1,700 km, 10 days, 6 rivers, 4 valleys and 2 passes later…


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One word "Wonderful" for all the photos @ amazing locations complimented with wonderful description...




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Day 4: June 7th – Tabo to Rangrik (via Dhankar, 70 km)

I woke up at around 05:00 hours again and since no one was around to serve tea, had to wait about 2 hours until I got my morning cuppa. Unlike the other days, where I had woken up on my own, today, it was the commotion created by IT in the bathroom. Sustained interrogation revealed that IT was doing some pest control, using his slipper to slaughter some poor (but creepy) insects that had entered our homestay bathroom during the night. Noise from repeated slamming of his slipper against various surfaces in the bathroom had woken me up.

We spent some time on the terrace of our homestay, enjoying the sights that you would expect to see in a small remote village that is just waking up early in the morning – Still very quite and deserted apart from the occasional person stepping out with a tooth brush. We also kept an eye out for any movement at the Dewachen retreat across the road – we were going to ask for tea as soon as we saw anyone from the staff.

Pic: Sleepy Tabo - Morning shot from our home stay terrace

Today was more relaxed than the previous days and we had a sumptuous breakfast before walking through the village towards the Tabo Monastery. As we walked through the bye lanes, we saw many small cafes and a few homestays and guesthouses. Both the cafes and guesthouses were mostly occupied by foreigners (and their bikes) – we saw a whole row of motorbikes parked on either side of the entry to the old Monastery. We spent about an hour at the Monastery. The old structures are very simple and made entirely of mud. The newer structure is visually appealing – a myriad of colors that appear even more resplendent against the stark brown landscape. The new Monastery was closed for renovation and we couldn’t take a look inside. After clicking a few pictures, we headed back to Dewachen to settle accounts and move on towards Dhankar.

Pic: Entry to the old Tabo Monastery

Pic: Bikes parked outside the Monastery

Pic: Mud structures of the old Monastery

Pic: The 'old' and 'new' in perfect harmony

Pics: The bright and colorful 'new' Monastery



Before leaving from Tabo, we had a chance to speak to the two cab drivers who had ferried the group of Japanese tourists in Innova’s the day before. We asked them where they were headed and if they had and updates on the Kunzum-Manali stretch. They told us that they were headed to Manali today. They planned to reach Kaza, stop for lunch and a visit to the Kaza Monastery and then proceed to Manali. Both IT and I were privately shocked at the ambitious plan and secretly wished the poor Japanese tourists well.

Pic: The Tabo 'Mall Road' - Dewachen Retreat on the right. Notice two Innova's parked behind the Xylo

The drivers also told us that the Kunzum-Manali road had just been opened a few days ago and was motorable for vehicles with adequate ground clearance. However, they qualified their statement by adding that there were numerous ‘nalas’ on the way and those would be the ‘only’ impediments on the route. We were delighted at this news but took it with a pinch of salt. From our previous experiences in the hills, both IT and I had learned that ‘feedback’ about roads from local drivers was based on a definition of ‘motorable’ roads that was wildly different from what we considered motorable. Nevertheless, we were happy that there was hope for putting our revised itinerary into action. We moved on from Tabo with a vow to seek a few more opinions about the route before taking the plunge and cancelling all our accommodation arrangements (for the return journey via Kinnaur).

Pic: Just after exit from Tabo

In our original plan, we were supposed to cover Dhankar on our way back from Kunzum. However, since we were now thinking of descending via Manali, we had decided to visit Dhankar now – just in case we did not come back this way. The time we had saved earlier by skipping Nako and driving straight to Tabo allowed us this flexibility.

Dhankar is 30 km from Tabo and a small diversion off the road to Rangrik. On the way, we met two bikers from Chandigarh. We had stopped for a cigarette break when they rode up asking if the road led to Dhankar. Little did we know that we would meet them three times again – what a coincidence. The best part about the drive to Dhankar is that Spiti as a constant companion – which it is all long this route anyway – but on this particular stretch (up to Attargo), the river comes very close to the road. Just before the diversion to Dhankar, we passed through the picturesque village of Sichling, where the river begins to run parallel and at the same level as the road. There were many occasions where we were tempted to take the XUV to the river bank and take a dip in the river. However, the wet sand on the banks dissuaded us – lest the tyres get bogged down in the sand.

