Thursday, June 08, 2006
Day 5 : Koksar to Kullu
The objective of the day was to explore as much of Lahaul as possible and get as near to Delhi as possible; the target being Mandi. After a much needed bath we headed out to the market right across the road for breakfast. We were greeted by a waterfall on the opposite side as we sat down for breakfast.
It was 9:30 by the time we had breakfast and started off for the day. We took the Manali to Leh highway and from Tandi took the road to Udaipur till Shansha. It was raining the previous night. However, the clouds had all cleared up and it was a sparkling clear day, a blessing for a photography freak like me. After 3 days of stark naked landscapes of Kaza and Spiti, Lahaul was green and pleasing to the eyes. Our ride was all along the Chandra and then the Bhaga rivers. The roads were far better than yesterday, with only some stretches needing repairs. There were many stream crossings on the way and these were fun. Some stretches were good enough to do 80 + on the speedo. We stopped frequently for photographs, unlike yesterday.
Livestock and lifeline of the local populace…
There were numerous of these…
The source of all the waterfalls and streams
Picture - perfect
We reached Tandi soon and took the road that goes up towards Udaipur. These were places I had visited in June last year in my solo trip and also one of my favorite places in the map of Himachal. Unlike Spiti, these are more densely populated as is evident from abundance of cultivated land on either sides of the rivers. Even the mountains here had a green tinge to them compared to the barren ones in Spiti.
Cultivation along the Chandra River
Enroute an unknown village branching away from the Tandi - Udaipur road
We rode on the Tandi – Udaipur route till Shansha and then took a road that goes further up and ends at a small village. This point signified the end of our trip. It was time to start our almost two day journey back home from here. I stopped frequently for photographs, while Dixit, feeling a bit sleepy under the sun, went ahead on his own.
The scenic Tandi - Udaipur route
Tandi - Udaipur
Tandi - Udaipur
By the River Bhaga
I took my time reaching Tandi, and Dixit was nowhere to be seen. Wondering if I had missed him, I backtracked a bit but only found him while coming back. He had gone all the way to the petrol pump at Tandi and had a fill. I did the same on reaching Tandi and was back on the road towards Rohtang pass. It was hard to find any restaurants or dhaba for hours and hours in Spiti. But here in Lahaul, there was one ever few Kms. We checked into one for lunch. Had chowmein and then Thupka, a Tibetan dish with boiled noodles and vegetables. The thupka tasted a bit bland after the chowmein, though the soup was delicious. As was the general pattern for the last few days, it began to get cloudy towards the evening. As we approached the ascent for Rohtang pass, we saw the mountains ahead enveloped in dark clouds.
In the final leg of our journey
Rohtang Pass... under a dark cloud cover
Rohtang is known for its vagaries of the weather, which gives it the name, Rohtang, meaning piles of dead bodies. I had myself experienced this almost every time I passed through here. This time was no different. As we neared the summit, it started drizzling and we were riding through heavy clouds, with hardly any visibility. However, the snow cover was far less than what I had expected going by my ride here last June.
The usual, at Rohtang pass
Hunting for gloves
The late evening ride down from Rohtang towards Manali spared us the mad rush of tourist vehicles that’s normal in the daytime. We took a tea break at Marhi and by now it was totally dark. The roads were now empty and it was a smooth ride till Manali. Manali was return to madness. We rode right in to a traffic jam on the bridge right before the market. It took about 20 minutes to get through the place and I also lost Dixit in the process. Thankfully, phones started working now and we got together soon. It was about 9:30 PM and I hoped to ride till Mandi for the day. However we were tired and checked into a hotel when we reached Kullu.
Only bits of snow left
Kms covered : 228
Expenses : 671 (Food, fuel and accommodation)
Day 6 : Kullu to Noida