Reaching the Land of Monks ( Kaza ) under 10000 bucks 

15th Jun 2018
Photo of Reaching the Land of Monks ( Kaza ) under 10000 bucks  1/1 by Mountain Balak

Life is very unpredictable, and i got it's live example when i was on my way to Kaza (Spiti Valley ). A trip that was full of adventure . I always wished to travel to Spiti Valley ,but was'nt sure it will be so soon .My plan was to drive all the way to Spiti Valley by my own vehicle or a rented one but due to limited budget i had to alter my plan and now i was moving to Kaza by bus all the way from New Delhi .The route from Manali to Kaza is one of the toughest but most scenic as well. So the only thing to be trusted for such kind of roads are the experienced HIMACHAL ROAD TRANSPORT COOPERATION (HRTC) Bus drivers.ALL HAIL THE CHAMPION - HRTC!

Day 1

My journey started from New Delhi .We booked an ordinary HRTC Bus(Oh,the thrill & adventure of the roadways buses is just unexplainable)to Manali which left ISBT,New Delhi at 5:50 p.m . With the temperatures going over 40-45 degrees celsius & to escape the scorching heat if Delhi,a trip was a must to cool things down.And so, Spiti happened. As the sun started to set we were moving out of Delhi and slowly the temperature dipped and the idea of going by a non-ac bus didnt feel like such a bad one.Leaving behind the concrete jungle of Delhi we entered Haryana. With open crop fields on both sides of the road,the temperature was pleasant now. On our way to Manali there was a single dinner haul . All the Ordinary HRTC buses have the same haul at the Dhaba close to the Highway ......

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

At around 5 a.m we reached Mandi . Just yesterday, i was feeling the heat of Delhi and now i was feeling cold even after such a warm welcome with such beautiful views of the mountains and the mighty Beas River.

Day 2
Photo of Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak

The beautiful green mountains and river Beas gave us a really pleasant company all the way, till we reached Manali at around 9 a.m. I quickly searched for an affordable hotel and started to freshen up to enjoy the day at Manali. The stay at Manali was just for one day . So we planned to rent a bike and explore HIDIMBA TEMPLE and JOGNI WATERFALL .

Photo of Mall Road, Manali, Himachal Pradesh by Mountain Balak

Hidimba Devi Temple is about 2-3 km from the mall road . The gorgeous temple of Hidimba Devi is surrounded with tall pine trees from all sides.Amidst the forest, it is a temple of one a kind.It is must visit place at Manali . As it is few kilometers away from the mall road the place is quite.If you wish to visit Hidimba Devi Temple i would advice you to leave early .The roads are congested and during peak times there is A LOT of crowd.It's better to feel & spend time with nature when there is no or minimal crowd.The pine trees block the sunrays & that gives a very soothing feel to the place.

Photo of Hadimba Temple Road, Old Manali, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak

After visiting Hidimba Temple,we were on our way to Jogini Waterfall . Jogini Waterfall is 4.5 km from Manali on the way to Rohtang Pass . While on the way to Rohtang you can see the fall on your right . There is a small trek of about a kilometer that will take you to the smaller part of Jogini & that's where we went .There is another part which is located at a greater height.If you can then i'd definitely advise you visit both these parts because it's amidst the gorgeous green forest & the views from both the parts is just to die for.Also,if you're lucky if you go to the upper part,you can find one or two or even 3-4 rainbows right at the waterfall.

Photo of Jogini Falls, Vashist, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak

We headed back to our hotel as the rain gods of the mountains decided to bless us with drizzling.We Took rest at our hotel and then spent some time walking & exploring the all time favourite - mall road .The temperature was pleasant and even at around 11:30 p.m people were enjoying out there.

Day 3

The bus to Kaza starts from Kullu . It leaves Kullu bus station at around 3:30 a.m and reaches Manali at 5:50 a.m . I was not aware of the fact that there is pre bookig of the tickets and fortunately,thank god, got the seats in the bus to Kaza. A 15 minutes stop at Manali Bus Stand and we finally leave Manali for our epic journey to the Gorgeous Land of Monks- Kaza ( Spiti Valley ) .

Note :Another thing to keep in mind is ; the buses are cancelled if the weather is not good. So always & always keep a back up plan ready & if possible plan this trip with atleast 1-2 extra days so that you can wait if you have to for the weather to clear up.

Photo of Manali Bus Depot, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak

After leaving at 6 a.m from Manali, our first halt ( breakfast ) was at 8:30 a.m .With a beautiful cloudy morning,pleasant temperature and beautiful views the journey was going great . Within few hours of leaving from the Dhaba we were on our way to Rohtang Pass . My last two tries of going to Rohtang had all failed. But finally i was on the way . Within hours it was all mountains out there .The view from the window seat was just mesmerizing.There were many hairpin turns upto Rohtang Pass which is situated at a height of 3978 m .

Photo of Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh by Mountain Balak

On our way there are many big and small streams .The locals call them - "Nalahs". The bus at times would stop to get a proper look of the depth and then move ahead. After crossing Rohtang Pass the road gets narrow and we start to descent . There are many streams making there way through these mountains . All of which arise from the melting snow .

Photo of Reaching the Land of Monks ( Kaza ) under 10000 bucks by Mountain Balak

After reaching Grampoo we took the turn to Kaza . The road is quite complicated and if not properly seen you would endup on the way to Ladakh . Also,here you can say bye-bye to the nice metal concrete roads.The next stop was Chatru .

