Every road is my journey, every mountain is my aim, every beach is my dream, and every forest is my trail.
This time we planned for himachal Pradesh, the state which has all the hidden beauty. We knew we are going to explore some new place this time. Had heard of the last village Chitkul ,so that was one we were planning for. But as always I knew there will be many more changes.
Let me start with the tentative itenary that I had in my mind before leaving for the trip:
Day 1: Delhi to Shimla- Day 2: Shimla to Reckong Peo- Day 3: Peo to Sangla valley- Day 4: Sangle to Chitkul and around- Day 5: back to Shimla
So this was the roughest itenary that I could think of.
But the thing is :Why plan a trip when you are sure that you’ll end up at the best destination. So as said this was the plan to a more relaxing place, all research done, all routes ready, all blogs read and we were ready. Here is another travel story of mine where I travel to a place unplanned again.
Day 1: Delhi to Shimla
Booked the seats via Redbus easy and hustle free. The bus was there at 9:50 night and we left for Shimla by 10:00. It was a little hectic ride for my friend as she her seat wasn’t that comfortable coz of some fault in the push back thing.
Day 2: Shimla to Reckong Peo
Well next morning at 6:30 we were at Shimla and before we could take our bags we were surrounded by the taxiwalas and other hotel agents. Well we managed to move out and were looking for place to just freshen up. Shimla was not a halting station for us we had to move to Reckong Peo after breakfast. After a little hunting around and being pulled by trip planners we managed to get a room at a hotel close to taxi stand. It was Hotel Vikrant; dumped the bags and rushed to get fresh and soon out on streets heading to Mall road. Had a simple breakfast at Indian coffee house and went to the taxi stand to book a cab to Reckong Peo. Well, we were in a mood to enjoy the road trip and take our own time so we went for this lavish ride.
NOTE: HRTC buses ply regularly from Shimla to Reckong Peo which is quiet cheaper.
We started well and I was super excited coz we were going on one of the deadliest roads in the world. All set all ready we were on the move enjoying the greens of Shimla to Kufri , Theog.
The roads were full of pine trees and the apple orchards which were ready to bloom. We reached Rampur more buildings here in this entire route I couldn’t register anything specific other than the green pine forests.
We were driving along the Sutlej River and now we entered the Kinnaur valley and there are major power plants set up here. The power industries have always been the main source development and here we saw how and in which conditions they were set up. The city now turned to small towns and far of villages and the roads now became less dense and now we were going higher.
While moving I never felt that it was the deadliest road as it was safe and very smooth ride. There were the blind ends but still it wasn’t that deadly, just a little overrated.
With the ride a little long yet enjoyable, tiring yet memorable ended at Reckong peo. We reached here by 7:00 pm. We could see the snow studded mountains all around us yet we were amazed that it wasn’t that cold there. These mountains were close enough and snow was shining with the reflection of the moonlight. What a view we enjoyed moving towards Peo. Lucky enough to get a hotel at a good rate, we stayed overnight.
Day 3: Reckong Peo - Nako- Samdo - Kaza
Morning was blissful from the balcony of the hotel we could see the mountains standing so close and shiny. Soon we were out, the taxi stand here was hardly 100 meters away and the best part the fare list is displayed on the wall. As planned we booked a cab for Sangla which would cost us Rs. 1800 which was good enough.
Soon we were out, the taxi stand here was hardly 100 meters away and the best part the fare list is displayed on the wall. As planned we booked a cab for Sangla which would cost us Rs. 1800 which was good enough.
We were in the cab and left for Sangla valley and on way we started the conversation with the driver, his name was Tenzing. We asked him about Sangla valley and the home stay or tents there, he said he’d help us to get one. As we moved we got to know that he was from Nako, a village in Spiti valley. Spiti has always been my dream destination so here I got a chance to know about it.
We asked: how is Sangla now?
Tenzing: All green, you can go till Chitkul.
We asked: What about Spiti?
