Read Day 5 here.
The good thing was, that the next morning we all had boarded the bus at 5:50am. We wanted to reach Manali at a decent time.
On your way to and from the Spiti valley, you would observe these man-made stone structures, set up right on to one side of the main road. Depending on which side of the road it is kept on, the driver of the vehicle is supposed to drive around it, instead of past it. The “mantras” in the stone structure are then supposed to bless the journey ahead. I observed that our driver followed the rule very religiously.
For the most part of the journey we were either sleeping or observing the drive silently. Perhaps we were too tired and a bit emotionally worn-out to be chit-chatting.We stopped at Losar for breakfast and then Chhatru for lunch.
We did not hit any traffic until Rohtang Pass, where suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of a traffic jam,coupled with zero-visibility fog. At home, in Bareilly, the zero-visibility fog is my favorite weather of the season as you are free to roam around the town without bothering to dress-up. It, however, did not look like a bright sight at Rohtang pass. People visiting the pass had parked their cars right on the road itself, thereby furthur blocking the traffic. We could see tourists all around us in various forms- families, group of students, honeymooners, etc. Of the lot, the most interesting ones to watch were the honeymooners. Amidst the horrible traffic jam, even the photographers were making the quick-buck. Chai-walas and Maggi-walas thought that this was just the time for us to re-fuel ourselves, and were delivering to the people sitting in their respective vehicles,while still being stuck in the jam. It was total mayhem. We were back to the reality of chaos that life normally is.
One such particularly interesting sight to behold was a newly-married couple who were being clicked by a professional photographer. The photographer suggested that the couple balance themselves on two rocks, la-titanic-pose. The rocks in question were sloping into the nothingness of the gorge. All of us (including our bus-driver) watched with bated breath as the couple balanced themselves and posed just the way their photographer had suggested them to. You could call me a little too practical, but the entire idea seemed a bit too much of an adventure to me. I still do not think that I could spot what the two giant rocks were supported on and it could easily slip into nothingness any minute, taking the lovers along with it. As the photo-op got over, and the lovers hopped back on to the main road, co-incidentally the traffic too started moving. We all focused back on the zero-visibility road ahead, while mentally replaying and disapproving of what we had just seen. In all fairness, I now think that we collectively disapproved of it because our entire Spiti adventured paled in comparison to the heroism we had just beheld in the name of love. Within seconds, it had us feeling that anything that we had done in Spiti (trekking, swimming, cycling) in the name of adventure, was nullified by this pair’s antics. Our addiction to adrenalin rush was mocking at us right in the face.
The Rohtang pass traffic jam lasted for about 45 minutes. We took a chai break there-after for about 20 minutes. This is where our phones reconnected us with the reality with had left behind. As our mails and messages from the last six days started filtering in, one part of me was ready to turn back to Spiti and never come back again!
We reached Manali at about 5:30pm. Checked into our hotel and freshened up and had an early dinner of sorts. We lazed around the place, just generally trying to collect ourselves from the 12 hour journey we had undertaken. Some of us hung around at the hotel cafe, while others took a walk around the market. This was also the moment when all of us were suddenly reminded of our families and friends back home, and hence began the eternal struggle for shopping for perfect gifts to be carried back.
At 11:00pm, we called it a day. It was time to streamline things, as we all were heading out to our respective worlds in the next 48 hours.
Here they are:
Distance between Kaza to Old Manali : 210kms
Distance between Kaza to Losar: 61kms
Distance between Losar and Kunzum Pass: 20kms
Distance between Kunzum Pass and Battal: Someone please update
Distance between Battal and Chhatru: 32kms
Distance between Chhatru and Gramphoo: 18kms
Distance between Gramphoo to Old Manali: 67kms