Independence Day Trip to Dalhousie, Chamba and Sach Pass

Day 2 (part-1), 16th August 2008: Dalhousie - Khajjiar - Chamba - Gati (hardships begin...)

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Thanks to the alarm I had set the previous night, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning. Initially I had planned to ride to a nearby location or head to Khajjiar to capture the sunrise.

Unfortunately it was raining outside, knowing fully well that I wouldn’t be able to do any photography, I went back to sleep. Only to wakeup again at around 5am, by now Varun was also awake. Both of us got out of the bed and looked outside, although it was still cloudy and dark, I started seeing opportunity for some low light photography. Another 10 minutes and I was standing in the balcony of the room with my camera firmly mounted on the tripod, took a few long exposure shots and watched the skies transform from one hue to another.


hues of morning light

It was heavenly feeling to stand there and not only watch the colors change around us, but also watch clouds engulf one hill after another, only to stay there momentarily and then move on to the next.

small village near dalhousie being engulfed by clouds

Watching these small villages in distance, I couldn’t help but wonder; how it would feel to live there (have been dreaming of this for a while now). I was abruptly woken up from my day dream by a monkey who had just arranged his breakfast and decided to eat it at the roof directly opposite my hotel room.

monkey having breakfast

It was time to say farewell to Dalhousie and move on, en route we came across Dalhousie Public school. One of the most scenic and beautiful schools I have seen in my life, even their guard house was picturesque!

dalhousie public school

As we cruised on the rain soaked mountain roads, surrounded by lush green valleys, I couldn’t help but praise our decision to divert from our original plan of reaching Chamba on the first day. Had we done that, we would have never been able to experience this.

varun riding on rain soaked roads

En route to Khajjiar, we had to pass through Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary. A lush green forest, made even more enchanting due to clouds and fog, which made it appear as a dream sequence from a movie. Narrow roads, lack of traffic, small streams and falls nearby made the whole experience even more endearing. (Did shoot a video en route which I will upload in a few days)

small stream en route to khajjiar

yogesh sarkar posing next to the small stream

But nothing had prepared me for what lay ahead, as I watched the forest give way to what seemed like a parking lot and hotels, I was mesmerized with what I saw, I’ll let the photographs do the talking:


beauty of khajjiar

hptdc hotel at khajjiar

I couldn’t help but feel how right this signboard was:

switzerland sign board at khajjiar

As if it wasn’t magical enough, soon clouds started engulfing the whole area, making it even dreamier:

It was a signal for us to move on and just as we mounted our steeds, little drops of rains started making their presence felt. However seeing this HPTDC cottage from the other side, we knew we had to stop and capture a photograph of it, even at the risk of getting our cameras wet. Finally mustering the courage, I took off my helmet and put my camera inside it to provide it shelter long enough to capture a couple of photographs of this beautiful cottage.

hptdc cottage at khajjiar

khajjiar cottage

We then rode non stop till Chamba (thanks to the persistent rain), here we tried to locate an Ashram where Varun was supposed to meet his father’s acquaintance. After a bit of effort and riding through streets wide enough to only accommodate a single motorcycle, we finally reached the Ashram, only to learn that he wasn’t present there at the moment. While the news was disappointing, we nevertheless enjoyed navigating through those narrow streets.

We decided to fill our and our motorcycle’s bellies in Chamba and Varun also decided to get some medication from the local doctor. After about an hour or more, we decided to head towards Sach Pass, even though we heard rumors that the pass was closed today.

As we left Chamba behind, we encountered heavy rains, which only made our determination to conquer Sach Pass even stronger. But as if to test our spirits, Mother Nature had something in stored for us. As I took a turn, a came across several vehicles standing on the road, in the distance a landslide was taking place.

It was Gati, an area so notorious for landslides that a JCB was stationed here! As I watched the rubble coming down from the mountain side, increasing each time, I couldn’t help feel slightly disappointed. This was further aggravated by the drivers present there who laughed when they learnt that we were planning to conquer Sach Pass on our motorcycles, in this weather!

They warned us not to go any further as the area ahead of us was suffering from even more landslides and Sach Pass had closed today due to almost non stop rain for past couple of days.

With the rain showing no sign of relenting and landslide getting worse by the minute, we decided to retreat to a shelter few kilometers back.

rain shelter near gati

By now I was completely drenched and slightly shivering, Varun although saved by the rain suit, was also suffering from fever...

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