Day 2: Marooned in Marhi..

By @Saravana |
After an eventful first day, where i was caught in a freak hailstorm and had to camp by the side of the road, i was looking forward to a new day. Many questions still remained. Will the rains abate ? Will the road to Rothang pass be open ? and more importantly.. Will i be able to cross the Rothang pass on my cycle ?

Read on to find out..

5:45am: I woke up to a beautiful morning. Blue skies and puffy clouds. It looked like it was going to be a perfect day for cycling. I wanted to break camp early and set off.

6:00am: Had a firsthand lesson on how fickle the mountain weather could be. I spotted a few clouds far down in the valley, probably near Manali. They were moving up quickly. 5 minutes later i was in the middle of another downpour, to make matters worse my tent started leaking. No option but to wait out the rain.

7:30am: The rains finally abated. Waited a while for the sun to shine and dry some of my gear. But it was not happening. Decided not to stick around incase it rained again, i packed up and set off towards Marhi.

Had to negotiate a series of switchbacks to reach Marhi. I felt the first effects of altitude here. My breathing was labored and going was slower than usual. But the difficulties were offset by the sheer beauty of the surroundings. Snow capped mountains above, alpine forests below and grassy meadows all around me.
On reaching Marhi, i looked up to see a long line of vehicles stranded below the Rothang pass. Things did not look good, so i decided to wait and see. A little while later i met a couple of jaded bikers making their way down towards Marhi. My heart sank after hearing what they had to say.

"It was 15km of deep mud".. they said. "No point trying to cycle to Rothang pass. It took us about 5 hours to negotiate the 15km". 

Thats it. I did not fancy my chances cycling through deep mud. Decided to wait for a bus to take me across.

Then the rains started. Light but persistant. And the queue below the pass kept growing with no signs of the traffic easing. That dampened my sprits even more and i decided to spend the day at Marhi and hope for a better day tomorrow.

The next challenge was finding a place to stay at Marhi. Marhi has numerous tea houses and small restaurants catering to the Indian tourists who do a day trip to Rothang pass and turn back. But there are no guest houses available. I was sure that they'll arrange a bed for me to sleep but i wanted more space to dry my gear.

So i tried the Himachal government's PWD guest house. But the chowkidar was reluctant to give me a room as i did not have a booking. Thinking that he was purposely stalling in order to extract more money from me, i told him that i knew the engineer at the Marhi power plant and that i could stay there if i wanted to. I meant for this information to be used as a bargaining chip to let him know that i had other options. But he was genuinely excited to hear this information and set about finding a way for me to get in touch with the official stationed at the power plant.

A few hours later, i found myself walking down a slushy, grassy slope towards the Marhi power plant. Turns out that the people at the power plant were expecting me. Devan, the guy i met in Kothi, had called up the day before and told them about my arrival. So they were happy to have me and i was happy to be there.

The facilities at the power plant were basic. But i was able to have a hot shower and put all my wet gear out to dry. They even had satellite TV and at my request, we got the cricket channel activated and spent the evening watching an IPL match.

It was pretty interesting how the day turn out. Everything went against my plans but it still ended up being a great day full of memories. The best of which was experiencing random acts of kindness from strangers who do it out of the goodness of their hearts without expecting anything in return. This for me is the reason for traveling.
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