One of my first trek in Mumbai was at Sandhan Valley. Since I am new to Mumbai and don’t know many people here I decided to look through Facebook to find some travelling group and that’s how I came to know about aberrant wanderers. I have one word for these guys and that’s “Awesome!”.
The whole trip was a wonderful experience. A trip with so many fond memories and with so many wonderful people. Sandhan Valley is an amazing place to trek. It’s not an easy one and you might have to climb, slide, roll, wade through hip-deep freezing water, rappel down waterfalls, it will definitely make you take a deep breath but the view you get to witness and the place you camp will definitely take your breath away! The leads were really amazing people. So patient, so caring and they took care of us from the beginning until the end. Kudos to Sanketh and team for organising this wonderful trek! To me personally, I don’t think I will be travelling with any other group other than Aberrant wanderers. I hope I can join you guys on another adventure really soon!
By Anand Ramanathan,
ABWs Sandhan Valley Trek on 25th-26th November 2017
Reaching Back to Hotel….. we found out that Anna was no more..
“Where is he.?” Giri sir asked me the moment he entered the hotel room… “He was okay when we left the hotel”, Anuj replied.
Every effort taken were in vain, because anna couldn’t make it and that was the saddest part after giving up on summit attempt.
An hour later, Ganesh’s phone got connected and it had a lady say something in tamil..
Though it meant that “the person you are trying to reach is unavailable” for us it meant “The person you are calling is ALIVE and is probably back to Chennai.
That prediction was made by us when she spoke in Tamil.
An hour Later, the hotel manager arrived and he told us that it was difficult for anna to sleep at night and so he headed back to Delhi. Later, anna explained all that happened to him and apologized for putting us in worry. So, after solving the mystery of Missing Anna, it was time to have a look at my darling.. My Nano! We had to leave the keys at the reception as the car was parked in a public parking which was under maintenance. The hotel manager told that he wanted to take a test drive so he had taken her away. When I started the car, I was @#%#$$^&*^%* to find out that the test drive was 108kms long. But that wasn’t the problem, the problem was that the car had started making noise which was horrible. And so, all the plans that we made of visiting Kargill and Dras had to be cancelled. Next day, we dropped Chirag at 6am to IXL airport and returned to the hotel. Giri and anuj were supposed to join us to manali but our nano turned auto-rickshaw didn’t seem to be ready for that tough journey with 4 people. We had 4 days to travel and the first half of day 1 went in fixing the car.
I had noticed the Tata service center on the way to stok and so we went there and got it fixed. To my surprise, they charged us almost nothing maybe because we had got a Nano the way from Rajasthan. Once the car was fixed, I called up Giri and anuj to join us till Manali but they din’t answer the call.
So, all the plan had to be changed and we decided to visit khardung la which was the closest & highest possible place where nano should go 😛 So we took a turn from the market and began our journey of 39kms.
“Khardung la” as hyped is the highest motorable pass of the world. we were stopped at first check post and the police didn’t allow to go ahead. After a short discussion he said, “Hum log itne mehnat se raste banate hai aur tum log Nano leke uska kachra kar dete ho!” and also he told us to click a photo at the top with the car or else he won’t allow us to return. Though it made us think again whether to go ahead or not, I couldn’t stop laughing on the way he said. But this wasn’t the first time some one had stopped us from going ahead nor we ever backed off from any road so without thinking much Niraj continued the drive. It was very motivating to see people running and cycling at such heights.
After the second check post, the road was not built so it was a task for Niraj to drive. And on top of that, every other car tried to overtake us and that was the most irritating part.
On the way, I managed to click few pictures of the car as well as of Stok which could be clearly seen from the pass. Reaching the pass, We were welcomed not by the riders, not even the hippies But by the Indian Army and that was a moment of pride.
After clicking few pictures, I took the wheel and continued our return journey. Yes! we did show the police our summit photos and made it back to Leh by 2pm. It was too hot to drive and so Sharma ji preferred to continue with the journey rather than halting somewhere and wasting time. And without a second thought, we just took off on the not-so-easy Leh-manali highway. We had no set plan, no idea where we would spend the night, where we were going to stop for dinner, nothing, just drive on that smooth road till Karu and capture the immense beauty of the barren desert in the small eyes for the last time.
We halted in between at thiksey for Lunch, had thupka and continued till Karu. It was 5 when we reached Karu and I saw the Board which showed Pangong Tso and Changla on the left 116kms away. Niraj calculated the number of days left and we decided to go. The road as usual wasn’t that good to cover 116kms in 3hours. Chang la turned out to be the toughest pass of the entire journey.
Reaching Chang la, we were greeted by Army men and offered Tea. When asked for name, “Sanket Sharma, hum dono bhai bhai hai.. ” And the look on Niraj’s face as if some one had bursted a balloon in front of his face.. It was funny moment. But then I realized why the army people were so good to us, because our number plate had “RJ” return on it. Having someone from your local place is always a happy thing. And I have that habit of greeting these life-savers where ever I come across them.
It was 7pm when we left Chang la and Niraj was terribly tired and it was getting dark which meant that it was my time to drive. Also, another reason for me to drive was that I showed Niraj few accident vehicles fallen in the Valley which scared him to death.. 😛 Sorry for that Sharma ji.!
