Spiti, where “ROAD” is a relative term…

Discussion in 'Travelogues from North India' started by Yogesh Sarkar, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. Yogesh Sarkar

    Yogesh Sarkar Administrator

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    Here is a brief travel log of my recent trip to Spiti:


    Day 1: Delhi – Ambala – Zirakpur – Kalka – Shimla – Narkanda – Rampur – Jeori

    Expenditure: Rs. 290

    Distance covered: 538 kms

    Time spent traveling: 13 hours and 45 minutes

    I had initially planned to start the ride at 3 AM, however as luck would have it (and my laziness), I could only manage to leave home by 4:45am.

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    I knew that this delay would cost me dearly and this was apparent with in a few minutes as I got stuck in a traffic jam at Azadpur. This managed to delay me even further as it took me nearly an hour to make my way toward the Delhi border.

    Once out of Delhi, the rest of the ride was easy barring a problem with the helmet visor which I got fixed before Zirakpur. Soon after entering Kalka, I was stuck in another traffic jam, thankfully it didn’t last long and I was soon cruising on the fantastic NH-22.

    First photography break came after I crossed the tourist infested Kufri, where fantastic vistas managed to catch my eye and I took a quick photography break.

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    Before Rampur I managed to spot a few Himalayan Vultures and as luck would have it, I finally managed to capture one through the lens, despite the pathetic zoom of my camera.

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    Finally managed to reach Jeori at 6:30pm and got a decent room at a guest house for Rs. 200 a night. Even though at 4500+ ft, Jeori was hot as hell. Thankfully the room I was staying in had a ceiling fan.


    Day 2: Jeori – Wangtu – Powari – Ribba – Nako – Yangthang – Chango

    Expenditure: Rs. 215

    Distance covered: 234 kms

    Time spent traveling: 10 hours and 15 minutes

    After yesterdays long ride, I knew today’s ride would be relatively shorter. So after waking up lazily in the morning, I was finally back on the road at 8:30am.

    First task of the day, enter Kinnaur Valley:

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    In Kinnaur Valley the roads are built by cutting the hills in such a manner that at some places, these overhangs are left. Not only do they look stunning, they keep the road under them cooler than the outside temperature, I guess we need these in Delhi as well.

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    Another feature you will see in plenty at Kinnaur and Spiti Valley, are small water falls along side bridges. Here is one that caught my fancy, though couldn’t get a better shot of it since the water was falling even where I was standing while taking this shot and I was afraid it might ruin my camera.

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    Based on Salil’s suggestion I took the small diversion towards Ribba Village, famous for grape, apple and akrot cultivation.

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    It was a welcome change after seeing the arid landscape for miles. It was a good move to visit Ribba, since there after the landscape just kept getting arid. With the stretch at Kah even looking like a desert!

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    After having lunch at Nako there were still some day light left, even though I had originally planned to spend the night here. But it was too early to call it a night and I decided to move on, few kms into the bypass of Malling Nallah I came across this water crossing. Though scary at first, it wasn’t as deep as the water crossing before Ribba, which had couple of feet deep water and my bike had got stuck in it for a few seconds.

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    Though it did manage to get a sumo stuck, click here to watch the video of Sumo getting stuck.

    After asking few of his passengers to step out, the Sumo driver did manage to get his Sumo free and started on his journey towards Tabo. I decided to follow as well, however barely a km down the trail the front tyre of my motorcycle got punctured.

    This was the first major trip in which I wasn’t carrying the electric pump since it had stopped functioning and this was the first time the tyre got punctured this way. With no one in sight, I decided to continue riding the bike, with hopes of reaching the village of Chango 6km away according to the map. Little did I know that this route was actually 20+ km long, a painfully slow ride, often over dirt tracks.

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    With the sun setting down I started to get a bit worried about the situation, but was taking frequent stops to ensure the tyre didn't overheat. Along the way I came across this peculiar rock formation and I just had to stop and click a pic.

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    Finally an hour and a half later I was at the village of Chango, a small sleepy village with a puncture shop, which as luck would have it, was closed at the time I reached there. I decided to call it a night and got a room in a small guest house for hundred bucks. Hoping to get the puncture fixed in the morning…


    Day 3: Chango – Sumdo – Tabo – Dankar – Pin Valley – Kaza

    Expenditure: Rs. 500

    Distance covered: 164 kms

    Time spent traveling: 10 hours

    After yesterdays puncture I was hoping the puncture repair shop would be open in the morning and it was, but sadly the puncture repair guy had gone to Kaza and his brother didn’t know how to fix a puncture! This meant I would have to ride to the town of Shailkar, 6 kms down the road.

    Once again I was riding with the front flat tyre, slowly yet steadily I managed to reach Shailkar’s only puncture repair shop. The puncture repair guy got to work and got the tube out and to our amazement the tube wasn’t damaged, apart from the original puncture! This was great because I wasn’t carrying the front tube and the puncture repair guy didn’t have any either. After almost an hour I was back on the road and it felt good to ride at normal speed without the front wobbling.

