Himachal

Best of Spiti – In Pictures

The inviting roads, the terrain, the landscapes and topography…….

Making up our minds for doing the 11 days road trip with a little baby was not easy at all. It was the first time ever that we were so anxious about our ‘Travel’ plans!! Post baby, the lifestyle changed every bit and traveling together (particularly the adventure trips) were difficult to fathom. However, our zeal for road trips couldn’t keep us away for a very long time and after an occasional break of a year we decided to pack our bags and set out on a road trip along with our 11 months old little love to the revered Spiti Valley, the Land of Lamas in India. Interestingly, we discovered our baby boy shares the love for Travel 🙂 This trip wasn’t his first though, he had been on few short trips already before Spiti.

Spiti is as stunning as it name sounds!! Lahaul–Spiti lies in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Spiti is predominantly occupied by Tibetan refugees and hence the region has pretty much feel of Tibet.

We covered the region via Shimla. It was thrilling as well as challenging to drive on these roads. 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. The hairpin bends, the narrow dimensions, encountering natural waterfalls, close encounters with trucks and buses, the frequent bad patches made us  feel ecstatic and sometimes insane:). Take a virtual tour of the roads here.

The region is heaven for photography enthusiasts, to hone skills and experiment with different styles, today I’m sharing the essence of the ‘Spiti Valley’ captured in pictures, a random compilation of awe-inspiring sightings. This is going to be a series of posts and I hope you travel along 🙂

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This is a landscape view of village – Dhankar. Dhankar stands tall at an altitude of 12,774 feet. Dhang/dang means cliff, and kar/khar means fort. Hence, the fort on a cliff is popularly known as ‘Dhankar’. The confluence of Spiti & Pin Rivers from this height is incredible!!!

Dhankar houses a 16th century old fort monastery; however one can see the new monastery now in the tiny village of Shichilling. The old monastery complex is also known as Lha-O-pa Gompa; it has five different halls and includes a number of multi-storied buildings. The highlight of the monastery is the a statue of Vairochana or Dhayan Buddha with 4 figures seated back to back. The monastery is associated with Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism and has around 150 lamas residing in it.

Dhankar - LandDhankar

Read more about Dhankar

Bridge-Spiti

The natural settings are so beautiful here that we were compelled to take breaks and soak in the beauty, this capture is a humble attempt to share the beauty with the world. Continue reading

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Categories: Adventure, Family Travel, Himachal, India, Spiti Valley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 71 Comments

Chindi – A little piece of Heaven

His eyes lit with excitement as he pointed to a tree where the tiny pomegranates were hanging and dangling and swinging beautifully with gust.

We had been to Orchards before, like on Spiti Valley road trip, the accommodation we stayed in at Kalpa, was located right in the middle of Apple Orchard and we could actually touch the Apples from our room’s balcony! But Aayansh was just 11 months old then so that explains the recent enthusiasm he is now 2 :).

 

It was not just Pomegranates; we crossed variety of trees and were as excited as ever – Pears, Plums, Apricots, and Apples. What a blessed place this was!

And the picturesque views of the hills from that altitude were something else! We had spent a lot of time in Himachal over the last five years, and still on our every following road trip we discover some place special casting a magic spell that lingers on in our hearts.

This is Chindi!

Chindi - Cover

A beautiful drive of about 95 kms from Shimla and you are in ‘Chindi’, a serene charming place in Karsog Valley. The mountains are mighty but so luxuriant with greens and the supple fog that it feels divine. Throughout our road trip we followed Google Maps and decided to take the not so popular route and it turned out amazing as it required us to drive via these quaint villages, orchards and incredible views.

Chindi 2

The misty mighty mountains as viewed from Chindi in Karsog Valley

Continue reading

Categories: Experience, Family Travel, Hill Station, Himachal, India, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Seven Things must do at Renukaji!

