Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert

Tripoto
8th Aug 2017
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

I was never interested in the cliched Goa or Thailand for this ONE trip. Being a girl who loves to hike mountains & exploring the wild, Spiti was like the best option. If anyone would ask me, Ladakh or Spiti, I, without a thought, would choose spiti. Not like i have been to Ladakh and i have a series of bad experiences to talk about, but simply coz Ladakh is visited by just everybody right now. And thats exactly one thing i avoid on my trips. People. To me, a trip is a break from hustle of daily life, must need vacay to charge batteries. And i was expected that this trip would give me all the courage i need to face what lies ahead of me next month, the wedding carnival. My wedding. Phew. Without wasting more space, let me take you to the land of peace, Spiti.

Day 1

Packed up this huge ass bag for 8 days vacay, we three met up at ISBT kashmere gate. Took the next ac bus to Chandigarh, and we reached chandigarh around 11pm, the innova we booked for our trip was waiting for us on isbt chandigarh bus station. We didnt have umpteen days in hand hence cab was our best bet. We decided to check out the glorious nick bakers for dinner (which wasnt upto our expectations) and our excursion started at the night itself, three girls on their way to Kalpa, our first stop, via shimla.

Shimla before sunrise

Photo of I.S.B.T. Kashmere Gate, Inter State Bus Terminal, Kashmere Gate, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Richa Gandhi

Enroute Kalpa, bridge ladden with prayer flags

Photo of I.S.B.T. Kashmere Gate, Inter State Bus Terminal, Kashmere Gate, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Richa Gandhi

Shimla -> Kalpa Journey

Day 2

When we reached Shimla by the dawn and stopped by for nature's call, our car failed to start. the driver called a couple of guys to push the car from back and somehow we were able to resume our journey. It scared us a bit but after getting assured from him that this is not the car's usual behavior, we kicked all negative thoughts out of window and happily started chit chatting. Roads are in pretty bad condition for some patch, its a long long way from shimla to reckong peo and the narrow roads & dust were not really helping.

Karcham is the place that divides the road into two ways, one leading to chitkul and other one to Kalpa, nako and the rest of spiti valley. It was around 3pm when we reached karcham, there was just one local transport 4-wd standing still, other than our car. there is this bridge above hydroelectric plant on Sutlej River and the force of water is a sight worth stopping for.

We reached Reckong Peo in the evening and treated ourselves to roadside sweet corn and a little chit chat with locals in the village.

Little Heaven, Kalpa

Our sojourn for the night was a wooden house in Kalpa, another 10kms from Reckong Peo and we were really eager to see if it was just like it looked in airbnb photos. Walking towards the wooden house, we three were constantly grinning and looking at each other every minute, realising what a treat Kalpa is. The way leading to the house was oh-so-gorgeous. Stepping inside we instantly fell in love with the small details, the view of Kinner Kailash range, those little things which typically represent the mountains arranged in an artistic way inside the house, how that wood blended with the colors spread around the house, topped with the glass windows to give us unobstructed nature scenery.

Our room at Little Heaven

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Entrance to the homestay

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Sette

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

View from the window

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

When we were done taking photos & videos of our stay, the owner served us tea & biscuits and we were already over our aching backs due to super long drive. Breathing in the magnificent view and listening to Bon Iver, we didnt realised when it got dark and we were sitting on the dining table having this super delicious homemade food. Nothing can get more satisfactory than dal rice and some pickle to go with it. It rained in the middle of the night and I couldnt really get sound sleep and i somehow woke up in wee hours to the moon light falling on my face. Stared at the moon for an hour and didnt realize when i again dozed off.

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

Dinner is served

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

We woke up to stunning view of snowy Kinner Kailash mountains covered with clouds and Our humble host got us tea with bread toast to kickstart this fresh morning.

