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A Memorable Trip To Rohtang - Keylong

''Some moments do not fade and always remain fresh in our memories!''

Here we go! : It was on June 15th, 2015 that we reached Manali with the aim to do Rohtang Pass, the pile of corpses. A week before, there were reports in the newspapers that read snow clearing work was underway and that Rohtang Pass would open to tourists by the middle of May. Accordingly, my husband and I had planned our travel. In general, the route to Ladakh via Rohtang is closed till the beginning of May in every winter owing to heavy rainfall.

As we started to enquire about transport for Rohtang, we got to know that tourists were not being allowed beyond the snow point in Manali, which was located few kms ahead of Rohtang. My husband and I were a lot disappointed as our sole purpose to come to Manali was to do Rohtang.

But, we did not lose hope and started to enquire with more travel agents. Eventually, one guy came as a saviour. He told us that the routes till Keylong village were operational and were being used by local jeeps to transport locals from Kullu and Manali to Keylong and nearby villages. Keylong is 115 kms from Manali and falls on the way to Ladakh and one has to cross Rohtang to reach Keylong. We requested him to reserve two seats in the jeep for us till Keylong. He, in turn, called up some other travel operator to book seats for us.

But it wasn’t as smooth as it seems. The other travel agent told us that locals were a priority for that route and that he was fully booked. He added we’ll be considered only if any two back out for some reason. He promised to call us around 2.30 am to give the exact status. In the meantime, we packed clothes and other stuff for a day thinking that we might get lucky and slept with alarms on. The alarm at 2.30 am ring, but our phones didn’t.

Then around 3.30 am this man called us and asked us to be ready in 15 minutes as he was coming to pick us. The excitement was at its peak as he had managed two seats for us. That's how we started for Keylong. And guess what? We managed seats next to the driver.

We had done so many road trips before, but the drive to Keylong was the best drive ever. It was blissful, heavenly and what not! Passing through the icy Rohtang Pass was an experience in itself. I couldn’t stop myself from clicking at each and every turn. Nothing was visible except the ice. Ice cutters, however, had done a great job of clearing the routes.

The single lane road with 20 feet ice on either side was so much fun. It reminded me of the Bollywood flick ‘Jab We Met’, which had a song picturised on that route featuring Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. The icy winds were blowing on the face and I felt no less than Kareena Kapoor. As we started to descend towards Lahaul Valley, the ice too started to diminish.

Finally, we reached our destination Keylong, which was a quaint, peaceful village in Lahaul Valley. Being a Sunday, all the more no one could be seen in the streets of the village. While looking for hotels we came across Nordaling Guest House, which was being run by a local. The guest house rooms were well maintained with a basic charge of Rs 1,000 per room that apparently get full once tourists start to come.

We had a beautiful view of snow-capped mountains from our room. Two local boys were made incharge of looking after the guests, one of who was really sweet and helpful too. Our lodging, food everything was taken care of properly. In fact, there was no other point where we could go and eat. Most shops were shut due to Sunday and nonoperational as the tourist season was yet to start. We stayed there for a night and came back the next day in a local jeep, which usually go back empty from Keylong. Since we were the only ones in that jeep, clicking photographs on the way became very easy.

Memories of this unplanned trip to Keylong are going to remain with us forever. And the best part, we could do it when no one else could. At times you need not plan anything, things automatically fall in place!


Source / Review By : Pramugdha Mamgain Nautiyal

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