Shimla to Kaza – A Road Review

Its not very common for me to not rush my road-reviews. Yeah thats two nots, read again. Its not very common for me to not rush my road-reviews. But as you grow up (and old) you sort of start to mellow down. In my case I would still blame on office-work, home-work, in-transit-work for my procrastination rather then this mellow philosophy, after all in the end we did drive all the way from Delhi-to-Shimla-to-Kaza-to-Manali-to-Delhi. So here’s a road review of Shimla-Kaza circuit. Delhi-Shimla is already covered here and any updates on that route are best to be found there.

Shimla-Kaza is a long one and its not a single day-light drive. We did in two parts, first Thanedaar-Sangla and then Sangla-Kaza. Both took a great part of day.

Himalaya, Rocky Mountain High

The route can be divided into following 7 sections

1. Shimla – Rampur
2. Rampur – Wangtu – Karchham
3. Karchham – Espillo
4. Espillo – Khab
5. Khab – Nako
6. Nako – Chango – Sumdoh
7. Sumdoh – Tabo – Dhankar – Kaza

1. Shimla – Rampur
Distance – 100+ KMs , Driving Time – 2 hours 30 minutes

As you approach Shimla, you would find a fork, the right of which goes to Rampur via Shimla-bypass. It seemed like a obvious choice but our confirm-at-next-turn experience made us take a U turn. When we asked few bus drivers, we were almost forced to go back since the bypass road is much more longer or so it was told. As a result of that U turn, we entered Simla city, after a while took a left which goes through a tunnel kind of thing and then it was Simla everywhere. Being the capital city, Simla is pretty big and if not it being a hill, it would compete very closely with other bigger towns in terms of overall chaos, garbage, haphazard development and what not. We had started from our home at Indirapuram, Ghaziabad sometime around 0530 hrs and it was already beyond 2, so we ignored the city and after a 30 minute slow but moving drive, we carried on towards our destination of the day viz. Thanedar.

Thanedar is the apple country of India and I would try to do that story separately. As we went past Kufri, I called up the hotel guys and was told that it would be at least 3 hours away, so we stopped for lunch at the roadside dhaba. It was a fairly clean dhaba and our steward-waiter had this high-pitch tone, made us wonder that probably Pankaj Kapoor researched this accent for ‘The Blue Umbrella’.

We reached Thanedar which is not on main highway and left next morning at around 1000 hrs. We were on inside roads and with couple of clean-the-windshield-using-stream-water and giving a lift to a lady, ensure that we spent close to 2 hours before we joined NH22 again. It was lovely driving through winding inner roads, flanked with apple orchards, with no traffic and hardly any movement.

As we drove further, the road gets wider and better. There is a large Power Plant thing being done and from now till Spillow, power plants were constantly accompanying us, seemed as if HP is going to be the power capital of the world. Gradually Pines gave way to Eucalyptus and it was difficult to believe that we are really in Hills. Later we figured out that Rampur is at 900-1000 m while Shimla is at 2200-2300 meter. Thats quite a gap.

So courtesy non winding wide roads, we picked up speed and with in no time we found ourselves at Rampur. Rampur seemed more industrious then Simla.

2. Rampur – Wangtu – Karchham
Distance – 70 Kms , Driving Time – 2 hours


We were now in Kinnaur. AS we approach Wangtu, you would encounter a massive power plant project by JayPee group. Roads are all gone, probably for a better future. You gain height and roads jutting out of rocks becomes a more common sight. As you go further from Simla, the vehicle density keeps going down and while there were lot of truck movement because of power project, we started to see less of roadways buses, jeeps and other local transport.


The landscape is green, rocky and big. The canvas is beginning to grow and you now can see far and wide. We took a break post Wangtu and had our thought-fully packed-lunch which our hotel guys gave us. It took just a small request to a small sweets shop to let us sit inside and have our food. We did try to buy a coke and few munchies to keep him in good humor but guess that was not needed. We carried on. Its so much different to be in a shop with no rush. A couple was enjoying the soda pop waiting for the next bus, the guy must be in late twenties and from the conversation which I could gather, he seemed to be in a mood to stretch it and ensured by convincing his partner to skip the bus which came while we were not done with our food.

More of Kinnaur in Pics. Its beautiful.




A note for my fellow ghumakkar, biker dude, Indians do not need to take any permit in Recong Po or infact till Kaza, as you pass through Espillo you do need to get registered and again at Sumdoh.

Our destination of the day was Sangla, a beautiful valley and Karchham was our point of detour. The road from Karchham to Sangla is best left unaccounted. Well, its a single lane narrow road with a gorge on one side and towering rocks on the other. The road is as winding as it would want to be and if there is an oncoming vehicle and if you are on the gorge side, well it does test your nerve. A miss or a slip or a push can make things end. Sorry to scare you but if you are ever going towards Sangla, ensure that you reach Karchham when its broad day light.

When we reached our camp, it was almost 5 PM, it was heartening to listen to other folks on how dangerous the drive was. You are never alone.

3. Karchham – Espillo – Khab
Distance – 80 Kms , Driving Time – 2 hours 30 minutes

You come back to Rakccham to join the main road which would be with you till Sumdoh. There is hardly any traffic till Rakccham but as you hit it, the power-plant-caravan catches up. Keep driving among tall mountains, an accompanying river to keep the monotony away.


Take extra caution to fill-up the tank at Powari since that’s the only petrol station you would find before Kaza. It was noon and we passed several very small villages which in fact could hardly be noticed but owing to a little bit rough terrain, hills and almost none traffic, we were not going too quick. Sometimes absence of rush makes you go slow, strange.



On the way, you see some of the huge falls, portions of roads which have never seen two vehicles side-by-side ever, since their width can’t accommodate them (ok ok.. poor joke, move on) , tall huge rocky mountains, a LOT of clear Sun and occasionally a snow-peak. I am not a sun-glass guy but sometimes its so bright that you better use them.


It was not too late when we reached Espillo and there you get into the protected zone. There is a small barricade and you log your credentials with the Army there. A small quick conversation and we move further. Its gets more lonenly post Espillo.

5. Espillo – Khab
See 4.


Though the distance is not too much for this section but I would rate this section as the most demanding. It could see the best of your patience, grit and perseverance. The driver in you need to take the front seat and the video-gamer would have to wait for a while. This section has the famous Khab zig.


As you go further and survive some of the real bad patches, you notice that you have started climbing. And after a while you would see that you are actually going in a zig pattern with one side having a not-so-high mountain rubble wall and the other side down-looking at the previous zig-arm which you just left. Though this may not sound too harsh but each arm of zig is fairly long, probably a Km or may be less so at that scale you are climbing and as you would have guessed its a 1.5 lane road. So if you get company from the other side and you are on the dont-look-down side of zig, you have it. Its not uncommon to occasionally run into a Army caravan with their ‘Shaktimaans’ in a big long line.


The views though makes up for the challenges. There are more than many places where you can pull in and take a eye full of the mammoth surroundings. I say mammoth because the mountains are like real big tall huge mountains, the Himalayas, you can see as far as you want to, as deep as you want to and sometimes feel strange to find just you, your spouse and your 4 year old as a company.


You get that ‘Waiting for Godot’ kind of feeling and you really don’t think that this road can ever go to a dusty town, it might appear so much of out-of-world that you better try to get out of it and start driving again.

We tried to capture the zig. Look at pictures and try to get the scale.

You go all the way up and are at 3000 mtr, the place is called Ka, I believe. The snow peaks are at the same eye-level. Just be there, look around, feel special and move on.

6. Khab – Chango – Sumdoh
Distance – 40 Kms , Driving Time – 1 hour


Khab has nothing more than a few auto shops but there is a village down the road, a monastery where you can stay for the night and I believe some lodges. We kept moving and noticed a raised hand looking for a lift. We let her in. She was with us till Chhango, another village few KMs away. I was surprised to find her speak very good Hindi and we got wiser about the local terrain and ways. We bid goodbye to her at Chhango and gave ride to another lady with a small baby. We drove a few meters and noticed these two backpackers. I stopped and they requested for a ride till Tabo. The journey from Khab to Nako sees much more habitation but you are really in an arid land now and you can’t miss it. We dropped the lady with the baby at some place and our conversation with the two backpakkers continued. The roads are good, not too wide but its simpler to drive, you do get long stretches of straight strip of tar.


The guy was Peter and the lady was called Lucy, with such common names, you would not believe them assuming that it can’t be true, reminds of Badal Sircar’s ‘Evam Indrajit’ play where the protagonist says that his name is Nirmal when the other three who are accompanying him are called Amal, Vimal and Kamal. Peter and Lucy are originally from Czech but working in Afghanistan. For last three months they have been traveling in India and it was probably their 4th or 8th trip. They were with an NGO and take up assignments, save money, get out to travel. Because of their extensive traveling there were very well versed with India, Indian names, a bit of culture and all that. We did share our common interest around ***ching things we do not like.

Now we were traveling amid total arid, rubble mountains. The area looks more like a part of China than India, from names to features and probably that’s what this whole country is all about, with varied cultures, varied terrains and what not.


