After a much deserved sleep we started a beautiful day early in the morning towards Kaza which was odd 80 kms. Our plan was to visit local places and get back to Manali the same day. But someone up there had a different game plan for usAfter munching some miles we realized that we were in the middle of nowhere, with no people, no roads, waterfalls continuing on the roads. Enroute we could only find few local people who were out to feed their cattle on the road. However difficult we chose to ride on, there was no thought at all of coming back, we were hypnotized by the mountains, the never-ending green fields and the waterfalls crossing through them. As we went further for almost 2 hours through the broken roads and unending beauty of this virgin place we found a place called Chatru. So we stopped for some food and a bit of rest to our sore backs. Eventually we found two fellow riders who were destined in the same direction as ours. After a bit of rest and short chat we started riding together. As we rode on we were welcomed by another type of natural phenomenon, ”The Himalayan Desert”. It was barren and dusty all around except for some passing streams from the mountains on the top, unfurled, wild and untamed. We slipped into one of these streams named “Chotadara” twice but saved ourselves from anything major. It was getting difficult to ride on with me as a pillion. I had once heard Joe say, “Roads…No roads…Little something…Nothing”! … Just keep riding. Never stop, And we never stopped!At one such spotJoe: “Let’s just go back from here, it’s not going to be safe after dark bhai.”Me: “No way! I want to complete the entire circuit...” It’s now or neverJoe: “But you have to join office in less than 36 hours”Me: “We will think about that later. Let’s ride for now”Joe was quite taken aback with this reaction, but inside he was a happy man. A triumphant rider who now had a partner in crime. And I was happy to share the status of being a “lunatic”!We knew that we had to report to ours offices the day after next,we knew we had only covered 80 kms riding for 6 hrs since morning, we knew it was a difficult 180 kms ahead till Kaza-Spiti valley, we knew that we had to ride for 750 kms the next day if we had to reach our offices on time, we knew we were taking an innocent decision but sometimes we just don’t think so much, we don’t calculate so much. And the greed for this beauty, knowing the unknown, passion for riding and love for hills took us ahead. The light grew dimmer and our roads became tougher as we left the other riders at Batal and rode towards Kaza. The broken roads were now pointing only upwards as we moved on for hours with the snow clapped mountains beside us. Our bodies had started giving up but we had to move on as we had almost 150 kms to cover with an average speed of nothing more than 15 km/hr. Clutching and accelerating again and again to rise the bike upwards through the bumpy roads had left my brother’s hands sore and swollen. So after riding for 3 hours when we had reached the top of the road we chose to stop at a temple with a beautiful piece of architecture. There we met few other tourist and a fellow rider, had a short chat but couldn’t rest for longer as it had already started getting dark accompanied by chilly wind coming from the snow clapped mountains. So we started once again but with a sigh of relief as we knew the roads now only pointed downwards. We rode on as after riding for another 15 kms we found metal roads after a long time. We could finally accelerate ourselves as we continued through the small villages and interestingly all of these villages had temples in between. It was close to 6.30pm but the daylight was still there as we hurried towards our destination. Now we had once again left the snow clapped mountains and were riding through the dusty, broken Himalayan desert. Joe kept on accelerating no matter there was a bump or broken road or up and down. There were few other rivers created from the water streams coming from the hills in which I had to get down from the bike. Sometimes I had to walk myself through those streams in order to check if there were any such potholes where the bike’s tire could have been stuck, sometimes I had to push when these potholes came and bike was actually stuck. We were just ensuring that the water did not enter the silencer as that would mean the end of our journey and we would be stuck at night far away from where we could have reached any mechanic. But thankfully all this were gone as we saw a board indicating Kaza was 70 kms ahead so got some zeal to move on. It was 7.30pm and dark now. We could only find some trucks behind or ahead of us which blew so much dust as to paint our faces totally black. We rode on further for almost an hour through the dark by the side of the flowing streams. It was silent everywhere except the “butbut” sound of our royal enfield echoing all around through the mountains. I could not feel much anymore, my body was all numb now. All I wanted was to just reach Kaza spiti and sleep. The brain was not working anymore as my brother kept on thrusting his hand through the air in order to relax them a bit. But after a while he chose to stop as his hands were dead now and as he opened his gloves I could see his fingers were all swollen, the skin of his hands ripping off, all