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The Mighty Seven & The Himalayas - 100th Blog of BTC

It was New Year eve, listing out with friends about our New Year resolution. It was my turn without a blink of my eyes I said it going to be Himalayas. I dint know I would do this, but this was something I wanted to do more than anything in my life. Days passed by, met Chaitanya near my office and just asked him “Dude any big plans this year?” He replied “Manali Leh-Ladakh”. My eyes bloomed, felt like somebody woke me up when I was asleep. Couple of months later at last I see a mail from BTC “Himalayas Expedition Spiti Valley” and this was it for me I am doing this.

Then the preparation and counting of days started. Every day was a countdown for me. Chaitanya created a group in whatapp and which worked out quite well for planning and stuff. There were 7 people in total who registered. Viru, Rithesh, Subash, Sekhar,Chaitanya, Sharath and Myself. I knew only Chaitanya among them. As the days were closing in we got a checklist of things to be carried. Shopping spree began after that carefully picking the stuff we need. July 4th was the day I was waiting for, office seemed to be boring and researching about Spiti valley was the only interesting stuff I could do. Finally July 3rd arrived and packing started after I took a half day off.

Chapter 1:  The Start Of Journey:
"Sometimes it's the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination."

Packing was done and only thing missing was sleep. Mind still waiting for 3am alarm, as taxi was booked at 3:30am. Finally I could manage to sleep for couple of hours and then the alarm rang. I jumped out of bed and got ready within 10min and picked my bag up and walked towards the road. I had to pick Ritesh on the way. Around 3:35 Chaitanya called me to ask where are we, they were already in the airport. We reached within half hour and had to listen to some gaali  even before saying “Hi”.

We moved towards the security and then towards check in counter. We did all the formalities and then hunger strike us. We moved towards to some restaurant in airport had some Idli vadas, it was bit late and the lady in the Mic made a final call. We ran towards the exit and we were ready for the flight. None of us had sleep for more than 2 hrs, so all had plans were to sleep. And as usual I don’t get sleep in flights, it was most boring two and a half hour spent in the trip. So finally we reached Delhi, this was my first time in north India and this added to my excitement. As soon as we stepped out of the flight it felt like we are in Hot Owen. We rushed towards the arrival section to pick up our luggage. Chandra Sekhar was joining us from Chennai, his flight was almost an hour later than ours so we had to wait. Meanwhile we were discussing the plans for the day, but nothing seemed to be working out. Subash had some friend in Gurgaon where we could fresh up as our bus to Manali was around 5pm in the evening.

We freshened up and it was lunch time, went in search of some dhaba nearby, Subash suggested us one where he used to have when he was in Gurgaon. We had couple of paratas with lots of butter, curds and pickle. After heavy lunch we rushed back to the room switched on the A/C and planned to take a nap for couple of hours. But I couldn’t sleep much and started chit-chatting with Sekhar.

We planned to leave home by 3pm and board a metro from Sikanderpur station. We took an auto to sikanderpur and quickly collected our tickets and boarded a metro towards Rajiv chowk. Oh man! Metro in Delhi is amazing very well planned and amazing, you find a train every two minutes and crowded as usual. It took us around half hour to Rajiv chowk taking the yellow line. Now in Rajiv chowk we had to find Blue line which was a floor above from the yellow line. Ram Mandir was in very next station and hardly would take us 5 min to be there. So after goodbye to Delhi metro we reached the pick-up point on time.

After an hour of waiting we came to know that Himachal govt isn’t allowing more than 45 seater bus, and we were stuck there for another half hour and finally a bus arrived, we quickly boarded the bus and after lot of tumult bus started. We could see some guy carrying a tab and renting out to the fellow passengers so that they can watch a movie. It seemed an interesting deal as it costly only 100 bucks, we knew the bus going to be late to manali and this seemed to be good option to scare away the boredom. Almost everyone in the bus opted this. I watched it alone as subash who was sitting beside me was already in deep sleep. I started watching Percie Jackson as I already watched most of the movies in there. Couple of hours and I dozed off.

Bus stopped for dinner, it was somewhere in Haryana. Dhaba served some good food, we ate heavily and after having some chocolates we got back to the bus and found that they were playing Ek Villian in the TV which was half way through, anyway I was least interested and went back to dreamland.

