Trip Report - Himachal Pradesh in October '2010

#1 Nov 25th, 2010, 18:24
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Jul 2010
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#1
TRIP REPORT (Himachal Pradesh & Agra)

My sincere Thanks to all those Indiamike members without whose support and cooperation this trip would not have been possible. A very special thanks to Kshil for all his help and that wonderful Trip Report of his.

After a long wait and anticipation I started my trip to on 6th Oct’2010. We were five in the group. My wife & myself, along with My Sister-in-Law and her husband and daughter.

We had a day allotted to Agra on our way as my wife was yet to see the Tajmahal. So we started in Poorva Exp. on 6th. Although there were quite a few negative feedbacks given to us by people about Poorva, we had a pleasant journey with acceptable food. Got down at Tundla about an hour late than schedule (which we were quite happy to accept due to the timings) at around 4.30 am. The local taxi operating association has a convenient way of operation. There was one person outside the station with a board in his hand which had all the Taxi numbers. We told him the address of the hotel and he immediately called the numbers of couple of Taxis and one of them agreed for the place. The rate was fixed at Rs.350, which sounded reasonable enough for a distance 27 Km at that time of the morning. Normally we would have paid more than 450 or 500 even after a hard bargain if I had to take that from Howrah to my house at Garia which is a lesser distance.

7th October. We were more than comfortable and reached our hotel (Ajay International in Daresi – 2) in Agra in less than 25 minutes as there was no traffic at that time. The hotel, although may not be the best location wise, seemed value for money. They charged Rs.850 for an AC double room with TV, Phone, Wardrobe, Center Table and most importantly clean and proper toilets. It is not easy to find AC rooms with such amenities at this price in Agra, as per my experience. The only reason we got it at that price was because it is in local market area and not exactly a tourist place (Although Jama Masjid was just 50 meters away). As it was only a day’s stay and we had plans to stay out for most parts of the day, we didn’t bother much about the locality.

With a short refreshment break, we proceeded to Taj in a Qualis which we hired for the day through the hotel desk. Well, I’m not at all capable of narrating the beauty of the Tajmahal shining proudly with the rays of the early sun and will not even try that. It was my second visit to Taj but it was as thrilling as the first one and felt really privileged to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World in front of my eyes. As it was quite early in the morning, there was no queue for the Indian tourist but a huge infestation of foreigners (which you may figure out in the snaps although there was a bit of haze). The only thing I wish to mention is that the security check was quite tight (nice to see) and anyone carrying any bags, had to open it and take out everything and show to the security personnel. We had left all out baggage in the hotel except one ladies bag carried by my SIL (Sister- In Law) which had usual female stuff such as comb, mirror, creams, sunglasses etc. and it took her almost five minutes to get that checked from the security.

We took our time at Taj, had loads of snaps (we had two digital cameras and one handy cam ) saw a full flowing Jamuna (a rarity) and finally moved to our next destination, Agra Fort (referred in Agra as the Red Fort). There was a big league of guides who jumped on us the moment we reached. Thanks to some important information provided on India Mike, we were prepared and have managed to avoid all of them till the ticket counter. Got the tickets and then took a guide from there on (again suggested by Imikers). Well, this large fort was the residence of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar followed by Jehangir, Sahajahan and Aurangzeb. I shall not get into the detailed description of the fort but with the narration of the guide and the structures in front of our eyes, we really went back few hundred years to feel the essence and pride of the Great Mughal Dynasty.

In the afternoon we set out for Fatehpur Sicri, the sacred tomb of Seikh Salim Chisti and the Summer Palace for Akbar. I presume there is already quite an amount of data shared in Indiamike by different travelers about these places, hence I’m got getting into details of them. The only thing to mention is the nice driver with the help of whom we could avoid the plunging guides and hire one from the local tourist office and also the fantastic vegetarian food at a roadside Dhaba on our way. I, in spite of being a hard core Non vegetarian, had to admit that the food was exceptional.