Tenzing: It’s the best time to visit Spiti?
We asked: how much time will it take to reach Kaza?
Tenzing: by evening 7:00 we’ll be there.
We: Can you take us there then instead of Sangla?
Tenzing: Yes, of course.
Here we were looking at each other’s eyes and we got a common approval, all of us were ready for this adventure. Tenzing said he’d arrange for all fooding and lodging and we were all ready to move to Spiti.
It’s the beauty of travelling it teaches you to trust in humanity. We did not know Tenzing few hours before and just by listening from him about Spiti, we were ready to trust this man. I must say that in spite of all the ridiculous things happening in the world, humanity still remains in the world. Humanity is about giving and this man gave us a memorable hospitality.
We went on and that one point where we were in the car running at 100km/hr. It wasn’t far when we reached the rock cut roads and realized wooh.. This is the road known to be one of the deadliest. Initially it was easy and fun and eventually we came through so many spots of shooting stone with a warning board.
Many a time car was running on the edge of the road and there were places where the tar road had vanished. Apart from the entire road conditions one thing that we saw that the greens have vanished, hardly there were any dry bushes around. But there were only the brown and dry mountains.
We were soon on the road running on the high mountain range and there was the spiti river flowing by and on the other side was yet another mountain studded with snow on top.
As we were going up the weather grew cold and there was snow along the road. For once Tenzing stopped the car and said “go out and enjoy”. It was chilling cold and very windy; we took a moment to feel the winds of the mountain ranges and captured few moments in the camera. We were now freezing.
NAKO , was the village where we stopped for lunch and it was chilling cold and we took all our woolens out. After filling up we were all set to hit the road.
Another stoppage on the way was Sumdo , where Tenzing took us to his in-laws place , there we met his wife and the little daughter. She made tea for us and served some biscuits also. What a pleasant gesture.
We crossed Tabo and read that next 60 more kilometres to go. It was 5 pm and we estimated that by 7:30-8:00 pm we’ll be at Kaza. Seems adventure follows me better than I can follow it. After going 30 kms we saw there was a major blockage on the road.
There was a landslide and the road was blocked, there were few vehicles lined up around 800 meters away where the road was wider. Even on the other side there were vehicles waiting. We saw the state tourism bus, SUVs, bikers and other goods carriers wandering around. Tenzing asked the others there and we came to now that the land slide had occurred in the daytime at around 10:00 am the crane came at the site at around 3:00 pm and since then they have been working to clear the roads.
Yet another experience to share, we were really at a place we could say ‘nowhere’ and it was dusk (yet the lights were bright) and it was cold. There were people we did not know, we didn’t know who to believe on. There was an unpredictable situation and we were just praying for the best way. It grew dark and cold, few of the vehicles had returned to Tabo.
Slowly the sunlight faded away and the darkness came over and here again it was a spectacular moment to see the snow on the mountains shining in the dark and the clear sky all full of stars. It sky looked like it was glad the stars were alive, rejoicing and singing for the shining snow studded mountains. It was one of the splendid views of my life and yes I agree the sky looks best at the mountains. The real beauty of a clear sky night was here. Three of us sitting in the car enjoying that place called ‘nowhere’, knowing not where we were heading to and yet glorifying the Almighty for this plan. One of the men was passing by and we asked how much more we have to wait and he replied just more half an hour and our hopes grew stronger.
It was around 9 o’clock and we were still stuck there but I must say none of us were scared but we were all strangely excited to be there and having a faith and there’s the best stored for us. By 9:30 the road was clear enough for the cars to cross. We were glad and delighted and back on track. As we were moving towards Kaza we realised that now the river was really close to the road and we could see it reflecting the lights of the stars. By 11:00 p m night we reached our destination, as promised by Tenzing our stay was ready even the dinner was ready. As we reached the people there helped us with our luggage. We were at Kaza and the weather here was hitting our bones. We got a comfortable stay and warm water as well as nice dinner. Most of the hotels and homestays were closed as there wasn’t sufficient water. The snow is still on the roads and at the freezing temperature it would be difficult to give a good hospitality. Had a good sleep that night.
