Rohtang Pass – A picturesque road trip !

While Manali was sleeping, I woke up to the burble of the gushing river and though, lazy as I am, some comforts have to be sacrificed to experience the wonders of this beautiful world.

ABOUT THE PASS

At a height of 13,058 feet, Rohtang Pass connects the Kully valley to the Lahaul and Spiti valleys and the highway to Ladakh. Notorious for it’s treacherous roads and erratic weather, every turn on the ascent is but a frame worth absorbing; reminding of the paradise of our dreams.

Also read: To the temples below water

MY RIDE

It was one of my most adventurous rides. It was rainy and I was riding through the clouds. The roads were broken and weren’t visible for more than 10 metres. Even less sometimes. The slope was steep and the rush high. I happened to skip the yellow stone landmark until I finally discovered the change in tilt after a few kilometres. And there I was at 0800 hours, all alone taking in as much as I could. Sighing with delight and amazement.

More of biking:  Riding through the wildlife sanctuary and the most haunted fort

I might as well let the pictures do the talking.

Curvy roads. Aligned buses.

 

Traffic one wouldn’t mind.

 

Kursi ki peti baandh le. Mausam bigadne wala hai !
The wait to Ladakh..

 

To seek and not to yield.

 

Cloudy day that.

 

Timer shot.

 

Prayer flags at the pass.

 

Corn at 13,000ft anyone?

 

Biker gang.

 

Time to stand and stare.

 

Magar ye raasta.

 

The customary wave. 🙂

 

The yellow stone landmark.

 

DETAILS 

  1. Where: 52 km from Manali.
  2. How: Best mode would be a motorcycle. Even better, cycle if you can. Yes, a few daring souls do take that adventure. I wouldn’t recommend a car/taxi until and unless you are with your kids. Or maybe if you do not know how to ride a motorbike. Maybe not even in that case. You got to learn to ride one.
  3. Height: 13,058feet.
  4. Permit: Required. Even for visiting Rohtang and coming back the same day would need one. Check the link Rohtang permits
  5. Weather: Erratic. Clouds accompanied me to the pass while raindrops gave me an affectionate send-off.
  6. Scenery: If your eyes can see what mine did, words would never be enough.
  7. Roads: Broken, slippery, risky ascent, zigzag at intervals. Take your own time. Do not rush. I took n number of breaks to get absolutely blown away by the valley. Each frame after the hairpin-bend better than the other.
  8. Best time: The pass opens around late May till late September or early October depending on the weather. The web would suggest May-June as the best time. So it would have been if not for queues, long enough that you can comfortably stare at the traffic and prepare a cup of tea and fry some triangles to go with.

I rode at dawn in mid-September and believe that there absolutely cannot be a better time than when you own the roads to yourself and do not have to listen to honks of cars filled with the city crowd.

Note: Monsoons are a risky affair and the hills are prone to landslides. 

Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.

Read and know more about my ROAD TRIPS

MY TREKS AND EXPERIENCES

Travel raw. 🙂

 

 

Bathu ki Ladi – ‘Temples under water’ !

If you only travel to places everyone else does, you will only have experiences similar to everyone else.

After 2 hours on the powerful Himalayan wheels, under the scorching heat of the fiery sun in the hills, a year-long or rather about 300-day long wait and anticipation but sans expectation turned out to be a dramatic and much-cherished affair.
Two things became clearer to me that day:

  1. To travel without expectations.
  2. Global warming is taking its toll. 
Bathu ki Ladi
Bathu ki Ladi – Mystery temples.

Bathu ki Ladi‘ is a cluster of temples that remain under water for 10 months and are only accessible during the months of May and June when the water level decreases. Built centuries ago, it is a wonder that the temples still stand upright after remaining under water for more than 40 years.

Bathu ki Ladi

I had to wait quite long for this. June end means a 10-month long wait to get a chance to see this hidden gem. I had come across it somewhere on the web and it caught my attention straight away.

It seemed one of a kind.

It was a 2-hour adventurous ride on a motorbike hired from Dharamshala through hills, villages and the dry banks of the reservoir. The unbearable heat invited severe migraine but the unknown and exciting was yet in store.

Biking to Bathu ki Ladi
My first sight of the place. Pure bliss!

I was ecstatic. Overjoyed as a baby, when handed stuffed toys.
This means everything to me.

The sight of vast grasslands brought joy like no huge concrete stuff ever did.  Patience and adventure were rewarded. Refreshingly blue water body and contrasting grasslands opened up to the furthest our eyes could go.
And there stood those temples; out of nowhere. Pure magic.

