From the airport, we started our journey in a Tempo Traveller which was hired for the entire journey, with our ever smiling driver Alibhai, towards a place called Rudraprayag. The Tempo Traveller is a weird vehicle. It had place for 13, so it was comfortable for us with all the luggage. However, the exhaust pipe from the engine is at the bottom and extends only upto half the length of the vehicle and is pointed downwards. As soon as the vehicle stops somewhere, the insides get filled up with exhaust fumes! A ‘prayag’ means a ‘meeting’ or joining and there are several such places where two or more rivers meet.
Soon we realized why landslides were so common. The roads are cut into the side of mountains – which tower 200 ft or so, over the road. So, even if there is a little rainfall, small and big stones come down with the water. However, in spite of such tough terrain, the roads were motorable and well maintained and we could drive at a brisk pace. The roads were maintained by ‘BRO’ – Border Roads Organisation, a branch of the army. I was hoping they would start an off – shoot, the PRO – Powai Roads Organisation. Somehow, the roads in Powai seem to be made of water soluble tar and as soon as the first rains come down, all the roads get washed away!!
On the way, we were discussing our plans. Our basic plan was to use Ganghariya as a base and visit the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Saheb. Then someone came up with the idea of visiting the Badrinath temple. The rest of us thought that it would be too much for us. That was our first big argument. The futility of any planning was soon made clear to us as we got news of various landslides and roads to various places were blocked for days!
The roads were winding and till we reached Rudraprayag, our brains were pretty shaken up and most of us had motion sickness. A couple of shots of Rum helped and we were fast asleep very soon. In the morning, we realized what a great location we were at – the hotel was on the banks of a river with tall mountains on the other side. Very picturesque!
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