The trip was an excellent one, one of a kind, filled with fun, dangerous and adventurous moments. I will try to cover the fun-filled moments in brief and give you the feel we had when we dangerously moved over the points between heaven and earth.
The plan was to reach Dharamshala by morning of 7th March 2008 and be back in Delhi on 9th March 2008.
We were 8 adventurous people and our names in alphabetical order as follows and the funny one-liners (no offence).
1) Kapil - The Perpetual Sick Man
2) Rajesh - The Always Giggling Geek
3) Sathish (Me) - Lazy Boy
4) Soumya - Highly Adventurous Kid
5) Srikanth - The Great Chartered Accountant
6) Srinivas - Quiet One
7) Swami - The Perpetual First Timer
8) Vijayan - Trip Planner
We bonded well right from the beginning of the journey till the end. We faced numerous hiccups and problems from the start of the journey, the one thing that got better and better through the journey was the fun factor, it just did not sulk even in tough situations, we managed to laugh over the tough situations away with the unifying spirit of having fun, fun and fun only. "What more can I say?", just read through and you will know the true meaning here.
Day 0: Adobe Noida Office (Wednesday 6th March 2008)
1) Mess up with the travel bookers and our huge baggage.
2) Introduction to Kaalu Radhesham (The creepy and spooky driver)
3) Antakshari (Soumya special)
4) puncture near Chandigarh.
5) Early morning tea at a Dhaba in that nail biting weather.
Day 1: Mcleodgangj
1) Trip up the Triund mountain.
2) Shopping in Dharamshala
3) Breakfast and Tea in Palsong Cafe.
4) Dinner in Shangrila (Special mention to Thukpa)
Day 2: Mcleodganj
1) Breakfast in Shangrila
2) Dalai Lama
3) Shopping in Mcleod (with special mention to Vijayan's never ending shopping spree)
3) Trip up to the Bhagsunag waterfall.
4) Lunch at Asoka International restaurant.
5) Trip to "The Sacred (Scared) Dal Lake".
6) Trip back to Delhi
7) Dinner at a Dhaba
8) puncture, puncture and puncture all the way to Delhi.
9) Jokes, jokes and lots of PJ's.
10) Bowling, throwing and a violent game of hitting the National Highway notice boards.
11) Counting minutes and seconds at a abandoned wearhouse in the middle of the night. (Special effects from Saumya). - Sherlock Holmes
12) Antakshari - Indian Style.
13) Knee cracking, back breaking, head hitting and hard banging ride to Delhi. (Courtesy Kalu Radhesham).
Day 3: Delhi
1) Jageer Palace
2) Maya Palace - (Truly Gayab and Sleazy to the core)
3) Ice Cream for breakfast
4) Red Fort
5) Andhra Bhawan - (Relief from Rotis)
6) Palika Bazar
7) Back to Bangalore
Here we go,
Exhausted after the QE tech summit, we began looking for our trip partners and got introduced to each other, after a brief session of maggi noodles, bread omlettes, chit chatting and bird watching in the splenddid ambience of our Adobe Noida campus, we started by moving our back packs to the car at 6:55 PM, we found that the Qualis that we ordered for did not have a carriage over the roof and it was impossible for us to pack all of our luggages. There was a wonderful session of Vijayan's rebid in Hindi to get us all a vehicle with a carriage over the roof. The wait was not over yet, the bid was over though, we were asked to wait for 15 minutes by the travel booker, we waited, waited and kept waiting in the road for 2 hours and alas we got a scorpio with a carriage over the roof and Kaalu Radhesham, the driver whom we later found was a devil in disguise.
We loaded our packs in the vehicle and started off, we had an entire session of Antakshari in Hindi and the songs just kept flowing, I was just amazed by the song databases that our guys were and especially Soumya, he seems to have a directory index of songs starting in all letters, he was so enthusiastic about his directory index, he ends up singing all the songs in 4x speed, just to get ready for the next song and he many a time ended starting off a new song when he had just completed a song (truly amazing).
OK, here starts our puncture story, we had a puncture after a few miles from Chandigarh, we were in the middle of a bridge and we spent some time in the chilling weather outside our cab all alone and not even a dog around us, after this, I don't know what happened to our driver, he started driving rashly and it was too rash that I had to wake up and give him company just to avoid his rash driving and a day later he told us that he was driving rashly because I was sleeping sitting next to the driver's seat, to my knowledge that's just a "What an excuse?", if he had some problems he could have straight away told us.
We stopped somewhere near Punjab for tea in a Dhaba at around 6 AM, the weather was nail biting, Rajesh and Vijayan's hands were shivering when they tried to hold the tea, after the tea, me, Vijayan and Rajesh went near the just lit Tandoor, the Tandoor was so comforting, everyone had a good time showing our fronts, backs and hands to the Tandoor.
