Thursday, September 20, 2007
Jalori Pass, September 2007
Day 1: Noida to KhanagMost BCM members were going out on a tour of Ladakh, while some of the less fortunate, which included I and Dixit, were sweating it out
in Delhi. SO we decided to at least have a weekend ride, and we decided it to be Jalori pass. Since we were heading in the same direction as the Ladakh gang, we decided to ride with them for some of the distance. So off we started from Eric's place, where the rest of the gang were getting their steeds readied for the long ride ahead.
It was not a 'chill out' ride for us after all, unlike the Ladakh gang. It was just a 2 day trip, and we had a lot of distance to cover; so we got out of the 'chill out' mode which we were in when with the Ladakh gang, and rode ahead, planning to reach Jalori as soon as possible. Nothing special about the ride till Narkanda, after which, things got worse. The traffic were mostly trucks, and the roads too dusty and potholed for about 20 Kms down from Narkanda. After that, the real enjoyable ride began.
Had a brief break here at the Satluj view point; my favorite spot in this stretch.
Took the left turn towards Jalori about 7 Kms after Kinjal. I loved this snaking narrow and almost empty mountain road.
It was getting dark now, and soon it began drizzling. We stopped immediately and got on whatever rain protection we had and continued with the ride, even as the rains got heavier and it began pouring. It was as dark as can be and we were now on the lookout for landslides; it has been raining for some time now. We had originally planned to cross Jalori pass and reach Shoja for the night, but the present conditions made it difficult for us to cross Jalori jot. So the target for the day was now Khanag.
The last 15 Kms of the Jalori pass is pretty steep and we had frequent stretches of slush and washed out roads. After a particularly bad stretch and stream crossing, the trail seemed to have come to a dead end. It was the landslide that we were on the lookout for. There were two huge boulders on either side of the road, and a big stone in the middle, blocking the road completely. We waited for a while and things looked stable; there were no more boulders or rocks falling down from above. If we were to turn back, we would have had to ride about 20 Kms to Ani to find a place to spend the night. After weighing our options, I asked Dixit to try lifting the stone from the middle. With some effort, he was able to remove it, and there was just enough gap between the the two boulders for a bike to pass through.
We reached Khanag around 9 and checked into the rest house, but under the condition that if some one turned up with a booking, then we'll have to leave. Had to agree. We had dinner. It was raining heavily by now. I prayed there would be no more landslides and went to sleep.
Around two in the night, I was woken up by some loud knocking on door. There were only two rooms in the rest house, and both rooms had separate entrance from outside. It was pitch dark (no power) and It seemed it was time for us to leave. The man on the other side was trying to peer in through glass sections on the door with the help of his cellphone. I didn't respond, and he went away, only to return in a few minutes and continue the knocking. I opened the door; there was strong smell of liquor in his breath and he authoritatively asked me "Who gave you this room?". "The Chowkidaar", I replied. "Where is he?". I said, "I don't know". I was aware that the Chowkidaar had his quarters behind the rest house, and told him he so. He wanted me to come out and show him, but I declined. He said Ok, and left. I hoped they won't find the Chowkidaar, and would go away. But soon there were loud noises in the adjacent room, the lounge, that had another entrance from the outside. It seemed as though they were trying to break in.
Our room had another door that opened into the lounge and worse, the latch on this door was faulty. Dixit got up and placed two sofas we had in the room against the door, and hid my backpack that had the cameras and cash under the bed. The commotion quietened down a bit. I hoped they had not opened the door. A few minutes on, some one knocked on the door to the lounge. Thankfully, we recognized the voice of the Chowkidaar. We opened the door. He said they were some govt. staff and had got stuck in the landslide, and are here to spend the night here. He wanted a quilt for them. Dixit gave his; we had a blanket and Dixit used it. The Chowkidaar went away, and thankfully the episode seemed over, we went off to sleep.
Day 1 : Noida to Khanag
Day 2 : Khanag to Noida