9th of July and we couldn’t wait to be on the road again. It was acclimatisation day. Having dunked Diamox with water (for most) and good ole Old Monk rum (Venki, you’re the star!) and downing some good Asian food the night before, we were geared up and ready for another round of adventure.
There are places to stay and then there are ‘places to stay’. The Iceland Hotel was idyllic, made us feel real good. Beautiful balcony with a view to sigh over; a stream flowing close by, misty mountains, horses grazing on the meadow behind, houses dotting the scene and the six of us in a rather great mood. The night before was a riot of conversations, getting ready for the next day and general silly talk.
Tried out thanthuk (a modified version of thukpa) and a glass of rum, not to forget the diamox dose (that had us stopping for more pee breaks than I could count in decades when I was pregnant. That’s besides the point.
We had a great riot of a time with Neha especially keeping us in splits, a drag of cigarettes in the cold is something else and catch up with school stories and reminiscence. It was a beautiful evening, cold on the outside and warm inside.
Early morning breakfast at the beautiful outdoor sit-out and we were all set to head out to Jispa, our next stop. All items and persons gathered for a photo (the one in the previous post) and we were on our way, bidding farewell to a good staff at Iceland Hotel. (Highly recommended place to stay especially on a holiday that can include all kind of adventure sports right there at Solang.) Our journey had begun.
Our challenge for the day cropped up at Gulab Post that checks documents for Rohtang Pass Permit and general passing through along Manali Leh Highway. We had climbed quite a bit through hairpin bends (loops), gorgeous sights and good roads. Venki’s permit was missing. We thought we would have to go all the way back to Solang for it. There was a lot of running around, each of us trying something or the other.
A cabbie helped us make initial calls through his phone (BSNL) that was working. Remember, no network, no phones calls could be made.A very helpful Constable named Suman Katoch was a great help. After a couple of calls by this shy, polite man in uniform, we managed to get a print from via WhatsApp and then were on our way to Jispa. Lesson – always check papers even if you are sure you have them.
We stopped at a beautiful hillside dotted with wildflowers of different colours and a view all around to die for. All around, the mountains, some snow-capped, other’s still green at this altitude surrounded the pure air. Absolutely exhilarating.
The Rothang Pass was beautiful, cold (not that much though) surrounded by the Pir Panjal mountains that had some snow left to melt still.
The customary Rohtang Pass picture taken, we gobbled down warm boiled chana masala and downed it with hot coffee, served by a feisty chap who makes it every day to the Pass to sell this. He was very particular about ensuring waste is rid of in the bin. Look out for Ramcharan who makes this chana masala real good!
We saw a lot of cyclists cycling up…later, post chatting with a few, learned they were from a bikers club and based in Delhi. We were out of breath in the vehicles and here were these men and women just scoring number on us. Reminders to all of us for getting fitter…(and that is another story ain’t it?)
The roads had been good so far…it got trickier thereafter. It wouldn’t have been much of a pain except I had a surgery last year that makes my back something I need to consistently be cautious about (of course, by the end of the trip, my back kind of gave me an up yours sign and said next should be a bike), Venki’s back was already in a spin and he had made it to the trip with exhaustive reflexology, physiotherapy etc. We were quite a bunch travelling…each one had their own health limitations and heck, we did it.
Jispa was a mess up from my side. I mistook the earlier booking with the current one and landed us up at the wrong hotel (I bet the other one was better) beside the river. We very sheepishly requested a rebook and very patiently it did happen. We huffed and puffed our way up three floors. The adventurous made their way down to the riverbed and lazy ones like Venki and I stayed back planning our evening glass, that eventually ended up with rum coffee. Both of us snuck a coffee and rum and generally watched from the balcony of the hotel.
Wouldn't stay at this place given a second chance. Killer service that kills!
Dinner was pretty interesting. After my constant crib about how the butter chicken in Pondicherry sucks, these guys had ordered a butter chicken for me…we pigged on momos and polished off a quantum of shahi tukda as well. Next morning was to be an early start and thus we called it an early night. Water shortage woes aside (which was quite a concern), lights out eventually happened. Karma and I talked for another two hours before we slept. When you have thirty years to catch up on, it can be a great night.
© Sandhya Suri
(p.s) I will be putting up the landscape and other pictures separately, soon. Check out for those posts as well. Later.