SPITI – An Adventurous Journey to Heaven!
This was the biggest adventure of my life - A Bike trip in the Himalayas! Everything about this trip was extraordinary. Here, is my extraordinary tale. If heaven or hell exists then definitely Heaven will look like Spiti and Hell will look like Roads from Baatal to Gramphu on the way to Manali from Chandra Taal Lake.
If you are lacking time and patience to read entire blog, Please watch these videos! It will give you insight about how beautiful Kinnaur is, Spiti will amaze you with its incredible land-scapes, high altitude lakes like Dhanakar , Nako and chandra-taal, The route which comes across probably all the rivers of Himachal Pradesh, including Satluj, Bias and Spiti. And if you are planning to visit it then please go through this blog, It surely will help you in all possible ways.
Day 1 - Shimla to Narkanda
Day 2 - Narkanda to Chitkul - Which is also known as Kashmir of Himachal.
Day 3 - Chitkul to Kalpa including visit to Indo-Tibbet Check Post.
Day 4 - Kalpa to Nako.
Day 5 - Nako to Tabo via Gue Village. which has Monastery and 650 years old Mummy - One should not miss it
Day 6 - Tabo to Kaza via Dhanakar. If you go to Dhanakar spend some time in the monastery as its world's 100 most endangered site - A peaceful place. And of course trek for 2 kms to see amazing Dhanakar Lake @ Altitude of 4200 meters from sea level. Trek is insane and you will feel why the hell I am doing it but trust me once you reach the top its completely worth it.
Day 7 - Visit Key - Kibber - Langza - Hikkim - Komik. Pictures of Key Monastery will make you leave everything and go on a spiti tour while Kibber and Komik are world's top 2 highest motorable passes, Langza has Coloring Buddha statue and famous for fossil found in the mountains of that region and Hikkim has world's highest Post Office.
Day 8 - Kaza to Chandra Taal via Kunzum pass. Probably time for you to become speechless, especially for those who thinks India is not as pretty as Europe! Prepare well for the day as temperature goes down as much as -12. But staying in tent @ Chandrataal is one of the most amazing experience you will ever get. so Do It!
Day 9 - Chandra Taal to Manali via Rohtang Pass. I call it a Hell. Watch the vedio for it.
Trip's route was Shimla -> Narakada -> Chitkul -> Kalpa -> Nako -> Tabo -> Dhankar -> Kaza -> Kibber -> Kaza -> Chandra Taal -> Manali -> Shimla. We reached to Shimla in afternoon directly from Delhi airport. Due to Overnight journey, we were damn tired. Hence we rested for an hour and then went to take our companion for the trip, Royal Enfield Classics. After resolving a lot of defects from the bike via multiple test rides, we accepted the bikes and started the adventure of exploring unexplored parts of Spiti & Himalayas.
Our original plan was to stay @ Rampur, but we wasted hell lot of time in getting bikes and driving in mountains @ night is a risky business. So we decided to stay @ Narakada. It was 60kms from Shimla. Well, the route was scenic and roads were in decent conditions with a lot of fog. Driving in the fog wasn't a new thing to me but it always adds more thrill to the ride.
At night, we were sitting on a terrace of our hotel and observing sky full of stars. I could easily spot the Milky-way as well. Nowadays watching stars in a sky is a very rare thing and here I could able to see milky-way with millions of stars. it was the best moment of the day.
Next day we left soon after having breakfast. As today we have to drive 200km to reach Chitkul. Trust me driving 200km on this route was a crazy task. After traveling for few kilometers from Narakada, A guy on his Bike came from behind and asked me if we were doing this circuit for the first time, and to that, I replied yes. He told me that he had done this circuit many times and if we were interested, we could join him. While joining, I didn't realize I was joining a legendary guy because he traveled entire India in 42 days and that was just one of the many crazy trips he had done in his life.
Once you leave Narakada, may be in 15-20 km you will see the first view of river Satluj. This was incredible! It was flowing with the full force between the Mountains. We were traveling with the river beside us.
While traveling towards Rampur, One of my friend's bike got punctured. So we had to take an unwanted halt for about an hour. We knew that we were late so we had to skip Bhimakali Temple of Sarahan as for that we need to take a detour of 15kms which would easily kill our 2 hours. By any means, we had to reach to chitkul tonight so we skipped it. After fixing puncture we went to Little Chef restaurant @ Rampur on the bank of Satluj river. If you go to Chitkul you should do breakfast or lunch @ Little Chef because the food was really good with an amazing view of Satluj from the Restaurant.