Chapter 2 : Mesmerizing Manali:-

“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”
-Gustave Flaubert

It was 5am when my eyes opened when the bus banged into a tree. Nothing serious, it was curvy roads throughout maybe the driver dint see it while making a turn and banged into the luggage space, made some short term fix. Half an hour later bus made a stop for tea. We were a little hungry so ate bread-omlet. Bus guys were fixing the luggage trunk which got damaged which took some time. Then the bus started again, on the way we could see fantastic gift of nature to the travelers “The Himalayas”. BIAS river flowing just beside the road, along with the Himalayan mountains, we all were eager to see the ice caps over the mountains and we could see some which were far-far away. Even the small glances of those mountains were enough for us to get flabbergasted. Some clicks on the way made sure we don’t miss anything for our collection.

Finally we reached the bus stand, picked us a taxi and reached the hotel room, I freshened up quickly so that I can get to the bike guy quickly and select my ride. I did so and I see chaitanya and Viru had the same thing in their mind. I see a 7 Enfields there 3 electra and 4 classic, My eyes just moved around to find Red Classic 350, I fell for her as soon as I saw. Then others came and selected their rides, so Raj(bike rent guy) suggested us to take a ride so we can have a check, to a place got Naggar and supposedly there is a water fall there. It was lunch time and we decided to have it on the way. We found a restaurant called The Pine on the way, as we entered we found only the restaurant guys there but no customers. For a moment we thought "was this a wrong choice?". We told the waiter to get some special dish of Himachal. After a long wait we could see some food coming our way, and as soon as tasted it just one word came out of our mouth "WOW!!" the food was amazing it was worth the wait. We started our enfeilds and moved on towards the water fall, on the way Sekhar's bike was giving problems and we had to drop of the bike there are move on and planned to pick it up while returning. We reached the spot, it wasn’t that great apart from ice cold water. We are used to large waterfalls in western Ghats so it wasn’t as amusing as we thought. We clicked some pictures on the bridge which was just under the waterfall. Anyways our intension was to check on our vehicles and on the way we had good food, that was worth it.
We came back from there, picked up the bike from the place where we left it, by fixing it somehow. We reached Manali and back to the room, discussing about the plan from next day. Meanwhile we had to check about the bike, as we did not like Electra much, so on exchange we got 2 avenger and 1 Thunderbird. We met the mechanic who is supposed to be accompanying us, but it seemed that he wasn’t interested. On saying we will leave at 6, he insisted 9 but we settled on to 8am. It was late around 9:30pm and manali shuts down quite early, being a bangalorean did not affect us much. So we started for dinner, on reaching the manali market area we saw a huge crowd with some of the beautiful people around. We found lot of restaurants but did not know which to enter, we see something called tout fish everywhere and I really wanted to try and I found Ritesh wanted to do the same. But later found that we shouldn’t have had, being a mangalorean I am quite particular about fish and this was a bad plan. So after trying tout fish we moved on to the a restaurant, had some average food and made a move back to the room, all super excited thinking we will all be gearing up tomorrow.

Chapter 3 : The Washing away:-
“Some people feel the rain, others get wet”

We started downstairs from our room at 7:30 am as planned, started tying our bags into the bike. We kept couple of bikes away from the baggage as we had a mechanic who will be a pillion. We had breakfast in a restaurant nearby Aloo Paratas with ghee, curds and pickles and a cup of tea, meanwhile mechanic arrived. The plan was to reach Rampur which was about 155kms according to the map, but the bike owner told us we will not be able to do it.  So we started our bikes we knew for 8 days it would be listening to “thug thug...!” more than people, we would be disconnected from the world. There were two guys with camera Sekhar and Chaitanya. Chaitanya as always caries extra memory cards just like magazines and reload it every time it is out of memory. We started from Manali and on the way we took some group pics with our bikes. The roads were Ok when we started, when we were travelling from delhi in bus rithesh told us there was a long tunnel which is around 2kms. So initially we were excited about this. We reached there within no time and again photo session began. It was pretty hot and I was sweating and we were cursing Chaitanya for asking us to get thermal wears. The tunnel was indeed helpful because this would spare the pain of ascending the hill and descending again while driving.
As we rode, we were enjoying the sound of our RE’s Avenger’s, greenery, hills and completely lost in the beauty of the nature. We took a couple of breaks in between before we reached lunch place at around 1230. Had some dal roti and Kadi chaval, and started from there. Suddenly out of nowhere it started pouring and got stuck in really bad roads with pebbles and flowing water, the rain was getting heavier, we took out our rainwear by then we were almost wet. We somehow drove through those roads (or No Roads!!). We saw a board Jalori pass and lot of vehicles parked there. Later we came to know that this was considered one of the dangerous roads in the world. We did not stop there as it was raining badly. As we descended from there the rain subsidized. On the way we saw a group of people carrying a statue on their shoulders and lot of children surrounding them. In the meantime we came to know that our journey increased by another 50kms, as the shortcut which the map showed was closed because of landslides. Landslides are very common in Himachal Pradesh especially in the hilly regions. We came across a small stream on the way, this was our first stream. Without any difficulty we crossed that in fact we took couple of trips to the stream to capture videos and photos. As we rode some small stones used to hit us, this was a very common phenomenon there because of landslides. Finally we touched the highway and roads were pretty good, we reached Rampur and found a hotel room. Rooms were pretty ok but weather was again not that cool which we expected. We again started our toughest job i.e. finding restaurants for dinner. On the way I bought some fruits and wasn’t planning for dinner as I had a little stomach upset right from start of the journey. We found one and sat there for almost half hour to know that the cook wasn’t there. Then we moved on to our hotel where we stayed and had some.
  