8th October. We started for Delhi at around 11.30 in the morning. Stopped at McDonalds on the highway (NH 2) near Mathura for lunch and reached Delhi at 5 pm in spite of a flat tire between Mathura and Faridabad. We had our tickets booked at HPTDC Volvo and started for Manali at 6.30pm. The Volvo journey was quite smooth and comfortable with a stop for dinner in a motel on the highway. Around 4.30 in the morning we stopped at Mandi for an early morning tea break. For the first time in the trip so far we felt the chill of the mountains, a welcome note from the Himalayas. It was a short break and we finally reached Manali at 8.15am.

9th October. We had reservation in Hotel Beas but their check in was at 12pm. So we kept our luggage, freshened up in the lobby rest room and moved out to explore Manali. I was the only first timer in Manali in my group and was quite excited but soon got a little down with the flurry of shops and markets (I’m the last person in the world perhaps to like shopping ). However, that didn’t put any brakes on my wife and in-laws to plough the market from one end to another and start buying things as if we have sold every piece of cloth before coming to Himachal and now shall require everything new once we go back . The entire day was spent in roaming and shopping (to be honest there was not much to see in Manali so I didn’t have a choice . Finally I had to scare them by saying that we shall be overweight while boarding the flight on return to tame the inflow of shawls and sweaters ! We had a good sleep at night which was very necessary after the night spent in Volvo. I must mention here that the rooms in Beas were quite good with balcony and nice view of the river. The food and service was also quite satisfactory.

10th October. We had a stay in Manali for this day also. I had chosen two days in Manali so that we could have enough rest and get acclimatized with the change of temperature and altitude before we hit the higher terrains ( Kolkata was 31 C when we left and Manali was 150 C - Quite a change to cope with ). Today we had a visit to the Hadimba Temple by a leisurely walk. Although many suggested taking auto but we decided against and had no problems as such in walking couple of Kilometers in a bright sunny morning. The rest of the day was spent roaming in markets and shops (Again ) but with a lesser inflow of purchases this time. I tried all tricks to activate the Internet facility in my BSNL number but failed. So spent some time in the cyber cafe in the evening and got the probable weather updates for the region for next few days, which said to be sunny with no rains or Western Disturbances . Had a word with Vinkle in the evening and he gave me the contacts of the driver who was in Manali only. I called him and had a quick meeting to set the plans for next day. His name was Ramesh and he assured that we will reach Keylong in 5 hours () and it is ok to leave by 8.30 to 9am. Although I was willing to leave a little early as because the information I got from Imikers is that the road condition is not that good around Rohtang and Gramphoo but I depended on his views. Finally we zeroed on 8am to leave Manali.