At Sumodh, we stopped again to get our vehicle registration logged. Peter and Lucy had to undergo a little more detailed procedure since their permit needed to be scrutinized. All this happened in not so much time and we moved towards Tabo by 4ish.

7. Tabo – Dhankar – Kaza
Distance – 60 Kms , Driving Time – 1 hour 30 minutes


Their being with us ensured that we got the much needed company and its not much a distance to cover from Tabo to Kaza where it would be back to three of us. We dropped them at Tabo where they were to stay there for the night at the Monastery and were planning to be at Dhankar the next day and finally at Kaza. Tabo looked like a small town with a Buddhist gateway welcoming you. Not many rather any people.

We quickly shot this assuming its a Yak. True City people. Its a cow.
We quickly shot this assuming its a Yak. True City people. Its a cow.

From Tabo, it was to be to Dhankar. You keep going, it was getting dark by now but now we could find longer stretches of straight strips. Dhankar came and went as another small clean town with the Monastery and the last leg was spent wondering on how Kaza would be.


It was almost dark, 7 PM or so, when we entered Kaza and it took a bit of asking around to reach our destination. When I finally reached our hotel, and shook hands with the manager, It was hard to imagine that we have come that kind of distance from Delhi.

The Kaza-Manali, the reason for which we did all of this was still left and the roads were not yet open. As I lay flat in the bed, looking around the humble room, with all our bags scattered and my spouse giving some hot-water leg-massage to our 4 year old, it was getting difficult to believe that we have finally made it.

Thanks for reading this far. A day well spent.


  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Wowwwwwwww , once again a very detailed & informative write-up. I must appreciate here that traveling on such road with a small kid really need lot of courage & passion.

  • nandanjha says:

    Thanks Mahesh.

    Actually the plan was to do Kaza-Manali which is probably the tough one, it opens only three months of a year and there is no road per se, and we thought that Shimla-Kaza would be a breeze (the websites report it as an All weather road) but that was not the case.

    The day we reached Kaza, that road was still not open and next day was spent wondering whether we have to go back all the way through teh same road or would we be able to cross over to Manali using the shorter Kaza-Manali stretch. :-)

    Keep tuned in on what happened next. :-)

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Great Job!!!!!!!!!

    Although I am from uttranchal , I use to drive a lot on hills but thinking to drive on such road really tuff for me.

    Looking forward to see such write-up so that , Ghumakkar’s like me could be motivated.

  • Smita says:

    Great description, memories relive and linger on….

  • Manisha Chitale says:

    Very nice post and as always very methodical approach !

    It might be useful to know the season when you travelled. Actually my request to all Ghummakars would be to mention the month of their travel as it helps when you are planning your own trip.

    Again thanks for this virtual road trip!
    (Though I don’t see myself ever driving on these routes, I enjoy all the road reviews posted here)


  • rajan arora says:

    Great write up. was like a virtual drive for me seeing all the pictures. post the next one quickly..

  • pankaj malik says:

    Thanks for the wonderful trip. Did you take this trip in a Jeep or car?

  • nandanjha says:

    Smita – Indeed. Though we decided to not do this again but I dont mind being there again. :-)

    Manisha – Sorry for not mentioning it. You are so right about it. We did this trip in first week of June’2009. Kaza-Manali only opens in June and then is again closed by September.

    We also didn’t see us doing Kaza-Manali but it happened so dont rule out the possibilities. :-)

    Rajan – Thanks. Would try my best.

    Pankaj – Thanks. Mahindra Scorpio. Any car with a good ground clearance (Indica for example) would be able to do this as well.

  • Vibha says:

    Very nice Descriptions and Pictures Nandan.

    Nice Accomplishment.

  • nandanjha says:

    Thanks Vibha. Its been a while you wrote something here.

  • nayan says:

    Great job Nandan..!! I have travelled in our wagon r 2 years back upto sangla, chitkul & kalpa. It was great fun driving in such roads which throws challenge at you every now and then. We were 5 and went all the way upto hatu peak also.Though it was real scary and my elder bro ( lives in Kol) advised me not to be so brave.
    what about your regular tonic (?) topic..!! i missed them in this story !!

    keep the work going sir..

  • nandanjha says:

    Glad to see your comment Nayan. Hope SG is keeping you occupied (If I am not forgetting).

    I thought that mentioning bubbly for a high altitude drive may lead to a crazy concoction :-)

  • nandanjha says:

    No its my bad. I mistook you for another friend with same/similar name and he works out of Singapore (sg) for a design company (and your id made me connect the dots but I was wrong). Ignore.

  • patrick says:

    Hey nandan
    wonderful pictures – wheres the mandatory route map?

  • divya says:

    wow i wish i had wheels!

  • sharath says:

    superb pics dude:)

  • nandanjha says:

    The other Patrick – No good maps and the route is fairly simple, go all the way to Shimla and then be there on NH21 till Sumodh. At Sumdoh go towards Kaza.

    Divya – Thanks. I checked your blog page, write travel stories at Ghumakkar and your wish might come true.

    Sharath – Thanks man.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Spectacular views of mountains and mountain roads, and a fitting description of the roads traveled by a dedicated travel writer and photographer. Well done!


  • guri says:

    nandan u r one good writerz and text/pic fitter-welder
    as far as my journey is concerned, i was stuck with other two at batal for a night (from 3-00 PM 3-June-2009 till 1-00 PM 4-june-2009) waiting for the snow to be cut. atleast 60-70 people got stuck for the night at a spot not meant for night out. If bychance present around, atleast some ppl might have heard about the misformation of snow wall on river side (the dozer threw the wall inside the river) on 3rd june and the breakage of the gear lever of the clearing dozer on 4th-jun-2009 just before clearing the last 2 metre chunk of snow. We were lucky to get our bikes, a pulsar and a bullet thru the space between the snow wall and the dozer blade (luckily it was cutting snow in inclined position so left a 1&half foot space) helped by the good local people at 3-00 PM or 3-30 PM and reach all the way to our manali hotel inside the bazar area. I am so happy about the aftertaste as we were the few people who crossed the snow before it was fully cut and reached the destination for the day.

  • nandanjha says:

    Jerry – Thank you.

    Guri – Thanks. We crossed that on June 6th. You guys must be the first one :-) but probably I might still fall in first top 100 to cross that route for this season.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    The call of the hills is always irresistible and your post makes it even more so. Looking at the wonderful pix, I began to wonder why I’m not there!

  • Celine says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. Enjoyed the pictures too. The mountain scenery, especially after Espillo – Khab, looks superb.

  • Pronil says:

    Wow! it refreshed my memory! very nice writeup…

  • nandanjha says:

    Patrick – Thanks. Dont wonder too long.

    Celine – Thanks. Its fairly similar to Leh.

    Pronil – Thanks. All the best for Leh. :-)

  • Ram says:

    An excellent write up, equally well supported by some fabulous pictures.

    Going to places like Recongpeo in itself is not an easy task. Moving further up and that too with a four year old child must have been an uphill task.

    Your mention of Kinnaur took me down the memory lane. Around two decades back, my next door neighbour who belonged to Kinnaur used to tell me some awesome stories about that region. His wife is from Sangla valley and they shared some pictures of the region too. During one of our conversations, I casually mentioned about the gossip I had heard about the prevelence of poly-andry in the Kinnaur area. I was surprised to be told that the practice still continued, since the inhabitants of that area consider themselves to be the decscendents of the legendary Pandavas. I was all the more shocked to learn that even in his own family, the four brothers had one wife. I wonder if the practice still persists.

  • bikerdude says:

    Nandan, you did post this before I left… unfortunately, my clients started arriving and I got tied up… karol bagh bike market, showing them delhi and generally chauffering them around in the Dinky Lil Trusty Alto… must have been an expereince worth a lifetime for them :-)

    I figured the permit thing after talking to people in Peo… but had to go coz I was riding with 4 foreigners… Needed to get permits for them. The day we got the permits, we were riding to Tabo… from Sainj. 300 kms in that place is nightmare… especially during the night time… Scary but worth it and besides… we did not have an alternative.

    Will be posting the experience here soon… just tied up with the closure of the tour and settling the accounts and bills and everything else which comes with having fulfilled a couple of dreams (Riding and conducting a guided motorcycle tour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  • testerrahul says:

    Amazing post.
    “We quickly shot this assuming its a Yak. True City people. Its a cow.”
    ## I think this is a “Dzo” or “Jhabbu”. A Cross-breed of Indian Cow and Yak.

  • nandanjha says:

    Ram – Thanks. It was mostly a case of ‘Ignorance is Bliss’. While we did have a clue on whats on offer, we took refuge in the fact that Shimla-Sumodh is an all terrain road :-) which all the tourism sites very blatantly published. The road was ok and probably once the Power-Plants work finishes it would get better but frankly we didn’t know.

    I hope my review doesn’t dissuade more people since now its all there in print :-)

    Polyandry, interesting. I have no idea whether its still there but considering that the place is really remote, I wont be surprised if some of the weather-hidden hamlets have their old practices going.

