Solo Spiti Circuit 

Tripoto

Spiti Circuit

Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar

Initially, I was planning to visit Spiti in July 2019, but the weather in North India was not good. July is more about rain in most parts of Himachal Pradesh. So I shifted my plan of Spiti circuit to September 2019. I asked some of my friends for the Spiti trip but all of them denied because of many reasons like long-distance, the duration of the trip and not being comfortable on the bike. So I decided to go solo on my Royal Enfield (ABS Signals Stormrider Sand). I planned my whole trip according to the date of no moon because I am a photographer and wanted to capture stars trails in the Mountains.

Below were the broad route and days I planned for the whole trip -

Circuit: Gurgaon - Shimla - Chitkul - Kalpa - Tabo - Kaza - Chandrataal - Mandi - Gurgaon

Day 1: Gurgaon to Shimla

Day 2: Shimla to Chitkul

Day 3: Chitkul to Kalpa

Day 4: Kalpa to Tabo via Nako

Day 5: Tabo to Kaza via Dhankar and Mud

Day 6: Kaza - Langza, Komic, Hikkim, Key, Chicham, and Kibber

Day 7: Kaza to Chandrataal via Kunzum Pass

Day 8: Chandrataal to Mandi via Rohtang Pass and Manali

Day 9: Mandi to Gurgaon


Day 0: Preparation for the Solo ride on Bike

I got my Royal Enfield ABS Signals Stormrider Sand serviced. I had rented the Ladakh carrier. If you are leaving from Gurgaon then I’ll recommend renting it from Sector 14 Gurgaon. You can rent it for INR 500/- only. If you are a permanent traveler then you can buy Ladakh carrier as well worth INR 1000/- only. I was searching for petrol cans but wasn't able to find it in Gurgaon, somehow managed it later. Do carry raincoat and bag cover, and sun's cream. If you want to get in touch with your buddies and parents then do carry BSNL sim.

Essentials for the trip:

Winter Clothes - Leather Jacket for the bike ride, a down feather Jacket, Gloves and Muffler.

Normal Clothes - Cargo, Jeans, Shirt, T-shirt, Lowers, Sweaters, Rain Coat

First Aid - Diamox Medicine, anti-allergic, Vicks, Dettol, cotton

For Bike - 2 Petrol cans, Tie rope (2) keep one or two extra, Chain cleaner, Chain Lubricant, Bag cover to prevent from dust, Tool kit

Extra - Enough cash, Power bank

If you are a photographer, please keep 2 camera batteries, filters, and a tripod stand.

Day 1: Gurgaon to Shimla

I started my journey around 9:30 in the morning from Gurgaon. As soon as I reached NH -1 highway it started raining, so I found a bus stop and waited for the rain to stop. Untied my bag and wore the raincoat, wasted 1 hour here, so I’ll recommend keeping the raincoat in a small handy bag which is easily assessable at any time . I drove for 4 hours and took a lunch break at some small Dhaba, then continued the journey. Around 5 PM I reached Solan Valley , took a tea break there while glancing at beautiful sites.

Day 1

Solan Valley

Photo of Solan, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Around 7:30 PM I reached Shimla and booked a good hotel to rest for the day. Hotel charges were INR 800/- for one night.

The hotel is on the main road only. There is enough parking space. The food was decent.

Day 2: Shimla to Chitkul

I started my journey to Chitkul at 8 AM. I refueled my bike at the Shimla petrol pump and then I headed to Chitkul. On the way, you will see a beautiful small tunnel at the starting of the Kinnaur valley. I will recommend you to stop there and take some amazing photos of the view.

Around 1 PM I reached Sangla Valley. Here I stopped for lunch and took a break of approximately 45 mins. There I met some people from the Gujarat state. They were also traveling to Spiti by car.

Tunnel en route Chitkul from Shimla

Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar

En route Sangla to Chitkul, the road is not that good but the view is awesome, travelers and photographers can stop in this route to capture and enjoy the beautiful valley.

You will find Karcham Dam on the way to Chitkul. Stop there, enjoy the view and take some photos there.

Day 2

Karcham Dam

Photo of Karcham Wangtoo Dam, Himachal Pradesh by Ankit Kumar

The starting point of the Chitkul Valley

Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

At 5 PM I reached Chitkul. I decided to take a tent near the Baspa river. I got the tent worth INR 1000/- per night in which dinner was also included. There are also some good hotels starting from 500 per night depending on the budget. Homestays are also available around INR 500/-.

Around 9 PM the sky was clear in Chitkul. I took out my camera, fixed in a tripod, did all the settings and started capturing the star trail. There were 5 more guys who came from Delhi and were staying in another tent. They asked me what I was capturing for so long. So I explained to them what a Star trail is, and how they can capture it. After that, they also started capturing and they successfully captured it.