11th October. We were ready by 8am and Ramesh was there by 8.05 which assured me that he is Punctual enough (first impression can often be deceptive ). All luggages were put on the career of the vehicle and by 8.30 we were on our way to Rohtang. The vehicle seemed quite ok and in good running condition, although I was not really convinced of Ramesh’s skill to set up the luggage properly. Anyway, we were too excited for our first entry to Lahul and the issue didn’t bother me much. We wanted to stack up a crate of Mineral water before we leave the limits of Manali, but Ramesh assured us that we can get the same in all shops on the way and may purchase while we stop for a tea / coffee (It was a mistake which we realized later). The road condition was pretty good I must say, at least till then. We reached Marhi at around 10.30 and stopped for a quick sip of coffee. While we were busy taking a few snaps, my SIL’s husband got the information that Mineral waters are Rs.20 a bottle here and chances are higher that it may be costlier ahead. We had no choice but to bargain hard and finally got a 12 bottle crate at Rs.210. However once we started towards Rohtang, again the amazing landscapes of Himalayas made us forget such petty issues. All of us were now waiting eagerly for Rohtang. As for my wife and in-laws, they also have not come past Marhi before as it was blocked by snow then (in May). The weather was absolutely brilliant and we hoped for the best. Well ....it was perhaps a little too much than we expected. I must confess till that point I have always prayed for Rohtang not to get blocked by snow as we had to cross it to reach Keylong, but not for this perhaps! There was not a hint of snow anywhere in Rohtang !! When Ramesh stopped the vehicle and told us that this is Rohtang, we couldn’t believe our eyes ! I mean who in the dream have thought of Rohtang lying in front of you like a well spread field (I mean it) and nothing else!! The local people said if we need to touch snow, we have to take a horse ride to the top of one of the peaks which will take an hour or so. But we were so down by then that we decided not to wait there or even park our vehicle for a walk. We just moved ahead towards Keylong. We crossed the entire Rohtang spiral without any sign of snow and hit the road beside Chandra river towards Keylong. The road for the first 10 Kms was excellent and view was also quite beautiful, but perhaps not enough to live up the dampen spirits caused by the NO SNOW ROHTANG. After 10 kms the road started getting bad to worse and never improved after that. We had a short break for tea while we discovered that the left side clamp of the career of the vehicle is broken and as a result the door of the middle seat on left side is not opening. Ramesh tried to do some repair work by himself but could not succeed and we proceeded to Keylong like that only. It was around 3.30pm when we moved into Chandrabhaga in Keylong and for the first time in last three and half hours there was a feeling of satisfaction among my companions (including my wife ). Chandrabhaga is located at the best possible spot at Keylong and the view all around is astonishing. We had a second floor family suit and the moment we moved the curtains, snow capped Himalayan peaks greeted us with the final blessings of the sun for the day. May be due to the gain in altitude, we felt quite chilly in the evening and confined ourselves to the warmth of room for the rest of the evening. Ramesh went out with the vehicle to the local repair shop to get the career fixed. Enquired at the time of dinner and got assured at the news that Barlacha is open and vehicles are moving smoothly so far. Informed Ramesh that we’ll leave at around 9 in the morning.

12th October. Although there was no sunrise view from our place, but we were up early to get ready for the day. Just to mention that the family suit comes up with two Double rooms but one toilet, so we had to take our turns and it consumed some time. However, we were ready by 9.10 after our breakfast. But when we came down to the vehicle we realized that Ramesh has just gone to get freshen up. We took our time to take some snaps till he was back and ready. We started finally at 9.30am towards Barlacha. The road condition didn’t seem to improve much as it was broken and rocky all the way till Jispa. Few Kms after Jispa, there was a bridge on the river Bhaga which was partially washed away by monsoon floods and under maintenance. The vehicle went down to the river bed to cross it. After this the road condition improved to a great extent and the scenes around us started graduating from “Excellent” to “Outstanding”. We were in midst of the ever gorgeous Himalayan Range and no word can truly describe the beauty of those snow gorged mountains which stood all around us. There were quite a few buses plying from Leh to Keylong and most of them had a J & K registration. We were carrying coffee in flask and stopped in the way to have a quick sip. The moment the vehicle engine stopped and we came out of the car, we could realize what can be described best as the ‘sound of silence’. There was nothing but a thin sound of flowing water of the Bhaga river which we could barely hear. We truly felt that we are the only leaving creature in the world standing in the mid of the valley surrounded by snow laden mountains. The temperature must have dropped by quite a few degrees by then and we felt the effect of altitude with our breathings got deeper with every physical movement we made. With a brief halt of 10 minutes, we started again. The snow line was coming closer to us now by the minutes and after 20 minutes more we found ourselves driving through the road with snow on both sides. My wife (she loves snow ) was so excited that she wanted to get down there itself. We somehow assured her that we will get plenty of snow in Barlacha also and made her wait for some more time before we finally reached Barlacha. There was no other indication but a board on the right side of the road to say that we have reached one of the highest passes of Himalaya (16000+ Ft) and the highest point of our trip. We stopped a little ahead with a well spread land beside us, all white, with the snow capped mountains surrounding the valley. The Air was quite light to breathe; hence we took some time before going down to the snow. I have been snow several times before but must confess that the thrill was the same as before. We spent more than an hour there taking snaps and enjoying the serene beauty of the place . On our way back, we had a quick stop at Surajtal and then moved on. Stopped just after crossing the river bed before Jispa in road side Dhaba and treated ourselves to some wonderful cabbage curry, roti and a cup of coffee. We reached back at Keylong around 5.30pm. I asked Ramesh about the time it will take for Kaza and to my utter surprise he said around five and half hours ! Looking at my amazed expression perhaps he added, may be an hour more if the road is not good! Well, here onward, I had lost confidence in him because I knew that it will take at least eight to nine hours (thanks to Indiamike), if not more.