red. We stopped for a while in the dark, in the middle of a perfect no man’s land. The trucks had now stopped moving due to the darkness but we couldn’t do that as we had 30 odd kms further to make. So we gathered some energy from nowhere, gathered up all our strength to cover the last few kms as my brother exchanged my gloves and rode on. After further 1 hour of riding we reached Kaza spiti at around 9.30pm and discarded the idea of tenting and booked a hotel as we had 750 kms to ride the next day and had to leave early at 7 in the morning to do the same. The fellow tourists further inspired us by saying that they had actually taken past 6 days to cover 421 kms from Shimla and said it was impossible to reach Delhi the next day. So we chose to ignore them, took a shower in hot water and slept like never before.Day 4
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146 Kms from Khoksar
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,May,June,October,November,December
Once known as Shyamala, synonymous with Goddess Kali, Shimla has been a summer retreat long before India even gained independence. This famous hill station similarly has a lot of places and things to see untouched by time. For instance, take a vintage joy ride from Kalka station to Shimla in a charming toy train that will take you through towering Deodars, hills and villages. Shimla truly comes alive during winters when a blanket of snow covers it all over making every nook and corner gleam and glisten. One such place is the ice skating rink (natural ice) near Lakkar Bazaar that opens from November to December. More winter sports include skiing, which can be enjoyed 21 km from Shimla in Kufri. Adventure activities such as rafting at Tattapani or a trek to Shali Tibba and Pabbar Valley are also worthwhile experiences. If you are fond of haunted stories and interested in having your own spooky adventure, you'll love Shimla. A lot of people including the renowned Rudyard Kippling (in 'My Own True Ghost Story) have written various eerie stories set around Shimla. A place known most for giving many people the jeepers-creepers is the Charleville Mansion. Another time travelling portal is the antique bookstore, Marina Brothers, located on Mall Road, which is truly a reader and collector's paradise. There are many luxury and budget hotels here, meaning you'll never fall short of options. Popular places to eat include Wake & Bake, Ashiana, Cecil and Minchy's that serve commendable Indian and multi-cuisine dishes and delicious gourmet food.
329 Kms from Khoksar
Best time to visit - April,May,June,July,August,September,October
Gar firdaus ruhe zamin ast, Hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast. “If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.” This is how the Sufi mystic Amir Khusrow has described the Kashmir Valley, and Srinagar is at the heart of the valley. Smack in the middle of the city is the mighty Dal Lake, its placid water reflecting the vivid kaleidoscope of innumerous houseboats, shikaras (taxi-boats), and the snow-capped Pir Panjal range: a sight that will make your heart skip a beat. The city is home to the state-of-the-art Mughal Gardens, Shalimar Bagh and Nishant Bagh being the most famous of them. The gardens exhibit the Mughal taste of nature and the philosophy of disciplining nature rather than imitating it: fountain pools and canals, meticulously manicured hedges, and motley flowerbeds. Also known as the Kashmiri Venice, Srinagar is a place not to be missed by those seeking a tranquil refuge in the lap of the Himalayas.
196 Kms from Khoksar
Best time to visit - August,September,October,November
A perfect combination of ancient and urban, this city has been deemed the most futuristic in the country, while also having been occupied by the Harappan civilisation almost 8,000 years ago. In fact, BBC has named Chandigarh as a perfect city with regard to its cultural growth, modernisation and architecture. Nek Chand Rock Garden is a unique and fascinating site, built solely by a man (after whom the garden is named), who used remnants from various demolition sites (particularly the debris while Chandigarh itself was being built) and a whole lot of scrap to build 2000 sculptures, statues, all integrated on walled paths, wherein one can also see man-made interlinked waterfalls. A short walk away from there is the artificial Sukhna lake, a landmark for families to relax and walk around while enjoying street food and keeping kids busy with quaint toys bought from vendors all around. Pertaining to Le Corbusier's (chief architect of the city) vision of Chandigarh being a garden city, Rose Garden is home to over 1,500 varieties of rose and the Garden of Fragrance is perfect for those mind-refreshing walks. Popular places to visit for an insight into Chandigarh and the entire country's history through various artworks are the Government Museum & Art Gallery and the Chandigarh Architecture Museum. Being one of the top four metro cities of the country, Chandigarh has a bustling food scene, home to every cuisine you can think of right from Mediterranean (Kelong, Virgin Courtyard) to Thai (Tao- Bar & Lounge). Some popular places for Punjabi dishes are Punjab Grill and Sher-e- Punjab. Chandigarh is also close to many hill stations such as Solan, Kasauli, Shoghi and Naldehra.