After having delicious lunch, we resumed our journey towards the last village of India, Chitkul. Roads were good till Wangtoo but from there till Karchham roads were very bad. The speed of the bike would decrease till 20km/hr or even lesser. It was my first day on the trip and I was already impressed by the HP government because they build roads to the places where it was tough to reach and another thing was they have so many Power plants on Satluj and Spiti rivers which produce a lot of electricity.
While traveling from Wangtoo, It started raining and due to that, we were thinking of staying @ Himachal Pradesh's Govt Guesthouse @ Karchham. As our plan was a tight one and staying here would end up missing chitkul, we took a chance and headed towards chitkul. It turned out to be a good call, as the rain stopped. We reached to a diversion from where Sangla-Chitkul Valley started. @ Diversion we could see two rivers meeting each other. You could easily separate two rivers with the different shades of water(put that pic). We took a much-needed halt here and any halt on such a trip would turn out to be a little photoshoot center. I sat there and enjoyed the scenery and fresh air.
After this, the Best part of the day as well as of the Kinnaur Valley came – Sangla-Chitkul Valley. It was the most scenic valley I ever saw. Sangla is the starting point of Rupin pass trek which is quite a famous trek btw. While traveling in this valley, we could see Lord shiva's Kinnar Kailash mountain and mountain ranges with glassier on top of them. A small stream was flowing from this mountain range mainly because of the defrosting of these Glassier. The stream must contain purest of water as it came from Glassier. Well, we enjoyed the view for an hour and we reached to Sangla, where I had to change the battery of my SJCAM so we stopped. Here, I met a nice Bengali family and few trekkers of Rupin pass. I had very good conversations with them. we crossed each others path for multiple times on the trip as well. The best part of this trip was not only the beauty of the places but these small interactions with strangers tourists as well as locals.
It was getting dark and chitkul was still 12 km away from here so we resumed the final part of our today's ride. Well, we came to know that our tents were not exactly in Chitkul but its 7km before that so thankfully we had to travel less. Again roads converted into a path with a lot of stones and dust. Now sun set completely and we were driving these few miles in dark. It was my friend's favorite time to drive who came with us on this trip. We crossed few bridges and water crossing before reaching to our Tent house. It was damn cold and we were severing. Luckily our tents had warm blankets and we covered ourself completely in it for some time. Then we went for dinner where we got normal Alu-Gobi Sabzi and chapatti with a pickle. I didn't know due to hunger or tiredness but that was the best meal of the day. After the delicious meal, it was time to watch stars. My friends slept but I wanted to capture few pics of milky way with my DSLR so I sat outside the tent. I know it was a crazy thing to do and by the way, I am bit crazy person so its cool. I knew few basic settings so after struggling for an hour I could able to capture first decent Milkyway and I still know how I felt at that moment. I directly went inside the tent with proud and happy face and woke my friend up and showed it to him. After watching that even he was amazed and said, "seriously you took it!" Well, After that I took few more pics and sat there for another hour with my favorite playlist. I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 million star view from our 5 million star tent house. Our Tent was near the stream and I could able to hear it's sound as well. All done except watching a shooting star, luckily after struggling for some time I could able to see a shooting star and made a wish. Probably that was the best night of the trip for me. I enjoyed photography, creativity, millions of stars in the sky and lot more.
I woke up early despite of sleeping late last night. I enjoyed sunrise from our tents. I remembered hearing the sound of stream or river last night and hence went till the river bank! It wasn't a deep river and because of that water was flowing very fast! It was cold too due mainly because it was the water of the glessiar! After that while returning back we went to the apple farm which was just besides our tents. First time i was seeing apple on the apple trees. We pluk one or two and ate it! These apples taste far better then what we eat at home.
This was one such a Place and enjoyed sunshine as well as Sunrise!
Today we were visiting India's Last village, Chitkul and the most beautiful place of Kinnaur District. Though nowadays due to increasing tourism, the place became a bit crowded but a few years back there were just 2-3 hotels and it was the most peaceful place in the district.
From our tents, Chitkul was 8 km and the route was very scenic, we stopped by some place, put our bike on the main stand and admired the insanely beautiful nature. We managed to capture few memories in photos. After that we reached to chitkul where we had mixed veg parathas and tea in the breakfast. We were sitting in the sunshine as the place was cold and Now i know why Europeans love summer and sun :P. Next on the list was to visit the India-Tibet border. Three km from chitkul comes India's first check post. That's the furthest any civilian can go on that route beyond that you need military permissions. There, we met two army men out of them one was of our age and other was much elder than us. We had lovely conversations with them for about an hour. It seems they guard our country in the temperature of -20 deg or lesser. Though they were doing the toughest job, their heart was very warm. They didn't once say us that they were doing any favor to us or to the country. We never felt that in such a difficult circumstances, they were irritated with their job. No doubt our Indian army is the best in this world! Respect for Indian army always increased whenever I talked with any of the army men whether it was changLa of Ladakh or Chitkul of Kinnaur.
