Day 11 Rohtang Pass - Manali

14th July 2010
Day 11 Rohtang Pass - Manali: only 50kms covered and the whole day under the sun...

Last night wasn't a good night sleep at all. As I mentioned it was damp, soggy, very cold...I might have slept only for a couple of hours and it was more of wait till the morning. At 5:30/6 am as the sun came up I woke up, collected my things from tent and walked till place where the bikes were parked. The other guys Nirman, Jai had already woken up. As I mentioned I had hit off really well with Jai and Nirman. We three were gelling well and it was nice to be with a good company after being almost on my own from last 10 days.
Asked the shop guy to prepare some breakfast and tea. 
But first as the last day it was time to "freshen" up :D obviously it was to be done out in the open :D.

We had tea and some breakfast and decided to move to the landslide location because we wanted to be the first one to be crossing once the debris is cleared by the army guys and state authorities.
My bike again refused to start :( It was probably because of the cold weather again. After several tries bike started and we were ready to go.
But before that we wanted to click some pictures of all of us who spent the night on Rohtang:

That's Jai, Jai Bachchan (as he says for himself: the only male Jaya Bachchan :D)

Nirmaan, He is an aspiring model cum actor. His looks are indeed good

The person on the right is Vasudeva, also from Bangalore.

Yours truly and Jai

My tired puffy eyes perfectly describe that I hadn't slept at all last night :)
There were some more group photos which due to my camera settings got screwed :(
After the photo clicks we started moving towards the landslide location. The site was about 1 km and I couldn't believe seeing thousands of people stranded some of them had been there from last 4 days.
We somehow reached right to the end of the pileup and saw the whole scenario. The tanker was just swooped through the narrow road into the valley. There were so many people stuck, waiting on the other side  too. The first thing that comes to mind is that how have they been managing from last 4 days and if at the debris clears up which side will be given clearance?

We could see the debris still coming down from above. We parked the bike at a distance and took a walk to get a clearer view of what's happening and above picture says it all. The crane was trying pull the truck out but all in vain. The more it was pulling it more it was digging into the lose slush.

People waiting
People were telling that there is a lake in the mountain just above the site which is causing all the trouble. Also the moment the authorities would clear the debris more start gushing down from the lake...
Last day they told that some bikers were able to cross (probably those were the bikers whom I met on Keylong in the restaurant) and just as the oil tanker was crossing slush just swooped the tanker off.

The army had also come and tried but they also couldn't pull the truck up. They were of the idea that the tanker should be let go and the authorities should concentrate more on clearing the debris which I thought was sensible thought considering the fact that there were thousands of people stuck for so many days in the middle of nowhere. But the oil tanker was owned by very influential person and wasn't in the mood to lose his expensive tanker.
According to the speculations he was so influential that the Himachal Pradesh government had got a call from Delhi central government that no matter how much effort it takes, the authorities have to get the tanker out first before doing anything else even if the people have to stay there for more time.
Don't know how true the speculations were (it looked to be true) but I was so disgusted because of this. The efforts to save tanker were too much.
Just for wealthy powerful man's greed so many people have to suffer the worst. For god's sake there were women stuck there and one can imagine how hard it would have been for them to be there for 4 days..

There was no shade around and direct sun was too much handle.

From left to right anticlockwise: Jai, Parag, Nirmaan and Raju guide 
Views were still amazing :)

People who were on cabs had found out an alternative solutions. Leaving their cabs they had put there luggage on the horses and took the hiking route
The team from Bangalore had also done the same thing, they had hired the bikes from Manali and they had called the bike owner to collect the bikes. They took the hiking route and left from that place. Of course we, the Chandigarh guys (Jai and Nirman) and me, didn't have that liberty as the bikes were ours :( Only option is to wait till the road is cleared.
The source of all the slush coming down. That rock in the middle is about to fall off any time and it did after sometime.

The sun was pounding too much for the people to take evasive actions :). That's Parag
Soon, well not that soon; the time wasn't getting past that fast, it was afternoon and we started to feel hungry. There were some snack sellers out there but soon they ran out of all they had, there were so many hungry people there :(
Fortunately while packing I had kept just the thing for a scenario like this and that was dry fruits :) I had couple of packets of cashewnuts. I knew these wouldn't satiate the hunger but still it was better than having nothing. Also while leaving TsoMoriri I had bought biscuits, just to get some change out of 1000 rupees note, which I never ate and kept in my jacket pocket. Lucky ain't it :D
I had some and gave it to others too. The truck drivers invited us to the top and started chatting with us.

There were some more riders who joined us, one of them was from Israel and it was nice talking to him with his broken English :D
He told us that guys and gals back in Israel it is mandatory to serve 5 and 3 years respectively and understandable from the conditions in Israel.
He showed us his army knife which was just super handy. The knife had all the things just like the swiss knife but it looked more deadly than the swiss one.
The person in the middle is the Israeli guy
While we were trying to spend time somehow, the authorities were trying to figure out how to save the tanker.
They had already tried explosives too to clear up some debris to pull the tanker out.
They had brought another crane to in turn pull the crane pulling the tanker. The slush kept coming down from the top. We started get worried and looked more like spending another night at that place itself and it would have been worse because the shop guy who gave us shelter last night had closed his shop and moved taking the hiking route. On top of that we were soon running out of water too.

