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Drive to Hamta


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It started off as a lazy day in Manali, with a late breakfast and some sunbathing in the open dining area of our hostel. Me and a couple of bikers I met here were pondering over where to go, when the hostel manager Bharat pointed to the mountains that stood in front of us. He said we could ride to the top of those mountains to get a panoramic of the valley surrounding it. It piqued our interest. The act of going up a mountain to catch a glimpse of the world below always excites me. Although I would have preferred hiking up to the top, the vast majority of us wanted to ride, so we took the motor-able route instead.

The drive to Hampta was the most painful ride that i have endured on a bike. The locals we met while asking for directions did warn us about the road conditions. But nothing ventured, nothing gained right? The roads were in poor shape, broken mostly and muddy throughout. There were more than 30 steep curves (i had stopped counting after 30) to reach the top. We realized that navigating these curves while descending would be a challenge because of the gradient and there was also a high chance that the bike might skid due to the mud all around. The views on the route however, were breathtaking.

Photos of Drive to Hamta 1/3 by Gopal Venkatraman

We stopped midway, thinking we had abused the bike enough and were about to turn back when we saw two old men riding a Scooty and coming along the same way. They were happily chatting away, while all i could think while riding was how much my backside was getting clobbered. We stopped them, firstly in disbelief and secondly, we wanted to know how long it would take to reach the top. They said it was just 4-5 kms. uphill and that we had left the worst behind. We thought if they can do it on a Scooty, then we, the bullet riders have no reason to complain. We realized later, that in the mountains, this is exactly the kind of misplaced arrogance which does no good to anyone.

Photos of Drive to Hamta 2/3 by Gopal Venkatraman
Views enroute

We started the climb and the road showed no signs of improving but instead, just kept getting worse. But we somehow made it to a dam, which the old men had told us was the Hampta top. To be honest, it was quite ordinary and we were rather disappointed. The road however did not stop there and continued uphill. The bullet riders were exhausted from the ride, while me and the other pillion rider were curious to know where the road went. So we walked till a point where the road started descending. There was a check post and we saw a board saying private property. These were the only signs of human civilization. The rest of the place was just gorgeous with mountains in the distance, meadows by the side, tall pine trees surrounding us and a clear blue sky. It was picture perfect.

Photos of Drive to Hamta 3/3 by Gopal Venkatraman
The point where the road starts descending

The descent as anticipated was a bit treacherous and we fell off the bike twice when the Tyre got stuck in the mud while turning along the steep downhill curves. We escaped unhurt though. We had almost reached the bottom, when the fuel ran out, but we managed to resolve that without much trouble. I felt lucky to have reached the hostel in one piece. It had definitely been a physically exhausting day and we were all shaken a bit, but looking back, i remember each one of us being happy and contented about having undertaken this adventure.

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