I visited the famous temple of chitkul. It's carving on the door as well as on the roof was admirable! I sat there for a while and then headed back towards our tent from where we were leaving for the Kalpa.
Now we returned to Chitkul where we met our friends. As I mentioned earlier that about Bawa, he visited this place many times and knew lot more about the place, food, and people. He told us to have rajma chawal from the place where he was staying. He bet that I won't be finding such a tasty rajma chawal elsewhere in this world. Trust me, the first bite I took, I just closed my eyes and said " Ummmm It's too good! heaven!!!!". That was one of the best dishes I ever ate and of course a memory I will never forget.
While riding from Chitkul to Kalpa I met many school kids. The specialty of the kids from the Himalayas was, they were very lively, friendly and happy. Whenever they saw some riders they will either wave their hands or they will give you Hi Five! I was driving slow because I don't wanna miss a single hi five :D . At a place, I saw a group of kids running towards me to give hi five and I don't wanna miss a single one so I stopped and then each one of them came and gave me a strong hi five, they all were very happy and made me a memory that probably I will never forget! That was the best moment of the day.
Well, In an hour few reached to Karcham. From Karcham to Reckong Peo roads were bad and full of dust and stones. From Reckong Peo I can see the Kinner Kailash Mountain Peak! It was the only hill which was having Glassier on that mountain range. Glassier was looking even more beautiful due to rays of sun falling on it. My ride from Reckong Peo to Kalpa became scenic due to that view. We reached to our hotel after the sunset. We ordered pakoda and tea as it was bit chilly and the best combination for such weather. After that, we went back to Reckong Peo for the check up of our bikes as after that, next proper city was Kaza which was 2 days from here and 250kms from here. We had decent dinner @ Reckong peo with the movie Kisna on Zee Cinema! I mentioned it because that movie had made us laugh a lot during dinner.
Kalpa is famous for the View of Kinnar Kailash Mountain @ the time of Sun set and Sun rise and Apple Farm. Due to autumn, we could see apple farm with lots of apple on each tree on both sides of the roads. We ate a lot of apples from apple tree it was my first experience of apple farm and it was amazing! So after yesterday's sunset, it was time for today's sunrise. I woke up early and went on the terrace of our homestays. It was a good view, with partial sun rays coming out of the dense cloud and falling on to the Kalpa city and it's surrounding Mountains!
Here we go. It was time to say tata to Kalpa and move towards the small village Nako. Today we had to travel 90kms with very good roads. The only thing we needed to do was a basic check-up of our bikes and fill petrol in our bikes as next petrol pump was as far as 250 km. We reached to the petrol pump and got to know that the petrol was not available at the only petrol pump of Reckong Peo and hence we had to go back to Powari and thank god, we got petrol @ Powari, else we would be stuck in Reckong Peo. After filling petrol tank we started our journey.
We traveled for 10-15kms and there comes road block due to land sliding! Welcome to Himalayas Vatsal! Obviously, we had to wait there. Even though we had to wait, we weren't bored as the place had a scenic view with the river passing between two mountain ranges. It was peaceful!
After a wait of an hour, we started. While going towards Nako you have to stop and register your vehicle @ Pooh, which we did. Well, I forgot to carry water and I was thirsty plus the place was very remote so no restaurants or house were there hence I couldn't get water. After driving for an hour I passed by a very small water fall, probably water was coming from Glassier. Due to insane thirst, I went beneath water fall and drank as much water as I could. In doing so, I became wet completely and I realized, I was riding @ height more than 10000ft and because I am wet it would be an even tougher task to ride. Anyways luckily it was a sunny day so somehow I managed and we reached to Khab where we stopped for a delayed lunch! We ordered Thupka , Mutton momos, and veg chawmin. I last tried Thupka 2 years back in Ladakh which was a disaster but today's Thupka had made my day. It was very tasty. Of course, Mutton Momos and Veg chawmin were delicious too.
Just in front of that restaurant, one river was passing so after lunch we sat there for a while. I was sitting silently and admiring the nature. Raw lifeless mountains with a noise of rapidly flowing river and silent Khab town, In one word Heaven! It was so peaceful! One can't ask for more. For this kind of atmosphere, I love to visit the Himalayas.
