Tag Archives: Himachal

Sach Pass – In search of Truth

Preface

“There are BAD roads in Ladakh,
there are extremely BAD roads in Spiti,
and then there is SACH Pass”

That’s what I said when I completed the ride across Sach Pass in Pangi Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India.

Truth cannot be found easily, you have to go thru thisRoads of Sach Pass

Did you notice the missing word in above line “road” ? that’s because it would be an understatement to call it a road, better call it a wide mule track. If you could manage to cover only 80 kms in 10-12 hrs without many breaks, you can imagine what I’m referring to. And how often you have heard that the main T bolt (the bolt which puts handle bar in place) of Royal Enfield became so loose that it was easily opened with bare hands. Adventure travelers swear by the name of Sach pass and it’s quite common to compare bad roads with Sach pass. We encountered this and much more in this ride of a lifetime. In Hindi Sach means Truth, hence I see it was an appropriate title for this ride.

You gotta have right Attitude
attitude

Nature has mysterious plans and you can’t do much about it but be ready and be flexible. How many times it happens that you plan for something and end up doing something else. Same happened with us in sep 2014 , when our well laid plan to do the leh-Ladakh circuit was smashed by flash floods in Jammu and Kashmir just 10 days before our scheduled ride. The situation was so scary that all the Riders backed out of the idea of exploring some other place if we are not riding to Ladakh. All riders backed out except the two hard nuts (Me & Aditya), we were not ready to sit at home thinking what we could have done. Hence, an alternative plan had to be chalked out and that too within next 2 – 3 days. Maps were out, discussions, Google search, more discussions, weather forecasts and contingency plans were chalked out.

And have some faith – Trilokinath TempleTrilokinath Temple

After an extensive 3 day research we came up with a probable route. We would be crossing 3 of Himachal’s notorious passes known for bad roads, landslides and what not (Jalori pass, Rohtang pass, Sach pass) and also cover 3 most popular tourist destinations in Himachal (Shimla, Manali, Khajjiar). On paper it was a good plan, but somewhere at the back of our mind we knew, it will not be an easy ride in this season. There has been news of heavy rain in Himachal and there were chances that we may have to ride in rain as well. We bought some rain gear from the local markets and checked all the necessary items which we might need on the ride. So all was set; 2 guys,me (Rana and Adi) , with me on Jr.Black Bull (Royal Enfield Classic 350cc) and Adi on TB Baby (Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500cc). With all things checked out of our list we were ready to ride and face the Truth.

And answer some hard questions – “Why we ride?”Why we ride

Bir Billing – Kangra (Himachal Pradesh , India)

Bir: Bir is a village located in the west of the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Bir is a noted center for ecotourism, spiritual studies and meditation. Bir is also home to a Tibetan refugee settlement with several Buddhist monasteries and a large stupa. It is situated approximately 50 km of Dharamshala on Pathankot – Mandi National Highway 20.It would take you approx 3 hrs to reach Bir by road.

Billing: Billing is noted as a popular site for paragliding approx 14 kms from Bir. A narrow but fairly good road can take you to Billing site at approx. 2540 mtrs above sea level in an hour. The paragliding launch site is in the meadow at Billing while the landing site and most tourist accommodations are in the village of Chowgan at Bir.

Location Map

Bir - Billing (Kangra , Himachal)
Bir – Billing (Kangra , Himachal)

What to do?

Meditation: Periodic classes seminars on a variety of topics including philosophy, meditation, health, ecology, spiritual retreats for stress release and holistic living. There are institutes who offer variety of these courses.

Paragliding: This is probably the biggest attraction to adventure seekers. Bir is regarded by international paragliding groups as the second best site in the world for paragliding. The launch site is located at Billing (14 kms) motor-able road. While experienced pilots bring their own gliders and fly solo, beginners can take flights, in which a skilled instructor takes you up in a two-seated glider. This allows the beginner to have the experience with minimal risk.The Paragliding World Cup 2015 will be organized from October 24-31 under the aegis of Para-gliding World Cup Association, France. India bid to host the World Cup and won because of the sound infrastructure that was set up at Bir-Billing for the paragliding pre-World Cup-2013. 2 years after successfully hosting the paragliding pre-World Cup amidst the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, the mega tournament will now be held in the country for the first time. India will host the Paragliding World Cup 2015 in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, which is considered one of the finest aero sports sites in the world.

Monastery: Chokling Monastery , Palyul Chokhorling Monastery , Sherab Ling Monastery.

Weather:

Avg. summer temperature

34 °C (93 °F)
Avg. winter temperature −4 °C (25 °F)

For current weather conditions you can also refer to www.meoweather.com/weather/India/na/32.05/76.7/Bir.html?units=c#

How to get there:

By Air: The closest airport to Bir is Dharamshala airport(known as Gaggal) aprox 30-45 minutes from Dharamshala and there are direct flights from Delhi to Gaggal. Please be advised that due to weather and other issues Delhi – Gaggal flights are often canceled at the last minute. It will be better to have an alternative plan ready just in case this happens.

By Train:
There are 2 options if you prefer trains:
1-Train from Delhi to Pathankot/ Chakki Bank and then bus/taxi to Bir (5-6 hrs)
2-Train from Delhi to Pathankot/ Chakki Bank and then narrow gauge train onwards to Ahju (3 kms from Bir) – Delhi – Pathankot (550 kms , 10 hrs) + Pathankot – Ahju (245 kms , 8-9 hrs)

By Bus: Delhi to Bir is about 12-14 hours journey. Daily Volvo bus service by Himachal Roadways is available from ISBT Kashmiri Gate till Baijnath (15 kms from Bir).Alternatively you can also get a direct bus (Non-Volvo) till Bir Road (3 kms from Bir) , Look for Delhi – Jogindernagar bus.

From Dharamshala: Although regular buses ply on this route but a direct bus will be less frequent. You can hop on to any bus bound for Palampur and continue from Palampur to Bir. Since Dharamshala is not on National Highway 20 route (Pathankot – Mandi) hence long route buses which pass thru Bir are less frequent from Dharamshala.

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