Category Archives: John Conway

Day 81. Wednesday 21st October 1970 – India

When Mick and I got up this morning Jim, Ian and Keith had already left for Simla. After the usual brew while waiting for the 11 o’clock morning bus to Darla, we eventually landed at Dano-Ghat about one hour late. The track from the road to Mangu was far easier than we had l thought and after about an hour and a half taking it easy we landed in the village.

On arrival in the village we found that the Guide who was going to show us the caves was not at home. We left a letter telling him that we would see him at eight o’clock the following morning, however, while we were in the process of looking for somewhere to camp down for the night we bumped into him. After exchanging a few words with him we found that he would not be able to accompany us to the caves for at least another four or five days. We therefore decided to camp for the night and on the following day visit a cave he pointed out to us while we were talking to him. We also said that we would return in about five days to see if he would be free to show us other caves.

After choosing a spot for the night we were just about to settle in when who should turn up but our potential Guide who insisted on us returning with him to spend the night as his place. When we arrived at his house and started to unpack he insisted on showing us a cave close by. This turned out to be very much like the other we had visited with him previously, but not quite as long. Both Mick and I had to strip off to the waist to enter this rather grotty little hole, which was also very loose.

We returned after it had gone dark and enjoyed a typical Indian type nosh followed by an unusual and somewhat prolonged discussion on GOD. I think that the Hashish that he had been merrily puffing away at had brought this subject up. I finally fell asleep about 11 o’clock after mick “the swine” had left me to talk to the old boy, while he slept peacefully.

BTW the Hashish grows wild everywhere we even had a bush in our base camp.

The weather sunny and warm all day.

Some of the locals watching us eat our evening meal

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Day 80. Tuesday 20th October 1970 – India

Ian and Keith were supposed to go into Simla this morning but returned back to camp about eleven o’clock because their bus had not turned up, in fact, no buses turned up.

During the afternoon Jim, Colin and Mick went up the hill to look at the rising which we had previously intended to dig, but they gave it up as a bad job.

We all spent a quiet night in camp, Jim, Ian and Keith decided to go into Simla tomorrow.

The weather was warm and sunny all day.

Below the steps to Lutru Cave at the back of our base camp

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Day 79. Monday 19th October 1970 – India

A quiet day was spent in camp with nothing out of the ordinary happening, and with the usual daily base camp spectators.
The weather was as usual warm and sunny all day.

Below the usual base camp spectators, we had this every day all the time we were there ,some walked miles to see the bus. There were people everywhere at all times, you never had any privacy, even when we camped out while searching for caves, you would wake up and there would be a couple of little boys squatting down watching you. For all we know they could have been there while we slept. It wasn’t until we got into the high Himalayas above the tree line that we were on our own.

The population of India in 1800 was just over 0.25 billion, in 1970 was just over 0.5 billion now its just over 1.25 billion.

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Day 78. Sunday 18th October 1970 – India

Jim, Ian, Keith and Het-Ram left on the 8 o’clock morning bus from Arki to Simla. Mick and Colin left on the same bus but changed at Shala-Ghat for Darla. Owing to the absence of people around the camp Rod and I had to get up somewhat earlier than we normally would do; we never left the bus unattended. Most of the day was spent around camp doing nothing anything in particular.

Jim and company returned back to camp about five o’clock in the evening with the usual story about the cave they had visited. Mick and Colin came back about an hour later and although they had visited a couple of caves, none were of much consequence.

About an hour before anyone had come back, we received a visit from our guide from Mangu. I told him of our intension to revisit the area and look at the caves whose names he had given us. He said that if we waited for about four days he would be free to show us the caves himself. I arranged to go over on Wednesday.

The weather was warm and sunny all day.

Below a typical bus stop Indian style

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Day 77. Saturday 17th October 1970 – India

Dave, Trevor, Hodge and Johnny left early this morning for Kulu. If Het-Ram was able to go then we intended to follow on Monday.

During the morning Keith, Colin and I visited the local girl’s school to have a look at some maps of this district, unfortunately the map they showed us was no good and even if it had been they would not let us photograph it. In the afternoon Het-Ram came round and told us he could not accompany us to Kulu, so I dropped the idea of going myself. We decided to wait until the others came back before we decided what our next action would be. However, Het-Ram said he could accompany us tomorrow to a cave he knew about on the road to Simla. Ian and Keith decided to have a look at this one while Mick and Colin thought they would have another look up at Darla.

Our evening meal was brightened up somewhat when Het-Ram showed Jim how to prepare some sweet rice, followed by a quiet evening was spent in camp.

The weather was warm and sunny all day.