Milky Way at Chitkul Valley

Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar

Day 3: Chitkul to Kalpa

Chitkul

I decided to leave for Kalpa at 11 AM morning. So I had enough time to capture photos of Chitkul valley. I captured two timelapse there, moving clouds over the mountain with the flowing river.

Chitkul Valley

Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Kalpa

I packed my bag and left for Kalpa around 11 AM. To reach Kalpa you have to go back to Karcham Dam and then take the route to Kalpa. At Karcham, you will see two different meetings. At one point, the blue colored river is Baspa coming from the Chitkul side and the brown colored river is Sutlej coming from Kalpa side. I reached Kalpa around 2:30 PM.

There I booked a normal hotel at INR 1000/- per night. I had lunch there and left for the famous ‘Suicide Point’. The view is awesome and you can really take good photos here. There I found the same Gujarati friends, whom I met at Sangla.

Day 3
Photo of Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

After that, I went for the village tour. The village is small but very beautiful and has a monastery and Brahma temple. You will also find Apple vegetation. After sightseeing, I came back to the hotel around 8. There was some amount of light pollution but still, I was able to capture the milky way and star trail.

Temple in brown & Monastery in red, Kalpa

Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar

Star trail, Kalpa

Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar

Day 4: Kalpa to Tabo via Nako

Kalpa

I started my journey to Tabo at early 8:30 AM in the morning. When you move ahead Kalpa, While you are on your way, you can observe the changes in the type of mountains. You will find hardly any greens in the mountains most of the area is deserted. Reckong Peo is the last stop for the Petrol pump station in Kinnaur district. After that, you will be able to fill your vehicles in the Kaza Petrol pump only. Distance between two petrol pumps is approximately 230Kms So fill your tanks or if you are carrying extra petrol you can then fill it as well for the emergency.

Nako

Just before Nako, I found one small liquor store. I took Old monk there. Finally, I reached Nako around 1:30 PM but the road was under construction at that time. So there was a lot of dust on that road. I stopped near the helipad, there were 3-4 restaurants. I had my lunch at the Dhaba restaurant. The food was really awesome. Must try green Chatni there. Then I headed towards Nako Village. It’s a very small village. You will be able to cover the whole village in 1 hour. After that, I headed towards Nako Lake. There I clicked some photos and then left for Tabo 3 PM.

Day 4

Nako Village

Photo of Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Nako Lake

Photo of Nako Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Ankit Kumar

Tabo

Reached Tabo at 4:30 PM. There I found a Maitreya Home Stay, just beside the Old Tabo monastery. It cost me around INR 800/- per night. There I met two girls. They were Painters and studying at NIFT, Delhi. Maitreya people contacted these girls to come and paint walls of their restaurant. Around 5:30 I visited both New and Old Tabo monastery.

New Tabo Monastery

Photo of Tabo Monastery, Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Old Tabo Monastery

Photo of Tabo Monastery, Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Old Tabo Monastery

Photo of Tabo Monastery, Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

I roamed around the village and clicked amazing photos. There is a helipad in Tabo, so I decided that site for my next timelapse. In the evening I had some snacks with my new friends and then I headed for the helipad around 9 PM.

The sky was really good at Kaza. I met a guy there. He was from Chennai. He was also trying to capture constellations. He taught me about stars. He also had a binocular, so he showed me a tail star and luckily I was able to capture it. While capturing timelapse I laid down on the surface and was glancing the beauty of stars, which one must experience in his/her life. There I also saw many shooting stars which was awesome .

Milky way, Tabo

Photo of Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Tail Star in the center of the pic

Photo of Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Day 5: Tabo to Kaza via Dhankar, Lalung, and Mud

Tabo

Had a nice breakfast at Maitreya and left from Tabo at 9:30 AM and headed for Dhankar monastery.

Dhankar

I reached Dhankar around 10:30 AM. I visited the Dhankar Monastery, please note photography is not permitted inside the monastery. There I met a couple, coming from Shimla to celebrate their anniversary at Kaza. They asked me to join the trip because our destination was the same.

Day 5

Dhankar Monastery

Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Lalung

After that, we went to Lalung village, this is the highest polling station in the world. The distance between Dhankar and Lalung is 25 Km. You can cover this in an hour.

Lalung Village

Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar

Pin Valley

After Dhankar we headed to pin valley national park. We also visited the Mud village. Road end there. If you have time, you must visit Gue village to see the mummy of Sangha Tenzin. At the Pin valley, there was a landslide, so we had to wait there for like 30 minutes for the path to get cleared. Photographers get your camera ready because you will find very beautiful scenery here.

