We left late in the morning. We figured that we had time, since we only had about 200 km to do. What the hell, after all, we needed to enjoy the drive.
Luckily, it was a Sunday, and the traffic in Ludhiana was not to bad. It saved us at least 30 minutes. Trying to get out of that city on a week day can be pure hell. Driving on the highway presented a bit of a surprise. It had been years since I had driven in my home state of Punjab, and it seemed to have become one long, elongated urban sprawl. I wanted to hop off the car at one point and photograph the smoke billowing out of a factory, but the cops would not let me. They did let me sidle my car up to them, breaking traffic rules, to ask for directions to Hoshiarpur.
Hoshiarpur is a small town, but while driving through I noticed a few old buildings, so I hopped off to photograph them. We also stopped at a sugarcane ('ganna' in Hindi) juice stall, and then we were onto the country roads. Wonderful life! We were driving along an avenue lined with eucalyptus trees, and it was bliss. It is such great fun to get out of the city and to breathe the relatively nice air of the countryside, and to see blue skies again.
We drove and drove, and then we saw the mountains, glistening white in the skies. They seemed to appear first, like a thin mist, and then they stood there, majestic and impervious to time. I love the mountains, and I have loved them since I went to live in them as a kid. The thrill never goes.
We had lunch at a vegetarian dhaba, where we had parathas make in desi ghee. My buddy was sternly told not to smoke! Poor bloke!
Up we went, and the path started to wind and wind. Past Kangra, and I had my first glimpse of that majestic fort. Past mountain streams we went, and I vowed to climb down on our return. Past Dharamshala, which was a bit disappointing.
Past Forsyth Ganj, and onto McLeodGanj. We had to go back to Dharamshala, and up via a short cut. Steep, winding roads, car in first gear. Heart in mouth.
The guide sais, 'oops'! Please reverse the car. Crap. I had to reverse down a 45 degree winding slope and into a gutter went my car. Zweee & crash!
Luckily, we went in near the hotel. A crowd gathered around, and we got the car out.
Home, temporary sweet home!