    By 11 am I was in the town of Lari, a fantastic looking hamlet which reminded me of Nubra Valley.

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    After Lari it was time for Tabo and its famous monastery, something I was looking forward to since the beginning of my trip and it didn’t disappoint me one bit.

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    After spending close to an hour at Tabo it was time to move on, by now I was feeling hungry so I decided to have lunch at Dhankar Village, which was once the capital of Spiti and is famous for its Gompa and fort which are located high on the cliff.

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    After a nice lunch it was time to move on from Dankar and head for the next destination, Pin Valley. A place which I had heard so much about. On reaching there, it was easy to see why this place is so famous amongst travelers and trekkers.

    Sangam Village, the last village in Pin Valley connected by road

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    School girl from Pin Valley

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    Green is the predominant color in Pin Valley

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    Apart from all the magnificent vistas, I was also enjoying the ride here. Even at dirt tracks it was easy to keep riding at 50kmph and with rear and occasionally the front end skidding a bit it just added to the overall fun factor.

    Few kms before Kaza I came across this strange rock formation.

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    After a night at Jeori and Chango, Kaza was a welcome break. A moderately large town with amenities such as phones and an internet café and most importantly, a petrol pump.


    Day 4: Kaza – Key – Kibber – Gette – Key - Rangrik – Losar

    Expenditure: Rs. 371

    Distance covered
    : 113 kms

    Time spent traveling: 5 hours 30 minutes.

    Lazily got up in the morning and just loitered around in the hotel room knowing that the petrol pump and mechanics shop would open only by 9:30am. Bike was in the need of some TLC having clocked almost 1000kms on this trip and I also needed to change the punctured tube. When I went downstairs to start the bike, I was shocked to see that the battery was dead! Thankfully after a couple of kicks the bike started, now I really wanted to get the bike checked.

    However, when I went to the mechanic’s shop at 9:30am, it was still closed and after waiting for half an hour I learnt that he had gone to Lahaul. Came back to the hotel and had breakfast and also called back home.

    After breakfast got the bike ready and started heading towards the petrol pump, before petrol pump came across a shop stocking auto parts. Got 2.75x18 tube from them and went to the petrol pump and got the tank topped up. Decided against getting the tube changed from Kaza, since it was already 11:30am and I wanted to leave Kaza ASAP.

    First pit stop of the day was Kibber, world’s highest village connected by road, at an altitude of 14,200ft.

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    However this wasn’t high enough for me, thanks to the tip I had received from Salil I headed towards Gette Village which is located 210feet higher than Kibber.

    Road to Gette

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    Electric starter still hadn’t started working and even the horn was only working occasionally, which meant I was restricted to the dirt track and couldn’t explore off road riding opportunities that lay in front of my eyes. This also meant I couldn’t take the diversion to Gette and instead had to continue on the dirt track, till I took a turn and the whole landscape changed in front of my eyes.

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    Landscape was totally different from any thing I had ever seen before. Even the road that I was standing on was hot enough to be noticeable through my woodland trekking shoes. It kind of looked like it was all part of a volcano or had hot springs nearby.

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    I wanted to explore further and ride to the couple of houses visible in the distance, however the bike refused to start. Even after trying to kick it back to life for nearly 5 minutes there was no response from the bike, finally I had to turn the bike back and push her down the slope and that finally worked and she started. However this meant that I had to drop the idea of exploring further and had to return with a heavy heart.

    After reaching Rangrik the roads were once again in the fantastic shape and it was like riding on the Srinagar – Leh highway. I was making good progress and was ahead of schedule till I saw this small lake by the side of the road and decided to explore it further.

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    After spending almost an hour at the lake I decided to head to Losar, the intended night stop of the day. By 5:00 pm I was in the small village of Losar, actually smaller than what I was expecting it to be. No mechanic or puncture repair shops, no phones and only a few guest houses. Got a room for 100bucks a night and retired for the day.


    Day 5: Losar – Kunzum La – Batal – Chhota Dharra – Chatru – Gramphoo – Rohtang – Manali

    Expenditure: Rs. 730

    Distance covered: 170 kms

    Time spent traveling
    : 12 hours.

    After yesterdays easy ride, it was time for some real fun. Ever since the beginning of this trip, I had been waiting for this day to come, to ride from Losar to Gramphoo, the stretch that I had heard so much about.

    After breakfast it was time to saddle up and it didn’t take long for the things to turn interesting. Bad patch began almost immediately after the town and the first water crossing of the day came within a kilometer.

    The water crossing wasn’t that long, but the broken up rocks and mud filled water made it a tricky affair. A slight miscalculation made sure that the rear wheel got stuck and no amount of revving would get it free. I finally decided to get off from the motorcycle and push, but that didn’t work either.

    The bike was badly stuck, with the underbelly resting on the rocks and rear wheel in the water; finally with the bike resting against my body, I started removing the entire luggage from the bike. Then I also removed my helmet and gloves, which made breathing a little easy. A final push thereafter and revving the bike to 7k rpm finally got her free. But this ordeal left me out of breath and for the better part of next 5 minutes, I was panting profusely.

