Monday, June 05, 2006
Day 2 : Kinnaur to Tabo
Day 2: 5th June, 2006
We woke up at about 7.30, to overcast skies and a light drizzle. We took our own time getting ready, as we didn’t want to ride in the rain. I also prepared a little contraption out of the huge plastic sheet we carried for use as a rain cover for my camera bag. Fortunately I never had to test it out in the entire trip. We had breakfast from the small Rest house canteen, readied our bikes and the skies cleared up just in time. The day looked promising and we looked forward to it.
It was 10.15 when we started and within 45 minutes of our ride, we encountered a roadblock. Recurring landslides in this area made the road maintenance guys drill out whatever loose rocks they found on the nearby hill, to ward off further landslides. There was nothing we could do but wait, as the rocks came tumbling down with a bulldozer busy clearing them up. Huge pieces of rock automatically rolled across the road and onto the valley below, perhaps into the Sutlej.
It took about 15 minutes to clear up and yet there was hardly any traffic build up on either ends of the road block. Landslides all along this route had ensured that the roads were almost non existent for long stretches. The bailey bridges were fun to cross. Strips of river were visible through gaps on the wooden planks that were bolted to iron beams, and the whole bridge reverberated on passing through.
An hour later we approached the Baspa power project site, and saw the thunderous surge of water off a cave built right into the mountains!
I have been in touch with Bunny who had set off on this route with some friends from xBhp a day earlier. We knew that they were not far from us. Some way into Kinnaur, most cell phone networks go off and come back only on exiting Lahaul towards Manali. We found them stranded some way before Ribba after one of the guys broke a clutch lever, after a fall while trying to pull a few scrambles in the sand. He had no choice but to backtrack to Recongpeo for a replacement. We proceeded towards Ribba after spending a few minutes with them. Ribba would have been the place to be had it been September. It is famous for grapes, wine and the grapes and other fruits like apples are ripe by the time. We found grape, apple and akrot cultivation, though none were ready to be plucked yet. Ribba is about 3 Kms off NH22, and the metalled road ends almost at the point where the village starts. After that it is a narrow and broken dirt track along apple orchards and grape plantations.
Dixit tried his best and asked a few people who passed by as to where we can get some home brewed grape wine. We were told we would have to check some houses in the evening, since they would all be gone out now, tending their crops. As we were engaged in examining the rich flora of the region, we heard some voices that sounded like slogan shouting. With the Anti quota protests still fresh in our minds, we dismissed it as our imagination. However, the voices grew stronger and we were left wondering as to what could be wrong in this remote and most peaceful part of India. The answer was quite close, and we found to our amazement that it was a procession taken out by school students. It was world environment day and procession was to promote tree planting, though after seeing the thick tree and plant cover along the path they passed by I couldn’t help wonder where they wanted more trees planted!
May be they had a message for us!
Our next break was at the bridge at Khab. This was one of the many bridges washed away by flash floods in June last year. The locals had to make do with the help of a rope pulley, which is now gathering dirt by the side of this bridge. This bridge was rebuilt and inaugurated on November 2005.
The rock formation in this area was majestic. On one end of the bridge was sheer 90 degree rise of a huge wall of rock, about 100 feet straight up in the air. On the other end was a deep canyon dug out from thousands of years of river activity.
After the bridge, begins a steep climb. As we kept climbing, the loops that we rode on were clearly visible from above. Soon we saw a few bikes way down looping their way up. We decided to wait for them to catch up. About 22 Kms from Khab, a road diverges towards Nako. We waited here for about an hour while the rest of the gang caught up with us. They had a target of Kaza for the day. It was 6.30 already, and Kaza seemed an impossible target considering the kind of roads we were to ride on. So we decided to ride till Tabo and call it a day. It was fun ripping the roads at night with Sunny and then waiting while the rest of the gang caught up with us.
We reached Tabo at about 10 at night. The new road that bypasses Malling is a big blessing. Tabo would have been impossible today without this new road. I found Bunny’s bike parked inside the Monastery and gathered up the rest of the guys. Everything looked deserted and everybody seemed asleep already. I saw some light through a window nearby; it was a monk’s dwelling. He led me to the in charge who took us to the manager and he allotted rooms for the rest of us. One thing I would regret is the way some of us behaved in the monastery during that time. This is one place where peace and silence is of utmost importance, and visitors are expected to maintain the same all through their stay here. Despite requests, this seemed to be the last thing in their minds and the monastery echoed with masterfully recreated cries of dogs and animals made by some of us… disgusting, to say the least.
Once in Bunny’s room, a conference began to discuss plans for the next day. I and Dixit had not suffered any delays unlike the rest and had a lot of time in our hands and even a reserve day. So I and Dixit decided to take it slow while the rest decided to split, some making it for Manali while some to Grampho or Losar.
Kms covered : 229
Expenses : 295 (Food and accommodation)