Morning glory

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

Breakfast be like

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

Apricots being dried for off season

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

We started our today's travel with walking down to the Lochawa La-Khang monastery & kamru fort. peeping into the little shops and inhaling in the fresh morning, we walked the lanes and when we reached the buddhist temple, there was this unearthly vibe to the place, no people, just insane power of wind blowing through our hair, prayer flags dancing like crazy around the whole area, the feeling of idleness was extraordinary. we sat there for a long while before we started walking back to the stay, had our meal and we were excited to see what lies ahead in the day, Nako & Tabo.

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

We started back from Kalpa around 2pm after Lunch but we weren't prepared for what happened minutes later. Our car ditched us one more time and we were thankfully near a car repair shop. After wasting almost 2 hours getting every small thing checked, we were on our way to Nako which is 110kms from Kalpa.

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

Enroute Nako

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

Nothing went as per our plan today and we reached Nako late night in dark, all thanks to the 2 more halts when our car acted out. We checked in to whatever stay we found for the night and we couldn't wait to feed our empty stomach to some pahadi khana.

Day 3

Nako village

Nako is a tiny village you can walk around in a couple of hours, absorbing the architecture & the traditional atmosphere. It was quite dark for any sight seeing and we were going to wait for tomorrow to visit Nako lake & the monastery. We savoured momos & dal rice at the first dhaba in nako, Lovon Guesthouse & dhaba. The guy running the dhaba was quite generous and gave us a polybag full of plums he plucked from the trees in his farm.

At the night, we approached every other shopkeeper to know if we could make a call back home. And all we heard was, no network in this village since two days. It was quite disappointing to hear that, all three of us were scared of our parent's wrath.

Night sky at Nako

Photo of Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Nako Lake & Nako Gompa

Day 4

After having parathe at Lovon, we started walking towards Nako Lake. It was a 5 minutes downhill walk to reach the lake and when we reached there, it was so quiet with no other soul to be found around us. The whole village reflecting in water, we sat under a tree and while i was busy capturing the best of Nako, my friends were busy taking some off time with self.

Photo of Nako Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Nako Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Nako Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Nako Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Nako Lake, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi

Nako Gompa was another 600m from Lovon and it was such a beauty. Sitting peacefully around the temple, we pondered over how simple life is, in this desert. Just one man was sitting inside the temple, doing his prayers. Relentless sound of the bell on prayer wheel and the voices of kids playing their own kind of game was all we could hear around us. Blowing wind and we three just stood in the dust and wind, without a worry in our minds, enjoying an hour of solace.

Enroute Tabo

We left for Tabo around 10 30am and on our way, passing through villages of Sumdo, Lapcha we got down from car to pluck some apricots from trees planted in local houses. We were two hours into our journey when our car broke down. Just like a daily ritual. Thankfully we were in some village(cant recall the name), not on the barren deserted highway. The car got stuck in a huge puddle and we girls helped the driver in every possible way to start it. Exhausted, we went to locals and found out a mechanic in that village who rescued us from another wasted day.

Photo of Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Tabo Monastery

Afternoon we finally reached Tabo monastery which was 64 kms from Nako Gompa and thanks to a souvenir shop owner inside the monastery, we were able to call our families after 2 days of no network. Tabo Gompa was established in the year 996 and its architecture and sacred artwork is exquisite and rare.

Photo of Tabo Gompa, Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Tabo Gompa, Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Tabo Gompa, Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Tabo Gompa, Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Tabo Gompa, Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Dhankar Monastery

We also visited Dhankar monastery but it was so damn sunny that i didnt feel like taking out my camera at all. Dhankar gompa is one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. A nonprofit group, Dhangkar Initiative, is attempting to organize its conservation. A small number of people visit this monastery but its quite an interesting monastery from the inside. Dhang means cliff, and kar means fort. Hence Dhangkar means fort on a cliff. Dhankar Monastery was built as a fort monastery on the Central Tibetan pattern. The complex is built on a 300 metre high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a Gompa. Its an old monastery built using mud, stone and wood. you need to lower your heads to pass from one door to another and its mostly dark inside. the only light inside the gompa is the natural light from the windows.

Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

those sculptures are made of yak butter

Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Kaza

Another 22 kms and we will be reaching our next stopover, Kaza which is the largest township of Spiti valley. We made advance bookings with Hotel Deyzor and as per our plan, Kaza was going to be our base location while we explore villages of Langza, Komic, Hikkim, Losar, Kibber and Tashigong. There are hotels, homestays, hostels etc and then there is Deyzor. In a valley like Spiti, where even electricity is luxury, we got a feeling like home. You can lazily wander around the home, fiddle with innumerable artefacts, if you are interested in deep knowledge of the valley, there are research papers and study work preserved in a corner for the readers to make the most of it.

Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Karan, the owner and our host, single handedly runs every possible errand around Deyzor. From allocating you room to serving you food, he is an interesting personality with hundreds of travel stories to share. You can know so much about the valley by staying here. Everything around Deyzor has been carefully chosen to win a traveller’s heart. Origami, Crochet covers for water bottles, graffiti, travel quotes, postcards, and lots of DIYs throughout the home. For somebody like me who is a sucker for details, this was definitely heaven. Room tariff is reasonable(although the experience is priceless) and food is superlative. Wine, best company and my crude music collection made for the perfect night party to celebrate bachelorette.

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

Kaza -> Key Monastery -> Kibber -> Tashigong

Day 5

As per the plan, we left for the excursion early morning without wasting anytime in shower. 14 kms from main town of Kaza lies Key Gompa, which stands high in all its valour on top of a hill. At the height of 4100m, Key is the biggest Buddhist monastery in Spiti valley and a religious training centre for lamas. The walls of the monastery are decorated with beautiful paintings and murals, thangkas (a painted or embroidered Tibetan banner) & valuable manuscripts. Monks were pretty chilled out and were open to talk to the tourists. We saw a lot of monks preparing for their exam and debating over some topic. We were awed to see the monks trying to remember the learnt verses and putting a valid point in front of their teacher.

Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Monks having their share of barley

Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Zig zag path to kaza from key gompa

Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Leaving from Key Gompa, we passed by the village of Kibber. Just walked around the village for few minutes and took some photographs because we were getting late for our drive towards Tashigong.

Photo of Kibber, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Kibber, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Tashigong

Tashigong was never really a part of our initial plan. We got to hear the village name from our host at Deyzor and he adviced us to go explore the village. Tashigong was 15 kms as per our offline map guided us but it took us more than an hr to reach there. To reach Kaza, we have travelled through worst of roads but to reach Tashigong, there was no road. It was like we took innova for an offroading drive. It was just lots of sand and gravel to drive on, quite steep as well. Our driver was kinda scared and asked us if we should go back to kaza but we were determined to go to Tashigong. It has quite a bit of greenery unlike other parts of spiti. Those super wide landscapes left us awestruck. When you leave the roads and take the off-roads, more often than not, you end up discovering something so beautiful, magnificent and magical that it makes you want to pinch yourself. I felt the same when I came across this magnificent village of Tashigong. Guess, being at such a serene place, it makes your prayers heard much clearly. It’s the urge to explore the less explored, we wanted to hike to the hidden cave in tashigong where a monk lives in extreme spiti winters. The height of the cave is not yet measured, because of its remote location.

ibex horn

Photo of Tashigong, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Tashigong, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Tashigong, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Tashigong, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Tashigong, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Tashigong is a remote village at a height of 4600m and has just 6 houses. It is also the highest village in spiti valley. When you reach the village and have a look around, you feel like its an abandoned land. Main source of livelihood for the villagers is agriculture, mainly potato and pea farming. The houses in the village are just like any other traditional spiti houses, painted white. Outside the houses, we saw ibex horns and yak skin drying out. We met an old lady working in her farm when we approached her to ask if she can show us the way to cave. She was the only person we saw in the heat of August afternoon. She was really helpful and decided to take us till the cave, as there was no such marking on the path. There is a small lake near the fields which keeps a dreamlike feel to the desert. She even plucked some peas from her farm and give it to us.