Pic: We met the two bikers on the left bank of the Spiti, just around the bend in the road in the picture

Pic: The Spiti within touching distance...almost same level as the road

Pic: Touchdown.....IT and the XUV next to the Spiti

There is an arch where the road to Dhankar deviates from the SH-30. Unfortunately, right next to the arch was a mangled wreck of a car – not a very nice precursor to the climb up to Dhankar.

Pic: Start of the Dhankar ascent. The mangled car was on the right of the arch (not captured in picture)

The climb itself was again single track and steep. In 8 km we climbed 600+ meters. We got some amazing views of the Dhankar Monastery and the village while climbing up. With the Monastery perched on the edge of a craggy cliff, it looked like a scene straight out of ‘Game of Thrones’. Just before we entered Dhankar, we met our biker friends again (2 out of 4 meetings)..

Pic: Climbing up to Dhankar

Pic: Game of Thrones - Dhankar Monastery

Pic: Dhankar Village (notice the cool rock formations on the right)

Pic: One of our two biker friends zipping through a stream near Dhankar

We spent a good 30 minutes exploring the monastery. The inner sanctum was so quite that we almost felt that we were in a vacuum. Once inside the Monastery, we actually felt that we were in a different world – almost as if we had actually gone back a thousand years. Luckily, the head monk was around and since we were the only ones visiting the monastery at that time, he showed us around. We also saw his living quarters that were inside a cave carved into the mountain. The feeling of calm was surreal. I told IT later that Dhankar was the best ‘Monastery experience’ for me among all the Monasteries we had seen on our trip.

Pic: The main structure of the Monastery (top)

Pic: Confluence of the Pin (on the left) and Spiti (on the right) as viewed from the top of Dhankar Monastery

Before we left Dhankar, we had a cold drink at a local store and reflected on the experience we had just had. We agreed that Dhankar would be the perfect place to come to, for detoxifying our overloaded minds if we ever had the option to stay there in the future. We left Dhankar at around 13:00 with the hope that someday, we may return and spend a week in the Monastery.

After about 30 minutes of downhill drive, we rejoined SH-30 and continued onwards to Kaza. The Spiti still ran close to the road but now we were about 10 meters above it, unlike earlier when the road was level with the river. One key feature of the drive were the long stretches of straight roads on the valley floor. If you have been to Spiti, you will agree that this is where you feel that you are just heading into ‘nothingness’ – a feeling we were to experience many times again on our drive to Lossar later.

Pics: Down by the Spiti again (notice the massive natural rock/sand columns in the second picture)


Pics: Heading into 'nothingness' - First few clicks of classic Spiti 'straight roads'



We reached Kaza at about 16:00 under a thick cloud cover. It was about to rain. We headed straight to the petrol pump. We topped-up the XUVs 70 litre tank at the ‘world’s highest’ petrol pump. Since there would be no pumps for the next 200 km, we wanted a full tank.

Pic: Entering an overcast Kaza

Pics: XUV tanking up at the worlds highest retail fuel pump


While IT was paying for the fuel, I went inside the small office to get a receipt. There were two IOC employees inside and as our receipt was being written up, the two of them began chatting about an acquaintance who had left Kaza earlier that day for Manali. Here is an excerpt of their conversation:

Employee 1: Do you know if he has reached Manali?

Employee 2: No, he could not make it to Manali as the road is very bad. It took him 5 hours just to reach Batal and he is planning to stay there today.

Employee 1: Wow, is the road that bad?

Employee 2: Yes, it’s just mud and stones. He was saying it’s also very narrow and since he has a big car, he had to drive really slowly. Plus there are the nala’s.

