Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kasol: Hell of a trip!

I and my wife were planning to go to Kasol since a couple of years. The first time I heard about Kasol was from a colleague. He never stopped taking about how beautiful this place was.

Finally in August 2011, we decided to utilize the extended weekend around the 15th and made the reservations for travel and stay. We boarded the bus from Delhi in the evening at 1800 hours and were en-route. We have gone on this route earlier as well to Manali so there was nothing new about it until 0630 hours next day. We were somewhere near Sundernagar and the bus halted there for more than an hour now. It was 0800 hours and the passengers including us were getting antsy.

The driver was not telling us anything and then all of a sudden, he broke the news to us "it rained heavily the whole night and a bridge was broken because of the flood about 4 kms from the place where the bus is standing."

All the excitement went for a hookazoonga. What do we do now? The options we had were to take the same bus back to Delhi or stay in a hotel until the bridge was rebuilt. We enquired with the locals and they said it a common thing and would clear in a couple of days if the rain God permits. We just let this moment pass and decided to take on things as they come. In the mean while, first things first, breakfast. We ordered a series of paranthas and then a cup of tea. The weather was very nice. It was sort of foggy and drizzling. Just then we found a wine shop next to the dhaba. We went there and enquired about the available flavors. The guy had wine made from every fruit that I could think of. He had apple, pomegranate, rose, jamun (Java Plum), and of course grapes. I am sure I am forgetting many. We paid INR 180 for a rose flavored bottle and packed it for future use. :)

After some more looking around, we started getting restless and were wondering what to do. It was already 12:00 noon and there was no news of bridge repair. The driver said, "the bus on the other side will start at 1800 hours in the evening and the best thing that could happen is the exchange of passengers near the bridge." But it was very risky. The river was flowing above the danger level.

Then we started speaking with the locals and asked if there was a possibility to arrange for a transport to Kasol. The guy at the dhaba told us that a cab can be arranged and with a slight de-tour, it can take us to Kasol by the sunset. This sounded like music to our ears. We asked for the costing and agreed with a total of INR 2000 for a cab to take us to Kasol.

The guy arranged for a Scorpio and assured us of the destination. We started by 1300 hours and were passing through villages, more villages and then the scene that came in front of my eyes was shocking.

We saw a huge line of vehicles in front of us and as we went ahead the water level was rising. After a few meters, we saw water flooding the roads as if there was no road at all! The villagers were out and were helping the vehicles pass through that road. The sound of water was scary and the trip had started its bend towards becoming a high adrenaline gushing adventure. The last car in front of us crossed and then it was us. Had it been any other vehicle, we would not have been able to cross this flooded route. After crossing the road, we were told that it was a 10 meters deep bridge that we crossed and the water level had risen because of cloud burst. And to our despair, the locals told us that there were more such overflowing bridges on the way we were heading.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You dont pick a destination...it picks you!...This time Landsdowne...

The trip to the valley of flowers was on…till 1:30 am Friday, Oct 2, 2009.

I, Bhushan and his wife went to the last show of the movie “WANTED” on Thursday night. After the movie…when we were walking in parking area…they said that they would like to join me on my trip to the valley of flowers. “WANTED” did bring me some good company. It was a three days weekend…still not enough for valley of flowers. Oh…did I tell you that I was on vacation (full two weeks...)

Plan changed…we decided to go to Landsdowne…small hill station in Garhwal. When I say small…very-very small. I heard about it from a colleague of mine.

Made some notes of the route…4:00 AM, Oct 2…loaded Bhushan’s car and…off to Landsdowne. We took the Gurgaon-Delhi-Meerut-Bijnor-Najibabad-Landsdowne route.

In a long-long while…I saw the rising sun. Yes…it was looking good. The roads in the morning were not very busy kinds…there were sugarcane farms on both sides of the road…dew drops on the leaves…looked amazing…We halted for a couple of minutes for some clicks.