Driving at night.. that too on curves and driving a Nano is like a water park slide.. smooth.. and fun, especially when you are with a guy who doesn’t have faith in your driving at all and screams on almost every single turn you take and all it does is make you drive faster. We reached Dubruk at around 8 and halted for Tea. Ah! I can never forget that place, it totally felt like I was in some other Country like Kazakhstan or some where up there. To my surprise, the truck drivers who had halted there had a laptop and many pen-drives. I was caught by them and made to transfer songs from laptop to all pen-drives and some other technical stuff. Even though our time was getting wasted, I had no option but to do what they said, because a truck can easily crush a Nano 😛
Somehow, we managed to move out and resumed our journey. Road from Tangtse is super cool as it is totally under BRO. After an hours drive, we came on a junction and had no idea where to go. I found a hotel where a person was sitting inside on a table. I asked Niraj to ask him which was the correct route. Niraj, already scared, went on the door, knocked it, no reply, I could see the whole scenario from the car, pitch dark night, a hut with a big window from which i could see the guy sitting and a green door where niraj was standing and knocking. After getting tired of knocking on the door niraj began to bang the window pane, But that shitty thing din’t move an inch. I realized that something was terribly wrong so I came on the driver’s seat and began the car and asked Niraj to hurry up. We took the road ahead and didn’t stop for few kilometers until we found a police check post and they told us that it was the right way. Relaxed, after that I continued the journey, the skies were never seen so beautiful nor were the silhouette mountains. We were so happy and relaxed that I was ignoring the streams and just rushing through that cold flow of water. Li’l ahead, I saw a milestone which stated Pangong Tso 12 kms. So I drove faster and ran into a stream.. a stream which didn’t seem to get over and before I could realize anything, the whole Nano was sunked in mud. Niraj shouted and stopped me from turning off the car. Neither of us had the balls to get down in that cold water and check what had happened.. but Sharma Ji got down and checked the tyres.
With every round that he took around the car his face was pissed more and more. I realized that this time the condition was worse because the moment i opened the door water came in the car and which meant that the entire Tyre was under water. Luckily the exhaust tip was just 4 fingers above the water level. Niraj tried to push the car but all our efforts only made the car go deeper in the sticky mud.
That was the worst scenario of all time because it were just the two of us on Indo-Tibet Border, no one to come for help in 10 kms radius unless an National Emergency was declared. We had eaten up all the sweets given by Bapuji and had nothing left except 6 candy and a super scared friend who couldn’t think anything in that freezing temperature. Why did we decide to visit this creepy lake and again all the invisible fingers pointed at me. But sharma ji were so scared that he had no energy left to scold me. I went all the way back to check what were we into. And i found out that the nullah’s wall was broken and so the water had covered the road. Temperature was falling and there was no point in pushing the car as the exhaust pipe would get inside water. So I asked Niraj to take some stones and put it under the exhaust to prevent water entering in it. After that we got in the car, and convinced each other that this is just like anyother times and that we’ll make it through this too. We tried to sleep but the cold was so much that it was impossible to sleep, so I took off Anna warmers, and pulled over. Luckily, anna had forgotten his bag at the hotel.
At 3 am. when I woke up, I opened the door to check the water and to my surprise the water had reduced. That was kinda magical but whatever it was, was a good thing. I woke up Niraj to show that and turned off the car. The next moment i tried to start, it didn’t work and all the smile that Sharma had by looking at water ran away with the flow and he broke into tears. I was laughing at myself because i knew that the car wont start ever again and that it was over. I had no energy left to convince niraj and so i told him to sleep. Poor chap, he dozed off crying and me too. Next, we woke up at 5:30 in the morning and we decided to get help i mean Sharma ji decided to get help and so he took his jacket and went back from where we came. The stream had almost dried up and I saw the reality. But it was so cold, i got back in the car and dozed off. After an hour later I could hear a trucks noise and before i could get up and check, Sharma banged the door and told me to get the rope and carabiners as he had got an uncle for help. We made the setup and he began to pull, It was difficult for him too as the tyre were stuck deep in. but the moment it came off.. he took the car like the Villain takes the hero who is tied to his car in Bollywood movies. He took us for 4 kms and told that the road ahead is pretty good. We reached Pangong at 7 in the morning.
And that was the Pangong Tso, less known for its spectacular beauty and more for the “3 idiots” scene…
We had the typical maggi breakfast, took few shots and moved ahead to check if we could meet our friends sandy and anurag who were supposed to be there the earlier night. We turned back and headed back to Changla. On the way i came across this,
At changla ,our dear army men invited us for lunch and we had a great time there. After all, Sharma ji ki shaan hi kuch alag hai.. 😛
While descending Chang la, one of the Enfield’s Himalayan rider pissed me off and thus we got into race.. Luckily Niraj was asleep, so i had full freedom to drive in full swing.. As i got down, the heat and the rage got more and more… And before i could loose it, Niraj woke up and i slowed down. By the time our race ended, we had made it down and i let that Anna riders go.
While having Lunch at karu, we found some Maharashtrians who were amused to see us. They had noticed my “race” and so they started asking me about everything. The funny part was that they called the “Passes” as “ghats” and I was like “some people never change.” That was one hell of a experience, the night we spent, the time at the lake, the mile stone, the army people everything was written. We didn’t miss a day, we lived it. We had 2 days left and so we had no other option but to refill our cans and tank and began our return journey to the land where we came from.. The Land of Rama..
Stok Kangri – A name that always made my eyes pop-out whenever someone told me about it.!
Living up-to my dreams of doing at least 3 himalayan treks in a year, I decided to do Stok as the third one of the season.
Accordingly, we took a road-trip to leh From Jaipur in a Nano.
Meeting Chirag after two long years was a treat. Even after staying 2kms close, we never met in Mumbai. So had a lot to talk and share about. Next day morning I was introduced to the team.
Giri and Anuj were going to be our guide. Sandesh and Anurag were from Nasik, Chirag and we three idiots (Ganesh Anna, Niraj & me). Being an high altitude trek ,it is recommended to get acclimatize well so we went out for an acclimatization walk. On our Previous trip to leh, we had missed Leh Palace n Shanti Stupa so it was a good decision to visit them.
