Spiti district welcomes us with golden mountains reflecting bright colours of sunlight and a splendid rock drilled road made by BRO.If the introduction is so mystic then at the end of this trip we will have so many pristine memories.As we gained height ,the sky was never so blue and beneath us was the dry Spiti river that was ready to guide us to the remaining wonderland.
Hats off to BRO ,without them no tourists could have explored this mystic place.The lands were dry,devoid of vegetation but yes I havent seen such wonderful colours before.This is Spiti district for everyone.
Our pit stops increased as we followed river Spiti because the scenery was gradually turning into martian which stimulated us to take more memories of this allien terrain.I have never seen such mountains with colours of sand and tinge of vegetation adding borders amidst arid lands.
We were amazed to see small villages after a span of 80 kms taking its shelter on the foothills of the gigantic himalayas. How people live here with minimum resources is such a stunning experience for the metropolitians.
It was the best afternoon of the setting sun to view as I was standing high above the ground on the winding roads ,with my glances to the tiny villages. Soon the light became dark and to our adventure journey we came across a checkpoint of a village called Sumdo where we needed to cross the river. Just before the crossing , we saw two cars waiting before us .Soon due to a distant blowing dust we realized a landslide is going in between us and the crossing.We were puzzled and I was strictly against moving in the forward direction, when some millitary officers arrived and asked us to move forward as soon as the landslide stops for a moment.We rushed our bikes and Mukul leaded the way over the stones and boulders when the landslide stopped for a few minutes.Obeying the signals of the millitary officers we were rushing over the boulders when my bike fell down since it was heavy with the luggages behind in the carrier. Behind me were two more cars and Jaykrishna with his Classic.I did’t know what to do and stood speechless in the middle of the falling stones.Luckily few stones jumped over us into the river .Jaykrishna arrived and helped me to pick the bike up and quickly I rushed on to the other side.It was not enough for the adventure when we found out that Mukul lost his bike key in the accumulated stones .But he was fortunate enough to avoid the falling stones and pick up his key.We felt so lucky to have escaped the wrath of the nature .We were afraid and thanked god enough for saving us.Yes we expected high adrenaline in this Transhimalayan highway but not like a fatal one.It was already dark and then we drove for an hour in the dark with even more adventure, the moonlight showing us the narrow lanes along the river.The mountains looked like tall horrifying dark ghosts giving us narrow pathways to Tabo.
Tabo is a main village in Spiti district and the second habitable tourist place after Nako as we enter Spiti.
We felt so rellieved on reaching Tabo at night .The rest of the few hours in night was spend in discussing our adventure with the mountains .Next day morning I woke up with scenes of green apple tree surrounding our hotel.This was the first time I was witnessing green apples hanging from a tree.
Tabo has an ancient monastery and the whole town is situated in the vicinity of the monastery.Fortunately we got petrol in one of the shops to refuel our tank to Kaza.
Then as we drove towards kaza ,and after 30 kms we came across an uphill road leading to the Dhankar monastery,precariously built on a cliff.The uphill road from the main highway gave us splendid views of the confluence of the Spiti and Pin river.I found this amazing spot on the uphill road to the monastery.The monastery is now an UNESCO world heritage site.
It is now being reconstructed by the local people to prevent it from breaking down due to the erosion in the hills.Its exciting to explore new places on the earth but at the same time the pollution created due to the heavy influx of the vehicles destroys it.
After Dhankar monastery we now diverted our way to follow the pin river towards our destination i.e The Pin Valley.Before coming to this tour I always dreamt about this place and searched google images impatiently.Pin valley is the home to snow leopards,Himalayan Tahrs and the wild yaks.I was very excited to stay in one of those mudroof top homestays in the villages of the park.The diversion for this valley starts 18 km after Dhankar village from the main Tabo Kaza highway.
As we go onto the other side of the river we get to see this martian shapes of the mountains standing up high like huge piles of sand and dust.The formations were of single colour,unorganised but the geography will surely transform you to an alien land.The introductory view towards my dreamland left me spellbound and yes it wiped out my flashbacks of the dreams ,only to be replaced by more colourful ones.
Mud is the last village in pin valley national park where we stayed in the summers of 2016.Even in this remote village the people have provided excellent homestay facilities for the travellers. Mud village is a major base camp for many trekking routes including Pin Parvati. From Dhankar to Mud one has to travel a total of 55kms along the Pin river and trust me the views are the best in this world in terms of landscape panoramas.
The sky and water revealed kaliedoscopic reflections of the numerous colours in the mountains.There were wild horses and yaks grazing in the field.At intervals there were small villages with farming grounds and mud thatched roofs with trees of yellow colours of autumn.
