On the Wheels Again: To Chitkul

23rd Jun 2017
Photo of On the Wheels Again: To Chitkul by Solaceonwheels

My heart leaps up when I see

A Tripster on the road:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The Child is father of the Man;

Yes you got it right. There’s enough written and told about how an ideal trip should be and when is the best time to have it. Excuse me bro, an ideal trip happens with a bunch of most wicked people together. And, coming to the later part of ‘When’ then let me tell you, it is whenever you can manage it and things fall in place for you.

The most challenging part of a buddy trip is, matching the schedule of each and everyone and considering the professional luxuries of one and all. The composition was impeccable and God of good things were all with us to make this happen once again.

So, 10PM was what the clock was ticking and Friday was what calendar indicated. The horrendous traffic on the exit roads of Delhi was saying that we are not alone a group of people who have recognised the long weekend. Mountains were calling, not only to us but, I guess it had sent a bulk message to masses instead.

Let me introduce you to the fabulous five who irrespective of their hectic schedule, made it to the most grossly wonderful journey. There was an intruder (tried to spoil the journey with his non-stop phone calls) who lost everything or say his identity a day back to a mugging, a creepy fellow who somehow managed to get the leaves sanctioned over some drinks, a bro who made the journey easy, a lady who believed on us, myself who was a patient to be handled for the rest of the days and last but not the least our dhanno who never irked on carrying us through.

Somehow crippling, we reached Murthal at around 1:30 AM and our rock solid ideas of driving all way long to Chitkul without any prolonged stay in the middle was jolted a bit. Let me just interrupt, Murthal is not only an important milestone between the route of Delhi to the various hill stations, but it’s an enroute destination in itself. All the travellers have to pay a stop there as the butter-drenched paranthas mesmerizes the passerby.

The gang was stuffed with dinner and we were high on tea (or rather call it a chochak-chai). At around 2AM we again started with the hazy eyes and crystal clear intentions of hitting the destination by same evening. As they say, ‘the journey is better than the destination’ they are right at every bit of it. And the crazy folks are an icing on the cake. We drove for around 3 and ½ hours to relent ourselves a bit in the McDonalds at Zirakhpur. By the time the sun started popping out of the darkness, we again were on wheels after 30 minutes of refreshment.

To some 600 kms long route the mountains started just after driving 250 kms from the source. The rest were the tortuous way we had to cover in a limited time, considering that one cannot fool sleep for long. Some constructions on the roads added to our miseries and some eyes started falling down.

Referring to the rule number 16 of para 2 on page no. 216 of the Road Trip, one can not kowtow to sleep while the wheels are taking the rounds, irrespective one is driving or not. The pillions have all the responsibility of keeping the driver alive. We took another chai-break to keep the tempo high and journey on ease. We stopped at around 9AM and it was hardly a 20 minutes halt. Once again we started towards the north after the tea rejuvenated us.

At round 11:30AM we were at Shimla ☺ and at around 2:00PM we were still at Shimla ☹. The queen of hills was quite irritated with the travellers who visited her out of proportion, or to quote it right, the policemen made it even worse than it could have been. We reached at the end of the traffic bottleneck to discover that there was no such big reason of it; rather it seemed to be due to mishandling by the stupid traffic cops.

Traumatized by the driving conditions we again decided to take a stop for some quick meal near Chail. The clock said it to be some 2:30 PM. The yellow fever was catching up as we seen the Maggi in the mountains. Trust me it tastes different in the mountains with the same ingredients. After filling up and packing some fruits for the way we made our caravan on move amidst some awesome weather.

The journey on the mountains is even better if they are blended with some ghost stories. Continuing with the stories, we again inched a substantial distance and made it to our next milestone- Rampur. While in the journey between Chail and Rampur we have witnessed some bizarrely beautiful plantations on the mountains, which were covered with white sheet of clothes. In unison, it made the mountain prettier and ornamented. This was picturesquely scenic and was adding to the serenity of the valley all around.

It was already an evening, and we were not at all close to our destination, 5PM in the evening and we have just snailed till Rampur where one can get a better restroom facility after Chail. We nestled there for another 45 minutes and loaded ourselves with food again. The sun was setting on us and we were a traveller without rooms booked as it always falls heavy on us to avail an advanced accommodation.

The lady took the control and started making the things possible though the portal. We have made few calls and believed that we will be able to make ourselves a room for the night if we manage to reach Sangla by 10 PM. We thought- chuck it! Let's find some tea and forget everything. We did so and that too at a beautiful location. We munched again and made numerous clicks as the location demanded this. By this time the creepy fellow was on knees to the sleep but the excitement of being in frame with the friends saved his ass. It was some 6:30 PM and was twilight in the mountains.

Yes, the roads on this patch, particularly between Rampur to Sangla/ Chitkul are particularly for day driving conditions. But those are for humans; beasts take them in the dark for making it more eventful and fun.

When going gets tough, the travelers get singing.