Employee 1: Hmmm…the weather has also become worse. If it rains here, it will definitely snow at Kunzum, god knows what will become of the roads. They may close them down again.

I listened to the conversation quietly and felt a lump forming in my throat. Our receipt was done and as I walked out, I thought to myself – now we have two versions of the road beyond Kunzum – one from the cab drivers at Tabo and the second from the IOC employees. Both painted different pictures. Back in the car, we drove towards the nearby tyre repair shop to get the XUVs tyre pressure checked. As I told IT about what I had heard, the rain started coming down to further complicate matters. Eventually we decided that the option of returning via Kinnaur was still open and we would take a decision tomorrow morning.

Rangrik is just a few kms up the road from Kaza. We reached our halt at Rangrik at 17:00 and checked into the Dewachen Resthouse. The property stands in the middle of nowhere (about a km before Rangrik village) and the accommodation blew us away. To have facilities, that they have, in a place like Rangrik is just unbelievable. At the cost of sounding like a ‘paid blogger’ marketing the place, I would recommend everyone doing the circuit to spend at least one night at the property (if not more).

Pics: Left turn to Rangrik off the road that goes to Key-Kibber. Don't miss the spelling of Lossar - 'Loser'


Pics: Approach to Rangrik



Pic: Rangrik village

Pic: Dewachen Resthouse - Like a lonely space station on some faraway planet

In our original plan, we were booked at Rangrik for a single night. Tomorrow we were supposed to head out to Lossar. However, after seeing the place (both the resthouse and Rangrik itself) and the warm reception we received from our friend Mahi, IT and I agreed that ideally, we needed more than one night here. Rangrik was also where we absolutely had to take a call on our return leg because we needed to cover Langza-Komick and Key-Kibber now (from Rangrik) if we did not intend to come back this way. To do that, we would need to extend our stay at Rangrik anyway. Once we did that, we would be committed to descending via Manali as the extra day at Rangrik would have upset all our accommodation reservations for the remaining days.

Over dinner, which was fabulous, we met a group of fellow travelers from Delhi. We asked them about their itinerary. They told us that they would be in Rangrik tomorrow as well and were heading back via Manali day-after. They knew that the roads were bad but based on feedback from the Dewachen staff at Rangrik, they were sure that they could make it. This gave us some confidence but we were still not sure. Post dinner, we sought Mahi’s opinion and he confirmed that the road was open and motorable. He said, we should not worry and definitely descend via Manali instead of Kinnaur. The only piece of advice he offered was that we should plan to cross Chota Dhara latest by 13:00. After that, according to him, the nalas on the route (called pagal nalas) really became ‘pagal’. This was because post noon, the snow melted faster and the volume of water in the nala’s increased, making crossings tougher.

IT and I trudged up to our room with mixed feelings. Based on the day’s events and the worsening weather, we still couldn’t make up our minds on what we should do. At lights out, we didn’t know if we would be in Lossar tomorrow or would we extend our stay at Rangrik. The latter by default would mean we were taking our chances with the road beyond Kunzum. Day 5....decisions to be made!!
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This is a good account of how the day panned out. The activity in the bathroom to get rid of insects (or comparable creatures) is a tad exaggerated!! I must reiterate that the homestay itself was very comfortable (more, perhaps, than we had expected). The journey and the fun had just begun with the monasteries and the scenic drives! One thing FM forgot (arguably, intentionally!) to mention is that we took a conscious decision to not cover Dhankar lake which, to the best of my recollection and honesty, was based on the fact that reaching the Lake entailed at 2.5km trek. With hair graying as fast as our increasing heart rates and exhaustion (both mental and physical) finding two of its truest mates in our bodies, this simply seemed a 'no go'. Staying at Rangrik was memorable and I kept cursing myself as to why I chose to base myself in Kaza (c.f. Rangrik), to cover the 4 monasteries around the region on my last trip in 2013. The fun, my friends, has just begun.....FM will pour in with more shortly.


