Day 18: 26 August 2013: Finally out of the hole!
Stranded and walking on the road and at times trying to sleep, we spend our night….
At the break of the dawn, as soon as first light is visible, we wake up our driver and ask him to go and search for the diesel. He argues that it is too early in the morning (0500 hrs) and the petrol bunks would still not be open. We are all fed up with his tantrums and antics and fuming at the fact that he could have led us all to die, we threaten him with dire consequences if he doesn’t leaves immediately. We tell him that we’ll throw him in the gorge if he doesn’t go, and that we will also let the tow truck along with our car fall into the gorge – we have our car insured! Finally he pays heed and hops onto a pickup van passing by.
First ray of light
We’re hungry too and so we decide to cook something. So out comes the gas stove, with the new burner that we procured at Keylong. And find a flat place to start cooking, however, the winds are strong and since we’re trying this on the edge, the fire quickly dies down. We’ll have to find a better place, shielded from wind. So we go to the rear of the tow truck and ignite the gas. We’ve already give all the Maggi that we had to Chacha at Batal and now left with some MTR packets of jeera-chawal (salted cummin rice) and one more variety, that too because Chacha refused to take them as no one liked it. We did had water with us, so we read the instructions and heat up the MTR packets. We’re so hungry that we don’t even allow it to cook properly and eat them half cooked.
Trying to ignite, facing the winds
No, it won’t work, we have to find another place
Let’s go to the rear of the vehicle
Yeah! This is a better place
Body satisfied, we discuss what we did to the driver and we all agree that we shouldn’t have done that to him. Afterall, he’s just the driver and not the owner of the vehicle – he could just jump out at one such turn and let us all die. We can’t take chances. We’ll deal with him once we reach Mandi. Agreed!
Waiting for the driver, we click the morning…
A glacier at distance
We notice that there is a truck fallen in the gorge at the base of waterfall. We could have met the same fate last night!! Is this Rahalla Waterfall?
Our driver hasn’t come back yet and time is passing. We are walking on the road to spend time. At around 0830 hrs, we hear a commotion in a pickup van that just passed us. It stops after the truck and then we see that our driver is sleeping comfortably in the rear and other passangers are shaking him up trying to wake him “Teri gaadi aa gayee hai” (You vehicle is there). How casual!!
Our driver fills in the diesel in the tank. But it needs priming the pump and for that, the entire driver cabin has to be tilted. We seek help from another truck driver passing by, and he gladly helps. So we tilt the cabin, the other truck driver starts priming the pump and our driver cranks the ignition. Viola! It works!! The engine has started!!! We’re saved!!! 🙂
Ummm… there is one problem now. Now what? The driver cabin can’t be lowered in neutral gear. The gear has to be shifted, then only there will be enough space near the gear shaft to lower the driver cabin. Ok, then change the gear. No! I don’t want to shut the engine down now, for it may not start again! So while I’m sitting in the cabin, engaging the gear, clutch and brakes, you people lower the cabin! What?? Somehow, we 5 (four of us and the truck driver) manage to lower the driver’s cabin while our driver is sitting comfortably. We thank the truck driver for the help, hop on the tow truck (and the car atop it) and proceed ahead. Finally!
We pass by Gulaba checkpost and are about to approach Manali, when our driver spots a BRO guy and decides to ask for diesel. We advise against it, but he says that this way we can get cheaper diesel and of good quality. This would also compensate the extra premium we paid yesterday. I don’t like the idea and fortunately, the officer denies any availability.
Shortly ahead, we reach Manali and get the tow truck refueled. As we proceed ahead, we hear loud thundering sound from rear wheel of the tow truck. We get down and check – there is a large stone stuck between the two tyres and that is causing the noise. This could be dangerous – this could fly out at any time and damage or injure oncoming vehicle or people. Our driver tries to remove it, but is not successful as it is badly stuck. He decides to drive ahead as is and says that this would require the tyre to be unbolted which he’ll do at Mandi. We don’t like the idea, but agree to him as there is no other way.
Driving ahead after sometime, the driver stops the tow truck at Bhunter and says that he needs to have lunch as it is 1200 hrs. We’re in a hurry to reach Mandi and get our XUV5oo fixed, but he is throwing all sorts of tantrums knowing fully well that we are dependent on him at this moment. We decide to teach him a lesson once we reach the M&M workshop and so for now we stop. We have some cold drinks and chips while he has his lunch. Free with that, we drive ahead and reach the M&M ASS (after sales service) workshop of Simla Automobiles. The time reads 1330 hours.
The driver is now in a hurry to leave and says that the workshop is full and that he would drop the vehicle on the roadside itself and go as his responsibility was only this. We threaten him not to leave until the workshop guys have seen the XUV and advise on getting it unloaded. He reluctantly agrees. Soon the service person ask the entire tow truck to be brought in the workshop, which is done with some difficulty as the tow truck’s rear end touches the ground while descending down the ramp.
We contact the service person, who directs us to the Manager. Nice fellow! We all are agitated for the failure of the OEM spanner and tell him that he should try opening the tyre with the same spanner and we will video-graph it as evidence. He calms us sympathetically and says that all is not necessary. The service guys have a look at the tyre condition and state that the only way out is to get this to a lathe and cut open the entire stud by boring and the stud will be replaced. So the two truck is taken to a lathe machine, a bore is made and new stud and bolts fitted. It is by 1730 hrs that the tow truck comes back with the XUV5oo and the driver is all cribbing about spending extra time. He says that he has got a call to go somewhere else to rescue another vehicle and he is not getting time to rest. We had planned to give him a good thrashing after reaching Mandi, but then think that this punishment of making him spend extra time is enough and let him go.