And then the music player was put to rest and the vocal Jam-session started. Several rowdy songs were sung and danced upon (lyrical hip-hops and all). The roads get quite dangerous and curvy after Rampur and one has to drive with utmost safety particularly “during night”. You are continuously ferried along with Baspa river enroute Sangla and the view is beautiful. There are 2-3 dams on the way, which are good piece of architecture to watch.

Weather at Chail

Photo of Delhi, India by Solaceonwheels

Apple Orchid!

Photo of Delhi, India by Solaceonwheels
Day 2

You will witness several landslides on the way to Sangla and even find that at several patches, the roads are completely washed-out and hence, you have to take a precarious driving mode. There are several earthmovers on the way for controlling the menace caused by the calamities. They handle the situation and keep the traffic on the roads moving.

10PM, exactly some 24 hours, we reached Sangla and decided to rest Dhanno and ourselves there for the night. The Hotel hunt begin and the role of Intruder and the creepy fellow came upfront. They glanced a few hotels and kept them in the petty box as a back up. We seen a few more but settled for the first one, which is right at the beginning of Sangla. Finding a room is tough at 10PM in places like Sangla as it gets quite secluded by this time. Finding food can be even rare as the local restaurants are mostly closed and by this time.

We checked-in to a decent accommodation where we were accompanied by a group of girls and couple of families and this helped us in acclimatizing to the sudden drop in temperature ☺ The place did not had any kind of posh facility but keeping the guests at ease was primarily looked upon. The owner of hotel- Monty was young and quite friendly in getting the dribs and drabs arranged. Overall, the staffs were well mannered and helpful. Not only the place, but the people as well seemed to be quite inclined towards the reception of guests with holy heart.

We took our dinner in the hotel only and fallen dead for the night keeping all the perils of the world at bay. Morning was wonderful and view of mountains from the balcony was luring our minds out. We decided to break our fast with some Paranthas and continue our Journey towards Chitkul.

To make the journey more adventurous and comfortable at the same time, we decided to take Monty as our usher. We hired a Camper, which was owned by the same fellow. This made us know the place a bit. Sangla/ Chitkul are a place very close to Mythology and people there have a very strong belief towards their local deity. Every village has its own deity and they believe that their God very closely watches them and this makes them keep them away from committing any sin to a greater extent.

Once at 11AM our camper moved towards Chitkul, myriads of stories about the place unfolded, like:

• There’s a shankh of lord Shiva at one of the mountains between Sangla and Chitkul, which can be figured out, with a good Zooming lens camera. The said mountain, when beheld acutely resembles as a humongous sculpture of lord Ganesha.

• There’s a waterfall melting out of the glaciers of mountain Kailash whose foot (as locals believe) can be viewed from there. We experienced the chilled water, which is believed to be a natural healer of Skin problems.

• The place is quite high on festivities and as told, out of 365 days of the year, they have 263 festive days.

• The locals recommend visiting the place between Sept-Oct as these months are full of festivals and one can closely be a part of them.

Enroute Chitkul again, we have seen various scenic points and havocs crated by the mountain river- Baspa. Many apple orchids were washed out during the flood like current of river in the year 2016 which were situated on the banks of Baspa. This supports the fact that one should be very wary of selecting an accommodation near to the bank of rivers as the thrills might kill.

Day 3

By the time the valley started, we felt suffocated in side the vehicle and decided to stand at the backside side of the Camper which was open to sky and glorious view to the right. Singing is to be avoided at selective locations where the locals believe their deity resides. Keeping up with the tradition and embracing the beliefs of the locals, gains you some respect as a traveller and one should abide by them.

After a drive of some 2 gross hours, we reached Chitkul and found ourselves some tea. Then we visited the local deity’s temple where a Goat was being offered to God as a part of fulfillment of some wish. We have seen something very strange when the Goat was taken near the God, the cattle suddenly kowtowed in front of the shrine. Our usher believed that, it must have got aware that its time has come and thus it genuflected in offering respect to the God where finals were being done.

After the temple, we decided to take a small trek down to the Baspa river and settled there for an hour or so. Later, having some good soothing time there, we decided to visit the last place till where a civilian is allowed to go- the ITBP post on the Indo-Tibet border. That was hardly 2 kms from Chitkul. Keeping the itineraries aside (of watching the Sunset in Sangla), we stopped for lunch and had a good 45 minutes of peaceful time while eating. I can recollect, there were some awesome breeze, rajma-chawal, Maggi, Chochak-chai and a bunch of crazy people around adding to the delicacies.

Sitting on the roof of the camper we decided to make our journey back to Sangla. Later in the evening, after relaxing a bit at our room, we took a walk to the Dam in Sangla and had an in house jamboree ☺ The next morning was the departure and we concluded that we need to visit the place again with an elaborated leave plan as the place has a lot to be explored. The hospitality we received at the Hotel or the place was amazingly wonderful and we never expected anything better than this.

This could not have been any better than this!

There’s always a next time :D