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

While hiking to the cave, we came across lot of cows grazing high in the mountains. Following the lady from Tashigong village, we climbed from one hill to another, at times scared of slipping on rocky sandy narrow path, overlooking spiti river flowing down below the mountains and the wide scenery of saturated blue sky and the wild rugged desert hills. Far away the view of snowy peaks was constant and the shadows of moving clouds, the perfect company.

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

When we finally made it to the cave, we felt like we have conquered the end of the world. Anyone seeing the aerial view of this part of desert could never guess that a cave can also exist or someone can spend months in extreme of winters here. This cave was away from mankind and it felt like the perfect setting to get away from the crazy breed called society. It was tiny attic like, things of daily use placed in an organized manner, probably the monk put things in order before saying goodbye to the cave at the end of winters. Utensils to cook, broom, match sticks, wood, empty bottle, tin can, and even a floor bed was placed inside the cave. There were buddhist deities carved on black rocks on the wall of cave. After taking some photographs here around the cave, we started back to Tashigong and our drive back to Deyzor, Kaza was bone rattling in so many ways.

We couldn’t even look at our tanned faces in mirror when we reached our stay. After an hour of relaxing, we decided to roam around the kaza market. This was our first time seeing so many people on street, the hustle of city life, kaza market is a commercialized area. I got the opportunity to photograph kid monks here when they were out with their teacher in the market. The innocent happy faces, shy at first, but these little monks got friendly to the limelight in no time.

Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

We had our dinner in a Punjabi restaurant, the food was lip smacking or probably we were starving for the simple homemade food since days. That night we slept like log and the next morning, after having breakfast at Deyzor, we left for Komic.

Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Komic is the highest village in world connected with motorable road. The beauty of Komic is tough to elaborate using words, inside the gompa, we met a monk who gave us the tour of old and new monastery. He showed us how monks live inside the monastery, the living area with tv and also introduced us to other monks staying inside the monastery. Most of them have studied in Dehradoon in their early age and have been living in spiti all their youth.

Hikkim is just 3 kms from Komic and we had planned to send each other postcards from the highest post office in the world. On reaching the village, there will be kids flocking you asking you to buy fossils as cheap as 20 rupees but they will be happy if you give them chocolates to eat. The people of the village were really friendly to have a conversation with. We walked to the post office and went inside to choose the postcards. Taking sweet time, writing to our loved ones, with big smiles, we left Hikkim to further visit Langza.

Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Langza is popularly known for hunting marine fossils and breathtaking view of Chau Chau Kang Nelda peak sitting on top of the village. Apart from the stunning landscape, the presence of a big, 1000 year old Lord Buddha statue in the meadow makes Langza as heavenly as one possibly can imagine. Although possession and collection of fossils are illegal in India, the locals in the village sell these collectibles to the travellers visiting their village. Driving around the village of Langza, you will be rewarded with magnificent view of snow capped mountains and panoramic landscape. When you reach near the statue on top of the hill, crazy chilling wind and green pastures will make you stay at foot of the statue for hours. Breathing in fresh air and silently talking to the mountains is my favorite memory from Langza.

Photo of Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

We stayed the night in Kaza and next day early morning we started our journey to Kunzum Pass. Kaza to Kunzum Pass is 75 kms and further we take a turn towards Chandrataal lake. This was probably the most exciting part of our trip coz we could finally camp under the stars.

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

The road from Kaza to Kunzum pass is pretty scenic and we got down from car lot of times to take photos. From Kaza towards Kunzum pass via Losar, roads are mostly flat and no sign of climbing uphill. We had maggi & dal rice at Losar and spent some relaxed time walking around the village. When we were 10kms away from Kunzum is when roads get bad.

