A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal

Tripoto
1st Jun 2015

Serene chandertaal.

Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua

Enroute Chandertaal

Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua

Road to Kaza

Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua

Camping at Chitkul

Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua

kinner kailash from Kalpa

Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua

At kunzum la

Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua

kunzum la

Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua

Setting up camp at chitkul

Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua

Loo with a view!!

Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of A drive to remember: Kinnaur, Spiti and Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua

“When the wind calls, you know that somewhere in the mountains, it has found the answers that you were looking for. The pull of the horizon overcomes the inertia of reason…And you just have to go.”

My friends and I, all in our mid-twenties, were looking to get away and spend some quality time far from the hectic city life. What better way than spend 10 days huddled up in a car driving through one of the most enchanting valleys in India.

Self-drive was chosen as the mode of transport and such a great choice this would turn out to be! Just a few clicks and we had a solid suv ready to hit the road. All thanks to Zoomcar.  With some basic supplies and tents packed, we ready for takeoff.

From driving along riverbeds to ascending the mighty Kunzum La, the 1900km roundtrip was undoubtedly one of the best drives ever. We got a chance to drive on some of the most spectacular roads in the country, and the world’s most treacherous. Every turn was like a different slide in a view master. The journey took us through the most pristine and awe inspiring landscape this country has to offer, ending our adventure with an exhausting, potentially life threatening, yet thrilling trek to Chandertaal. 

The route

DelhiSolanShimlaNarkandaTapriSanglaChitkul→ ReckongPeo→KalpaNakoTabo → Dhankar → Kaza →Lossar → Kunzum Pass → Chandertaal.

Having met some of the most amazing people during the journey, soaking in the beauty of Himachal with the closest of friends. We came back with so many memories and experiences which are indelibly engraved in our hearts. Rejuvenated and at peace with ourselves, we came back cleansed and spirited. Ready to take on the city life until our next Sojourn.

A trip worth taking with friends or loved ones. The chance to bond with nature.

Truly a trip of a lifetime.