Now, the last ride of the day left but probably the most scenic one in terms of landscape beauty of the mountains. As soon as we crossed Khab, We saw a different type of landscape in the mountains. it's looked like the snake. Then came roads with several hairpin curves. Once we reached @ the top we took a halt because we wanted to capture these roads as well as landscapes. Even we took pics of us riding our Enfield on these beautiful roads. Just see the road. Don't you wanna ride too??
After a while, we resumed. Due to road broadening work was happening in these areas, we had to stop after some 15-20kms. There we met few of B.R.O' employee and seeing their struggle I felt like what the fuck I am doing in Bangalore , away from family and all. Was it even worth staying far from your loved ones and all!! Even my other friends were getting similar thoughts. Well on these kinds of trip you do feel such emotions, I am telling it from my own past experience.
Anyways, roads opened and we headed towards Nako, which was very near now. Maybe 17kms so 30mins. The place was really at some height. I don't need to say roads and the view was amazing as on entire trip roads and the view was surprising us continuously with their beauty.
Nako was the very small town with a total population, not more than 200. It was famous for beautiful Nako lake and a walk of the village. After freshening up @ our homestays, we took a walk of a village starting from the newly built monastery to Nako Lake. I love the Monasteries and Buddhist culture and here we were @ the first Monastery of our trip. Monasteries and Buddhist Culture was the another reason why I love to visit the Himalayas. After that, we sat @ Hotel Moon Lake View and had dinner there. Got the best Indian food which had fulkas, Alu gobi sabzi with Rice and Dal Tadka. Every Indian would love it especially, the one who lives bachelor life like me :p.
Well, while I was deciding to go on the spiti trip, one of the many things I wanted to do was to see the sunrise and how sun rays gradually fall on the village and on Nako lake. So I got up early and reached to Nako lake where I tried some mirror photography. Then I saw one Mani located @ some height and realized that view of Nako village @ sunrise from that place would be the best so trekked there and found myself a good spot. The only part left for me was to wait for the sun to come out of Mountains. Well, it was the best morning of the trip so far. Like a pro photographer and a traveler I was waiting for the sun with my Nikon and I found that I had a lot of patience as well as I am really a travel freak. Really traveling to this kind of unexplored and remote places gave me a lot of joy, and peace! While waiting, I was listening to music and lost in my own thoughts, What I want and what I don't, what I like and what I don't like. These things sound bullshit to you but trust me you will find a lot of things about yourself, that you didn't know till now. That's what traveling for me is, to find your true self!
Well with every passing minutes sunlight was covering the Nako village starting from the Monastery till Nako lake and it was really amazing to observe that! I captured mirror image of Nako Lake, which I always wanted to do. After the lovely morning, it was time for me to roam in the Nako village which was the incredible experience! I witnessed why people in this region live a very happy and peaceful life. Everybody was doing something for the village. Few guys took all the Goats and ships from each home at early morning. Others were preparing farms by digging lands and the stones they got from those farms were used in fencing of those farm, few were working to improve Nako lake, other women work in their homes as well as make some handmade warm clothes etc. In the evening everyone was waiting for those guys who took their ships and once they all came back, they took their goat and ships, use its milk for making tea/coffee. I couldn't able to found a single unhappy person in that village. Incredible! Meaning of Life was not how much you earned or achieved but it's how much happy and peacefully you lived it!
After learning a lesson of simplicity, it was time to say farewell to amazing Village Nako. With that, we entered in Spiti District. A District of lifeless & Tall Mountains, less greenery, high altitude villages with very fewer populations and the Monasteries and Buddhist culture.
Today's trip was from Nako to Tabo via Gue Village. Gue was famous for the 650 years old Mummy. While going from Nako to Tabo we had to register our vehicles at Sumdo – the nearest point from Tibet on this route. Road was good, especially, while going from Nako to Gue, you have to climb down the hill and that journey was very scenic. We took diversion after Sumdo and it was a detour of 8km. Mummy was kept in a glass chamber in a separate room. It was so lively and no way I felt it was 650 years old. It was awesome! This was another thing I wanted to do on this trip, See a real Mummy! The Gue Monastery was under construction, so we took few snaps and left for Tabo, our last ride of the day.
Tabo is famous for its 1000+ years old Monastery. While going to Tabo I saw many horses walking on roads just like Cow in our places. Isn't it excites you? Watching horse is a rare thing and there I saw dozens of them walking together in a group just like a group of cows in our cities. We reached to Tabo in the evening and went to our homestay where we saw few apple trees and with the permission of the owner, we plucked few apples and ate it. It tastes so sweet. I don't think these apples were sold in India. They might directly be exported out of the India.
