Saturday, May 31, 2008

Peaks and flats

I am back... from a vacation to Uttaranchal. No wait... thats Uttarkhand now (For Soleil - Uttarkhand is one of the northern states in India). I have lived in India all my life. And I have spent loads of vacations exploring. But you see, there is a drawback to going on road trips. You get to go only to the places near by. As a result, I have seen almost all places worth visiting in Tamil Nadu and a few places in Karnataka and Kerala. About a couple of weeks ago, if you had asked me how far north I have gone in this country, I would have blushed and said "Mumbai". But not anymore! Coz last week, we got on a plane, flew to Delhi, drove to Roorkee and explored the state of Uttarkhand! With Roorkee as our base camp, we drove around Uttarkhand, visiting mainly hill stations coz they are so close to the Himalayas that one can see the snow capped mountains if they got lucky. That is, if the sky was clear. Its as hard as spotting a tiger in the Corbett National Reserve!!!! In other words, nearly impossible :P

Anyways, loads of stuff happened over this vacation and I have decided not to out everything in one post. Instead, I decided to write first about what made the entire trip worth it all.

Consider a day like this on a road trip... You intend to leave base camp at around 6am or maximum by 6:30am coz you got a long way to go. But even though you are ready, you can't because the driver is not there yet with the car. So you star about an hour late. On the way you face some rash driving and begin to appreciate the value of life after seeing how the car is being driven on a mountain road with loads of hairpin bends but no guard rails to stop the car from flying off the steep cliff. Some where on this narrow mountain road, you get a flat tyre that takes a while to fix. Now that you have used up your spare tyre and still have a long way to travel through the mountains, you need to get it repaired so that you aren't left stranded in case you get another flat. So you find a small, remote tyre repair shop. You find that your tubeless tyre cannot be repaired the way tubeless tyres should be repaired coz the hole is too big so you need to insert a tube. This whole process, which should have gotten over in 15 minutes, takes over an hour to complete. Why is that? Its because after putting the brand new tube into the tyre and inflating it, it starts losing air rapidly. Why? Because there was a nail inside the tyre and it punctured the brand new tube and now the repair guy has to fix the tube and then the tyre again. Finally, you reach your destination over 2 hours late coz of the misadventures along the road. Sounds like a crappy day doesn't it? This paragraph pretty much summarizes my first day on the road.

But you know what? In spite of all this, it turned out to be the most wonderful day of the entire trip!!!!! You know why? Coz for the first ever time in my life, I saw the snow capped Himalayas!!! :D :D :D Everyone said it would take loads of luck to spot them coz of the clouds and the haze. We were advised not to keep our hopes up. Imagine the odds. I saw the whole friggin' range!!! I wouldn't have if mom hadn't pointed it out. As we were driving, she was gazing out of the window and spotted a group of clouds. It took us all a while to realise that those weren't clouds but the snow on the mountain peak. And the best part - the place where we had stopped to get the spare tyre repaired, where we "wasted" over an hour had a magnificient view of the peaks! So now you know how I kept myself entertained for that hour. I not only gazed at the peaks, I also became an expert at repairing tyres :P :P :P

The place we were to stay that night was Ranikhet, a small hill station with a view of the Himalayas. The hotel we stayed in was awesome. Every room in that hotel came with a view of the range. And the dining area was out on a balcony with the most breath taking view of the mountains. I'm gonna let the pictures do the talking here on :)


Our driver for the trip at work

Good as new! Almost :P

The tyre repair shop. It was at an isolated hair pin bend of the road. Strategic location! Its amazing how many people get a flat tyre in this region :P

A Tubeless tyre

Not anymore! The soon-to-be-punctured tube being inserted by the shop keeper

The poor shop keeper spent so much of time and effort on our tyre which refused to get repaired! Even after he fixed the punctured tube, he couldn't get it filled with air coz the valve kept slipping from his fingers! He had to remove the tube atleast 2 or 3 times before he managed to fill it up. A huge crowd gathered to cheer him on (so they could get their tyres fixed :P)

Can you see the snow covered peaks at the horizon?

How about now?

A stroke of genius! I took this picture via a pair of binoculars :P

This attempt is slightly better. The mountain peak in view is called "Trishul" and remained visible for the entire duration of our trip :)

The photos were taken with my phone camera coz the other camera's battery was exhausted. Yeah, I love clicking random photos :P :P :P Takes its toll on the battery and the memory card! ;)


soleil said...

Lucky you gazing at the snow-capped Himalayas! :D Thank you for specially explaining where Uttarkhand is for me! I can't wait to read about the rest of the trip!

Clueless said...

Ooh, pretty! Yeah, the first time I saw the picture I thought they were clouds too. Pretty cool, huh? The Himalayas, woo! :D

Interesting that you got to observe tire-repairs! Now you know what to do if you get a flat! ;) And hairpin bends sound like a great place to set up shop - so scenic!

Macho Girl said...


Is it "Tyres" or "tires"? MRF and goodyear seem to think its "Tyre" but i tend to go by what u say :P

Clueless said...

Tyres! Definitely tyres. I made a boo-boo in my previous comment :P And I think MRF and Goodyear have a bit more experience than me in this matter! ;)

Macho Girl said...

THE clueless made a spelling mistake??? :O :O :O :P ;)