Driving in the high altitude cold desert….

05 Oct 2011

Travel to the place
Where we have enough space, 
Work without race, 
No tension on face.

A new day & a new destination...

Before continuing let me take a moment and wish a very Happy New Year 2012 to all the Ghumakkars. May all your travel dreams come true or some of them to start with… :-) And a heartfelt Thank You to all the Ghumakkars – ” Your words of praise for the posts & the photographs have encouraged me more than I can express.” – Thank You…..

Now where was I, Oh Yes! In the Solitude of Spiti. I was back on the road moving on with my journey for the fifth day in continuation and now in the spellbinding Spiti Valley. A world within a world as one can say, the lunar like landscape was changing every now and then….

By the Spiti River...

On a different land...


After a long 23 kms later because of numerous photo breaks,  I was at the point  from where a right would take me to the Dhankar Monastery. I stopped here for a while and was pondering on the strange thing that was happening today. The tourists in the Innova’s & the Traveler van’s passing by were all clicking my pictures. I guess, i was the only one they must have seen driving alone in the valley. And that’s not it, as I was standing there, a car came from behind and stopped besides me. As i could see, it was a bengali family doing the circuit and the elderly gentlemen rolled down the window and began speaking in Bengali –

EG: – Something…Something…. In Bengali…. I had no idea….

Me: – Please, if you could speak in English or Hindi, I don’t know Bengali…

EG: – Travelling Alone??? Where you have come from???

Me: – I said Yes and gave him a brief about my journey. (The boy sitting at the back was busy clicking my pictures)

EG: – (Smiling) Well Done! Keep it up…. :) and left…..

I was alone again in the wilderness and infused life back to my bike and began the ascent on the 8.75 kms link road to the Dhankar Monastery….

A right to Dankar Monastery...

Approaching Dhankar...

The new prayer hall at Dhankar Monastery...

Dhankar or Dhangkar is derived from the word Dhang + Kar, where Dhang means cliff and Kar means fort. Hence Dhangkar means fort on a cliff. The monastery is situated at the hieght of 12, 774 feet overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a monastery. Dhankar Monastery home to about 150 monks and now as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world was once  the traditional capital of the Spiti Valley Kingdom during the 17th century. It was the seat of the early rulers of Spiti, the Nonos.

Dhankar Monastery

Dhankar Monastery

Dhankar Monastery

As per wikipedia –

The monastery is also referred to as Lha-‘od-pai-dgon-pa:

“Lha-‘od seems to be the local pronunciation of Zla-‘od, the name of a famous lama who was born in 1121, according to the Reu-mig. Zla-‘od-pa would then mean “a follower of Zla-‘od.” He was apparently the founder or renovator of the monastery which now belongs to the Gelugpa order. The monks assert that it was not only of earlier origin than the Tabo monastery, but also earlier than Srong-btsan-sgam-po.”

Coming back the old monastery was closed as all the monks had gone to Tabo for the Cham Dance (which i missed as it was to performed in the evening), only the new prayer hall was open, that too as a tourist family was already present there. I paid my obeisance there and had a walk around. The winds were strong up there as I was hit by AMS and was having a headache. So, I decided to call it quits and began descending down from the cliff and back on the road to Kaza…

The curious case of Hanging Bag....

On the way to Kaza...


Peculiar Shapes

I Wish...

The distance left was less but the beauty of the terrain around was mesmerizing. And the best part was – I was alone, there was no one before or after me. The only sound that i could hear was the one made by the engine of the bike and that too was stopping with every photo break. Five days before, I was not even sure of making this trip but Here I am capturing each and every moment in my eyes that would stay with me as long as i live….

The past & the future...

Peculiar Shapes

Welcome to Kaza

As i reached Kaza, the first thing was to find a place to stay for the night. Which took me a little time but finally i did manage to get one near the taxi stand. After settling down, I asked the caretaker about the ATM and the Petrol Pump and told me the location of the both and told me to hurry up as sometimes the petrol pump gets closed by 4.30 pm and the clock was already showing 3.30 pm. So, i went straight to the Petrol Pump but a guy stationed there told me come after 20-30 minutes and assured me that i would get the petrol then. It’s necessary to fuel up here as after this the next petrol pump you’ll find would be in Manali. Meanwhile, I went to the Kaza Monastery nearby as the monks in there were busy performing the prayers. They allowed me to enter inside the temple, observe and click pictures and later on a monk came towards me and upon asking he briefed me about the significance of the music, the prayers and the chants which in his words was – To purify the air, the surroundings and the world….