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Day 5: June 8th – Rangrik (Langza-Komick, 50 km)

Today, I woke up early again. And you guessed right, it was IT again. This time it was not his stunts with the pests but the general commotion he created with his visit to the bathroom that woke me up. – door slamming etc. While he went back to bed, I stepped out with the camera to take a stroll around the Dewachen resthouse.

The morning was chilly, probably because of the rain yesterday. It was still overcast and windy but for now, there was no rain. I walked through the green meadow that surrounded the resthouse with the aim of reaching the Rangrik village – taking a look around and then coming back to the resthouse. The village was about a km away and I took a meandering approach through the meadow, as I wasn’t in any hurry. After about half a km, the fields and plantations that surround Rangrik begin and I carefully walked through them, mindful of not trampling the crops that the villagers had planted.

Pic: On my way to Rangrik (notice clouds coming in from top right)

Soon I came upon two women working the land. I stood by watching them and wondered how tough life would be for them. Like IT and I, I'm sure, almost every person who visits from the plains thinks how wonderful it would be to get away from the hustle-bustle of the pollution choked city and live in the mountains. But, what we don’t realize is how hard life is in the hills. My thoughts were interrupted by one of the women calling out to me. I looked up and saw that they had taken a break and were sitting down in the fields for a snack. She asked me where I was from and invited me to join them for tea – this brought a smile to my face. Such simplicity and generosity – I would never see this in the plains – and I would never do this with a stranger myself! Reluctantly, and somewhat embarrassed, I walked up to them and sat down with them. They rummaged through their belongings, looking for a cup for me. However, they could not find one. They seemed disappointed that they could not offer me tea after all; however, they asked me to try what they were eating with their tea. It was a coarse white grain – ‘sattu’. It did not look particularly inviting but seeing their enthusiasm, I could not refuse and took a spoonful. It was dry and stuck to the insides of my mouth – I realized why they were eating it with tea – you needed some liquid to wash it down! They asked me whether I liked it and I replied in the affirmative just because I wanted to return their wonderful gesture in whatever way I could.

Pic: Two women from Rangrik with their container of 'sattu' and flask with tea (clouds still coming in)

During the short conversation I had with them, the women told me that the field we were sitting in had sattu planted. They complained how this year was particularly bad for them as the land was very dry. This was because the last winter, Rangrik had seen very little snowfall and the land had not been ‘recharged’ by water from the snowmelt. I did not realise it then, but IT and I were to see the impact of this ‘poor winter snowfall’ later. Soon I bid goodbye after taking a picture of the women. They requested me to send them a copy through the manager at Dewachen, which I intend to do after I have the hard copies printed.

Pic: It had begun to drizzle and yet the two women went back to work as if nothing was happening

I started walking toward the village with the last quarter of the 1 km distance to cover. However, only after I had taken a few steps, it began drizzling. I contemplated continuing on as the rain was quite light. However, all around me, there was absolutely no cover – no trees or any structures where I could take shelter if the rain got heavier. With half of our trip still ahead of us, I did not wanting to risk getting drenched and falling ill, consequently, I decided to turn back. I wanted to get back to the resthouse before the drizzle turned into a downpour. I made it about halfway, before the rain suddenly turned into hail. The weather is so gloriously uncertain in the mountains! I ran the last half of the distance and made it back to resthouse – completely wet. Luckily, my jacket was waterproof and it did its part in keeping me reasonably dry on the inside.

Pic: Clicked from our room at Dewachen. This happened in front of my eyes. This mountain was totally bare/brown and within minutes, this happened.

IT was awake by the time I got back and we got down to our most important discussion of the day – our return route. Based on the feedback received so far on the road, we had more or less agreed to return via Manali. However, we still had to work on three administrative matters:

1. Find out if we could extend our stay at Rangrik for a day (today)
2. Find out if our planned 2-day stay at Lossar could be pushed forward by a day
3. Figure out where we would stay/break journey around Manali

IT and I finally decided that if the first two worked out, we would descend via Manali – come what may. The first matter was cleared rather quickly with Mahi informing us that Rangrik accommodation wouldn’t be a problem. Second, we called Sahil – owner of ‘Nomads Cottage’ at Lossar. This was the tough one as the cottage had just 4 rooms and typically ran quite full most times. Luckily, Sahil came through and 'matter no. two' also closed in our favor. For the third and last item, we decided that we will just ‘cross the bridge when we come to it’ – in any case, Manali and beyond we would be in the ‘touristy’ belt and would find something or the other to spend the night.