Thoughts of clear skies and cold winds swirled in our minds and leaving the scorching streets of Delhi only came as an added bonus. We left Delhi (216m) at around 5 in the evening, the plan was to halt at Shimla (2205m) for the night. After picking a few essentials, we were on our way. The great adventure had just begun. There is an old adage that men are logical but refuse to operate rationally when they don’t know something. The folks at Zoomcar were kind enough to give us a gps device to navigate, but we chose to drive on sheer instinct and our awesomeness. So it came as no surprise when we and ended up in Ludhiana instead of Chandigarh (today this twist however, makes up for an interesting anecdote). Weaving through traffic and police,we were back on track soon. It was already past midnight and we were nowhere near Shimla. We altered our plans and decided to halt at Solan (1600m).There was no hotel, homestay, dhaba or even a cave that was willing to accommodate us at such an unearthly hour. With the magnificent stars and blaring truck horns for company, we stationed our prized friend at a nice spot and adjusted ourselves well to spend the night in it, all piled up against one another. Accommodation for the night: Mahindra XUV500 Distance covered: 300km Tip of the day: You might be Marco Polo, but a Gps device is always handy.
Photo of Day 1: Delhi to Solan by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 1: Delhi to Solan by Dhruv Dua
Waking up on time is really easy when you are parked on a national highway.With trucks serving as our alarm’s we were up by 6.Waking up to clean and crisp mountain air was a worthy treat.We had parked in front of a tea stall the previous night and the guy was eager for us to move and vacate his spot.Our tea was ready even before we got off the car. With a warm cuppa in our tummy’s we were ready to leave much to the chaiwallah’s delight. Next stop was Shimla for some breakfast and clean toilets. We were in Shimla in no time, and stopped at the Holiday Home hotel which is a flagship hotel of Himachal tourism. The food was really good and the toilets were clean. With our tummies tight and eyes bright we started towards Narkanda. The drive to Narkanda from Shimla was splendid, the roads were smooth and the view was remarkable. The route took us through the blissful towns of Kufri and Fagu. With the clouds hanging low over the cliffs, the temperature was dropping. Lush green mountains and the clean grey roads added to the magnificence, thanks to the much anticipated drizzle. Narkanda is a small town and serves as base for a lot of people traveling to Kinnaur and Spiti. The town was bustling and people were tanking up and gathering supplies. We met a group of people from Denmark who were doing the same circuit as us on Enfields. After discussing the route and munching on some snacks we were off again. The road towards Sangla was less road and more stones, with tunnelling work in progress we were soon back on the Indian roads we are so used to. We managed to reach Wangdu dam by 9.30pm and made our way through complete darkness and muddy roads to a small town by the Sutlej called Tapri (2100m). Tapri has a few hotels and one big forest guest house. The guest house was booked and we settled for small place by the name of hotel pagmarang bar. The ‘BAR’ part played a vital role in the selection process. Rooms were basic and clean and the management was friendly. We headed to the bar and got down to business. The food was good specially the Chinese and the helpings plentiful. Snug, tipsy and well fed we finally called it a night. Accommodation for the night: Hotel Pagramang Bar. Room rent per night ~700 INR Distance covered: 200km Tip of the day: Try not to drive after sundown unless you are Batman
Photo of Day 2: Solan to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 2: Solan to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 2: Solan to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 2: Solan to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 2: Solan to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 2: Solan to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 2: Solan to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Today was going to be a relaxed day, or so we thought. Woke up well rested and without the after effects of last night’s merry making, all thanks to the local river water. We had to drive around 50 kms to Chitkul (3450m) which would serve as our halt for the night. We drove through the Sangla valley and it looked like we had driven into a shoot of Game of Thrones. The caressing breeze and the fragile sunlight coupled with peaks towering over us, it was all so serene and quiet. We stopped for breakfast at Sangla and had some great momos and Thukpa. Chitkul is the last village on the Indo Tibet Border. The road to Chitkul is narrow and relatively empty. We crossed only 2 cars on the entire stretch. There were a few a blockages and fresh landslides so we had to wait for the dozer to pave a path for us.There are quite a few hotels in Chitkul, but we had other plans and headed straight to the riverbed and started setting up our own camp. The place we chose was surreal, right next to the river. After setting up camp and chilling some beers in the icy waters of the Baspa we headed to Nagasthi which is the last checkpost before Tibet. Once again not paying attention to the signs we drove on to a restricted road only to be flagged down by the army vehicles. The road was going to Tibet and was meant for only Army use. After a small lecture on responsible driving and a couple of handshakes we were back at the checkpost. We went for a stroll and just lay around trying to take in all the beauty that surrounded us. If heaven was ever to be picturised, I think this would be it. It was time well spent. Soon we were back in Chitkul at Hotel Rani where we arranged for a Bonfire and bonded with other travellers, over some brew and wine, on a full moon night under a sky laden with stars. Kinnaur is a tribal district and locals are permitted to make wine and local brews for consumption. They vary in taste and potency, but are savoury. Cherry, strawberry, apple, peach, plum.You name it and they make it. At Hotel Rani we had cherry wine and boy was it good! A lot of merry in that Cherry. The whole bottle was for Rs. 150 and came in a plastic mineral water bottle. Would totally recommend it! We bid adieu to the other travellers and headed back to camp guided by only the moonlight. We settled in to our sleeping bags and dozed off with the comforting sound of the Baspa flowing beside us. Accommodation for the night: Camping by the Baspa Cost: Priceless Tip of the day: Use river water for the drinks, no hangover whatsoever and the local wines deserve applaud and copious consumption.
