Stunning and Altered Landscapes

We headed up the Satluj valley from Rampur. We had a few hours along the main valley before a 1000m climb to a small  village called Sarahan – famous for an old Hindu temple Bimakali, named for the Goddess Bimakali who occupied a small shrine room guarded by her tiger consorts.  We were lucky with the weather as it was overcast and drizzly which made the climb bearable in terms of heat. We found a nice hotel and had a look around the temple and town.

Next morning I woke with a chest infection so we ended up staying 2 more days. This coincided with some wet weather so it was fortunate we were staying put. The hotel manager was very kind and organized a steam inhalation for me one evening. Alan discovered momos and the best small eating places in town.

The rain cleared the dusty skies and dropped a sprinkling of snow so it was a beautiful ride up valley to Tapri. We could see snowy mountains up each side valley. In places the road has been carved out of steep granite cliffs high above the main river, incredible civil engineering.

On the less attractive (but impressive) side was the hydro development in the valley. Many of the side valleys have water piped out and then dropped to small hydro stations and higher up the valley the main river had been dealt to. In one section they have built a 17km underground tunnel which brings the water down from a dam to a power station. It is sad to see the empty Satluj river and all the concrete infrastructure . ‘No Dream to Big’ is the hydro company motto. How they have gotten all the towers, cables and concrete to the places they have is mind boggling.

First thing next day we are stumped by a landslide that completely blocks the road and river – we see a dodgy way across the unstable slip (possible on foot) but then are stopped by the natural dam which has flooded the road a few hundred metres on – all that effort for nothing – and now we have to backtrack over the slip and ride the 20km diversion , climbing 600m, like all other (sensible) wheeled traffic.

We decide to stay at the top of the hill in a wee town called Urni – stunning views and a 150 year old Government  Public Works Department (PWD) Rest House to stay in. We have biked for a hard 3 hrs and are further from our intended destination than when we set off so we accept defeat and enjoy the afternoon on our lofty verandah.