The eyes that had dreams to travel to places, today has memories to such places. The heart that longed for a bond forever, today has two to preserve –forever!!
Once you have a vision to travel and a reliable company to accompany …you have everything you need to trudge anywhere without thoughts and planning.
This May, we (Me and my two pals) planned our trip to Kullu Manali-Kheerganga-Rohtang and Spiiti valley. Being travellers with enormous hearts, big missions and small budgets, we planned our journey to Manali and return to Delhi via local roadways-cheapest and reliable (atleast in means of time).
I and my friend had to go to Chattarpur at our other friends flat where we had to get rid of our professional stuff-Laptops and my suitcase that I was dragging because as always as per my family I was on an office trip and had to take our very giant travel bag along. (Advice: Never carry such burden giant back with you on rough trips).
We were already running late. Our bus had to move at 8:55 pm and at 8pm we were at Chattarpur metro station–staring at every station that came by and madly wishing to reach Kashmiri Gate and just catch the damn bus …the pre-plans to buy our necessities (drinks) were also dropped. (Advice: Buy stuff this important in advance)
We somehow boarded the bus and finally started our journey to Manali. The scenic beauty that moves along you in the bus –the onset of hills, fresh breeze and the day breaking with darkness still prevailing in bits and parts- is beyond words. After hours of long journey we were finally at Manali ISBT. What came along was though not welcoming at all-the plans we had were being thunder crushed one after the other
*Roads to Spitti valley from Manali were not accessible
*Rohatng which at least should have been reachable was also not because of some issues
And there we were as like in every trip clueless and starving. It felt as if only Kashmiri Gate ISBT is replaced with Manali ISBT-rest appeared just the same-same loud crowd, stinky around and same scorching heat.
With Kheerganga as our only rescue to at least start the trip… we decided to stay in Manali the first night and somehow managed to bargain a room at Rs 500 just opposite to the Manali Dharamshala, threw our luggage at our rented room and hit a local Dhabha on an advice from a local. To be honest the Butter Chicken we ordered was quite fine in taste and dhabha was also appearing quite clean but, when we were just about to finish our meal we witnessed a housefly in our curry…we refused to pay any bucks for the meal and with almost full stomach made our way out to another restaurant and fed on Noodles. The after lunch Ice cream was more than welcomed and was sweeter after a free lunch :P
With full tummy we took a round around Manali, bought our drinks and filters & paper and decided to booze and smoke our local Ghaziabad Maal. The night eventually turned out to be a way more than what we expected it to be- we though initially being fresher’s struggled with our rolls but latter, I and another friend of mine were rolling like experts. Later, we were finally getting ourselves high, quite high, this high that we could barely move, barely speak but just lay there listening at our pacing heartbeats and at time quite worrying to be caught with our stuff.
Day Two in Manali was quite welcoming to me. I even being high the night before unlike my other two lazy retards was up at 5:30 am. I bathed, locked my people in the room and made my way out to the Manali streets. That morning is among a few beautiful mornings which actually make me felt GOOD, LIVELY and HAPPY!! Being starved to death the previous night by both my sloshed men who didn’t feed me on any food and probably had travelled in parallel world, I parked myself at a near sweet shop-ordered and fed on more than satisfactory Aloo Parantha & tea and made my way back to my room. With a lot of struggle I managed to wake these two lazy asses who forget bathing, were not even bothered to brush their teeth. At around 8 am after enquiring and deciding to catch the bus to Mankiaran at 9 am we crashed on breakfast directly in the same restaurant where I had parantha in morning-Fed ourselves well and with the welcoming cigarettes parked ourselves in bus to to Manikaran.
Manikaran was a treat in terms of desi murga we had and things I bought (though lost a few of the same on my way). From there we chased another local bus from Manikaran to Barshaini-the spot to finally take on Kheerganga treck. The route to Barshaini was though rough but beautiful and we were finally there with all our stuff at around 4pm. Purchasing a few required cigarettes and other stuff, enquiring and being advised not to take the track at night, we were informed about track being steep, tuff and also about the Blue Moon Party uphill that night….With the news of the PARTYYYY we were less scared and more excited, determined and motivated for the treck.
Unknown to the comings, we got rid of our giant travelling bag-kept it with a local eatery at Barshani at a rent of Rs 50 per day and started our way up to BLUE MOON PARTYYY!!! The over excitement though started to come off – off of me especially once we trekked a few Km’s. The track was genuinely tuff to start, especially with such heavy chicken in our tummies…Pacing up with a very slow speed and taking more than required stops in between we were not even half our way at 8 pm.