The place gave vibes of Ladakh’s Pangong lake(except that it was almost deserted- the best part) and was a sight to behold. The setting was unimaginable; the feeling indescribable.
Read: Biking solo to Bhangarh and Sariska

What and Where?

Bathu ki Ladi

Submerged in Maharana Pratap Sagar(a reservoir created by Pong dam in the early 1970s), Bathu ki Ladi is a centuries’ old cluster of temples in Kangra district. They are believed to be built by the Pandavas while some think it was constructed by a local king. The fact though remains unknown.

How to reach?

Biking to Bathu ki Ladi

The temples can be reached via two routes:

  1. Dharamshala-Kangra to Jawali(About 60 km).  Jawali is a small village from where the rough road stretching around 10kms to the temples begin. We hired motorcycles from Dharamshala and followed this route.
  2. The second would be to via Dhameta, a small town in Kangra. A further 3 km from here would take you to the reservoir from where you can reach the temples via boat ride.

Overnight buses run every day from Delhi to Dharamshala.

When?

Bathu ki Ladi

Though visible March onwards, the best time to visit would be in the months of May and June.

*Beware of the blazing sun.

Go to places less travelled to. Explore. Set out on an adventure.
Life is short.

Also read: On the way to Lansdowne

More scenes from Bathu 

The Raw Traveller !
The Raw Traveller!
Adventure is out there. Get out and travel. :)
Adventure is out there. Get out and travel. 🙂
Biking to Bathu ki Ladi
Riding the Himalayan and then this place. Beyond words.

What you can do nearby..

  1. Explore Dharamshala and Mcleodganj.
  2. Stay at hostels in Dharamkot.
  3. Do the trek to ‘Kareri lake‘.
  4. Paragliding at Bir-Billing– 2 hours from Dharamshala.
  5. Explore the lesser-known Naddi – 15 mins from Mcleodganj.

Open to all queries/questions. Type in.

TRAVEL RAW 🙂

Other BIKE TRIPS

Follow MY TREKS

 

 

What to do in and around Binsar !

How about nothing?

Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary to shut down, kick back and do nothing.

What is important is to take out time for oneself. Do nothing. Believe me. Doing nothing is very important. You will then surely know exactly what you need to do.

With no Mall road, branded stores or loud city crowd flocking over the weekend, this is the perfect place for life’s complicacy to take a back seat and unwind.

What I did!     

1. Biking

Biking in BinsarHired a bike in Binsar and it was just me, the bike and the mountains for 3 days.

Nothing can be comparable to the adventure with the combination above and I enjoyed every bit of my time on the roads. It felt ecstatic.

 

Now, how do I convince you all to ride? There is but no thrill in a comfy 4 wheeler. Apprehension and security have killed adventure.

A lot of people tell me that riding a motorbike isn’t safe and they would never do it. Well then, staying at home should be the safest (unless there is an earthquake.)

Now that I am writing about biking, it also makes me want to bring up the fact that there are very few females in India who ride, the reason of which I am uncertain. Orthodox Indian parenting, inhibition, prejudice; whatever be it, let it not stop you to feel this sensation.

2. Read 

Finished off a book after ages. It feels like an accomplishment, especially when you have completed reading those pending pages of that half-read book that you bought long back.
It was a travel book. 🙂
(Can’t really think of anything else; day in, day out.)

3. Temple Tour

Chaitai Golu Devta templeIf you ask any local for places of interest in the district of Almora, the only reply you are gonna get is ‘Temples”.

From avatar of gods never even heard of before, the hills here boasts of numerous temples; Pushkar of the hills.

Though I had no particular interest in visiting most, there are a few which should not be missed. Kasar Devi, Chitai Golu Devta (The Temple of Bells – in the picture) and Katarmal Sun temple are worth visiting.

4. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Binsar wildlife sanctuary

No, there ain’t any wildlife here except monkeys and peacocks. Monkeys are everywhere (pun intended).

17 km from Kasar Devi(main Binsar town) is this forest sans wild animals. A further 9kms ride from the gate took me to the trail to Zero point which is a 2km hike in the jungle.  The background score of birds chirping at dawn was perfect music to my twilight ride.
The sunrise here is not to be missed with 180 degrees view of snow-capped Garhwal Himalayas glowing in the star’s first rays.

Also read: On the road to Lansdowne

5. Kausani

Kausani2 hours from Binsar is this gorgeous, must visit, secluded town of Kausani.  It provides panoramic views of spectacular Himalayan peaks which include Trishul and Nanda Devi.

