Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tehri and Beyond, February 2007

Day 1: Noida to Uttakashi

Sorry to disappoint you guys, but not many pics this time

But here's the trip log

This was one of the least / worst planned trips ever so far I have done. To start off, we forgot all about the weekly moderator conference on Tuesday mornings that stretches on till about 5:30 AM. So we couldn't take off at the planned 4:30 - 5:00 which is the usual time for most short trips that we make.

5:45 : My place; realized we don't have a map of Uttaranchal yet.
6:15 : Painfully jotting down places along the route from Goolge Earth!
6:25 : Realized we had taken a wrong turn; Harsil our destination was nowhere to be found. (Roads on Goolge Earth need to be bolder.)
6:35 : In goes the slippers I had been wearing so far into the scamster and we were ready to make a move. Finally!

It was already daylight, and it felt strange starting a trip in daylight. It was like starting for office at 9 in the morning .

A late start on this route means delays everywhere. Unlike the Delhi - Chandigarh highway, this is mostly single carriageway and passes through many cities and traffic intersections. Tractors loaded as wide the load, tractor overtaking tractor at 20 kmph, strange contraptions (jugaads) on three or four wheels with a steering wheel that seemed plucked out from a Tata truck; these were the usual sights at this time. To top it all UP highways are in a bad state for a large part of the route. I would rate the trail to Zanskar more comfortable than this stretch. After what seemed a long struggle, we finally reached Rishikesh, and took the left turn towards Narendra Nagar. It felt the as if whole world suddenly went to sleep and we were the only souls on the road.

Some way past Narendra Nagar, with the trip at 260 Kms, I decided to take a break. It was about 12:30 PM. Once our butts felt better, we decided to move on. But before I mounted, I took a casual glance at my rear tyre to see a tiny little nail head proudly poking out of the tyre! On touch it felt nicely embedded deep inside and it was time to look out for a puncture repair guy. Luckily found one just 2 Kms ahead. This guy had a single objective: to find the easiest way to get the puncture fixed. So, instead of the usual procedure of dismantling the rear wheel, this guy drained the air out and tried to remove the tube bicycle isshtyle! But FKR is not an easy tyre to ‘de-rim’ as he found out the hard way after much prodding and hammering. So back to the usual dismantling procedure. This break doubled up as our brunch break as we started again, I noticed tiny rain drops on my visor.

From this point, the weather kept getting progressively worse until it reached a constant heavy drizzle that was to be our constant companion for the next three days, till we were back on the plains.

Once you reach Chamba, it gets pretty confusing wrt the route ahead. On a map, one could see 5 roads heading off from Chamba, four of them in almost the same direction. The drizzle made sure there weren’t many guys out there and the few I asked about the route ahead looked as confused as we were. So off we take a wrong road which we realized only when it looked like we were heading into some big construction site (the Tehri dam). Asking around, we found we had two options to get back on track to Uttarkashi: backtrack till Chamba or take a kuccha shortcut. Kuccha = off-roading My eyes lit up. There was no question of turning back for Chamba now. A few kilometers back on the road we took from Chamba, we found the trail and took it ever so gladly, in spite of the wet conditions.

This trail took us around the periphery of the enormous Tehri dam lake and offered a hundred exotic vistas for which I could have camped right there had I been carrying a tent. Old farm lands, half submerged by the turquoise blue waters of the Tehri Lake, roofless abandoned houses, half submerged peaks poking out from under the waters, alternating tracks of bright green farms and blue waters… all in all, a photographer’s paradise. Only if the drizzle subsided for a moment…

This trail seemed to be part of the old road that was in regular use when the Tehri dam was still conceived. Now it seems to be all forgotten, but to enjoy the Tehri region, the vast lake and the gorgeous vistas that surround her, this is the route to take. This impressed us so much that we decided to take this trail again on our way back, but that was another story.

Wet conditions kept our speeds low and combined with the delayed start, it was now apparent that Harsil would be a tough ask for the day. Tea break gave us news about snow in Harsil. That brightened our spirits and we decided to call it a day at Uttarkashi, and hope for better weather the next day. The GMVN rest house was well equipped as usual and can accommodate 4 guys easily in the double bed room that we checked in. In addition to the huge double bed, it had another single bed somewhat like the GMVN rest house at Munshiyari.

Day 2: Uttarkashi - Bhatwari - Chamba

Day 1 : Noida - Uttarkashi
Day 2 : Uttarkashi - Bhatwari - Champa
Day 3 : Champa - Noida

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