Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Chronicles of Ladakh - Part 14 - A Bone Crushing Journey to Manali

Previous: On Manali Leh Highway and the Real Adventure

Day 14, 21st September, 2012 – A Bone Crushing Journey to Manali

Bharatapur > Baralacha La > Zingzing Bar > Jispa > Keylong > Tandi > Khoksar > Rohtang La > Marhi > Manali (210 Km)

We saw the dawn breaking at around 6.15 in the morning, we were still awake. As soon as the faintest of the light could be seen, I planned to wake up the nephew-uncle couple and start. Before that I just was curious to see the surroundings where we spent the night, since we couldn’t do the same for obvious reasons when we turned up.
I went outside and was hit by the cold immediately and the scene. It was completely covered by snow from every direction, and as far as I could see it was all white. No wonder it was so cold.
Snow Everywhere

I quickly woke up the drivers and they were ready within 15 minutes and took oath that they would drop me at Manali at any cost, no matter what it takes. We were touched and started at 7 am.  As soon as the car started moving, we had to shut the window since the chilled air was freezing us instantaneously. We drove through the surreal vistas and within 15 minutes we crossed Baralacha La and found a smooth tarred road with occassional bat patches. After crossing Baralacha La, we entered the Himachal region (the Lahaul Spiti side). It was all descent through the smooth roads now.
Approaching Baralacha La
From Baralacha La top
Slowly the snowy mountain peaks were moving further away. We crossed a couple of more Taals (In Himachali, Taal means Lake) Suraj Taal and Deepak Taal. We stopped at Zingzing Bar which is another tent settlement and had some tea. We came to know that the whole area recevied huge snowfall yesternight and that’s why it was so cold and full of fresh snow everywhere. So we made the right decision not to travel at night.
Suraj Taal - from where the Bhaga River is originated
On our way - the yellow and blue dots ar the tents at Zingzing Bar
Deepak Taal
We started again, the next intended stop was Keylong. As soon as we were closing Jispa, the Vistas changed from Ladakh’s barren landscapes to eye-soothing sceneries full of trees and flowers. The Bhaga river was passing with its bluish water towards Tandi to be the Chandrabhaga.
View from the car
Bhaga River
Approaching Jispa
Himachal at the left and Ladakh at the right
A View from Jispa
We reached Keylong without any more incidents. While we had breakfasts there, the nephew got the puncture repaired. We came to know that they stay in Keylong only, so the nephew stayed back. We loved Keylong, not because it is full of breathtaking landscape – it is – but perhaps because we felt safe with the civilization around – we are, after all, dwellers of urban lands!
A view from Keylong
Another view from Keylong
Enroute to Rohtang, we visited the confluence of Chandra and Bhaga river at Tandi – it gave birth to the river Chandrabhaga.
Confluence of Chandra and Bhaga at Tandi
We passed Khoksar and the ascent started for the final frontier – the Rohtang La. The journey was bone crushing and frightening. The road was narrow, there was no sign of tar anywhere – it was all slush and bumpy. The Qualis was swaying like a small dinghy facing a gigantic storm in the middle of an ocean with nowhere to go, it felt like the journey could be ended at any instant with our car falling down through the gorge – but fortunately it did not happen. We reached Rohtang safely, but with too much bodyaches. No wonder Rohtang La means ‘heap of dead bodies’.
Towards Rohtang
One of the many waterfalls on the way
Rohtang looked amazing in the broad daylight as we could see the Lahaul Spiti region at one side and Manali region at the other. We took a breather at Rohtang and visited the Beas Kund temple at the top.
View from Rohtang Pass - towards Lahaul Spiti
Rohtang Pass top
View from Rohtang Pass - towards Manali
The descent from Rohtang was as scary as the ascent. The similar slushy, bumpy and narrow roads made us again feel that we were close to our last day. On top of that, the added challenge was the number of cars coming from the opposite direction. However, this torture didn’t last long as we soon came across a smooth tarred road. From then on, it was a straightforward drive to Manali through the amazing greeneries what Himachal Pradesh is known for. It felt so nice to be back among people and close to the green meadows.
Manali Calling....
We reached Manali at around 4.30 in the afternoon. We checked in to Hotel Van Vihar, a small but cosy abode, just opposite to the Van Vihar Park in Manali and at a stone’s throw distance from the Mall. We wasting no time, got freshened up and slept and slept till 9 in the night! We had dinner outside and again came back to have some more sleep!
To Be Continued...

Next: End of One Journey is the Begginning of Another


  1. I've read all your days on ladakh very well written and very well captured. I am planning for ladakh trip on June 17. The Hanle and Tso moriri information was very helpful! Thank you :)

    1. Thanks very much for going through the blog and the kind appreciation. I wish you all the best for your upcoming trip. Please note that the IAO guest house at Hanle does not allow tourists any more. There are homestays in Hanle for tourists which the travelers can avail. Just thought to let you know in case you are planning to visit Hanle.

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