Entering the Leh Palace, first thing that crosses your mind is the “Height”. Wonder how the tiny King stayed in that palace for a lifetime. We walked up the trail and headed to the palace above leh palace. It offers a very good view from the Top. But I was told that Stupa had more scenic view and so we proceeded through the streets of Leh.
Walking through the streets of Leh, you realize that everything is so “pretty and cute” there. I mean the kids and the veggie farms.
Stupa is really a good place to visit, peaceful and a scienic one. We headed down from the stairs and made our way back to our guesthouse through the market. I had never seen the other end of the market and so was surprised to see so many foreigners on the way.
Post Lunch we were hanging out in the hotel and got our equipment checked for the trek. Evening time was spent in the market to purchase whatever was left out. Also, we had to visit our
beloved over-priced Doctor friend who’s fees made us sick every time. But this time Anna had decided to get the most out of it and thus the moment he asked for Tea, a spontaneous YES! came out from him. After having delicious dinner, we returned to the hotel where Giri and Anuj briefed us about the whole trek.
Day 2 of the trek began where we were supposed to trek upto Camp 2 which was Mankormo at an elevation of 4400mtrs. Trek to Mankormo is a boring one.. with lot of walk.. and morraine.. and the sharp mountain edges..
Somehow I never had that exciting feeling about this trek.. maybe.. because of the hectic drive from Jaipur.. through those killer passes.. though I was totally fit physically. It was a new experience to meet unusual and professional trekkers from all over the globe. I always love to learn something new from everything that I come across.. be it a person.. a path.. a mountain.. etc. We began late but had a good pace so made it by 5pm.
Mankormo is located at a perfect location.. can be rightly said as the “turning point” of the trek. With little headache in everyone’s head, no one was in a mood to setup camp and make arrangements for food. Somehow I gathered energy and helped the cook and Anuj to settle things. It was first night of the trek so it had to be spent out in the open. But then, the “not so excited” mood continued and I hopped back into the sleeping bag and the day ended with sandy’s voice calling me out of tent.
Day3 of the trek starts with the most idiotic but good thing of the camp site. To use only public washrooms, good and bad at the same time.. good for the environment and bad because it had no doors. So, we had to go in pairs.. with or with our partner in crime.. 😛 After winding up the camp, we headed to the Base Camp of Stok which was 500mtrs higher than Monkormo. A nice hike of 3hours with gradual incline and pretty Marmots welcoming us.. After climbing up the last patch before base camp, It feels like you are on something big and serious mission.
The grandeur of Base camp is just amazing. I had slight headache which went off as I had warm water.. Others.!! were terribly exhausted and I could see the “low oxygen effects”. Everyone went to sleep as soon as the camp was setup. Me, on the other hand.. took out my camera.. & JBL.. and was enjoying the silence and the super wide spread beauty of those Barren Mountains and skies..
On our back side.. was the gateway to Heaven.. The road to summit of Stok.. I could see people coming one by one and then reaching the campsite by and hour where they were welcomed by their team mates.. Some happy to ‘make it’.. Some.. happy to get ‘back alive’.. and some happy to see them “make-it-back-alive”
Post Lunch, I visited the place where Mobile network was there.. It was very touching to see people’s face after talking to their loved ones.. And I still wonder why I lack “that” feeling…
Anyway.. talking about the trek.. We went to the adjacent peak and almost gained around 5oomtrs which was a very satisfying achievement for me.. and others too..
We sat for a moment.. enjoyed the view, saw the most Famous Khardung La Pass until the weather turned Bad and we made our way back to the camp.
Later, that evening during dinner, our guide and cook told us that the weather has remained bad from past two days. But we were too busy with food to think about the weather.
Anna and Sandy had puked earlier so they were skipping food…
Due to Rains, everyone went in tents and slept.. Me and Niraj were listening to songs and even anna fell asleep in few minutes.. I remember the time on my watch.. 9:35PM and Niraj was telling about his new wife.. I mean his new life.. and we dozed off.
“Machan… please wake up Machan.. I’m not able to breathe..”
That was Anna’s Voice with a severe fear in it.. and I woke up in all my senses the moment I saw him. And Later the discussion went like..
Me : What Happened Anna?
Ganesh : Don’t know Machan.. I’m getting bad dreams…
Me: What kind of dreams machan??
Ganesh : I feel like you are running behind me trying to hold my neck and kill me.. and so I run from you and get into a house where two women are doing something to me..
Me : WHAT!? Why would I do that.? Have some water machan… you might have got suffocated..
The most terrifying moment was when he couldn’t balance himself.. he was getting Hallucinations…. he had lost his balance totally.. Somehow I lifted him, took him out and gave him hot water… made him walk, tried to bring him back to senses and made him familiar with the scenario.. After few minutes he was relaxed and we went back to sleep..
But it didn’t end there.. I could hear him murmuring in sleep and all I heard was.. “Please save me machan.. I don’t want to die.. I have two families to take care of.. I want to get married..”
And the most quick reaction from my tiny brain was a slap.. I woke up Niraj and told that something is seriously wrong with Anna. I went out and knocked on Giri and Anuj’s tent..
Giri asked me what was the matter.. I could figure out that he was in deep sleep.. but I had to inform him and so I told him about ganesh’s body loosing his balance And the reply I got was.. “Left me gir raha hai.?? Toh left me sula do usko..”
And that was the most funniest moment of the whole Trek.. I was laughing out lying on the ground like an idiot.. coz only I knew the reason.. Somehow I controlled my smile.. got back and asked him to give Diamox to Ganesh.. because nothing was possible to do at night.
Giri sir came out and checked with Ganesh.. convinced him that everything will be alright and have a good sleep..
But things just got worse in the morning and Ganesh couldn’t even get up from the place..
Yesterday I had seen a group of experienced Himalayan doctors in our neighbour camp. So I asked Giri to call them and made them check Ganesh. The moment they checked his Lungs they realized that it was a case of HAPE(High Altitude Pulmonary Adema) in which water starts accumulating in our Lungs..