With the dice now cast, we could relax. Today was going to be another ‘slow’ day with a trip to Langza-Komick and then possibly Key-Kibber if we were up to it. Incidentally, the other group from Delhi (who were staying at Rangrik) were also planning to do exactly the same thing today. By the time IT and I came down for breakfast, they were finishing theirs. We met them just before they left. Instead of driving up in two cars (they had an XUV and a Toyota Land Crusier), they had decided to take only the Toyota. They told us that the staff at Dewachen had mentioned that most of the Langza-Komick drive was a dirt track that could become very slushy if it rained. Therefore, with rain in the air, they had decided to take only the Land Cruiser which had AWD and not the XUV which was a FWD. They had also taken the trouble of checking their blood oxygen levels in view of the known ATS issues at Komick. They also offered to check our levels but we politely refused. Both IT and I knew, that with our fitness levels, the readings would be woefully low and depressing! As far as the car was concerned, we would take our chances with our FWD XUV.

We left at around 10:00. The aim was to come back to Rangrik by lunch and then see if we wanted to do Key-Kibber in the second half of the day. Before leaving, Mahi told us that we should move out from Langza-Komick before noon as after that, the winds became fierce and it becomes difficult to even stand in the open. He also told us that the drive up to Komick was via Langza while the descent was via Hikkim. The whole route was like a ‘circle’. Apparently, the reason for this is that the roads are very narrow and only ‘one-way’ traffic is encouraged, hence the two different roads for ascent and descent.

Since IT and I shared the driving all through the trip, we decided that I would drive up to Komick and IT would take the wheel when coming back. The drive up to Langza is very scenic but also quite challenging. The ascent is steep – mostly first gear all the way, with some really crazy hairpins where you gain at least 10 meters with every turn. Though the road is a black-top most of the way, it is very narrow with sheer 1000-meter drops on one side and vertical cliff faces on the other. The drive was breathtaking, particularly the section where one drives through rocky cliffs which almost seem like the Colorado canyons. We could not stop for any pictures on the drive because there was virtually no place to stop the car on the road. The road does not even have ‘shoulders’ – which are typical of narrow roads in the mountains, and are used to let two vehicles pass each other.

As we climbed higher and higher, we came across hairpins where the approach angles were 30-45 degrees. Since I was driving, I could feel the strain on the XUV’s engine and at one point, I told IT that we were clocking 2,000 RPM in first gear. To put this in perspective, in the plains, the XUVs big engine only crosses 2,000 RPM at speeds above 140 kph in sixth gear! And now, we were doing the same revvs at 10 kph, in first gear – sublime!

Finally, just a km short of Langza, the road opened up into a beautiful, green ‘plateau’. This was because we had reached the top of the mountain that we had been climbing up for the past hour. The road became straight, with rolling meadows on either side – no 1000-meter gorges and rocky cliff faces anymore. Here is where we began to take it eazy and finally stopped for pictures. We also met our biker friends from Chandigarh again (3 of 4 meetings…) and spent some time chatting with them.

Pic: Rolling greens just before Langza. Golf anyone? (notice the nice straight road and the solitary Tavera coming towards us)

Pic: Approaching Langza

Pic: IT with our biker friends at Langza

The scene at Langza is fantastic. Even though we were at 4,200 meters and had to climb another 400 meters to get to Komick, it already felt like we were on top of the world!