    Out of the water crossing:

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    It took me an hour and a half to cover 20 km ride to Kunzum La.

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    Even after the crossing the road conditions didn’t improve much:

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    Road condition after Kunzum La got even worse with the water running down the center of the road.

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    With brief stop over at Batal for a cup of tea, I was expecting the fun to come to an end. But it seemed that this wasn’t going to be the case, in fact it was about to get even more interesting.

    Since the snow at places hadn’t melted properly, the diversion was created through the river bed, beside this there was the usual assortment of snow, water crossings, gravel and sand sections.

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    that wall of snow is roughly 8 feet in height, just think how deep the water actually is!

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    I have done my fair share of off road riding in Ladakh and other parts of the country, but believe me when I say, nothing and I repeat nothing comes close to what I experienced on this stretch. The above photographs aren’t even of the place that I thought were the hardest of the lot, because after crossing them I just wanted to ride on, rather than stop and click a photograph. At one inline section I had to get off my bike and push, because she couldn’t climb it due to the gravel and steepness.

    It took me nearly 6 and a half hours to cover 100kms, that puts the average speed at little over 15kmph, even lower than the one I managed while I was riding with front punctured tyre! Zanskar and Suru Valleys were a piece of cake in front of it, Manali – Leh highway, a walk in the park!

    From Gramphoo the roads were smooth, even smoother than what I had encountered on my previous trips to Ladakh. At Rohtang I was back in the civilization with usual touristy chaos of a famous hill station and I felt out of place. Thankfully in front of the Rohtang board I managed to find a little solace and stopped to click a photograph.

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    There was blasting taking place down the road, which delayed me by almost an hour. Once the blasting was over, it was a pleasant ride down till Marhi where I decided to stop for snacks and a cup of tea. By 7 pm I was in Manali, but was shell shocked to see the number of tourists there. After roaming in Manali rather aimlessly for over an hour I decided to finally do some serious hotel searching. Couldn’t find any decent hotels with parking for less than 600 bucks a night, finally managed to bargain one down to Rs. 450 a night. After a nice dinner it was time to go to sleep, knowing this was my last night in hills.


    Day 6: Manali - Naggar - Kullu - Mandi - Kiratpur - Chandigarh - Ambala - Delhi

    Expenditure: Rs. 200

    Distance covered: 622 kms

    Time spent traveling
    : 16 and a half hour

    Started from Manali at 11:30am to ensure that I wouldn’t have to ride in heat in plains. However immediately I was hit by a wall of humidity, the ride though the Naggar route was pleasant with out much traffic. However once I hit the highway at Kullu I was surrounded by large amount of idiotic traffic. Combination of heat, humidity and stupid drivers ensured that I had to ride slow and take frequent breaks.

    Roughly 7 hours later I was in Chandigarh, however just like always I got confused with the usual assortment of roundabouts which ensured I was a prisoner of this city for over an hour. Once back on the highway I loved the power of my bikes 60w headlight, which I was using on the highway for the first time. After almost a night long ride I was back at home at 4am, tired and nearly worn out.

    Food, Accommodation and other things: Rs. 2306

    Fuel: Rs. 2068

    Total expense: Rs. 4374

    Distance covered: 1841kms

    Avg fuel economy: 40.5kmpl
     
  2. akshay4384

    akshay4384 THE LONE RIDER

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    awsome pics yogesh bro
    as for write still have to read it :oops:
     
  3. hitanshu

    hitanshu Master of the OT Universe

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    picssssssssssssssssssssssssssss


    dil maaange more!
     
  4. Yogesh Sarkar

    Yogesh Sarkar Administrator

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    more pics will come soon, watch this space :)
     
  5. Salil

    Salil Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Good pics. Hope you have enough in your head for a detailed destination guide for Spiti.
    Post more pics...
     
  6. sparsharun

    sparsharun Active Member

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    lovely pics man...
     
  7. SachinOnTop

    SachinOnTop Full Use Else Lose

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    arey koi mujhe bhi bike dilwaao....
    mera number kab aayega.... to experience such places...


    superb pics yogi bro!
     
  8. hitanshu

    hitanshu Master of the OT Universe

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    the day you decide to buy a bike ....

    uske thodi der baad you will get tempted/get frust at not having gone and do it :D

    vaddi pseud gaddi chalaane waale wahan jaane se pehle sochte hain. gaddi ke repair cost mein ek do discover aa jayengi :D
     
  9. SachinOnTop

    SachinOnTop Full Use Else Lose

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    ^ comments dena band kar bhai... agar bajaj me jaan pehchaan hai to help kyun nahi karta??
     
  10. akshay4384

    akshay4384 THE LONE RIDER

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    sachin bhai wen r u buyin a bike :oops: :oops:
    and i guess it wud b P220
    anyways let me knw wen u get it
    coz if u remember or not i told u on first ride of urs i wud accompany u :D :D
     

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