I have always admired these foreign climbers for their skills and Safety measures, whereas we Indians have that “Chalta hai” atitude which leads to most of accidents..
So they gave some first aid injections to Anna and told us to lower him immediately..
But it was difficult to find a mule so early in the morning. So We were left with no choice but to make a stretcher and lower Anna. Unfortunately, all the money makers organizers were not ready to share a rope for the same..
Looking at the Delay, One of the Doctors scolded us in Dutch and which meant that we had only 1hr to lower him down or else he’ll die.
Hearing his words.. I decided to carry him on back and descend down.. And Me,Giri, anuj and our guide took him to Monkormo..
Being an emergency, we were in our true form.. we descended in and hour and made Anna rest were constantly checking his oxygen level and pulse. But he didn’t feel better and so Anuj,Puran and me decided to take him to Leh.
Giri had asked me to Stop and let anuj and puran do the needful. But Anna used to take my name more number of times than he took of the almighty.. Which left me no choice but to go along with him..
We made it to Stok village by 3PM.. By the time we reached stok… Anna was back in action.. guess the medicines worked well… We took him to leh Hospital as a formality and got him checked.
After visiting Leh Hospital, My love for Leh increased by 100times. To know the reason, get admitted.:P
We were looking at the Peak and could see the change in weather and all it got was “ugly” After skipping two dishes anna had a half parantha and we went back to our hotel.
Now, all I had in mind was whether to attempt the summit in a day or to stay back and wait for the team. Anuj and me had something different after 3days of same food at camp. People were surprised to see me online 2days before the schedule. I asked Anuj whether it was a good decision to climb up or to stay back. He agreed and we went back to sleep.
Day 5 of the trek was a big day for me.. as I had decided to do something that was very challenging for me.. But as per my calculations we made it to monrkorma within 1.5hrs and till Base camp in another 1.5hrs… I took 2 hours as it was not that easy for me.. The moment we reached base camps all the dull faces of our team mates bloomed. The reason behind the dull faces was the ‘ugly climate’ which was saw from Leh the other day..
Gaining 1600mtrs in a day had started showing its effect on my body.. AMS.. and I was half dead after an hour.. skipped food.. couldn’t sleep for the summit.. and refused to take Diamox..
We began our summit at 11:34 at midnight.. other groups had started off two hours early and they were pretty ahead of us. Niraj and me shared a single sack which made us tired halfway..
We made it somewhere near shoulder of the peak and I decided to return.. So me and niraj returned at 5am.. as I lowered my condition began to get worse.. After every 10 steps I use to sit and puke.. I had no idea why I backed off from that height.. but after looking at myself.. I feel that it was the right decision..! We reached back in our tents at 6:15am and fell asleep.
I could hear sandy’s voice and it was 9:45.. but I preferred to rest than to go out and ask what happened.
So, at 11:30, when i finally woke up, I came to know that Chirag was the only one who summitted and rest whole team had returned.. I was very happy for Chirag to make it to the summit as he wasn’t well during the whole trek. After the summit attempt, no one was interested to stay a minute more at the base camp as it was their 3rd day and the weather wasn’t so pleasing…
But we had to wait because of the mules. All we could do is play cards and enjoy music, drain all the power banks.. and eat pakodas.. 😀
Next Day We left for Leh, it was a fun descend.. biding adieu to the mighty Stok.. those tiny marmots.. blue sheeps.. It was like.. I had byhearted the route in those 3times of ascend and descends..
So, I was enjoying a lot.. skipping stones.. jumping from one boulder to other.. matching giri’s pace and breaking our own records..
Everyone was pretty swift until i took out JBL and everyone’s pace slowed down.. and people began to dance while walking on their way down.. 😛
Reaching back to Hotel.. we found that Anna was no more..
….Until I noticed that the speedometer wasn’t working and there was some jerk every time Anna raised the accelerator.. But somehow I convinced Anna that it must be due to some loose bolt and he managed to convince me that speedometer is the last thing that we needed. Bunty’ a local builder who had helped us get the plate all the way from Kullu.. was guiding us till Udaipur which was 60kms ahead. Being the only well experienced driver, Anna decided to drive on the off-road track till Udaipur.
I was ordered to sleep.. but sleeping in a Nano.. that too on off-roads.. was next to impossible.. So I took my camera and Gopro and began to capture the amazing wide scenery of Pangi Valley.. We were told by Bunty to avoid any turns and continue straight on Tandi road.
After covering 35kms we reached Mindhal.. a small settlement of 15-20 houses.. Even they were surprised to see a Nano on that road.. and assured us that we were not going to reach Keylong on the same day. By this time we had learned to ignore everyone who used to say that we won’t make it or the car wont make it till Leh…
We halted for few minutes, took some snaps.. some chips.. and Real Juice that too.. Pomegranate flavor *Yuck* and moved ahead..
It was getting dark and we were told about few streams that could be dangerous to the car. So we hurried up but the avg speed just increased from 18km/hr to 20kms/hr. Somehow we crossed those deadly rock cut roads and entered Lahual region by 8pm.
I was lying on the back seat and was wondering, “what if this journey never ended..??” and the sudden smile which came straight from the heart can’t be described in words. Lying on the back seat.. with your favourite track playing.. legs half out of the window.. watching mountains n valleys turn by turn.. with your loved ones.. heading to your dream destination.. and memories of past few days spent at a Village whose name you never heard of.. those Punctual faces.. some that I talked with.. some I wished to talk with… funny moments at the govt. hospital… view from the Hotel.. watching Enfieldmaniacs making their way.. Ahh.!! Life had never been so happening before.. 😀
And as I was lost in those happy memories.. Ganesh Anna woke me up and said.. “Machan, we’ve got a stream to cross ra..”
