13th September 2014, Saturday
The previous day was a remarkable day. The solo ride from Bathri to Saach Pass and then from Saach Pass to Killar will always remain etched in my memory. It was thrilling, fearsome and passed through some of the loneliest and eerie landscape I have ever been to. I got a huge dose of fear.
In the end I felt like a winner. while facing those dreadful, scary moments, my self esteem and belief got a big boost. It required strong will, control over mind and emotions besides some riding skills. In the end I reached Killar, in a single piece, drenched, tired but in high spirit.
The first impression of Killar was very disappointing. There were only two hotels, had poor facilities and overpriced. The people I met were unhelpful and almost everyone was drunk. Finally I got a dingy room in Hotel Chamunda View within my budget. Another disappointment was no internet connection. BSNL connection works here but not the net.
The morning in Killar was beautiful though. Weather was absolutely wonderful. Fresh cool scented breeze was blowing. Clouds were playing hide and seek. The slopes of the town were lined up with green plants and trees. Birds flying around merrily. People looked fresh and nice. Walking around in that atmosphere for about an hour was heavenly.
Killar (7000 ft ASL) is situated at a steep gradient along the mighty Chenab (Chander Bhaga) river, is a tehsil of Chamba district (HP) and the headquarter of remote tribal Pangi valley. There are 3 roads through which you can take to reach Killar.
1. Chamba-Killar (156 km) via Saach Pass.
2. Kishtwar-Killar (120 km) via Gulabgarh.
3. Keylong-Killar (127 km) via Udaipur.
All these roads are rough, remote, steep, slippery, potholed, slushy, full of gushing water streams with fear of boulders rolling down from looming large all the time. There are ample chances of strucking in between landslides, broken bridges and washed roads especially during the rains. The chances of immediate help in case of any emergency and machinery breakdown are remote. While driving on these roads one gets the feeling that these roads are nothing short of a miracle.
Its good to see a bank here, SBI, but there is no ATM. Patrol is available in local market at a premium. Nearest filling station are at Kandi (Chamba road, 120 km), Kishtwar (120 km), Tandi (120 km). Taxis are available for all the routes. BSNL network is available but very very slow.
There are 2 hotels available besides some guest houses and a rest house. Forest Rest Houses and PWD Rest Houses are available in the valley almost every ten kilometers. There are ample basic eating shops available in the market. The entire area of Pangi Valley is spread in three valleys. These are Saichu, Hudan Bhatori and Sural Bhatori.
Cultivation of peas and apples have done wonders to the well being of the people in a big way.
Pangi valley is heaven for trekkers, adventure tourists and nature lovers. It has vast green grasslands, gushing nallas and rivulets, beautiful waterfalls, a variety of wild flowers, rich wildlife, miles of snow laden slopes, crisp mountain air, cool refreshing water. The people of area called Pangwal and Bhoti and the language spoken is Pangwali.
Sural Bhatori is a picturesque sub-valley of Pangi Valley, and is situated at an altitude of around 10,000 feet above sea level about 22 kms from Killar. The area is an ideal base camp for various trekking trails and is paradise for trekkers. A few kms from Sural village is a waterfall. Beyond this waterfall a trail leads to Zanskar. The valley inhabited by the Buddhists.
This was more of a rest day after gruelly ride last night. After morning walk I tried to mix with people and know about them, their lives and customs. More or less I did not find any stark difference in their lifestyle considering the remoteness of the area. Their lives looked as normal as is seen in any normal town.
After breakfast I decided to ride to Sural Bhatori, which was around 22 kilometers from Killar. Initial ride was along the mighty Chenab on the road to Kishtwar. After few kilometers there is turn to the right for Sural Bhatori. For initial part, the road is good. The road became kachha and rough as I rode deep into the valley.
The valley looked very beautiful and fertile. The people of the area are mostly educated and in service. This was a bit of surprise to me. For the first time in life I saw bhojpatra and neoja forests. I rode till the last village Suraj but could not muster up courage to walk up to the waterfall, which, I was told, was a beautiful one.
In the afternoon I came back to Killar and felt a little home sick. Anand, a very nice movie was being shown on tv. This followed by another very beautiful movie Balika Vadhu. I enjoyed watching two beautiful back to back movies until it was dinner time.
Had nice dinner at the hotel and went to sleep.
The end of 3rd day of JOY OF SOLO BIKE RIDE TO LADAKH 2014!!!