    Dude – Looking fwd.

    Rahul – Thanks. Good information. Been a while you wrote something.

  • Somak Mondal says:

    Hey Nandan,
    That was very informative and an awesome explanation of the whole route. Really enjoyed reading it. I was just wondering, what happens in winter, is there anyway of getting into the Spiti valley via this route?

  • nandanjha says:

    Thanks Somak for the appreciation.

    This road is open in Winters too , of course there would be times when you might get stuck because of extreme-weather around Ka etc but in general its a all weather route.

  • Somak Mondal says:

    Thanks Nadan, thats really great to hear that it is open all year round… i was thinking of making a trip this feb or march, really looking forward to it…. Thanks again

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Great. Just ensure that you have made enough arrangements to remain warm. It would be pretty cold in Feb, at least.

  • chicmagnet says:

    Loved this road review! its amazing how at 24 and a half you made me feel so small. Damned I just have to ride there myself now!!

  • nandanjha says:

    When I was 24, I didn’t even know how to ride a bike :). To each his own. Thanks for liking it.

  • This is exactly the kind of travelogues that I like to read! simple, straight forward, and with the human touch that takes you to the place yourself!!!

    Wonderful work and a good trip!!!

  • nandanjha says:

    Thanks Prashant.

    I am sure Ghumakkar are going to enjoy some good hot chai from the master. Why not write your travel stories at Ghumakkar as well ?

  • Andy_B says:

    Hi there,

    The above discussion & photographs have actually inspired me & my friend to go for a trip to Kaza by this December (2009) for about 10 days on two bikes. My plan is to take route No.1 while approaching Kaza & coming back along with route No.2. However I have few doubts on the same.

    • Are the routes actually different?
    • If so, will both the routes be opened in December ?
    • Which road will be better as far as safety / hassle
    free bike riding is concerned ?
    • Will there be accommodations available (especially on
    return route) across places in December?

    Route No.1 :-

    1. Kalka – Shimla – Rampur (via Thanedar)
    2. Rampur – Wangtu – Karchham
    3. Karchham – Espillo
    4. Espillo – Khab
    5. Khab – Nako
    6. Nako – Chango – Sumdoh
    7. Sumdoh- Tabo – Dhankar-Kaza

    Route No.2 :-

    1. Kaza
    3. Puh
    4. Kalpa
    7. Sarahan
    8. Fagu / Shimla
    9. KalkaHi there,

    Pls suggest ASAP.

  • bikerdude says:


    the trip you are planning is not doable in December. If you want safety and sure shot success in doing this route, I suggest the period from June to September end-Oct beginning.

    If you want to ride in the winters, you might just be able to reach Sangla and then that too after a fight against the weather and Mother Nature. Also, the wind chill factor would play a major role in riding comfortably.

    To be able to ride comfortably, the lesser the clothing on you, the better. thick jackets and multiple layers result in restricted movement of the torso and upper body, which can have catastrophic results.

    On motorcycles, I would follow the following itinerary:

    Kalka – Rampur
    Rampur – Sangla – Chitkul or you could go to Kalpa
    Sangla – Chitkul/Kalpa – Jangi – Spello – sumdo – Tabo
    Tabo – Dhankhar – Lalung – Kaza
    Kaza – Keylong
    Keylong – Manali
    Manali – Kalka

    I am gonna be running a motorcycle tour during the month of June. Let me know if you would be interested.



  • Nandan Jha says:

    Andy – Thats the reason I requested you to comment here and get a response from the man himself, rather than the disciples :-)

    Manish is been with Ghumakkar since beginning and I can’t recommend him enough.

    All the best.

  • abhijit says:

    hi nandan,
    What car did you drive to Kaza? I drive a Swift and will it be ok?


  • nandanjha says:

    Mahindra Scorpio. Swift is fine for Shimla to Kaza. From Kaza – Manali, I would suggest that you avoid it, though there are folks who have done that section in a Swift too.

    I am guessing that you are not planning to drive down anytime soon, wait for a better weather.

  • nandanjha says:

    OK. Summers make much more sense. Its a interesting road to drive on, for a large part of stretch you would not find 1/20th of the traffic which you might have encountered on your Rohtang stretch.

    Drive safe, dont drive fast, respect the local-eco system and have fun.

  • Sushant says:

    @Nandan, Ghumakkars

    Need some info.
    Planning a Delhi-Chitkul-Delhi trip, early April 2010, by car (swift or accent).
    1. Would this be a good season?
    2. What would be the best route?
    3. What is the typical time for Delhi – Chitkul, over this route?

    If (and when) I go there, promise will put up a post :). Its been too long have been a taker from this site and not a giver (other than update comments :)

    Thanks a bunch !

  • Nandan Jha says:


    1. Would this be a good season? – It would be a little cold but it would be clear so better to go when you can go, rather than waiting for perfect season.

    2. What would be the best route?
    Delhi – Shimla – Rampur – Wangto – Karchham – Rakchham – Sangla

    3. What is the typical time for Delhi – Chitkul, over this route?
    I would not recommend a non-stop drive. If you start early (say 5 AM) then you can make all the way till Wangtu or a little further before it starts to get dark. Beyond Wangtu, it would be 4 hours drive. Karchham – Rakchham stretch is best done in full sun-light.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    And Sushant, a comment is the most encouraging thing one can do to a fellow writer so keep them coming.

    • Sushant says:


      Thanks a bunch for the info. Will start planing accordingly.

      Kudos to User Generated Content :)


  • Ankit says:

    Dear Nandan,
    This was very well written. Thanks for this wonderful post.

    I am little unsure about the timings you mentioned though. Are they like 100% correct or estimates that you remember? I went to Karchham, Chhitkul and Sangla in November last year. I remember Shimla-Karchham taking me around 7 hours (with about 45 minutes of break), while you put it down to around 4 hours. Was it our slow driver to blame or is it something I am missing here?

    Thanks a lot for your article btw. I’ll be visiting Sangla Valley again in April this year and plan to go up to Kaza this time. Won’t be able to do the Kaza-Manali strech in April, will I?

  • nandanjha says:

    Ankit – Thanks for liking the post.

    A lot of Shimla-Rampur section is big wide roads and a lot of plains so one can go a little quick in that stretch. The distance is about 170 odd KMs, out of which first 100 KMs are probably close to 2 hours of drive and the rest of 70 can take another 2 hours.

    They look reasonable to me but as you would know, there are always a lot of other factors (no of breaks, time of day etc). A slower drive is always safer, more pleasant and memorable (in all senses) :-)

    In April, Kaza-Manali would be closed.

  • Ankit says:

    Thanks for the prompt response Nandan. Do you have any clue as to how far I can make it on this route in April? And can you enlighten me on the Malling Nallah? A lot of people on the internet seem to find it as a big hurdle … is it a small rivulet? Why is it a problem?

    I am planning to drive down in my own car this time. Your blog looks pretty handy for my travel plans. Thanks .. :)

  • nandanjha says:

    In April, probably you can make a day trip to Losar and be back to Kaza.

    I heard about Maurling Nallah as well but frankly, I do not remember getting into one. Later when I read bikerdude’s trip ( , I came to know about it. As per him, now there is a new road and only 25 meters of bad road is left so it should not be a problem.

    Thanks again for liking the blog. I am guessing that you would see a lot of snow around the zig, Ka areas.

    Also, it would be useful to get some advice/thoughts from Biker Dude, just leave a comment and he is usually very prompt. All the best.

  • aurojit says:

    Hi Nandan,
    Went through this very interesting post. The description does transport one across to those majestic Himalayan folds.
    Kaza is a distant dream, which we hope to turn into a real thing in future. The post here undoubtedly aids in providing valuable information, as well as moral support in planning any such venture.
    Keep up these wonderful visits and great writing.

  • katarzyna says:

    Hi Nandan,

    We would like to ask you for help us.Me and my husband would like to travel across Kinnaur and Spiti valleys from Shimla to Manali.Do you have any information how to do this?How to get transport and how much does it costs?If you have any information please send us
    Regards from Poland,

  • nandanjha says:

    Hey Katarzyna,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    What kind of transport you would prefer
    – Buses. Government ones cost least but can be very discomforting. Private ones are better. I wont recommend but its a different experience using local mode of transport.

    Government transport is run by HPRTC ( Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation) and you can access time-table, availability from their website

    Shimla to Kaza is quite a distance away and I am guessing that you would make multiple stops. Usually you can find HRTC buses between most of the place and if there is no bus then there are other means (shared Jeeps etc). A HRTC ticket for an ordinary bus (non air conditioned) costs less than Rs 500 (less than USD 10).

    – Taxi. Rates would depend on your itinerary. Give me some more details. If you take a taxi from Shimla and keep it with you for a longer period and plan to return back to Shimla then the going rate is

    Rs 8 – Rs 12 per kilometer for a Tata Indica + Rs 150 – 250 per night.

    My suggestion would be to involve your hotel guy while booking the taxi and negotiate with him. A taxi through the hotel would carry a premium but its more safer.