Then we talk to the manager and ask him to get minor repairs done to the XUV5oo which includes fixing the silencer as one has come down dangling and the front bumper as it was also hanging in. If this has to be driven in this condition to Delhi, both will fall off for sure. Helpful guys that they are – the M&M ASS guys – they fix these things on priority and we are ready to jump on the XUV5oo again. The time reads 1800 hrs.
We start towards Delhi and soon face the so called road that is filled with potholes. This begins just after Mandi and continues. We all are too tired, having not slept properly last night, spending the night on the road and then we also realize that we hadn’t eaten anything proper since noon yesterday – after leaving Batal. And so we stop at the famous Mayur Dhaba at Sundernagar. Now there are couple of them named Mayur dhaba and we stop at the last one (first one while coming from Delhi). We see a garbage bin and the first thing we do is to dispose off all the garbage we had collected in our entire journey since leaving Jammu there. We then go for the lunch (or dinner shall we call it, for the time was somewhere around 1930 hours). The charges are exhorbitant – 140 INR for a pathetic plate of Dal Fry that is Yuk!! 🙁 Barely do we stuff something and proceed ahead.
We all are tired and feeling sleepy. We decide to stop next at Chandigarh McDonald’s and I go off to sleep, occasionally being woken up by bumps. Full credits to Cheena to have the courage to drive all through the night, being equally tired and still managing the bumpy drive on the twisty roads.
By 1149 hours, I think we managed to pass by Bilaspur and Swarghat reaching around the HP-Punjab border….
Next: At last, reached home!
Total Distance covered: Approx 252 kms
Driving Directions from Gulaba to HP-Punjab border: Drive ahead from the Gulaba checkpost towards Manali. Take the left fork at Palchan tri-junction to go towards Manali, the right one goes to Solang valley. Keep straight and take the left fork which is the main highway at next tri-junction and drive along the Beas river, the right one goes towards Hadimba Devi temple. Take the right fork at the next tri-junction to remain on the highway, the left one goes to Vashisth. Driving ahead, arrive at a bridge crossing the Beas river towards the right. Do not take this one (although you may come back on the highway taking a detour) and drive ahead to take the next bridge to the right fork (the left/straight fork also goes to Kullu, however, is narrow). Turn left after crossing the bridge (the right one goes to the previous bridge) and drive straight ahead. At the next fork, take left one to come completely out of Manali town and be on the highway – NH 3. Keep driving ahead on the NH, with Beas on your left and do not take any left or right turn on any insignificant road. If you happen to cross a bridge over the Beas, take a U-turn and come back. Driving straight ahead on the NH, pass by Raison and reach Kullu. Cross the first bridge at the outskirts of Kullu to take the bypass road so that Beas is on your right now and keep on driving straight to Bhuntar where the road from Manikaran joins after you cross the Parbati river and take a right turn at the tri-junction. Drive ahead and turn right again to cross Beas and then turn left after the market at the T-point. Do not take any left or right cut and follow the major road that is the national highway to arrive at Aut tunnel. Cross the tunnel to emerge at Larji and take immediate right to go towards Pandoh, the left road goes to Larji Dam and further to Banjar (Tirthan valley). Follow to road to arrive at Pandoh dam and take the road built on the dam and immediately turn right to go towards Mandi. Following the road, cross the Jayuli channel and keep on straight following the main broad road with Beas giving company on the right, not crossing it. Driving ahead, you arrive at Simla Automobiles at the outskirts of Mandi. Keep on following the road and do not turn right yet to leave the first and the second bridge on Beas river. Take left at the second bridge and then take right at the next bridge to cross Beas river. Take immediate left after crossing the Beas and this ensure that you remain outside Mandi town and cross it. Drive ahead with Beas now on your left and keep on the broad road to reach Ner Chowk. Take left at the Ner Chowk tri-junction, the right one goes to Jahu-Una. Cross the river and take the right fork at the tri-junction to go towards Sundernagar, the left one goes to Baggi. After crossing Naulakha, take the right fork at the tri-junction to go towards Sundernagar town, the left one goes to Tattapani. Keep driving along the water channel and keep to your right, but do not take any right fork yet. Just after Sukhdev Vatika garden, take the left fork to remain on the NH and keep following the road until you reach Sundernagar Hospital where you take absolute right at the tri-junction. Now keep onto your left and do not take any right cut to pass by JNGEC on the outskirts of Sundernagar town. Drive on straight and you pass by Harabaag area from where a small stream starts giving you company on your right. Driving further ahead, arrive at lots of Mayur Dhabas on your right at the edge of the hill. Keep on driving and pass by Jarol and then Sadhwan where you can see a river giving you company – that’s Satluj! Cross the bridge on Satluj and take immediate right to remain on the NH. Take the left fork ahead at Bhantrehar to remain on the NH and keep on driving without taking any cut to arrive at Ghaghas. At Ghaghas, take the left fork (right/straight one goes to Jahkan-Kandrour) and then after crossing the bridge, take immediate right towards Bagi. Keep on the NH and drive further to arrive at Bamta (outskirts of Bilaspur). Keep on following the major road that is NH and do not take any road that appears to be arterial. Any confusion, ask for directions to Swarghat or simply follow the trucks. Just after passing Nauni, take the right fork at the tri-junction and pass by Kallar, the left fork goes towards Bhararighat-Darlaghat. Drive further to pass by Charol and then Jamli after which cross the bridge on the river to pass by Baner. Keep towards your left and keep on the major road to arrive at Swarghat marked by big craters on the road. Drive ahead on the NH and do not take any right or left cut and any insignificant road till you reach the tri-junction where the right one goes to Naina Devi. Keep left, drive ahead and arrive at HP-Punjab border, marked by HP toll collection booth on the other side of the road.
Google Map directions for Gulaba to HP-Punjab border travel: http://goo.gl/maps/PfvAW