Kalpa

Solo Travel, Himachal Tribal Circuit – Spiti Valley

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Next morning brought a very pleasant surprise. In the morning, I was having tea in the hotel balcony, clicking pictures of the serenity of Spiti valley. One youngster arrived in the compound of the hotel on a bike. It took me a while to recognize that he was one of the two boys from Mumbai whom I had met three days ago at the time of land slide traffic hold up near Karcham. Thus far, I was thinking that the bikers must have turned back from Nako village, where the road was totally destroyed. I was curious to know, how they had crossed that stretch. He [Alok} informed me that when they reached Nako village, being a Sunday, there was no BRO labor at Nako. So, they took a night halt in Nako village and next morning, with the help of BRO labor, they lifted their bikes across the steel girder. Hats off to these adventurous souls.

In Kaza also, I had to hire a car for visiting Key monastery and Kibber village [highest altitude village in the world- accessible by road}. In these valleys, government buses to remote villages go in the evening and return early next morning. Thus, 4-5 hour trip by car would take two days by public transport. We went about 7 kms. on the highway towards Manali and then took a right turn uphill for Kye monastery. It is an old monastery some 15 kms. from Kaza and the uphill road is good. But this monastery is not considered as important as Tabo and Dhankar monasteries by the Buddhists. The monastery is in much better shape, compared to the Dhankar monastery.

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The Great Himachal Circuit – Part 3 : Kalpa to Kaza

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It’s a lovely monastery with the monks all around at a height of 12774 ft. specially the view of the spiti valley and the amazing spiti river from that height. The monks are always available to explain you everything about the monasteries. Since the number of tourists in Spiti is always few, you always meet up the same people again and again, and mainly foreigners.
Taking snaps inside the monk is prohibited, so I did not waste the opportunities to take pics from outside and the valley. Spent around half an hour in the monastery, before getting back into the cab.
It took us around another 20-25 minutes to cover this monastery and around 1 PM we got back into the cab. From Dhankar Monastery it took another hour or so to reach Kaza via the Kaza bridge at Shitlong village as I mentioned early in the write-up. Kaza is a lovely small city in the Spiti valley and is the district headquarter at a height of around 11500 ft. By 2PM, we checked in into a hotel after some searching. It was a beautiful hotel, located at a nice location right beside the Kaza monastery. Time was stretching, as we had to cover Kibber also the same day.

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View of mountain range from Himachal Tourism hotel

To the beautiful Kinnaur district in Himachal

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The scenes were becoming increasingly breathtaking and that made me even more eager to reach Chitkul. And boy, is it something! The amazing view of the mountains, waterfalls and the river going along. Twice we came to a point where there was no road, and I had to drive my new Indica vista, 1300 cc engine, through water. What an amazing experience! Beautiful valley, river flowing, and an absolutely divine view of the mountains. The view is imprinted in my mind’s eye forever. That’s how mesmerising it was.

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The Great Himachal Circuit – Part 3 : Kalpa to Tabo

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Time to get up early in the morning to get a view of the awesome Himalayas from the balcony. It was so cloudy all around at 6AM, that hardly anything was visible. With a cup of tea, we started waiting for the fog and cloud to clear up. After that it was cloud moving around with occasional clearances of the mountains. Believe me, its one of the most awesome views as the clouds play around with the kailash range. And with the sun occasionally coming out in between the clouds with clear lights, another lovely worth seeing site.

While we were able to see the Kinnaur kailash easily, we were not able to spot the shiv ling. The hotel staff said, because of the fog we might not be able to view it. It was hidden behind the clouds. But then suddenly, one of the hotel staff said, its visible now. As we saw, the 69 ft height shiv ling was clear visible from that distance not more than 1 inch. But a very beautiful view.

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The Great Himachal Circuit – Part 2 : Shimla to Sangla via Sarahan

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A very important thing about Himachal, is that people are very cooperative and they are very happy with what they are and have. I am writing this because I tour as well as I interact with people over various places, trying to find the differences in the cultures, way of living etc. This is what travelling is all about. I found Himachal people in the remote of the areas to be very well educated (better than what we are in cities) and well behaved. They are clean by heart and they educate their child to be as clean as them.

Soon it was getting dark and we entered the temple which normally opens up after 7PM. Not everywhere inside the temple are cameras and accessories allowed, but there are lockers where they can be kept. So we put our accessories in the lockers and entered the temple. The Bhimakali Temple at Sarahan is quite big and unique in its own way and own beauty. It looks more like a monastery rather than a temple.

