30th June 2017, Friday………Day (1) Amritsar to Urla (Jogindernagar) 340 km
It has been over a month I had been to the mountains. My heart is always looking for the slightest of opportunity to back to the hills. A brief spell of rain, the construction of our home halted for a day or two and my mischievous mind instigated ‘let’s go’. Initially my better half was willing too and like many times in the past skidded at the last.
So had to embark on yet another short solo trip. The first task in hand was to finalise the destination, route and preparation. Since my travel suitcase and Lalpari is always ready, the rest of the things were taken care of my wife. She helps me alot and takes care of all the things that I might need during the trip.
Nothing much on my mind except to see, to what extent ‘Bathu Ki Ladi’, a group of ancient temples near Jawali, has submerged in Pong reservoir due to the latest spell of rains and also to click its pictures from Dhameta side, I began from my home in the afternoon following Amritsar-Shri Hargobindpur-Dasuya-Talwara-Pong Dam route.
It is always good to see men and women from UP selling roasted grams, corns and other cereals near Miani Mor. I always get a jar filled with those roasted food items that come handy during difficult times. The air conditioner of the car stopped working near Talwara, the mechanic told me that it would take some time for fixing the fault. I though decided to skip the repair and continue without air conditioner.
For crossing Pong Dam, the check post at both the ends of the dam issues on the spot permits free of cost from 6am morning till 10pm night. The permit then has to be deposited at the other check post after crossing the dam. There is an HP Toll booth immediately after crossing the dam near Terrace and after paying revised fee of Rs.40-, I entered Himachal Pradesh.
It was good to see an HP Tourism Cafeteria and Campsite come up right at the entrance of Regional Water Sports Training Centre at Khatiar as there is no proper place of stay near the dam. ‘Bathu Ki Ladi’ was visible from the road near Khatiar and clearly the group of temples were still intact and no where close to submerging.
Khatiar is a nice little place with few shops serving fried golden mahseer freshly picked from the Pond reservoir. Since it was breeding season, fishing was not allowed in the reservoir and hence not available.
I drove little further to the small town of Dhameta and came to know that the pedestal path and the road leading to Kuthera Island and boating ghat near ‘Bathu Ki Ladi’ were all mud and slush due to recent rains and it was not advisable to go near the lake.
It was hot and humid, no sign of the rain. Sleeping inside the car was totally ruled out. There was nothing much to see around as well, so I was in a fix what to do next. I have been to places near Dharamshala, Palampur, Bir-Billing so many times and almost in all seasons, my mind was not conjuring up very exciting pictures of these places.
Suddenly the pictures of Shangarh meadow, which I had seen lately on the internet, started playing on my mind and my heart immediately responded ‘let’s go’. So Shangarh on my mind I drove to Fatehpur, a good town enroute, stocked few supplies, chatted with some curious boys as to which route to follow, drove on a beautiful road to Jasur.
From Jasur I took NH 20 and drove towards Mandi. Had dinner at 1am morning at Paprola. Surprisingly had to face police naka at three places until Jogindernagar, very unusual for Himachal Pradesh. Enjoyed driving listening to romantic songs on fm radio until a place called ‘Urla’ just after Jogindernagar when I felt like sleeping, parked the car near a guest house and went to sleep………………!!!