Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Day 3 : Khanag to Keylong
I got up early at 5 in the morning and had a look around the place.
The rest house
The camping ground
I Had a bath, packed up and was back on the steep ascent to the Jalori pass by 8. After the pass, it is a steep descent down to the village Shoja, about 6 Kms down from Jalori pass. The roads were almost completely washed away and the conditions were misty. Shoja had one of the most magnificent natural scenery I have seen in this trip. The hill slopes were not too steep. The place was rich in natural vegetation and full of wild flowers.
Shoja has a HPPWD guest house, a Banjara resort and other 'Night stay' accommodation. The roads got better from here and going further down, was the village Jibhi. I saw a beautiful temple that I first mistook for a Church, but for the trishul at the top. I am still not sure if it really is a temple.
I was really low on fuel now and hit the reserve around here. There has been no petrol pumps for the last 65 Kms and didn't know when I'll find the next one. Found a shop selling petrol at the next village, but I couldn't trust the stuff they were selling. Asked around and found that there's a petrol pump 25 KMs ahead. That was a relief. I was back to ripping again. I had to ride on reserve for about 30 Kms, till I reached Larji. The last petrol pump was at Luhri, 97 Kms back. So if you are doing this route, make sure you fill up at Luhri. The descend continued and it was getting hot all the while. I soon had to get rid of my jacket and reached Aut at about 9:30. From here starts the highway to Manali and beyond. I had my breakfast here and continued on my way. Found heavy traffic in Kullu and the towns around this area.
I reached Manali at 11:40. Took a break here and spend some time checking air and oil levels, got some cash from the ATM and got ready for the long and tiring ride to Keylong. Started for Rohtang at 1:50. There was a mad rush for Rohtang pass. There were so many tourist diesel vehicles going up and down the road. Cafe Kothi reminded me of my last trip to this place with Yogesh (tiger). I reached Marhi at 2:30 and had my lunch there. By the time I was ready to leave, there was a big traffic jam, half way up to Rohtang. Riding a bike had its advantages. But the diesel fumes were killing and coupled with the high altitude, I had an headache by the time I crossed Rohtang. The progress was very slow with stops of up to 15 minutes for vehicles to pass by on their way down. Being the route for supplies to army posts at the border with Pakistan, there were army convoys and giant army trucks going up and down.
The slopes enroute Rohtang Pass
The loops to Rohtang
Somewhere up there is Rohtang Pass
Once I crossed Rohtang, the scenario changed dramatically. The traffic trickled down to 1 or 2 Mahindras or Sumos with tourists heading perhaps for Ladakh. The air was much cleaner and there was not a soul in sight except for the occasional tourist vehicle. You can see some of the most beautiful places on earth here.
The other side of Rohtang pass
But the road conditions were very bad. Being covered in snow for almost half the year doesn't do the roads any good. The snow melt was at its peak and there were waterfalls right into the roads and streams flowing every few meters. It was tough and challenging, but I enjoyed it all.
The roads improved as I went down further. I felt immensely thankful to the BRO (Border Roads Organization) for making such wonderful places accessible to us. The first village after Rohtang was Koksar, 18 Kms from Rohtang. It had a HPPWD rest house. Next came Sisu, 14 Kms from Koksar and had another HPPWD rest house. I stopped here for tea, and found this cute little puppy in the tea shop.
The ride to Keylong was mostly along the Chandra river and snow capped mountains were in view on both sides of the road along with numerous waterfalls that form the source of the river, all making up a treat for the eyes of the city dweller.
I reached Keylong at about 7:30. Keylong is a small town with a few hotels and dhabas by the main road. There are some more down the hill. I did a round to check out the hotels along the main road and checked into the first hotel that I had seen, while entering Keylong. I got a corner room with two windows on 2 sides of the room.
The view from these windows were simply mind-blowing. Down the mountain slope, atop which the hotel was located, there were potato farms. Further down, there was the Chandra river with a very strong current audible all the way up in my hotel room. Across the river was another mountain, with lush green slopes rising up to a snow capped mountain peak. Just perfect! I could have sat watching this for hours on end, soaking in the beauty of the whole thing. But it was getting dark now, and I had butterflies in my stomach. So I went up to the hotel restaurant for dinner, came back and went to bed with the curtains open, waiting for the first light of the morning to bring back the beauty of the place back into my eyes.
Distance covered - 244 Kms
Expenses - Food and accomodation Rs 380
Fuel - Rs 500
Razor - Rs 15
Total : Rs 895
Day 1 : Noida to Shimla
Day 2 : Dhali to Jalori Pass
Day 3 : Khanag to Keylong
Day 4 : Keylong - Darcha - Koksar
Day 5 : Koksar to Noida