Day 4: Kaza - Key- Kibber- Tabo- Nako
There stood the high mountains all covered in snow, a beautiful wall painting in the front, the kids running with parent, a fluffy black dog walking on the snow at the courtyard in front.
I couldn’t stop myself from screaming out to my friends, both the girls were up and we were all standing at the huge window enjoying the view.
As decided we got ready by 8:00 am and left the hotel as this was going to be yet another day on road. Now this morning had just started and we could see the best view of the mountains. It’s true that moments should be captured and kept safely coz’, you cannot really capture everything in the camera.
We were on the move stopping to play with few kids or with the dogs. As we drove we saw that the river which was flowing is now no more flowing but there was only snow.
We stopped at a place and stood and just stared at the frozen river and the snow covered mountains and behind us was the dry mountain, truly it is the cold desert. That was a beautiful journey with my ever enthusiast girls.
Our first destination was Key monastery. And the itenary for today was all prepared by Tenzing, we were relying on him and relaxed and just travelling.
So we reached the Key monastery, a monk whom Tenzing knew well guided us in the monastery, took us to the room where Dalai Lama stays when he is here.
Told us all the stories of monks who have been here and few stories from their Buddhist belief. We saw the years old manuscripts which were translated in Tibetan language and those were hand written on the handmade sheets. It was hard to believe that it was around 400 years old and as we touched it we felt the reality of history. There were paintings which are said to be of the 14th century.
We could even go inside the kitchen and saw the old, still shining utensils and the office area. It was interesting to see how the entire space was managed on the hill top and yet almost every room had natural lighting. Another warm gesture was the hot tea served to us by the monk. Even though I don’t take tea but I couldn’t say no to this heart touching hospitality. We went around and here are the glimpses.
We stood there enjoying the site. We could feel the bright warm sunrays, the chilling wind blowing over the sheet of snow, the dryness of the arid cold desert and the calmness of the mountains.
Key Gompa, indeed is a jewel on the mountains with its age old history and view it gives from every corner.
Next was the Kibber village, which is 16 kms from Kaza. We were now at a height of 14,200 ft and this village stands a little different from the other villages in the mountains in Spiti valley. It is also considered to be the highest inhabitant village.
The unique thing about the village is that the houses are made of stone and in box like shape and typical square shape windows with black paint around it. This place is far away from the city but is definitely self sufficient with schools, dispensary, post office as well as old age home.
We were now hungry and looking for some place to have breakfast but all of them were closed again the reason was, it’s still the snow season. We were lucky enough to find one homestay, even though it was closed but they invited us to have Maggie. The only connection was that one of the ladies’ daughter is married at Tenzing’s village. This is humanity; this is the relation of hills and mountains. It’s simple, it’s true and it’s innocent. We had Maggie for breakfast with lots of love and warm welcome note. It was amazing to know that it is the same homestay where Bachendri Pal comes every time with her mountaineers’ team for the Everest camp.
These people were too sweet and humble; they gave us breakfast and took not a single penny. On asking they just denied and said no you don’t have to pay, it was their love and respect for the guests. They treated us like kids and offered so many other things to eat. It was hard to believe that they served us not for earning but just for a good cordial reception.
We moved around the place and enjoyed walking and playing with children. We were at Kibber for almost 2 hours and then we moved ahead.
Next destination for us I was unknown as Binita wanted to play on the snow and we asking Tenzing to stop at some place for that. We kept driving at one place we deviated from the tar road and followed an unpaved path. Just after 100 meters we realised we were going up and higher and the snow along road was increasing in height. We kept shouting out of amazement to stop so that we could run on snow but Tenzing asked us to be patient.