Places to visit include Kausani tea estate, Rudradhari waterfall, Anashakti ashram and Baijnath temple.

I was mostly in awe of the scenic beauty along the 58kms ride. The roads ran along the Kosi river to quiet hills filled with colourful flower blooming trees of late March. Eventually, it showed up the grand, splendid mountains!

 

Spring – Signifying rebirth and resurrection. These are the months to travel. To feel the air changing, new leaves and flowers blooming.

6. Meeting folks

Met a lot of travellers from the UK, France and Israel and had some great conversations about travelling, books and life in general.
Also had the opportunity to talk to a lot of locals and villagers while giving them a ride. Though not in length, it was but pleasing and heartwarming to hear from them; their uncomplicated lives and happy simple routine.

7. Sunsets

These were days where I just sat for hours in small cafes in awe of the disintegrating rays of the yellow star.

To do nothing and enjoy the simple yet unique and un-thanked for pleasures in life was what I needed. It is what we all need.

I felt grateful for everything.

 

Also read: Biking solo to Sariska and Bhangarh

8. Home-stay

Homestay at Binsar

There are a lot of beautiful home-stays apart from some lodges and a few hotels.
The setting of my room was picturesque. Overlooking the valley with little gardens around, there was plenty of fresh air and silence to detoxify city’s garbage.

Adjacent to my room, this man from the UK(in the picture) had hired a room for a month to live a life away from the hustle bustle of cities. For some, it becomes a necessity.

Other details :

How to reach?

Delhi- Haldwani – Binsar

Buses to Haldwani ply from Anand Vihar ISBT. Shared jeeps/cars are available to Binsar from Haldwani. Binsar is 3 hours from here.

*Biking – I am aware of the risks of riding in the mountains. I take my time. Never in a hurry. 

Stay?

As mentioned above; home-stays at Kasar Devi(this is the main Binsar town). No prior booking required. There aren’t too many tourists.

Best Time to visit?

Round the year. Winters are snowy and quite cold.

Scenes from the roads to Kausani

A scene from the roads to Kausani!

Travel RAW!
Life is short. Just leave!!

Also Read:  Weekend treks for beginners!

 

Biking solo to Sariska-Bhangarh-Alwar!

Biking is not about speeding at 100 miles an hour, sharp turns, fancy bikes, branded gears or displaying flamboyance.

To ride is to feel the warm rays of the sun, the wind brushing against you, a sense of freedom, never ending roads and mental inactivity or sometimes the other way around.

Long roads, contrasting barren brown fields with clear blue skies, irregular breaks,  street food, numerous eye-catching sights, onerous yet gleeful photography sessions, secluded mind, and a terrible backache the next day highlighted my ride.

SARISKA

  • Sambar. Here, there, everywhere.

200kms from Delhi, Sariska National Park boasts of rich wildlife and tigers. Although one can only spot a tiger out of sheer luck, special contacts with the park’s authorities(a definite increase in probability) or with a sure shot guarantee- on the logo.

You can take your own vehicle on Tuesdays and Saturdays and it is going to be one hell of a ride if you happen to take your two-wheelers. This time it is you who are entering someone else’s private zone. To be scared is normal.

The dusty roads are filled with Sambar and deer who give you an innocent stare, peacocks who run away as soon as they sight you and langur who refuse to budge from your path. It made for an exhilarating 21km ride from the main gate all the way inside to the Hanuman temple.

I took a safari the next morning but the tiger was nowhere to be seen. Footprints- yeah just that and Sambhar, peacocks and langur.

BHANGARH

  • Bhangarh Fort, Rajasthan (Bhootiya jagah/Place of the haunted.)

Believed to be the most haunted place in India, Bhangarh fort is indeed secluded and has lots of scary stories around it. One(and the most popular one) which goes that a sorcerer was in love with Princess Ratnavati and tried to use black magic to make the princess fall in love with him. The princess came to know about it somehow and the sorcery failed, leading the King to sentence the magician to prison. It was during his last days behind bars that he cursed the place and it has been haunted thereafter.

On a weekend though, it is more of a picnic spot and a tourist attraction owing to the same stories. It’s medieval architecture and it’s lonely vibe though makes it a one time visit on a weekday maybe. Or during the night?

ALWAR

  • Oh ! The sunset from the boat at Silserh lake.

A stop at Alwar is obvious when traveling to Sariska or Bhangarh. What strikes about the place is its landscape. Mountain ranges of the Aravalis surround the town, making the setting of Alwar unique and attractive to the eye.

