Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh

Tripoto
17th Apr 2014
Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani
Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh 1/8 by Sameer Wadhwani
Dream Home
Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh 2/8 by Sameer Wadhwani
Paragliding over Solang Valley
Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh 3/8 by Sameer Wadhwani
Bird's eye view from Gulaba
Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh 4/8 by Sameer Wadhwani
Parvati River, Kasol
Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh 5/8 by Sameer Wadhwani
Friendly mountain dogs
Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh 6/8 by Sameer Wadhwani
Snow enveloped hills
Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh 7/8 by Sameer Wadhwani

Seldom does an opportunity arise to undertake an unbridled adventure into the unknown. The joys of an unplanned trip are galore with unimaginable surprises and unexpected offerings.

Thus spawned a plan of a 7 day voyage wherein we had compiled a list of places we would like to visit, but had no plan of how or when to reach, or stay there.

All this taken care then, we started the tour with our companion and capable ride for the expedition: XUV500

[Midnight] Outside the Delhi railway station, stood gleaming in the street light, our ride for the tour which we had rented for self drive: Mahindra XUV 500 (W6):

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh 8/8 by Sameer Wadhwani
XUV parked outside Delhi railway station for us to take away

Legalities and payment done with, we grabbed the keys, and hit the highway to Manali at once.

As we had decided no one would be missing out on fun in any part of the trip, we all had to stay awake, and for that, tea was essential to keep our eyelids wide open all time, hence the trip commencement cheers:

Tea cheers!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

After that, the journey flew like a breeze and we covered a lot of ground. Directly we stopped in the morning before the ghat section for some breakfast:

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Tentative plan was to reach Kasol till afternoon. But the exquisite scenery and sexy weather made us stop every now and then to take in the awesome ambiance. Some clicks taken en route to Kasol:

Smokin' roads, Wonderful companionship, capable car and awesome mausam- what else can you hope for!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani
Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Midway, the fatigue had settled in after no night's sleep and the drive via Swargate (We had taken a longer off-road route, a much better way is through Bilaspur), but we continued on our path:

Prominent clouds shadows indicated our ascent into higher mountains

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Beautiful (and super expensive) resort on the route to Kasol

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Finally we reached Kasol in evening. Our first though was that we have entered a mystical foreign country. The place is inhabited largely by the Israelis, who come and settle here. It was a beautiful setting with camps setup near river and the fragrance of local 'grass'.

Riverside Camps in Kasol

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

We were extremely tired after a long drive, hence decided to explore the place nest day, had some food and dozed off.

Day 2

Invigorated with fresh enthusiasm the next day, we headed out to explore the village. We found a nice spot near the Parvati river and had breakfast there:

Breakfast near river under shade of trees : Bliss!

Photo of Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sameer Wadhwani

Enjoying scenery 'On the rocks'!

Photo of Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sameer Wadhwani

Thereafter, we moved forward to Manikaran. The road to Manikaran is lined lush greenery and picturesque landscape and we couldn't resist posing with our gorgeous SUV with such a fine backdrop:

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Manikaran a religious place for Sikhs which has a magnificent Gurudwara built:

Manikaran Gurudwara

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Ever seen us seeming so decent? Gurudwara has that effect on you :D

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Prayers offered, we prepared to move to our next destination: Solang.

Day 3

New day, new adventures! We were moving high in the hills towards snow capped mountains, vast fields and loopy roads. Some views en route to Solang:

Twisty roads going up through the mountains to Solang

Photo of Solang Valley, Burwa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sameer Wadhwani

The earthy and Pastel hues in the backdrop painted an immaculate picture

Photo of Solang Valley, Burwa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sameer Wadhwani

Solang is known for adventure activities such as paragliding, mountain trekking, ATVs offroading etc. However we had even wilder adrenaline-pumping ideas in our mind :D

We checked into a hotel, took out our tents and sleeping bags, and headed out into the jungle besides the river for camping!

What better than hot masala Maggi on a cold dark night-out camping

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

The tent was a huge relief from outside freezing cold and apparently distant-sounding noises from forest which we assumed as wild animals!