For the trekkers: Except for the roads in and around Chandigarh, Dharamshala and Noida, all other roads were bad or under construction.
Just watch out for the beautifully laid out Chandigarh, it is so well crafted like a city in Europe.
We reached at around 9:30 AM at Mcleod and started searching for a hotel, to our shock all hotels were booked and we were very lucky to get a decent accomodation in HOTEL SHIVALIK. The rooms in the hotel was decent enough had a nice view of the neighbouring hill town.
We booked 3 rooms and immediately got ready for our trek up the TRIUND peak. We had our breakfast at Palsong cafe in the first street at Mcleod, it was a decent hotel run by a tibetan family, we had some Aloo parathas, bread, omlettes and Vijayan took a sneak peek into a tibetan breakfast containing of tibetan bread, tibetan porridge and tibetan butter tea. After having our breakfast we straightaway jumped in the vehicle for the trek, after having a struggle finding our way to the peak, we took our vehicle and our driver for an ultimate test, a test which none of us will ever forget. The road was filled with rubbles, loose sand and broken rocks all-over.
We climbed up a hill in the car, where the path was around 5 - 6 feet wide and in some places lesser than that, in every hairpin bend, we saw the deep valley down and the very sight of it was scary enough for our guys to start thinking of avoiding the trip downhill in the vehicle.
We now come to the treacherous bend, where the path was just exactly enough for the vehicle to pass through, a slip here would mean, we were going down rapidly to go take a faster upward journey. Me, Vijayan, Rajesh and Srinu did the scouting job to ensure safety of the road beyond the tiny hair-pin bend, we did a fair bit of scouting and found a good clearance, where we could turn-around or park our vehicle. Me and Rajesh went back to get the vehicle till that point, whereas Vijayan and Srinu went till the top to Gallu temple after receiving instructions from a fellow trekker and ensured the safety of the road beyond this point.
Somehow Kaalu managed to get past this hair-pin bend, but it took a seperate monumental effort to convince him to take the plunge. This devilish driver took the opportunity to blow the bill by an extra Rs.500/- just for his not so daredevil stunt, his bargain was silently turned down, but he still kept bargaining till the top.
We reached the Gallu temple and then we took the goat path to reach TRIUND peak. The goat path wasn't so steep and challenging, it was easy to climb up, but rubble and uneven rocks just made the journey a little more risky. The trip up the top got better and better, the views were splendid and we were very lucky to find some snow, that was the first time I saw snow and the same goes to many of us in our gang. We threw the snow all over everyone and had some brief fun and photo session, all the way up the hill we found more snow.
I have to particularly say about the snow we found near the half-way point, the snow was wonderful and very large, it almost covered a 15 x 25 metre area and the snow was thick and was also melting slowly, for the first time I saw a small stream being formed, the sight itself was wonderful and admirable of the ways of the nature, everyone had a brief photo session there and climbed up till the half-way point, Vijayan and Gang left swiftly, whereas Swami, Srikanth, Srinu and me climbed slowly. By the team we reached the half-way point, Vijayan and Gang had already ordered Maggi for lunch to all of us. Maggi was salty up there, but everyone just yummed through it because of the hunger.
OK, I have to tell something about my slow climb with Srinu, Swami and Srikanth, I had a ligament injury and just got treated for it a month ago, but my only restriction was that I should not bend my knee beyond a particular degree, that's it, I am free to go anywhere if I kept to this restriction strictly. Srinu, Swami and Srikanth gave me good company and it was also fun to know that they had leisure photo and video sessions because of this, I am very thankful to them for not making me feel like a show stopper, instead still having a great attitude to make use of the other nice ways to spend their time while climbing TRIUND. The other team was fast and Saumya kept pushing the limits of his endurance and always tried to run faster than the others, he was enthusiastic and was bullish for adventure.
Half-way up the mark, I decided to stop as it was already 2 PM and it will take 2 hours for even fast climbers to reach the top. Our guys had to comeback before dusk, so I stopped and I started my relaxing climb down half-an-hour later, trying to get mesmerized in the beautiful views that were available.
When I was climbing down, I heard the shouts of our guys and to my surprise they abandoned the climb up because of Soumya's bull run trailing up a wrong route to the peak. The route they initially took became steeper and steeper and our guys found the right route while coming back.
We took a leisure stroll down the hill and went back to Gallu temple.
For the trekkers: Mcleod is 1700 metres above sea level, almost twice as high as Bangalore.
Maggi seems to be the State dish for the State of Himachal Pradesh, you can get it everywhere and people just seem to love it.
The shop at the half-way point started at 1984 and is run till now, a Maggi costs 30 and no one's complaining for it is hard work to get stuff up there.