Just 15 minutes of drive more and the moment he slowed down we were speechless by that spectacular view. We got out and as far as we could see were bright and shimmering virgin sheet of snow which was like 3 ft high and not a single footstep of any animal.
As we stepped on it we realized we were on a place which is really untouched.
We ran around, lay on snow, rolled over, posed and what not. We played and jumped around, hitting each other and making snowman.
We spent more than an hour there..
Now we were ready for the next surprise, Tenzing now was taking us to his favorite view point.
The road was all blocked by snow and the only communication to the next village was by the partially built bridge over the Spiti river. On the other side was the Chicham village, the bridge was under construction and we could walk across it and beside it was a trolley hanging for approximately 7 people which was once the only way of communication.
I stood there to inflate my lungs with that cold, fresh air of mountains, snow, desert and people. I was seeing a road all covered in snow, an incomplete bridge in front and a village called Chicham far off.
Yes this is life, this is happiness of traveling and this is a blessing. I couldn’t think what it would be to live in these mountains. It’s beautiful, it’s serene but the life here is definitely tough.
Spent some half an hour there.
Now we were heading back to Kaza and then Tabo. So here’s a little about the return journey.
And after crossing Kaza as decided Tenzing stopped by at a place near to Spiti river, we went down to feel the chilling water.
It was real clear and blue water. The view cannot be explained in words so I’d tell it through few captures.
On one side of the river was the snow covered mountain whereas on the other side is the dry mountains.
Next we were at Tabo, famous for its monastery made on 995 AD of mud.
Even though there is the newly built monastery but the beauty is in the real old mud monastery and stupas.
It was clean, it was peaceful, it was friendly and it was so appealing. Difficult to talk about material science as these were made of mud and still stand strong and smooth in such harsh weather.
The location is a boon to it. The stupas with the mountains at the background is a resplendent view. I would love to share few pictures of the place. These will be few of the best moments of traveling.
We had lunch here, even though a little late but the food was really simple and good, felt like home. After we were full, now we were heading back. On way we got lucky to see a herd of Himalayan Ibex.
It was around 6:00pm when we reached Nako Lake. The sun had gone down and as we went down the lake it was freezing and also we felt that it was getting difficult for to breath.
Back in the car in half an hour and moving to the Reckong Peo. It was dark and silent and we could only see the road and as that night was a little cloudy even the starts were not visible. At few points we couldn’t see even a single light form any inhabitant place. It was like we were the only people in that valley. In very long gaps we would see few vehicles. Anyways, it wasn’t scary at all. And surprises never end I got to see a glimpse of red fox running across the rocks, it’s hair was shining reddish brown. We kept of driving and singing, no fear just our hearts full of gladness.
It was 10:30 pm when we reached Reckong Peo, as Tenzing had already spoke to the hotel where stayed previously, they were open. We rushed to the rooms, tired yet happy.
Day 5: Reckong Peo to Shimla
It was just day 4 and it felt like we had been in these hills since a week, now it was time to head back to Shimla and Tenzing again helped us in it. We left at 9:00 am from here and on way we enjoyed the hills and the roads along which were the pine trees so now we were going back to greens.
One very rare thing that we saw was the huge vultures in the hills that i might have seen 7-8 years back. And they were huge one which we saw sitting on the rock beside the road was definitely 2ft tall and few we could see flying in the valley.
With few stoppages on way and enjoying the road trip we reached Shimla by 4:30 pm.
From here we had our bus to New Delhi at 10:00 pm so kept the luggage in the cloak room and went to the Mall road to enjoy the streets of Shimla.
So this was our last spot in this trip and we ended it with Maggie and coffee at CCD.
Amongst all this travelling and success of this unplanned trip I must say these girls are really awesome. They we up and high with any plan and ready for any adventure. One of the craziest trips till now.
And these girls are super-awesome. From old school ties to these unplanned trips, we lived every moment, we loved every turn and we made stories of our life to share with the world. Ankii and Binu I'm looking forward to more of these.
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