Day 1: 31 May 2014 : Noida to Rohru (Pabbar Valley) and a breakdown!
Let me admit, Chanshal and Pabbar were names that I hadn’t came across until friends at DoW started discussing a 3 day trip in May start on the WhatsApp group. I was just a silent reader of the discussion and the talks were about going together in one or two cars. People were agreeing and then I was asked whether I can lend my Beast for the trip as Madan Bhai (another DoW friend) was planning for a North-East trip and his scorpio wasn’t free as it had to be serviced. Around 15th of May, I agreed that I would also go as it meant just one day’s leave clubbed with the weekend and so the plan was fixed for two cars and around 7-8 people. Then as usual, withdrawals happened and we were left with 5 people – myself, Dheeraj, Samar, Anil and Madan. Coincidentally, 01st June happens to be the DoW’s anniversary too and so the plan was made for a small cake cutting ceremony at the Chanshal.
The route planned was Noida-Dehradun-Paonta Sahib-Shillai-Rohru-Chanshal and back the same route. People who had been on the route had warned that the route around Shillai was something that would require silai (stitching) of butts later on! 🙂 However, with beast on our side, which has never failed my trust on so many long sojourns, I was confident that we won’t face any issues at all. It was planned that Dheeraj will come to my or Ashish’s place the evening before and Samar would join Anil so that we all can club together in the morning without any delay. And so the preparations started…
Day 0: 30th May 2014
As planned, Dheeraj arrived at my home around 2100 hrs. He also brought DoW Tees with him as the plan was for all of us to be in the DoW attire when we cut the cake. We chit-chatted for long and went to sleep around 0000 hrs.
Day 1: 31st May 2014
We woke up around 0430 hrs as the plan was to start at 0500 hrs. Quickly, we freshened up with daily rituals and hopped on the beast. First stop, Pratap Vihar to pick up Anil, Samar and Madan. They said that we should take a left turn off NH 24 just after the Ganga Water project plan and they’d meet us there itself. As we turned and drove a bit further, Dheeraj received a call from Anil that they were standing at the turn itself and have seen us passing by and so we should take a U-turn and come back at the junction. Quickly we reached there, met everyone and everyone hopped on. I was on the driving seat and very soon we were past Ghaziabad, Khatauli, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Roorkee. First stop was at Roorkee for a quick tea at Sapna Suddh Bhojanalaya Dhaba. Next, we stopped at Biharigarh, approx 35 kms short of Dehradun to have some mouth-watering famous pakodas. Biharigarh is famous for road-side pakoda shops which specialize in various varieties of pakodas – aloo (potato), pyaz (onion), saag (leafy veggies), bread, and what not! The time read 0750…
After feasting on the pakodas, we again resumed our journey, crossing the Rajaji National Park, reaching Dehradun and then turning towards Paonta Sahib. We crossed Herbertpur and then reached the Assan Barrage. Assan barrage is situated at the confluence of Assan and Yamuna river. It is a man-made wetland, approx 4 sq. kms, and has found favourites with the trans-himalayan migratory birds which stop here for some time during their migration. Recently, it has been designated as a bird sanctuary under the aegis of Rajaji National Park. Some water sport facilities like water skiing and boating has been introduced. We got ourselves clicked and then proceeded towards the second destination of the day – Paonta Sahib Gurudwara.
Navigating through the crowded market area, we arrived at Paonta Sahib Gurudwara and were lucky to find parking space. Samar suggested, that we first should go to the Yamuna banks to wash our hands and feet, though Gurudwaras generally have the facility, but it is supposed to be auspicious. So we took a bylane just after the shops on the left side of the Gurudwara and arrived at the Yamuna banks.
Now this Yamuna was an eye-opener! I had never imagined such a clean and cold Yamuna. Believe me, generally when people in and around Delhi think of Yamuna, we first think of Kalindi, which means the river with black water, and actually in Delhi what you see Yamuna is absolute black water with a stong stench. I even joke with people that if anyone can pass the pontoon bridge on foot, or drink a glass of Yamuna water, he’s sure gonna die. Yamuna actually is more or less reduced to a big drain at Delhi and so it was a pleasant shock to see such clean water in the river. This also created a temptation to have a bath in the chilled water and so me and Madan jumped into it while others just enjoyed the chill by dipping their legs sitting on the paved banks.
