<Trip Report May 2014> Shimla, Kinnaur and Spiti - A Busventure

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#31 Jun 16th, 2015, 17:37
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#31
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Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post Through this trip I was rather actively thinking of Indiamike and Indiamikers and clicked more than a few photos to post - such as the bus time table shots above.
That's a beautiful info , Vaibhav. This will surely help all the future travelers who are either tight on budget or travelling solo . Thanks for sharing these shots
#32 Jun 16th, 2015, 18:10
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#32
Awesome writing and photographs. High hills, they call again ...

:-)
#33 Jun 17th, 2015, 12:58
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#33

Sarahan to Reckong Peo

With the necessary divine intervention secured, there wasn’t much else to do in the temple precinct so I walked out and asked a villager where I could get a nice view of the mountains that Sarahan is equally famed for. He pointed me to a spot about a kilometer off with the added bonus that I take a route near the apple orchards. This was flowering season and the trees were in bloom – looking very comely indeed.



I walked uphill several hundred meters, then along the side for a half kilometer, and then got off the main road, along a longish spur.



My walk ended at this tin roofed seat - with a rusted top providing a great contrast to the blue sky and the fluffy whites of the floating cotton.



Now, I did get a good view of the surroundings - including the famed Shrikhand Mahadev peak. Still, given the exhaustion from the bus journey and the view of the peaks (they were too far for my liking), I can’t say that I absolutely loved Sarahan. It was turning out to be a good and much needed mid-way stop though.



Moving back towards the temple complex, I turned left from the main road towards the market area and en-route reached a place that looked like the residence of someone important. There was a gathering in the front lawns – about two scores of people were sitting cross legged on the verdant green carpet. I pussyfooted around the premises, a bit wary of attracting attention. In a few minutes, the crowds dispersed and I walked inside via the main driveway.



It was an imposing building that attempted to ape something European with its gabled roof, excellent lattice work in the panels, use of tinted glass and tall doorways. There were a few Nepali laborers to answer questions and they confirmed my suspicion – that this was indeed Srikhand View – the palace and home of the maharaja of bushahr. It was then that I noticed the two, very Indian, tiger statues on either side of the European style door.



I was not allowed to enter the building as the family still uses it as living quarters but I could walk around the lawns as I pleased.

And pleased I indeed was, with the view from the lawns. One could see another gabled, splendid house – which depending on who you believe – is either of the overseer (unlikely) or of the crown prince (a bit more likely). Best of all, I sprawled on the grass and got this view -



Also a view of a snow clad peak behind and the apple blossoms around is quite soothing. There was a single plume of clouds rising from behind the peak – much like a lost kid separated from the herd.



After some more loitering, very hungry (no lunch so far), and the sun going down the horizon, I walked back towards the market area, noticing but unable to photograph an oversized dog. The highlight of the day (apart from the chilling recounting of the method of human sacrifice by the priest), had to be the food served at Soni Bhojanalaya.



A young girl was running the place that time as her farther was away. She was a very good cook and made home style phulkas to go with the dishes. I ate well.



After a good night’s sleep and profuse usage of the hot water next morning, I was ready to go. Breakfast was again at Soni Bhojanalaya – almost all the shopkeepers from the shops around descend at this place for some chai and chat in the mornings.



This time, the girl’s brother was at the counter. After he finished unloading the sliced bread from the delivery van, he explained to me the differences between different regions of himachal based on how the kullu cap (the one he’s wearing) is worn – the position of the upturned flap is distinct in different parts. It was all too much for my little brain and I don’t recall a thing further of what he said.



My plan for the day was to get a bus to Jeori, another to Reckong Peo and the last one from there to Kalpa. From Sarahan to Jeori was no problem and I was down the hill by 11 am. However, the onward bus for Reckong peo didn’t leave until noon from what I recall so I was glad it finally did – whiling away time with a plate of pakodas. This worked well for me, not so much for the pakodas (they were eaten).

The scenery between Jeori and Peo would have been scenic at the time when multiple hydroelectric projects hadn’t made their appearance in the Sutlej valley. Now, at the start of the dry season, the river runs nearly dry and it gets quite dusty for the bus traveler.



