Before you go any further with reading my story here, I would like you all to know that what so ever is pinned here is 100% no bullshit but a true experience! I ain't a blogger / travel vlogger. That said, the sole purpose of writing something in here is only because this trip really meant THE WORLD TO ME !!
I was turning 30! Not to mean that age matters to me, but I do celebrate birthdays in my own ways for the beautiful proof of existence that I am! Peak winter of February challenged me a thought of doing something extra ordinary. I had no idea what Spiti was!! Neither did I travel beyond Delhi and was clueless of what going to the Mountains meant! It was about time that I had to do something that I will be remembered for.
13th February it was, I left to Bangalore Airport after spending a quality time with my loved ones. I wanted to do this trip all by myself, I did not want to take any package trip nor plan a very easy trip.
There are two routes one could take to reach Spiti Valley. Easiest option is to take a flight to Delhi, hop on to a bus to Manali and then Spiti Valley. Another route is Via Shimla, Rekong Peo to Kaza. The Manali route is usually closed until mid March or April due to the Winters & Snow. The only road which is open during Winter is via Shimla and this is the most toughest road.
Like said earlier, I wanted this trip to be as RAW and REAL as possible. There was no much plan made around buses that had to be booked, sorting out the stays in advance etc., All I knew was I am going to Spiti valley, no matter what! My mind and body was all set for the fire I was going to spark with this trip (Below is a picture of me when I left the house in Coorg)
My flight was from Bangalore to Dehradun. I wanted to be on roads from the start of Lower Himalayas and then reach the most Highest ones through public transport. Dehradun to Shimla road seems fine, less risk and very well maintained road. This wouldn't be very adventurous for someone who is already from a small hill station.
Day 1 to Day 2 - I stayed in Dehradun for a night, rested well. I left Dehradun at 7 in the morning and reached Shimla - Tutikandi Bus station at 6pm. The homestay I stayed in was a lil away from the main town in a place called Dudli. The temperature when I reached Shimla was 4° c. This was my first time with such extreme cold weather! FIRST TIME!
Day 3 - I roamed around Shimla, though I'm not very fond of towns and cities, I kind of liked Shimla. It does have an old era - British charm. I walked around Mall road, it is just nice and Shimla does have the sweetest people unlike other cities. This was li'l more like a touristy day and I was almost relaxed and set to go ahead.
I remember, the clock was hitting 5 and I was still wondering if I had to stay in Shimla for the night or move ahead because my 4 days were already gone and I had to cover the another 20 hours to reach my final destination. Again, there are only two buses that connects Shimla to Reckon Peo, one in the morning and another at night.
I don't know what gave me the guts to take the night bus, but I did. My bus was scheduled at 6:30 pm and I was waiting for the bus at the Mall road bus station. The Tea stall owner kept me accompanied. He was really sweet, he was also scared for me when I mentioned I was going to Spiti all by self. The first thing he uttered was " Madam, udar kuch bi ho jayega, raasta teek nahi hai. Aap risk math lo". I just thought it's natural for anyone to say that when a single lady travels all alone, specially at night and in the bus. But, again... It's about the gut feeling that you have & you know that you can do it!!
And then...there came the bus!! Right on time - 6:30 pm!!
I boarded the bus, the bus was fully packed and with people standing in no gaps. The conductor was very kind, he managed to pull me to the front seat.
The journey actually began from here, the roads gets worse after Shimla and it only gets worse but with breathtaking views. Climbing up and up and up ... Can you imagine what it feels to go up all the way from 900 ft above sea level to 15000 ft above? Be it the day or night, I hadn't given myself a chance for my eyes to drift off the sight of this beautiful bus journey. At night, I could only see the the snowy mountains glowing to the light of Moon with a river so bright as any shades of blue can get, and it's flowing under another thousand meters down the road, the road which has no border or railings. Then, when I turned to the driver, I always saw him driving the bus at a rocket speed ;p.
Outside the window, I could see that the stars were glittering with moon so close, the colour of river was something I had never seen before. This is when you feel like you are holding your life on your palms, to let it go or let it stay with the flow. Trust me, the moment you hit the road from Shimla, you are in a different dimension. My body, my brain and my thoughts will always imprint the strength, beauty and the courage that this trip has imbibed in me.
The bus took me through the road that was drilled out of caves and rocks in the cold winter weather! Some roads were blocked, There were bridges that was built by the BRO, this was a skeleton iron bridge which allowed only one vehicle to pass through! The bus driver takes a turn and stirs his stirring like there is no road ahead, perfectly fitting into the size of the bridge. I remember the bus conductor starring at me, knowing that I am a tourist and checking to see if I was scared with every turns they took. Yes, I did feel a thousand times like I was gonna die ... Now... In this very turn.... lol!