We went to the Gurudwara Paonta Sahib to have a darshan. It is said that the tenth Sikh Guru – Guru Govind Singh Ji stayed at this place and wrote the Dasham Granth (Jaapu Sahib is the first chapter from Dasham Granth) and then proceeded to Anandpur Sahib to establish the Khalsa Panth. The associated museum has many artifacts including pens and weapons associated with Guru Govind Singh Ji.
Having a darshan at the Paonta Sahib Gurudwara, we moved to Kripalsheela gurudwara, situated nearby to have langar prasad on Samar’s advise. It was almost 1100 hrs and the sun was shining with it’s all might, hell bent to burn everything.
Tummy full, we hopped on the beast and proceeded towards Shillai which is around 70 kms. There were these unique trolleys installed overhead that would transport rocks, just buy the load of them – ingenious thought. Half way through, past all the habitations, I suddenly felt that the beast is not picking up acceleration even when the pedal was full pressed, which was something unusual. Couple of seconds later, I heard some clicking sound from the dashboard and then I noticed that the heat indicator needle was at maximum and the lights were blinking continuously. We stopped the car and got down to inspect opening the bonnet…
The engine compartment was excessively heated up and we could see that the coolant container was completely dry. There was a dry burning smell emanating and we understood that there has been a leakage from the radiator. Now, we were in a complete desolate zone with no habitation around at all. The mountains were dead and there were no trees to provide any shade and it was scorching peak summer Sun hell bent on burning everything. We were at the corner of a bend and there was this nondescript temple at the other side. Anil and Samar went to the temple to see if any help is available, however no soul was to be seen. There were a couple of containers with some liquid filled in and there was a bucket too. Anil and Samar first smelled the liquid to see if it was water or some fuel. Fortunately, it was water. They got some water and we filled the radiator, which gulped it like anything. And then we saw that some water was dripping down and Madan noticed that it was from the hose of the radiator, which would need to be replaced. Now, we understood that there won’t be any help available before Shillai and the last help available was at Paonta Sahib, which was again 35 kms. We parked the beast in an open space at the turn just besides the temple, waiting it to cool so that we can reach the nearest help available at Shillai. We all were worried and if I express it in Samar’s words – “Hum sab ki to fatt li thi”. The time read 1240 hrs…
Somewhere in my mind, I was thinking that this wasn’t possible as the beast has never failed me on any trip and I had full faith on it. However, looking at the scenario, I too was giving in thinking it of the first time this aging beast would be failing me on a trip.
And then, a miracle happened! Fifteen to twenty minutes later, we topped up the radiator and the coolant container again and Madan exclaimed that it was no longer leaking at all!! 🙂 The temperature gauge was back to normal too and having kept the ignition on for around 10 more minutes, it appeared to have become stable – talk about the healing powers of the Beast! Thanking our stars and thinking to get the hose pipe replaced at the first opportunity, we hopped on the beast and drove again, Madan now at the driving seat (and he is quite good at it driving on hills!).
We tried sourcing hose pipe at Shillai, but they won’t have the one for Scorpio. We drove on and the further drive was uneventful, except for the bad and worse roads (if we may call them).
Just before Tiuni, we arrived at a place which had multiple small waterfalls just besides the roadside. We took a break here to shoot photographs and this was the first time, I pulled out my DSLR. Quite amazing and beautiful the place was and we spent quite a lot of time there. And when we were about to start, Anil decided that he had to listen to his bowel movements and so we spent some more time. 🙂 The time read 1750 hrs…
We passed by Tiuni, where the Pabbar river meets Tons marking the start of Pabbar valley. Driving further ahead, we passed by Hatkoti, and shortly ahead, we arrived at Rohru. Now, being the Yayawars we are, we didn’t had any reservations for any accommodations and so when we noticed the HP PWD Rest House just on the road, we decided to break for the night there itself, and so we drove it inside. The time read 1940 hrs…
Funny incident, as PWD Rest Houses may not have rooms available and so Anil and Madan, asked me, Samar and Dheeraj to remain in the car and went to talk to the caretaker. They introduced themselves as the Gunner and Driver of the Judge Saab from Noida(supposedly me!) and their friends of a holiday! And this worked!! We were quickly given two rooms, though later we came to know that the entire guest house was empty! There was a lot of plastic/thermocol waste thrown in the lawn and when I pulled up the caretaker – Mani Ram, who claimed to be a local Himachali, but had an acute accent and built much similar to Kashmiris, he said that this was due to a function held last night and today being Saturday, nobody was available to clean the campuses. I gave him a good lecture on spoiling the environment and above all, keeping the Rest House dirty.