13th October. After last night we had to take a call on timings by ourselves. We planned to leave by 7.30 and came down for breakfast with all luggages ready to be moved by 8am. Ramesh had requested to inform him once we are down for breakfast so that he can go and take a bath in our room. There was no separate facility for them to take bath, it seemed. Hence we informed him to get ready by the time we take breakfast. But somehow he was late again and we were waiting near the vehicle for 20 minutes at least before he turned up. Then we had to start packing the luggage on the career which again seemed not a perfect cup of tea for Ramesh. My SIL’s husband had to assist him from all possible corners to tie the ropes properly and finally we were ready by 9.00am (late by an hour before we could start). Within an hour of start we encountered the first landslide of our trip. A bulldozer was working hard to clear it, at least much harder than the efforts we are used to see in cities if there is a problem on road. However, from the discussions of the locals it seemed that they were not entirely happy with the progress and wanted it to happen at a faster pace!! It took about 45 minutes to create a one way passage through that blockade and luckily we were the first side to get released. But it was not our day perhaps and within another half an hour we had a second road block due to repair works on the road . This time we had a respite after 25 minutes. After few kilometers we hit the sweeter part of the road which was in excellent condition but somehow Ramesh seemed not in much of a hurry and drove at leisurely pace for that entire stretch . I drive myself and I’m quite sure that we could have saved at least 15 to 20 minutes in that part of journey without driving rash. As put in by Kshil in one of his posts, driving is a skill which depends largely on confidence and our driver seemed to lack hugely in that department. Anyways, we took the diversion from Gramphoo towards Kaza and the road condition was pathetic in this stretch. Although the landscapes of Himalayas again compensated for all other discomforts whatsoever. Every turn of road seemed to unfold a prettier picture than the earlier. I was sitting in rear seat. But even the violent shakes of the road couldn’t really put me off from the treasure that Himalayas had in store for all it’s inmates and travelers. Although we had an earlier plan to have lunch at Chatru, but we skipped that and decided to continue till Batal to leverage the time to best possible extent. We reached Batal at around 2.30pm and stopped at the only Dhaba available. I had one of the best lunches of this trip there with nothing but Rice, Dal & Rajma with Omlet and Pickles. The sitting arrangements with granite blocks used as dining table were unique and the hospitality of the aged lady and the man was just amazing . Here we met another group of Bengalis who were on their way from Kaza to Keylong. They said that now cars are reaching till Chandratal and we can always give it a go. As we were already late and as per my information there is about 3.5 Kms of walking involved to reach the lake, I had decided to give it miss this time earlier. But with this new information we were quite keen to make to Chandratal and left Batal in a hurry and took the diversion to Chandratal few kilometers ahead.
Till 7 kilometers it was going fine, although due to poor road conditions it took us quite some time to cover that distance. Then we hit a small trench on the road filled with stones which as a driver I or anyone would have crossed in no time. The marks of the car tires showed clearly that all cars have crossed it, but Ramesh (our driver) was not very confident. First we all got down from the vehicle and crossed it by walking and waited but he still couldn’t get the confidence. Then he came down to the trench and started arranging the stones all over again to his level of comfort. My SIL’s husband and I went and insisted him to let anyone of us drive for that part (as both of us were sure that we can cross it with a Scorpio without any hassle) but he was unsure of that too. Finally we had to really push him to do it without loosing any further time and he did it, as expected without any hiccups whatsoever. We lost another twenty minutes in the entire process before we moved ahead. But after 8.5 kms we hit a trench which cannot be crossed in a vehicle. It was about three and half feet and although there were few stones dumped inside, but that was not enough to enable a vehicle to cross it. And we were right in not taking a chance because later two other vehicles came and stopped there only. There was a small incline in front which blocked our view ahead, so we thought once we climb that up we would get an idea of how far is Chandratal. We climbed that and truly we could see what lies ahead from there for at least two kilometers. There was no clue of Chandratal from that point and I understood that my earlier information was correct. It is a 3.5 Kms walk from here. It was 4.15pm by then and with the sun already partly behind the hills and another 70 Kms to reach Kaza, we couldn’t take the chance to walk that stretch. There were two more vehicles arrived there by that time and they moved towards the lake as they had a plan to camp there and will return only next day morning. We didn’t had that legacy and Chandratal remained unexplored for us in this trip in spite of closing in so far! We returned towards the highway and by the time we were back on Manali – Kaza road, it was 5pm. I was looking forward to Kunzum now but again we were taken by surprise as we reached Kunzum around 5.45pm and could see no snow in the vicinity ! First Rohtang and then Kunzum, well the snow gods were definitely not happy with us. So we had a safe and smooth drive through Kunzum in the dusk. But then, there was more in store in terms of surprises. After a few kilometers, the carrier of the vehicle started making noise again and soon we realized that unless done something quickly, it will break completely. There was still a faint hint of light before the darkness could really take control and we decided to sort it there itself. We stopped and three of us (my SIL’s husband, I and Ramesh) stepped out of the car to check the status. The clamps of the carrier were totally broken and there was not even a remote possibility that we can get that repaired on the way in this route, especially in the evening. So the only choice was to transfer the entire luggage from top to the rear sit of vehicle and we opted for that only. Ramesh went on the top and we both were down and started moving the luggage in a relay inside the vehicle. I didn’t have thermometer with me but the chill suggested that it is on or around freezing there at that moment. First time (and last also) in the trip we had to take out our gloves to keep our hands in working condition. By the time we completed the entire process and started moving again, it was 6.30pm.