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul by Dhruv Dua
Woke up early to witness the sun rising over the snow capped peaks. We sat around awe struck by the sheer beauty of the place and finally had to cajole ourselves to get moving. The drive back was a little hectic as we manged to get ourselves stuck in a mixture of sludge and rocks on a steep uphill climb. With the lifesaving help of a few locals we managed to free ourselves from the mix. We rewarded ourselves and our new friends and popped open some cold brewskis. Yes right in the morning. Beer is afterall the breakfast of champions. Isn’t it? Soon after we were on our way to Nako (3362m). The drive is majestic alongside orchards laden with peach and cherry trees. Soon enough we reached Reckong Peo, the headquarters of the Kinnaur District. The place was spic and span, the sun bright and the day clear. After a pit stop we headed to the idyllic village of Kalpa (2960m) for lunch. We stopped at the beautiful Kinner Kailash hotel which offers mesmerising views of the Kinner Kailash peak. The restaurant faces the peaks and makes it very difficult to look down at your plate. The service is slow but the food is delicious or so it seemed as we just couldn’t get our focus away from the majestic peaks. After lunch we headed to Roghi, a small village famous for its suicide point. Narrow single lane roads and a sheer drop on the other side made for a nerve racking drive. We passed through the picturesque Spello and Moorang villages and the lush green mountains gave way to the arid and rugged mountains. We stopped at Khab Bridge, laden with prayer flags carrying the prayers with the wind. This bridge marks the confluence of the Spiti and the Satluj and we had to get down and admire the change in landscape. The roads from here onwards are all rock cut with rare stretches of tarred roads.And to top that we were welcomed by “the world’s most treacherous road” signage. The drive was bad for the most part with tunnelling work and blasting in progress.The route was bumpy, dusty and at times slushy but the roads were relatively empty and in a while we found ourselves on a tarred road zig zagging all the way to the top. This was to be the highlight of the drive, the road looked like it had been tailor made for us and we glided to the top in a jiffy, with the colossal mountains and the clear blue sky in the backdrop, this actually felt like the stairway to heaven. We stopped a couple of times to get down and just feel and take it all in. Staring into the distance we could see Leo Village- an oasis in the deserted lands and a treat to the eye. It was a phenomenal experience. A drive that will be etched in our minds forever. We finally reached Nako after stopping at an isolated complex near a helipad from some beer and the brilliant view. We chose Hotel Lake view which is bang opposite the Nako lake. The owner and staff were helpful and joyful. We sat out in sub-zero temperatures and enjoyed our tipple with the company of fellow travellers. We spent the next morning exploring Nako and its monastery and were soon on the road again. Accommodation for the night: Hotel Lake View, great food and hospitality.Running hot water and power back up. Room per night Rs. 1300 INR. Tip of the day: In case you suffer from altophophia, avoid the suicide point and keep spare time on your way to Nako to just sit and admire the natural beauty.
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 4: Chitkul to Nako by Dhruv Dua
Woke up to another clear morning and a day closer to our destination. Spent a few hours exploring the lake and the monastery. Nako is beautiful and serene, the sun shining down and nothing but the sound of the cold winds to disturb you. The traditional wooden houses and the picturesque cloudy skies are a photographer’s delight. We left Nako feeling rejuvenated and at peace with ourselves. Breakfast was ordered and we ate our fair share. 6 omlettes, 5 ginger lemons, 8 pancakes, 4 parathas, 2 Pasta arrabiata and 2 bottles of the local apple juice.The best breakfast we had in our trip. We geared up and said our goodbyes. The roads were excellent, spiralling downwards. This stretch lasted for a bit and finally we were approaching the dreaded Malling Nallah. Malling is a risky and treacherous place. With shooting stones from one side and a huge drop on the other. Steep inclines and declines coupled with flowing water of the nallah. One needs to carefully and slowly steer in this area. Small stones were constantly falling and hitting our car sounding like rain on a tin roof. With the nallah behind us, we drove through some of the roughest roads but the drilling and blasting cost us a lot of time. The next stop was Gyu Monastery famous for a very rare mummified lama. In 1975, the Indo-Tibetan border police were digging to construct a border surveillance post near Sumdoh. Their spade hit the skull of a body and behold; blood started oozing out of the body. Strangely enough even the hair on the skull of this mummy was visible.On closer inspection it was revealed that the body was that of a Buddhist Lama. According to local legends, about 600 years ago when Gyu was troubled by scorpions, Sangha Tenzin after asking his disciples to entomb him, squatted down to mediate. It is believed that when his soul left the body, a rainbow appeared across the sky and the scorpions mysteriously disappeared from the village. The key to the monastery is alternated within the families of the Village, we met up with an old lady who took us up to the monastery. Cheerful and spirited she told us about the harsh winters they face and how they have no use of money. Living a completely self-sustaining life. We spoke to the Jawan posted there who informed us about the proximity of China from Gyu and how it was possible to reach India from there in 2 days trek. We dropped the lady back to her house and with a loud shout of "JULEY", the local greeting, she bid adieu. We descended