Independence Day Trip to Dalhousie, Chamba and Sach Pass

Day 5, 19th August 2008: Bhanjraroo - Banikhet - Pathankot (hardships nearly over)

Continued from the previous page...

Finally I was sleeping on a comfortable double bed and I had it all to myself (though half of it was covered by wet cloths), I just wanted to sleep as long as I could. However I woke up at around 6 in the morning, after a while the caretaker showed up with tea.

Packed up my luggage, had a shower and was out of the guesthouse by 7:30am. Now I was in a dilemma, I knew Varun wouldn’t be here till 10-11am and since there was no mobile communication between us and my idea prepaid connection wasn’t yet working. I decided to do a bit of riding and then return to Bhanjraroo.

First I got my bike’s chain tightened and lubricated from a mechanic at Bhanjraroo and the headed towards Chamba.

en route to chamba

While standing on top of a bridge, I noticed a smaller bridge under it, which didn’t seem to lead to a pathway. I asked a local passing by and he told me that it was made to check the level of water in the river (yellow markings indicate water level), but most of the time it was used by monkeys.

small bridge under a bridge

Saw a car wash and decided to get my motorcycle washed, upon seeing her, the washer asked, “Are you coming from Pangi?” I nodded with a smile on my face and he started washing my bike.

getting the bike washed

After a good wash, she was back to her shiny self. At around 9:30am, I decided to ride back to Bhanjraroo. Parked my motorcycle at the main square/bus stand and bought a half liter bottle of slice to quench my thirst and hunger (due to Tuesday fast, this was my breakfast).

Waited there for nearly an hour, tried Jithu’s phone and learned that they were only a few kilometers away. Went down to the mechanic’s shop, where I was told that there was no electricity and no tube, saw the pickup in the distance and stopped them and told them to turn around and head to Tissa. But luck wasn’t on our side and the 2-3 shops we enquired at, only had small sized tubes. Finally decided to off load the motorcycle at a garage and see if the tube could be repaired.

Got a team assembled to bring the bike back on the ground

Got a team assembled to bring the bike back on the ground

Varun’s bike in the pickup

Varun’s bike in the pickup

Time to bring her out

Varun and Jithu posing in front of the pickup

varun and pickup driver jithu posing

While Varun and I started chatting, the mechanic got to work and took the tyre out. Thankfully the tube was still intact; however there were three punctures, due to two small pins lodged in the tyre.

It was taking them ages to get the puncture fixed and when it was finally done and the bike was washed, one of the mechanics took her for a ride without our permission. As nearly half an hour passed, Varun and I started to get worried and asked one of the mechanics there to get our bike back; he left and finally came back after 15 minutes, claiming the other mechanic was having a hard time starting the bike after it had stalled midway. Furious we decided to move on, by now it was 2:30 in the afternoon and weather was really hot.

our motorcycles back togather

A small farm en route to Chamba

A small farm en route to Chamba

After a while we decided to take a long break, just as we were enjoying the beautiful scenery, we heard someone screaming and when we looked up, we saw a cow tumbling down. It seemed the two cows were fighting and one of them fell down. While we couldn’t see the cow, the expressions on this boy’s face told the story.

shocked kid looking at the dead cow

We decided to move on and were now enjoying the smooth ride. Crossed Gati, which was now peaceful. Few kilometers down the road, I watched Varun disappear in my rear view mirror. I decided to head back and found him coming my way, slowly. It turned out to be another rear wheel puncture!

Puncture repair shop was 8-10 kms ahead and we decided to ride till that place. We were again told that the shop didn’t have a tube, but one could be found around 15kms ahead at Chamba. I decided to head to Chamba and found a tyre shop there, bought a 120/90x17” tube and went back. By now the tube was out of the tyre and it was torn beyond repair.

rear tyre tube

After getting the puncture repaired, we decided to take the alternate route to Banikhet, bypassing Chamba, Khajjiar and Dalhousie. The alternate route was in good condition and wider roads (comparatively speaking) allowed us to ride a bit fast.

We reached Banikhet in the evening and decided to push our luck and headed for Pathankot. Few kilometers after Banikhet, we stopped at this shelter for a small break, before the final push to Pathankot.

pit stop en route to pathankot

Once it got dark, I decided to take the lead because Varun was having a hard time with his 35/35w headlight. While my motorcycle had 55/60w headlight and 55w spot lamp. It worked well with other traffic as cars and trucks would switch to low beam, but we were riding through completely dark and twisty road, which had no markings or signs. This made cornering hard, as it was really tough to judge the corners and at the same time spot the numerous potholes.

We decided to call it a night and inquired at a hotel en route and were quoted Rs. 500 for a small room, which at that time seemed unreasonable. So we decided to press on, a decision we regretted half an hour later, as we couldn’t find any more hotels en route. Sigh of relief came when we could see large number of lights in the distant valley, which we assumed was Pathankot. With a new found vigor, we rode hard and finally reached Pathankot at around 9pm.

Once at Pathankot, I straightaway headed for Hotel Parag, where I had stayed twice earlier, while returning from Ladakh. Once there, I saw some familiar faces, who gave me slightly better than usual rate.

After a nice cold shower (it was really hot), it was time to have my dinner.

On the left hand side is my dinner (petha (ate around 1/5 of that)) and on the right hand side is my breakfast.

my breakfast and dinner

After “dinner”, it was time to go to sleep.


STD: Rs.15
Food and stay at Bhugotu: Rs.250 (mine one day and Varun’s two day)
Breakfast: Rs.25
Room rent: Rs.350

Continued on the next page...