Below Mandi to Kulu Road

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Day 76. Friday 16th October 1970 – India

At 10:30 in the morning I went to see Het-Ram about his proposed visit to Kulu. We went together to see his boss who, unfortunately, wouldn’t say whether he was going to let Het-Ram go or not. I did however manage to persuade him to make a definite decision by Sunday. However on the basis of the interview I doubt very much whether he will now let Het-Ram go. After the interview I left Het-Ram and went back to the village playing field where we had been invited to attend the prize giving for the previous days dancing and sports competitions. Dave and I sat on the stage with the other guest, the guest of honour being the Minister of Public Works Department and Governor of Himachal Pradesh, while Keith and Ian stood in the audience and took photographs. After the formalities were over we were invited to dine with the Governor and other distinguished guests. The meal too place out of doors in the playground of one of the schools. The meal was in true Indian style with everyone sitting on mats on the ground and eating with fingers.

As you might expect we were last to finish and our eating efforts amused everyone there. Apart from cramp in our legs and practically covered from head to foot in rice and bits of curry, the meal was very good and enjoyed by all the lads. We later returned to camp and spent a quiet evening before turning in.

The weather was warm and sunny all day.

Note for what ever reason I can’t find any pics of the prize giving and meal.

Below a quick brew at the local tea shop

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Day 75. Thursday 15th October 1970 – India

Most of the late morning and afternoon was spent writing letters and bringing my log up to date. In the evening, after paying a visit to one of the school teacher’s (Raj) houses, we went into Arki again to see some folk dancing and singing. Raj suggested that we should take several photographs of the dancers, and arranged for us to have as much freedom as we wished on and around the stage. I only hope that the photographs turn out because it was one of the most colourful performances that I have ever seen.

We returned to camp late on in the evening after a quick tea in one of the local tea shops.

The weather was warm and sunny all day.

Below some of the pics I took of the dancing girls

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Day 74. Wednesday 14th October 1970 – India

Spent most of the day tidying up the bus and camp after it had become something of a tip. Rod, Hodge, Jim and Ian set off early in the morning intending to spend the night at the cave found on Monday. Dave, Colin and Johnny also went to the cave but returned in the evening.

In the evening we watched a series of plays given by local school girls from the surrounding villages in the area.
The weather was warm and sunny all day.

Below are a couple of pics of the entranced to one of the larger caves we found and this area was remarkable free of scrub and wasn’t cultivated, pop a few sheep in and it would look just like the Dales except a wee bit warmer.

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Day 73. Tuesday 13th October 1970 – India

We left the col, after spending an hour or so eating breakfast and drying out our sleeping bags, and traversed a high mountain peak path which headed in the general direction of Mangu. During the morning and early part of the afternoon we tried one or two of the villagers out with our questionnaire that Het-Ram had written out in Hindu for us. As it turned out it was not until we had reached Mangu, about three in the afternoon, that we had any success. Here we were told to wait for a short while until a man was found who could show us a cave near the village. Before we set off to look at the cave we had tea and biscuits at his house.

The cave was a bit of a disappointment in so much that it was only a rift about 80ft long formed by a landslip. In places it became very tight with one small crawl through conglomerate which was a little disturbing, the entrance was about halfway down a rocky outcrop, in fact the outcrop was a thin band of vertically bedded limestone protruding from the hillside like a dyke, and well covered by the usual sub-tropical vegetation. However, there was good bit of luck; before we left our guide gave us about five names of other caves in the area.

We returned back to base camp about eight o’clock in the evening after walking most of the way back by road. One bit of good news when we got back was that the cave Jim, Hodge, and Het-Ram had visited was the longest so far. Estimated length 400ft and about 200ft deep. I’d also a letter from home.

The weather as usual was sunny and warm all day.

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Day 72. Monday 12th October 1970 – India

I caught the 11 to 12 o’clock bus to ‘Darla Moli’ with Mick and Trevor. Jim, Hodge and Het-Ram got off the bus just before the gap to go and have a look at a cave which Het-Ram knew about. When Mick, Trevor and I got off the bus at ‘Darla Moli’ we managed to cadge a lift on a wagon down to the bottom of the road where the valley we planned to visit meets the main one. Then we realised that Het-Ram had directed us to Mangol when we actually wanted to go to Mangu.

We decided to travel up the valley eastwards, this was the valley we had crossed on Tuesday 6th, then we took a col on the left of the valley, and descended into the next valley which brought us within sight of our real objective. As it turned out, if we had followed the valley to its head it would have brought us out at Mangu. Unknown to us at the time the main line of the valley curves round and runs in a NW – SE direction. Fortunately when we had reached the col, where we camped for the night, we saw a peak which we recognized, therefore giving us the general direction of Mangu.

We spent a cold and rather damp night on the col, about 5,500ft high which probably accounted for the very heavy dew.

The weather was warm and sunny all day.

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