    Let me know more details and I would try my best to answer you.

    I usually drive myself so I do not have a rich first-hand experience of buses etc. If it is ok, I can write at your e-mail address directly. Let me know. Bye – Nandan

  • Anando says:

    very detailed article, loved it. Will print it out when I go for my own trip. I am planning to make this trip to in my car (ALONE) lol. I just wanted if I am going in offseason say end of feb early march do I need to do hotel bookings or is it cool to just drive off?

  • Dhara says:

    Hello Nandan,
    I and my husband are planning holidays in Himachal in march end, and i am really interested in visiting spiti valley. we have around 12 days. as its winter time, I got information that we should try from shimla. can you help regarding, wheather it is a good idea to do this in March? will there be acomodation available in kaza and other placed during this time? and any more information you can share regarding how to travel – will local mode of transport available all time? we are planning to come from pune-delhi-shimla and than further I am still researching.
    it will be great if you can share some information.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Dhara – Mar end would be COLD. I know enough people who love it when its nippy so if you can take it, there is nothing like ‘an off season’ for true travelers.

    For 12 days, you can do a good relaxed mountains+monastery kind of trip. Starting with Simla and then going all the way till Kaza with a big stop-over at Sangla and then may be at Kalpa, Ka, followed by Kaza. When I did this, I drove to Manali from Kaza and did’t come back via the same road. That road is only open for 2-3 months beginning June. There are enough places mid way so you wont necessarily have to double-do a place.

    If you are not so keen on piti and if you are not a ‘Cold Loving’ person, then I am sure there could be other places which you can do in HP.

  • chandan says:

    hello Nandan,

    Me and my family of eight people are deciding to go to the spiti(specifically kaza) valley in mid-june.I saw it on the net and really looking forward for it.So can u help me by suggesting the places to visit,where to halt,what are the road conditions at present.I think of planning the trip for about 6-7days.
    It will be very nice of you if you reply at the earliest.

    chandan gupta

  • Nandan says:

    @ Chandan ,

    I am guessing that you are staring from Delhi and would be using Road for complete journey. Kaza is little far so you would need at least one (two is better) halt. If you do not spend two days at that halt then it may be too short. If you only have 6-7 days, then I guess it would get very tight and hectic since you have to come back from Kaza as well :-)

    Also, can you please tell me on whether the family of 8 includes senior citizens. Kaza is a high altitude area.

    • Peeyush says:


      i am planning a trip to kaza from Delhi (either go up via manali and come back via shimla with a day or two in Sangla or the reverse).
      period: June end
      Duration: 8 days
      Travellers: Couple + 7 year old + 7 month old
      Vehicle: swift diesel

      can you suggest some watch outs for us on weather conditions to expect, places to stay and the routes to use.


      • Nandan says:

        @ Peeyush – Watch out for road and underbelly of Swift between Manali and Kaza. 8 days is short to make the most of it, try to see if you can get at least 2-3 more days. I am not too worried on the weather part but its a long haul and you might not get enough time to acclimatize.

  • Lokesh says:

    Hi Nandan,

    It was great reading through your itenary. I am planning a trip with some of my friends in June, third week. We will be on bikes (Enfield) with pillions and would also be followed by a car. We are planning a trip of about 10 days. Your post is very detailed but I am worried about stays (there would be some girls travelling with us so need to be careful). What pre-arrangments can be made for over night stay enroute Kaza and how expensive will it be? Also, is it safe enough to travel from Kaza to Manali (the roads don’t seem too promising)?

  • Nandan says:

    Thanks Lokesh for the encouraging comments.

    1. Stays – We stayed at Banjara properties (at Thanedar, at Sangla and at Kaza) and they were all very nice. This circuit sees international traffic as well so I would imagine that you should not have problem finding good stays. Beyond Sangla, I have heard that one can stay at Monastries as well (Ka for example).

    Banjara is on the expensive side so if it works for you then pre-book and you are good to go. They have two more places, Kalpa and one more, to choose from apart from the three which I mentioned above.

    2. Safety – Kaza to Manali : If this group has been to few biking long trips to mountains (at least till Manali or beyond Simla) then you would be able to do it without much problem. There would be a car for any backup and other bikes.

    I would really need to know more about the group to suggest better. All the best.

  • Gaurav says:

    hi nandan,
    It was great reading through your itenary.i am planning abike trip from ludiana to kaza via shimla.
    Possibly dates are 23may to 30may2011.We are two friends on one bike.i just want to know about the road conditionsof this route.Also suggest me places to be visit,where to haltand some other pre arrangements.
    It will be very nice of you if you reply at the earliest.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Gaurav – Thanks. From Ludhiana, the safe and more-predicatable connection to Shimla is via Chandigarh. The roads are in excellent condition. When I look at maps, I see a way to bypass Chandigarh (take left at Dhoom Chhedi towards Kurali, leading to Subathu) and I am not sure on the road conditions. My guess would be that it would be good. I always prefer a country-side road over a maddening highway rush so take the inner road.

    Beyond Simla, roads are mostly good except some stretches where JP Power projects are going on (Recong Po etc) but overall its good.

    Places to Halt – You only have one week so you would have to do long hauls. My suggestion would be Ludhiana – Simla – Sangla – Kaza – Kalpa – Narkanda – Ludhiana. If you can find two more days than that would be great since Kaza is at high altitude and its recommended to stay there for at least 3 days , if not 4.

    Also Kaza-Manali connection would not be open so you would have to tread back same way.

    Request to all – Please update the road conditions and any other tips if you make the trip. I would love to suggest but its a great encouragement (and a show-off) if I know that it has been useful for you.

  • Lokesh says:

    Thank you Nandan for the information. Not all of us have made such trips but I am sure we will pull through this. Will surely share our experience once we are back from the trip.

    Must say once again that your post is really very exhaustive and informative unlike many that i have read.

    Take care and will soon get in touch with you.

  • jiturajgor says:

    This is really an informative post.I have a question.Do you suggest that post bypass person of age 50 can go up to Kaza by private taxi?Is it safe.Health is good otherwise.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Jiturajgor – Most certainly Sir. Please read following story where VPDa has traveled all the way to Kaza and Leh and beyond.

  • Tarun says:

    we are planning road trip delhi to kaza via shimla so we need to know about the stay in between the route and road conditions with limitations.

    thanks and regards
    Tarun arora

  • Nandan says:

    @ Tarun – You should be able to find a good answer in the comments above. If you do make it, then please come back and update the road conditions here. Best Wishes.

  • Aroopam says:

    Hi Nandan,

    From your writing I can feel what a refreshing and adventurous trip you made.
    Me and my wife are planning to do a Delhi-Shimla-Kaza-Manali-Delhi drive in August.
    I’ll be taking an Indica and I hope it’ll be comfortable enough.
    Please send your views.


  • Nandan says:

    Hi Aroopam,

    Yes we had more adventure than needed :-)

    Indica would work great. There are many stretches which are sparsely populated so plan your journey accordingly. Keep some extra buffer and try to finish all your drives during day-light. All the best and I hope to hear from you as make the trip.


  • Hi all,

    Greetings ! We organise special Taxi tours from Shimla – Manali for Kaza, Spiti , Leh Ladakh Jeep Safari Tours.

    I hope to see you in next season of 2012 !


    Rajneesh Sharma

  • shekhar says:

    Hi Nandan,


    Truly Impressive ,i had been to leh aug 2011 but due to time restraints i had to fly in to leh.i would like to kaza from shimla in april 2012 and then followed by kaza-leh.i have a few questions and feel you to be the best answer to it.

    1.would the roads to kaza from shimla be open in april(mid to end april)
    2.ideally what should be the no.of days to to spend in kaza and enroute
    3.if you could tell me the enroute stop overs for sight seeing and adventures
    4.if you could share your hotel experience enroute kaza and kaza to manali
    5.and if you have some more personal valuable suggestions to make i’m going in for a photography spree any suggestiong of any particular places enroute and also in and around kaza.
    6.any good tour operator you would suggest

    would eagerly wait for reply

    • Nandan says:

      Thanks for the undue praise Shekhar. Here are my thoughts.

      1. Roads would be open but the entire region beyond Kinnaur would be freezing, so I wont recommend.
      2. Shima to Kaza – 1 week is pretty good. 10 days is better.
      3. Sangla including Chitkul, Kalpa, Kaza
      4. I stayed at Banjara hotels. Very impressive but a bit pricey.
      5. If you can push your travel by a couple of months, then you can do Shimla-Kaza-Manali else you would have to return from the same route.
      6. One of my friend/Ghumakkar does Photography tours (very few, very focused). He did one this year too for Spiti. Leave a comment on any of his stories ( and you should hear back.

      Anytime is good for travel. Best wishes.

