An epic road trip to Spiti Valley, the Land of Lamas in India

The Trans Himalayan voyage through Shimla – Kinnaur – Spiti Valley

We have done road trips before but the one we were planning this time was totally different. We were bracing ourselves for the drive on one of the most treacherous and deadliest roads of the world. This time it was the thrill of NH-22 and Hindustan-Tibet road. This time we were going to be away in the majestic rocky deserted mountains, rugged terrains, vertical cliffs and cold desert valley.

And somehow our instincts convinced us that this was totally worth it.

Spiti was on our minds for a long time, an incessant zeal for travel gave us all the courage required to do this trip with our 11 months old baby boy – Aayansh. So we did it in April 2016!!! Gorgeous mountains, flawless cold desert valley, captivating culture, contagious love and warmth, beauty exuding from every quarter… Spiti Valley is a treat for soul.

There were so many things we had to think through and we also needed back up plans

  • 10 – 11 days, away from home with a little baby!!!
  • Can we do the drive from Delhi to Spiti Valley and back, it could be exhausting!!
  • Drive on the deadliest roads of the world?
  • Is our car well built for rough roads?
  • Food supplies, spare bedding, winter clothes, heater, kettle!! ( packing stuff for 10 days was one hell of a task)
  • Our BIGGEST challenge was traveling with the baby – To ensure that he is happy and healthy throughout the journey, manage his routine. The thought about organizing his milk, food, diapers, sleep and keeping him involved so that Ashish could focus on drive gave me jitters.
  • Was it even possible to drive for 5 – 6 hours daily in the mountains with the baby?

But we still decided to go for it 🙂 so here is the travel story…..

We left from Delhi (our home) on the night of 20th April and touched Zikarpur, near Chandigarh around 12 pm. We decided to a break and stayed at a hotel for the night. Managing baby’s routine was extremely difficult during the initial days, moreover we did not want him to get cranky or upset about the whole thing, so we were quite cautious.

Next morning we began our journey around 9.30 am for Shimla. But the first day in the mountains was most difficult for me and the baby. As the car went in circular motions we both felt queasy. Anyways to avoid problems we kept taking breaks, stepping out of the car and quick walks helped. We stopped at Shimla for lunch and some sightseeing.

We reached Kufri around 5.30 pm and were dead tired. We decided to stay, as Aayansh was not in a mood for further ride. We chose to stay at Kufri Holiday Inn.

Day 3 – Peaceful Sarahan

Beautiful trees adorned with purple flowers will welcome you at Rampur. Since the road is bliss the journey to Jeori is also enjoyable. Moreover, we kept taking tiny breaks to soak in the nature’s beauty :).

Once you reach Jeori, Sarahan is off the main road just 17 kms away approximately. Sarahan has a surreal peaceful charm. Sarahan is a beautiful village adorned by impressive Bhimakali Temple that is 800 years old and gorgeous Shrikand peak views. Sarahan was the capital of rulers of former Bushahr State. Don’t miss lovely pictures and story about this place here – Abode of Goddess Bhimakali

Sarahan

View of the Bhimakali Temple from South during sunrise #Untraveled Kinnaur

Day 4 & 5 – Stunning Kalpa

Reaching Kalpa was the most difficult part of our journey due to bad road conditions. We were enjoying the monster faces and scenic beauty until the bad patches began disturbing us. Once we crossed Sungra the patches transformed into a fully fledged pebbly road. It was a stretch of good 40 kms starting from Wangtu and continuing till Karcham. Once you reach Karcham, the roads are divided into two – the one going straight leads to Rekong Peo and the other one to Sangla. We purposely took the one going to Kalpa.

Captivating pictures of Kalpa are right here – Kinner Kailash Range

Considering the bad roads, maintaining a good speed became really difficult task. Moreover, it disturbed baby’s sleep and he didn’t like the roller coaster feel of the car. I can’t define how difficult it can get if the baby does not want to cooperate!!!

Kalpa is few kms away from Peo. As we were ascending for Kalpa, picturesque views of the Kinner Kailash range (elevation 6050m) during sunset made our hearts pound with excitement. The nature truly re-energized us!!! Mostly hotels were not fully occupied in April and therefore we got a great deal. We chose to stay in ‘Kalpa Retreat’. And it was even more exciting to watch the sunset and gaze at moon and the stars right from the hotel bed.

Kalpa6.jpg

Radiant and majestic Kinner Kailash Range adorned by the rays of sun. Isn’t it gorgeous!!!

Day 6 – The Ajanta of the Himalayas – TABO!!!

The changing landscape from luxurious green Kinnaur into white desert of Spiti valley will mesmerize you and leave impressions that will stay with you forever. Gradually, the tall green trees are substituted by gigantic rocks and tall mud structures; with the backdrop of Himalayas, it’s a sight to watch!!!

For hours we did not observe a single soul, it felt like we were on a different planet and landed there in our car for exploration. Though we crossed Himachal Tourism buses and almost every time it increased my heartbeat as the roads were so narrrow!!!

