Day 4 Leh Ladakh trip–Manali and getting stranded at Rohtang

24 Sep


Day 1-3:

Day 4

Leaving for Manali from Buntar:

We got up at 7 am and went on the roof of our hotel to enjoy the beautiful views Bhuntar had to offer. Bhuntar has an Airport and is the center for accessing Manikaran and Manali.

The Beas river flowing just behind our hotel

Bhuntar town
The mountain on the left is Manali

We left for Manali at about 8 am hoping to make it to Keylong the same day.


We reached Manali at around 10 am and a local guy told us that the Rohtang pass is closed for repairs and it will open only at 5 pm. Our entire plan went haywire. A local taxi driver advised us to leave for Rohtang at around 3:30 pm and wait for the upper pass road to open. We didn’t have many buffer days and therefore decided to stick with this new plan and hopefully reach Keylong late in the night.
We then watched Delhi Belly at a local movie hall, had lunch at a restaurant that’s opposite to the tourist center.

En route to Manali

School children at Kullu

Lunch at Manali

Leaving for Rohtang:

We then finally left for Rohtang at around 3:30 pm. Sanjay and I went to a petrol pump and were waiting for Nikhil who was still in the market buying gum boots and petrol cans. A few minutes later Nikhil calls and says the luggage on his bike is falling off and he needs to re-arrange it. We then waited for him a couple of kilometers ahead, which turned out to be a long wait of almost 45 minutes.

Kunal in a senti mood

Arnold Sanjayzenneger

Nikhil then joined us and we had to take the big decisions of moving back to Manali and starting in the morning or continuing the ride. We all said ‘fuck it’ and just rode ahead.
The roads to Rohtang pass offer breathtaking views:

Rohtang road

Getting stranded at Rohtang:

For the initial few kilometers the roads were proper tarmac and the weather was pleasant. The roads then quickly turned from tarmac to dirt to mud. The roads were also very steep and often Prado, my pillion rider, had to get down and walk as riding with a pillion on mud was very tough.

But even that was manageable as there were hardly other cars or trucks on the road.

And then SHIT happened…

It started to rain and the mud turned to slush and it started turning dark. A few kilometers ahead we saw a massive line of trucks amidst the slush. Apparently a few trucks were trapped in the slush and therefore the road was blocked. So here we were stranded at 3600 metres, 7 pm with heavy rains, pitch black darkness and still probably 6-7 hours of riding till our next destination with just a small tea and snacks stall in sight. We parked our bikes next to the stall and drank some much needed hot tea. I saw the look on everyone’s faces and it was a mix bag of nervousness, excitement, confusion, and fear.

The rain didn’t stop, the traffic didn’t move and we knew we had to convince the tea stall owner to let us sleep in his stall.
Himachal hospitality, interesting conversations, and the smell of charas in the air

Soon there were 100s of trucks lined up on the road and some of the drivers joined us at the tea stall. If you want the inside information on any place, truckers are the best people to get it from. Conversations ranged from how the tankers always adulterate petrol and diesel before it even gets to the petrol pump to how famous Bollywood stars get their cigarettes custom made at Mandi and Manali.; All this of course with the smell of the famous Manala cream in the air. They offered it to us but we politely said a no.

Then we heard a story that a Spiti based driver was beaten up by two truckers from Punjab just ahead of us. I learned one important thing here–NEVER MESS WITH THE LOCALS. If you are tourist and hit a local’s car, just be apologetic about it and try to fix things. The truckers and tea stall owners themselves told us—we are sweet to people who are good to us, we will take care of you, help you with anything but you rub us the wrong way, the entire village will come armed with sticks to beat you up.

One of the experienced truckers looked at our bikes and said—“Are you seriously planning to go to Ladakh on these 125 and 150 CC underpowered bikes, that too will pillions? There is no way you are going to make it to Ladakh. If you get stuck or something, just remember my name and any truck driver will load your bikes and help you reach Ladakh.”

Prado and I looked at each other and kind of mentally said “What kind of shit are we in?” I told Nikhil that there is knee deep slush and we could probably load our bikes on one of the trucks and start riding only when the mud clears. Nikhil told us let’s see the situation in the morning and decide.

AMS started to show its early signs and we were all very tired. The tea stall owner had a small tent set up on the slopes nearby and Kunal, Prado, and I decided to sleep there. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life– Sleeping under the stars in a tent on the slope of a Himalayan range with rain and clouds all around us. I just forgot about the mud and the tough ride ahead and just went off to sleep

To be continued…


2 Responses to “Day 4 Leh Ladakh trip–Manali and getting stranded at Rohtang”

  1. Sosha October 20, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    I think it’s kinda compulsory for every Leh-goer to get stuck at or around Rohtang. Everyone I’ve heard of who’s been up is stuck at Rohtang. Even we were.

    And umm, where’s the continuing post? And what’s Manala ceam?

    • Amey Kanse October 20, 2011 at 10:08 am #

      I am currently writing a complete trip log instead of day-wise articles. It should be done by this weekend!

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