3 Guys, 2 Bullets, 1 Epic and Adventurous Bike ride of a Lifetime to Spiti Valley#bestof2018

Tripoto
29th Jul 2018
Photo of 3 Guys, 2 Bullets, 1 Epic and Adventurous Bike ride of a Lifetime to Spiti Valley#bestof2018 by Anil Kumar

It was a month of June and I was very rigid to meet mountains which is a yearly festival of my life for last 3 years. I was in dilemma whether to take a road trip, or go on a trek to Uttarakhand, or just leave it for now and plan at the end of the year for a winter trek. That is when this old sheet of mine, I came across with a road plan of Spiti which I had scribbled two years back as to-do things in my life. Without a second thought I started planning for a road trip or a backpacking at least by July end 2018. With leave approved for only a week I was little worried about backpacking as I could cover one part of Spiti on bus or cab and would not be able to do a round trip. With a lot of yes’ss and No’ss I started to plan for a solo ride in Spiti valley and also went ahead with bullet and flight tickets booking. Counting all A to Z’s of expense, the cost went up to 35K if I was going all less with luxury and comfort. Thinking much I just roped in two of my friends who are meant when costs are high for my solo trip, Manja and Manu. We all had that lovely bonding of travelling together in Kashmir in 2016, and once for all everyone were on same page of taking a ride of a lifetime. Me, being a little old to Himalayas they left all the planning things for me and I started going through various blogs on Tripoto. Finally we were nearing the travel dates and each one of us took care of our health a little more as we knew what was coming on our way. Let us start this ride with a bit of Bullet Thumping.

Day 1

Bangalore-Delhi-Chandigarh-Shimla

We booked that ticket, took that early morning flight from Bangalore and we were in Delhi airport by 6.30 a.m. Boarded a Chandigarh bus and were with our pre booked bikes on road by 3.00 p.m. Yes, we were two hours behind our planned schedule and had to get adjusted now. Without much hiccups, we started our journey towards Shimla. Initial 1 hour was smooth and steady, but as we started to hike mountain roads, the engine of one bike was shutting off suddenly in curves. With not knowing a lott about bikes we thought it’s due to clutch issue and continued recklessly. It was 8.30 p.m. and we were hardly 15 kms from Shimla, and again the bike stopped, this time for 20 mins we were unable to start it again. Checking a lot with the handle bar and engine, we ended up knowing that there was a loose cable connection near handle bar and the guy who rented the bikes told us to get it fixed the next morning in Shimla. With lots of fuss in the night not knowing what next, we somehow managed to re start our bike and also reached Shimla by 10.00 p.m.

Day 2

Shimla-Rampur-Kingal-Jeori

The morning started with getting the bike ready and we had a cup of tea. With a little of 10 kms we stopped to have Maggie which was tasty and spicy. After this we headed towards Rampur and we had planned our stay in Sarahan that night. We also thought of doing a little trek to Hatu peak in Sarahan and then close our day with that. After reaching Rampur we had our lunch and headed to Sarahan. After a little hike on road we came across the first view of a river from hills and we continued our ride. After a while I felt a smoky air and was speculated as it was something coming out of rubbing of Iron. Little more time and we stopped to drink a sip of water which is when we got to know that our own bike was in little fumes from rim of the rear Tyre. We were shattered seeing that and with no town in sight all we did was to switch off the bike and push towards downhill. We came down almost 3 kms and for luck our bike stood exactly in front of a mechanic shop in Kingal. The guy was busy with other bike and asked us to wait for a while. With clock ticking and a strict time table to tick off things it was Manja who said that we will get the bike completely checked now and shouldn’t go ahead without a nod from the mechanic guy. That is when the time started going slow and slow and slow and slow and it ticked 5.30 p.m. when he gave us our bike ready. The chains packet was completely shriven off and had nothing in it to take us into rugged valleys of Spiti. The day was hence wasted and we stayed that night in Jeori, just 25 kms from Kingal.

Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Day 3

Jeori-Kinnaur-Sangla-Chitkul-Sangla

This day had a lot of ride in it as we had decided to visit Chitkul, the last village of Indo-China border. We made it to Sangla by 1.30 p.m. and had a cup of tea only as we had our mind to fill our appetite in Chitkul only. Post noon it started drizzling and believe me, the road to Sangla from Karcham was dangerous and this road from Sangla to Chitkul was magnificient with lots of valley views and river flowing hundreds of metres below. Chitkul is a very tiny settlement which starts and ends quickly. We headed little more from the village and came to a point where nobody is allowed to visit. We were there standing in front of ‘Do not move ahead of this point’. We were able to see a military post in sight and with lots of dilemma we started walking towards the post and there was a military person in chowki waving to us. The soldier was on his routine duty guarding the place and introduced to us as he is from Srinagar in Jammu. With a little conversation with us he also posed few pictures. Excited meeting a military person we came back to Chitkul and had our lunch. That night we stayed in Sangla as the road ahead was receiving heavy rains and we were in no mood of taking a risk on the terrain road connecting to Karcham below.

Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Day 4

Sangla-ReckongPeo-Kalpa-Pooh-Nako-Tabo

Wasting time was still in our kitty and for our bad luck there was a huge boulder on the road to Karcham as a result of landslide the previous night. Early morning 6.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. we were there to witness the pahadi life of coming across all problems and still making a way out of it and leading the life happily. The pahadis are very Ziddi in nature and they will do whatever it takes to help tourists and also their own livelihood. After a continuous work by two JCB’s, were able to just take out our bikes and we thanked the guys who helped us and resumed our journey towards Karcham. The entire day had lots of ride to do as we had too much of land to cover and we were on toe almost every time stopping only for photos. We crossed Reckong Peo and also reached Pooh by 4.00 p.m. for a cup of tea. By this time we had to reach Nako and then go for Tabo for a night stay. But at this point of time it seemed not possible as terrain kept on challenging us in one or the other way, sometimes with BRO working on roads and sometimes with drizzle. However, we made it to Nako by 5.30 p.m. and the monastery was closed by this time. The locals insisted us to stay in Nako and head to Tabo the next day as roads are bit rugged and nasty to ride along till Tabo. But I was not ready to give up and insisted to manja and Manu that we will ride till Tabo and skip Gue Village, which was in our itinerary before to see a 500 year old mummy monk. We started our ride in night and we can never forget that 66 kms of ride from Nako to Tabo where it was only 2 bullet bikes and nothing else. Our main worry was landslides as we had already witnessed one the previous night. . After filling our details with an officer after entering Lahaul valley we had 30 more kms to cover to reach Tabo village. With guts comes the glory: we had made it to the entrance of Tabo village by 9.00 p.m. and also booked a room in Tiger's den hotel which is situated adjacent to the monastery. We went to bed after our dinner as our bodies were taken a toll of the entire day's ride.

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

The last stop Tabo...

Photo of Tabo Monastery, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Day 5

Tabo-Pin valley-Sangnam-Kaza-Hikkim-Komic-Kaza

The day started with a visit to Tabo monastery. The morning prayer was in full fledge and the little monks were busy in their daily chores and reading. After roaming around the monastery we headed towards Pin Valley National Park. Our plan was to visit Mane and head to Kaza the same day. After a ride of an hour or so into the Pin Valley, the rear tyre of one bike was little punctured. Now with nobody in sight we cursed our luck as the bike kept on posing issues for us all the way from Chandigarh. Gaining all will we headed a little ahead and came across a small village with hardly 15 people staying and enquired them about a shop to get our bike ready. The answer was KAZA, yes we had to go to Kaza to get it ready. Had a quick brunch there and made our way back from Pin Valley, with a thought of visiting sometime later in life. The sun was in his full form by this time and he was in no mood of showing mercy. That is when I got to know the definition of mountain desert and how ruthless it can be. Yes, someone who has traversed this route will agree with me and nod about these rugged roads all the way till Kaza. By noon 1.30 p.m. we made it to Kaza and took a quick nap. Evening we paid a visit to Hikkim, with highest post office in the World and then Komic, with the highest village connected with the motorable road. That night we drank beer in Himalayan Cafe in Kaza which was most happening place to be.

Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar

Pin Valley...

Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Anil Kumar
Day 6

Kaza-Kee-Kibber-Chicham-Kunzum Pass-Chandretal Lake-Batal

This was once again a long day of completely riding in merciless roads of highest pass called Kunzum pass in Spiti and the terrains of Chandertaal and Batal. We visited the Kee monastery in the morning followed by Kibber and Chicham Village. By noon we made it to Losar and after entering our details with the officials there we reached Kunzum pass by 1.30 p.m. and after clicking few pics we made it to Batal by 3.30 p.m. As we were running low on cash we decided to stay in Batal, which has the famous Chacha and Chachi Dhaba with as less than 600 rupees for stay of 3 of us. After dropping our luggage and a late lunch we went to the famous Lake.

Kaza Monastery...

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

With Monks...

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

Vibrancy of Pin Valley...

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

The Top...

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

Kunzum Mata Temple...

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

Bizzare landscapes post Losar...

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

With other group of riders on the way to Chandertal Lake.

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

Chacha chachi dhaba...

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

With guys of adventure life...

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

The place we stayed in Batal

Photo of Kunzum Pass, Dhar Thachakarpo, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Photo of Kunzum Pass, Dhar Thachakarpo, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Photo of Kunzum Pass, Dhar Thachakarpo, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Day 7

Batal-Chatru-Gramphoo-Rohtang Valley-Manali-Mandi:

Lesser did we know that this will be the most tiresome day with an unforgiving terrain all the way till Rohtang pass. The roads are completely off beaten and they will for sure test your riding skills to the core. Also these are one of the roads where most bad ass riders also think once to ride upon. We were happy with our efforts and it was Manu who made both the bikes to see the other side of running streams. I was hardly a spectator after couple of falls in the running stream. We made it in one piece altogether to Rohtang pass by 2.30 p.m, Thanks to the road work which was going on for 2 hrs making vehicles stranded in line on mountains. But, it was a necessary step by BRO to make a perfect road for riders like us to enjoy the thrill. I would like to thank them in millions for making our ride so smooth in many terrains throughout Spiti Valley. We stayed in Mandi that night.

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar

isn't this beautiful ??

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar

The convoy nearing Rohtang Pass...

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar

The breathtaking Site...

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar

A bridge in critical condition...

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar

Pinnacle of Happiness...

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Anil Kumar
Day 8

Mandi-Chandigarh-Delhi-Bangalore

I didn’t take on wheels today and was a pillion for entire journey from Mandi to Chandigarh. We didn’t stay in Chandigarh that night, instead we made our way to Delhi in an evening train and then to Bangalore the next morning in a flight.

One more point I have to add here is that after our trip the rain gods were merciless in Spiti and saw that hundreds of people were stranded in Batal and few trekkers were also rescued later by army personnel. Even today I feel lucky to take such an epic ride in my life and obviously this will be etched in our memories till death. So, this was the best of 2018 as a traveller and would love to make thousand more memories like this in coming years of life.

Things to Know:

Indian nationals don’t need any travel permits to visit inner places.

Foreign Nationals are required to get the inner line permit (ILP) for visiting places such as Khab, Samdo, Dhankar, Tabo, Gompa, Kaza, Morang and Dubling.

Wear and Tear:

Leather jackets, knee and elbow pads, round helmets, gloves, comfortable and tough shoes are a must in your ride.

Health:

Take care of the food you eat during your stay and drink a lots of water as you will be in open road with thin air. Acetazolamide is a must to carry with you for high altitude sickness.

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Happy Travelling!!!

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