Friday, September 29, 2006

Manali to Lahaul + Crazy Hike

After acclimatization in Manali for three nights at an altitude of 2000 meters, it was time to raise the bar. So we moved to Pattan valley (Altitude 3200 meters) in the Lahaul and Spiti ditrict of the Himachal Pradesh in India. We stayed in a small village of only six houses with the family of my friend "Ravi" whom I knew from my college days in Chandigarh, India. Pattan Valley was approximately 160 kms from Manali and it took us 10-12 hours to cover this distance. The prominent landmark enroute was Rohtang Pass on the inner Himalayan range at an altitude of 3975 meters. This was the highest point of the road from Manali to Pattan and it offered some excellent views of the Lahaul and Spiti valley towards north and Kullu Valley towards south. The ascent from Manali to Rohtang was very steep (2000 meters in 51 km) and the road was always winding.

0911 - Sweet Nathalie amidst not so sweet Bollywood extras from a movie being filmed at Marhi (Altitude: 3300 meters) on our way to Rohtang Pass. Marhi means "Pile of dead bodies" in Hindi.

0911 - Yvan surrounded by the prayer flags at Marhi.

0911 - Rohtang La (Pass, Altitude: 3975 mt.) After 5 hours in the Van/SUV from Manali in which we covered 51 km, we reached this pass on the inner Himalayan range.

Lahauli Kitchen: Group enjoying a sumptuous meal in the Kithchen of our hosts in the Pattan Valley.

Our Hosts in Pattan Valley, Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India

Acclimatization Hike (Part Deux): A crazy hike to the caves (3800 meters) in Pattan valley that prepared the trekkers not to be scared of heights.

Yvan: Enjoying the view from the top.
Don't ask me how I took this photo.

Not for the faint at heart : It was quite a view from the top of the cliff but not everybody could make it. On dropping the stones from the top it took them 4 seconds to hit the ground.

From Delhi to Manali

Journey from Delhi where the group landed in India to Manali (Our base in the Himalayas for the adventure activities of the group).

Flight from Canada to India was the longest flight ever for most of the people in the group. It varied from 20 to 24 hours with one stop in Europe. To escape the chaos and heat of Delhi, after 18 hours of our landing, we boarded on a 17 hours bus ride to Manali. It was an always winding road. Manali at an altitude of 2000 meters was a fantastic place and despite such a tiring journey, it was great to be there and we felt alive and sooo full of energy.

0907 - Smiling in Terror: Trying to smile while being terrorized by the traffic in the crazy Auto Rick ride of New Delhi.

0907 - First day in Delhi: Enjoying the fine and authentic South Indian Cusine in Delhi. My friend from Leh (Spalgon) also joined us for the lunch.
0908 - Second Day in India (Longest Bus Ride) : After the longest flight in the lives of most of the people in the group (20 to 24 hours with one stop in Europe), we boarded on the longest bus ride of our lives, 575 kms in 17 hours.

0908-Severely jet lagged Chris. Chris displaying his ability to sleep pretty much anywhere. (In the balcony of Vashistha Cottage in Manali.) We had an excellent view of the Manali valley from this location.

Vashishta Cottage and Hotel Manali Continental: Group's base for trekking in Indian Himalayas. (I would highly recommend this place for anybody visiting Manali for the excellent hospitality and homely atmosphere offered over there).

0909 - Mouth watering authentic local Supper and Drinks (from Kullu Region) that the group enjoyed, courtesy of our hosts at Manali.

0911- Group shot with our hosts at Manali: Few moments before we left for a 4 day jeep safari from Manali to Leh.

Splendid view from the Vashistha Cottage in Manali
(Photo Credit: Raju)

NO COMMENTS: Main road in Manali. Life is full of surprises in India. BTW this was a nomad taking his herd from the higher reaches of the Himalayas to his winter residence in Punjab.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fantastic Trek .... but when will it stop raining in Dsala

I am in Dharamsala now where it has been raining continously for the past two days. Well there are periods when it drizzels and when there is a heavy downpour, but it never stops raining ... this is Monsoons my friends. I am just staying at my friends house and enjoying good food and above all I am recuperating from my last trek that was kind of pretty demanding. For those of you who do not know, Dharamsala is famous as Dalai Lama stays here. This place is surrounded by mountains on the three sides so it gets incessant rainfall during the monsoons.

The trek that I completed yesterday from Lahaul Valley to Bharmour was fantastic.

1. I crossed two high altitude passes (5040 mt. and 4750 meters).
2. Experienced heavy snowfall and snowstorm while crossing the second high altititude pass.
3. Stayed in the natural caves in the mountains on three nights. Stayed with Nomads, watched many ethnic ceremonies (one of them in which they sacrificed 20 sheeps for the gods). On one of the nights I also stayed in a a very psychedelic temple of Kelang and got some very interesting pictures (sorry no pics of the sheeps being sacrificed as the photography was prohibited over there).

Overall it was a fantasitic trek and I loved it, but I am happy that it is over ... :-) Eventually I will try to process my photos and give you guys more info about the people I met on this trek, the ceremonies I experienced and above all the fantastic places I visited. Till than ... Ciao !!!!