People were getting agitated and they were all chanting for the tanker to be let go into the valley and clear up the slush. But I guess there was one more problem in letting go of the tanker and that was there were too many waiting at the bottom of the pass (as evident from the below picture) and tanker would fall very close to the people if not on them...

People waiting on the other side and the tanker was stuck above them.
There were many foreigners too with us and they were also pretty frustrated with all the mess caused due to just one very greedy man's oil tanker and that too which was empty. I asked one of the tourist who was from Georgia that if something like this would have happened in his country what would the authorities have done regarding the tanker and he simply said "they would have let the frigging tanker away and not caused the tourists and people so much of trouble and clearing the mess would have been completed in a matter of hours". Well this is the very difference between India and America ain't it?

There was another news that came freshly that a person had passed away waiting for the road to clear up. Hearing that wasn't nice at all. May the person's soul rest in peace...

Also we heard that there were a movie shooting going on just at the bottom of the Pass and film stars Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai are there. But I wasn't that much concerned as we had much more serious issues in front of us.

By 3 o clock (don't remember properly) they were able to pull the tanker but not fully. They somehow were able to pull the truck and place just beside the slush flow so that the tanker doesn't go down. It seemed that more slush was also not coming down. So now it was time to clear up the debris from the road. Things suddenly started looking good and we also prepped ourselves, put on our riding gear, started our bikes so that we can cross first because the moment a heavier vehicle start passing there was a possibility the slush would come down again.

As soon as they cleared the slush the authorities started allowing the vehicles to pass but from the other side :(
They allowed a couple of jeeps so that they push the slush away so that the bikes can pass. The slush was still of the height till my knees on both the sides. The bikes started coming from the other side and the guys were having really hard time crossing the slush. They were panting like anything cause the bikes would just not move with the clutch alone, they had to push the bikes and also their pillions were pushing the bikes from behind. All the people standing there were screaming and charging the riders to cross, it was so electrifying and magnificent.
Seeing and hearing all this I thought to myself, this is it this is test for myself, I can't fall down there is nobody with me to push the bike. Though I had people with me but as the saying goes "Every man for himself" because everybody had his own bike and himself to take to the other side.

Nirman came to me and said to me to just go flat out while crossing and asked me not to worry coz we all are in this together. That gave me a little confidence. First one to go was some bullet guy and then it was Rajan started, then it was Parag and then it was me. It was certainly the most punishing few meters for me and my bike. I was just using all of my strength in knees along with doing the half clutching but the rear tyre wouldn't just move. Everybody else were shouting screaming trying to pump all of us to cross safely.
I finally crossed the slush and was on the other side and I just took a sigh of relief that I successfully crossed probably the last hurdle in my trip. One by one everybody crossed the slushy area and continued coming down. While coming down I saw one KTM on-off road bike going up and one BMW 1200GS too. I thought it wouldn't be hard for them to cross the problem area as these bikes are meant to be for such kind of terrain. Alas I can't watch them cross and I just waived at them and went ahead.
I couldn't take any picture  of the ordeal we went through crossing the slush...

Reaching the bottom of the pass we all regrouped and parked our bikes and noticed that we have parked our bikes right next to the movie shooting location. We just thought why not go near and check what's happening. As we were walking towards the services buses of the stars, we saw two very familiar TV personalities walking by us and they were Roadies fame Raghu and Rannvijay.

I could hear youngsters screaming from behind for them while they were walking.

This movie was none other than the flop movie "Action Replay".
We went near the buses and there came out Aishwarya Rai, first thing that comes to my mind is she is really tall :D and beautiful. And the came out Akshay, seeing him I just couldn't recognize him thanks to his retro style clothes for the movie.
I tried taking pictures of them but people there told me not to take out the camera as the security guards of the stars will snatch my camera and keep it. I was very much happy to keep my camera with me as the camera contains my priceless pictures from the trip and risking that would be out of the question.

We stayed there for some time and decided to move ahead as we wanted to reach Manali before dark and spend the night there.
There were people enjoying para-gliding. Took one picture...

We had some food in the nearby restaurant and continued ahead. At this point of time Rajan and Parag went ahead on their own and I was left with Jai, Nirman and raju guide who was bringing the bikes used by the Bangalore team back to Manali.
We decided to be together and stay together in Manali so that we can save some money. I agreed as Manali can be very expensive as I saw in our last trip. Raju guide told us that he can get us rooms for cheap and which will have proper parking place too.

We slowly started towards Manali. Was very tired to click any pictures but managed to click one on the way. And decided to call it off for the day and just reach Manali and rest.

We reached Manali went to the hotel suggested by Raju guide, parked our bikes, checked in. Took bath and prepared Maggi noodles which Jai and Nirmaan had been carrying along with a stove and everything else :)
They told me that what I went through was nothing compared to what they had faced while touring Spiti thanks to JP construction company who have just dug up the roads and not taken care of it. Nirman asked me about my plan for the rest of the trip. I told him that my next stop would be Chandigarh and then next day Delhi as I have to parcel my bike too and need one day for it.
Jai and Nirman invited me to their house which was in Chandigarh only and this way I would save some more money and also I will get a chance to meet their parents. I thought it was a good idea and I agreed.

Deciding this we all went to sleep. Chandigarh was around 300kms from Manali and I thought it should be a relaxed one but least I knew that I still some more surprises installed for me :).......

Day 10 Sarchu - Baralacha La - Keylong - Koksar - (Night halt in the middle of no where) | Manali - Chandigarh (again not a relaxed segment) 

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