Day 2 (1-Aug-2007):
Finally, the extra hot day followed by a not so pleasant night had one advantage; I didn’t need to waste the battery of my alarm to get up.
Yes, you guessed it right. The shelter I found for the night was a non-a/c room.
After taking care of the morning duties & settling the hotel bill, it was time to again hit the road.
The morning time wasn’t as pleasant as I was expecting it to be. Worried about the prospect of getting caught by noon Sun, while still in plains, I zoomed off the start line like a racer aiming to take the hole-shot. Leaving behind the sparse traffic of city, I was soon zipping towards the mountains (don’t get your pulse racing, it wasn’t that hot pace as it might sound :)), wanting to catch the cooler weather of mountains as soon as possible.
Hardly an hour into the ride, it seems the cooler weather wanted to catch me before I could catch him, in mountains. In horizon I see dark rain clouds filling the sky. Not able to decide if I should feel happy (getting rid of the heat) or should feel sad (might get wet – just the riding jacket was water proof), I was caught by the thundering rain. Before I could stop and put on the rain pant, I was drenched. So, I decided to save the effort and let my body soak in some fresh water. I opened the waterproof jacket a bit, to make sure the upper body doesn’t complain of being deprived of getting wet in rain water, while the lower body does. Keeping my safety in mind (and also didn’t want to have rain drops hitting my face), I ignored complains of my head that he also wanted to experience the feeling of getting wet in rain.
While the rain lasted for just a few km’s but it made the rising mercury crash on the floor. In a space of few minutes the weather has changed drastically and I am yet to see “m” of mountain.
The road from Jalandhar (once you turn towards Pathankot) after being 4 lane initially had turned into a two lane road with road work going on in patches and then some patches of pot holed & bumpy surface.
Having being spoiled by the boring NH1 till now, the narrow road along with some traffic was making me feel good.
Enjoying a ride on a decent stretch of road coupled with some good weather, what else can one ask for? Well, food to being with. So, when the breakfast deprived stomach decided that it had enough; I had to pull over at the next decent looking “dhaba” for lunch.
After making stomach happy, it was time to get back on the road. As Pathankot got closer, the traffic started to pick up, so I dropped the pace and now I had to pass through the city towards Chamba.
Asking for directions a couple of times, I crossed the city. Soon I was greeted with greenery and twisties. While the fun quotient goes up by a few notches, the pace drops down a bit, as I wanted to enjoy every moment of riding.
From hazy views, to cloudy & green peaks to strange sand formations, it was a very productive day for the eyes, after the hot ‘n’ humid disaster on previous day.
When one is riding for the first time, through a location as scenic as this one, and then see turn off point for places like Dalhousie & Khajjar. The choice of where to go becomes harder. It wasn’t an easy choice for me to skip those destinations and stick onto the road towards Chamba. One thing that helped the decision was the fact that, soon it would become dark. So, I left my lust (with a promise that I’ll come back soon and pick it up) for more exploration at those turn off points and carried on towards Chamba.
Before it could get dark, I was in Chamba. After a short search for night halt, it was time to take a walk. The little town was buzzing with activity, all thanks to some “mela” happening in the nearby ground.
Went to the bus stand to enquire about the road status of Sach Pass, while the Pass was open the bad news was that due to landslides the road is blocked after Killar. Having come so far, I was in no mood to turn back without trying. So I decided to enter the Pangi Valley, first thing in the morning.
To have a backup plan, in case I’m unable to cross over, I called up Roy in the plains, as he would be better informed about the latest news. With some news of unrest a few days before I started the ride, I was not feeling comfortable in riding alone into the Kashmir valley, for the first time. The information I got was positive, so Kashmir valley was one of the backup plans for now.
With the plan frozen for next day’s ride, had a quick dinner and went to sleep.