An ode to Himalayan bus journeys

by - January 09, 2018

River ganga flowing through valleys of Himalayas in Uttarakhand

To just say that I’m not a fan of bus journeys, is an understatement. Trapped for long hours in a metal enclosure, sitting crammed in the same place amidst noisy people and the smell of fuel, is probably my least preferred mode of transport. I hate it so much so that, I’d rather travel in an airy, open lorry (Not that I’ve ever had the chance to, but still). However, the past few bus journeys that I took in the Himalayan region have made me change my views about bus journeys.

My first experience of a long bus travel in the Himalayan region was in Uttarakhand last year, when I travelled from Haridwar to Joshimath for more than 10 hours straight. The only means of connectivity to this place is by road and owing to the risk of landslides in this region, buses for this segment operate only during the day time. So, my last hope of managing the long journey by sleeping through it in an overnight-bus was also lost.

Bracing myself for what I thought would be an uneventful, restless journey, I got into a bus early in the morning at 5, from the bus depot at Haridwar. The first hour or so was indeed uneventful and boring but lo and behold, when the Sun began to rise, shedding its glorious light onto the charming Himalayas and the mighty Ganges, they took my breath away. From there on, things only went uphill, both metaphorically and literally. As the bus wound around the hills from the bottom to the top of the state, the Ganges and its tributaries constantly kept me company, caressing the mountains on either side as they did so. The sights were so beautiful that I was befuddled as to whether the mountains and the river were allies, working together to keep me entertained or were they rivals, each fighting the other for my attention? To make things more interesting en route, one can also witness the ‘Panch Prayag’ the confluence of the rivers, each with its own unique color splashing into one, before it officially becomes Ganga.

River ganga flowing through valleys of Himalayas in Uttarakhand

The above ‘more than great’ experience only made me all the more excited when I planned my next visit to the Himalayas, this time in Himachal Pradesh. When I had to take a bus from Shimla to Manali, I deliberately avoided a night bus, and instead booked a day bus, so I could enjoy going around the Himalayas yet again. It started with green, blue mountains, as far as my eyes could see, with the Sun playing its magic again, to make things more pleasant. With a gradual change in the colour of the mountains, it finally ended with white mighty peaks. If it was Ganga the last time, it was Beas this time, which was fighting it out with the mountains, confusing me yet again, as to what I should keep my eyes on.

View of hills from bus journey from Shimla to Manali

When I finally reached my destination, I came to realize that for me, one of the best ways to experience the Himalayan region is to travel by road, with the Himalayas in my eyes, wind on my face, a camera in my hands, ARR on my ears, and well, potato chips in my mouth. These, most definitely, more than compensate for the bumpy long rides, crammed in a bus.
View of himalayan mountains from Manali

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