To add to my woes, there was construction work at many places along this route – often related to the hydroelectric projects. The scale of these, given the width of the valley appears to be imposing.

Himalayas being young mountains, landslide and the resulting road repair is a perpetual exercise as seen below - captured as we ascended towards reckong peo at the final leg of this journey.



As we climbed higher, I looked down below at what is left behind when such developmental activities are undertaken in the high Himalayas – this bend of the road (at Powari) is now a veritable junkyard – there are broken trucks, dumpsters, empty oil cans, tyres and other assorted waste, just lying there, enclosed by a fence. It was a sad scene.



The ascent to Peo (as the district headquarters are called colloquially) was tricky to say the least, especially once when we had to backtrack on account of a backhoe blocking our way. We were literally inches away from the yellow monster and I must compliment the dexterity of the bus driver to get us up safely given that on the other side, the bus was very near the edge of the road (second shot below).





My lunch was at a small shop in the rekcong peo bus stand, a compact building opposite the post office of the town. A simple repast of rice, daal, kadhi and some beans. It was an indication of things to come. Food was to get progressively simpler over the next several days as I ascended higher, the climate colder, but the people – warmer and more hospitable.



At three thirty I was waiting across the road from Peo bus stand where the mini bus for Kalpa was said to pick up passengers. Clouds gathered and it started drizzling.

For fifteen minutes, nothing happened. A group of school boys walked past and upon inquiry, said, there are no more buses up to kalpa today. I had been told otherwise by the bus stand shop owner. When you’re up in the hills, after five hours in ordinary buses, and the weather closes in and you have nowhere to go, fifteen minutes is a long time.

I saw two people leaving the post office and as I said ‘namaste’ I found a face that seemed trustworthy. Sometimes it happens, you know, in an unknown place, an absolute stranger strikes you as someone who knows what he’s talking about – someone who’s been there longer than the rest, before the surrounding world made rapid strides and dust started rising.



He was clear, ‘you please wait here, there is at-least one more bus at four PM. Anyways, there are hotels down the road. In the worst case, I am here.'

So I waited.
#34 Jun 17th, 2015, 13:07
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#34
Fantastic writing. Great pics. What more can we ask for ? Yes, more of the same please.

"Everything is hard before it is easy." - Goethe
#35 Jun 17th, 2015, 14:48
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#35
Great going. Enjoying every picture & word of it. Please don't stop now.

Ronak.
#36 Jun 17th, 2015, 15:00
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#36
Virbhadra Singh is a member of the royal family. Did you see the house of the prince which was posted by hfot2 as a puzzle some time back in the WWTPT-2 thread?
#37 Jun 17th, 2015, 15:03
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#37
If you read my post above, Aarosh, I've mentioned a house that was either that of a prince or an overseer. I would have posted a photo but there are too many in the post above and then it takes away from the flow.

That is the house and not far from there was the over-sized dog.
#38 Jun 17th, 2015, 15:08
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#38
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Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post If you read my post above
Missed that. They do have a board which mentions "beware of the dog". This board was also posted by hfot2 in the puzzle.
#39 Jun 17th, 2015, 17:19
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#39
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Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post Yes, more of the same please.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shahronakm View Post Please don't stop now.

Ronak.
Ok. I'll try to update soon.
#40 Jun 17th, 2015, 21:26
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#40
this is a great writeup, i may be traveling to this area in september and love to learn about it
#41 Jun 18th, 2015, 12:51
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#41
may be a snap of that oversized dog
If a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it cant be solved, worrying will do no good ~ H.H
#42 Jun 18th, 2015, 13:13
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#42

Arrival in Kalpa

At four sharp a mini-bus arrived and a man helped me up with my bag. If he hadn’t helped me, I probably would have dropped it on the road – I was so tired and just a little bit wet. At half past four we had completed the seven kilometer ascent to Kalpa, and as the bus was passing through town, a little beyond it on the right stood hotel Golden apple. I recalled reading about this hotel online somewhere but wasn’t tempted to jump off – it looked a bit commercial. I had not gotten off earlier as the town center didn’t appeal much – it was a cluster of rambling hotels, houses and shops with peeling paint, and an ugly, grey stone building (that I learnt later, was the police station cum jail).