At probably the last open dhaba on our way up that night, we filled ourselves with food- fed the two local dogs too with eggs, with a thought that the animals will protect us from any danger of wildlings esp. beers about which locals warned us, bought a torch n took our track again- Afresh. With night falling in, in the midst of the jungle we three along the two dogs trudged up under the bright full moon which reminded us of our PARTYYY.
Just after a few Km’s we were now struggling for even right directions. A point came when we were trapped in bogs and were dying to see some help-some human- hear some sound and I was dead scared now. Panic stricken we finally saw a torch light at distance. At last someone had heard our panic and came to our aid. The man and help was the owner of the local nearby food joint who saved us and helped us find our way at last.
To be honest we would have never found this step ladder way in pitch night on our own. But the adventure had just started for us. Even one of the dogs had left us –after all dogs are intelligent first and loyal later-Black dogs at least as the brown one still followed us.
So back to misery!
Dark night. Sounds of crickets & who knows what creatures echoing, with waterfall at distance were we three, a dog and a local and his family at 10 pm in picture now. With our hearts pounding and my heart racing the most, I was in many thoughts and so might be these two or one cause my one man was still was acting too adventurous or mad and was ready to move up the unknown track all alone. I was not at all interested to risk our lives and esp. my life. The thought of my parents wondering of how my corpse travelled all along Kheerganga when I was in Chandigarh doing audit was both amusing and scary. My heart was not letting me move on and risk everything- calculated risk is my appetite and this was gross and above.
With strange thoughts-struggling minds and snappy arguments I was decisive not to move on especially being almost lost once-with locals forbidding us to continue at night with a good rather sure shot probability of being paid visit by bears.
But men are men. Ace of aces – my one man had his heart on the party and managed to convince me, on the idea to take along that local man to help us with directions to reach our party at 1000 bucks. So, unwillingly though-we started our track again with local escorting us. I had confidence on the local and his gun he carried along but still my heart skipped a beat every time a sound hit my ears.
The night was scary in many parts and I don’t know about my mad men but I was paying my surroundings the least attention. I did not even notice a thing while trudging up and just kept my vision to track praying to reach up alive. Even the thought of the party had left me long ago. But, these retards were just there to add to the probability of me dying of the heart attack and very well managed to infuriate me on more than one occasion.
Imagine being lost in midst of a forest in dark, where you know no path-with chances of bear or alike pouncing on you –with off course no network!! And with this, you have two crazy pals-One who heeds god knows what sounds, squints in dark -makes weird faces as if seen ghost just aside you and is alone enough to scare a shit out of you. Another Sardar who is scared but still acting like babar sher and is ready to do the track alone. And these two together are different package all together. They were making videos in dark, sat down to smoke GANJAAA with the local escort and icing on cake, even didn’t miss checking out his gun and even tried their hands with it. KILLL MEEEE!!!
Anyhow we made our way up somehow and WALAHHH, NO PARTY!! Cow dung-loads of cows-tents here and there and a few people in group was all that was seen. We somehow got holed in an open tent which was shared by many MEN-only MEN!! –Weird MEN-every one at a level higher than other. Now, where we were quite confident of ourselves in terms of smoking cigarettes, pot and weed and carrying 5 inch Chillam-we were rolled on and trolled by the their 12 inch long and thick Chillam and the speed and expertise with which they were taking puffs with it. Forget marijuana-Ganja, strips, charas- all was open at the table and all being shared as if Prasad. Talking to these people was making me wonder on how sane we still are and happy that at least we have a life. Some people in the room were total Nonsense-Absolute Nonsense -who knew nothing and were aimless in all terms. But, I will not disagree on the fact on of being thoroughly entertained by them. In middle of night, struggling with Charas-Chillum and puffs, we first witnessed men moving under sheets- moving in weird position and crowing them for a while made our jaws drop and left us dumbstruck and amused.
OPEN GAY PORN!!!! (Just under the sheets though)
Gosh! Hats off to their confidence. I believe, rather I am quite sure that men in city cannot even take on their girlfriends in open with this sheer confidence as these men were fucking each other. Literally they were fucking-like literally getting laid with each other. I and my friend could not stop laughing while enjoying this show and performance when a guy there noticed what we were upto, dimmed all the lights and eventually we drifted to sleep laughing and rolling of what we just saw. HELL! This was an absolute BLUE MOON PARTY!! Totally BLUE! Truly BLUE!!
