The road through Rohtang Pass is nothing less than the best example of human capability. The meandering road with sharp serpentine curves and still sharper U-turns is testimony to human spirit. While admiring the road and the courageous persons who might have worked to make this a reality for people like us, who shrug and complaint even while sitting comfortably in a vehicle, I saluted the indomitable human ability to dream and to turn those dreams into reality.
I thought of a conversation between Dominique Keating and Gail Wynand in Ayn Rand’s famous book Fountainhead:
You’ve never felt how small you were when looking at the ocean.”
He laughed. “Never. Nor looking at the planets. Nor at mountain peaks. Nor at the Grand Canyon. Why should I? When I look at the ocean, I feel the greatness of man. I think of man’s magnificent capacity that created this ship to conquer all that senseless space. When I look at mountain peaks, I think of tunnels and dynamite. When I look at the planets, I think of airplanes.”
It was really strange that I was thinking of Gail Wynand, my favourite fictional character, while looking at the road to Rohrang and beyond and was really curious to know more about the persons who initiated the “project impossible” constructing a road. I thanked the GRIF and BRO for maintaining the road at all costs. Keeping in view the geographical location and climatic condition, it was really a very tough job to keep the road intact.
I saw a group of labourers traveling in a pick-up van. These were the persons who keep the road in working condition. Almost all of them had kept their mouth and nose covered with a piece of cloth. The dust and the lower oxygen supply were the two main adversaries that they had to work against. They were courageous person, I thought. None of them seemed to be Himachali, all were from outside Himachal. Tey migt have come to HImachal in search of better avenues and had found one at Rohatang Road. Just a few minutes ago, I had seen a number of groups of tourists who had come for fun and frolic to Rohtang Pass. Strange are the ways of God! I suddenly tought that if some mishap occurs, here at the Pass, there would not be any such distinction between the poor and the rich. The Nature, in wrath, is great equalizer! Though I appreciated the road but my curiosity regarding the first ever endeavor to have planned this road to have initiated the survey of the road was still making me uncomfortable. I thought of asking my hosts at Jahalma village to get me some answers. I also wondered how people traveled in earlier times when there was no road. How did they successfully crossed the pass during inclement weather. So many questions were storming my head.
The road was now descending slowly. The scenic beauty around us had changed significantly. The meandering road, seen from this height, seemed to vie with the river that made its presence felt. The river seemed like a blue ribbon from this distance and many water falls, too, were joining the water of the river. The road seemed dangerously narrow to me but while driving through the road, I found that it was not very narrow. The large heaps of stones that I could see on this side of Rohtang Pass made me inquisitive. There were stones and stones. Some small roadside minuscule temples and Boddh worship places could also be seen around. All this was adding to the mysticism of the place. I just shuddered at the though how would I live if someone leaves me alone at this place. All the crowd that made Rohtang a happening place was left behind. Now the traffic had thinned and stones gods of the Pass had taken their place. I could feel a serenity that silence only can produce. Or was it the silence of the sleeping spirits of the Pass? I had many questions in my mind but all these needed to be answered by someone who knew the Pass closely. I decided to put these questions to my host during our visit. I really longed to reach Keylong as soon as possible.
…to be continued under the category Journey through Rohtang and Beyond