  • Anando says:

    I had tried to make it till kaza with only a back pack and few thousand rupees. Didnt work very well. I took a local bus from shimla. After finally get a place to stand in a bus, the bus got 3 tyre punctures and a broken down truck. The trip from shimla to reckon peo which should take 10-12 hours took 16 hrs. Along with that, I am extremely allergic to smoke and dust so by the time I reached reckong peo I had a severe allergy attack. I took a taxi to Kalpa and got into the HPDTC hotel and took me 4 days to get back on feet. After few days more I returned home to Delhi. Will retry the trip but this time in my own car. Taxis are crazy expensive, 7k-8k one way from Reckong peo to Shima. You can stand by the taxi stand at shimla lakkar bazaar and try to bargain with a taxi, indica or smaller taxis like that can take you for 5500 but nothing less than that. One deluxe bus comes from Chandigarh but there is no guarantee you will get seat in that …and no bloody person knows when the bus will come. The lakkar bazaar bus stand ticket box is like a rabid bee hive, I would be surprised if you can get in that chaos to buy a ticket. Spare yourself the trouble, want to visit the beautiful place? Go in your own car.

  • Sreyo says:


    I am planning to go to in Spiti Valley during the last week of April(starting 23rd ).I plan to start from Delhi and have 10 days to make it back to Delhi.Could you please give me an idea about the following?

    What route should I take from Delhi and if roads are going to be open during the this period?
    A ballpark idea about the cost for two people for 10 days?
    Which places in spiti valley would be accessible to us?


  • Nandan says:

    Hi Sreyo,

    Thanks for visiting.

    1. Kaza-Manali is closed so you can not do the full circuit i.e. Delhi-Kaza-Manali-Delhi but you can always do Delhi-Kaza-Delhi via the same/similar route both ways. The recommended route is same as in this post. Delhi-Shimla-Narkanda-Sangla (detour)-Ka-Kaza.

    2. It is an off season so you should be able to get a good double for <1500 at all the remote places. Travel by self vehicle is not more than Rs 6 per KM and more if you take a taxi. Buses are cheaper. Take a budget of at least 25K for two people. (minus shopping)

    3. Most of tourist Spiti would be accessible.

    All the best.

  • jaishree says:


    what kind of weather should I expect in mid-May?

    We have full seven days ex-Shimla, and planing to visit only Sangla, Chitkul, and Kalpa. What should be the days and places of stay there.

    • Nandan says:

      Mid May would be ‘Cold’. Days are sunny in most of the Himalayas during May but evenings and night would be cold. We would know more once we hear back from Shekhar.

      Sangla + Chitkul – 3 days. Make it 4 if you are reaching late in the evening and planning to start early when you leave.
      Kalpa – 2 days are enough

      Banjara property at Sangla is good but can be a bit pricey. Chitkul doesn’t have great options to stay. Its is a easy 1.5 (thats what I remember) drive from Sangla so you do not need to stay at Chitkul, necessarily.

  • shekhar says:

    hi jaishree,

    i knw this q was not directed to me and sorry rajneesh for intervening but i’m going to kaza this 20th nd will be back on the 5th may ,i would b able to give u a near exact weather report ..till then

  • मुझे पुरानी पोस्ट पढने का समय कम मिलता है पर ये यकीनन मेरे टाइप की है और वो भी बाइक से ………….जरूर करूंगा

  • bbver says:

    Dear Nandan,

    Thanks for very detailed information. I am planning to visit Shimla-Kaza in first week of June in Indica. We will be 4 person – one couple and two boys of 14 and 17 yrs. Do you think we can do the Shimla – Kaza – Manali – Delhi circuit in 10-12 days in Indica ?

    • Anando says:

      I had gone uptill Kalpa,reckong peo in a bus and had fallen ill due to all the dust and pollution due to the construction of hydel power plants. I am allergic to dust. You can do it but u need to aclimatise as well due to height and the road from Rampur to Kalpa was awful, broken. So U cant drive very fast.

    • Nandan Jha says:

      Anando makes good points. Bad roads etc are big pain but probably manageable. You should find out about the Kaza-Manali connection opening time. It all depends on weather conditions. After Oct it is closed and then reopens in June. During my time, it opened in first week of June so you might be cutting too close.

  • shekhar says:

    hi guys,

    I have been back from kaza on the 2 nd of may……we went uptill losar (57 kms ahead of kaza ) but then Kunzum was not open till then….but the good news is Kunzum is open now so u can do the kaza manali circuit .roads are not that bad except for a few patches of 37 and 43 odd kms rest all is beautifull ….roads are all open in btn shimla and kaza anywhere u go b it sangla,kalpa,geu anywhere….and believe me it was beautiful at this time of the year as we being almost the first tourist of the season…

  • shekhar says:

    hi jaishree,

    jus a suggestion since u want to go to chitkul stay at Rupin river view Mr. Naresh Jistu(09418092894/09816686789) is the owner one guy u would surely love to meet in ur trip …the hotel has a excellent location the property is a medicore but the linens and bathrooms r pitch clean with a option of variety of food and some beautifull scenery to watch for hours strong suggestion dont go to banjara camp sangla all though the property is good but the manager PANDEY is a lousy fillthy guy with attitudes and no sense of hospitality which i ‘m sure would leave a blot on ur holiday experience and its way 2 pricey then rupin river view ….its worth every penny

  • Madhu says:

    Hi guys

    It was indeed a pleasure reading the article and subsequent queries and replies above

    I am planning to undertake a trip Delhi-Shimla(1 Night) – Sarahan( 1 Night) – Sangla (3 Nights) – Kalpa (2 Nights) – Kaza (3 Nights) – Manali (3 Nights) – Shimla (1 Night) – Delhi. The trip is scheduled for 2nd week of June 2012. We are Four adults (incl. 2 sr. ctzn) and two kids (below 10 yrs). Kindly advise, can this trip be done in Hyundai Verna(new model) or Hyundai Getz. How is the road condition. As a precaution I have not booked my hotel in Manali, as unable to finalise the connectivity from Kaza to Manali.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thanks Madhu and Best Wishes.

    It can be done in any of the cars but please pick the one which has a better ground clearance. I would assume that Getz would score here, but please check.

    A couple of suggestions on the itinerary.
    1. You can plan to stay for two days at Sarahan or Narkanda instead of staying at Shimla for a day.
    2. Between Sangla and Kalpa, a total of 4 days are good.
    3. Also, unless you have things to do at Simla, you can skip Simla on the way back. If you start early from Manali, you can do the home stretch in one go or else stay over at Mandi or Chandigarh.Simla is not on the way.

    All the best.

    • Madhu says:

      Thanks Nandan for the inputs. Is of great help.

      In the meanwhile, even I thought of taking Getz. Your comment has given me some confidence. My main concern was for the Kalpa- Kaza-Manali stretch. Any update on the road opening status from Kaza to Manali.

  • Anando says:

    Yes the road from shimla is always open except during land slides, however some stretches near the multiple dams are really bad…apart from that its a breeze. I am talking upto Kalpa , I dont know beyond that. Chitkul roads were fine too…narrow but fine.

  • Rahul Bhatia says:

    Hi Nandan,

    I am thinking of driving from Delhi to Kaza in September 2012.

    We are two friends and we will be driving an Alto K10, we have 7-8 days with us.

    Kindly suggest the itenary and vehicle recommendation.


  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Rahul – Alto would do good for the entire route. It is an excellent vehicle. Light, agile, good enough ground clearance, small and reliable like all Maruti cars so we are good here.

    About the itinerary , if both of you are driving then try following
    1. Delhi – Narkanda/Thanedar
    2. Narkanda/Thanedar – Sangla
    3. Sangla – Chitkul – Sangla
    4. Sangla – Kaza
    5. Kaza (Ki etc)
    6. Kaza – Manali (Check road conditions. This is the only stretch where Alto may run into rough weather)
    7. Manali
    8. Manali – Delhi

    If Kaza-Manali doesn’t work, then you are back through same road but can stay at different places (Kalpa, Fagu)

  • Sumit says:

    Hey Nandan, We have Bike Trip scheduled in the Last week of July, We are starting from Ambala and are headed to Leh Via Shimla-Kaza-Keylong Route, We are stopping over at Shimla the First night and are not clear about where to make the next stop. Should it be Kalpa or any other place midway between Shimla-Kaza.

    Please guide us on this?? Also any place of accomdation in Shimla-Kalpa-Kaza?? We are looking more budget-basic accomdation.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Sumit – Sangla would be a good stop. Though technically it is not on the route but if you start early from Shimla you can reach Sangla before dark. If you have time, then try to stay for an additional day at Sangla so that you can do a ride to Chitkul. Sangla/Chitkul should have good budget options, for sure.

    Beyond Sangla, you can look at halting at ‘Ka Monastery’. They would be happy to extend a place to you. Since you are all on bikes, I would also recommend reading the below series by Aditya and if required, take his advice as well.

    Good luck and best wishes.

  • Birinder says:

    Hi Planning to make a trip to kaza from chandigarh.We are staying 3 nights at kinner camps sangla.Kindly tell us which dhaba is the best to have lunch on the way to nako .we are staying one night at kinner camps Nako. and Also suggest which place is better for stay as we want very neat and clean rooms as well as bathroom as we going with family and kids. kindly suggest the hotel is the best for stay Snow lion , Spiti Sarai , Hotel Sakya Abode .

