On August 16, 2014, it was sunny when we left Rishikesh for Nauti, the starting point of Nanda Raj Jat, in a jeep around 9:00 am. But landslides due to downpour on the previous day blocked the two routes we tried before taking the third route. It took one and a half days to complete this drive of about 200 kilometers. Here is a brief overview of the three routes we tried because we wanted to be part of the jat:
Route 1: Via Devprayag on NH7
This traditional route connecting Rishikesh to Srinagar via Nirugarh (Neergarh) and Devprayag was blocked because of a huge landslide. When we reached the Niru Gadhera, a seasonal stream, the local PWD had already initiated the work to clear the road. But nobody was sure when the work would complete and the highway would open for traffic again. We waited for an hour or so. Then our driver who was to play an oracle in the jat suggested to reverse and take the Surkanda road.
Pictures from Route 1
Route 2: Via Surkanda
We followed his advice. But after about fifty (50) kilometers’ drive, we stopped again because of the same hurdle: another road blocking landslide was being cleared. We were about twenty-five (25) kilometers away from Surkanda. The officers supervising the clearing work told us that 20-30-meter long section of the road near Surkanda had been washed away by the rain. The repair work would take time. So, we should return.
Photos from Route 2
Route 3: Via Chamba and Tehri
Our well-informed driver suggested another route because he was eager to reach Nauti, his hometown, at the earliest to play an oracle and look after the Khadu.
Around 3:00 pm we again reversed to take Dhanulty-Chamba road. It took us about three hours to reach Mussoorie road that was blocked because of heavy weekend traffic. A number of weekend visitors got off from the public buses and / or the private vehicles and walked because everything was moving at a snail’s pace. We inched and by the time we reached Chamba it was dead dark, around 8.30 pm. The driver and his family who also accompanied us in the jeep were tired and wanted a good night’s sleep. We spent the night in a shabby congested room in Chamba.
Next morning, we started from Chamba around 6:00 am. The empty roads allowed fast driving even through the Tehri hydel power project area along the Bhagirathi River. Many moods of the sun that early morning presented cheered up all of us. We finally reached Srinagar during breakfast hours and Nauti via Karnprayag around noon. Nauti was already preparing for the reception of the ram.
Images from Route 3