Many years ago, my wife read about a place called Lahaul-&-Spiti and somehow fancied the idea of going there. When the time came, we…Read More
Lahaul and Spiti are two remote Himalayan Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, lying on the Indo-Tibet border. These valleys have their own exquisite beauty combining a rugged landscape with enchanting snow covered peaks. It is a cold desert region where the monsoon never pays a visit. Against the backdrop of snow peaked mountains are villages,Buddhist Monasteries, temples and the beautiful Chandra Taal Lake.
Kaza is the capital and regional headquarters of Spiti valley in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Situated at very high altitudes in the Himalayas on the left bank of the River Spiti, Kaza has all modern facilities and is connected by road to Manali and Shimla. During the winter months though, these roads too are inaccessible. The route from Manali via Losar crossing Kunzum La and Rohtang La along the Chandrataal River is very beautiful. One can stay in the PWD houses or Private hotels.
Best time to visit: May to October
Languages spoken: Lahauli, English, Hindi, Bhoti
Climate: Cool summers and freezing winters
Places to see: Tabo, Kaza, Key Gompa, Kibber, Dhankar, Pin valley, Kunzum Pass, Chandra Taal Lake
Woke up with a terrible headache and nausea on the Day 3 of the voyage to the once forbidden land, Spiti Valley. Outside it was just another dawn in Kaza, the snow is reflecting a tinge of orange in the early morning sun; the spotless blue sky in the background is arched over the town. The Gong inside the head continued meanwhile; I needed oxygen then.
It’s the primary state hospital of Kaza where I met Serine and the fellow patients. An ugly looking machine was pushing oxygen through my nostrils and I was trying hard to concentrate. Serine teaches english in a local private school, where tibetian is hardly taught seriously, she frowned. Her mother was lying sick on the bed adjacent; they have ultrasound machine here but nobody knows how to operate, looks like she will have to take her mother to Simla, a 500 kms and a strong determination away from Kaza. She had once travelled to Delhi though, her sister works as a hotel receptionist there. The Metro escalators are amongst worst inventions of the human kind; and she frowned again…it continued and the other patients joined in no time. Soon I was being invited to their homes; for tea, thukpa and country liquor ! Never felt more disappointed on leaving a hospital; was feeling better already. Affection works better than the oxygen may be…who knows !Read More
At Kibber we stayed at Tashi Zom guest house which was just before the village separate from the rest of the village. It was really sunny, windy and chilly outside so most of the time we stayed indoor. I went out a little to take a walk around the guest house and inside the village. This is a proper village with a school and a game of volleyball was going on. There are other guest houses and this village witness some tourists. Here I met Mr. Anurag Jately and his assistant. He is ex-NGC, ex-Fox Traveller head of programming for them and he was shooting night sky in timelapse, phew!! I was just awestruck listening to his anecdotes and watching some of his work on his laptop.Read More
ad astra per aspera
which literally means, “a rough road leads to the stars” and this pretty much came true for us when we started our ride from recong peo to tabo. recong peo was a let down. i am being honest in my criticism…it was a disappointing place and the only thing that was worth remembering is the sight of the mighty kinnr kailash. I am feeling blessed to have seen it.
post recong peo, we were heading towards Tabo. en route we stoppd at nako and we were simpy bowled over by the place… the place was so quite and peacful…
we had a sumptuou tibetan meal followed by a hot cup of tea. here we also fulfilled one of our long pending wishes- tieing prayer flags on our bikes..so each one of us picked up a prayer flag and tied it to our bikes. the old lady at the shop told us to write our names in the flag. we also met this vry nice kid by the name of Ajay who ofered to take us on a guided tour of the nako lake and the monastery..
Next morning brought a very pleasant surprise. In the morning, I was having tea in the hotel balcony, clicking pictures of the serenity of Spiti valley. One youngster arrived in the compound of the hotel on a bike. It took me a while to recognize that he was one of the two boys from Mumbai whom I had met three days ago at the time of land slide traffic hold up near Karcham. Thus far, I was thinking that the bikers must have turned back from Nako village, where the road was totally destroyed. I was curious to know, how they had crossed that stretch. He [Alok} informed me that when they reached Nako village, being a Sunday, there was no BRO labor at Nako. So, they took a night halt in Nako village and next morning, with the help of BRO labor, they lifted their bikes across the steel girder. Hats off to these adventurous souls.