Photo of Chhatru, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak

Beyond Chatru there is only barren land . It may be the last place you will see greenly in abundance . We were greeted by a big,nice surprise here - Turns out that our stop at Chatru is now an over night stay . This was due to the landslide which took place 20km from Chatru and there was no way we could cross it. On further enquiring about it & talking to fellow travellers and close by people who were still there at Chatru,we came to know that the landslide took place a day before and they were stuck there too.

Photo of Chhatru, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak

Chatru would have been just another pit stop,but now it was our place for night stay . it is a beautiful place with ample of greenry and is situated along the river Chandra. It started to get really cold after 5 p.m .After taking a walk around the place,clicking photographs and playing cards to kill our time it was time for us to find & fix a place for our night's sleep . With limited tents available and very few other choices (which were already booked) we were left with no option but to spend the night in the bus. DEFINITELY,TICKING IT OFF MY BUCKET LIST!One Great Night! The temperature started to drop down rapidly as it started to get darker. I took my seat on the bus and against all odds-had a pleasant sleep of 12 hours.

Photo of Reaching the Land of Monks ( Kaza ) under 10000 bucks by Mountain Balak
Day 4

The next morning brought a great news- that we can resume our journey . KAZA,HERE WE COME.. We resumed our journey at 10 a.m from Chatru and reached the place of landslide at around 11:30 a.m .

Photo of Chhatru, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak

We crossed the big nalah and reached the other side.Phew! We had to wait another 2 hours for our bus to start from Hampta Pass . All those who had there private vehicles were stuck at the place of landslide for about 2 days .We were lucky to have chosen HRTC- the bus as the mode of travel otherwise we would have been among those people too.These HRTC drivers are definitely mindblowing & very courageous people.In such difficult conditions too,they manage to keep their calm,drive carefully & definitely enhance our travel experience with their friendly nature & smiles.

Photo of Hampta Pass Trek Camp Himalayan Mountain Sojourns, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak

After that the window scenes kept on changing .Beautiful landscapes and the gorgeous river flowing right beside the road (no road) kept us awake the whole time.We reached our lunch stop Chacha Chachi Dhaba at Batal .

Photo of Batal, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak

The trek to Chandratal Lake starts 2 km ahead from Batal . It was cold out there and i had difficulty in breathing not so severe but you would feel the place now and understand that you are at such a height . Batal is surrounded by snow covered peaks all around which were covered with fog when we reached. After having lunch we resumed our trip.

The views kept on changing .It keep getting more magical & mesmerizing with each second passing by.And you'll be glued to your window seats looking outside - like those moments when you just stick to your tv sets for your serial,cartoon or match . I was doing the same . Nature was like TV this time and all i felt was to look out and capture these magical scenes in my eyes and save them in my memories.You can capture almost everything by camera but not all .It is at this time,you'd feel that god or someone up there definitely is an artist & he/she is damn good at their work.The colours,the patterns,oh-so-beautiful!

Photo of Reaching the Land of Monks ( Kaza ) under 10000 bucks by Mountain Balak

After Batal our another quick hault was at Losar . From Losar,The Spiti Valley starts . It was the another one of those check points where the passports of foreign tourists are checked & permits are seen here as well.Another thing to keep in mind is,that after ROHTANG PASS the only place you'll get any BSNL signal is at Losar . Kaza is another 2- hours away from here .At the time we left Losar,it was time for the sun to set as well . So slowly the colour of the sky changed from a gorgeous clear blue to orange and it was one breath-taking sight .Definitely the one to capture .

Photo of Spiti Valley, Marango Rangarik, Himachal Pradesh by Mountain Balak

The road after Losar was the best you would see after hours and hours of travelling on the dirt track,river bed,or whatever you might call that .Even though its a single lane road but the view is just amazing .And just like that,while admiring these beautiful roads,the sky and the mountains we reached KAZA. It was around 7:30 p.m and we had completed 8 hours of bus journey.

And finally i was here a dream come true . I could really see the sky and can't get my eyes out of that . I could literally feel how good the atmosphere is because you could really see these starts which you can't in the cities . I quick search for a taxi because we thought of covering KEY MONASTERY the morning . And yeah there was a surprise out there for me . We booked a taxi for around 800 bucks which took us to KEY MONASTERY . Around 10 p.m we were at this hotel near KEY MONASTERY . We freshened up , relaxed a bit because it was hell of a journey of 8 hours though one of the most difficult yet scenic view roads in the world . I went out to look the night sky and was mesmerized to see for the first time in my life the view of the galaxy . It was just behind the KEY MONASTERY . Me along with my friends were under stars and everything felt worth it even sleeping in the bus seem to be worth . We set up our cameras to capture the galaxy . While enjoying the stars and the amazing view we were unaware of the time and after looking to our watches it was almost 4 am . It was my first try to capture galaxy and after processing the photo it came out to be very beautiful .

I feel the nights are more beautiful in Kaza as comapred to mornings

Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak

Day 5th was all about exploring Kaza and near by places . So we started with KEY MONASTERY . It was close to the hostel so we took our breakfast and after that we head to the Monastery . A few minute walk took us to Key Monastery . It was quite ,calm and it was evident why people visit this place to meditate and know about Buddhism . The head there also told about Buddhism Different small rooms and even a kitchen where we were served prasad .

Day 5

Entry to Key Monastery

Photo of Key Gompa, Key Monastery, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mountain Balak