After the last homestay in Mudh one can walk towards a rift created by a waterfall that flows into the Pin river.The water is chilling cold being formed by the melting snow high up in to the mountains.
Village kids in Mudh
Villagers in their Daily Activities.
The villagers here provide awesome food with numerous choices of dishes which really surprised me.There was porridge,custard,momos,cornflakes and many other delectable dishes for breakfast.The villagers here do farming in the morning and provide helping hand to act as a guide for travellers. Spiti tour is obviously incomplete if you dont visit The Pin Valley national Park.
Next day after 50 kms from the Pin valley we arrived at the district headquarters of Spiti ,Kaza.Kaza has all major facilities like a town with hospitals and luckily a petrol pump after 150 km of driving.To our astonishment we saw that kaza has the highest petrol pump in the world owned by IOCL,so that counts to another achievement of our Himalayan geography.
So a simple advice to all the riders is to refuel the tanks and check your gears in the workshops of Kaza.have a oxygen saturation level check up in the district hospital because after this place the route will be to even more high altitude level roads .
Kaza offers a wide range of commercial hotels and it is the major pit stop to visit the key monastery and the three Spiti villages of Langza,Komic and Hikkim. After checking into our hotel,we continued our bike trip to the high altitude villages of Spiti. We took an 18 km uphill drive from a diversion from the Kaza Kunzum highway to reach the three high altitude villages of Spiti.
The three villages had distinctive features. Langza welcomes us with a Giant Buddha Statue with the snow capped Sheila peak in the background.
Komic is the highest motorable village in the world and Hikkim has the highest post office in the world.
Travellers will be surprised to see such disciplined farming at the top of the himalayas which is only possible due to the tough life and hardworking people of the mountains.Many historians once believed that Spiti was the part of the Tethys sea millions of years ago from where the himalayas were born.We can aslo find some local people selling ancient fossils that are worth to be taken as symbols of ancient lifeforms.
As we reached to a height of more than 14000 feet the land became flat like a football field surrounded by snow capped peaks with panoramic views of the valleys.
Don’t forget to send your postcards back to your home from the highest post office and carry water as much as you can due to the low levels of oxygen in these places.So a piece of advice to all the tourists is to check your oxygen saturation level in the government hospital in kaza and then proceed to these mystic picturesque villages of Spiti.
Now here is the wallpaper of Spiti -The Key Monastery.I always dreamt about visiting this place whenever I scrolled over the google images and used to come over this symbolic wallpaper.Key monastery is the largest monastery in the district which is a half an hour drive from Kaza.
As soon as we entered the monastery we saw several monks of different age and gender assembled together to listen to the evening speech by their head monk.Tourists need to dress properly and behave decently inside the premises as per the rules and regulations.The monastery is made up of several rooms decently piled up like small boxes that make this picture most photogenic symbol of Spiti.
On reaching the gates of the monastery one can see such mesmerising views of the Spiti basin below with the concrete winding road looking like a crawling snake..Visit the monastery at the sunset to have a glimpse of the last rays of the sun on the the valley with the last prayers of the monks in the evening.
As we continued our journey the next day from kaza to kunzum pass we came along a colourful part of our journey yet again. I felt like my eyes acting as a prism and refracting seven colours of nature.For sometime I thought I was in a country like Afghanistan and in a landform that of the Pamir knot.
The valley was mammoth like a football field with no grass and surrounded by different colours of dry mountains.Though the region has no vegetation and is without a single trace of human settlement,but the surroundings were so colourful and rejuvenating like a painting in the mind of a child.We were fortunate enough to have a prefect climate that added the blue colour of the sky mixed in this wonderland.This was my best stretch of bike trip in terms of smooth road along with the scenic feast to our eyes.
Surely Spiti valley is the most colourful valley in the himalayas inspite of being devoid of any vegetation and being the driest part of our country.
After driving for around 70 kms there is a checkpoint for entering the kunzum pass just after the village named Losar. For indians it is just a formality but foreign tourists need to carry their passports for their entire trip in Spiti. The road became terribly worse after that and it was like dirt biking with the hard rocks.We were slowly gaining height as Kunzum pass was situated at an altitude of 16500 feet above sea level.
The road will be accompanied by the Spiti river on the right side and the dry mountains on the left.After an hour drive the river vanished and we arrived on a flat land as if we were on the roof of an elevated land.The road looked nowhere to go surrounded by snow capped peaks and we were standing in the middle of a desolated field.Luckily we found a signboard which showed the kunzum pass as 2 kms away to the destination. Kunzum pass separates the lahaul valley with the spiti valley.So we bid good bye to the spiti valley with lots of memories and photos.
