Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kaza mere kaza

Our Tata sumo was just piercing the darkness of the night with its head lamps. I looked out of the window, I could see nothing but darkness. The lights of the car showed us that the road existed there. The time was 4 am. The terrain was hilly. I was totally concentrating on the road as I sat on the front seat. I just consider it a good omen, for me to occupy the front seat for the start of the journey. Our vehicle slowly descended in the darkness.

 Every now and then, I felt my fingers on my lap tapping. It was the music, ancient Buddhist prayer combined with slow beats welcoming the sun rise. It was very soothing as it made me calm down my anxiety. The hilly terrain was very difficult to drive. Our driver "Suraj" was one of the best when it came to judgment of the road. I was impressed from day one. The prayer broke into instrumental beats every now and then.  We were on our way back from a small town called Kaza towards Manali.

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Kaza is a small town on the Himalayas. To get there is a kind of bumpy drive from Manali. It was a very difficult climb three days ago. It took us almost 15 hours long drive, to reach Kaza. It is as remote as it can get. We stayed here for 3 days. Kaza is such a small town that, you can hear a dog bark far far away. The drive from Manali to Kaza is more and more up hill. The decent takes less time as compared to the climb, like always.

View from the hotel at Kaza
Kaza town
 Spiti Valley is an amazing place just south of Ladakh. It has all the likes of Ladakh but at the same time it is very much in Himachal Pradesh. Canon had organized a photography workshop to Ladakh, which ; due to natural calamity there was changed to Spiti valley. I had never been anywhere north of delhi. So I grabbed this opportunity with  both hands.

Spiti Valley
 I did not know what to expect. As the altitude went soaring, less of oxygen; my 6 feet body felt the pinch of it. I had the slight headache and vomiting was inevitable. Rohtang Pass and then Kunzum Pass at 4551 m was the highest point. Then our descent to Kaza at 4200m. Only MTNL works here. No other mobile operators will help. Switch the mobile or put it on flight mode. On the second day, we went to Tabo Monastery.

Kunzum Pass
Tabo Monastery

I went to a local telephone booth to call home. It was a relay phone. Everything was new to me. After you dial the number, you have to wait for 2 mins to get the ring. I finished a routine call home and went to pay the bill. The lady there told me it is Rs . 7.50/-. I gave her two new five rupee coins which where made in yellow metal rather than the usual. She was very surprised to see these new coins. I told her to keep the change. She smiled at me and said. " Aaj kuch naya dekha hai, pooja mein rakungi"; which meant, she saw something new today and will keep the 5 rupee coins during pooja for God. We exchanged smiles.

Tabo monastry, Kibber Village (The highest place where man lives), Kye Monastery (Highest place where there is a monastery), amazing onlooking Dhankar Fort, where some of the areas I covered from the Kaza village. Good food, sound sleep help me recover from the vomiting days. I took a rest day for this long trip.

Kye Monastery
Kibber Village

Dhankar Fort

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 Suddenly it got very cold, we pulled up all over window. On the Manali-Kaza road, we had to take a detour to see something totally out of the world. From the top draw they say, sure it was; Chandratal Lake. We reached at chandratal at 8 am. We had to trek 3-4 kms to reach the lake. The skies stayed blue. It was a amazing feel to see the lake itself, forget taking pictures of it.

Chandratal Lake
Near Rohtang Pass

From there onwards it was very smooth sailing till we reached Rohtang, where we stopped for Maggi. Here is were we met the two stalwarts, "Bhimari" and "Bhikari"; they were quiet some characters. On way from Rohtang to Manali, we faced lot of traffic jam and butter. It was tough because of the mist and weather conditions. Finally we reached Manali, where I stayed for more than 3 days, before returning to Delhi and then back to Mumbai. Eventful trip, but I got some of the best shots I could bargain for. Worth the effort I should say.

Bhimari and Bhikari the Maggi guys

4 comments:

Anubha said...

Nicely written and amazingly beautiful photos! :) You're a good photographer.

Aunty hadn't seen new 5 rupee coins? You should have shown her a 10 rupee one too! :)

You must've got network in Rohtang at least.

LAN said...

@Anu: Thanks for your humble compliments.
Yes she had not seen the new 5 rupee coins. I did not have the 10 rupee coin.
Rohtang has no vodafone... it has airtel :(

sandhyaa said...

heyy !
u take nice shots and first pic with sun shadow on mountains is just super cool man !
i have visited shimla manali rohtang and lahaul and keylong...
nd i also remember maggie guys...they are like savior up there !

LAN said...

@sandhyaa :) thanks man.. True the maggie guys are really good. The maggie they make is super tasty.

Hope you too had a great time during your trip :) I heard it is snowing in rohtang ? :)