Pin Valley

Photo of Pin Valley National Park, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar
Photo of Pin Valley National Park, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Mud

I reached Mud village at 4 PM. The village is built on both sides of the single road. If you have time you must spend one day here, I was not able to do that. Here you can see multiple colors of mountains because of vegetation. Colors were getting changed during the day because of the sun.

There I had some snacks and left for Kaza.

Mud Village

Photo of Mud, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

The colourful valley

Photo of Mud, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Kaza

I reached Kaza at 6 PM late evening. I booked Zostel there. If you are going in groups there are many homestays or you can even stay in dorms of Zostel. decided to take a single room rather than the Doms as I want to stay alone. There are some tents as well on the Zostel premises. I met new people at Zostel. I was captured timelapse at Kaza. Again I taught almost five guys there to capture stars and timelapse. There also I helped people in their time-lapse picture.

For dinner, I visited the Himalayan Cafe. Believe me, this is the best cafe in Kaza and food is better than Delhi NCR. That couple I met in Dhankar I got in the Himalayan cafe. Must try Chicken cheese momo here.

Himalayan Cafe with the Couple from Shimla

Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar

Day 6: Kaza [Langza - Komic - Hikkim - Key - Chicham - Kibber]

Kaza

I found some local bike service center there, so I got some repair as my chain got dried and the horn was not working. Please note that do carry chain cleaner and lubrication with you. While the bike was in the service center, I had Poha, Bun Maska, and chai for breakfast at the same Himalayan cafe. It was really great, please try.

Langza:

Together we headed to Langza at 10 AM. The route is very beautiful. You can take many pics here. In an hour you will Langza. We stopped at the Buddha statue, took some nice photos and timelapse. If you are a photographer you can make beautiful timelapse of moving clouds with the Buddha.

Day 6

Langza Valley

Photo of Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Buddha Statue, Langza

Photo of Langza Buddha Statue, Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Komic

After spending 45 mins in Langza we headed for Komic. It is the highest village in the world connected with the motorable road. There is a monastery. You can visit there and you can see the view of the valley from the top.

Komic

Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Monastery, Komic

Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Hikkim

After Komic, we headed to Hikkim. Hikkim has the world’s highest Post Office in the world. Here you can buy postcards and send greetings to your loved ones. You can buy the stamp for just INR 12/-. The Post Man lives in the same house only.

World's highest Post Office, Hikkim

Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Key Monastery

Whenever you think about Spiti only one image comes in everyone’s mind, the Key Monastery. I was thinking to stay in the monastery for one night but unfortunately at that time renovation work was going on so they were not allowing anyone to stay there. If you want to feel the culture of monks, then do stay at Key monastery if possible. I entered Key, and one of the monks offered us Tea. It’s a herbal tea but sweet. The key is big so you will need some time to visit the whole monastery. Photographers, if you want to take really good pics of Key then you have to trek behind the Key Monastery. It will take an hour to reach the point for the best photos. I was not able to do so because of my tight schedule.

Key Monastery

Photo of Key Gompa, Key Monastery, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Chicham

Chicham bridge is the highest bridge in Asia. This is hanged with the cable, no pillars in between. This bridges us to Rohtang Pass and Manali. Photographers, if you have time then go to the left side of the bridge above the mountain, you can click very good pics.

Chicham Bridge

Photo of Chicham Bridge, Chicham Khas, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar
Photo of Chicham Bridge, Chicham Khas, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Kibber

Kibber is a beautiful village in Lahaul and Spiti district. I haven’t spent much time there. I just roamed around the village in 30 minutes and headed to Kaza.

At Night I had dinner at Spiti Cafe, Kaza. Also, I had a juice of orange berry produced in Spiti Valley only. I reached Zostel at night. There I again met some new people talking about the plan of the next day. I told them my plan to Chandrataal the next day. All of them were surprised,as they told me. It is very difficult to travel to Chandrataal alone as the one might have to cross multiple river and the roads were also in bad condition. But despite all that, I decided to visit Chandrataal alone.

Kibber

Photo of Kibber, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Day 7: Kaza to Chandrataal

Kaza

I woke early in the morning so that I can leave for Chandrataal by 7 in the morning. I went to the petrol pump to fill my tank and petrol cans. But the petrol pump was closed due to out of stock. There was a landslide en route due to which petrol vehicles couldn't be reached at that time. I went to Himalayan cafe, had Poha for breakfast and calculated how much fuel I had and how much I’ll need to reach Manali to Chandrataal. My estimation said that I can go easily to Manali as I had one extra can left. One can be used at Mud village.