 Chapter 4 : Highway to Hell:-
“Life is a journey, enjoy the ride”

It was around 5:30 am when I woke up. Freshened up quickly and packed my bags and tied it up to my bike. We thought to have breakfast nearby as we did not know when we will find the next town. I just roamed around and I found one, we all moved there and started discussing the plan, the destination was Kalpa Chaitanya said it we shouldn’t miss sunset and sunrise if we are in kalpa and the map showed as about 600kms because of the landslides in the road which we were intended to take. But we thought map was wrong and anyway we took that route. The highway was good initially when we started, but on the way it was getting worse, after riding for couple of hours we reached Tapri and found there was a long standing queue of vehicles then we realized this is the place where the road is closed, but the policemen there asked us to take a road towards left. It was a very narrow road and it connects the highway on the other side. Each side has particular timings wherein they allow the vehicles to move because the roads are very narrow and 2 vehicles together is quite impossible to manage. On the way we high fived so many people and acknowledged others. After lot of tussle on the roads because of the sandy condition we finally reached chooling where we had some momos and eggs and continued towards Sangla. It was around 2pm when we reached Sangla mainly because of the longer route. After lunch the plan was to ride to Chitkul it is the last village, which the last inhabited village near the Indo-Tibet(China) border. As we rode towards Chitkul, we met a Sardar who was in a check post, just beside a stream which was pretty big, we crossed it and then we reached Chitkul and hardly we found anyone there just a couple of people who seemed to be Border security. The place was beautiful, with ice caps on almost all the mountains and seemed like there were like series of mountains just like scoops of chocolate ice-cream with vanilla toppings.
On the way back, we spoke for some time with the Sardar, he is a jawan in para- military border security. He was telling us the difficulties these jawans are facing there; it was really a pitiful lifestyle. Feels really bad that these people stay away from family and people for so long and protect us in the borders and some of us don’t give even 1% to country or society. After some gyaan we moved to Sangla and it was quite late and decided to skip Kalpa and stay in Sangla. It was getting cooler in Sangla and the thermal wears came to use that night. Now we were getting some feel about being in Himalayas. We had dinner in the same place where we had lunch and moved back to the room, the rooms were really good for the money we paid. After some chit-chat we got back to our rooms and settled down for the day.

Chapter 5 : Welcome to Spiti:-

The previous day while having tea in the evening we asked the shop guy prepare bread-omlet the next morning. So as soon as we got out of the hotel bread-omlet was ready. We all started filling up our belly. Our destination was to reach Tabo and on the way visit Nako Lake and as usual pass on through awe-inspiring mountain ranges.
We were quite depressed about the roads as Tabo was around 190 kms from Sangla. Anyways this wasn’t the kind of ride we were having for past couple of days we were passing through the breathtaking view of Spiti valley. We started towards the highway, this time I took mechanic as my pillion it was quite uncomfortable for me in the bike which I was riding as the guard was quite different than the one which was fitted in my previous bike and because of my height it was creating nuisance while riding. So as soon as I reached highway I exchanged my ride with Ritesh. After sometime even Ritesh faced issue and Subash came in. We guessed the highway to be better but it was still the same to be frank even worse. On the way we met a group of tourists in their 500C classic and they were riding as if there is a race going on. Our backs were badly hurt and we just thinking to get of this road as soon as possible, the roads were actually getting repaired and because of avalanche it was difficult to manage anyways who cares we were falling in love with Bangalore roads the difference in Spiti was no honks and no crowd and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious people around.
We were low on petrol and we knew that the next petrol bunk was in Khaza which was more than 250 kms away and dint want to risk it. We reached Poo and there was a super market in which we could get anything, local Big bazar with petrol too. He had CCTV cameras fixed. There was a food joint nearby wherein we had some yummy Aloo paratas. We kept on asking people "Aage Road Kaisa hai?" and people used to reply "Khaza tak A1 road hai sirji" we weren’t convinced still. But as soon we started we were enjoying the ride. We got into a spectacular hairpin curve which led us to Khazics pass which was around 13559.36 ft. We reached Nako Lake in no time. Nako Lake is a high altitude lake in the Pooh sub-division of district Kinnaur. It forms part of the boundary of Nako village and seems that the village is half buried in the lake's border. It is about 3,662 metres (12,014 ft) above sea level. The lake is surrounded by willow and poplar trees. Near the lake there are four Buddhist temples. Near this place there is a footlike impression ascribed to the saint Padmasambhava. We found the tourists who were on their Classic 500 planned their stay in Nako. We couldn’t stay there because that would delay our plan. We started from Nako at about 4pm and reached Tabo at around 6pm and roamed around for the rooms. We got one and freshened up quickly and ordered our food. We asked the manager of the hotel for some local dishes and after an hour we moved towards the restaurant. As we started having our dinner out of nowhere a mad drunkard came to our table and started blabbering bullshit we didn’t entertain him and he started yelling at us. The manager came in and took him away from there. After we finished our dinner we returned back to our bases just before that the drunkard stopped us in between and yet again he was back with his bullshit telling us to visit the monastery and it is 1000 years old. We eluded from there and banged into our beds. We planned to leave quite late from Tabo as the monastery opens only after 9. So after 4 days we going to have some awsome sleep till late.