to almost flat land and drove beside the blue waters of the Mighty Spiti river. Soon we were in Tabo and the beauty of the place knocked us out. Each one of us was lost in our own thoughts and the tranquillity of the place.The beauty of Spiti was reverberating through us all. We visited the monastery and were given a lovely tour by the locals there. Tabo monastery was established in 996 and is the oldest operating Buddhist monastery in the world. Across the monastery on the opposite side are caves, which served as the quarters of monks in those times. We would have loved to stay but we had to get to Kaza. After driving through fairytale-esque meadows and tall sharp rock towers and crossing makeshift bridges of wood we reached Kaza at about 5 pm. We were famished by this time and hit the local sweet shop for some aloo tikki and samosas. In the meantime, we got a chance to play some cricket with the local kids and got some information on Chandertaal. We were told the roads haven’t yet cleared and if we still wanted to attempt we would have to leave early in the morning. This meant we had to reach Losar tonight. We packed up and left Kaza when the sun had almost begun to set. We drove through pitch darkness to finally reach Losar. Losar has no power most of the time and no mobile signals either. The champions league final which we were all looking forward to would have had to be given a miss. Despite all our attempts, no place had a generator big enough to power up a television and a settop box. We settled for drinks under the stars and some great home cooked food. It was a chilly night with temperatures dropping to -2 degrees. We were joined at the table by bikers who were returning as the road to Chandertaal was closed and would head back to Kaza next morning. But we had other plans. Accomodation: Tashi Gatsel guest house, INR 1200 per room. Great guy and home cooked food. Tip of the day: Cell signals are non-existent. Make calls at Kaza and also purchase supplies if required . Also don’t be Batman.
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 5: Nako to Kaza by Dhruv Dua
This was the day we were all waiting for. Having previously attempted to reach Chandertaal, through 6 days of trekking via Hampta pass, only to turn back because of heavy snow, we were hell bent on making it this time. We were welcomed with the sight of a flat tyre and replacing it would mean loss of precious time. We spoke to a couple of locals and managed to get hold of Dorjee a local cook who was ready to accompany us as a guide. Due to our flat tyre and higher ground clearance offered by his Tata Sumo, we opted for his ride after much contemplation. We left Losar for Kunzum La (4600m) at around 7am. The route was completely covered with ice walls on the sides and sheets of ice on the road. The harsh sun was causing the Mountains of snow to melt and resulting in massive water crossings on the road. Slow and steadily we made our way towards the pass only to get stuck about 2 kms before Kunzum La. We were helped by the BRO truck which was taking up diesel and workers. They informed us that we were the first people to attempt Chandertaal this year and that the roads would still not be open until another 3 weeks. We hopped on the truck and had an exhilarating drive to the top with the workers. We were warned to be back by 4 pm as the weather vicissitudes post sun down. After the goodbyes and the customary visit to the temple to seek blessings we were ready to start the trek. The trek is supposedly only 8kms and can be done in a single day. The route passes through snow and rocky mountains and two major nallah crossings. We were all pumped and raring to start. 45 minutes into the trek we go the first view of the elusive Moon lake, shining like an emerald with the massive peaks surrounding it. By this time two members were having difficulty in breathing and chose to not continue.They would spend some time here and return to the car and wait for our return. Three of us and Dorjee continued towards the lake. Despite all our preparations and gear, it was getting tougher and tougher to cross the steep inclines with the ankle deep snow. The snow was melting and getting soft, this cut our speed, and due to the softness and incline, there were a lot of chances of slipping. There was no route and Dorjee was just walking keeping the direction in mind. On the insistence of Dorjee, another member who was having difficulty acclimatising, opted to sit and wait for our return. Now it was just the two of us and Dorjee. We were 3 hrs into the trek and had left 3 friends behind. We purposely slid down mountains as it was faster. We didn’t realise what took us seconds to slide and descend would take hours to ascend.The slopes were like powder with the random sighting of wild Yak. Soon we reached the nallahs and precariously crossed them stepping on rocks and avoiding the icy waters. Soon the snow line was over and we were walking on jagged rocks and slush. By our calculations we should have reached the lake by now. We were getting tired and started taking frequent breaks. Dorjee was a little ahead and shouted to us that he could see the lake. Excited we climbed up to the point where he was standing and to our utter dismay the lake looked as far as it did from Kunzum Top. The realisation that it was already 12 set in and getting back by 4 was not a possibility. We gathered ourselves and pushed to reach as soon as possible. We trekked for about 2 more hours before we finally reached a flat ground. With the heat getting to us the frequency of breaks was increasing but the fact that there was no more ascending to be done we pushed on. At around 3 pm we finally made it. This was the moment we had been waiting for, the whole purpose of the trip was to get to this lake and we were finally there. There wasn’t a soul in sight just the emerald waters of the magnificent lake and the snow-capped peaks surrounding it. Chandertaal is the source of the river Chandra and the water keeps changing colour depending on the sunlight. In the time we spent there we saw it go from emerald green to sky blue to clear transparency. The lake is huge and circumambulation takes about 1 hour. The three of us sat and rested for a while, the cold water was so refreshing, dipping and cooling off in it was a treat. The feeling of being the only people miles in any direction gives you this great