Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mountain Biking - Bhakra Dam Naina Devi Ji Track

When entire Himachal was showered with fresh snow, I, sitting in foot of Shivalik hills and starving for skiing in fresh snow of Manali and Kufri, made a plan to explore interior tracks of Nangal Dam, Bhakra Dam and Naina Devi Ji temple on the peak of hill.

8th Jan 2012 Sunday, I started off with my cycle, gloves, Jacket with cap, a bottle of water, a Chocolate and some money. The temperature was as cold and windy as 4 degree celsius and clouds were wandering from one mountain to another taking sun often beneath it.

One thing I have always noticed is that whenever I take my Trek Cycle out on road, every one crossing through me gives a strange look towards my cycle and some are kind enough to stare at me also as if I am some alien from different planet. To confess, I enjoy that kind of attention.

When I still had not come to full fledged action, I diverted from Nangal Chandigarh Highway towards my track by crossing Nangal Dam. This dam is situated on a height of around 740 feets and this place is quite a common for me as we frequently spend time in Restaurant (only restaurant in Nangal worth visiting) situated exactly in front of Dam.

After crossing Nangal Dam, the main task was to cross first check post of Bhakra Dam. Somehow I was skeptical that Police at check post wont allow me to go on cycle towards this track. Two key reasons came into my mind, one that no one goes on cycle on this track and second the continuous rain from last two days had made this track landsliding prone.

A Khaki dress borne gentleman was standing firm on the side of the check post but he was too busy reading newspaper when I crossed along some locals crossing on cycle. My main hurdle had passed by.

Immediately after check post, the steep uphill with blind curves track began. Trust me when I am on Royal Enfield, these terrains looks so fascinating to pull the throttle but on cycle it really proved hard. Above all, I was prepared for all this. In process of acclimatization, I took small break and sip of water. I pulled my cycle few steps and rode again.

After riding uphill for around 5 kilometers when I was completely sweating and breathing mouth and nose, I was at the border of Punjab and Himachal wherein I had to enter into Bilaspur Distt of Himachal. Few young kid's curious looks at my cycle made me push pedals hard.

When I reached at first check post of Himachal, police stopped me curiously. They asked my where about and checked my Identity Card. Finally questions came on to my cycle like from where did you buy this, why its tyres are thick and how the gear system works etc etc.

After satisfying Himachal Police of their queries I headed towards the most amazing track of the day. After entering into Himachal, the roads looked wet and slippery with fresh rain. Almost no vehicle and no people around, I found myself riding steep downhill for at least a kilometer when I could see a canal flowing out of Bhakra Dam. Riding along Green calm water made my day.

After a point, downhill steep ended abruptly and a steep road going endless started again. A tough uphill cycling of a kilometer was worth it as I could see Bhakra Dam above me and I could make out in my mind in terms of efforts I needed to reach there.

A narrow track up on a hill with no one around you and deep down aggressive flow of water was fascinating experience to count for. When I reached on the top of the Dam, I had already covered 15 kilometers of cycling. After Nangal Dam, this was my second milestone of the day.

Once I crossed third and last check post of Bhakra Dam, a breadth taking view of Gobind Sagar was spectacular. I have seen it many times but everytime it looks more beautiful and breadth taking than earlier. Calm Green Water spread across hectares, you can see water all over till sight goes. I stood for a while to soak in fresh air and energy.

The distance from Bhakra Dam to Naina Devi was 22 kilometers which is situated at a height of 4000 feet. I started from a altitude of 740 feets and was standing there at 1500 feet height and had to reach 4000 feet altitude in 22 kilometer distance. That was not the only challenge but track had also begun to become narrower from narrow.

With slow pace I kept pushing hard. The track had become really narrow and scary as I gained height. Almost non existent traffic on roads, I could hear the ignorable noise of cycle's chain.

I was riding in my rhythm when I heard some noise in air of a car cruising behind me. I diverted cycle from narrow track onto mud. As car crossed me, I turned my handle bar softly to come on to the track and there I met with first fall from my Trek Cycle. I hurted my Right knee badly and palm. Only monkeys all around on trees and road side could enjoy that fall.

I headed up and counted every mark reading "Naina Devi Ji ..... KM". Almost I remember all of them and these landmarks were put on a every KM distance. God knows from where that energy came which pulled me from Bhakra Dam to Naina Devi Ji, 22 KM and altitude gain of almost 2500 feet.

Among other things, the best part was my Chocolate, It tasted heavenly. It proved to be a life saving for me. It gave energy at every step.

Once I reached Naina Devi Ji temple which is situated on top of the mountain I had to start steep downhill for next 15 kilometers when I would reach Anandpur Sahib. The traffic on this side of the hill was exceptionally high but wider roads made my ride easy. I just let cycle roar on road. But some extremely steep downhill curves forced me to rub breaks occasionally.

At Anandpur Sahib, I got merged with Chandigarh Nangal Highway, again back to crowded life, pollution and noise all around. Next 20 kilometer was the most boring part of the ride with highway and traffic. But I had no choice than to complete it.

After a Lunch break at Anandpur Sahib I rode towards Nangal and it took me an hour to cover flat distance of 20 kilometer. 

By the time, I entered Nangal, the happiness in mind overwhelmed me in such a passion that I forgot the tiredness of full day.

When I embarked on this track, I had lot of apprehension about it, but this proved to be the best track I have ever explored in a day. The track is blend of adventure and natural beauty.

Total distance I covered was 82 kilometers in 6 hours 28 minutes in 4 degree temprature, cold winds, cloudy weather and at some places light rain.


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