Chapter 6 : Key to the Spirituality:-
“The way you feel connects to the truth of who you are”

We started at 8 as planned and crashed on to the restaurant and again aloo paratas, this was it for me no more aloo. Anyway I dint have any other option and had to eat that. We moved on to the monastery, but seemed to us that it was under construction it was a pretty old place and all made of mud not cement and stones. We did not spend much time there and moved into the helipad nearby to take click our group picture. We were quite low on fuel so we skipped Dhankar monastery for which we had to take a diversion from the main road, Kaza had a petrol bunk and it was quite big a town. Anyhow we wanted our bikes to be checked, so we thought to drop couple of bikes in Khaza with the mechanic and move to Kei monastery.
It was mid-noon we reached Khaza, filled up our tanks. We found a hotel nearby unpacked stuffs, we were planning to stay in Khaza for couple of days, so it was kind of a rest days for us. We had our lunch dropped 3 bikes and started towards Kei Monastery. Key Gompa (also spelled Ki, Kye or Kee) is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located on top of a hill at an altitude of 4,166 metres (13,668 ft) above sea level, close to the Spiti River. It was a serene place, with alluring view of hills. We entered into the monastery and we couple hear couple of voices calling us to get in have some tea. Initially we kind of havered and said we will roam around and come. But as soon as we finished seeing the place the monk invited as for a tea. The tea was made of herbs and tasted like amrita. We asked "Ek aur milega? Accha lag raha hai", he replied "Bilkul milega". Later he took us to show the monastery prayer hall. It was so peaceful that anybody can go to tranquility if we stay for some time. We asked him "Height kitna hoga?" He said "13000 ft ke upar to hai". We came out and decided to still go further.
The road goes towards Kibber. Kibber is a village high in the Spiti Valley in the Himalayas at 4270 metres or 14,200 ft(wiki). It was quite late when we reached there and feeling quite uncomfortable because of high altitude. We descended back to Khaza. On the way, something indelible incident occurred. We just descended from Kibber and took some time off. I was hungry as usual and asked others "Is there anything to eat", Rithesh had a rusk packet when he got from Sangla and opened it.I asked him "Kuch biscuits vagera nahi hai kya?" Out of nowhere an old uncle who was just waiting for bus came towards us and opened the biscuit packet which he had. We were speechless, the place where we come from people don’t even care to help out when the person is met with an accident and this guy gives his food to us. I still remember Viru saying "Insaniyat abhi bhi zinda hai". We thanked him said goodbye and moved towards kaza . We left remaining bikes with the mechanic. Chaitanya was bit unwell, so he took a nap and rest all went to the market, we had some garama garam samosas, Jilebis. We also went to the local saloon to get oil massage. So it was relaxing and after dinner we were back to bed.