In the evening, we decided to visit Caves @ Tabo where Monks/Lamas used to stay in 10th Centuries. The caves were @ some heights and from there we could see entire Tabo village. Spiti has many small villages surrounded by mountains. Bytheway populations of Tabo village was just 330 and the village was entirely covered in snow during Dec to April.
It was dark and the only thing left for us was to go to Café Kunzum Top restaurant for dinner. First time there I drank a butter tea which was different than the usual tea and I loved its taste. It was the specialty of Spiti region. If one visit the spiti, one must try it. We ordered Thupka, momos and veg chawmin again as you should order the food eaten by the people of that terrain. Again we got amazing food and I realized why few bloggers mentioned that you should visit Café Kunzum top restaurants at least once in Tabo. There was guitar and I know how to play it, though I am not a professional player but I am more than handy with it hence played few songs in front of my friends. After that, a couple of local guys came and they started playing songs in the local language. It was very dark, quiet and cold. If you look up you could see a sky full of stars. In such amazing circumstances, listening to live music was an incredible experience. Simply close your eyes and listen to the music. Their music had made my evening a very very special and memorable one! Music doesn't require knowledge of any language to enjoy and feel It. It was proven to me by those super artists!
Next Morning, we wanted to attend the prayer at Tabo Monastery which starts @ 6am and to that challenge, we even got up that early but unfortunately, we couldn't able to find the prayer hall and we missed it. After that, we again went there @ 9am to visit the Monastery. Well, The Tabo Monastery was 1000 years old and probably the oldest on this route. Monastery was built mainly from Mud and stones, I was surprised! how come it was so strong and survived for 10 centuries even though it was mainly built from mud and stones. Definitely, our ancestors were much more knowledgeable than us. There were a lot of colorful Paintings inside different temples and halls of the monastery. During old times, preparing colors was a tough challenge especially, blue color and to that, they had used so many different colors for this paintings. by the way, paintings were really awesome! One of the halls had huge Buddha statue and it looked very much real. Obviously, if you are interested in history then you can read many links, this monastery has a fare bit of history too.
Here we met a cute kid, who was waiting for his school to open. I talked with him a lot. Kid noticed the camera and insisted that he wanted to take a pic so I taught him how to take a pic and took one snap with him on his 'V' pose!
We went to Monastery's own Café, Tabo Monastery Restaurant. We got parathas, sandwich, omelet, tea/coffee and everything was delicious. We had amazing breakfast and we knew that we would need a lot of energy today as we would be trekking for Dhankar lake. which was 2 km of trek @ height 4000+ meters.
Dhankar was a detour of 8 km from the Highway. As we just wanted to go to Kaza today which was just 46km from Tabo, we can afford to take as many breaks as possible. We reached to Dhankar Village. By the way, Dhankar monastery was declared as world's top 100 endangered sites and trust me it was located on the edge of the hill. just see the pics ( put pics of it. ) I loved this Monastery mainly due to its location. It was covered by 8 Mountains from eight different sides. Dhankar village resembles like Lotus and 8 hills are the leaves of it. ( put those pics. ) We sat @ that Monastery for a while and simply admired the beauty of Spiti. During that time we hardly utter a word, but I knew we all were enjoying the peace, silence which was a very rare thing to get these days.
Now it was time for the toughest task of the day, Dhankar Lake Trek. It was 2km trek @ height more than 4k meters, decent steep too. We left our bikes and luggage @ the Monastery's parking and hoped that it won't be stolen. After trekking for just 10 mins we were tired and we realized it would be one of the crazy adventures of the trip. Again we walked for another 10 mins and sat. that went on until we reached @ the top and only thing keeping me going was the lake and the view of Dhankar Lake. After 30 -40 mins we lost patience and used google map and all other apps to know how much more we need to trek. Well, after trekking for an hour, we could see the Dhankar Lake. Due to summer, water was less so at first, we couldn't able to see much water and I was scared because my friends would kill me as it was my idea to trek in such heat and height just because the view of the lake would be incredible and if no water will be there then they will kill me. But, thank god in another 50 meters, we could see mesmerizing Dhankar lake.