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Kinnaur-The land of apples (Part 2)

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After about two and a half hours we reached Reckong Peo,or Peo, as it is popularly known. Peo is situated at an altitude of around 2200 metres above sea level and is at the base of the Kinner Kailash massif. From here, Kalpa was a short 20 minute drive and by lunch time we reached Kalpa. Our plan was to halt at the PWD rest house, which turned out to be a cottage with an excellent view of the mountains. Staying in Kalpa can be compared to living in the lap of nature. Overlooking the Kinner Kailash range, this is one of the most picturesque  hill stations one can ever visit. This quaint town was once the headquarters of Kinnaur district before it was replaced  by Reckong Peo. The collector’s office has now been taken over by the HP Irrigation Department while the old SP office is now a small police outpost. The old building of the District Hospital is visible behind the new building of a recently constructed Primary Health Centre.  From Kalpa, one can spot the famous Shiva Linga, nestled in the middle of the Kinner Kailash massif. It is a 2 day trek from Kalpa for the strong and sturdy.

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Blue sky country

Kinnaur-The land of apples (Part 1)

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On day 3, before starting off for Sangla, we were in a dilemma on whether to make the short trip to Hatu peak or not. As we had to reach Sangla before it was dark, we decided to skip Hatu peak, which is about 8 KMs from Narkanda. Thus, we hit the NH22 directly and road conditions being good, we reached the town of Rampur in about 2 hours. We refuelled the Ertiga here and noted a mileage of 15-16 KM/Litre in hilly road conditions.  After, Rampur, the highway, which was once known to the British as the Hindustan-Tibet road, leads you further on to Jeori before entering the district of Kinnaur at Chaura. After entering Kinnaur, the road, cut into sheer rock, rises steeply above the Satluj River. It follows the Satluj and is one of the most vertiginous roads in the whole country offering a spectacular view of rugged mountains.

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Motorcycle Diaries. Road to Ladakh… (Delhi – Kaza)

Motorcycle Diaries. Road to Ladakh… (Delhi – Kaza)

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As I rode though barren patches, I would not help admire the exquisiteness of the rocks all around – they were as spellbinding as the Grand Canyon, all through the journey on the Indo-China border. No images can describe this splendor!

During last 100kms, as the terrain turned bad to worse, I had consumed all my water. Thirsty and tired, I found water only at Dubling, after riding for over 3.5 hours. As I gulped down water, I couldn’t help observe that the same Kinley packaged water bottle we paid Rs.40/- at the HPTDC hotels (a premium of double the cost!) was being sold by this mom-&-pop shop at the MRP!

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A trip to Narkanda – Sangla – Chitkul – Kalpa – Jalori Pass

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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.

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Spiti valley, a caravan diary

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Woke up with a terrible headache and nausea on the Day 3 of the voyage to the once forbidden land, Spiti Valley. Outside it was just another dawn in Kaza, the snow is reflecting a tinge of orange in the early morning sun; the spotless blue sky in the background is arched over the town. The Gong inside the head continued meanwhile; I needed oxygen then.

It’s the primary state hospital of Kaza where I met Serine and the fellow patients. An ugly looking machine was pushing oxygen through my nostrils and I was trying hard to concentrate. Serine teaches english in a local private school, where tibetian is hardly taught seriously, she frowned. Her mother was lying sick on the bed adjacent; they have ultrasound machine here but nobody knows how to operate, looks like she will have to take her mother to Simla, a 500 kms and a strong determination away from Kaza. She had once travelled to Delhi though, her sister works as a hotel receptionist there. The Metro escalators are amongst worst inventions of the human kind; and she frowned again…it continued and the other patients joined in no time. Soon I was being invited to their homes; for tea, thukpa and country liquor ! Never felt more disappointed on leaving a hospital; was feeling better already. Affection works better than the oxygen may be…who knows !

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Solo Travel, Himachal Tribal Circuit – Kinnaur Valley

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After crossing Simla and its suburbs, the lush green mountains and apple orchards in the valleys were a treat for the eyes. We had a small stop over at Theog. Rain drenched Theog looked all the more beautiful during sunset. I had never been beyond Theog before, so I had a fascinating image of Narkanda, a winter sport hill station of Himachal Pradesh, in my mind. But frankly, seeing Narkanda for the first time was an anti-climax. It is a small non-descript town, with hardly any tourists during the monsoon season. After Narkanda, it was a steep downhill journey with never ending zigzag turns and U-turns.

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