I wouldn’t forget this drive through the roads of Spiti in absolute darkness. The only light (apart from car headlights) visible were of the millions of stars twinkling above us.
We crossed a few small villages on the way and even they were absolutely dipped in darkness. Finally there was light at the end of the long road!! We reached Kaza at 9.05pm at night. Our bookings were at HPTDC and to our surprise we found the entire team of Himalayan Extreme Car Rally docked their for the day. The place was thriving with cars, mechanics, roaring engines, big flood lights and all the rally crew members. After such a long and lonely drive, we felt to have reached a different place altogether. The HPTDC staffs were quite cooperative however and they relieved us off making the entries or formalities after such long drive. We got the rooms immediately and after a quick dinner hit the sack for the day. The journey had taken it’s toll on us and even with all the sounds outside (the rally vehicles left the place one after another through out the night) we had a good sleep.

14th October. In spite of a long drive on previous day, we were up 6 in the morning. May be that is the magic of Himalayas. The location of the HPTDC hotel is brilliant. Once we came off to the mezzanine roof in the first floor, the Spiti valley was lying in one side of the hotels and the other side had a steep mountain cliff which could be inviting to rock climbers. I had never seen a bluer sky than this in my life. The gorgeous Himalayas was standing proudly there with it’s ever enchanting beauty! Ramesh went out with the vehicle to get the carrier repaired again. We had plans to visit Kibber and Kye Monastry post lunch and informed Ramesh accordingly. As per plan we were ready after lunch at 2pm but as usual Ramesh was late by 20 minutes or so. This time I got quite upset with him and asked him to be ready by the time once he is advised of the same . To my utter surprise he replied back in quite a rough manner which was absolutely unacceptable . I didn’t argue with him at that point of time as we had move immediately. Kibber was the first one we reached and spent around 30 minutes and then moved to Kye. The hospitality that we got in Kye monastery was unforgettable. One of the respected Lamas named Mr.Langzey greeted us once we entered there. He served us a herbal tea which tasted awesome! Then he escorted us to all the holy shrines and explained the significance of each of them. It was truly a memorable experience .
We were back in Kaza by 5.30pm and once reached I immediately called Vinkle to inform about the issues that we are facing with the driver including the incident of the afternoon. He assured me that he shall speak to Ramesh immediately. I don’t know when he spoke but presume he must have because since then at least his behavior never faltered for the rest of the trip. The driving skill off course remained the same as it is not possible to change that overnight and we never expected it also.