Having some tea, we thought of going to the market to have some trout for dinner. We walked back and forth in the market, but nothing much to avail. We then realized that being the mountains, these places close early. There was this one restaurant serving plain meals for which we were not interested and so we walked to the other side towards the Shikdi bridge. We found a small restro-bar, which was half open and so we forced ourselves in to have something. Anil, Madan and myself ordered mutton, while Dheeraj settled for some egg-bhurji and Samar for regular vegetable and dal. The taste for everything was yuk (the mutton was sheep perhaps, but wonder how they managed to spoil the egg-bhurji too)!
We came back to our hotel, had some mangoes that we carried and then went to sleep!
Next: Nature welcomes Yayawar at Chanshal Pass
Total Distance covered: Approx 488 kms (though google maps show 469 kms)
Driving Directions from Noida to Rohru: From Noida, reach the tri-junction at Sector 62 – NH 24 T-point and turn right on NH 24. Continue on NH 24 to cross Hindon river and pass by Crossings Republik and ABES college. Take the flyover and after crossing it, keep looking for the board to Meerut just after the Industrial area. Turn left just before Columbia Asia Hospital on the road and follow the road (Shaheed Nayak Krishna Kumar Marg – Rani Jhansi Marg) to turn right at the Meerut Road (NH 58) just after IMT Centre for Distance Learning (IMT CDL). Continue on NH 58 to pass by Muradnagar and Modinagar (ensure that you pass by these areas early in the morning, for the road passes through market area which becomes crowded with chaotic traffic as the day begins). After Modinagar, take the Meerut bypass (do not take the flyover, rather take the leftmost road to be on bypass) and pass by Daurala, Khatauli (marked by Cafe Cheetal Grand – once famous for it’s delicious offerings) and then take the Muzaffarnagar bypass (turn right to be on the bypass). Just as the bypass ends, take the right fork to pass by Purkazi/Purquazi and then arriving at Roorkee. At Roorkee, just after the Military Hospital, turn left on NH 73 to go torwards Dehradun. Driving on the road, take the right fork at Bhagwanpur to leave NH 73 and take the Roorkee-Chhutmalpur road to arrive at Chhutmalpur and then turn right to be on NH 72A which passes through Rajaji National Park to reach Dehradun. At Dehradun, keep following NH 72A, the most prominent road and take left fork at Prince Chowk to be on NH 72. Keep left on the road and at the Ghantaghar roundabout (Clock Tower), take first major exit turning left to remain on NH 72 (if confused, ask for the directions to Prem Nagar). Continue on NH 72 (also called Chakrata road) to pass by Doon School and then Prem Nagar. Keep following the NH 72 to cross Assan river and pass by Herbertpur. Keep straight at Herbertpur and arrive at Assan Barrage. Further, cross Yamuna to arrive at Govindghat and then turn left to pass by market and arrive at Gurudwara Paonta Sahib, otherwise, keep straight and arrive at the roundabout. Take the second exit to left from the roundabout and at the next roundabout, take the third exit to pass by Dharamkot, Naraingarh and Rajban, after which the Giri river gives you company and the hills start. Cross the Giri river at Sataun and keep following NH 72 to pass by Kamrau and Shillai. Shortly after Shillai, the Tons river starts giving you company continuing up to Tiuni, where the Pabbar river meets Tons. Continue straight on NH 72, along with the Pabbar river to pass by Jhitand, Arakot, Kuddu, Sawra and arrive at Hatkoti. Take the right fork at Hatkoti (the left goes to Kharapathar-Kotkhai-Theog-Kufri-Shimla) and arrive at Rohru. HPPWD Rest House is location just on the highway itself.
Google Map directions for Noida to Rohru: http://goo.gl/maps/GzP2p