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

Kunzum Pass

Day 6

A series of decorated Buddhist Prayer Flags welcome us and by looking at the Sign Board we were confirmed about our arrival to Kuzum Top. There is a temple of Kunzum Mata where we got down from our car and rejoiced in the beauty of dancing prayer flags and sky covered in clouds. Wind was persistently blowing and tangling our hair. After spending few minutes here, we started our descent towards Chandratal lake. The signboard said chandratal was 13km ahead, out of which around 12km was motorable.

Photo of Kunzum Pass, Dhar Thachakarpo, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Kunzum Pass, Dhar Thachakarpo, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Kunzum Pass, Dhar Thachakarpo, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Kunzum Pass, Dhar Thachakarpo, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi

Chandratal lake

If you were thinking that you have driven on the riskiest and toughest road wait until you start driving on this one. There is not much of a road here, there are just tyre tracks to follow. This was one of the most dangerous roads that I have come across. On the way, there are two streams you need to cross and the track is really narrow for cars. If there was a car coming towards us, it became a huge thing to worry about. After a lot of struggle, we reached the camping site where we paid advance for the tent and moved further towards the lake. From camp site to chandrataal lake is another 4 kms out of which 3kms can be covered on car/bikes.

These 3kms are just as miserable as the past 10kms we covered to reach the camping site. We felt a couple of times that our car might sleep anytime. After parking the car, we walked for a km to reach the lake.

The beauty of Chandratal lake justifies all the reasons of taking the pathetic road journey to reach here. The pristine blue water and the snowclad mountains surrounding the lake put such an impeccable nature show. We took half an hour to just sit near the lake and admire the goddess nature is. Sitting at 4300m, feelings extremely cold, chilly wind adding up, I was flying high deep inside. I was giggling like a child and didn’t want this time to end. I could sit there for hours without much movement and still be smiling. Even when I was taking hundreds of RAW photos here, nothing could match the beauty I was seeing with my naked eyes. We spent more than 4-5 hours sitting in the lap of nature, taking hundreds of landscape and gopro selfies, but nothing was more satisfactory that circumambulating the lake.

Photo of Chandra Taal, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Chandra Taal, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Chandra Taal, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Chandra Taal, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Chandra Taal, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Chandra Taal, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Chandra Taal, Himachal Pradesh by Richa Gandhi

It was picturesque from anywhere we see the lake, the snow peaks proudly standing around the lake, the ever so carefree prayer flags & the crystal clear water, we thanked almighty for not making this place accessible to tourists, saving such pure sight from too many men, infamous for ruining anything that’s beautiful beyond words.

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

We went back to our camp, had cuppa tea and parle-g, the ultimate refreshment one could ask for. By late evening, we had dal rice with pickle and when the sky was studded with million stars, we walked out of our camp and lived the moment. We talked about how life can change after marriage to how we will stick to one another through whatever may come.

Chandratal -> Batal -> Manali

Day 7

Next morning, we witnessed a beautiful sunrise sitting in our car. We said our goodbye to the orange hues hiding in the grey clouds as we slowly proceeded towards Batal. Stopped by at Chacha Chachi ka dabba for breakfast, as this place is a popular stop for travelers passing by, we wanted to follow the footsteps. Had crispy aalo onion parathas and couldn’t stop ourselves from ordering maggi, one more time. Filling our car with snacks, knowing we wont be stopping anytime soon before we reach manali.

Photo of Batal, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Batal, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Batal, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Batal, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Batal, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi
Photo of Batal, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

The distance from Batal to Manali is 114kms but it took us crazy 6-7 hours to reach rohtang pass when we finally could feel no bump on road. The road till Rohtang is in worst of condition, persistently gravel road with around 4-5 water streams to pass through. As the roads are in pretty bad condition all the way, these drivers usually decide to leave from Batal in packs. Whenever we faced water streams on our way, all the drivers were helping one another so that safely and slowly, river bed can be crossed.