15th October. We were all set for another long days travel. We started around 8am from Kaza towards Tabo. We were apprehensive about the driving part and thus decided to skip Dhankar and headed straight for Tabo. It was another sunny day and the view of the Spiti valley was at its best. We reached Tabo by 9.45am and went straight to the monastery. The Tabo Monastery (a UNESCO World Heritage site) is best described as a “Time Travel” to 400 years back. We were so amazed by the Frescos (couldn’t be photographed), scriptures and the entire ambiance of the place which perhaps can’t be expressed through words . It was truly an enthralling experience. However being haunted continuously by the driving factor, we left Tabo by 10.30am. Our next stop was at Nako at around 2pm. Here also we went straight to Nako Lake spent some time and again moved on our way. I was considering Nako as the place to have lunch also but Ramesh said we will have something on our way ahead. This was again proved to be the wrong option and we finally stopped for lunch in Spello at around 4.30pm. It was no more lunch time so we ordered Momos and Thukpas to stuff ourselves. Spello has a market and quite a few shops; however the food was not something to boast of. In spite of being very hungry none of us could have the entire plate . Chocolates came to our rescue finally and used that as a substitute for the time being. We left Spello around 5.30pm and headed to Kalpa. After about 35 minutes Mount Kailash greeted us with it’s mesmerizing beauty for the first time with the golden cap of light of the setting sun . We were all excited and apprehensive at the same time about what would be the view from our hotel rooms. The road conditions become poorer till we took the right turn from the Highway towards Kalpa. The road goes via Peo, one of the biggest market places in the region. We were really surprised to see the size and span of the Peo market. My wife and Sister-In-Law immediately decided that they would like to have a look at the market (A look ?) tomorrow and I knew what was coming! We finally reached Kalpa around 7.45pm and checked in at Kinner Kailash Resort (HPTDC). Well, all this way we have been staying at HPTDC only but this hotel is really the best of the lot by quite some margin. My Sister-in-Law had difficulty in finding the double bed in the room on her first glance and discovered it on the left side after looking around! The rooms were double in size than any usual hotel rooms that we have stayed so far in our trip. One side was completely covered with glass panel and the view through it was just unimaginable (which we realized more on next morning)! The very look of the hotel rejuvenated us even after such a long journey in the hills . We had dinner at 9.30pm and chatted away till 1.30am before hitting the sack to end the day!

16th October. We were out of the bed by 6 in the morning in spite of all the journey and late night yesterday. And the scene was just heavenly once we moved the window curtains aside. There stood the great Himalayas with all it’s beauty and divinity!! We saw two men with their cameras put on the stands waiting in the garden downstairs for the sunrise. I also waited in front of the window eagerly with the camera. Well, till then I didn’t have the slightest idea of what the scene would be. After a wait of almost 45 minutes we were all set for the show. Unfortunately my Sony Cybershot is too old (2.5yrs) with a capacity of 7.5 Mpix only which doesn’t have the capacity to capture such a visual treat . The Sun peeped just from the tip of the mountain peak and for few seconds created a ‘diamond ring’ of light which we usually see in a solar eclipse. It was just for a while and then it was too much light on the lenses and I couldn’t take more than one shot even with a digital camera. The duo downstairs off course had DSLRs with proper filters and they clicked on for next two minutes continuously. This was one of the best sunrises that I have experienced in mountains till date. What a wonderful way to begin a day! We spent the rest of the day in a leisurely way with off course a trip to the PEO market in the afternoon (you can’t dodge wives ). However, that visit gave us a nice feel of the local habitants, which is always a very enriching experience.

