Sunday, July 20, 2008

Having slept through a beautiful night in a beautiful Manali cottage, 3.30am wasn’t exactly the right time to begin the next day. So I snoozed around while she was getting ready. (It’s a different feeling altogether when you know that your bags are going to be packed and you’ll be all ready to leave right when you wake up ;) ). 4.30 am it was as we began the exciting journey towards and into the mountains above Manali (2,050m approx).They say Rohtang pass (3,980m approx) is quite high. And usually altitude sickness begins to hit. But we were crooning our way through the clouds, the hills, the curves on the roads and the mini-waterfalls on each curve. We stopped for breakfast at what was the last dhaba for the rest of the journey. After this point, you get maggi!The first glitch in the journey was an overloaded truck (loaded to 17 tonnes while the maximum limit on these roads is 9 tonnes only), unable to pull itself out of a muddy track. Groaning in agony with whatever meager available horsepower, it only managed to generate sympathy rather than gain height. A few adept hands saw to it that the path was finally cleared and we meandered ahead.

After crossing the Rohtang pass and coming down to Keylong (3,349m approx), we started climbing the heights towards Barlacha (4,892m approx). This part of the journey is lonelier, and in a way lovelier. A few moments of peace amidst the gigantic overbearing mountains makes one comfortable in a strange way. Higher you go towards Barlacha, lesser is the vegetation. All you see is dead barren rocks, rising to monstrous heights, indifferent to being called mountains. Indifferent to curious eyes and indifferent to the noisy river gushing its way down, they stand there with only one purpose, putting one in awe of them. We came across a couple of peaceful lakes as well in the smaller more gentle corners of the mountains.

First signs of lack of oxygen began to show at Barlacha. It’s a feeling quite comparable to being high on wine, if only one could ignore the breathlessness. You move slow, you talk slow, and you don’t realize it until you try to move and try to talk. We crossed Barlacha and inched towards Sarchu (4,253m approx) which seemed to be getting more comfortable as we lost a little altitude.

The feeling of being disconnected from the world seeps in right when you cross the last cell phone tower around Keylong. When you race against time to make frantic calls and send hectic messages so that they reach before you cross the last known cellular footprint, you know that you are moving away from something and towards a beautiful nothing.

By the time you are at Sarchu, the beautiful nothings have taken real shape. There isn’t even much vegetation, let alone the absence of shops, people, or cell phone networks. There are camps at Sarchu, with 8-10 tents each, which are managed by a few brave locals during summers. Apart from this, there is an army base camp nearby, which provides medical support and a weekly telephone service.

It was almost 3 to 4 pm when we reached Sarchu and we had warm Maggie for dinner. The low on oxygen air and low air pressure had begun to take effect. The chill factor was manageable unless the wind hit you directly. Life wasn’t really difficult, but it was slow. In words, movements and thoughts.

While we lay inside the tent, saved from direct winds, the loneliness of the place magnified by the warmth of having your loved one in your arms, gave a surreal meaning to the word beauty.

It felt nice and it felt complete.

23 comments:

Prapti Banerjee said...

Man! I am Jealous (with the big J) about the trip. Happy for you reading the last paragraph.

Beauty and the BEast said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krazy Krimson said...

@ prapti

Thanks a tonne woman! I have been reading through your posts and I must reiterate saying, I loooooove your style of writing, your taste in dry humour and the fantastic memories which you paint with life!!!

Maybe we should someday take a trip together. You know, pack the entire gang in and hit the roads sort of thing??

- krazy :)

τ ħ€ ĐάЎđяёάmёя said...

wohaaa man..
wat a beautiful description...I felt each n every para jus like I was living it :)
and u said it right ..having the one u love the most in ur arms in that beautiful surreal environment is doubly exciting..

wonderful :)

Javits said...

Really lovely experience you had there.. :)

Scribblers Inc said...

thats a very detailed trip report...you should write a travellogue!!:)

Scribblers Inc.

rantravereflect/ jane said...

whoaaa!! tat sounded darn awesumm.. i mean all that oxygen lacking up theere must have been compensed by the warm breath of that person in ya arms :)
could almost feel that breathlessness :)

i'd loveeee to hitt he roads, but theses days, i'm soooo gutted with pathetic work that i'm not able to move my butt- butttt i'm takin a break sooooon i'll doooo it :)

have tonza fun, n keep the smile :)

Cinderella. said...

Recently a fren of mine went to manali for her honeymoon...and boy she had just the same thing to say...!!!

Lovely place !

I juts might end going there for mine as well.

debasish.. said...

luvd d way, u said it. May b its d magic of d place.

and, yeah nice pix too :)

Solitaire said...

WOW! Makes me wanna go there too..especially for the Maggi!

comfortably numb said...

man...u give one vivid description...right from information of d landscape to small details which help in creating d big picture!!!

mayz said...

wow u have described it so well...havent been to manali or rohtang pass...but ur pics make it look breathtakin...

**It felt nice and it felt complete.

that quite sums it up!!!

gunj said...

absolutely loved those pics!! i sure will go to this place once!!

Krazy Krimson said...

@the day dreamer

:) it is.. an ALMOST surreal experience, you find yourself pinching yourself long after the trip is over...

Krazy Krimson said...

@ javits

it was indeed!!!

Krazy Krimson said...

@ scribblers inc

We do wish we have travelled enough one day to realise the dream of a travelogue :)

Krazy Krimson said...

@ rantravereflect/jane

got get your break girl~~

Krazy Krimson said...

@ cinderella

Honeymoons and Manali defintiely make one hell of a sexy package ;)

Krazy Krimson said...

@ debashish
magic of the place sprinkled with the madness of being in love

Krazy Krimson said...

@ solitaire

even the maggi is different.. take my word for it!

Krazy Krimson said...

@ comfotably numb

just an attempt to capture the essence of the trip :)

Krazy Krimson said...

@ Mayz

wish life is filled with many more PERFECT moments

Krazy Krimson said...

@ gunj

you soooo must!