The second day of our trip was quite a hard one as we had to endure a long drive to Sangla which turned out to be as tiring as we had expected it to be.
ROAD TO SANGLA
Fresh from spending the morning surrounded by the clean air and the stunning backdrops of Hatu Peak, we left Narkanda at 11:30 am. Soon after, we were joined by the Sutlej River which accompanied us almost for our entire day’s journey. Rampur was the first big town on our route and due to the excellent road condition we covered the distance to Rampur pretty quickly. The temperature also rose as we approached Rampur because the town was at a lower elevation (1,021 m). We got our vehicle refuelled at Rampur and then continued our journey.
A town worth exploring on this route is Sarahan – home to Shri Bhimkali Temple (1 of 51 shaktipeeths in India) and Shanti Kunj (Royal palace of Bushahr family). But as we were short on time we did not make the detour to Sarahan.
As we travelled further along the road we came across some spectacular settings like a perfect V-shaped valley and some scary ones like the face of the mountain jutting precariously over the road.
After sometime we reached Wangtoo village. Here we came across the JSW hydroelectric project which stretched till Karcham village. The road between these two villages was in extremely poor condition which rendered us to move at a snail’s pace. To make matters worse there was a landslide after Tapri village which forced us to take an alternate route further adding to our journey time. We finally reached Karcham where we saw the confluence of Sutlej and Baspa rivers.
At Karcham, we left the NH 5 and Sutlej behind and took the road to Sangla, being accompanied by Baspa River now. We finally reached Sangla at 6:15 pm though our hotel was further 1 km away from the main market of the town.
Our day 2 route in brief: Narkanda (11:30 am) -> Rampur (1:30 pm) ->Tapri (4 pm) ->Karcham (5:30 pm) -> Sangla (6:15 pm)
SANGLA (2,700 m)
For our one night stay in Sangla, we had booked a deluxe room and a family suite in Hotel Madhu for Rs. 4,000. Regretfully, this was the only hotel of our entire trip which we found to be below par and certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. We freshened up quickly and set out to explore the town to make full use of whatever daylight remained.
Our first destination was the famous Bering Nag Temple. To reach the temple we started walking towards the main market from our hotel. Halfway we came across a path which went down into the valley. A 10 minute downhill walk got us to the temple. During our walk we had some amazing views of the town and the surrounding mountains. The temple complex consisted of a group of wooden buildings with the architectural style being a mix of Indian and Tibetan styles. The main shrine of the temple was closed as expected but we were still able to wander in the complex marvelling at the magnificent and intricate wooden carvings of the temples.
We exited the temple complex and walked further down into the valley. Another 10 minute walk got us to the banks of Baspa River. We spent some time on a bridge observing the extremely fast current of the river which was frankly a little scary.
It was dark by the time we began our ascent to the main market. The walk which had seemed quite easy previously was now arduous. The climb from the temple complex to the main market was made in pitch dark conditions through narrow randomly selected paths. Finally we reached the market and had a nice plain, homemade style meal, at Aashiana restaurant.
After dinner we walked back a km to our hotel in complete darkness. It was then that we experienced one of the most beautiful moments of our entire trip. In that darkness we looked up and saw millions of stars lighting up the night sky. It was absolutely surreal. I realized that I actually didn’t remember the last time I had seen such a starry sky. That, I guess was the kind of moment which helps a man form that unbreakable bond with mountains.