Photo of Bachelorette Trip to Spiti, Cold Mountain Desert by Richa Gandhi

When we finally reached Rohtang pass, we sank all the more in our seats and sighed in relief. We were elated to be back to smooth concrete roads, and further drive to Manali was a beauty. Amazing mountain views, unlike spiti, these were lush green.

In Manali, we booked one night stay at Himalayan chalet. The home was impeccable, sadly we were there just for half a day. We reached around --- and after taking good long much needed shower, we wore our best of clothes which we were saving for today, had a cup of peeping hot tea, and decided to go café hopping. We planned beforehand, to go walk around manali bazaar, have some street food and later treat ourselves to pizza in Café 1947.

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

View from balcony in Himalayan Chalet

Photo of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

Café 1947 is a treat to eyes, resting on the banks of Manalsu river, this quaint little café is highly recommended and a beautiful place to satisfy your taste buds. Its featured alot of times in best travel cafes, hence it was on our list too. They commonly have live music jams. You just need to pick your corner and you can dig in some amazing European cuisines. We lazily spent time hogging and later walked to the manali bazaar, treated ourselves to roadside icecream cones.

Photo of Cafe 1947, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Richa Gandhi

To end our cravings, we went to Johnsons café and had our coffees best suited with live music. The guy who was performing played gem of music on his acoustic and sung wonderful songs by Indian ocean and good ol’ silk route. After spending this long day travelling and finally tad bit of craving fulfillment, we slept like there’s no tomorrow.

Early morning, we bought huge basket of apples from Manali and without any delay, started our journey back home.

We reached Chandigarh, where we said our bye to the rickety innova and took an AC bus from Chandigarh ISBT to Delhi.

Got back to our abode the next morning with numerous memories & a tan my mom kept complaining about for the whole remaining month till the big day. I know a lot of you wont take such a huge risk one month prior to your wedding but i got no single regret. I knew through it all that tans may fade sooner or later, but the earning from the trip, those experiences i carry with me for years to come.

I have realized Spiti is nature’s revelation at its most sublime. Those mountains may seem rough & rugged, but if you spend time with them, you develop a sense of attachment to the desert, that will bring you back to Spiti, one more time, and then one more time, till then, you & I carry Spiti Valley in our hearts, stationed in niche.

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This. If I could shamelessly let go of my workload and bring myself to write about my own trip to Spiti (which I took in June 2015), https://bit.ly/spiti2k15 , this is what i would imagine it to be like. Richa, I know its taken me too long to get to this page, but I am glad I got my sorry ass to log on here and read about your experience. I loved every minute of my own 14 day trip, and your blog just reminded me of just how badly tied up with my work I've been. There were a lot of things I noticed in your trip that were similar to mine. My trip was as a pillion rider on a Thunderbird, and with two other guys. Yes, a guys-only trip. I wasn't tying the knot at the time, but I was just getting out of a very toxic relationship, and this trip knocked some much needed sense and perspective into my head. We started in Delhi, got to Shimla, clicked the same bridge you clicked. We stayed in Kalpa overnight, just like you. ... continues in next comment
Sat 06 30 18, 04:32 · Reply (2) · Report
Why havent i ever seen that flickr album? You never shared with me ! love the light trails one and the mighty peaks of spiti! ahhh such bliss. I am happy that you remembered to read the article! Cheers! Lots of love!
Sun 07 01 18, 22:17 · Report
The pic that caused my breath to get caught in my throat is the one you guys have taken on Dhangkar Monastery. Damn, I've got goosebumps as I type this. Richa, I took a pic of myself sitting exactly at the very same spot: https://flic.kr/p/vrPv7p. I remember the walls and the riverbed below. I also have a similar pic of Ki monastery: https://flic.kr/p/w75wpo Here's my pic of the bridge, albeit a bit abstract-y: https://flic.kr/p/vbwdyE Pics taken 2 years apart, and yet, the place continues to enchant. Like it's the constant and we're the variables. :) Thank you for the post!
Sat 06 30 18, 04:40 · Report
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