Wow, the view was simply amazing. I could see various shades of colors in the Lake from light green to dark blue. There was only one Israeli group of Girls other than us so it was peaceful due to very less crowd. We were sitting between the mountains @ the bank of Dhankar lake, far from the worries of this world and with the company of hot Israeli girls, what more you want! My friend asked for a cigarette from them and with that, we started a decent conversation with them. I still don't believe, we didn't talk much with them afterward, while they looked interested :P. One of the things we did there was, threw stones in the lake, just like the way I used to in my childhood days, where I used to count how many times stone bounced on the water. Did photo session of my friend, We called him Jacob & Jacob loved to be clicked! ;) Then we slept there for a while. I observed the color of the water was changing with Sun's movements. That was the best part of the day.
While coming down we were hoping that our luggage was there and it was there. Maaaan! People in this region were really amazing! A lot of people might have passed by our bikes as it was kind of parked at the main road but still, no one stolen anything. This was one of the specialties of Himalayas. I experienced same in Ladakh. Even friend of mine had dropped his wallet on the way and currency notes were flying here and there. still, people collected it and gave it to the military and later on we got it back. People of Himalayas were really amazing! It's rare in today's world!
Now we went to one restaurant for lunch @ 4pm. It was a terrace restaurant. I could see entire Dhankar village including Dhankar Monastery and its surrounding Mountains where the sun was setting. I enjoyed the Sun set and it was probably the best of the trip! Though our order took time, we couldn't feel bad even though we were hungry and tired because it was a really peaceful place with the awesome sunset!
After having delayed lunch we headed towards Kaza, the main city of Spiti District. Dhankar Monastery & Trek to Dhankar lake had made our day. We stayed in Hotel Deyzor in Kaza and trust me it was the best or one of the best hotels to stay. The room was uniquely decorated, it tells you a lot about the spitian culture.
We got up early and left our Hotel without having breakfast. Today we were roaming places around Kaza, All famous places in terms of the altitude of those places. First, we went to the most famous Monastery of spiti – Key Monastery. While planning I saw few pics of this monastery and It inspired me a lot to go on a trip around spiti. The specialty of this monastery was, Lama of this monastery will serve you herbal tea which was so tasty. I loved it, both the gesture and the taste of the tea! Plus they served you at the roof of the monastery where the last temple of Monastery exists, the view from there was incredible. A cup of tea with such a view was awesome. It was worth a visit!
Now we were going towards the world's second highest motorable village Kibber. It was a normal village but we learned a lot about the life of Himalayan people. How much struggle they do in a place where we did our breakfast. we had breakfast in one of the homes of the village and it was run by a teenage brother and an elder sister with another younger brother whose age was just 10. We talked a lot with that kid and came to know a lot about how tough his and people of this region's life are. Less than 0 temperatures, a lot of snow, risky roads where this kid had lost one of his friends, lack of amenities etc. Even we saw a school where students were studying in similar fashion in which many of our ancestors studied, A teacher with a bunch of students were teaching on a ground in sunlight. Another class was just beside them with a different teacher and another bunch of students. After such a struggle I was surprised to see no one of them were unhappy or crying because of their constant struggling life. Amazing people!
Now we were going to another route Hikkim, Langza, and Komik. Let me tell you why each place is known for. Langza – famous for Fossils which you can find in mountains nearby Langza & Huge Coloring Statue of Lord Buddha, Hikkim – It has World's highest Post office A good place to share your feelings with your loved once by most extraordinary and ancient way – POST ( Letter ). Komik - It is world's highest Motorable village with a population of 114 people. So we first visited Langza where we met local people who showed us amazing Fossils they found in mountains, we even bought few. It was very affordable and It was a memento from an extraordinary trip. Plus sometimes you buy because they need it! On the way we saw Deyzors – famously found in this region. It was a rarity to see them as they found here only.
After that, it was the time for us to send a post card to our loved once especially my Mom, Dad, and Sister from the world's highest post office. I wrote an emotional one may be it was the place that made me wrote an emotional one as I was missing them. Well, we met a guy who wrote letters to his x-gf just to let her know how much he hates her. It was funny! I took a photo with postmaster @ post office as a memory and moved on towards world's highest motorable village Komik. We visited a monastery which was 900 years old and another new monastery which was 50 years old. The good thing was, every monastery we visited if it was closed, Lamas used to open it just for us. We met few very lively kids here as well. A friend of mine even played with them for some time. These things had made our day a very special one!
Now we reached to kaza and it was late so we went to petrol pump as we had to leave early next morning for the ride of our life! After this, there was no petrol pump till Manali which was 220km from there. But our bad luck! The pump was having some issue and we had to wait for 2 hours to get petrol and that too was not guaranteed. But we didn't have other option so we waited and finally, at 9pm we got petrol but due to that we couldn't go for the local market for shopping.
Anyways the visit of Kaza was a memorable one even without shopping!