In Kaza also, I had to hire a car for visiting Key monastery and Kibber village [highest altitude village in the world- accessible by road}. In these valleys, government buses to remote villages go in the evening and return early next morning. Thus, 4-5 hour trip by car would take two days by public transport. We went about 7 kms. on the highway towards Manali and then took a right turn uphill for Kye monastery. It is an old monastery some 15 kms. from Kaza and the uphill road is good. But this monastery is not considered as important as Tabo and Dhankar monasteries by the Buddhists. The monastery is in much better shape, compared to the Dhankar monastery.Read More
Chattru at a height of around 13000 ft, around 17 KM from Gramphu, 32 KM from Rohtang top, and we started around 4:30 from there. Next was Gramphu on way and because of the pebbled roads another 1 hour to reach Gramphu. And lots of small as well as big waterfalls. And lots of nullahs. As we approach towards Rohtang top, greenery starts to appear and the dryness starts to disappear. Lovely view of small waterfalls in distant mountains on the opposite side, makes the journey lovely. In one such waterfall, Lekhram stopped the cab and washed it, while we enjoyed the view of the waterfall, the chilled water and the amazing view.
Once Gramphu is crossed, then starts the steep rise to Rohtang Pass. And oh man, the view is something one can never forget. Just before getting up, there is a route that joins the route we were into. This route is coming directly from Ladakh, the well know Leh-Manali highway. As one rise up, there may be numerous landslide clearances. And stoppages and long traffic snarls can eat up few hours. But all these clearances are very enjoyable.Read More
It’s a lovely monastery with the monks all around at a height of 12774 ft. specially the view of the spiti valley and the amazing spiti river from that height. The monks are always available to explain you everything about the monasteries. Since the number of tourists in Spiti is always few, you always meet up the same people again and again, and mainly foreigners.
Taking snaps inside the monk is prohibited, so I did not waste the opportunities to take pics from outside and the valley. Spent around half an hour in the monastery, before getting back into the cab.
It took us around another 20-25 minutes to cover this monastery and around 1 PM we got back into the cab. From Dhankar Monastery it took another hour or so to reach Kaza via the Kaza bridge at Shitlong village as I mentioned early in the write-up. Kaza is a lovely small city in the Spiti valley and is the district headquarter at a height of around 11500 ft. By 2PM, we checked in into a hotel after some searching. It was a beautiful hotel, located at a nice location right beside the Kaza monastery. Time was stretching, as we had to cover Kibber also the same day.
Bara-lacha La was all clad in snow. Luckily the roads were devoid of any snow, making it easy of us riders to sail through. You’d notice that unlike other key milestones, I haven’t posted any image of a plaque reading Bara-lacha La – actually, I could’nt take any – there was a huge jam ahead, as we climbed up the Pass. I saw an oil-tanker overturned and fallen out of the road, taking the signage with it! Thankfully, the truck hadn’t taken the plunge. It seemed to be a very recent accident – the driver of the truck was safely back on road and was assessing the damages done. The Border Roads Organization that manages these roads was very quick to respond; they had already arrived with a crane and were working out a rescue plan.
Advantage Biker! We quickly made our way through the mounting traffic and descended to the famous Bharatpur – our lunch halt of the day. This place is something – all full of colourful dhabas!Read More
As I rode though barren patches, I would not help admire the exquisiteness of the rocks all around – they were as spellbinding as the Grand Canyon, all through the journey on the Indo-China border. No images can describe this splendor!
During last 100kms, as the terrain turned bad to worse, I had consumed all my water. Thirsty and tired, I found water only at Dubling, after riding for over 3.5 hours. As I gulped down water, I couldn’t help observe that the same Kinley packaged water bottle we paid Rs.40/- at the HPTDC hotels (a premium of double the cost!) was being sold by this mom-&-pop shop at the MRP!Read More
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