3rd June 2011 – As usual we have started our journey to at 3:30 AM on 3rd June from my house at Faridabad. It is the best time to start to avoid Delhi Traffic. Our target was to reach Narkanda via Fagu before noon. With good sunshine and no major hurdles we were able to reach Shimla by 12:30 AM. But road from Shimla to Fagu, then Fagu to Narkanda was not good, further traffic jam near Kufri makes it worse and we had decided to take Lunch near Fagu only. After having good lunch we proceeded towards Narkanda, at least 20 KM road between Shimla to Narkanda has bad patches and delayed our journey and we reached Narkanda at 3:30 PM. Narkanda is a small hill station having 8-10 Hotels for tourist. There is a small temple in main market.
White snow peaks towards East has welcomed us, I have been visiting different hill stations a lot but every time I reach here it gives me huge pleasure and satisfaction. You just forget how tired you are. I had visited Narkanda in Feb 02, that time it was covered with snow with fewer crowds. This is beauty of hills it changes shape and colour in each season or month. This Narkanda was entirely different than I had visited 8 years back. As planned we have taken accommodation for one day stay at Narkanda.
After a pleasant evening walk nearby Narkanda and taking some snaps we decided to take rest in Hotel to conserve energy for next day driving.
4th June 2011 – Towards Sangla
In 4th June morning after leaving the Hotel we decided to visit Hatu Peak. It is a temple of Goddess situated approximately 8 KM from Narkanda. There is a steep and narrow road, I tried to drive my Cruise, but after 3 KM of risky driving (As per my standard) we decided to park our car and started trekking towards Hatu Peak. It is a good trek surrounded by trees and lots of greenery. It was a lovely trek but the kind of trekkers we had it was really difficult to reach Hatu peak in limited time. We left Hatu peek for next visit and decided to go back so that we can reach Sangla in time which was 200km from Narkanda. Here I met one gentle man who is working with HPSEB, we exchanged our mobile number.
Around 10:30 we started from Narkanda to Rampur. It was treat driving from Narkanda to Rampur. Newly constructed road allowed me to drive up to 70-80 KMH at hills. We have travelled downwards from 2700 mts (Narkanda) to 1000mts (Luhri), Satluj joined us just after 30km from Narkanda. we took break and tried to capture the first view of the river knowing that it will be giving us the company till Karcham. Rampur is a small beautiful town in the valley at the height of 1165mts. Without taking any risk we refueled our vehicle and withdraw money from ATM .After taking lunch at Jeuri we continuously moved and reached Karcham dam at around 2pm.There was lot of construction going on( courtesy Jaypee )for 1000MW Hydro power plant. Here we said goodbye to satluj and said hi to baspa, one could clearly demarcate the difference in the colour of their water, while satluj is grayish brown, baspa is transparent green. We took a break for at least 15 min as we were mesmerized to see the beautiful encounter between these two rivers.
After crossing the dam towards Sangla, condition of road was not very good and it was narrow too, however it was fun driving through this chilling route along with green Baspa. My wife and son were also lost in this beautiful valley but my 13 yr daughter was alert enough to remind me to blow the horn at every blind turn which I think is advisable while driving on hills. Before reaching Sangla my kids were excited enough to peep the scenic beauty through the sunroof.
We reached Sangla at 4 in the evening and settled comfortably in Mehta hotel and resort .We were really impressed by their fine service and dinner at economical price. Sangla valley is 60km long valley covered with snow peaks all around, pine trees and greenery covering the lower part of mountains and Baspa flowing beneath.
In the evening we were lucky to see gathered clouds on the peaks playing hide and seek with sun further adding to its charm.
We went for an evening walk to the local market where one could find items for daily use and one or two Chinese café selling chowmein , momos and thuppa run by nepalese .We could not locate any tour or travel agency who can guide us further however locals informed that road to Chitkul is in good shape ,hence we planned to visit Chitkul next day.
5th June 2011 – Chitkul
I had planned to drive only 23 KM today, which gives me a lot of time to feel the valley and its charm. We covered this distance with lot of stoppages which started at Banjara Camp 7 KM from Sangla.
We spent lot of time at the banks of Baspa, capturing the beauty of the valley in our hearts and mind as well as digicam.
BASPA at SANGLA
After crossing Rakcham village we came across 18-20 people group who were trekking from Sangla to Chitkul. As we were about to enter Chitkul the ambiance was astonishing, I was driving dead slow trying to breathe in whatever was in front of us. The combination of snow peaks, wide valley, tiny glaciers and off course flowing beautiful Baspa was like the gateways of heaven. Driving from Sangla to Chitkul was one of the best routes I have ever driven. Chitkul is a remote last village of Tibet border from that side. Around 1 :00 PM we reach Chitkul and settled in one of the Hotel.
