Destination Kinnaur

3rd Jul 2015

Whims are said to be avoided but my thought is different. I say whims take you places, literally, just like we 2 girls ended up being in Sangla because we wanted to explore the lesser trodden. We were warned about the peak monsoons playing havoc in July, the terrible roads post Rampur and biggest of all, 2 girls traveling alone is simply a bad idea. And guess what, all that helped me get more excited to hit the roads, 575 kms away from home in Delhi.Night shifts ensured that we could step out only in the day time after a 13 hours at work.We reached Kashmere gate ISBT at around 8 and immediately took a state bus to Shimla. I love state buses, they depict strength along with simplicity. Plus there were no volvos at 8 in the morning, as most ply at night. Well, my friend and I fought over the state bus idea as the driver took too long n unknown routes which made us reach Shimla at 11 after 12 hours journey. And my friend was scared n we were desperate for showers due to the day long heat we persevered. A truck accident right before entering Shimla added to the delay. We were dropped at the lonely new Shimla bus stand but were told to go to old bus stand and looking at the watch n my friend's scared face we rushed to take a local bus to reach old bus stand. That was the last local bus towards old bus stand, we learnt   and thanked our stars. Found an old guy offering hotels n left without options had to follow him. He carried our luggage. I was going with the flow n my mind stays strong during such times. I am sure my friend was hating me as we didn't really plan imor book hotels but if everything is planned then such freak experiences will never find place in our itinerary.   Finally after trodding uphill for a long while and with my legs hurting, we got to a mediocre hotel but getting at least a shelter at that time preceded importance over luxury. Hot water for shower was my friends only ask at that bone chilling hour n she fought for it n succeeded.   We were relaxed but slept by 1 after hvng dinner n some selfies. But the larking thought of getng up as early as 5 was pricking us but we were able to conquer n made it to the early morning bus to Karchham, from the bus stand outside our hotel after 10 minutes of walking downhill.     Fresh breeze, sunshine, chill in the air, pure oxygen, greenery of the monsoon made it a journey sketched  forever in our memory.  The heat was unexpected at such altitudes but around Rampur it was way too hot. Sitting on the window seat was not fun for me any more. We had delicious food along the way at different stops. Aloo paranthas n momos seemed to rule the area. These momos were way better than the regular ones we get in Delhi.Mostly women seem to run these shops n eateries.    We crossed many landslide prone areas n even saw the boulders falling at times. It was hard to click pictures from the bus, though we gave it our best.N some of the shots of the never ending hairpin bends n natural tunnels came through pretty well.   Throughout our way, the gushing  Baspa river kept roaring n we could hear its thunder even though sometimes it would be running through the deep gorges invisibly.  We reached Karcham at 4. The bus dropped us at the dam where we stood cluelessly waiting for a single soul. The solitude of the mountains made us bow in awe. But my friend stood worried as it was getting cold n we were yet to reach the destination. Suddenly a jeep came n stopped. We kept waiting for the bus which is when a girl came with a guy n asked the jeep driver if he can drop them to Sangla. Seeing this we rushed asking for the same. He asked for 1000 rupees in a shared jeep for 18 kms which made no sense but to negotiate n bring it down to a more reasonable 600 rupees   We began trodding on those high roads n death seemed to be so close sitting in that window seat. An engineer from Delhi who has been in Sangla for many years due to the Baspa dam construction was traveling with us. He had the driver stop at couple of places which were ultra dangerous looking 1000s of feet dwn at Baspa. We loved it n then a few kms away we stopped at the dam to take pictures. Amazing backdrop of mountains with the youthful fury of the river below looked picture perfect with the prayer flags around. N click  click click continued till the driver rushed us. The travel buddy suggested we stay at Baspa guest house n n we did exactly the same when we reached Sangla a few mins later. It was raining n we entered the lodge n got rooms immediately. IHave to admit it was an amazing stay with complete freedom n simple folks around. 24 hrs hot water n in house kitchen made it so much better for us. A quick Shower n we wanted to optimise the use of daylight to pay a quick visit to the awesome little locality.   With the kinnar kailash ranges visible with their snow peaks , n the play of clouds we admired every bit of our decision to come here. We took pictures of stones, roads, dogs birds n everything, lol. N continued to walk 3 km downhill towards the river. Numerous monasteries were adding color to the view. Apple n walnut tees were all around without protection. We reached the river around sunset n the views were awesome. The flow of the river was awfully high n the locals warned us not to go close to the river as it high current in July. We sat beside it n took pictures. Watched school kids n animals cross the river over the bridge. Prayer flags flowed high. Lovely it was. We started back to hotel n lost way n due to the city life I was already dead having walked on the hilly roads for so long, n gasped for breath. A lady guided us n we reached the little local mkt byThe time it was dark. We sat on the terrace of a restaurant n had momos n chowmein n left for the guest house. I could only sleep n sleep after the long walk though my friend continued to be up.      