NOTE – Please mind any errors. There is a reason I am a photographer not a writer.
It was 2009. The newspaper had a piece about the remotest region of Shimla. The motor-able road from Rohru to Dodra Kwar was now open and the government was starting a daily bus service to this remote valley.
So, I along with three of my friends decided to take that bus to Chanshal Pass (3750m) and camp there. Having no idea how camping works, our camping equipment included; two tents, three sleeping bags(we were four), a pressure cooker, raw pulses, rice, tomatoes, half a litre bottle of petrol and matchsticks. Thats about it. We didn’t even carry a flashlight with us. Luckily one of us decided to carry few packets of maggie noodles. Badly underprepared with no previous experience of camping we reached Rohru and booked our seats for Chanshal.
Dodra-Kwar is a nightmare for the government employees of Himachal. The employee in Himachal are scared of transfers. So, the political class has been using it as a weapon for decades. Dodra Kwar being the remotest area of Shimla district is the least preferred place to work. The region remains cutoff in the winters and opens only for a few months after the snow is cleared off Chanshal Pass. Before the road, it took a three day hike to reach here. The name of Dodra Kwar continues to bring shivers in the government employees across Himachal Pradesh. The valley is so remote, that even experienced motor-bikers think they have done something adventurous when they reach Chanshal Pass.
Dodra and Kwar are two villages on the opposite sides of the valley separated by Rupin river that merges into Tons river. It borders with Uttarakhand and is a famous trek from Naitwar as well. You can even cross Rupin pass from Sangla in Kinnaur to reach this region.
Our plan to camp in Chanshal was delayed by the invitation of the bus conductor to explore Dodra Kwar villages. We happily accepted the offer and crossed Chanshal Pass into this beautiful. The bus descended slowly on the dusty road through the never ending hairpin bends into the village of Dodra. After a short halt, it descended further to the river bed, crossed the river and started ascending towards Kwar village – the headquarter of this region. 9 hours and 80 kms later, the green HRTC bus slowly entered the village. It was really strange to see people coming out of their houses to see the bus. The kids ran behind it. The bus was no less than a celebrity. The bus stopped and the driver and conductor were greeted by the locals. We were covered in a thick brown layer of dust from the road. We strolled around the village and saw a school, a police station, a liquor store and a Radha Soami Satang venue (Yes, they reached here aswell, even before the road).
I’ll share the rest of the story of our failed camping in a different blog post, when I’ll learn how to write. Till then, here are some of the pictures from these villages I took in the year 2009.