I can give you accommodation right here. And he showed me to a small cabin across the road. Just large enough to accommodate a double bed and a broken old chair by its side; earthen floor, wooden walls, tin roof, open air for toilet and no lights! Imagine a small wooden cabin at the top of a mountain pass with no electricity or lights leave alone mobile network coverage. That's as spooky as it gets. I had a look at my phone and excused myself saying that I have to go down and call home.
The rest house was an old British bungalow, built in the 1930s. My room even had a fireplace and the typical high roof. The caretaker gave me strict instructions to leave by 7 in the morning.
Distance covered - 185 Kms
Expenses - Food and accomodation : Rs 296