- Sunday, 27 March 2011

Blue Dawn in The Himalayas

It was 2.00 am and we quickly packed up. We had already been stuck in Solang Valley for 4 nights, due to heavy snowfall and roadblock in Rohtang Pass. Our bookings at the hotel in Keylong were wasted. We have got news from trusted sources that finally the pass might be opened and we can now go through it to Keylong. We only have a day left in hand and distance is too much. We might have to turn back mid way.

We got ready, went up the hill from our camp to wait for our driver. Sharp 2:15 we can see the only beam of light on the road, it was our friendly driver in his car- bang on time. He looked at us curiously at first, not believing that Indian tourists can actually get ready on time. He kept insisting, "Madam aap log to foreigners jaise time pe chalte ho... aaj tak record hai ki koi indian time pe ready ho gaye ho..subah paanch toh baj hi jaate hain..badhiya hai..". Me and Manisha simply looked at each other, not knowing what to say to him. Nice fellow he was though.

We started half sleepy in dead darkness. But soon enough, we had started ascending the pass and could see first beams of sunlight on one side of the valley, while the other side was still slumbering in darkness. It was 3:30 am. Not a single vehicle on road. It was cold in the mountains and wind was fierce. We could see perfect blue himalayas so close. And by blue i literally mean blue.

The track is nice for most parts till it gets into higher reaches where it starts getting bumpy. There has been fresh snowfall over night and it has still not been touched by rented boots of tourists. I am looking outside the car window dreaming of what all nature has to offer us, that suddenly i hear this honking. I wake up from my reverie. It was our own very friendly driver honking – there was a road block caused not due to traffic or (god forbid) landslide, there was a huge herd of sheep claiming their authority on road. I was told then, the shepherds there pay road tax for walking their sheep !! So well they do reserve their rights- makes perfect sense. :) I had never seen such pretty things walking on snow before and in a manner so determined. Sweet it was. I hated my driver for honking at them, but actually there was no other choice, we could not have been crossing the pass driving behind the herd of sheep.

After about 20-25 mins we did get out and started our drive on the bumpy track. Still no cars in sight- happy to be first doing this after fresh snowfall, we figured out Keylong will not happen. Its going to take far longer than we had thought. So we decided to go to Khoksar and then get back. We swiftly passed through the Rohtang Pass which looked like a small village submerged in snow. All we could see was plastic sheets in blues and yellows covering the various dhabas and eateries deep down in snow. Life was at stand still in otherwise so crowded Rohtang. We reached Kokhsar in about another hour. Happy to have made to Lahaul- we soaked in some fresh cold air and then headed back to our camp.

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