The next morning we left our place and started exploring around Kheerganga and were quite satisfied and happy with delicious French food we fed on and contented smoking our local marijuana. Though my people had mood to stay and camp but, I somehow convinced them to go downhill as we had seen enough of that place and there was nothing much left to be seen.
The track downhill was quite amazing as we were finally witnessing in daylight what we had crossed in dark the last night. We eventually ended up getting drenched in rain-quite a heavy rain and had satisfactory tea and Maggie in midst of nature at its best.
Later that evening we were finally at Barshani -where we had started our track the previous evening. Because of heavy rain, we decided to take shelter there-collected our bag that we kept at rent -booked a room at Rs.500 nearby and fed ourselves well. Later in our room we rolled-smoked -talked-talked shit-laughed hilariously-attained Nirvana and made that night memorable. This night will always shine bright in our memories and in our eyes forever. Next morning we went back to Kullu-bargained well, rafted 9 km in Beas River and drenched the shit of ourselves in ice cold water. It was a first rafting experience for each of us and was rather quite satisfactory at 1200 bucks. Later at night, we travelled back to Manali and helped ourselves to find another room at cheap rate and parked our stuff there at Rs 600 rented room. Later that night, where I was feeling quite low, my men were surprisingly at work-struggling and bargaining hard to rent bikes for the next day. The news of roads being operational to Rohtang was welcoming but, not in totality as on Thursdays the roads are not operational due to maintenance and the day next was Thursday itself. So the chances to witness Ice-Snow fall and Rohtang were becoming bleak. The cab drivers were demanding around Rs.8000 and above to drive us to Rohtang that very Wednesday which we were not ready to afford at all. With no thoughts we rented our bikes and eventually my mood also got lifted from the conversation with bike owner who turned out to be an acquaintance while my men were away arranging funds and security for bikes. At late night we had food and slept with no weed, while one of my friends did not miss his one stick of weed that night too.
Next morning, the weather was sexy in terms of rain, but was not as welcoming as we had plans to ride our bikes. But, ignoring the weather we were sure for biking and after helping ourselves with the paranthas we set ourselves on the bikes for the day.
There is no parallel joy than to witness the greenery and to breathe the fresh –pure air in mountains. We started our way on bikes to Gulaba and the weather was now a way better-no heavy rain but soft drizzling making it rather more scenic than anything. Even taking the pillion seat was rejoicing while my pals were having their time with the beauty of riding bullets. (Advice: Always grab your wrists on Bullet and only Bullets-but keep your sanity and anxiety in check) We parked our bikes at Gulaba check Point with a hope to Catch up and board the local on route bus and make our way to Rohatng. But, The Universe had better plans, our one friend worked his tricks again and made a settlement with locals at checkpoint who agreed to drop us at Rohtang on their way to homes uphill. None of us had imagined to see and pay visit to Rohtang after such odds but, there we were feeling the snow. These two- my friends-crazy friends showed their colours there too. They removed their T-shirts and bare chest enjoyed the snow.
Later, we helped ourselves with few pegs of whiskey -that too being very hospitably offered by few Men who happened to be there enjoying the snow and later, even accommodated us in their Scorpio and drove us back to Gulaba Check Point.
Riding our bikes from Gulaba we took rest at a dhaba, helped ourseves with some Maggie-tea and delicious omlet and started our way to Solnag Valley. Solang was not as appealing. Rather it was over crowded, so we made no stop there and decided to ride up to Vashisht as we still had time as the bikes had to be returned by 8pm.
The Blue moon made a reappearance there when a man whom we agreed to offer a lift tried to get over comfortable with our friend and held him by waist on bike. Gosh! My friend had quite a time with this man at his back holding him tight and so did I and my other friend, his pale face will always stay along the memories of Vashisht. The place was jam packed with ‘N’ number of cars waiting in Que. But, we bikers could easily ride up. Though the place was truly religious, but we three are as such are not religious humans, so we had least temptation to visit Mandir. But, the hot water spring (known for medicinal properties) for which Vashist is well known tempted us to bath even when we were not carrying any extra clothes along. We helped ourselves in the respective chambers of men and women bathing areas and later had good food-shopped a bit of stuff (do pay visit to nearby silver and antiques shops-its’sworth a shot) and made our way back to Manali.
At night fall we were back from where we started-The Mall road. We took our luggage, dinned and boarded our pre booked local bus to Delhi from Manali.
The last day, believe me is always nostalgic and sad when you realize going back to cages of offices and back to mad race. But, we three are hungry souls-who will make their ways out to new destinations again and yet again.
Live Free-Live Bold-Live Together … Live to Travel!!