Today we had to travel from Kaza to Chandra Taal Lake and for that we need to cover the distance of 90kms. We met few people on this trip so far and all of them had told us that "The actual bike trip will start after Kaza and you will cry on the way especially, after the village Losar." On the way, we stopped for photoshoot @ some place before Losar as we got straight long road - a good place for some photography.
After Losar, we registered our bike for the last time. Then we moved towards Kunzum Pass where the temperature at day time was between 0-3. Roads were horrible from Losar onwards it was all dust and little stones. We reached to Kunzum top. Trust me, I was wearing 2 gloves, 2 jeans, thermal, t-shirt, shirt, sweat-shirt, and my riding armor but still, I was severing! Damn, It was cold and what's the time?? Just 2pm. Imagine what would happen at night. Well, don't worry I had that experience too. Now if you visit such a place, "Ek Pic lena to banta hai and ek kya humne bahut jyada pics liye!". Meanwhile, it started snowing and I was experiencing snowfall for the first time in my life. Wow! Amazing!
We started riding in snowfall which was incredible and I captured it with my SJCAM too. After riding for 3-4 km we got one diversion which we had to take for Chandra Taal Lake, where we were staying in a tent for tonight. The tents were 12km from the diversion and 2kms from Chandra Taal lake. Roads were very narrow with few water crossings. If you go by car and if another car comes from opposite direction, you might have to take a reverse for few km to give a pass. It was was that narrow! Plus fucking water crossing! I had to put my legs in the water for the last crossing. Oh! it was freezing cold. I couldn't able to feel my legs after that. I still think, the adventure of bike riding had started from that point. Finally, we reached to our tents. as soon as we reached, I removed my wet shoes and after 5-10 mins I could able to feel my legs. We were damn hungry and luckily we got Rajma chawal @ Tent. We ate like we had never seen food in our life. After delicious and much-needed lunch, we got the energy to walk. It was almost evening and my friends went for a walk but between the mountains far from the busy world and in the lap of nature, do you think I would prefer anyone else's company than my own? So I prefer to sit alone. I saw a small hill and trekked on it. I sat there with my recent MS dhoni movie's playlist. It snowed for some time while I was there. Definitely, it was an evening well spent with nature around me! After dinner, we slept. I wanted to see the stars at late night but due to so much cold, I couldn't dare to go out of my tent.
When we woke up next morning I wanted to wash my face so when I tried to get water from the bucket I found it was ice instead of water and temperature was -10 that night. Damn! We were survived in those insane circumstances. I sat in front of fire for about an hour to gain much-needed body heat. while I was there, I met a guy from Finland and talked with him for some time. India is the safe country and these foreigners are proving it by coming on a trip! Today's plan was to visit Chandra Taal Lake, come back and have breakfast then head back to Manali - our last destination of the spiti Circuit.
We prefer to go for a 2 km trek instead of visiting it on a bike which turned out to be another adventure as definitely, the distance was more than 2km and after walking for an hour, we thought we lost the route. But there was a small path so we followed it and thank god! We heard a little sound of people and realized we were on right track. While walking we saw amazing landscapes, frozen river etc. To be frank, I thought lake would be a decent one or beautiful but when I saw it for the first time I could not believe it was a real place and not a painting or photoshopped lake. I really became speechless and amazed at the same time. Lake had surprised me more and more with every step of mine towards it. We visited it before 9 am and hence the water was still so we could see the mirror image in the water, for what Chandra Taal is famous for!
We sat there for maybe an hour where I tried some time lapsed photography. Then we went @ the bank of it. I even thought of walking a complete round of the lake and started but after 15 mins I realized it was too huge and it would take at least an hour to complete plus we didn't have much time hence I came back. What I observed was, with sunlight, the color of the water was changing. Water was so clear that we could see the surface and stones inside the Lake. The place was insanely beautiful and one to visit for any travel freak. I bet You will never get anything better than this in your life anywhere.
Trust me till now I had been to various amazing places including Pangong Lake of Ladakh but Chandra Taal was the best place I ever visited till now! I can't describe how beautiful the place was. Just see the below pics and decide.
Well, while going back we couldn't get any lift so we had to walk back towards our tent. A friend of mine scolded me a lot as I decided to climb down a hill which was very slippery and risky and he stuck there. Luckily no casualty happened and we reached to our tent where breakfast was ready so we had omelet and tea. We packed our bags, wore our armor, tied our bag on the bikes and started from Chandra Taal. Adventure of the trip begins! That day, Raid De Himalayan was there – A Race in mountains where riders from various countries take part. Due to that roads were blocked and we had to wait for an hour at diversion. But common, who cared whether I had to wait or not, I was watching Raid De Himalayan! A biggest and most dangerous racing Event in the world. I don't know how these riders are even thinking of participating in this race on such roads. Thanks to race, I could able to see few biking stunts while waiting.