Stupas outside Kaza Monastery

Kaza Monastery

Kaza Monastery

Prayers in progress...

Purifying the air, the surroundings & the world....

"The Enlightened One"

I headed back to the petrol pump had the tank filled and went to the market to get some supplies. It was cold and windy here in Kaza and after having some snacks, i went back to the guest house and that was it. By that time i was completely exhausted and slept. I woke up in the middle of the night for capturing the Star Trails, which i certainly tried but got back soon inside after 2-3 shots because of the cold and of-course SLEEP!!!


At Dusk...

Star Trails - Kaza

Travel to the place
Where we can dance, 
Sing at glance, 
Bit of time to romance.


End of Day 5 – Oct 5, 2011

Total Driving (Tabo to Kaza via Dhankar Monastery) – 68 km

Start Time – 11.00 a.m, End Time – 3.00 p.m


PS : .c – pics from camera, .mb – pics from mobile, Poem by – Divyesh J. Shah



  • Pradeep_Neha says:

    Great Pics Aditya, I am planning a trip to Spiti by CAR.

    How is the road condition for driving ?


    • Aditya says:

      Thanks Pradeep… :)

      I guess you’ll be going to Spiti via Shimla- Rampur- Malling

      1. The stretch from Shimla to Kufri is in bad shape.

      2. From Rampur onwards to Rakchham, Karcham, Wangto, the road is in bad shape because of the power plants and also the widening of the road is under process, so the road blasting is frequent and because of that landslides are a common occurrence…. A vehicle with a good ground clearance would be nice….

      Please go through the previous parts and you’ll get the idea. Also, in the coming parts i’ll exit through Kumzum Pass – Rohtang Pass- Manali. So, you’ll get the idea of the road from this section as well….

      If you need any other details, I’ll be happy to help….


      • Pradeep Narayan says:

        thanks Aditya,

        Infact I have idea of roads upto Kalpa turn. What about further.

        I will wait to catch a glimpse of your coming part.


        • Aditya says:

          The roads will be in the same condition till Puh but there will be a few good patches of metaled road as well… Be prepared to spend some time in road blasting & clearing stuff…. And try to cross Malling latest by 2-3pm as it is subjected to constant rockfall and blockage…. And once you enter Spiti from there, the roads will be a mix of dirt tracks as well as metaled road. But by this time you’ll at ease as compared to the roads that you left behind….

  • Silentsoul says:

    your photographic skills are gr8. i come back to see your posts again and again to see photos

  • Neeraj Jat says:

    ??? ?? ?????? ??? ???? ???? ?? ????? ??, ??? ?? ??? ?????? ??? ???? ??? ????? ???? ?? ???? ?? ??????? ??? ???? ???? ????? ??????

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Aditya, I was waiting for quite some time for your post. As usual, racy text and amazing visuals of rare beauty. It sure was worth the wait.

    BTW, congratulations on becoming the Ghumakkar of the year for 2011 and wish you a happy new year and looking forward to many more articles from you.

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    Great & Nice Picture….


  • Kudos for biking alone on these terrains… Amazing log of the travel and absolutely awesome pictures.

  • Nandan says:

    Congratulations for the ‘Ghumakkar of the Year’. It seems that the light was just perfect for those afternoon shots. Am eagerly waiting for Kaza-Kunzum-Manali section.

  • ashok sharma says:

    wonderful photographs!!!
    good eyes and good fingers to catch & click some memorable moments.
    keep it up.

  • Pradeep Kumar says:

    I could not understand the photo of stars.

    • Aditya says:

      These are Star Trails…. The one above is from the Polaris region. As the position of the Polaris or the north star is aligned with the North Pole. It never sets and seems to be stationary in the night sky…. And the starts revolving around it is because of the rotation of the earth on its axis…. The position of the star remains fixed…it’s the earth that is rotating and when you take a long exposure shot that appears to be star trails… Please see the Star Trail pic posted in the post “The land of monasteries and mysteries of God ” and the one in “In the last & the highest village of the Baspa Valley Chitkul..” I have given the description about the same there as well….

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