Pic: Langza village

Pics: The XUV at Langza. At 14,000 feet, without a hitch


We did not stop to go to Langza village but continued straight on to Komick. The reason for this was the worsening weather and the time (it was already 11:00 and the wind was picking up). Rain was in the air and we did not want to drive through ‘slush’ which we had been told about. Till this point, neither the men or the machine were showing any signs of ATS. Many travelogues mention that like humans, vehicles (especially diesel engines) begin to experience ‘breathing’ issues at these atltitudes. Just before coming, I had read this blog where the Innova in question could not make the climb in this region once the altimeter crossed 4,000 meters. However, thankfully, the XUV was holding its own so far and climbing without a hitch or even a splutter from the 2,200 cc engine.

The drive from Langza to Komick is simple with a gradual ascent. The road now becomes a pure dirt track with no hint of tarmac. It remains narrow but that does not seem so intimidating because you are mostly driving across the top of the mountain with flat ground on both sides.

Pics: The road from Langza to Komick presents some great vistas




There were two interesting episodes on an otherwise uneventful drive. First, we made the mistake of taking a wrong turn at Langza. We took the wrong road (to enter into Langza village) instead of turning towards Komick. We soon realized the mistake but turning around the XUV on the narrow dirt track was difficult. It took precision guidance from IT (who stepped out) and a test of the XUVs offroad capabilities (we had to coax the left front wheel up the side of the mountain at an angle of 30 degrees as there was no space behind us) to make the turn. The turn could not be made with the XUV at a right angle to the road as it just wasn’t broad enough to take the car’s length.

The second episode was a brief spell of snow just before Komick. We stopped the car and just stood outside, feeling the soft flakes fall on our face. It lasted for less than ten minutes and the snowflakes were small, nevertheless, snow in June was just awesome!

Pic: Snowfall just before Komick

We also met our biker friends again for the fourth and last time. They were on their way back from Komick. We reached Komick at around 11:30 and spent about half an hour there. It was here for the first time that I felt some symptoms of ATS. It felt that my body-weight had doubled and everything seemed much heavier. However, the spell lasted for just five minutes and then the feeling disappeared, never to return on the trip, not even at Kunzum.

Pic: Komick finally - we were now officially in the highest inhabited village of the world

Pics: On top of the world - we were now looking 'at' the snowcaps and not looking 'up' at them


We explored the Komick Monastery and spent some time just taking in the sights and then set-off.

Pics: Komick Monastery



Pic: IT saying final goodbyes at Komick

We had to take a different route now (via Hikkim). We had seen the road while driving up through Langza and expected the descent to be similar – we couldn’t have been more mistaken. Though the distance via Hikkim is just 23 km (Rangrik-Langza-Komick is 27 km), driving on the road is only second to the Kunzum-Rohtang stretch in terms of difficulty scales.

Pic: Hikkim village (on our descent from Komick)

All our skills (and limited knowledge) about hill driving was called into play in those 23 km. IT who drove us back to Rangrik that day, was completely drained and though I was a co-passenger, I also felt that we had driven for several hours and not just 90 minutes. I will share more technical information for interested drivers later, but for now, I will just try to describe in words, why we found the drive so exciting and challenging.

First, unlike the ascent via Langza, the Hikkim route is a dirt track, all 23 km of it. There is a very small section (near Hikkim) which has been ‘cemented’, but the rest is just mud and stones.

Second, it is consistently narrow with patches where I had to literally hang out of my window to guide IT. Despite hugging the mountain on the driver's side, there were barely six inches between our tyres and 1000-meter vertical drops on the co-passenger's side side.

Third, there are no plateau-like patches on this road. Right from Komick to the point where we join SH-30 is a sharp descent.

Fourth, the road is full of blind hairpins. But, unlike all other hairpins we encountered on the entire trip (including the Kunzum-Rohtang section), the ones here have some distinct qualities. The road does not become even an inch wider for the bend. With most hairpins, we see even narrow roads become wider at the bend to help navigate the turns – not here! Most harpins typically use 50-60% of the vehicles turning radius – not here! The bends are so sharp that IT had to use 100% of the XUV’s turning radius on more than one occasion. One particular hairpin bend will remain etched in our memory forever. This actually happened on the ‘cemented’ section. You can imagine what it would have been like – the cement had taken some of the other factors (mud/stones) out of the difficulty equation, and yet, this is the one that we will remember forever.

There was a sudden incline in the road and about 2-3 meters ahead we could just see the road merging into the sky. When IT reached the top of the incline, we realized that this was a ‘hump’ and the road descended sharply on the other side. In addition, immediately after the hump, the descent was not straight, but through a hairpin bend, with at least a 60-degree turning angle. All this happened in a matter of a few seconds and for one of those seconds, just before we rounded off the bend, both IT and I were literally staring at the clouds from the windscreen before IT wrestled the XUV through the turn – another 2-3 inches and we would have been in a freefall.

I will not describe the rest of the drive. In summary, I would say that it was nerve wracking but pure exhilaration too. I’m not sure if the two feelings can co-exist but by the time we rejoined SH-30, we actually had physical manifestations of our experience. Symptoms that are typical of ‘fear’ and an ‘adrenalin rush’. Our mouths were completely dry, our palms were sweating, our socks were actually wet and we felt hungry – as if all our energy reserves were drained and we were running on empty. I think the only difficult level in this ‘video game' that did not appear on the road was water crossings. All other elements were there.

Pics: We only clicked a few pictures while descending because we could not really stop the car on the narrow roads. These were clicked when the road became relatively easier to drive on.


Pic: The final few kms of our descent (notice the road snaking down the mountain). Rangrik is visible on the left bank of the Spiti

We got back to Rangrik by lunch-time and had an unplanned meal which was quickly thrown together by the efficient staff. After, veg biryani and yogurt, IT and I dropped our plan for Key-Kibber and just relaxed in the room. We relived our experience and chatted into the evening which was rounded off with some Glenfiddich and an excellent dinner with pizza, mutton curry, a Greek salad, noodles and other exceptional items. During the meal we wondered, were we really at Rangrik, eating such sumptuous food? We learned later, that the ‘feast’ at least in part, was due to the SP of Kinnaur police being a guest at Dewachen that evening.

On Day 6, we planned to cover Key-Kibber and then drive on to Lossar. Rangrik-Lossar-Kunzum was expected to be the most ‘beautiful’ section of our trip. IT who had done this before in 2013, told me that the next 80 km were what people did the 1,700 km trip for! But, he had never done the Kunzum-Rohtang stretch. Later, he would change his statement to “the next 150 km were what people did the 1,700 km trip for!"
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Shitij Koshal
It seems to be like an intriguing interesting movie with all emotions filled up. Your narration does make feel that going komick in itself an adventure. While reading I was just thinking how you managed sharp hairpins in a single go with same narrow roads and that too on XUV500.


Active Member
It seems to be like an intriguing interesting movie with all emotions filled up. Your narration does make feel that going komick in itself an adventure. While reading I was just thinking how you managed sharp hairpins in a single go with same narrow roads and that too on XUV500.
Komick was an adventure for sure :)

You are right, the XUV's proportions did make navigating the roads more challenging, but I would take the XUV over any smaller car any day. On these roads, the 17-inch tyres and 200 mm of ground clearance were a blessing!! Plus the XUV's best-in-class turning radius came in handy. Also, both IT and I are used to driving cars of this size (IT has a Volvo XC90), so that helped.

From my experience, the trick to sharp bends is your 'timing', 'momentum' and how you 'approach' the bend. IT and I discussed this briefly while we were driving. Imagine a scenario where you have to make a 'right hairpin' with the gorge on your left and the mountain on your right. When approaching the bend, it helps to go out wide (towards the gorge), then begin your 'turn' much before the actual turn itself, using the width of the road to cut across diagonally. When you actually come to the bend, the steering would be at the acutest angle (that you will use for that turn) and you end up being tight against the mountain. Finally, when exiting the turn, you go out wide (towards the gorge) again. This allows you to use the maximum width of the road 'twice' to complete the turn. It obviously goes against the 'stay left rule' but then on such narrow roads, there is no 'left' or 'right' really.