Chapter-7:  Reaching the heights:-
“My soul is in the sky”

We had a change of plans stay in Khaza was cancelled and we planned to move on from there. Dhankar monastery which we missed the previous day, we planned to visit that. We went through Khaza market to have breakfast but did not find any restaurants, so we had samosas and hit the roads again. Dhankar Gompa (also Dankhar, Drangkhar or Dhangkar Gompa; Brang-mkhar or Grang-mkhar) is village and also a Gompa, a Buddhist temple in the district of Lahaul and Spiti in India. It is situated at an elevation of 3,894 metres (12,774 feet) in the Spiti Valley above Dhankar Village, between the towns of Kaza and Tabo. The complex is built on a 1000-foot (300-metre) high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers - one of the world's most spectacular settings for a gompa. Dhang or dang means cliff, and kar or khar means fort. Hence Dhangkar means fort on a cliff.(wiki). As we ascended the hill in our bikes, we could see the view and it was astounding. Something built so beautifully over the cliff, one of the best architecture i have seen, that too mountains which are prone to avalanche this was something astonishing.
There was a monk in there who guided us to the terrace the view from there was alluring, we could see couple of rivers, the roads looking like path of ant. We went inside the prayer room, took some pictures had a chat with the monk, as usual subash asked lot of questions. We descended back from there and started towards Komic. Komic is highest motor able village in the world. But we found that motor able meant pass through some awful roads and reach there breaking your bones. We almost reached there just to find that road that followed would lead our tyres getting burst, so we dint want to risk it. There is a monastery in the village that was the place we were supposed to go, but it seemed to us that this was a huge risk. So we checked our altitude height it was aroung 15000 ft. We descended and our point of disembarkation was Losar village.
We reached a checkpost in Losar and after finishing the formalities we located a hotel and stayed there, we asked the hotel guy to prepare some pakodas. There was some kid who was laughing at us all the time, maybe he was thinking in his mind "Yeh bukkad kaha se aaye". We had great time playing with kids. The camera kept them amusing and we took some pictures. The climate was cold and slight wind maybe around 10 deg Celcius and that too in this summer, imagine what it would have been in winters. Anyway we had garam pakodas and went for a walk; it was tiring even to walk for 10m because of the height. After great difficulty we reached a point where we could see moon on top of the ice cap and it was looking picturesque.

We returned to our rooms had some chit- chat. Somebody said the temperature will fall below 5 during the night, so we were all ready with thick clothes. The dinner was ready just in time and we filled our tummy. We plunged into our beds and had a great sleep.

Chapter 8: Streamy day:-
“Water is the driver of nature “ – Leonardo da vinci

Next morning we started late thinking that there is not much to cover it was just around 80kms. But Himalayas has different plan for us. We again had some paratas in the morning. This was it for me; I am not having paratas for at least a year. Our plan was to go to chandrataal and from there move to Chatru or Gramphu for night stay. Chandra Taal (meaning the Lake of the Moon), or Chandra Tal, is situated at an altitude of about 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) in the Himalayas. Mountains of scree overlook the lake on one side, and a magnificent cirque presents a view on the other. The name of the lake originates from its crescent shape(wiki). The ride was great for some time, plain lands just was it was sandy some places , but it wasn’t back breaking like it was it Poo. We heard people saying that there was a landslide and we need to stop in between and trek, but we weren’t prepared for trek, we dint have tents or sleeping bags and neither mentally ready for the trek. Even though we were regular trekkers but high altitude trekking after so many days riding was a risk. But we knew not going to chandrataal was like going to a movie and not having pop-corn, chandrataal adds a flavor to our rides, and we went out with positive note anyways that we will try our best to go. We reached a spot where in there were couple of cars. And people got down and started to trek. We enquired about road, but the guy there said there isn’t any road. So after slight dejection we moved from there just to find after some 5-6 kms about the road towards chandrataal being about 12 kms. We were excited and started towards. It was a scary road where in there was a landslide and just a bike could pass from there. We somehow passed it just and on the opposite we met some bikers coming from there, they said its quite impossible to ride there as the streams were till their knees and dangerous roads. We then thought no point try and come back and we were quite tight with our schedule. So we turned back and started towards Chatru. On the way found a small collection of ice, we were excited because this was the first sight of ice on the road and we started to make balls of it and throw on each other. This is something most of us want to do in life.
We reached Chandra dhaba in batal, it was a quite a big dhaba with all kinds of biscuits, snacks available. I found a paper cutting there and it read “Saviour couple of Spiti valley” and the contents were “Every year in June, as the upper reaches of the Himalayas start to open to tourists after a long and dreary winter, Bodh Dorjee and his wife Chandra are inevitably the first non-locals — barring Border Road Organisation workers who clear the snow-covered passes in May — to arrive at the desolate Lahaul and Spiti. 
Known among locals and frequent visitors as Chacha and Chachi, the couple, who are in their mid-50 s, run Batal's Chandra Dhaba for four months, serving food to and arranging accommodation for travellers till winter renders the region inaccessible for eight months.



As there isn't a single petrol pump, a ration store or even a permanent human habitation within 100 km, the couple believe in stocking up. In a worst case scenario, Chandra Dhaba can accommodate and feed 10 people for a couple of months. Bus drivers plying between Manali and Kaza, who stop at the dhaba for lunch, carry consignments of rice, rajma, dal, eggs, soap, etc for the couple. 