We woke up early morning , had breakfast with the kinnar kailash smiling at us thus reminding to click some pics quickly before the clouds would hug them for the rest of the day. N we took a bus to Chitkul, most awaited part of the trip. Couple of travelers from Pune offered us bike rides as they were heading towards chitkul but this is the only time when I acted chicken hearted n refused to travel on those horrible roads on bike which disappointed my friend. But we enjoyed no less in the bus as we took the space next to the driver n the nerves wracked at every turn he took leaving few inches to death. But it was lovely n outright awesome. It seemed to be the journey through heaven. Greenery all around n our bus crossing streams every now n then was a feast for eyes.  Reached Chitkul in 2 hours n this last village before China won everyone's hearts. Sat by clear green Baspa for a while after trekking to it for a km. Through out the journey the river was dusty brown in shade but here it was clear light green coming straight from the glaciers. The current was high n dipping my foot made me crimp in cold n the flow wanted to drag me along badly. Little blue n yellow Himalayan flowers decorated the grass bed. BTW chitkul is famous for potatoes n we saw people farming. We had food at a bong restaurant. Though delayed service but food was awesome. Luchi aloor dum. Off season ensured the crowd was less. Spent couple of hours waiting for the clouds to disappear so we could view the peaks which is the Usp of Chitkul. Though that dint happen, drawback of traveling in rains. There was a school n couple of eateries n places to stay, that's all . we got a bus , locals filled it up, we were the only odd ones. N we captured views of glaciers , step farming, pine trees, dream houses in mountains n felt lucky to be there. My friend requested the driver to play some local songs n he did. But drove at a high speed scaring the shit out of us at times. No wonder we were in the guest house within an hour, resting. We rested for an hour n left for a local trip to Kamru fort. The trek was the best part where we revived our childhood memories by plucking green apples from numerous apple trees n being rebuked by the owner. N my feet begged for mercy.  We reached post multiple breathers. Locals could figure out that I came from the plains due to my slow trek. My friend is from Doon n did a commendable job at climbing fast without complaining about my snail pace. These were roads through local colonies n we could see small huts to big houses all oozong simplicity.  Pictures were all we wanted to invest time in. The caretaker at kamru opened the gate for us as there was no one else. We had to register our entry n wear the traditional head gear which actually made us look really nice n Royal. The fort offered really amazing 360 degree view n had beautiful red benches to sit but we could not as it was getting dark n we had to trek back. My feet cried. Though downhill is easier though the knees hurt. N we reached the guesthouse in 1 hour or a lil more n immediately changed to visit the market for quick snack n cold drink. Beautiful dogs with heavy coats of hair looked amusing n we welcomed them while relishing momos n thukpa.   Before we took our bus to Chitkul we had taken an hour our to visit the dam where the bus had dropped us the day before. In the day time it looked charming with cool breeze planning to flow us away just as much the water of Baspa in the dam. We came back in a local bus paying 10 rupees each. N had boarded the bus to Chitkul then.      Came back to the guest house n slept free from worries n woke up at 6 next morning, n left the hotel. No one was up though we hardly cared as we had cleared dues last night. We grabbed seats in the direct bus to Shimla .It was raining n the traumatising roads laughed in fury n my friend (at the window seat this time )kept closing her eyes at turns. No boundaries made things scarier but somehow that's my incentive for these trips other than the realpay of course. Danger inspires n I love it.   Rain ceased after reaching Rampur. We stopped for breakfast n also grabbed the juiceiest ever appricots from the bus stand. We reached Shimla at 6. N kept out stuff  in cloak room n left for old bus stand Shimla. It was a disaster. Monkey trauma on the mall road kept us on our toes which when ceased came the downpour for 2 hours. It was a different look of mall road altogether n we could only do as much to step in to Sagar ratna completely drenched ordering coffee. The rains refused to go away but with our tickets booked for 9 pm bus to Delhi we had to step out in rain again only not to find a single bus. We were shivering completely washed in rain at a hill station. We had to start asking for a lift to bus stand which people refused to acknowledge n then there came this car which agreed. It was quite some time that we were in the car n the man drove which after a point got us worried of we were in some form of risk n my friend scolded the man n we found our that the nxt turn that the poor chap was about to take was the bus stand itself. We thanked him n left to board our bus to Delhi recollecting the different pieces of the amazing journey.