  • Nandan says:

    @ Birinder – Good elaborate eating places are very very hard to find. We had a hard time there. I would suggest you carry food from your Sangla camp itself. For the stay at Kaza, I stayed at ‘Banjara Camps’. It is a decent clean place though it was a bit expensive. Wishing you well.

  • Neena says:

    Hi Nandan,
    It was great to read your blog. It was very informative.
    Me and my husband are planning a 10 day trip to Himachal in November.
    Since it is the winter season we understand that a lot of places will be out of bounds. Can you suggest some good road trip we can take at that time of the year?
    We have a Swift and our own camping gear and would like to intersperse one or two days of camping with a day at some guest house etc.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Hi Neena – Thanks for liking it. Do read and comment on other stories as you find time.

    November would be cold for Himachal so an un-assisted camping would be a little difficult. You can look at following circuits

    1. Manali – Kasol – Manikaran Belt (Kasol has some beautiful walks)
    2. Chail – Kasauli – Barog – Shogi – Shimla – Kurfi (The fun places)
    3. Mcleod – Palampur – Barot (Quiet, Spiritual run, Also hip)

    Spiti would be too cold. Anything beyond Sarahan would be too cold.

    I would recommend that you read Sahil Sethi’s stories and write a comment. He has done a lot of road trips to Himachal and can possibly suggest better.

  • Suvayan says:

    I want to visit Kaza and Spiti Vally. But, I want to visit by local transport, mainly local bus etc. So, please tell me the situation of local bus service in Himachal Pradesh…

    • Anando says:

      I did that, made it till Kalpa and fell sick due to all the dust and diesel fumes. Not a good idea. Shimla gets like 1 deluxe bus to Kaza in 2 days and they are normally full as they come from Chandigarh. IMO travel by personal car.

  • Rakesh Gandhi says:

    Wonderful information provided by Mr Nandan Jha,One can easily access and imagine…..about visit ,I will try to visit in next summer,Thanks a lot.But i feel if Nandan had also written about boarding and lodging ….would have more beneficial.Thanks a lot Nandan.

  • SS says:

    Hi Nandan
    I am planning a self driven road trip from Vadodara to this region.Vadodara-delhi-shimla-narkanda-sarahan-sangla-chitkul-kalpa-nako-tabo-dhankar-kaza-manali-delhi-vadodara.
    Please suggest how many days are enough for doing this trip at a leisure pace.What are the places enroute not to be missed & accomodation etc.Please suggest itinerary based on your experience.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Dear SS – For your Delhi leg, following log might be useful.

    It would need a thorough planning but roughly you should plan for 3 weeks for a leisure trip. There are a ton of places and based on the time you have, you can pick the bigger ones which you have mentioned. I am sure you know that Kaza-Manali is only open from June-Sep/Oct, depending on weather. Once you firm up the total number of days, season, mode of transport and personal-preferences then it would be easier to suggest further.

  • Pawan Satyawali says:

    Hi Nandan,
    We are a family of 4 with 2 kids of 3 years and 8 year aged girls. We are planning for Delhi – Shimla – Kaza – Kaylong – Manali – Delhi trip. We are planning from 1 June – 15 June. Night halts at Narkonda, Sangla, Nako, Kaza, Losar, Kaylong, Solang, Manikaran, Panchkula.
    We have our own Xylo which I will be driving. Wanted to check on few things with your experiance
    Do we book hotels at all placed or finding them on way would be good idea.
    Where all can we get diesel or would you recommend to take reserve with us.
    With kids what other precautions would you recommend.


  • Nandan Jha says:

    Hi Pawan,

    Thanks for writing. Though you have not asked but let me first start with the places you have chosen to stay. For a 15 day trip, stopping at 9 places might mean a lot of check-in/check-out and with kids you may be losing a lot of time. So unless you have a reason to stay at all the above places, please re-evaluate.

    Without any context my suggestion would be
    1. Narkanda, Sangla, Nako, Kaza, Keylong, Manikaran/Kasol, Rewalsar Lake (Near Mandi). You can have a elaborate lunch at Losar so as to cover it well, Same with Solang and infact same with Panchkula.

    2. Yes, please book hotels in advance at least for Narkanda, Sangla, Nako and Kaza. You are going up and most of these stretches are long drives. Keylong is a big town and Manikaran/Kasol, Rewalsar are either big towns and close to big towns so it would be OK to not book in advance.

    3 You need to worry about Diesel between Sangla and Solang. Go full from Sangla, then again fill it at Kaza (there is a government petrol pump and it is closed in the evenings) and then at Keylong. In case you do run out of it, then you can find ways to get gallons. No need to carry a gallon, it is not safe and you are still very much around big district towns. You would be OK.

    4. After Sangla, watch out for signs of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Kids would do fine. Keep your heads covered, esp in windy cases, drink lots of water/fluid, dont rush things up and enjoy your time.


    • Pawan Satyawali says:

      Thanks a lot for a detailed reply.
      Idea of stopping 9 places is to ensure we utilize 15 days and explore most of the area. I am not thinking of “covering” the distance.
      I wanted to stay at Chitkul but Sangla can also be good option.. Losar we kept to see if we can visit Chandratal. If the weather is not good or still there is lot of snow (in June) we will not go that way rather have lunch as you suggest and try to reach Keylong.
      We wanted to stay as Manali but heard it will be more crowded so thinking of Solang.
      Is there any other location than Orkut where you kept your photos.. wanted to see…

      • Nandan Jha says:


        Chitkul and Sangla are close-by, so staying at Sangla would be better. Since you are traveling with Kids and it can get a bit difficult with many new hotels, I suggested to limit that. Most of the hotels, as you go up would be very humble and functional.

        Chandratal would be difficult. If you are serious then try to find out at Kaza and hopefully take a local car on rent, for the last leg. After visiting Chandratal, you can proceed further and the rented jeep can return back to Kaza. Manali is definitely crowded but you (and kids) might like the noise after quieter stays at Sangla/Kaza/Keylong. I have not put a lot of photos here or elsewhere. But there are other logs which you can check.

        All the best – Nandan

  • dr jyoti bunglowala says:

    sir,we are family of four ,husband ,wife,son 21yrs and daughter 12yrs planning to go to spiti valley in june.we will satrt from indore MP.our next stop will be at delhi then shimla probably or can we reach up to thanedhar..we will drive ourselves in toyota fortuner.
    last year we covered whole leh laddakh and kashmir.went via pahalgam kargil and came back via manali….that time we even went to pso mo ri ri lake also..i think the road condition of spiti area is almost like this time want to go Kaza via shimla and back from same route..can you suggest the ideal stoppage? safety precautions and the villages having petrol pump are mandatory to know.
    my rough plan is for night halt is delhi-thanedhar -sangla-kalpa-kaza-kaza-sangla-shimla-delhi-indore
    -please guide us about the places ..i heard a lot about kibber and the views of chau chau kang peak..

    • SS says:

      Hi Jyoti
      Read your Leh Travelogue.Its excellent.
      Regarding your query, I did this circuit in September last year in Dzire. Dr. Afzal knows the link “spiti Dzire Fullfilled”
      You can do like this-
      Day 1 Indore – Behror (Stay at RTDC Motel, Its 800 KM from Indore)
      Day 2 Behror – Thanedhar/kufri
      Day 3 Thanedhar – Narkanda – Sarahan
      Day 4 Sarahan – Sangla – Chhitkul
      Day 5 Chhitkul – Kalpa
      Day 6 Kalpa – Nako – Tabo (Stay at Tabo, its beautiful)
      Day 7 Tabo – Dhankhar – Lidang – Koumik – Hikkam – Langza – Kaza
      Day 8 Kaza – Ki – Kibber – Chandratal
      Day 9 Chandratal – Return Journey

      You will find petrol pumps at Rampur,Reckong Peo (Near Kalpa) & Kaza
      Roads are gud except Losar – Gramphu stretch which is the worst I have ever driven.

      • jyoti bunglowala says:

        thanx a lot for your valuable suggestion.will definitely work on this line.
        Dr Afzal is my brother in law….we took a separate trip in last june.he guided us very well.
        is it possible to go sangla instead sarahan or chitkul? may be thanedhar to sangla,sangla to kalpa then tabo and two days in kaza…want to return after ki and kibber,as chandrtal seems more at the side of manali highway and we want to return via shimla again.lot of traffic jam at rohtang plus the road from keylong onwords we travelled last year..

        • SS says:

          Sangla is enroute Chhitkul. I would suggest to stay at Rackcham or Chhitkul instead of Sangla as these are more quiet & scenic. Rackcham has “Rupin River View ” Hotel at the banks of river. Chhitkul also has some hotels. We stayed at Panchali Resorts which is decent hotel at the end of the village thus providing very gud views.

          Returning via Manali will save you one day plus you can visit Chandratal which is awesome lake.
          This way you will be able to complete the loop & save time.

          As per latest information only one way traffic will be allowed through Rohtang Pass (From Manali side upto noon & from Kaza/leh side to Manali after noon). This will help reduce the traffic mess at Rohtang.