Fun, beverage and celebration inside the tent

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Hanging bridge : holding on for dear life on this delicate wooden log!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

We slept on the bridge gazing at the starry sky feeling the cold breeze, listening to river water flowing beneath and the creaking wood of a very questionable-strength bridge.

Day 4

We began the ascent towards Rohtang early morning next day.The beauty of nature that we had witnessed yesterday was overshadowed in an instant with the perfect landscapes and sheer awesomeness of this place.

Photo of Gulaba Viewpoint, Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Sameer Wadhwani

It's a surprise we didn't fall off any slopes when we had our eyes fixed to such hypnotic scenery!

Oodles of snow creating walls besides road kept us mesmerized!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Sun, snow and snow-movers : perfect conditions out at Gulaba

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Cheers to ascend!!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

We continued as far as we could go till Rohtang, but unfortunately, the snow had not yet been cleared, so we couldn't go beyond Marhi:

@Marhi, the last point till which roads were open enroute to Rohtang

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Truly a GO ANYWHERE car, incredible indeed!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Though we did our best to try and clear the snow, we couldn't move ahead of Marhi:

Digging through snow to clear route

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

So instead, we climbed the hills:

Ecstatic in snow-lands

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

We had to have snow fights:

Snow Fights : One ice-shot for photographer too :D

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

And couldn't resist racing down the icy slopes!

Snow Race!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Milestone achieved!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

We stayed at Kothi, a place nearby Gulaba where we found accommodation for the night and decided to leave early next morning to Prashar and Shogi.

Day 5

"We will reach the lake by 2 PM and then head to Shogi, its just 114 KM"

Little did we know how much time it would take to cover the 'mere' 114 Kms of roads that lay ahead of us.

Many obstructions on the already narrow roads slowed us down immensely:

Sheep stop traffic better than policemen!

Photo of Prashar Lake, D.P.F. Parashar Dhar, Himachal Pradesh by Sameer Wadhwani

But we were happy to leisurely cuddle in the lap of nature

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

All up-board!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

It was like we were on movie set, horses grazing, leaves falling and the calm breeze: simply magical!

Horses in grasslands and perfect weather created magical vistas!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Accolades to XUV to have brought us to witness all this grandeur and exquisiteness

Hail the XUV!

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Lush greenery kept our cameras busy throughout the journey

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

The SUV sailed across all kinds of terrains and abuses without a hiccup

Simply Unstoppable

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

And sitting inside, cocooned in lavish and comfortable interiors, we were isolated from any beating the car was taking

We reached Prashar lake, where we got to live near the lake itself in a PWD guesthouse:

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Accomodation Courtsey : the HP state forest Dept in Prashar

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Prashar Lake

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

We spent the night laid-back on the field beneath the perfectly clear skies, besides the lake, gazing at the meteor shower:

Night sky in backdrop of Prashar Temple

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani
Day 6

Now into the final phase of our tour, we were damn excited about what the adventure capital of India had to offer. We left Prashar early morning and proceeded to a full day of drive to reach Rishikesh by nightfall.

On the way we encountered a waterfall stream pouring across the road. So many days of lunatic adventures had left the car splattered with dirt all throughout. So we thought to give it a wash - buff street style:

Car wash is a quintessential part of enjoying the roadtrip

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by Sameer Wadhwani

The Mighty beast sparkling in its glory after the bath

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by Sameer Wadhwani

After navigating our way through mountainous terrain, we reached Rishikesh, where we settled into our magnificent riverside camps.

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Next day we went for river rafting and bunjee jumping and also took part in some campsite activities: beach volley, canoeing and swimming.

Ganges river

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani

Canoeing was fun

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani
Day 7

It was evident that no matter how much we wanted to explore more, we had to move back to our boring, normal lives. With a heavy heart and even heavier luggage (god knows how much and what we had dumped in our bags throughout the journey!!), we left for Delhi where we had to say goodbye to our beloved XUV and return back to Indore.

Trip Motto!

Photo of Delhi, India by Sameer Wadhwani

We departed with a promise to experience more thrills, next time with even greater magnitude and crazier fun.

Live Young, Live free with a Mahindra SUV :D

Photo of Live Young, Drive Free : Escape to Himachal and Rishikesh by Sameer Wadhwani
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