07 October 2010

The trip that was not meant to be - Part 2

The first part of the travelouge is up here.

And so the next day the plan was to leave at 6AM. The train journey seemed to have hit a few of us. We started from Ambala Cantonment at 8AM. The plan was to reach Manali by nightfall. We were yet to have breakfast, and decided to have it once we cross Ambala. We were out of money and started the hunt for an ATM.

What would you do if you go to an ATM booth and find it locked ? Move to next one right ? What would you do if all of them are locked and the guards outside tell you that they open at 9.00AM and close by 6.00PM ? Just slap yourself on your forehead and curse your luck. We then decided to get to Ambala town a short distance away.

We did manage to withdraw money, but not before we checked around 12-15 ATM's none of which had any cash with them. Ambala is a strange place I tell you.

The next stop was at a petrol pump to fill up our tanks. Anand got duped of 100Rs here, when the filling agent did not reset the petrol pump's meter. We then decided to check the air levels in our tyres. That is when we got the first indication that whatever happens, chance will favor the prepared mind.

The alert sardarji noticed that the tires of my motorcycle had fresh cut marks. Something was rubbing really hard against it. He gave it another 500km before my tyres burst up. We removed all the luggage from the bike and checked it. The screws of the mudguard were indeed rubbing against the tyres. We spent the best part of an hour fixing it. It was now 10AM and we were hungry. We moved over the nearest Dhaba and had some amazing aloo paratas and curd. By the time we started our journey, it was close to 11.30AM, a delay of 5 hours, which in hindsight would cost us dearly.

We had found a scenic alternative route from Amabala to Manali here. We decided to take that. As mentioned, it was indeed scenic till we reached Ropar. In case you did not know, there is now a IIT-Ropar ;-)


We did cross a canal like that and for most part of the journey, it was indeed peaceful to drive through, with minimum traffic, and a nice river alongside. Little did we know that for the best part of our remaining journey, a river would follow us ;-)

Since we had a rather heavy breakfast, we did not feel the need for a lunch. We reached Ropar town, and stopped for some tea. The shop owner told us that we would have the hills coming at us in a short while from now.


Soon enough, we did start our ascent. It was not easy, given the fact that we did have some luggage.

We crossed Bilaspur town. It started to drizzle. In a highway, if it rains, the wisest thing to do is to continue riding, as there is a distinct possibility that there would not be any rains when you cross some disance. On the mountains, it is not the case. However, we assumed that there would be no rains when we ride ahead and continued doing so. The drizzle turned into a torrential downpour. Sathish stopped as he was unable ride in total darkness with heavy rains. Anand did not notice that we had stopped and he continued along, in the wrong direction !

We all stopped in a tea shop to make sure we do not get washed away by the rains !! It did not matter much; we were already soaking wet. After sometime, Anand returned and joined us in our shelter. We met a few folks in that shelter, albeit drunk, who advised us to go forward for a few more kilometers and we should be able to find a place to stay. Sathish did not want to listen to them, and we decided to drive back to Bilaspur, a distance of around 10 or so KM. I decided to be in front and everyone else decided that we would follow our respective tail lights. We started our drive back to Bilaspur. Halfway through, after much asking around, we found out that we were in the wrong direction, and as suggested by the drunk folks, there was a place to stay further ahead.

We then drove over and reached a resort Midway. As the name suggests, it is midway between Delhi and Manali. We managed to bargain the rates for two rooms and they were kind enough to provide us with piping hot food. We wovled it down our throats and went to sleep. We wanted to start early the next day. Manali was just 100km or so away.

The next dya, we decided to enjoy the mountain journey and take it easy. Manali was nearby and hence, we decided to enjoy the sights and sounds that we saw on the route.

The first beautiful spot we reached was the dam in Sundar Nagar.


We also passed the beas river and that huge 3km tunnel.


And yes, given that it was the mountains, there was blue sky all around, of course, when it did not rain !!!


We reached Manali rather lazily at sometime in the afternoon. We had a rather lazy lunch in Kulu near the Airport. It was a rather tasty and lavish affair. We checked into Hotel Chaman, just near the shoping complexes. It was not all that great, but we just needed a place to stay for the night. We had already lost a day, and we wanted to cross Rhotang, and get to Sarchu by the next day. We went to bed.

Little did Sathish and Anand know that they would be coming back to Manali the very next day, in an Army truck, at the dead of the night.


Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 9:51 AM


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