My stay here was short, although I made a point to visit the Bala Quila and the Silserh lake.

The way to the grand fort and the charming sunset from the boat at the lake. Dem feels! They should not be missed.

Not to forget the street food. You haven’t really explored a place until you have tried the local cuisine. And I believe, there is no better way. Well, I do my research(includes locals help) on which ones particularly. Inviting and much more satisfying to the tongue than the ones they dish you out at some high end rated restaurant.

Weekends? Weekdays? Change? Time? No time?

Take your bike and just leave. Period.

How to reach?

Delhi – Alwar – Sariska – Bhangarh.

Buses/Train ply from Delhi to Alwar. Not sure about any bus from Alwar to Sariska/Bhangarh. A private car can be hired but the best way is to drive on your own from Delhi itself.
Even better – RIDE.

RIDE.

Recommended.

A 3-day trip. Take your time.
I put up at Thanagazi and Alwar a night each.

Stay?

There are a lot of fancy resorts near the Sariska National Park. Pre-booking would definitely be better.
For travelers like me, there is this only small guest house in the town Thanagazi(10kms from National Park).  No booking required. 🙂

More of my travel stories :

The adventurous Lansdowne bike trip

Solo trek to mesmerizing Chandrashila

 

On the road to Lansdowne !

THE LONG NIGHT

It was 2 am on a Saturday at Meerut when we were looking for directions. A glance at the android phone and suddenly we found ourselves under the bike struggling to stand on our feet.

It was my first accident. Not particularly anything to be happy about at all, but I was. 😛 Thankfully, we were on a speed of only about 25 km/hr when Tushar asked me to have a look at the google maps.  It was a matter of seconds when the bike changed it’s course and drifted towards the footpath, full of stones. I lost control and the bike skid.

It was so sudden that it took us quite a while to realize what had happened. Two guys (who were enjoying their Friday night) on that lonely road came to our rescue. They helped us with the bike, provided water and accompanied us to the hospital.

We were in a bad state with wounds all over our elbows and knees. We could hardly walk. For a moment, the idea of returning back crossed our minds. But it was only for a moment. After a few bandages, injections and some pain killers, we were ready to hit the road again. Only this time, we were more cautious and it took us more than a minute to mount the bike with joints movable only to a limited angle.

  • Wounded and bruised but happy on the roads of NH-34.

THE ROADS 

Lansdowne is around 270kms from Delhi. Late night, we took the NH-34 which takes you through work in progress Ghaziabad to Meerut, to sugarcane fields and industry in Mawana, via Bijnor and Najibabad to Kotdwar. Though the roads from Mawana to Bijnor are in a state of ruin, the absolute dark stillness and the beautiful scenery afterwards made up for it. The early morning weather combined with the semi-rural setting was a delight to the urban eyes.

Roads and views only got better from Kotdwar where the slope to the hills begin. It was quiet throughout and we could feel a sense of calmness in the air.  Surrounded by pine trees, the roads were smooth and it was a pleasing ride. It was almost 11 when we reached.

  • Scenes at dawn.

 

LANSDOWNE

Lansdowne is a small and quiet town in the hills of Uttarakhand. Unlike popular hill stations, this is not crowded and is owing it’s population largely to the army cantonment. I hear people with statements such as –  “There is nothing quite(nothing fancy I suppose) in this town.” “There is not much of crowd.”

Well, that is what exactly is noteworthy about this serene place. The roads that lead you here (unless you are sleeping in your car with conditioned air), the ride, pine trees, army cantonment, the uncrowded town and it’s silence.

We explored the town pretty much on 2 wheels. To ride through the unknown town on your vehicle gives you a feeling that you are home. The place never felt like our first visit.

For people looking for weekend options, this is surely a pleasant getaway.

Tourist spots include Bhulla Tal lake, Tip n Top view point, St. Mary’s Church, Army Museum and Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple.  

** Special mentionLansdowne Trip Travel cafe. This is a must-visit. Check picture- in the photo slider below.

  • Road to Lansdowne.

Leave your comments for any questions. Anything.

 

How to reach?

Bus to Kotdwar from Delhi. An hour from Kotwar on a local bus/taxi.

Stay?

For budget travellers – There is a guest house near the Mall road itself. Do not really recall the name. Ask the locals.

Others – Lots online and even on the spot. It generally isn’t crowded.

Recommended.

RIDE from Delhi on your own. Long roads, countryside await.  🙂

Biking solo to Sariska-Bhangarh-Alwar!