    • Nandan Jha says:

      Thank you Doc for reading and commenting here. SS has suggested a very good plan. Just a few more suggestions.

      1. If you do not have as many days then you can skip Kalpa and Sarahan, and spend more time at Sangla (Chitkul is a easy 90 minutes drive away, you can do a lunch outing and also spend more time in Sangla).

      2. For “Chandratal”, find out current situation from Kaza. In any case, return via Kaza-Manali-Mandi-Chd route, it is faster. Rohtang pass would be pain (bad roads, traffic jam etc). Prepare well for severe cold.

      3. Roads are pretty bad after Rampur. Jaypee is making some big powerplants and hence roads are totally gone. RecongPo – Karchham is affected.

      I would also recommend you to read and get more advice from Anupam who did this circuit recently and posted a very detailed account of it.

      Good luck and best wishes.

      • jyoti bunglowala says:

        hi Nandan,
        thanx for the prompt reply!!!yes SS has suggested good plan..
        let me tell you we have 12 days …so sangla 2 days stay with drive to chitkul is good..we must take the rest for further trip…
        not more interested in chandratal but as you suggested to return via Manali then will give second thought to it…do you really feel it is faster via manali? last year we had 5 hrs traffic jam in rohtang pass.
        cold would be no problem but is there also the problem of altitude sickness?
        i dont want to book the hotels prehand,though banjara grp hotel seems good but is it easy to get accomodation in june on arrival?
        will surely go through Aupam’s write up and make a better plan..
        bye for now

        • Nandan Jha says:

          Kaza-Manali is one full day. Since you would be reaching Rohtang only in afternoon, even after a bad jam you should be in your hotel comfortably for a warm and easy dinner. Also Kaza-Manali drive is one of the very special drives. In June, it would be all snow. I am sure Fortuner would do the stretch very well.

          Manali-Delhi is one day drive. Exceptional roads. If you choose to come back via the same route then you can do Kaza-Tabo (stay for the night)-Sarahan (long drive)-Delhi.

          AMS can happen. Especially when you go to Ki, Kibber etc. Keep your head covered, drinks enough water and just do not rush and you all would be fine. You would know better. :-)

          • jyoti bunglowala says:

            hi Nandan and SS,
            planning the trip like..
            day 1 indore to behror
            day 2 behror to Narkanda
            day 3 narkanda to sangla ..via sarahan????)
            day 4 sangla …will see chitkul and nearby places
            day 5 kalpa
            day 6 kalpa to Tabo ….nako and khab for visit
            day 7 tabo…cover dhanker
            day 8 kaza..key kibber
            day 9 kaza to manali..via kunzum pass and chandrtal??
            day 10.manali to delhi
            what about Pin valley?
            now one thing to it possible to go narkanda to sangla via sarahan ? is sarahan worth for lunch halt or straight away should go Narkanda to Sangla?
            second is really two days needed in Tabo or we can cover it in one day?
            though the real traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving ,i booked HPTC hotels and Banjara grp hotels.

  • Suman DG says:

    This blog was one of the most informative one I found- thanks a lot for all the helpful information.Asking about Just one bit I did not find.

    I am planning a tour of Shimla-Kinnaur-Kaza-manali-Shimla from 20th October so i will be passing the kaza-Manali route in around 25-26th.Should I plan for it or plan till Kaza assuming the route will be closed? will it be worth planning for the full circuit and having a plan B(till kaza)

    I will have my wife who has never been to mountains-We will have around 10 days to cover this- though she is just 28 but will it be physically challenging?

    thanks in advance

  • Nandan Jha says:

    My guess is that Kaza-Manali would get closed by oct end. Even without Kaza-Manali, the whole stretch is 100% worthy for a travel, except that it would be biting cold post Sangla. If you are fine with that then you are good. It would be an off season so you may not see many (actually any) tourists at most of the places beyond Shimla (which always attracts travellers, all year) and it can get a little lonely (depressing) since because of extreme cold your movements would be restricted during early morning, evening etc. Just take extra care of AMS (drink lots of fluids, stay warm, cover your head from wind, do things easily, no rush) and you would be fine. Wishes.

  • Suman DG says:

    Thanks for the inputs- very helpful and much appreciated!!

    I kinda get a feeling that I will make the tour nice and comfortable till Sangla and come back- is it worth making it till Kaza if we are not completing the circuit?

    I would rather make it a 6 day-5 night plan with 1 night in sarahan-1 in Kalpa-1 chitkul-2 sangla.Please suggest any ammendments,

    Another point- will we get to experience snow anywhere- thats something is in our wishlist very much

  • Anando says:

    Dear Suman,

    I think you are making a mistake. This is a very short trip you are making for such a place specially considering YOU HAVE TO ACCLIMATISE . Chitkul is very high up . Also I would suggest you stay longer at kalpa coz it has better place to stay, you can try the hptd hotel , its nice. I stayed there. Atleast go for 7 nights .

  • Suman DG says:

    Thanks Anando-I will then go in with 7days plan- can you please help me devide the 7 nights for me- like where to stay more..

  • Anando says:

    I am guessing you are going through Shimla , if thats true then you can stay one night at Narkanda 3 nights in kalpa/reckong peo and 2 nights in Chitkul. Chitkul is technically a very small village however its really beautiful..its so high up yet its in a valley between lush green mountains .

    I had put up some photos of kalpa and chitkul here..u can check it out . Rest one day at kalpa to acclimatise.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Suman – Anando has already answered most of your questions. Sangla has better acco options and you can do a easy lunch-trip from Sangla to Chitkul.

    You would see snow in Sangla and Chitkul. Narkanda gets snow as well but you would be a bit early for it. You get tons of snow in June on Kaza-Manali stretch (Kunzum, Rohtang).

  • Anando says:

    I read people are saying they have either done or will be doing Behror to Narkanda? I think its nuts. There is always a huge traffic jam these days outside Delhi/Gurgaon that takes around 3 hours to come out of. I think a better idea would be to stay in Gurgaon and then start early morning to Narkanda.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Hi Jyoti,

    Responding to your query here so that it is easier to track. Please make a new comment if you have more questions.

    1. Indore-Behor would take most of your day and then Behror to Narkanda would be a long haul as well. Leave as early as possible from Behror to avoid traffic at GGN Toll. Did you explore coming via NH2 ?

    2. Since first two days have been pretty long, avoid Sarahan. It is on a detour and would make Sangla drive hard. The last leg of Sangla drive should happen in day light. Skip Sarahan.

    3. Skip Kalpa but stay for two days at Tabo. 2 days at a place would give you a much needed break before we climb further to Kaza and Tabo is like being in heart of Spiti. Kalpa is for ‘Mount Kailash’ view which you can see somewhere or the other as you drive to Tabo.

    4. Pin has a different access point. Needs more time. Skip. You already have quite a plate full.

    5. Good thing you did by booking hotels. :-) If you are already booked at Kalpa and can’t change it then let be it.

    6. Chandrataal needs more planning. Find out status at Kaza and then decide. Kunzum is a high pass so you dont know when the weather would change hence keep more time with you and keep moving.

    7. Manali Delhi is again a long haul. And Delhi-Indore would again need a break. So instead I would suggest that you break your journey at ‘Mandi’ and visit ‘Rewalsar Lake’. Next day start from Rewaslar and go as far as ‘Shivpuri’ and stay in jungle.


  • Anando says:

    Ya those are good points but again I would suggest gurgaon rather than Behror …because I have found traffic jams at 3 am at that point

  • Hi Nandan, the way you have presented the Shimla – Kaza road trip, it seems to be quite interesting. I and my friends have been planning a road trip from a long time; this is a great idea. Thanks for providing the details.

  • Rubal Walia says:

    Thanks for posting such informative blog. Will be really helpful in my travel to Kaza. I have a question though. Will a Maruti Ritz go on this road (Sangla to Kaza)?

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Rubal – Thanks. Ritz is an excellent choice because vehicles like Ritz (and Alto, Santro etc) are very agile so altitude wont come in way. They are very successful in hills and they never get stuck because of being light.

    The only problem which I see is the ground-clearance, especially beyond Rakchham since in certain sections the roads are in pathetic conditions because of power-plant business (heavy machineries, heavy vehicles ruin the road, not much can be done except to wait for the power-plant work to finish) so be careful. Do not load the back too much and go steady. All the best.

  • Rubal Walia says:

    Superb! sounds great. I’ll take my chances, I guess :). Thanks again. Your quick response is much appreciated.

  • Yohann says:


    How long would it take approx from Kasol to Nako by bus and car ?

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Kasol to Nako via Aut-Rampur and then the regular Indo-Tibet road would be in excess of 12 hours. Kasol to Nako via Manali-Kaza would again be in excess of 12 hours.

  • Kailash Mehta says:

    hi Nandan
    Great post. Definately I planned for this road trip in my next vacations. Nice & well descriptive writeup.
    Great Work.

  • akash vashisth says:

    1.I would like to ask that is it the same pattern journey as while going to leh as i have been thr .
    2.which all cars are preferable thr . as i have altis or i have to arrange suv sought.
    3. whr will be hotels available in whole tour .