17th October. We had to leave early for Rakcham today but got a bitter surprise to find that the water supply is disrupted due to some problems in the pipes in main supply line of the hotel. We came out and could see the repair work was going on at some distance but it took around two hours for the supply to start and that delayed us by quite some time. Then Ramesh came up with the news that there seem to be a problem on the road to Sangla. I called Mr.Naresh (Owner of Rupin River View) at Rakcham and he assured that roads are open now although there was a disruption of traffic yesterday. We started around 12 in the afternoon and reached Sangla around 2.30pm. The road till Karcham was not at it’s best due to Hydroelectric projects but can not be said as unbearable by any means. After Karcham it was fine. We decided to have lunch in Sangla as there were quite a few hotels around. Finally landed up in a small but clean restaurant (I missed the name). I must mention that we never expected such quality food in that place. The Mutton curry (we ordered it as there was no other Non-veg available) tasted excellent so as the Dal and vegetable curry. We really had a stuffing lunch . It was Vijaya Dashami that day and we decided to buy some local sweets to celebrate the same (after all we’re Bengalis!). Left Sangla around 3.30pm and reached Rakcham by 4.30pm. As we were late, I just stopped at the hotel (Rupin River View) to inform our arrival, requested them to keep the rooms ready and moved towards Chitkul. The road to Chitkul from Rakcham was very nice and enjoyable; however we again had disappointment regarding snow once we reached Chitkul. There was not a trace of snow anywhere and that had put us off, at least for some time . There was a big group who came in a minibus and had loud speakers with them which spoilt the feel of the place and we decided to go back after a quick round of the area .
Hotel Rupin River view had a nice and cozy accommodation with warm hospitality in store for us. The rooms had nice view of the Baspa River and the entire valley. The biggest asset of Rakcham off course is its serenity and calm atmosphere because it has not yet become a regular tourist destination. Thanks a ton to Imikers for their write ups which influenced me to change my earlier plan and stay in Rakcham for a day. I would definitely like to come back to this place some other time with a longer stay .

18th October. This was again a long day of travel and this time we made sure to move out by 8.30am. After crossing Karcham we took the NH by Sutlej and although it was not a tar road but it was good enough and quite wide to have a proper drive. We stopped at the HPTDC restaurant at Rampur for lunch and continued to Shimla. Encountered a traffic congestion before entering Shimla city limits near the tunnel. Finally reached Hotel Crystal Palace in Shimla at 7pm. The hotel was nice and comfortable with courteous staff. As we were to stay only for a day, we went out for a quick visit in Shimla Mall immediately after check in. The HPTDC lift, which lands you up at the mall was just a minute away from this hotel. It runs till 10.30pm and we took it on our way back to hotel also.


19th October. This was the penultimate day of out trip and as usual there were some last minute shopping to be done . So we went out to the market and then to the mall again after breakfast. Time was running out for us and we didn’t want to waste a minute of it now. So, after the final packing and lunch we decided we have a quick walk to the famous Shimla Kalibari. We had to come back to hotel by 4pm as we booked Shivalik Express (Toy Train) from to Kalka which leaves at 5.15pm. However the hotel staff assured us that it would not take more than 10 minutes in the car to reach station. We left the hotel by 4.30pm in a Qualis for station. Well, immediately after crossing one signal we came to halt due a traffic jam and we were stunned and stuck there for next 35 minutes. It was a real panic inside the car as we were all set to miss the train and we couldn’t see any escape from there as walking was also not feasible within the available time span . I walked till the ISBT bus stand and all I could find is vehicles stranded all the way. At around 5.05pm the traffic started moving at a snails pace and by the time we were out of that trap it was 5.15pm. We lost all hopes to catch the train by now. However one local gentleman advised us to go to the next station TaraDevi which may buy us some time to catch up. So hoping against the hope we decided for a last try. The driver in this case was smart enough and he drove us to TaraDevi in 20 minutes (10 kms). We were ecstatic to find that the train has not yet reached TaraDevi . We thanked the driver and took our luggage to the platform and then some local people told us that there is no stop for Shivalik at this station (could you believe it!! ). We rushed to the station master’s cabin and found the information to be true. My wife and her niece were almost had tears in their eyes by now and perhaps that helped us somewhat. We explained in detail to the station master about the traffic problem that we have faced and requested for some solution and finally he agreed to stop the train (at a station where it never stops ). He immediately spoke to the guard of Shivalik over phone and instructed the signal man accordingly. We didn’t had words to thank him (Cannot name him here) and the train appeared in front of our eyes at 5.55pm and stopped at the station just for 30 seconds. Enough time for us to board . We were over joyous to get the train after such an experience and enjoyed the rest of the journey to the hilt. Had a nice dinner, served at Theog and reached Kalka at 10.30pm. It was only a night that we had to spend in Kalka as we had booked Shatabdi to Delhi next morning. We found hotel Vaishali near to the station reasonable enough o spend the night.