I reached Rekong Peo at 3:30 am. I had booked a stay close to the bus stand thinking that it would be easier for me to catch buses next day. The driver and conductor told me that it wasn't a great stay and helped me with another guest house. I don't think I have ever found any strangers helping me so much like the Himachalis did. These guys took me to the guest house and dropped me at the guest house at 330 am, they also carried my bag and told me they will be available anytime if I need any help.This is the first time I had ever seen a mountain!!! A Himalayan mountain! A snow-covered damn thing!!
A rested a lil, woke up the next day to the amazing view again, I don't think I would have slept much coz the beauty is such that you don't want to waste a single minute by any chance. Don't forget to have Tea as much as you can coz it is the only thing that can keep you up & running all the time. I stayed at the Shivling Homestay, visited a few places around. Kalpa is close by and I hitch hiked to Kalpa. You don't find buses going up there, but you can rely on local strangers! Get on to a vehicle which is driven by some oldies ! My advice is be very cautious whenever you hitch hiking! Never get onto to a vehicle which is driven by young folks!
Kalpa is very scenic place and you must visit whenever you are here! When you are a first timer in the Mountain, you may feel like this the Heaven you been waiting for! But it isn't !!! You will know why I say so when you read the entire the thing.
Kalpa has a temple & a suicide point. I did go to the temple but not the suicide point. The name itself is not appropriate and I din't want to go there! How could someone call a suicide point as a Tourist spot? You just have to make a lot of sense to yourself when you are all alone....
I returned to the Homestay, roamed around a lil in the market until the sunset, enjoying the beauty of this place! Don't stress yourself much to cover all the places you can while heading to Spiti. Always remember, you are only stopping at a certain places to rest well, to prep for the next day and for the destination you plan to arrive at! Coz what matters the most is the joy of arriving at the Final destination..
Kalpa is scenic but that's not just over yet.. I took a hitch hike way back to the homestay. The guys who dropped me were off-roaders who were heading back from the Spiti valley. They gave me some space at the back of their Jeep and dropped me safely at the homestay. While we were on a drive, I explained that I came all the way by Bus and they were kinda shocked!! I could see their jaw dropping with shock. They told me the roads ahead are much more deadly but it's all worth it ! Again, something to keep me motivated!! I knew, no matter how much some one scared me, warned me, I will reach and be fine! That again is a gut feeling... I don't mean to sound scary, but you gotta know what you feel inside you!
Fine, the next day!!! I knew my bus was at 7am in the morning. DM me if you need the bus schedule of HRTC and I don't think that schedule will ever change..
I got onto the bus on time. I got a call from my parents, my mom crying!! She had a bad dream and wanted me to come back. "She said don't go up any further, I am scared". She was just crying non stop. I am not the one who would go against any of my loved one's will! I called my boy friend, explained him the whole situation.. Finally, there was some one who could still support me!! I had the fuel, I just needed some energy!! And, I had it !!Did not tell my parents, moved up as I had planned. The road started from the bottom again, climbing up all the possible hill!! Climbing up the hill doesn't seem as easy as it sounds to be. I did witness rocks falling, roads blocked, icebergs on the way getting cleared by BRO, not just that, there were Army Vehicles passing by due to an emergency and I, I was the only fucking damn tourist in the bus I was boarded onto!!!
(Baby, you gotta be strong when you are the only one! Just. Keep. It. Going!!!!).
The bus stops at a certain point for food & washroom. I have controlled my hunger & washroom needs coz my own OCD reasons. Never do that mistake.
As I kept travelling through and through the mountains, the valleys, the edgy cliffs, I finally saw a something. A board that said "WELCOME TO SPITI VALLEY"
THAT WAS IT!
I saw the board, I thanked God for keeping alive so far ( Trust me, you can't do it if you have the minute doubt of staying focused)
Once you see this board, everything you see is like a magic, a meditation, a self respect you owe yourself!!!
Then came all the Icy af land, you can only spot the Tibetan style of architecture in every bits! It's a different landscape, it's a different plan and planet altogether! I don't think I will ever get over the goose bump kinda feeling that I had as I entered...
I reached Kaza at 6 pm, a land sooooo unknown & unreal!! Sooo new and sooo freezing.. The host did not come to receive me instead sent someone to receive me. There was a blue car, in the all damn white land! I sat on the car not knowing anybody, anything!!
