We’ve been travelling in the hills and mountains of Himachal, J&K and Uttarakhand long enough now to expect the unexpected. These journeys have all been done by car (Honda City, Spark, Etios G) as nothing else gives you the freedom to do your own thing on the road.
So, if you’re a traveler, who like us prefers to travel for the love of it with no fixed agenda most of the time, and whose objective is to just do your own thing, you’ve come to the right place.
Based on our experiences over the years, we’ve come up with a list of major problem areas that one could face while meandering through verdant surroundings. We’d like to share this list with fellow travellers:
- Missing or lack of signages that can take you off track for several kilometres—GPS and online maps notwithstanding, since
(a) in the hills, there are several routes going to the same place
(b) not all of them would be convenient
(c) they don’t tell you about current state of roads either. At such times, we go by what the locals tell us (when we can find them, that is).
- Unreliable signposts that mislead you about the actual distances—on many occasions we’ve found a signpost saying (for example) Place A – 68 kms and just a few minutes later another one that says Place A – 70 kms. So we’ve given up trying to note down actual distances while on the road, relying instead on our car for the true picture.
- Very light traffic on some routes that can make you tear your hair out in frustration as there’s no one to ask for directions. At such times we recommend you stop and commune with nature, really soak in the atmosphere and bring it back to your mind the day you’re having a rough time at work—it’ll soothe your nerves and make you impervious to your boss’s barbs!
- Petrol pumps are few and far between, so your eyes have got to be on the needle to make sure you’re well-stocked at all times. Sometimes, it could be miles and miles before you spot one, and then again, they may not be stocked up. Remember, a half tank could mean an empty tank while driving in the hills.
- Lack of good car mechanics and service stations on many routes can be a deterrent to smooth travel in case of emergencies.
- Paucity of ATMs, except in the bigger towns, so the need to be stocked with the stuff that makes the world go round!
What to stock up on:
- Hard cash
- First aid kit
- Car tools for emergencies—more importantly, the knowledge of what to do with the tools at such times!
- Water, beverages and snacks in case you are assailed by thirst and hunger pangs or decide to stop en route to have an impromptu picnic. Though there are several little shops in small hamlets along most routes which do stock up basic snacks and beverages, it’s better to carry your own.
- Torches, maps, nylon rope, old newspapers, tissues, rags
- Dry fruit to help you tide over a crisis situation like a landslide or something similar
- Spare woolens in case of sudden weather change
- A jute shopping bag in case you want to buy stuff to bring back home
- A pen drive or CD with your favourite music
- Large doses of enthusiasm!
A Word of Caution: Don’t rely too heavily on your mobile or GPS —listen to what the locals tell you. After all, there’s a thin line between adventure and misadventure!
We leave you with some images taken during our journeys:
Travel opens up one’s soul and broadens one’s perspectives—it gives us a chance to see ways of life other than our own. It helps us understand and acknowledge the struggles and joys of people beyond the periphery of the known faces in our narrow lives. So take that step and release your soul into the open spaces. Come back with a song in your heart. Godspeed.