One can trek to Yamunotri or Harsil from Chitkul directly, but these are difficult routes and need lot of accessories and preparation before proceeding for it. I wish I could have done that trek but I have to still wait till my kids are grown up to take that challenges. Chitkul is a very good place for the tourist fed up with Shimla or Manali crowd and wants some space for breathing.
After taking lunch and some rest we passed our evening in Baspa bank at Chitkul, taken some snaps. It was a beautiful 3-4 hours just chilling near River Baspa with snow peaks surrounding you.
6th June 2011 – Trekking to Nagasthy and visit to Kalpa
Next day we decided to cover a Trek of approximate 3 KM from Chitkul to Nagasthy upto last Indian post a civilian can visit. Trek was easy and flat. Weather at 6:00 AM morning was cloudy adding cold to surroundings. Before proceeding to Nagasthy we met a group of 30 Army people were starting routine trek of approximate 150 KM just to keep Indian Flag high near border. This is a difficult terrain, being petrol by Indian army on routine basis. I saw lot of enthusiasm in team as it was proceeding for Border visit.
Trek to Nagasthy was easy and can be covered with your family. It is recommended as the view was astonishing and looking nearer to peaks. Some time it looks so close that you want t touch it with your hands. I think everybody visiting Chitkul should cover it for experiencing the beauty of surroundings.
It took 2-3 hours to come back to Chitkul. As we checked out in morning we have proceeded to Kalpa to see the Kinner Kailash. After reaching Karcham we were back to NH- . Road from Karcham to Kalpa turn was little scary as the road construction was going on. We need to drive through 100 mtr alongwith water stream coming down from mountain. As we were about to reach kalpa we could see the picturesque view of Kinner Kailash mountain standing tall and erect all covered with snow. We could see series of snow clad peaks one behind the other. As we could not find suitable accommodation at Kalpa, we decided to stay at Reckong Peo. Recong peo is the head quarter of district Kinnaur. Road condition from Kalpa turn to Kalpa was good, however inside Kalpa raods are narrow and difficult when two vehicle crosses each other.
7th June 11 – Reckong Peo & Back to Rampur
It was good to watch Kinner Kailash range in morning from Reckong Peo. One can sit and watch it for hours . Peo is a decent place with wide range of Kinnaur shawls available in the market,one could buy a few .In the morning after breakfast we checked out from the hotel and visited Koti mata temple.it is a typical pahadi style temple painted in dark colours.
We left Reckong Peo at around 11 am and joined NH at Kalpa turn. We took right from Kalpa turn although I wanted to go left deep into Spiti valley but this was not in our plan, hence we decided to drive through spiti valley in our next visit.
We reached Rampur around 4 in the evening after taking our lunch at Jeuri(only place where one could find suitable food). A gentleman , whom we met in Narkanda , helped us in getting a comfortable stay at HPSEB guest house in Rampur . In the evening we decided not to go back through the same route ie via Narkanda else return via Jalori pass through mandi and bilaspur just to make this journey more enjoyable and memorable. I have learned a lot about this route through net and it was like dream coming true but for that we had to leave our guest house as early as possible say around 5 am in the morning as we had to cover a long distance.
8th June from Rampur to Delhi via Jalori Jot
It was a long drive today hence we have started early in the morning from Rampur. Locals informed us that Jalori pass route is clear but one have to drive very carefully. Near Lauri we have taken right path and left the road directly going to Narkanda. 20 KMs from lauri towards Jalori pass route was very nearer to Sutlaj. Little rain was making it wet and wild.
After taking breakfast as Ani we reached Jalori pass around 11 AM. Driving for last 5 KM near Jalori was little tough but not risky if you are not looking towards valley while driving.
Jalori pass is a beautiful place, and have facilities to stay in tents managed by HP Forest Division.
But staying at Jalori was not in our plan and we after passing some time we started downward journey. Road condition was not good atleast 20 KM after Jalori Pass, it has passed through very dense forest. There are number of guest house and tents are available near Shoja to stay. I wish we could have delayed our journey one day to camp at Shoja.
After Shoja we have we come across two rivers Sainj & Thirthan which finaly join Beas. After crossing meeting point of above rivers we join Beas and taken the Manali Delhi route in between. Journey after that was merely a drive to reach to Delhi. Around 2:00 AM we reached to Delhi ending a fairyland journey.
This was a family trip driving very beautiful and some time risky route, One have to be very disciplined while driving at Hills but it gives immense pleasure and thrilling experience.