The bus passed the center and continued onwards, past golden apple, and slowed down a bend, I saw a lonesome house with the board atop – Vishaal guest house and I mustered the strength to get off. In fact, I chose that place more for what lay beyond it - a clear view of the mountains on the opposite side of the steep valley below Kalpa.

Eponymous Vishaal is the young man whose father owns the land on which this unassuming two story house stands. The family lives on the ground floor while on the first floor are rooms that are let out to tourists. Out front is an apple orchard! There is no parking space for cars but the rooms are clean with attached bathrooms (including electric geysers for hot water). There was no TV in the room - watching TV would any ways be a travesty in such pristine surroundings. After a few minutes in my room, I stepped outside and looked at the surrounding hills from the balcony. Kalpa was a little slice of heaven indeed.



Not content with the lovely views from the balcony, I got ambulatory again and walked downstairs and on the road leading towards Roghi village. This was the view from the road.



I didn’t quite have a plan for the remaining one hour – that was about the time I had left while there’d still be daylight. So, I just hopped along following a group of school students who carried a cricket bat – making small talk with one of them occasionally till they went on the trot and away swiftly amidst the tall trees that line the road further-on.



The scenery kept improving as I walked with the mountain face falling steeply on my left and a near vertical rise of a hundred meters to my right. A bend that has an overhang of rock jutting out on the valley face of the mountain has been labeled Suicide Point by the local tour operators.



I came upon another bend in the road, which would have seen a landslide not too long ago. It was a somber reminder of how unforgiving the Himalayas can be to the careless.



Moving on, as the sun went lower on the horizon, on my left, the slopes on the other side of the valley were a veritable palette of colors – ranging from a white powder top with a dash of honeyed sunlight followed by the green cover and the duller brown below. It reminded me a bit of a giant dessert cake.



Given the altitude difference between Reckong peo and Kalpa, I reckoned that the road below was about a half kilometer from where I stood and that road was at an altitude of 2200 meters. The mountains across were on an average a height of 5000 meters or more – thus the eye could view more than three kilometers from top to bottom! It was a sight I had never seen before in my life and it pleased my heart no end.



By then, I had no energy to walk all the way to Roghi village so instead, I kept my eyes peeled my eyes for a sight of the most famous member of the massif in front – the peak of Kinnaur Kailash. The peak stands tall at 6500 meters and is the tallest in Kinnaur division but due to the cloud cover that day, I had not got a view until then. Still, I couldn't help but get another shot of the part of the Kinnaur massif that was receiving sunlight.



Just as I said to myself, well I have another day – suddenly - perhaps by divine pleasure, for a fleeting few minutes, the rock that is worshiped as the shivaling (the phallic form of Shiva – the symbol of creation), became visible as the clouds parted. It was quite a sight with the sky turning a mix of grey, light blue and white – almost like a painting.



By then, the clock was past six in the pm and the wind had picked up, as this video I shot then, should show you. The howling noise is of the wind.



The wind pierced through my parka and I hotfooted back to my room. Dinner was a lackluster affair – Mrs Negi (Vishal’s mother) tried her best but apart from being freshly cooked, the food held little charm. After a brief spell of bedtime reading, I was sound asleep.
#43 Jun 18th, 2015, 13:24
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#43
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Originally Posted by Legless soul View Post may be a snap of that oversized dog
Sorry Legless, I didnt get a photo of the dog as the light was all wrong and then the next morning I was in a hurry to get onto the bus.

Also, in the previous post, if you view the video, you could change settings to 720p (HD) - those are the ones I used.

cheers!
#44 Jun 18th, 2015, 19:42
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#44
Amazing travelogue..!!!!Eagerly waiting for the next part..!!
#45 Jun 19th, 2015, 12:04
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#45
Thank you.

It wont be soon before long.
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