Lahaul and Spiti and neighbouring Kinnaur on the Old Hindustan-Tibet Road are among the most disaster-prone areas on the planet — the hostile terrain, unpredictable weather and dilapidated roads are a dangerous mix and many tourists end up getting stranded in and around Batal. For them, Chacha and Chachi are a godsend.


"Chacha knows the mountains inside out. He has trekked long distances in severe conditions," says tour operator Himanshu Joshi, who has been visiting Himachal for almost 15 years and makes it a point to meet Chacha every time he crosses the spot. "When in trouble , he is the right guy to be around. One feels absolutely safe with him."
To city-dwellers , the amiable pair comes as a pleasant surprise. "They are not money-minded people," says Meena Sanghavi, who recently travelled to and got stranded in Batal. "We could pick up anything from their kitchen and they wouldn't mind," she adds. "They didn't overcharge us for anything even after we had been there for days and showed no sign of leaving anytime soon."

In the severest of conditions and toughest of times, Chacha and Chachi manage to maintain not only their honesty, but also a sense of humor. While Chachi comes across as an extremely motherly and docile lady, those who know Chacha describe him as a jovial soul with spontaneous wit. Says Lokesh Mahale, who was with Sanghavi during the same trip: "If we asked him for a glass of hot water to drink, he would joke in Hindi, saying, 'Unless you want it for a bath, I won't give you a drop’.”

This article says it all. We had some tea and biscuits there are moved on, some more streams and we reached a place wherein just beside the road we found a huge area of ice caps. We got down from our bikes and again started to make snow balls and hit the people again. We took pictures with all kinds of poses possible.  Then the pain started or the adventure the streams getting uglier and challenging, the first hard ones came in we somehow crossed it, but people on opposite side were struggling as it was bit elevated. All wet from knees Sonu(mechanic) said this was it there isn’t any till chatru.  For around 2-3 kms, we passed through smaller streams and some large ones without much of hitch.  Then came the one huge one, I couldn’t see any road there, it wasn’t a stream it was a river. I was numb, Viru asked me to take the video so did Sekhar but I was just silent and was just thinking how I am going to cross this. Just saw viru passing by and he was stuck and Sekhar was helping him out, I was still in my bike sitting and not knowing what was happening around there. Lot of other bikers came in even classic 500C couldn’t cross that comfortably. Then sonu took Chaitanya’s bike and passed on with full throttle and jumping around. Then it was my turn I got ready like I am having my battle with the stream, it was ice chilled water and knew if I get stuck my legs would get freezed. With full throttle I started and in a glimpse I was there on the other side, I screamed as if I won the battle. Indeed I won I crossed it without much of pushing pulling the bike.
We all were pretty much tired and above that our legs were literally frozen, we dint want any more streams. Still we got couple of smaller ones, past 12pm the stream always gets uglier in these roads because of ice packs melting. We reached Chatru, only to find that there are no hotel rooms here. We enquired in couple of dhabas and nothing worked out, we all were ready to go to next town we find. But again it was past 12 and we had to cross “Paagal Naala”. The name itself frightened us. We enquired one more dhaba and he said there is a room. It was a bad place to stay, no bathroom the bed was stinking and bedsheet too. Anyways we had to adjust and settle there.
It was almost 3 days without cellphone range and we were disconnected from the world. It was important for us to let the loved ones know that we were alright. The dhaba guy told us there was a satellite phone nearby. Subash, Chaitanya went there to chek out and came back in sometime. Ritesh said even he wanted to go, so he pulled me and Subash to join. I anyways said my parents that I will be out of range for couple of days. When we started even Sharath joined us. Sharath took his bike and I sat behind him, now I knew how scary it was sitting behind someone those roads. So we reached the place, it was a house of a punjabi guy who stays there for around 6 months and does farming. He was a well off chap and does this as a passion. He was telling us the life in himalayas, in winters it is very difficult  for the people to live there. The next town is almost 30 kms away from there and in winters the roads will be closed. There isn’t any help from the government too. This is sad state of one of the beautiful places on earth. Anyways we were bit sad to hear this and after the call we moved back into our room. It was last night of our ride so there was mixed feeling among us. After having dinner in dhaba we were back in the bed fully warm clothed.