The wind was blowing very strongly which created a fluttering sound of from the numerous prayer flags being hung all around the pass.Prayer Flags are flags of worship that signifies the heroics of the local residents and their bravery.There is also a small shop that offers maggi and hot tea.We were also surprised to see The Himachal State Transport services running buses in such tough roads and remote destinations.That surely makes them the lifeline of the state.
Road trips do build the bonds of friendship and teamwork.Till now we faced strenous roads,landslides,water streams and scorching heat of the sun .But as a team we overcame every tough situations in front of us.
We rejoiced to have completed this far and opened our packed parathas for our lunch.I must say the cold parathas gave us some energy to continue for the rest of the day.
The road degenerated even more badly and I toppled with my bike twice on the way.Our energy was still high on the air to fetch the memories of the alien scenery around.The 12 km diversion to the Chandertal lake is in no way a route for the bike.Snow melted water streams and numerous boulders on the road made the ride even more tougher.Finally after reaching the base camp which is 2.5 kms away from the lake we booked a tent for us .They charged Rs 500 per head from us that included breakfast and dinner.This is quite cheap pertaining to the living conditions at such an altitude which is more than 14000 feet above sea level.
Chandertal is also called “The Moon Lake” due to its crescent shape when seen from the above.The lake is a preserved area for wildlife. So no camping is allowed in the vicinity of the lake.The lake on one side is surrounded by eroded mountains and on the other side with snow capped peaks.It is as blue as one can imagine which may be due to the clear reflection of the blue sky at this height. Chandertal lake is the most famous destination in the Lahaul valley that is even more prismatic than one can imagine from the picture.The mountains,green fields,blue water along with the clear blue sky makes it a dream and colourful destination for every hikers and travellers to the Himalayas.
In the night it was shivering cold but the localites arranged born fires and hot apple drinks .They explained how in the mountains life is impossible without helping others.The people living in the mountains have their motto of helping each others without which according to them life is impossible here in the mountains.So they arranged a vehicle for us to carry the luggages up to Batal which made our 12km trip to the main highway a lot easier.Here I learned how consuming juice of garlic helps in maintaining saturation level of the oxygen in our blood.Next day in the early morning hours we started our journey back to Manali to avoid the heavy streams of water created from the melting snow.Now the road was all along the Chenab river with numerous water streams flowing over the road due to the melting snow as the sunlight rays were brightening up the mountains.
Thanks to the tough build up of the royal enfield bikes which could sustain such ruthless roads.There were boulders on the roads of various sizes which were being carried down due to the rocks loosing their ground as the soil softened in the mountains. Lahaul valley was much greener than the spiti valley and the weather was much more chilling.The mountains were now grey in colour with more concrete rocks and grasslands beneath them.On an average the speed of the bike was not more than 25 km/h.
Amidst such tough and strenous journey we were energised by the changing terrain of the landscape.There were waterfalls over the roads,river forming rifts along the highway,mountains with vegetation and wooden bridges motivating us with the prayer flags.
We felt like freedom birds driving over the roads as if flying due to the vastness of the landscape beneath the clear blue sky.
As we proceeded more towards the windward side of the Himalayas,we can clearly see the contrast in vegetation as the mountains turned from brown bald to grasslands.We were approaching the Rohtang Pass which separates the Kullu valley from the Lahaul valley,with the Kullu valley receiving the maximum amount of rainfall.
The route to Rohtang pass from Batal offers spectacular scenic views of the mountains covered with graceful garb of white snow. Rohtang pass-the gateway to ladakh,is the nature’s most bewitching and pristine pass of the mighty Himalayas and hence is a must visit for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.It also acts as an escape from the heat of the plains during the summer which we availed in the month of September 2016.As we apptoached Chatru from Batal we crossed numerous Tea dhabas which kept boosting our energy,most importantly The Chacha Chachi Dhaba in the stressful Transhimalayan highway.The water streams became broader over the roads as now the melting snow created watefalls like the one in the picture.
Our bikes got stuck numerous times in the rocky bed of the water streams that was even more painful as our clothes got drenched in the chilling cold water.
As we approached Rohtang pass the roads widened up and became crispy smooth due to the efforts of the BRO.The dark clouds began to hover over us as we were approaching the windward side of the mountains.We chased the rainfall and arrived in the mighty Rohtang pass which were crowded with tourists.I imagined Rohtang pass to be a snow covered wall when I used to scroll over the google images.But to my amazement I was spell bound by the greenery.
It was not snowing in the late september but it was raining which rejuvenated the colours of the vegetation.The valley was lightened up with with green grasslands all over the place,refreshed and cleaned by the water droplets from the cloudy sky.
The rain was pouring down continuously so after an hour pit stop we continued our journey now along the Beas river towards Manali and bid goodye to the magnificient Lahaul valley with lots of memories in our mind and heart.