The driver asked if I was alone? He warned me of the the temperature. He said this is not the time to travel alone, it's fucking freezing cold here. I did not utter a word!!
In my head, I thought, Hell!!! I am gonna die now!!
NOTE : WINTER SPITI IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!!
The temperature was -30. Do not believe google weather forecast, I did check it before I left, it said it would be around -16. Anyhow, I reached the homestay and the host was there to receive me! It was my first walk on a thick thick snow, not knowing how to walk on it !! I FELL HARD ON THE ICE..They took me home, lit up the fire in the room, gave me a cup of Butter Tea!
I called my Fiancè, I was a lil scared after a bad fall on Rocky ice and the terribly cold weather. I told him I may not make it way back home. My parents dint know I was in Spiti, only he did! He calmed me said a couple of things to keep me motivated, My another best friend - Kusum, called me. I think there were only a few lil people who knew what I was doing, where I was at.. What a blessing to have people like that! But, Trust me! It's not scary!!! It's not... At all! I picked up myself. The host were very humble. I stayed at the Pelyang Homestay and they have a very beautiful family.. They have kid named - Tenzin! She's one thing who will come into my mind every time I think of Spiti. The kids in the mountains are made of God's own grace!Tenzin, came into my room every time to help me, she is 4 yrs old! She put a blanket on me every time she thought it was cold outside. The Spitian house are very cozy! They are built out of mud and keep you warm all the time.
My only problem was with using the Dry pit.Lucky this homestay had an Indian Toilet. Another problem is, the moment you switch on the tap, the water freezes! It freezes with the running water ! The temperature is minus damn everything!! They had a solar set up, so I would recommend the Pelyang Homestay any day!! Have Butter Tea, light food and loads of Water.. This can keep anyone going!
The next day - The host took me to all the places. I went to the Kee Monastery. The Lamas were very Kind! They provided me with lunch and a herbal Tea whose source is yet a very confidential one. You gotta try this! The herbal tea is out of the world.
Then, they offered me with a lunch ( Simple and tasty) I had Lunch, moved to Kibber to spot the Snow Leopard, which I did! It wasn't so fascinating coz they only show them through a Binocular. I moved on.. I went to the World's Highest Post office. This is the beauty of Kazaa!! It really is... I gotta know that the post man spends 3 to 4 hours literally walking to the bus station to send the letter that you posted through this Post office. The altitude is high AF! It's 14.5k ft above the sea level. Any ten steps you take seems like you have walked a kilometre upwards. I felt breathless!
I did post a few letters! There's a joy in posting them from the world's highest Post office coz you are on TOP OF THE WORLD.Some letters might reach, some may not! And that's ok!!... And then, there's a feeling of contentment when you know that you've conveyed your message.. Coz you never know if you can go back alive.
Another interesting fact about Spiti Valley is, you get to experience being on top of the world, they have the Asia's highest bridge, world's highest post office, world's highest village, world's highest monastery etc., So, you are actually on TOP OF THE WORLD when you are here 🌎 ☺️!
It was three days I spent in the Spiti Valley. That was everything! The gorgeous mountains starring right back at you, they convey a message. I remember having tears in my eyes when I left the place....Tears of Joy! Tears for the beauty that all the mountains holds for you.
Gods did live there.Perhaps, they still do! May be there was reason when I always told myself "Don't stop! Keep going... it's tough & it's okay" there is no joy of winning an easy stuff!
Keep it real coz it's Spiti Valley... You gotta be hard, you gotta take care of yourself like a baby and there's nothing wrong in that...
Spiti Valley, especially in the peak winters is once in a lifetime! No, it isn't everyone's cup of tea. The strength in me comes from the people who love & believe in me, it comes from the hope of being different and being accepted for the same. I owe a huge amount of respect to my parents, my best friends and last but not the least - the love of my life for letting me be ME.
Spiti Valley hasn't just been a memorable trip, it has become my identity. I pride myself for having done this.
Trust me when I say this - the place is blessed with immensely strong and beautiful energy.
Believe in yourself, take care of yourself of like a baby, watch out everything you witness. Seek the blessings of the starring mountain goddess! Seek for the humbleness in people who live in this terrain. There's so much you could learn from traveling to remote places, take as much as you can. Probably more than what you can!
I have learnt that the life we crib about in the cities we live is nothing. The life of anything that you think is lacking is nothing! India is a beautiful country. It has places that can offer for any kind of mindset of People. Travel as much as you can!
Solo trip it is...
YOU WILL NEVER KNOW..
YOU DO IT.