Chapter 8 : Pile of corpses:-

We started from Chatru as soon as possible because of paagal Naala, which gave us nightmares. We did not waste much of time and reached the stream. The view was prepossessing, the water was falling on the road from almost 30 meters height and spread across the road. It was still horrifying as the name suggests at 6am in the morning, what would have been if it was after 12pm. Chaitanya got ready with his camera, we did not want to miss this. The stream was quite hard to pass, with large stones in between and not even visible because of water and as mentioned earlier it was ice cold. Climate was getting colder as we moved towards Rohtang Pass.
Rohtang means Pile of corpses, due to people dying in bad weather trying to cross the pass. It is only open from June to October, rest of the year it is covered with snow and it is known for its unpredictable weather. As we ascended towards rohtang, the roads were all wet because of ice melting, and someplaces foggy. The view was spectacular, we could see huge ice blocks near the road and the in some places ice blocks were cut through to make way for vehicles. On the way we had bread-omlet and tea. As we moved closer number of vehicles increased a lot as this road leads towards Leh(NH 21). The view was getting more stunning, there was a huge line of vehicles parked in the pass. I dint expect to be so much crowed at this point of the day. There were all kinds of adventure sports business going on there, some guy said us to try skiing but we weren’t sure because skiing is a difficult sport we can’t leant in half hour. So we moved on playing in the snow. There was lot of ice scooter which seemed enthralling. We all took a ride, it was trilling I said the guy who was riding to ride as fast as he can. Indeed he did that and it was galvanizing. After that we tried tube sliding in the snow, felt like we are back at school and whoever reached the base would get bashing from the snowballs. It was fun to hit people with snow balls.  An old lady was trying to slide in the snow, it was kind of funny but also a amazed to see a 70-80 year old lady enjoying like a kid. No matter what age we are in we should always be young at heart.
We started our bikes and started descending from Rohtang, on the way there was lot of traffic. Past 7 days we all were mostly all alone on the roads with very less vehicles around and suddenly so many trucks, cars it was weird for us. On the way we saw people doing paragliding, I wanted to do it badly but it was irritating for me without fresh up. And Sonu also said Solang valley has paragliding which is much better than this. So Ritesh, Viru and I continued descending and it was lunch time and reached Marhi. After sometime Sekhar came by and said Chaitanya and Suhas are doing paragliding and asked us to go back if we wanted to. But for Ritesh and me we weren’t comfortable so we returned to our bases, but Viru decided to stay back and wait for them. Sekhar had moved on as he was supposed to leave same day, as he had some work back home in Chennai. Ritesh and I freshened up and relaxed for some time by then Chaitanya and Subhash were back sharing their experiences. We returned some of our bikes, and repaired some because of various fall we had in between some parts were little damaged. By then it was almost dinner time we ordered food and it was quite late when we received the order. We all gathered in a room and watched TV after almost 7-8 days. Trying to connect back with the world, after dinner I came back to my room and watched Netherlands vs Brazil 3rd place Match, been a regular football watcher but missed because of the trip. My eyes dozing off and I am trying hard to stay awake and watch, anyways that didn’t work out and I crashed into bed.

Chapter 9 - Spash of White water:-
“Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.” ― Emma Smith

Manali was dark even at 8am in the morning I was shocked to see my watch, later found that it was raining the entire night that’s y it was dark, I woke up and banged on the doors. 9am was the time we were supposed to leave for Solang valley for Paragliding.  Chaitanya called up Sonu to accompany us. We had some paratas and Bread-Omlets and left manali the road was pretty much same towards Rohtang and a diversion which took us towards Solang.
Solang valley is a completely commertialized adventure sports place. Here in summer people do Paragliding, zorbing etc and in winters mostly Skiing as it will be covered with snow.We enquired about the paragliding but it seemed that it was all foggy and the guy said you can jump from medium level and not high, we dint think it was worth so we thought not to do it. But the setting there was astounding with cable cars that will take us to submit, zorbing, horse riding etc. It was a nice place but weather disappointed us. We thought of coming back later but it dint seem to be a realistic choice as we planned for river rafting and that was on other side of Manali i.e. towards Kullu.
We left from Solang valley and moved towards Kullu, it seemed to be a long ride again. As we moved towards Kullu, we enquired various rafting shops but it was closed because of the flow in the river. But we moved forward again and finally got one. We opted for longest stretch that was for 12kms, out of which first 5 will commence from there and remaining 7 we had to go somewhere else because the river was harsh. The charge was around 1400 for 12 kms stretch. We all geared after having some Mountain dew "kyunki darr ke aage jeet hai".
As Andre Gide quoted, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Adventure is basically a part and parcel of the human life. Adventure in other words in fun at its peak. It is a major element that enables you to rejuvenate your mind. River Rafting is no less than bliss. The speed at which the raft was going, the view of mountains, the ice chilled water the experience was something we will not forget for a lifetime. The river was very harsh hitting the rocks very frequently and most of the time water was hitting right on our face and we were screaming because of the cold water. 5kms went like a lightning dint even feel it because of the speed. The raft moved to the shore and we were taken in a Van towards next location. As we reached there was huge crowd of people waiting, we came to know that it was last couple of days of rafting been allowed there and later it will be stopped because of the rains and the water flow will be uncontrollable. We had some chana bhel, water makes us really hungry we were ordering one after another and the guy was like “Aaram se khavo”. It was our turn to go next, we made sure this will be captured and hired a video guy for 500 bucks. Unlike previous raft wherein there were 3 people for rowing, here there was only one guy who was rowing. He asked everyone to go forward and bend our heads as it would be more trilling. Water was splashing more harshly to people sitting at front. Midway we exchanged our seats and I came forward, it was an amazing feeling we just wanted more and more and didn’t want this to stop. The video guy used to arrive at right time whenever the raft was quite close to the road. We all waved at the camera whenever we saw him.