At the cafe, I met two Israeli guys. They had Thunderbird rented from Delhi and met an accident near Key Monastery the day before. So the owner of the Himalayan cafe made some arrangements for them. They took their bikes on Tata 407 and plan to go to Manali. The owner asked me to go along with the guys if I’ll need any support in the case because roads were not good. I started my journey with those Israeli guys at 9:30 AM.

Kunzum La (Kunzum Pass)

Reached Kunzum La. Roads were really bad. But the views were awesome. Kunzum La connects Lahaul & Spiti district. People going to Chandrataal take blessings here. This road tests your real driving skills.

Day 7

Kunzum La (Kunzum Pass)

Photo of Kunzum Pass, Dhar Thachakarpo, Himachal Pradesh by Ankit Kumar

Chandrataal

I was lucky I reached to Chandrataal safely. I got two waterfalls on the way. Please note that go from the little right side at the waterfall. There I found a good camp and stayed for one night. The charge was 1600/- per night. I reached there at 5 PM. Suddenly I rushed to Chandrataal Lake because I had very little time. It was really a great place, a very clean lake Sacred Lake, a windy place, blue water also changing color due to the sun. I made another timelapse there with moving clouds.

Photo of Chandra Taal, Himachal Pradesh by Ankit Kumar
Photo of Chandra Taal, Himachal Pradesh by Ankit Kumar

If you have time then I’ll recommend you to stay for the full day to see the changing of watercolor due to sunlight and do a circuit of Chandrataal Lake. Unfortunately, I can’t do that but maybe next time.

Chandrataal Lake

Photo of Chandrataal Lake, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

In the evening I came back to my tent. The sky at night was never I have seen before. It was dark and I can easily see the milky way and lots of stars. I started capturing timelapse. There I met a couple that came from Bengaluru on their BMW bike. I taught them how to capture timelapse, maybe the last coaching for the trip. Dinner was included in the camp. It was really awesome. When I was alone capturing timelapse of stars, I was talking to cooks and tent owners, they were discussing stories. They offered me an old monk and mutton which made my journey more epic.

Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar
Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar
Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar

Day 8: Chandrataal to Mandi via Batal, Rohtang Pass, Manali

Chandrataal

I heard some noise outside the tent. People are shouting that the weather is not good, leave the camp ASAP. I checked the weather outside and it was cloudy but not to worry about. There were two couples, who came the day before yesterday and they planned to visit Chandrataal the whole next day. But they were scared and planning to move out ASAP. So they packed their bags and started the journey with me till Manali. The couple from Bengaluru was so nervous, he fell in the first river crossing. I helped him to get on his bike and suggested that they follow me, so they started driving behind me carefully.

Batal

We crossed the Chandrataal road and reached Batal. There is a “Chachi Chachi '' Dhaba, you guys must have heard about it. They rescued more than 200 people who got stuck in Chandrataal and other nearby parts. They provided tents and food for them until they got rescued by chopper. I met them and had a Parantha and Chai.

Day 8
Photo of Batal, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ankit Kumar

Chota Dhara

On the way from Batal to Manali you have to cross more than 15 water crossings. Out of them, one is very dangerous because it is too deep. If you are riding Royal Enfield, the water level will go up to your engine. I was able to cross it successfully.

Roads are very bad on this route and very steep. If you riding in groups then make a good distance between bikes.

Rohtang Pass

After all, we reached Rohtang Pass at 1 PM. Here the weather was very foggy and the place was too crowded. Once we reached there many guys came to us, they asked whether we were returning from Spiti? We said yes. They started taking selfies with us. They were from Assam, Punjab and other states.

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Ankit Kumar

Manali:

After 3 Km from Rohtang Pass, rain started and we reached the petrol pump at 2 PM. We filled the tank. We had lunch there at some restaurant. My plan was not to stay at Manali as I want to cover this on another trip so I headed to Mandi for the night stay.

Mandi:

I reached Mandi late at night at 9:00 PM because of rain and bad roads. I took OYO near the highway worth INR 1000/-. I had dinner and had a good sleep.

Day 9: Mandi to Gurgaon

I started my journey at 8 AM from Mandi. I took only one-stop for breakfast after 50 KM drive and I reached Gurgaon around 5 PM.

Circuit

Below is the circuit in google maps.

Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar

Conclusion

Guys, it was a great experience for me. It’s an achievement for me. Solo Spiti is not easy but yes you can do it. I met lots of people here. I made many friends. I have learned many things on this trip.

So guys what are you thinking? If you read my blog then you are ready for the ride. So pack your bag, prepare your bike and start making stories!

For the breathtaking photos of Spiti circuit, please visit my website www.thefocalab.com

or you can also see the pics on my Instagram page, id - thefocalab

That’s my circuit guys and below the champ who made it possible.

Photo of Solo Spiti Circuit by Ankit Kumar
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