As I opened the door, I could hear the same familiar noise of the running water of the stream… and the chilling water brought me back to my senses. Though the streams were wider than Saach’s, they were easier to cross as if the pebbles were paved..
The slowly increasing speed showed the frustration of Anna.. Until we saw the river.. Chenab was showing it’s wrath and that made us go slow from there onward.. I had seen Chandra River in Spiti but Chenab’s Flow was worse.!!
As we had a lot of distance to cover, we kept on moving.. After crossing 3 streams and covering a stretch of another 45kms, we reached Udaipur. But we didn’t halt as it was the Tar road which was our main target and not the town. Finally we came across a dhaba and Anna stopped the car. It took us 6hrs to cover 85kms..We met a very nice guy at the dhaba who was happy to see kids who were addicted to travel rather than anything else. It always makes me feel good when someone admires what you do.. rather than making you realise that you are riding in a Nano.!
Moving ahead.. we crossed few more police check posts and villages..and at last we came on the Manali-Leh Highway at Tandi.
Before starting this trip, Anna and me had decided that we are not going to refer anything on the net regarding the route from Jaipur to Leh. That was so foolish of me.. but Anna being the eldest had got information from which we came to know that there was a petrol pump in Jispa which was 19kms ahead of Keylong.. The place where we stopped to exchange the drivers.. I came across this..
It was 1:30am, Niraj took the wheel and continued the journey.. I could see Lightening behind the mountain ranges.. that made me worried.. also I saw some trees and electric wire poles fallen along the road.. Sharma Ji always looked sleepy whenever he used to concentrate on driving. He never noticed anything going on along the roads.. And that use to make me scream out loud..
Well… after getting down to Jispa, I felt asleep but Sharma Ji woke me up and said that there was no petrol pump till Jispa. So we took those printouts and checked for the nearest pump. It showed Tandi which was 26kms behind, the same point where we joined the highway. Sharma’s pissed off face made me realise that again we were in deep trouble.. because we were already driving on Reserved petrol.. (usual thing) and that the car could go only 21kms.
Without thinking much, we took a detour and started back journey to Tandi.. It had started raining by that time.. Sharmaji used to drive in full swing and then used to take the car on Neutral to save petrol.. I felt asleep as I didn’t sleep during the entire journey.
A loud screeeching sound made me wake up and as I looked in the rear mirror I saw a live electric cable stucked with the wheel..
“Gaadi rok Bh******” I yelled at Niraj… Sharma applied urgent brakes.. and I opened the door, but then I saw the pole from where the wire came and it was sparkling out blue sparks. My eyes were wide open.. Without any thought… I told Niraj to take the car back slowly..
And the moment the wire got off the wheel.. it was pulled by the falling pole and it went off the road like a snake with sparks coming out of it..
Damn.!! What was that..!!?? I Looked at Niraj with a BIG ? mark.. Then I realized what was I about to do.. Free a Live wire with bare hands..??
I imagined myself like those people who touch the Railway’s current wire and get turned down into ashes.. That moment still brings goosebumps as I describe it. Then came the funny part, I turned back to Anna and he was looking at me and niraj with a blank face as he had no idea what could have happened a minute ago. That didn’t stopped me scolding Niraj.. but we had to continue as we were running out of fuel.
Two kilometers after that horrible incident.. Sharma ji had almost taken us into Heaven… YES.!! He had missed a sharp curve and the tiny little car was hanging on a cliff with only two tyres on road and front tyres was almost hanging…
As I looked back.. Anna had already jumped off the car and I couldn’t stop laughing… I still remember Sharma half crying and half laughing..
Until the car moved a bit and made us realize that it can fall any moment and that we should be saving our lives rather than laughing like idiots..
So I came out of the car.. called anna and pushed her back and somehow got her back on road.. Phew.! The roadtrip was getting worse with every hour.. As I got in, I could see sharma ji getting sentimental.. and saying “Saale, marte waqt bhi mera sath nahi chda..”(Din’t leave me even while dying) And I forgot all my anger.. Phew.! Shit happens.. that’s all I could say..
Anna took back the wheel and drove the car till petrol pump.. last 3kms stretch on neutral mode.. amazing he is.. during that time Niraj was trying to explain that he wasn’t sleepy..
We reached The pump at 4:30am.. and had one more problem.. that was the pump opens at 6:30am. So we stood in the que and slept off in the car itself. As we woke up, we saw 50more vehicles in the que and those who had returned from Leh told us that they took 12hours and some took 10hours..
We refilled the extra fuel gallons and estimated that we would require 14hours to reach Leh. Unfortunately, we had spent all our time i.e. 3days in Khillar so we were running a day behind. Anna drove till Deepak Tal and had missed a check post that got me worried as I didn’t want any more trouble. But the dhaba guy told us to get it done at Sarchu. To my surprise, I saw a group of foreigners littering around the super beautiful Deepak Taal.
As we crossed ZingZing la, all we could see were barren brown shades of mountains, army camps and cantt. and army trucks.. “Trishul”
On the way, there was a bridge being repaired so every bike, car, truck and Cycles.. were stopped.
It was no new thing so see Majority of People from Maharashtra. Those who were more adventurous, took the alternative route of the stream. People were praising each other and their rides.. and as we joined the cue, everyone was like.. “Fuck dude.! That’s one hell of a ride..” In reality, all they meant to say was that.. “saala nano kaise aa gayi.!?” 😛
Journey resumed and it was noon when we crossed the famous Barala Cha pass and I realized that the car wasn’t moving anymore.
As I opened my eyes, I saw both my takudoos sleeping.. which was quite obvious thing after previous nights incidents.. So.. it was my time to take the wheel and complete the journey. Sarchu to Pang is a stretch of 190kms with 2 passes in between..