sense of being alive. Being there in that moment was a feeling like no other. We couldn’t spend more time as it was a long and tough hike back to Kunzum. With one last look at the lake, one last deep breath of the serenity we got back on track to return to our anxious friends. The way back was worse than we had imagined, tired and weary we were stopping way too often. The jagged rocks were getting tougher to walk on. Since we had heard it was a short trek we had packed very little food. A paratha a head was over even before we could taste it. We had no energy bars or fruits or any source of energy. Kunzum was still very far away and we had still not hit the snow line. Things weren’t looking very good. We still managed to keep moving. Sore footed, wide eyed and sun dizzy, we became a part of the stark, desolate and barren landscape. Soon we reached the nallahs. What we had crossed as streams were now full flowing Rivers thanks to the scorching sun. Waterproof boots were of no use now, water was knee high and freezing. Taking shortbreaks and slowly moving forward. The sun had zapped all our energy, our shoes were wet and we had just hit the snowline. We were struggling now, even Dorjee was feeling it and taking breaks with us. After 2 hours of dragging ourselves we reached the place where we had left our friend. He had probably started early and headed towards the car. The sun had started to set and the temperature began to plummet. Around this time my friend started getting light headed and exhausted. Extreme fatigue was setting in and he just couldn’t move another inch. We tried to get him to move but he just refused to budge. Light was fading quickly and we still had a long way to go. Upon further insistence he started to suggest we leave him there. This was not a good sign. Finally after another long break Dorjee convinced him and agreed to hold and guide him through the snow. A bigger problem was that we did not have to go to Kunzum La but the place where we had parked the car. This meant we had to climb higher and descend a steeper slope and then cross a big field to reach the clearing where the car was parked. The temperature was already sub-zero and it was getting difficult to breathe. We managed to somehow ascend and were greeted by a mountain fox. The first sign of life we had seen in quite a while. Soon it was pitch dark and we still had to descend and cross the field. Dorjee went ahead to locate the car and we slowly made our way down. Finally we spotted the car in the distance and our friends were flashing the headlights to guide us. In complete darkness we walked through streams and algal blooms and finally made it to the car. We were greeted by anxious friends who were considering going back to Losar to get help from the army. But we had made it back. Exhausted and disoriented, we were back safe and sound. We had done it. The trip was now complete. Dorjee despite all his experience agreed this was the toughest and most exhausting trek to the lake. Soon we were back in Losar by 10 pm and sipping on whisky with warm water. It was a long and sound sleep that night. Accomodation: Tashi Gatsel guest house, INR 1200 per room. Tip of the day: Energy bars are a must. However small the trek, always carry extra food for emergencies. Waterproof shoes, sunglasses and sunblock lotion are necessary. Do let people know where you are headed and by what time you should get back. If you aren’t sure of route always take a local to guide you. Dorjee’s help was a lifesaver for us.
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day 6:Losar to Chandertaal by Dhruv Dua
Despite Having had an eventful previous day we woke up surprisingly fresh and energized, the elixir had worked its magic.We changed the flat tyre, had some toasts and headed towards Kaza. We had to stop at Kaza to get the car checked. To our surprise, Kaza looked as though it was completely abandoned. It was a holiday and all the shops were closed. A German bakery was open and we devoured some amazing desserts. With a quick check on our XUV by the local mechanic we were back on track to Puh. On our way was another historic monastery called Dhangkar Monastery. It’s located on the tip of one of the mountains and looks highly fragile. It is a 1000 year old gompa recognized by the World Monument Fund as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. We drove incessantly, stopping at few BRO check points to see if we could get some diesel or to take a leak and then back on road. We reached Puh at around 8pm and were welcomed with no electricity, yet again. Accommodation for the night: Om Guest House, Room per night ~ 1500 INR Tip of the day: If you ever run out of diesel the BRO workers always carry extra cans and are ready to help.
Photo of Day7: Losar to Puh by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day7: Losar to Puh by Dhruv Dua
Photo of Day7: Losar to Puh by Dhruv Dua
The drive was hectic as we had a lot of distance to cover and kept switching drivers. Drove straight till Solan stopping only to grab snacks on the way. On the recommendation of the locals we stopped at Tapan dhaba. This dhaba is located right opposite the Tapan hyundai showroom. The food was truly lip smacking and we found a motel right next to the dhaba and decided to crash there. Accomodation: Random Motel, INR 700 Tip of the day: Tapan dhaba is the place to dine in Solan
Taking the expressway we zipped to chandigarh, stopping at a dhaba and grabbing some breakfast. Soon enough we were in Karnal and almost home.We reached delhi by 5 pm and the great road trip was already over. We couldn’t believe how fast ten days had gone by. Having met some of the most amazing people during the journey, soaking in the beauty of Himachal with the closest of friends. We came back with so many memories and experiences which are indelibly engraved in our hearts. Rejuvenated and at peace with ourselves, we came back cleansed and spirited. Ready to take on the city life until our next Sojourn. Tip of the day: A trip worth taking with friends or loved ones. The chance to bond with nature. Truly a trip of a lifetime.
1 Comment(s)
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Woah! Quite an interesting write up. One can feel the places visited by the way everything has been expressed! Well done brother! Hope to receive more stories from you! Cheers!
Wed 10 07 15, 00:36 · Reply · Report