On the high roads – From Kinnaur to Spiti….

03 Oct 2011

Travel to the place
Where mind set to peace,
No one can see,
Feel us free.

Sangla Valley - On the way to Kalpa

After a mesmerizing morning in the lap of the nature, it was time to move on. I was moving out of Chitkul but my mind didn’t let me. After every few meters i was applying brakes so as to have one more look of the valley, to bask in as much as i can and to capture as much as i could. A while later a few bumps brought my concentration back to the road and slowly and steadily i moved back on the Sangla- Chitkul road. The sun was up now and the temperature was also rising. After negotiating a few tricky patches on the road i reached Sangla and had my first stop. I entered the shop and sat down for a while and in a long gulp finished a water bottle. The shopkeeper told me that they will start serving the lunch in another 5- 10 mins as the whole village was closed due to the death of an elderly gentlemen in the village and the shops opened up late. Meanwhile, i checked my mobile and the airtel signal was back and moments later i received a call from the office as my help was needed to resolve an issue. The lunch was also served of basic Dal, Rice and Onion…..

On the way back

Sangla - Chitkul Road

Nearing Sangla - On the way to Kalpa

30 minutes into the break i realized that it was getting rather long and decided to move on. The drive back to Karchham dam was all downhill, narrow and steep. As i reached Karchham, i was back on the Hindustan – Tibet road or the dust & pebbles as one can describe it as. First thing was to drive for 10 kms and make a stop at Powari.That too was not easy as the road was blocked at a couple of places due to landslides and it took some time in clearing the same. To say the bike has its advantages at times. No matter how long the line was, how narrow the road was. I always managed to sneak in and out and park my bike in the front. Don’t know how much time this saved me because as they cleared the road i was the first in the line to cross it. It was fun every time i did that.

Total time spent waiting for Road Clearing’s – 1 Hour

Tip: Take extra precaution, not to miss Powari as here you will find the last petrol pump. Fuel up the tank, take extra in the cans if needed as you will find the next petrol pump in Kaza i.e. approx. 170 kms away.

Nearing Karchham Dam

Back on NH 22

Road Clearing Ahead - Back on the Hindustan-Tibet Highway....

After a brief stop and a tank full of petrol at Powari, a drive of another 4 kms took me to the point from where i took the road on the left going up to Reckong Peo & Kalpa. It’s when you are again going constantly up the mountain but this time the bonus was the well laid road and the view of Kinner Kailash. I reached Reckong Peo, took a left for Kalpa and began the ascent to the ancient capital of the Kinners of Kinnaur.

A Natural Photo frame.... Kalpa

The Pyramid - Kalpa

Clouds blocking the view

It was around 4.30 pm when i reach Kalpa and had my first view of the Kinner Kailash range. This is what i was here for but the clouds were blocking the view at that time. It was near a hotel where i made the first stop in Kalpa. I inquired about the room and they showed me one at the first floor. It was all empty, the room was excellent and pricy too but the view from the window and the balcony sold me out. I took the room, the caretaker helped me to untie the bag from the bike and i was done for the day. It was time to just sit back, relax and enjoy the view of the Kinner Kailash range in the setting sun with a steaming hot cup of tea & pakoras.

Kinner Kailash Range - Kalpa

The Cloud Snake.... Still blocking the view & the sacred Kinner Kailash

End of Day 3 – Oct 3, 2011

Altitude – 9711 feet above sea level

Total Driving (Chitkul to Kalpa) – 71 km

Start Time – 11.30 a.m, End Time – 4.30 p.m

04 Oct 2011

I woke up several times at night to check the presence of clouds & ambient light around so as to capture some Star Trails but was disappointed and around 1 a.m i called it quits, hoped for a clear night at Tabo and slept. After a nice and peaceful sleep, i again woke up early in the morning to catch the Sunrise over the Kinner Kailash Range.

Abode of Lord Shiva...

The Shivling Peak...

Where the Earth meets the Sky...

The Rising Sun...

Today was the big day, my plan was to cover a distance of approx. 180 kms on the difficult roads in order to reach Tabo via Spello, Khab, Malling and Sumdo thus entering Spiti Valley from Kinnaur. I was told last night that a landslide had occurred near Spello and the road was closed. The situation was the same in the morning as i was told by the caretaker. To stay and wait for some time or to move ahead? I was not clear…. Finally, i decided to move ahead and see for myself. As at anytime i could move to the next closest place and wait. So, i left Kalpa around 8.30 a.m and continued my journey and my sight fixed on making it to Tabo by the end of the day.

The Famous Kinnauri Apples...

The Famous Kinnauri Apples...

On the way to Tabo...

19 more km to Puh...

Back on NH – 22, the Hindustan- Tibet road the condition was the same. There were few good patches but just for a km or 2… The work on widening the road was going on i.e. blasts and then clearing the debries, so i had to spend time waiting after covering every few kilometers. Luckily, the point near Spello where the road was closed had opened and i crossed the same safely. Meanwhile the scenery around me had changed considerably. I was on the high roads, never in my life i saw mountains like these. True, i was making my way to the Cold Desert of India – Spiti…..

All for a better tomorrow...

Road Clearing in Progress.....


Another Milestone....

I crossed Puh around 12 p.m, and an hour later to the point where a right would take me to the Shipki la pass i.e. the India – China border and the last point on the NH – 22. Not today, i guess…. So, i took the State Highway 48 connecting Spiti Valley to the rest of India and later joining the Leh – Manali National Highway at Yari – Khoksar. The only thing encircling in my mind now was crossing Malling which is subjected to a constant rock fall, landslides and the road could close at anytime.

So, it is best to cross Malling as early as possible as BRO workers stationed there work constantly to keep the traffic moving. In order to get to Malling the journey is uphill again and once crossed it’s all the the way down. Just like a V but upside down and with zigs…..

The Changing Landscape....

The way up the mountain....Zigs

The ever falling & unstable Malling... @ 12,467 feet...

I made my way up, crossed Ka, gave a miss to Nako lake as the time was running out and with heart in my mouth, i crossed Malling situated at 12, 467 feet above sea level. It was 3 p.m when i crossed Malling, i was already running out of time and Tabo was still 50 kms away. Just after crossing Malling, i made a victory punch in the air and made a brief stop. Look at the picture above closely and you will see a car stuck due to rockfall just after i crossed. As i said before, now it was all the way down to Chango and further on to Sumdo as i entered the Spiti Valley…..

All the way down after crossing Malling...Ka Zigs

Approaching Sumdo....

In the cold desert mountain valley - Spiti....

 Travel to the place
Where we can breathe,
Fill our desire,
We wish; we aspire.


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



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