As I was the only one who was awake.. I decided to wear my gloves which I had specially got for this drive and play Martin’s UMF’16 set while driving. I used to calculate time with the track. So I drove for 3 hours on the challenging Gata Loops and crossed Nakeela Pass(15,547ft), which I found as the 2nd most difficult pass after Saach(14,000ft).
Also, I managed to escape from 2 close to death incidents which my friends are still unaware of.. 😛
We halted for brunch from where Anna’s health started worsening.. Now I had many things to do at the same time.. to keep Anna and Sharmaji motivated.. to capture the amazing scenery around.. change the tracks every time and most important of all.. to drive carefully..!
Later, sharma ji took the wheel as he wanted to drive on atleast 1 Pass.. so he completed lalchung la(16,616ft) and made it till Morey Plains.
Niraj was driving in full swing on the buttery roads of Morey Plains.. The terrain changes so drastically as you climb you from Pang. Morey Plains offers a view of what you call as the exact definition of Ladakh.
By the time we reached Debring.. the sun had began to set and we had to stop for a refill. During the whole journey, Petrol was leaking off the gallons so the whole car was smelling petrol. We had a relief as we emptied a can into the car. I continued to drive.. but my happiness was short lived as I saw a thin line drawn on the mountain ahead.. it was a pass.. a big one.. The car was already tired after a day’s non stop journey.. It never crossed 60kmph.. Also it never ran in 2nd gear.. so.. every time it used to get slow Sharmaji used to laugh at me.. Being the only source of entertainment, I continued the driving.. As we reached the top, we were overwhelmed with joy to see that our Takudoo had made it to the second highest pass i.e. Tanglang La(17582ft). Also, we were glad that this was the last pass of the journey and the road was in very good condition.
It began to snow as we crossed the pass. Things changed, and my driving skills too.. I finally understood how to save fuel by driving in Neutral gear.. 😛 As we got back on the curves, Sharmaji’s fear came back.. but he couldn’t stop smiling.. I knew that it was due to High altitude sickness.. so I ignored him and continued to drive. But, after some point of time.. I felt like a hand was coming close to me and adjusting the rear mirror.. I felt it many times and then it clicked me that I was getting hallucinated too and that we should lower down as soon as possible.
It got dark and as we reached Rhumtse, we realised that sharmaji didn’t make any calls to his beloved Bapuji. The only place where one can find a network is Upshi which was 52kms ahead. So Without thinking much we continued the journey. Anna was sleeping since afternoon due to headache.
For some reasons, my driving skills were exceptionally well.. and I could make that out on Sharmaji’s face.. with every curve he used to tell me to slow down and I used to speed up.. The more I drove the car, the more I fell in love with it. And finally we made it to Upshi by 9pm.
Entering JnK was a headache.. We were forced to pay Excise duty for which Sharmaji questioned the authority and got into a quarrel but unfortunately we had to pay. After the most important call of the day, I somehow got in touch with our teammate Chirag, who was supposed to join us for the expedition. He assured us that all the arrangements had been made and that we need not hurry. After listening to Chirag’s word, I was relieved. Next important thing was Food.!! After rejecting 2 dishes, Anna finally had half chapati.
So after so much of adventure in a day we finally reached Leh. Anuj and Giri Sir greeted us but we were too tired to tell them about the entire journey. The next thing that came in my mind was the expedition.. Stok Kangri.. for which all this efforts were taken…
Tanvi’s dad had already marked us “3 idiots” after listening to our decision.
This wasn’t the first time someone had asked us such exclamating questions.
It all started with a thought of doing the Stok Kangri Trek which is considered as one of the toughest trek in Himalayas.
To Reach Leh by road, one has to take the Manali-leh highway or Srinagar-leh highway both of these routes are considered as dangerous routes in the world.
But God wanted us to add some more adventure to our journey, so we took a detour and took another route which goes via Saach Pass and connects Chamba Valley with Pangi Valley. This stretch of 167kms is total offroad and driving a Nano was like watching an ant climb a hillock.
After witnessing the patroitic grandeur of the Retreat ceremony at Attari, we left the border at 7pm and drove till Pathankot without any major halts. After continuously driving for 6hours,anna had began to feel sleepy.. but being a confident driver he managed to cover another 30kms stretch after which he gave up.
all this time, the owner of the car Mr. Sharma was asleep and remained in the same position until I took the wheel 😛 I still remember that big question mark on his face while asking me “Tumhe driving aati hai.?”
So now it was my turn to continue the journey and reach till keylong which was our next halt as planned. Watching me drive sharma ji was impressed and scared at the same time… because I almost felt like I was driving in some NeedForSpeed racing game.
The super curvy roads with Jackals hopping in between and the gradually increasing depth of valley with every turn made me happier and sharmaji scarier…
After riding for another 5hrs, I managed to reach Bairagad, the last place where you’ll get a petrol pump before the off road of Saach paas begins.
Early morning view from the petrol pump was amazing. That also made us realized that we were at a good elevation.. of almost 6oooft.
Anna had already made provisions for extra fuel, so we had an equal amount of fuel with the car’s capacity.The roads after the pump kept on climbing and climbing and every village that we came across after that had lesser number of house than the previous ones. Also, sharmaji observed that even the people were getting lazier as all doors were shut and it felt like some haunted village. But sharma ji couldn’t make out that someone close to him was also getting lazy and dizzy… yeah, that was me.!! 😛
After driving on those short curves for whole night long, I had started slightly losing control on the wheel. And then it happened…
My hands got loose and the car went towards the cliff side. Luckily, anna noticed it and within no time he pulled the steering on the left and lifted the handbrake.!
After that incident, it took us 10minutes to get back to normal.. because everyone had imagined themselves in the valley inside a small wrecked car.
That left No chance of me driving again for the day.. that was for sure.!