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Hi Akash –
    If you have driven to Leh then Shimla-Kaza is much simpler. Kaza-Manali via Baltal can be harder than Leh. Of course it greatly depends on when you go.

    Altis would work fine, just be watchful in Karcham area where the road is broken because of numerous power projects.

    Hotels are available at most of the places. Kaza, Sangla, Kalpa, Sarahan and Shimla are bigger towns and would have hotels.

  • Nitin says:

    Hi Nandan,

    Found out your earlier comments very useful.

    I am trying to plan my journey in two halves. First at Kalpa for 1 day. Then at kaza for next 2 days. Back to kalpa for 1 day and sarahan for one day. Is it ok. Can I cover most of the nearby places.

    Can you also please suggest on the following :-
    1. Driving time from Shimla- Kalpa
    2. Driving time from Kalpa- Kaza


  • Nandan Jha says:

    Hi Nitin – Shimla-Kalpa would be about 8 hours (may be a bit less). Kalpa-Kaza would take 8 hours. I would suggest that you spend 1 full day at Kalpa (try to reach by late afternoon and leave by noon next day). 2 days at Kaza and then break at some other place (may be Tabo/Shoja or some place else). Wishes.

  • Sujoy Palit says:

    Hi Nandan,

    Enchanting and a very informative read as above. Would be reaching Shimla/Manali on 7th Oct with my family (spouse, twins 5+ yrs old). Starting 8th – Intend to visit Shimla – Kalpa – Kaza – Kunzum La – Rohtang – Manali – Delhi (to reach Delhi by 13th morning/eve) or Manali – Rohtang – Kunzum La – Kaza – Kalpa – Shimla – Delhi.

    Few queries :
    1. Is this doable within 7th – 12th, will it be very hectic with kids, is it advisable?
    2. If not, how should I plan my itienary (start – end dates fixed)
    3. Where should I plan my stays/night stays?
    4. Where should I take the cab from, will small cars like indica worth journey or else and approximate per/day expenses?
    Awaiting your response on this and thanks in advance!

    Best Regards,
    Sujoy Palit

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Sujoy – Thank you for your praise. I wrote a long comment but then deleted it. I wont advise it with 2 young kids. That terrain can be unpredictable beginning October.

    If you are keen on Himalayas then doing a relaxed Manali Hills (Mandi, Manali, Kasol, Manikaran etc) or Kumaon (Nainital Lake district, Binsar, Ranikhet, Kausani etc) might be more manageable.

  • Pankaj says:

    HI All,

    I am Pankaj Verma, I have reviewed the comments you guys has shared and they are very useful. I am Planning a tour to Kinnaur district with my friends.
    Our trip will be starting on 15th October around 1600hrs and anyhow we have to comeback by afternoon of 19th October. We have hired a Tempo Traveller for this trip. I really appreciate if you guys can help me in planning my travel itinerary along with must visit places.
    this trip means a lot to me


  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Pankaj – You have about 4 days. Sangla + Chitkul is the heart of Kinnaur and they are more than a day’s drive away. Usually there is always much more energy and enthusiasm on first day so if your driver can make it then then try to go all the way to Kalpa. You should reach there by lunch, if not sooner. Stay there for 16th night. Next morning head for Sangla. Stay there for 17th and 18th day. Start by evening on 18th and you should be close to Delhi by 19th noon. Depending upon how critical it is for you to reach here at a specific time, you can decide on whether you should take a break on 18th night or not. Kasauli/Solan is a good place. After that it is all plains.

    If I were you and I had 4 days then I would not go as far as Kinnaur. Instead I would do things like Fagu/Narkanda/Hatu-Peak/Solan etc.

    All the best.

  • vinod chauhan says:

    Dear Friend,

    I am from Delhi and planning to visit Kaza. I am planning to start in December last week to January full first week. Is this good time to go, i love snow and hill driving. My son 11 year and daughter 3 year are also going with me along with my wife. if its good please suggest me itinerary. I am having Scorpio and xuv 5oo so vehicle is not a problem for me.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Vinod – It would be too cold to venture during Dec-Jan time frame. If you are keen on snow, then please head to Narkanda (a little beyond Shimla). Driving in snow needs special gear as well as expertise and I wont recommend it to you. Wishes.

  • Tanmay says:

    Hey everyone

    Is the Shimla-Kaza-Manali route open in March? I will be driving a Ford Ecosport with a friend.

  • PANKAJ says:

    Nandan i am sure you must be enjoying a trip somewhere.

    I want you to help me.
    I have a plan for my friends to have short trip either to Chanshal Pass or to Jalori Pass on the first weekend of april i.e. 02nd april to 5th April.
    we plan to leave Delhi on Thursday evening and return by Sunday evening.

    We are 4 and all are good driver.

    Nandan in my last trip i have visited Dalhousi, Khajjiar, Chamba & Bharmour and return back to delhi on 4th day

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Hello Pankaj,

    I am indeed away so apologies for late response. Jalori would be COLD in April. I have no clue of Chanshal Pass.

    I would recommend that you get advice from Anand on the following post.–-a-ride-to-remember/

    You may want to post your query by saying that Nandan recommended us to get advice from you :-) and hopefully Anand would respond back. All the best.

  • Vishal Chauhan says:

    Hi Nandan. Indeed an excellent review with explicit details. I am planning this route from 13 June to 20 June. Starting from jalandhar with proposed stays om 13th at Subatu, sarhan, sangla,kalpa, …., ……, ……., ……, Manali. Pls help me fill the places of stay from kalpa to Manali.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Vishal – Thank you. Considering that you have 1 week, I would suggest that you stay at Kaza and then do Kaza-Manali directly. If you have more time, and if you are up for some adventure then I would recommend ‘Chandra Tal’ (between Kaza and Manali) as well. You may choose to skip Subathu and have more time at Sangla. All the best.

  • Ashwani kumar says:

    Hi Pankaj I’m planning to visit Sangla valley,chitkul , Sarahan(Bimkali Mandir) kalpa ,kaja and want to come back via Manali fr 4th June 2015 with frds.come back on 10th June . We have nova. Starting from Pathankot
    Is it possible and kunjam pass is open in these days. Plz . guide & help me.

  • Hi,

    Great travelogue. I came here looking for estimated time for travel between Shimla and Pooh. I live in Shimla btw.

    I just want to point out that there seems to be some error in the time given for Shimla – Rampur. Shimla to Narkanda itself would take you 2 hours, and then Rampur further would take about 2 hours. So it isn’t humanely possible to cover the 4 hour distance in 1.5 hours as mentioned.

    Please review.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Yes Nikhil. That doesn’t seem right. I wonder, it took close to 6 years and numerous comments for someone to point this :-). Thank you.

    I thought that I wont update the log (just for posterity) but then a lot of readers may just read it briefly and might get mis-led. Thanks again.

  • Dev says:

    Hey Nandan,

    Great post, quite informative, me and my brother are planning for a trip to Kaza from Chandigarh, on a Bajaj Avenger 220cc, i have got enough knowledge from your post though. Just want ask what is the condition of roads these days as we will plan for July most probably..!

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Hey Dev – Thanks. From what I last heard (my co-brother drove last year), there is a detour after Khab because of some big damage and that detour stretches the time to reach by an hour or so. All the best and when you return, please update here on current road status.

  • Sitanshu barik says:

    We are planning a road trip from Delhi shimla kaza manali Delhi within the next few days.
    Would maruti swift be able to cross kaza manali part?

    Kindly guide.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Yes, Swift would be able to manage during this time of year as you are unlikely to find any snow on the road. Please be watchful of total load.


  • chartered sharma says:

    can hyundai i10 1.1 engine 68BHP do it with 4 adults? and what will be the road conditions in february

    • Anando says:

      It can but I wouldnt recommend it really. A small car = two people at the most otherwise SUV

      • chartered sharma says:

        hey thanks ..
        what if i limit my trip to kinnaur valley or to chitkul…will it be easy for 68 bhp small baby?
        please tell me which is the best place for the scenic beauty … kinnaur (reckong peo ) or chitkul i will be going only at please tell
        and please reply to my another query for upcoming trip to badrinath ji in mid of november before shrine closes

        • Anando says:

          well yes technically you can make it however i would recommend no but if you still do go in it make sure you are carrying puncture fixers and power tyre inflators . Also carry towing rope so incase you get stuck some larger car can help you. Problem is there are loads of hydel power construction going on and landslides take place which really make the road quality bad.

          Kinnaur lahaul spiti all 3 are very beautiful and its a personal choice but I would recommend if you have to go to on of those 3 then try Kalpa which is slightly above reckong peo. Beautiful view of kinner kailash from there.

    • for Shimla-Kaza section – Yes
      for Gramphoo-Moorang section – NO

  • i10 will play good till Kalpa. Anando recommended good essentials. Chitkul may better than Kalpa. Fresh story is available here:

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Dear Mr. Sharma – Please write your query as a comment on any Badrinath story.

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