Raft reached its end point we all had to get down even though we wanted more. After taking a copy of the video we moved to the restaurant where we had left all our stuffs and bikes in the same van. We ordered some food there and it was already 3pm when we left from there and we had to drop paragliding as it was late and quite foggy too. Sonu suggested us a hot water spring on the way back, initially we were quite reluctant to go, but when we touched the water it was quite hot and we just jumped into it. What an amazing feeling it was after getting washed away by ice cold water we spend some time there and had to rush back as we got to pack and get ready for the bus. 

We quickly packed our stuff and Chaitanya was settling with the bike guy, all went well in the trip and we were on route to the bus stand. It was sad to see the mountains passing by, and the rivers these were the companions for 8 days. No matter how much we struggled on the roads every minute was a bliss. We felt blessed to spend time in these hills. Gong back with back sprain and what not but it was worth every penny. That’s a goodbye to Himalayan Adventure, and that was checked in my bucket list.

Chapter 10 : The Capital:-

We reached Delhi early in the morning. The bus dropped us at Himachal Bhavan. We quickly freshened up and waited for the cab which we booked so that we can roam around Delhi. The nearby place was red fort, but as soon we went there it was Monday and closed. Then we moved to Raj Ghat. It is a very neat and clean place, well managed of course because he is father of nation. There is a diya burning 24X7.

We then moved towards India gate. On the way we caught the sight of lotus temple it was beautiful from outside. India gate is one of the monument I wanted to visit, I always see this in most of the movies one of which is Rang de basanti. there was a Amar Jawan Jyothi right under the structure wherein there was a jawan with his rifle standing in one positing without a single movement not even his eyes and a jyothi (fire)burning 24X7. The structure was almost covered with soldiers name inscribed in it who gave their life to protect our great nation. It was a good feeling seeing this structure, but Delhi heat was killing us we wanted to get back into our cab and switch in the AC. We then had a glimpse of Raj Bhavan and took some pics.

It was noon time and Subash suggested us Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. This was the first time ever that I was going to a Gurudwara. We had to remove our footwear before entering. When we went to deposit our footwear I saw people who are receiving it are well dressed and some look as if they are back from office work. I asked this with Subash he said that’s the way Sikhs are, it’s a service no matter who you are, wow that was good to hear. We had to cover our heads with the cloth that’s the culture or tradition gurudwara follows. Then we stood up in a queue for prasad. Later on we moved inside the gurudwara and we see huge bunch of people we sat there for some time prayed and moved to langar hall. Langar is a meal service given by the Gurudwara for whoever wishes to have. After meals we moved out had our prasad as deserts. It was time and we had to get back to the airport. After all the formalities and KFC chicken we were en route to Bangalore.

Chapter 11: Life After:-

Days passed by I could only dream of Himayalan roads, bikes and the amazing people. Work seemed to be un- interesting and only thing in my mind was when the next trip is. Being disconnected with the world for almost 10 days and no smartphone, no Facebook was something different. Life was so simple, pack your bags and then ride ride and ride. Meet new people, acknowledge each and every people you meet. Whenever I see Enfield on the road, i feel covetous. Bangalore potholes dint seem that exasperating. There is a well-known saying that "Its not about the destination it’s about the ride". We might forget the places we visited but will never forget that wing thumping into our helmet windshield, the thug thug sound of Enfield those un drivable roads and those ice capped mountains is something that we will cherish our entire life and will talk about this for years.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That’s the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place"

THE MIGHTY SEVEN:-

Keep travelling and keep exploring. Goodbye, Sayonara and Alvida.

Written By       : Anish Shetty
Organized By   : Chaitanya
Date of event   : 4th July 2014
Members Count: 7
Place               : Spiti
Pictures           : Album I, II, III, IV
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