So anna took the wheel back in hand and continued the journey…
After around 16kms of drive we saw a glimpse of how the rest of our journey is going to be… through streams… I mean.. pushing the cutie pie Nano through the streams..
We had no other choice so without complaining me and sharma ji started pushing her through uphill offroads.. through stones and pebbles.
The 1st tough climb had damaged her parts and we could make out from the smell which was of the clutch plate… Anna and me knew that it was the plate which was getting worn out, but it wasn’t sufficient to convince the owner. so we took a break and refilled our bottles and stomach.
After a km ahead again the offroad continued… and then we realized that we were at 7800ft and climbing.. Getting at this height was no doubt an achievement, but it started making us exhausted and that made our halts bigger and bigger.. Everytime sharma ji n me used to push that little toy car up, anna used to take it 200-300mtrs ahead on a flat road.. Those 300mtrs we felt like… 2 zombies walking in that lushed green forest pathway.. slowly gathering all breathe and taking a step..slipping our feet from stones at times and yet going till the car and getting in because it was quite cold and we were hungry. so we decided to halt and have some energy.
The amount of greenery and the beauty of the Chamba Valley cannot be described in words.. Those coniferous tall trees,some fallen some risen till the skies… the sharp cuts in the mountains.. water streams making their way through them.. the depth of the valley with a steep slope and still we could see some routes climbing up… the sound of the water gushing through huge boulders was so constant.. and yet the chirpping of the birds was so loud and clear as if someone had the control on these voices.. it was 8:38am, I remember, I could see the sun on the other mountain range and here, it was dark due to the forest cover…
“Abey chal jaate hai..” sharma ji said.. and that made me get back to the reality that we had 114kms of offroading left and that too in an extra-ordinary vehicle.
The ” Push-Run-Rest-Repeat” mode continued till we reached checkpost which was at an alti of 10500ft. Hats-off to those guys who stand there throughout the year irrespective of the worse climatic conditions.
Himachalis have always been kind.. and that always make me feel at home.
to my surprise they also clicked our pictures as record. We met a group of Enfield riders who were returning half way as it was too difficult to cross the road ahead.. that made us nervous at first.. but as decided, “chahe kuch bhi ho.. Nano ‘Leh’ jeyenge” and we started the Engine.. the so called auto-rickshaw sound began and it grabbed the attention of all the police n locals who were at the post..
Luckily, the road was good.. with even surface.. lesser potholes.. low gradient climb.. but a continous one.. “Takudoo” as anna called the nano which meant “dear” in his language.. managed to reach atop Saach and that brought a smile to our faces.
But this smile was short lived as we realised that we had an equal amount of road left for descend. Descend began.. the top of Saach’s road had Ice walls as tall as around 10ft. Getting down turned out to be more risky as steering used to rotate on it’s own due to rocks. Somehow Sharmaji managed to make it halfway down at the dhaba where everyone was found busy as the local forest minister was supposed to visit anytime. Without taking much rest and food we continued our journey to Keylong.
Road after the dhaba was more curvy and tiring… after an hour anna gave up and I had to bounce back in the Driver’s seat. Being the culprit of this trip, I had no other choice but to get the trio out of this “suddenly turned into a nightmare” Road trip. This time I kept the music loud so that I won’t fall asleep and continued to drive.. After ending up the valley, we crossed a river and made our way to the nearest village Khillar. Before we could take a deep breathe and relax, our car got stuck into mud and got stuck.. Anna tested all his skills to get the car but ended up in vain. And then tragedy stroked and the car broke.
After half an hour, I managed to ask a Taxi person to tow the car and park it at the local garage. Luckily, I had carried a rope and carabiners to tow so half of the towing job was done.
It was the 1st time, people of Khillar had seen a Nano coming from Saach and making it to Khillar. Two mechanics refused to look into the car and check for the fault. But then there was this guy Sanju, who had migrated from Manali and so he had a fair idea about the car. After diagnosing he told us that the clutch plate had completely worn out and that it had to be ordered all the way back from Chamba. We made up our mind that it was going to be a long stay here.
Accordingly, we kept our luggage in the garage and went to explore the tiny village of Khillar. Next Day, I woke up and realized that we had actually spent a night in the garage.
The view that we saw after opening the shutter of the garage was something one will ever dream of seeing through their windows. Two huge mountains,with roads which looked like small lines drawn on them and a furious flowing river deep down the valley. Looking at the river reminded me that we came up all the way up from there. Getting out of the garage, I came across the hotel which we were searching earlier for Dinner. Anna and Sharma had skipped food because they were very disappointed so they were hogging breakfast as if it was the last one.
The Hotel stood at a perfect location because it was just above the garage which turned out to be our home for one more day. Sadly, no clutch plate was available in Chamba town.. By that time, almost half of the village had began to knew us.
So, one of them found out a way to get the plate from Kullu which was far away from the small village that was in the Pangi Valley. That night, the mechanic had went somewhere far to fix a truck and had left the whole garage on some 3 unknown kids whom he didn’t knew at all.
It was 2nd evening and all we could do is watch the sun set behind the Mountains sitting on the tractor which was lying beside our broken Nano.
3rd Day started with a short run down the lane and while running down, we saw Sanju coming back in a truck and that made us head back to the garage. The moment I reached back, I saw a box which was kept outside of garage. With every cover that i unfolded, i couldn’t stop smiling.. the plate had arrived.!
Now, came the 2nd half of the major Task.. fixing the plate and putting up everything back in it’s place. Sanjay had taken a day and half to dismantle the car and that had given a fair idea that he is going to take atleast a day to fix it. So I decided to help him in every possible way to get it done fast.. Meanwhile, Anna and SharmaJi preferred taking a bath on 4th day after 2days of convincing to the cunning manager of Raj Hotel.