The rocky mountains were striking beautiful, carved aesthetically by nature. Huge expanse of land adorned only by nature was so appealing that you would want it to never end.  The roads are mostly well maintained with bad patches here and there. For us, it was very crucial to sustain a particular speed for two big reasons – with the baby we could not drive for a long time, it was just tough for Aayansh and secondly since Ashish himself was driving throughout, our objective was to reach some place safe before 5.00 pm. So that we could select a hotel, enjoy the stay and get prepared for the next day. From Kalpa to Tabo in one single stretch was something!!!

 

DSC_0433.JPG

Tabo Village, this is a picture of the premises of Tabo Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in the world. In the backdrop you can see caves where monks practice meditation. Also, if you observe keenly, there is ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ painted in TIbetan language, it’s so beautiful!!! I could not stop staring at that, I have never seen something like this before.

Day 7 – Finally Kaza

The distance from Tabo to Kaza is not much plus the roads are awesome!!! You are going to fall in love with the scenic beauty. Kaza is presently the headquarters of Spiti sub division. You will not find a lot to enjoy in Kaza itself but there’s a lot to cover around Kaza including:

  • Dhankar Monastery and Kungri Monastery
  • The largest monastery in Spiti Valley – Ki Gompa (1008 CE)
  • Kibber village and Gete, one of the most highest inhabited village
DSC_0584.JPG

Colorful Kaza Monastery

Day 8 – Nako

Now we were on our way back, reluctantly though!!! Our next stop was Nako, we covered Kaza to Nako in a day. Nako is a tiny village, there’s not much to this place but the village is strategically located and therefore becomes a halting point. I remember vividly that when we were heading to Nako (while going to Spiti) the gigantic rocky mountains seemed unending and it was so windy that our card was literally shaking!!! And yeah while heading for Tabo we also spotted a Red Fox 🙂 we tried to capture in the camera but couldn’t.

Day 9 – Sangla

Nako to Sangla was again a tough journey; we had to encounter the dreadful bad patches again. While you are driving straight for some time at lower altitude till Karcham, to reach Sangla one again starts moving in circles, also the road is rock-strewn at few patches with blind turns. Sangla is located at an altitude of 2680 meters.

Day 10 – Chandigarh

This was the longest stretch. We covered Sangla to Shimla and then Shimla to Chandigarh in one single day. It was a drive of 10 – 12 hours, hats off to Ashish!!!

The bridge that connects to Rampur was closed because a truck broke down right on the bridge, this caused detour and slowed us down for at least by an hour. The next bottleneck was at Shimla city, it took us a long time to clear the traffic snarls.

Day 11 – Delhi

And we are back – Home Sweet Home!!!

We have more to share!!!

The story from this road trip does not end here 🙂 We have so many amazing stories and wonderful pictures to share, so hope to see you again soon.

For 10 days we were in a life unimaginable in a metro!!! Away from all worldly affairs it seemed like different planet. It was intrepid and we are delighted to have done it.

Happy Exploring!!!

You might like to read – How to reach Spiti Valley

Advertisements
Categories: Offbeat Travel, Photography, Road Trip, Sarahan, Kinnaur, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti, Travel Experience | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Post navigation

40 thoughts on “An epic road trip to Spiti Valley, the Land of Lamas in India

  1. Awesome travel and loved the photos. Was happy that you made it back home safely!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful pictures, great story and how brave and adventurous to travel with a baby! But in the end,this sounds like a trip was well worth the effort. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your pictures are just stunning! Loved the write up!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful post and breathtaking photos.. very adventurous of you to take the little one.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Suchandra Chatterjee

    Amazing travelogue Charu. Hats off to you both for pulling this off with Aayansh. Truly inspirational. Have many such amazing family vacations in future too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for those kind words Suchandra!!! So pleased that you find it inspirational 🙂 We really want people to ditch the stereotypes and explore the beautiful world 🙂 Will keep sharing more stories and amazing pictures 🙂

      Like

  6. It’s really a great adventure with the little baby by the side.. Your spirits are truly praise worthy.. Wish you all the best in your future travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a ton Sreedhar 🙂 The whole challenge was truly the baby, we are glad that he was really supportive!!! Will keep sharing more stories in future 🙂

      Like

  7. Archie

    This is one area of the country I’ve never really explored and I want to do it so badly. But now I have to bid my time.. Only when a leisurely India trip happens… Atleast I got to see it through your eyes 🙂

    Very thrilling and happy to see you safe and sound :)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Archie 🙂 🙂 So glad you read the story and liked it too!!! Yeah, you at least need a week, in fact more the merrier. Not a easy drive you see but yes as much thrilling as astonishing 🙂

      Like

  8. Amit Sharma

    Sounds u had some real funn!!!…n thats awesome…

    just wanted to check…Which car you drove…how abt MUV like ertiga will work on those roads…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Amit, yeah it was as much thrilling as astonishing!!! We did this by i10, Ertiga will surely work. When we planned in April the Manali route was closed so we did Shimla – Spiti – Shimla. If you are planning to do Spiti via Manali route then do confirm the road conditions with Kullu tourism dept.Just sharing little trivia, locals’ favorite car is Maruti 800!

