Day 4. Morning 4.30. It was time to hit the roads. Our driver Manoj was ready with his qualis. For the next 9 days, this guy would drive us all around Himachal. Our immediate aim was to cross the dangerous Rohtang pass before 9 AM, because it closes down for maintenance at that time on every tuesday. It was more than 60KM from Manali. But the dangerous roads made sure that it will take many hours to traverse the route. The mist was clearing slowly. Scenes started to unravel and we realised that what we saw in Manali was just a sampler. The road to Leh also follows the same route till Keylong, our destination for the day. The air was getting colder as the vehicle began winding up the hill. Before long, we were almost passing through clouds. We wondered how those poor cows and wild horses survive here.
Our first stop was Marhi, a small place comprising of a Buddhist temple and a couple of shops. Another round of Maggi later, we were all set to cross Rohtang. The road that awaited us was one filled with danger in every turn. It was slushy and slippery. The vehicle glided along the slush and almost swerved off the road. The sight from the side seat was even more horrible. This was the point where we thanked our driver Manoj bhai in our minds. With deft moves, he saved us many times. The sight of some vehicles that had fallen into the gorges in previous days didn't provide any solace. Rohtang came on view amidst heavy mist. Few shops were visible. There's a ved vyas temple here, from where the River Beas originates. Its an igloo like structure. Its believed that at this place, Ved Vyas did Tapasya for 12 years and wrote some parts of Mahabharata. Here, you can pour yourself with the holy water and cleanse your dirty souls :P. Passing the Rohtang pass was an achievement.
After the heights of Rohtang, it was downhill all the way. The sun came on view, so did snow capped mountains. A green meadow and a lake with yaks grazing all around was seen. Our first ever sighting of Yak. Our next stop was near a glacier. There was a small dhaba old by an old man Daulat Ram, who lives in the village down below. He was a cheerful man who smilingly asked me to click him during cooking. The roti and noodles he served were the best during the entire trip. This is where we realised that maggi noodles is the national food of India. Wherever we went, this was one thing always on the menu. We proceeded to the glacier nearby and had our first touch of snow. Thought it was black ice, it didn't reduce our glee a wee bit. We drained off our mineral water bottle and collected crystal clear water rushing from the spring nearby. We bid goodbye to Daulat Ram and started our trip.
One of the best memories of the trip. Old Daulat Ram offering food with a broad smile. Couldn't help clicking before accepting.
The Himalayas started unravelling itself over the next few hours. Lush greenery, flowery meadows, snow mountains..all were there. It rekindled the interest in geography. The school geography texts have done us a great dis-service. All I remember are the black and white hazy shots of the himalayas which put me to sleep during school days. A single proper photo of the majestic ranges would've gone a long way in making us love the subject. As we went further down, we saw this amazing sight of a foreigner pedalling up the hill in a reclining bicycle. Instinctively, I clicked as he passed by the window. But beyond all my expectations, the man got up from his cycle and began hurling abuses in an unknown language. Thankfully, our driver sped away and that probably saved me from getting beaten up. I'm still searching for the meaning of that stupid word!
a click that earned me a 1000 abuses...the man on the reclining bicycle who hurled abuses at me for clicking him...
As we neared Keylong, we passed the picturesque sissu village with an amazing waterfall near it. Keylong is a small sleepy town nestled between snow capped mountains.Our guest house was the surprise package. The top room at the Nordaling hotel provided the best possible view in the whole of keylong, much better than from the world peace cafe at Manali. We spent the evening in walking along the narrow streets and exploring the market. A plate of 10 momos each was enough to make us go to sleep out of tiredness....
your crusader Praveen