20th October. As every good thing has an end, the day has also arrived for us to put an end to this enchanting trip. Shatabdi took us to Delhi and from there we moved to IGI Airport to catch our flight to Kolkata scheduled at 3.30pm. The flight was on time and we touched the ground of Kolkata at 5.25 at the dusk.

It has been a trip which will be relished in our memory for a long time. Himalayas has always been a source of beauty, serenity and spirit to me. This trip of Himachal has enriched that source by many a times and I only look forward to my next visit.......

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

P.S. I have not put in the contacts and details for bookings of the places where I have stayed as they are already shared in Indiamike. However, any questions or queries are always welcome. Please allow me some more time to upload the snaps as I’m really tied up with the office work and unable to find enough time to sort them out.
#2 Nov 25th, 2010, 20:31
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#2
Nice detailed post! Some what poetic as well :-) .
#3 Nov 25th, 2010, 21:37
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#3
hi iamani,

great report...post some pics as well

cheers
#4 Nov 25th, 2010, 22:04
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#4
Ohh So nice a report, I must say Himachal Forum specially the Lahaul - Spiti is really enriched by these great reports from Jay, Arin and now Ani. We have a success rate of almost 100% for this region in October it seems

It really helps us to remember those nice moments apart from helping others.

Yes as Arin said, now its time for some snaps to come

Acknowledged your special thanks with a warm welcome on behalf of many distinguished IMers in this forums like Lucid, Voyager, Nayan, Uttam, Dhananjay without them none of us would really be able to explore this wonderland.

Once again an excellent forum with great standards!!

Cheers!!
#5 Nov 26th, 2010, 11:53
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#5
At Jaybecs , Arihere and Kshil

Thanks a ton for your kind words. Yes, I'm trying to post the snaps at the earliest possible
#6 Nov 29th, 2010, 00:55
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Great trip report!!
#7 Nov 30th, 2010, 13:21
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#7
Very interesting to read about your adventures. Do post your pictures.
Travelpod / Flickr


-----------------------------------------------------
#8 Nov 30th, 2010, 15:04
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#8
Thank you Ashwin and Snonymous. I shall post the photographs soon
#9 Nov 30th, 2010, 22:40
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#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamani View Post Please allow me some more time to upload the snaps as Im really tied up with the office work and unable to find enough time to sort them out.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamani View Post Yes, I'm trying to post the snaps at the earliest possible
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamani View Post I shall post the photographs soon

Now question is how soon
#10 Dec 6th, 2010, 12:02
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by kshil View Post Now question is how soon
Rightly said Kshil .... Still to find a slot to work upon that

Think need to take a day off from the office ......
#11 Dec 6th, 2010, 12:06
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#11
Ani, no need man You take your time, every good things come with a wait

Christmas and new year holidays might give you a breather to work on that front.

Cheers!!
#12 Sep 14th, 2012, 02:54
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  • grinchze is offline
#12
nice report! a question though, how did you find your driver? and how much did it cost you? I am thinking of doing the same as your itinerary cause i will be going alone this october

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