      Like

  9. I’m greatly surprised and equally amazed after reading this post. Till I read your post, I was of the opinion that it is impossible to travel in spiti with a kid. Spiti has been on our bucket list for quite some time but we did not do it because we felt it is not safe for our 4 yr old son. After reading your travel story, We can’t wait to get there. One question though- Did not the high altitude cause any discomfort to the kid?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sindhu, I know what you mean, almost everyone believes that due to very harsh and tough environment it’s not safe to travel to Spiti with kids!!! But it’s not impossible, if you have your own vehicle lot of things are under control. During the day temperature used to be fine, so we used to take breaks only to make sure that he gets to play and stays comfortable. Post sunset, the temperature would drop like crazy and it used to get extremely windy. I remember so vividly that nights in Tabo, Kaza and Nako were tough even for us, we were so anxious about Aayansh. We made sure he is never exposed, we used to look for a hotel that was spacious, had lobby and everything so that he could play indoors because kids cannot be confined to a room. Moreover, we changed his sleep routine to suit the travel. Hope this helps. When are you planning to go ?

      Liked by 1 person

      • We have already finalized on our travel plans for this year.. So, we can only make it to Spiti in the next year.. I ll definitely keep your advice about the journey and hotel booking in mind while I plan for Spiti.

        Like

    • Also it can give discomfort to kid even to us if we travel to high altitudes on a short notice.. we would recommend to go via Shimla.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A Really Picturesque tour, my Dear Charu! Breathtaking, is the word that comes to mind.

    I must really Thank You for posting these things. I would say that my days of traveling, except for necessities are over, and Your postings are really giving me a Treat!

    Particularly loved the photographs.

    And Specially the ones of Junior, even ‘Peeking’ at the Camera with such Interest! …Love and Regards to All. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well, I must Thank You for such kind and encouraging words!!!
    This road trip was the toughest travel but it was worth it, we wanted to capture the beauty (which we did to some extent 🙂 ) and share it with the world.
    Makes me feel really happy that you adore these pictures!!! And thanks on behalf of Aayansh too, he is one super keen and inquisitive kid.

    Like

  12. Congratulations.
    My sister and me, both senior citizens are planning to replicate your
    adventurous trip this August. Will the time be right? Also will my Hyundai
    Accent make it over the rough stretches?
    Going from Simla to Sarahan and onwards to Spiti does one require any
    permit? Are the hotels comfortable and with western w/cs?Do we need to make
    advance reservation?
    Sorry for the long list of queries, but I look forward to your response.
    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much 🙂
      – You can visit Spiti Valley in August, usually the travel period is May to September. However, since weather conditions were manageable we did this trip in April itself.
      – As far as the vehicle is concerned, high ground clearance is preferred, particularly if this is the first time. Hyundai Accent will work (I think the ground clearance is around 170mm) but it is better if the car is sturdy as the roads are deadly and you can’t afford a single mistake.
      – A registration will be done by Kinnaur Police at Chaura plus they do random checks so just keep all the papers handy and in good condition.
      – Mostly you will find good hotels on the stretch but there are some places like Nako where there are limited options so you might have to do a advance booking. Shimla, Sarahan, Kalpa, Sangla, Chitkul, Tabo and Kaza has lot of options, I will recommend to do a basic search on choice of hotels and confirm before reaching to avoid last minute problems. Moreover, I will soon be sharing my review about the stay options, that might help 🙂
      – The Shimla route helps the body to get used to high altitudes, so it is preferred to avoid mountain sickness.

      Hope it helps, if you need to know anything more just drop a message.

      Will keep posting more details about the trip so keep posted 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Many thanks for your prompt response.
        I am keenly looking forward to your write up on stay options.
        In case I need further information I am surely going to write
        to you again.

        Thanks once again.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Resplendent mountain range at Kalpa | Untraveled Routes

  14. Breathtaking shots! And a very helpful writeup for someone planning a similar trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Traveling to Spiti Valley? This is a MUST READ!!! | Untraveled Routes

  16. Pingback: Totally Tabo-ed!!! | Untraveled Routes

  17. Pingback: The road that leads to Spiti Valley (III) | Untraveled Routes

  18. Pingback: Photography theme – Monasteries | Untraveled Routes

  19. Pingback: Dhankar, Spiti – the Heights that will make your heart go boom!!! | Untraveled Routes

  20. Pingback: The rising ‘Moon’!! | Untraveled Routes

  21. Pingback: A daycation to Key Monastery, Spiti Valley !!! | Untraveled Routes

  22. Pingback: Spiti, Revisited. | Untraveled Routes

  23. Pingback: Give your child the gift of ‘Travel’; it may positively impact brain development!! | Untraveled Routes

  24. Pingback: 7 reasons why road trip to Spiti will leave you spoiled !!! | Untraveled Routes


  25. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsGreat information. Blessed me I reach on your own website by accident, I
    bookmarked it.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: