it was around 3 pm when we stopped for lunch. With me and Bansal at the dhaba, babbar and cheeta j went off to find some service station to get the brake shoe repaired. I have done my last few trips in great discomfort. Goecha La, trip to sangla ....But the best part abt that was that I didnt get much to eat. And I tell you, it keeps you good. You eat less and everything goes ok including the natures call. right time everytime. However on this last road trip, with some excellent company, I found it difficult to avoid . So we had our good heavy lunch and by that time it was already 4 pm. We were to reach manali only by night around 9. Didnt matter much as anyways towns like manali and shimla are overcrowded during day time.
John by this time was feeling itchy and wanted to drive. However the leader of the group Mr. Aditya Babbar told him clearly that before he was to drive he was to do the other important things like cleaning the windscreen and refilling water bottles on the way. We crossed Kullu and it was getting dark around that time. We didnt stop in Kullu otherwise if its daytime, there are some nice riverside eating joints where you can dip your feet in water and have stuff to eat. Even otherwise I found Kullu more scenic than Manali. And yes did I mention the mandi to kullu 3km long tunnel. Theyve built this recently and i dont know how much distance is shortened by this piece of art but it surely is good. The long hollows amplify vehicle noise and make even 100cc hero hondas sound like the 1000cc monsters. There are stopover spaces along the road in the tunnel and though we didnt stop i think one should and be there for some time. The air though is loaded with exhaust fumes.
Its always easy to drive on hills at night. Easy to see the incoming light beams. But yeah you miss out on the route. Drive after that was nothing great good roads again and nothing interesting or exciting really. Bansal was experimenting with his sunglasses and found that it actually is better wearing them at night as they reduce glare and somehow improve visibility. How and why nobody could explain...
We reached manali at around 9:00 that meant we were on road for almost 15 hours which included some stops for food and drinks. But a good long day one and soon we were looking for a hotel to stay overnight. we planned to leave early at around 6:00.
I have always failed to understand that why is there a mall road in every hill station. Its plain junk I feel and a place for fat kids to have ice creams with their moms and papas shopping around. I mean why would you want to go to manali and shop. Kharab aadat jaati nahi logon ki.
We went out for food at around 10:30 after moving everything in the hotel room. And I was surprised to see people taking a stroll on mall road even at that time. We tried to have dinner at one of the many shere - shane - jashne punjab dhabas which are everywhere but to our bad luck none of them were willing to offer 4 highest level intellectuals a place to eat. Everytime we found an empty table, it was promptly given to someone else. Feeling rejected and dejected we searched for another restaurant and had out dinner.
John is happy that he got dinner that day. Babbar had told him at the start of the trip that we may not have get good food during the entire trip as he wouldnt want to stop driving. Here in this pic you can see that someone looks tired. The blue baniyan is no more.
Manali's Mall road at night. Though we couldnt see too much of mall ;-) I dont why do they call it Mall then
By the time we had dinner and went back to the hotel it was already 12:00 we decided to get up early at around 5 which meant I had to get up at around 4:30. Though we didnt get to sleep much but it was my soundest sleep after ages. I slept like a log and felt fresh in the morning.
Its always a pain to put everything back into the vehicle after each night. But the entusiastic Cheeta John came to our rescue again and to get into the good books of the leader of the group... he did all that and sundry. Ready to go, our next stop was sarchu at 4200 mts. Around midway between leh and manali. First stop for us was going to be the Rohtang pass. At around 4000 mts I had heard a lot about Rohtang and we were kinda looking forward to our first high pass.
Yes about the weather, it was raining and the roads were mud and water enroute. This and earlier was usual stuff. However we were to see mountains which were rock and gravel in the days to come and we were quite looking forward to all that............
To be contd.