Day 2, 9 Jun 08
4.00am, We are up, these alarms I guess won’t let us sleep till we get back to our homes. aaah! The night’s sleep wasn’t really comfortable but helped us a lot to relax. we have our tatti and freshen up and around 5.30 we are off to Har-ki-Pauri one of the most popular ghats along Ganga in Haridwar. We get a rick which leaves us in a very busy small street, with people all round. The early morning Haridwar air near the Ganga is lovely. We roam through the ghats and pick up a spot where we too can have a dip. At first everybody is little hesitant, but as the cool water chills every cell in the body so are the nerves. Everybody is now enjoying the refrigerator like cool water around 6.30 in the morning. Amey and Rajo offer some prayers and with snaps added to our memory stick, we are back on the road, now looking for something to eat. We stop at a typical food stall with food being cooked right in front of the entrance. Thats the way it is in north India. We couldn’t miss one stall roasting Aloo parathas. And we have enough of parathas with curd and tea. We get back to the Gujarati Samaj Dharamshala and offload yet again.
Trek Rules: Always clean your stomach, have a good bath and be ready for the day with clean clothes
9.40, we check out of the Dharamshala and leave for Rishikesh in a Vikram (10 seater rickshaw). Mallik calls a person in Rishikesh who’d arrange for the next trip ahead to Uttarkashi. The distance from Haridwar to Rishikesh is around 30km which takes around an hour to reach. On our way back we stopped near a huge statue of of Shiva, where Rajo commented ..
इसके abs तोह देख !
We met with a road jam half way through. I tried to enquire about it, when our Vikram driver said..
रासता है साहब, जाम तो लगते रेहता है
We were amused by his answer, but that was nothing compared, when I asked another rickshaw driver
यह किस्का जाम लगा है?
गादियों का जाम लगा है !!!
We were laughing at that answer. I never asked any more questions. Along the way we saw an empty river bed, Mallik said that Ganga’s route has been changed at many places to facilitate water-electricity projects, this is one of it.
Around 11.15 we reached Rishikesh, we met the person whom Mallik had called, and discussed the possibilities of reaching Uttarkashi in an Ambassador. 6 of us with 5 huge bags and another tiny one all managed to get inside the car. The Ambassador’s trunk was huge enough to hold 5 of our mountaineering backpacks. Our first need was diesel, almost an hour we kept searching through the traffic in the busy streets for Diesel. But there was diesel shortage throughout Rishikesh, But at one place Vj and Amey both ventured out on streets and tried to locate a fuel pump with fuel. Finally we did get fuel where Vj had been searching. The whole Rishkesh in the queue for Diesel at that Station. We finally left from Rishikesh around 1.00pm.
The road kept climbing into the ghats, Raju, the driver was moving his car very swiftly in the turns and the slopes. He said to us, that if a police fellow asks us about our destination at the check post, just let them know its Kunjapuri temple. Everybody was looking at eachother and smiling. We didn’t want any more problem after our train cancellation at the start of the trip. Raju’s stories didn’t help. He told us about a new lady inspector who is so strict that she and her staff can’t be bribed, if a car can’t go.. It won’t go. The air started to feel better as we kept moving above into the hills. Around 1.30pm, Narendranagar’s Ananda Resort made its appearance. It was a palace of the a king now converted to a resort/hotel. Chana dal and Roti was munched at a dhaba named ‘Himalayan Restaurant’ at 2.45. I asked the driver how much more, to which he just smiled and said
अभी तो बहुत जाना है
We moved on, the ghat just never ended.. Raju said that it would continue till we reach Uttarkashi. Around 4.00 after almost 3 hours into the ride, we reached Chamba, the first fuel pump after Rishikesh. Around Dharkot, Raju asked us to purchase ‘Khumaani’ a local Uttaranchal fruit, which tasted like raw plums. The road just waded through huge mountains, below we could see the catchment water of the Tehri dam. It was starting to get a little dark. Around 6.30 we hit a traffic jam, We could see in distance cars, trucks alike stranded on a side, Ahead all I could see was cars and I thought I spotted a land slide, to my horror was true. We got out from the car and ran ahead to see what was the actual situation. The road around 15-20 feet wide was all covered with stones, gravel. But that wasn’t stopping the vehicles, there were 2 big boulders right in the middle of the road that stopped any movement. People were already using whatever tools they had to break it. We waited for any improvement, when a Sardar driver in his truck came raging and hit the boulder with the tyres, he kept doing it, and then moved his truck over rocks and gravel, The huge vehicle swayed towards the valley but finally passed over the gravel onto plain road.. Everybody on the road cheered at the Sardar’s bravery, people pushed the smaller boulder and another mini bus moved over the rocky gravel, The bus swayed so much towards the valley that we all thought it could topple over. But it did not! It was when our driver came through the Ambassador and asked us to jump in.
जलदी चलो, अभी काफी जाना है
Raju said that it was very common to have land slides between summer and rains. We were all terrified after the landslide incident and now even the safe but edgy turns made us feel light-headed. 7.20pm we reached Dharasu, which is a junction from where one can go towards Yamnotri or Gangotri via Uttarkashi. We too were going to Yamnotri but via Uttarkashi, on a trek! Just a few minutes later everybody was ecstatic, Every body was view a snow topped peak far ahead in the distance, it was getting dark, the sky had turned dark blue with hues of orange and the snow on the peak was glowing. All of us with cameras tried to capture the scene in the fast moving car, darkness and moving car did not help us at all to get any good picture of it. The river below was big and wide, brown-gray in color with all the soil and rock it was eroding all the way. Around 8, the driver helped us to find a room for the night accommodation a kilometer away from the main town of Uttarkashi, we gave Rs.100 advance for the room and moved ahead into the town.
Mallik and Rajoba headed out to meet someone from Himalayan Sherpa, who was going to organise everything for the trek, while rest of us moved into the market to search for ponchos and raincoats. We managed to find very flimsy ponchos at Rs15 each. We decided we shall purchase them as a backup and check the market next morning for better ones. Rajo and Mallik returned after the meet and then we had our dinner at Bhandary Hotel in the main market street. 10.30, we finished with our dinner and Raju towed us back to the room where we were to spend the night. Everybody had their chargers, mobiles out for charging. There were two rooms, We managed to stuff ourselves into it, me and Vj in the smaller one and rest in the bigger ones.