We started our Spiti Expedition with memories of still fresh in our heart. This time we have a bigger group wherein one companion accompanied us from Mumbai and others were joining us from Delhi & Narkanda. We completed the Mumbai - Delhi distance (1410 Km) in two days and were eagerly waiting for our final step towards the thrilling driving experience. All required car checks and equipment were already in place for the tour (Refer: Preparation for Lahaul Spiti expedition). There was an addition of one more car along with two bikers from Delhi for the tour. The target for next day was to leave early in the morning with a breakfast halt at Murthal (Amrik Sukhdev - a famous eating joint). We finalized the below route for our travel:
New Delhi - Murthal - Karnal - Ambala - Chandigarh - Solan - Shimla - Narkanda - Rampur - Karcham - Sangla
The plan for next day was to leave early at 6 a.m. in the morning and cover the distance till Narkanda by evening.
We left early in the morning at 6:51 a.m. from Delhi and crossed city comfortably without getting stuck in city's mad traffic. The trip meter at starting point was 1420 KM. After covering 61 KMs we reached our meeting point @ 8:10 a.m. We took a break of 1.5 hour and enjoyed the freshly cooked Indian Stuffed Bread (Parathas) with fresh butter at Amrik Sukhdev. After breakfast we straight away hit the highway and started cruising at a comfortable speed. We were running as per our schedule so were not in a hurry to cross the speed limits that we have set for ourselves. We crossed Panipat @ 9:52 a.m. thereby covering 91 Kms. We were comfortably cruising on highway without much of a hassle and crossed Ambala @ 11:15 a.m. thereby covering a distance of 210 KMs. Our bikers were also accompanying us and we were moving ahead together on awesome road. We took a tea break just before entering Punjab.
Stuffed Indian Bread at Amrik Sukhdev
We entered Punjab @ 12:00 p.m. and continued our onward journey without any halt. We cruised past Chandigarh @ 1:00 p.m. thereby covering 260 KMs. Just after Chandigarh we could see the invincible Himalayas welcoming us for this sojourn. We continued on NH5 and crossed the state border to enter Himachal Pradesh. Slowly and steadily we started traversing through the hills of Himalayas. We reached Solan @ 4:15 p.m. with total distance of 310 KMs covered and took a break for lunch at Hotel Pinewood of HPTDC. It was a very beautiful property with nice surroundings and amazing view of hills. Post lunch we continued our journey with good road conditions and few rough patches. On our way to Shimla we watched the toy train crossing at a junction and it's a symbol of old era which is still being maintained and run properly. We reached Shimla @ 6:00 p.m. thereby covering 355 KMs. As anticipated Shimla welcomed us with narrow lanes and heavy traffic, which took some time to cross.
Welcome to Himalaya
Hotel Pinewood - a beautiful place to stay in Solan
Toy Train Crossing before Shimla - A Heritage
By the time we crossed Shimla and reached Kufri it was dusk and we have to cover the distance till Narkanda in dark. The weather conditions started to deteriorate and it was a concern for the bikers. Weather on the hills can change drastically at any time and one should always be prepared for it especially when you are travelling to Himalaya. It started raining heavily and by the time we reached biker who took a shelter under the tree they were already but. Nonetheless, they wore raincoat and continued onward journey. Before reaching our final destination of the day i.e. Narkanda (Altitude 2,710 metres) @ 8:40 p.m. after covering 419 KMs, we encountered hailstorm as well for a brief period. It was really cold there and rain has further brought down the temperature. Our other two companions were already waiting for us at Narkanda and the team got completed for Spiti Expedition. The bikers got the much needed break and we all checked into our rooms. The team sat for dinner together and it was time to get familiarised with each other. Overall, we were satisfied with our journey and achieving our target without any hassle. From next day onwards the travel will be different through varied regions of Himalaya and changing topography. We would follow the NH-22 for our onward journey. The team was all set for the road expedition which in itself is sight-seeing.
A true wanderer
Bikers getting ready with extra shield against rain
Team Dinner at Mahamaya Hotel - Narkanda
After breakfast, the team started to depart one by one towards next destination Sangla. We stayed at Mahamaya Hotel located at the centre of the town and were very satisfied with its services. The next level of driving starts from here only with changing terrain. Even though the target was set but we had to achieve the same under uncertain driving conditions of the hills & valleys. We were a bit delayed while leaving from Narkanda but did not worry about the same and started in a positive note. The bikers this time were well prepared for the rains and the conditions were overcast as well. The view of the valley as well as mountains from Narkanda was awesome. The green cover and pine trees all along the highway made our journey beautiful. We crossed Rampur @ 1:15 p.m. with total distance of 485 KMs covered and took a snacks break. It was raining till Rampur but as witnessed earlier the weather started changing with clear skies and beautiful views. The highway was following River Sutlej all along the way. We entered Kinnaur district @ 2:50 p.m. thereby covering 517 KMs and continued our journey. The carved road on rocky patches of mountain was a delight to watch. The drive through various twist and turns & the adventure of negotiating treacherous road had pumped the much needed adrenaline in us. The view to the bottom would easily give goose bumps to the experienced of all as well. We took numerous short break to imbibe the beauty of nature.
View of valley from Narkanda
Sutlej River accompanying NH 22
Convoy taking a sight seeing break
We passed through this gateway
Waterfall on the way
Bikers getting rid of extra clothing after rains
A picturesque drive
We reached Karcham @ 4:40 p.m. thereby covering a distance of 578 KMs. We were waiting for the team at this junction as we need to take a detour of 32 KMs towards Rakchham via Sangla-Chitkul road along Baspa River but due to some unavoidable circumstances we got delayed by 2.5 hours as we went back to get our team members. By the time we took the Sangla - Chitkul road from Karcham it was already 7:15 p.m. and dark. It happens when you travel on such terrains but at the end of the day all was well. We covered the treacherous & narrow roads in dark and took us more than 2 hours to cover the distance of 32 KMs. At some point the inclination was almost 45 degrees with no sign of tarmac and we drove through gravels. While returning through same road we realized the difficult terrain that we had covered previous night (will cover the same in upcoming blog). We crossed Sangla (Altitude 2713 meters) @ 8:40 p.m. after covering 630 KMs and proceeded towards Rakchham which was further 13 KMs ahead where our stay was booked in Kailash View Camp. A single lane 13 KMs with continuous ascend took 40 minutes to cover. Finally, we reached our camp site @ 9:30 p.m. with total distance of 643 KMs covered.
Although it was dark but we could easily sense the calmness, freshness, and beauty of the place. The musical sound created by flowing Baspa River beside our camp was awesome. The camp was booked for our team only and it became a private affair with nature. With temperatures around 5 degree celsius, a camp fire and good music under zillions of star set the tone for evening. After spending beautiful time we signed off for the day into our tents with an imagination of what we will be witnessing next day morning. Two members from our team signed off in personal tent that we pitched.
On day 1 & 2 we travelled 643 KMs with an overnight halt at Narkanda. We experienced a comfortable picturesque drive with last leg of arduous 32 KMs covered in dark. We crossed an altitude of above 3000 meters before reaching Sangla with temperature of around 5 degree celsius.
Basic Necessity check before going for long road trip
We did the basic necessity checks and arrangements before starting our road trip and would suggest all to be very careful about the same.
Did the mandatory checking of our car like when was the last servicing done, air pressure including the spare tyre, fuel, engine oil, coolants, etc. Carried all the valid documents like vehicle registration number, insurance, PUC, and driving license Searched the route map and finalized the trip schedule Downloaded the offline maps Have kept additional comfort for the back seat All necessary medicines were in place
For further details on necessary travel tips .