Friday, September 2, 2011

Destination Sach Pass (साच पास ) - The Toughest -(Return via Jot Pass)

It was cold and our brains stopped working and just two kilometers before the Sach Pass, we thought that we had reached at the top of the pass, courtesy this image.

I imagined this to be the top of the pass, we reached this spot, obviously snow walls were not this much high.
We stopped our motorcycle and looked around us, it was all snow and stones lying hither-thither, forming a randomly organized symmetrical pattern. It was a silent agreement between us that we [can] not go beyond Sach Pass into the Pangi Valley considering the road conditions and limited number of days we had.

However, we kept on riding and saw two shepherds walking towards the pass top. Upon inquiring, we got to know that we were about to do one of the biggest mistakes of our life. However, we were lucky enough to find them and the ride continued further. A temple, an emergency shed, and snow all around, that comprise the Sach Pass.

Herd of 1800. The trail lasted 500 meters, near Kalaban

If the road closes down at this point from both sides, there is plenty of snow all around. Either you eat snow, or it will eat you. Approaching Kalaban, 3500 meters (approx.)

While coming back, we wanted to capture some photographs but nature has its own ways. The near zero visibility was now absolute zero visibility and we were [partially] glad that we could see the road. We somehow managed to ride downhill and reached at the Police check-post at Satrundi. Kilad was still 75 kilometers away from the top of the pass and roads conditions were not going to be better until we had reached Keylong. The decision of coming back was good and sensible. From all my journeys and mountain rides, I have realized one thing, bravery is good but overwhelming decisions often hurt you. It is always advisable to fall back if you have slightest of the doubts because with doubts, you don’t and should not mess with the Himalayas. 

Dhaba at Satrundi was unlike other dhabas I have seen because the rates were not sky-high. One more thing I have realized that there is a huge difference between a tourist and a घुमक्कड़  . A tourist plans a tour once in a year or may be twice. He can afford to pay INR 15 for a cup of tea but for a घुमक्कड़, such things become difficult. If you drink one tea every 50 kilometers then it turns out to be 15 cups of tea for 750 kilometers, total distance traveled in the journey was 750 km. Now, for two it becomes 30 cups of tea, which means INR 450 spent exclusively on tea, which can buy you at least 6 liter of gasoline with which you can ride 210 more kilometers with an average of 35 kmpl. Similarly food, water, accommodation, and alcohol costs accumulate and you reach an amount equivalent to EMI of your two or three wheeler. Now all this might sound very cheap talk to tourists but ask a ghumakkad and he will understand all these figures and facts instantaneously. 

So coming to the point, that dhaba was a good place to eat, dine, and drink. I did not inquire about night accommodation but I am sure if one is coming back from Sach Pass and it is late in the evening, say post 5 P.M., stop your journey at Satrundi itself. We had plenty of time with us and we decided to go to Chamba on the very same day so that we could go to the Jot Pass, which was not included in the original plan. The roads are not bad in Chamba just that they are narrow. Until Tissa village, roads were single lane and from Tissa to Chamba, the roads can be termed anything between one & half lane and double lane. 

However, we had borrowed sweaters from our friends and we had to say goodbyes too, so we had to go back to Surangani. It ate our one hour and by the time we left for Chamba, it was already 8 P.M. We lost our way twice or may be thrice, and reached Chamba by 9 P.M. To my surprise, almost everyone knew about us, our travel stories and our eating and food habits as well, and I could not hide my joy. The drinking sessions continued, and for the first time in my life, I was not offered a drink at a new place, obviously they knew about my teetotalism as well. 

When we are desperate to finish a journey, the kilometers never come to an end. As they always say, the last few kilometers always hurt and they always do. Motorcycle rides in the hilly regions should never be time bound because if you are running after time, chances of you killing yourself in an accident are every high. We were riding as fast as 75kmph from Tissa to Chamba and the destination was nowhere to be seen. We slowed down our speed else it could have slowed down our lives. 

Moving forward, we left for Hamirpur early in the morning [8 A.M] and the plans had changed overnight. We decided to go to Khajjiar because JP loves that place. He kept clicking photographs and he remained busy for more than two hours. His face was beaming with joy when he was coming back; after all one place changing moods with every passing minute is all that a photographer needs. Khajjiar Lake changed its colors, shades, reflections, and appearance many times that day. However, we were not lucky enough to see the Manimahesh Kailash, as it is believed that lucky ones get to see the peak of the Manimahesh Kailash located in the Bharmour region of Chamba. We left for Jot Pass in the afternoon, kept looking for free food stalls, in the name of gods obviously.

The Khajji Cottage. (हनीमून हो तो यहाँ हो)

The Khajjiar Lake. The Lake no more exists.

(Green Grass)

115 feet Lord Shiva near Khajjiar. Super awesomeness \,.,./

Jot Pass stands at a height of 2880 meters above the sea level. One wise man once said that without crossing over the Jot Pass you never get to know what reaching Chamba means. Jot Pass overlooks the Chuwadi Valley and it is 23 kilometers away from the top of the Pass.

At 2800 meters above the MSL, Jot Pass, Chamba. (Zero Visibility)

!Boom Shiva!

Luckily for us, it did not rain anywhere in the Chamba district but as soon as we left Chamba, it started raining and we were all drenched once again. There are two ways to look at it a) it rained when the journey was almost over and b) it rained only when the journey was almost over. Had it rained in Chamba we could have found ourselves riding another 150 kilometers extra. Had it rained in Tissa or Surangani or at the Sach Pass top, we could have found ourselves buried in the landslides. 

It is always good in the end and if it is not good, it is not the end, someone said once.

This trip changed my definitions and perceptions about passes. For me, Rohtang Pass was the toughest pass but Sach Pass has forced me to change my reference points with regard to the toughest pass of Himachal [as of now] Now, I am 100% sure that once we head into the Pangi Valley, our definitions of risk, danger and fog are going to change forever.

P.S. This was our cheapest trip ever. We [had to] spend only on petrol. Usually, each of our ride costs us INR 5-6k.

P.P.S. Going to one of the most beautiful valleys of Himachal - The Balh-Janjehli Vally.


जाट देवता (संदीप पवाँर) said...

तरुण जी
सही फ़रमाया पर्यटक व घुमक्कड का अन्तर,
हनीमून चलो भाई दुबारा यहाँ भी मना लेंगे,
चलो जी आपकी ये यात्रा भी मेरे काम आयेगी।

SM said...

colorful beautiful pics

I am a lover......nature lover said...

Nice post, Tarun. Would love to be there sometime in near future. Recently came back from Janjehli, it's really beautiful.