94 Kms from Khoksar
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,July,August,September,October
A kingdom that has risen above disasters like the 2010 cloudburst and is still able to magnetise a plethora of tourists and travellers every month to it, even when the mercury dips below sub-zero levels. This former capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh is chiefly dominated by the ruined Royal Palace of Leh and the eternally serene Pangong Tso, Tibetan for 'high grassland lake', which is spread for 134 km from India to China. If you're someone who loves travelling unconventionally and is interested in the lifestyle that thrives in this high altitude desert, you can stay with locals who have turned their homes into 'homestays' and are open to interacting with non-natives. For a more spiritual and mystical experience, one can also spend the night at monasteries such as Thiksey, Lamauru or the Hemis Monastery, where you will get a chance to interact with Lamas (Buddhist teachers) and learn all about their lives and what they preach. For more visual and audio insights and treats, one can attend the 6 day Ladakh festival, a multihued explosion of Ladakhi culture and tradition, celebrated annually in the month of September in Leh's villages. Leh can always keep you entertained, for instance, with trekking (frozen river trek to Chadar, Padam to Darcha trek), mountain biking, skiing, camel safari, paragliding and even having your car pulled uphill by the magnetic force at the Magnetic Hill. Foodies will get no better thrill than eating at the highest cafeteria in the world, Rinchen Cafeteria. Other popular cafes such as Gesmo, Nirvana Garden, Cafe Jeevan and Norlakh are a must to go to for their lip smacking Italian, Himalayan and local dishes.
250 Kms from Khoksar
Best time to visit - March,April,May,October,November
Dehradun is easily one of the most popular hill stations in India. Though easily accessible by all modes of transportation, taking the road would be the best way to experience this heaven. The drive will take you through dense forests on the hilly road and if you're lucky, you might even see a wild elephant or leopard pass you by. The fresh and dewy hill air will infiltrate your lungs and put you in a great mood right away. In terms of things to see, there is Robber's Cave, a river cave formation and Sahashtradhara, which is also a stunning sight of nature consisting of sulphur springs. But more than its sights, Dehradun is the perfect place for a family getaway. After all it has everything that you could need for a relaxing holiday. The town has many vintage bookshops (Natraj Publishers, The English Book Depot), college campuses with hilly backdrops, architectural marvels (such as the Forest Research Institute), alleys filled with quaint restaurants, adventure sports gear shops and forest resorts and hotels to fit every budget. Vishranti, a resort tucked away discreetly in the Sal forests of the Doon valley, deserves a special mention for its beauty and luxury. The city is a haven for foodies as Dehradun offers a lot of variety and affordability in its cuisine. Restaurants and cafes such as Doon Darbar, renowned for devour-worthy Mughlai dishes and The Buffet for its mouthwatering burgers, cutlets and coffee, are popular options.
163 Kms from Khoksar
Best time to visit - April,May,June,July
Scenic and serene, Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh is perhaps one of the most unexplored places in Himachal. Passing through serpentine roads, refreshing, lush greenery, the district is a delight to explore. Though travellers looking to enjoy a luxurious holiday may not have a great time here. Kalpa is the first village that greets you when you enter Kinnaur. Reckong Peo, Nako and Sangla Valley are some of the villages and valleys that make up Kinnaur district. A journey to Kinnaur is marked with adventure and also an unpredictability that comes from travelling so high up in the mountains. The people in all the villages are very warm and welcoming and are open to sharing their way of life with travellers. Do plan a long trip here, since Kinnaur district can easily take up to 2 weeks and it's best not to hurry your way through this spellbinding valley.
238 Kms from Khoksar
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,August,September,October,November,December
A quick getaway destination for Delhi-NCR residents, Mussoorie or the 'Queen of Hills' is the most favoured place for anyone battling urban heat. It remains quite crowded from May to July, as popular hotels and hangouts such as Mall Road, Mussoorie Lake, Kempty Falls and Gun Hill remain pervaded with tourists no matter where or what you may set your eyes upon. But if you carry the spirit of an explorer within you, Mussoorie can surprise you in many ways. For instance, if you curious to check out where the man who Mt. Everest is named after, once lived, you can reach the house and laboratory through a picturesque 4 km walk from Library Bazaar or Gandhi Chowk. Ditch the customary visit to Kempty Falls and take an uplifting trek to the quiet, serene and crystal clear Jharipani Falls instead. Mussoorie, when mist free, provides frame-worthy views of the Himalayan ranges, which can be enjoyed at points such as Lal Tibba, Nag Tibba and Camel Back Road, all of which need to be trekked or walked to, with the effort being worthwhile. Devalsari, a village quietly burrowed 55 km away from Mussoorie, is the gateway to the Nag Tibba trek and a location perfect for seeing beautiful butterflies and birds in the heart of nature. For those curious to delve into Himalayan life, history, art, culture and spirituality, Soham Heritage and Art Centre gives exquisite displays of the former, through various artefacts. As for foodies, restaurants such as Neelam, Imperial Square, Meeting Point Cafe and Casa Mia bakery do justice to North Indian, European and Tibetan cuisines and also offer delicious cafe knick knacks and drinks.