It was my birthday, and I decided to give myself this trip as a gift. A friend and I embarked on this journey early on 2nd October. We got on the bus going to Manali at seven from ISBT in the morning. We hadn’t done any research about reaching Kaza; our plan was to reach Manali by evening and then decide how to proceed thereon. We were expecting to reach Manali by 8 or 9, but we reached there at around 11:30. By the time we were done with our dinner, it was already 12:30 and we got to know that there is only one bus that goes to Kaza, after enquiring a bit. It leaves Manali at 5 in the morning. So we were certain we are not going check into a hotel, so we strolled around the mall till 3 and by that time it was empty. So after killing two more hours in the bus stand and tea shop around, in the chilling wind, we boarded the Bus to Kaza at 5. It was pretty full, half of the people were going to Chandrataal, and the rest were going to Kaza. A few locals were on the bus as well.
I fell asleep as soon as the bus started to move, I got up when the bus stopped at Rohtang Pass, because of some problem with the tire. I went out along with a few others; well Rohtang was beautiful as ever, there were no tourists here this early in the day in another 15 minutes we started our journey of descending to the other side of Rohtang. Road was fine till a few minutes and after that, it started getting scarier for me. The hairpin bends on the no-asphalt road and military vehicles, and BRO trucks were frequently coming from the other side.
We came all the way down to the other side of the Rohtang Pass crossed the bridge and bus halted at Khokshar on the road going to Keylong-Lahaul Highway. After getting down from the bus, we learnt that there is some problem with the tire, and it had to be changed. It would take another one hour; the driver told us, so we wandered around exploring the place, clicking pictures. After a while we continued our journey, we started going back up to Rohtang and after a few kilometers, we took a tiny road going in a totally different direction than the Keylong road.
It started getting cold; I kept getting dozing off and getting up for the next one hour in the journey and when I was totally up we were going in the basin of the river that we were driving adjacent to. With huge mountains everywhere around and riding a bus travelling in a river was as exciting as it sounds. The bus took a halt after travelling 4 hours in a valley next to a small shop, where there was another bus waiting which was going to Manali from Kaza and ten odds bikes. The air felt fresh, the sound of river and might of mountains made us forget our existence.
The more we travelled towards Spiti valley, the terrain kept changing the mountains, and the land kept becoming brown instead of green. The bus passed from various streams, crossed the river and kept going up the mountains to cross them. Although somewhere in the back of the mind I was afraid of the bus falling into the river.
After few hours we reached Batal, it was a short break before we begun the climb of Kunzum Pass. This was a scary journey going up, the thin bents up kept getting thinner and thinner. Almost everyone is the bus was under the effect of altitude sickness and was sleeping. I tried not to look down, but I can’t stop myself from doing it, after a while I stopped looking down. After a couple of hours, we were at the top; it was the most beautiful sight of Himalayas I have ever seen. I was under the effect of Altitude Sickness at the top of Kunzum pass at 4550 meters. The bus stopped at the top for few minutes, all the vehicles passing through Kunzum. A trek from Kunzum pass goes to Chandrataal from there.
The way from there seemed comparatively less deadly to me, and I was lost in the charm of the mountains for few more hours before we finally reached Kaza at 6 in the evening. The sun was going down behind the mountains, the mountains look orangish, and so was the sky. After travelling for almost thirty hours in the Bus we reached the beautiful Spiti Valley.
This trip was originally published on TRAVEL beings