We were @ Batal. The route from Batal to Gramphu route is famous because it is deadly roads. Well, to be frank, you can't say it a road, it was just a bunch of big stones on which you have to drive. Initially, I could able to drive well as roads were bad but still a drivable one with a lot of dust and small stones but after 10km there came a stretch of 2-3 km where there was a lot of water crossings, a path full of big and small stones. I fell down 4 times in less than 2 km. To increase our struggle, due to Raid De Himalayan, We had to give side to heavy vehicles coming from opposite directions on such a roads where it was tough to drive but tougher to balance bike and stop. Even because of these irritating vehicles, I fell down twice. Now Snow started falling an added difficulty. Due to snowfall, the atmosphere became too cold and I was severing a lot. Under such a tough circumstances I started remembering words of Bawa ( A guy who visited this place more than 20 times ) That : "Beta tume ye raste par rone lagoge and pata chalega adventure kya hota hai!" Trust me when I fell down for the 4th time, I stopped counting and I started shouting, scolding to all the fucking vehicles, to myself and to the roads. Except crying, I did everything that day! I was thinking "how I would reach to Manali?" But then I kind of figured out that I shouldn't be driving too slowly. With every stone, I started adjusting my body and I could able to ride better than before. Finally, we reached to Chhatru. That 17km from Batal to Chhatru was really horrible and a night-mare to any rider. After that too, road till Gramphu which was bad but better than the one we just covered. Finally, with a lot of struggle we reached to Gramphu. Now I understood my bike very well and learned a big lesson of how to drive in the Himalayas. After Gramphu when we saw properly built road, we stopped and started shouting that yes! We have done it.
From Gramphu to Rohtang was 14km and after initial 3-4kms roads were too good and in no time I was @ Rohtang Pass. We took a Photo there as a memory and more of a memory as an achievement that, we drove on such roads! It was 5 pm and we still need to ride another 50kms so we started. As we skipped our lunch we were hungry and we stopped at Marhi for another Delayed Lunch. It was so cold but my body had adjusted to the atmosphere and I didn't want to disturb it so I just had my lunch there bought a scarf to cover my open neck and waited for my friends to finish their lunch. Meanwhile, I met a foreigner who was there @ tents of Chandra Taal. He recognized us and came to us and started complaining about the roads. His first few words to us were "Fucking Roads!" ha ha! While discussing we came to know he was living in Bangalore from last 13 years and he was living just 200 meters from my place. We decided to meet in Bangalore. Let's see if that happened or not! On this trip, I made a lot of friends and all of them were kind of famous ones!
It was dark and I lost my friends and as roads were passing from the forest I decided to meet them directly at the hotel. with some struggle, I reached to our Hotel. They too arrived in another 30 mins. Finally, our Spiti circuit was over. Even today when I remember the trip and those roads, I couldn't able to believe that I finished that circuit! I am kind of feeling proud on my driving now!
Next Morning, we had to reach to Shimla which was 250kms away. We left a bit late and paid price by facing a lot of traffic on the way till Kullu. Most irritating part of the day was driving from Manali to Kullu, as roads were very narrow but no one can do anything about it. A lot of traffic was there, I stuck for almost half an hour at one place. But After Kullu, traffic reduced drastically. On the way to Mandi from Kullu, a stretch of 20kms came, just after 2.5km long tunnel. Trust me at no point I felt It was India. The place was that beautiful! Other than that, rest of the route was decent but as I was in mountains from past week or so, I was feeling it normal. I reached to Shimla by 6 pm and drop my bike @ the place from where we hired. Next day we had a cab from Shimla to Delhi airport from where we flew back to Namma Bengaluru!
Indeed This trip was special one, As it was completely planned by me and now I am confident enough to plan more trips, we met so many people Indian as well as foreigners, tourists as well as local people of the Himalayan region, had variety of food from Thupka & Momos to Sizzler & Punjabi, visited Temples of Kinnaur to Monasteries of Spiti, Saw all types of landscapes, green mountains of Kinnaur to Tall & Lifeless mountains of Spiti , Saw rivers like Bias, Satluj & Spiti to Lakes like Dhankar & Chandra Taal at an insane heights. Plus the roads from Chandra Taal to Manali and Trek of Dhankar & Chandra Taal lakes had provided only missing part of a trip which was the Adventure.