Lifting an engine all by yourself is not an easy job. But getting out from here is all i had in mind. So my little brain made a pulley with everything i had and lifted the engine and allowed Sanju to fix it. By this time, it was noon and Sanju had began to lose patience.. after every 30minutes, he used to smoke a Bidi, change the spanner and would get under the car and continue his fixing job.
Finally, the car got ready by 4pm. After a test drive by Anna it was ready to roll. We all had nothing in our stomach so had to eat first before starting our journey to Keylong which was still 110kms ahead.
Almost everyone who knew that we were leaving greeted and wished us a happy and safe journey and gave us the maps and directions to Keylong..
Everything went will in the first 3kms until…..
Day 0 started. with a random plan of attending a cousin friend’s wedding and then joining the team for the frozen river trek. After some wonderful moments spent at the big fat wedding, our journey began in the cutest car.. Nano.! We covered 2000kms in 9days.. Staying in 4star hotels… in Palaces.. to 3star hotels and in a “5billion star hotel” along the smooth and never ending highways, getting trolled on some of the hilarious moments… listening to some evergreen classic Hindi songs…in freezing temperatures .. making new friends… & eating super delicious and utterly butterly food, was just all we needed to make a perfect road trip.!
Visiting the two most beautiful cities of Rajasthan, and some of the most amazing Forts ever built… it was indeed a dream come true..
The City of Jaipur
BUT.!! this wasn’t a “wanderers” style of trip. So.. to add some thrill we visited the over hyped and so called haunted Fort.. Haunted Fort Of Bhangarh..
After a disappointing horror visit, my beloved friend Niraj came up with an idea of visiting a temple where ghosts visit and worship their lord..
Yes.! we did the most thrilling and disturbing visit (as expected it to be…) to Mehndipur Balaji.. and our ghost buster Advaiya managed to click some videos and clicks of the horror temple…crazy guy..
Spending 9days in Rajasthan making some unforgettable memories… it was so difficult to say goodbye to the Pink city and move to our most awaited destination.. “The Chadar trek”
It’s took 4years to let this dream come true.. but it was worth waiting that long..
….End of (Part-I “A Dream come true”)… ……..(Part-II “Chadar Trek”)
Mehndipur Balaji: The only witch temple for live exorcism in India….
A trip to see live exorcism of ghosts the path to the Land of Exorcism in dausa district of Rajasthan
The legendary Mehandipur Balaji Temple, the only place in India were hundereds of people cursed with evil spirits visit get relived of evil spirits and ghosts…
It is been often said those who willing to visit the temple get some sort of hurdles on the way…
Some peoples even say that this holy place is bestowed with such power that it could turn atheistic to a theist…some what happen to us visiting the place
The Mehandipur Balaji Temple is flocked by people in large numbers every day.
Mehndipur balaji temple is broadly divided into four chambers, as we enter the temple we were welcome by the sounds of bell and screaming of womens and children’s .The first chambers have idols of Lord Hanuman…and the second chamber have idols of lord Bhairav. Once entering the temple it seems the outside world has been closed for you…
At the second chamber we have given the black colored ball which is said to ‘Prasad’ which is not to be eaten but to be thrown in the ceremonial fire of lord Bhairon ,it is said that by doing so, you keep all evil forces at bay. It is said that the Lord Hanuman is the most powerful of Hindu deities which keeps all the black magic away from you…
While entering the third chamber of the temple we were terrified by the men and women were banging their heads on pillars and the wall as they were feeling no pain…
Finally entering the third chamber loud noise of womens children’s were at the peak “hall of hell” peoples were chained with the locks and after a frequent time pandit beating them. It was even scarier…
Leaving the temple,
A bagger lady came to us saying”paise dedo bahiya bhik nahi mang rahi, dedo nahi toh mere beti aatma peche ayengi” we can’t dare to say no to her…
Strange isn’t it???
Leaving the place strict rule is no to look back again..it is belived that once you step out there is always a evill sprit waiting for u…
(Bhoot Pisach Nikat Nahi Aave Mahavir Ban Maam Sunave…..)
Thinking of the place still terrifying from the bottom…
This was the first year of Kokankada Festival held on Harishchandragad Fort.
The idea of organizing a fest in outdoors was to bring together experienced people from various field of adventure and share their experiences to the new generation hikers/trekkers. Also to promote Local folklore and business.
It was successfully organized & managed by Aberrant Wanderers team along with the help of Bhaskar Badad, a very resourceful person from Paachnai village residing on kokankada.
The event consisted of :
Short Films & Documentries shot on Harishchandragad
Local Folklore & dance.
Skit Perfomed by Theatre Infinity
Handicraft exhibition & sale.
Harishchandragad clean up project
Few clicks from the event:
Around 70-80 people attended the event. We hope the second year will be a bigger success and will involve everyone who couldn’t make it this time….
Rajmachi (Udhewadi) is a small village in the rugged mountains of Sahyadri in India. The fortification at Rajmachi consists of two forts , namely Shrivardhan fort and Manaranjan Fort. Rajmachi Fort is a popular trekking destination. It is a very famous fort located near two famous hills of Maharashtra, Lonavala and Khanadala.
Kalsubai is the highest peak in Maharashtra (1646m). Its is one of the most enjoyable trek. Route is well marked and many trekkers and Pilgrims visit to reach the peak which has a small temple of Kalsubai.
This being the highest peak, it commands a beautiful view. The vastly spread out backwaters of Bhandardara attracts ones attention from the top. To the north of the mountain range forts such as Ramsej, Harihargad, Brahmagiri, Anjaneri, Ghargad, Bahula, Tringalwadi, Kavnai can be seen. To the east one can spot Aundha, Vishramgad, Bitangad, to the west Alang, Madangad, Kulang, Ratangad (south west) and to the south Pabhargad, Ghanchakkar, Harishchandragad can be seen.