Last week I shared an engaging post about the offbeat treasure near Delhi – Renukaji, The Blessed Waters and Heavenly Charm

In continuation with the topic, here’s how you can plan your day at Renukaji, the activities you can do and get the most out of it 🙂

  1. The most popular one – Boating : Boating at Renukaji is loads of fun, the colorful boats and serene waters are so inviting! It costs just INR 250/- and the last entry is at around 5 pm. You can enjoy the scenic beauty, can actually see fishes and black turtles too in the water. The kids love it.
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Colorful Boats at Renuka Lake

2. Renuka Mataji Temple and the Parshuram Tal : The Temple is located at the base of the Renuka Lake. It is believed that Renukaji is the birthplace of ‘Lord Parshuram’, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Parshuram was born to Maharishi Jamdagni and his wife Renukaji. Their prayers were answered by Lord Shiva and they both were rewarded for devoted meditation. The locals believe that the lake (and region around) is blessed by Renukaji and her spirit. The place is highly revered by the devotees.

3. Take a Nature Walk around the Renuka Lake : This one is my favorite , start early and embark on the Nature Walk around the Lake, you can combine this with visit to the Zoo. The timings are 9.00 am but you can go before that as well, we chose to start at 7.30 am. The morning walk amidst lush greens was refreshing and infused new energy in us.©

4. Observing the Animals : After all it’s a Zoo, though I’m not a big fan of Zoo, I don’t like animals being restricted in an exhibit but yes since it’s collided with the Nature Park and morning walk we did some animal spotting too. Aayansh found it joyful, for his age he has special fondness for all animals including reptiles!

 

Continue reading

Categories: Family Travel, Himachal, Offbeat Travel, Traveling with a Baby, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Dainkund Memories!!!

Untraveled Routes - Poem I

If you would like to read more stories on Dainkund or see more pictures, feel free to explore….

Adventure ride to Dainkund

Memories from Dainkund!!

A rendezvous with history and the Hills

Categories: Adventure, Dainkund Peak, Himachal, History, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Deadly Trio

The best thing about ‘Travel’ is that you can’t always predict what you are going to encounter during the journey. The road trips, the bike rides, the train, buses, cycles and sometimes on foot, the experience is different every time and that’s what makes it special.

While we were away in the rocky mountains of Spiti Valley, close to Key Monastery, Ashish spotted this beautiful sight. From distance it looked ordinary but thanks to DSLR zooming capability, when we closely observed it actually looked oddly pleasing.

Presenting the King, Queen and assuming the Knight!!!

The Deadly Trio

How I wished someone could actually tell me the story behind it, like how & why of it!! But nevertheless we captured the shot, it seemed like a great find and feels happy to share it with the world here 🙂

Honestly, of all the places we have covered so far, Spiti has been the most enchanting one considering the history, gorgeous landscapes and particularly because it’s not hoarded by tourists!!

Take a closer look at the trio –

Keep traveling to creating cherishable experiences …

Cheers, Untraveled Routes

Categories: Adventure, Hill Station, Himachal, Tour Spiti, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A daycation to Key Monastery, Spiti Valley !!!

‘ Is this your first visit? ‘ A deep yet soothing voice distracted us.

A middle aged Monk clad in typical maroon colored attire was standing right besides us. His smiling eyes continued the conversation.

We were at the largest and one of the oldest monastery of Spiti region – ‘Key Monastery’, more commonly referred as Kye Gompa and it’s founded by Dromton around 1100 CE.

Key1

Placed on top, the Key Monastery as visible from a distance!!

 

As is with other monasteries in the region, this also had impressive murals, paintings, artifacts and above all an extremely warm and friendly Monk who was more than happy to share information.

You might wonder the oddly pleasing structure of the Monastery, well the credit goes to repetitive Mongol attacks that began in 14th century. Not just that later the Monastery also survived the wars in 1830s and 1840s but stood strong resulting in box like structure. The formidable structure at an altitude of 4166 mtrs still looks impressive.

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Welcome to Key!! with Untraveled Routes

The monastery also serves as a training center.And close to 300 monks reside in the Monastery. And yes there is accommodation available for travelers, peace seekers and explorers alike.

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Behind the scenes!! Preparation for prayers in progress…at Key Monastery

The encore is that you might witness young cute looking monks playing a football match.

The Surroundings

Right before one enters the Monastery, there is a small restaurant serving snacks, tea etc.

Suggestions

Do carry a good pair of Binoculars. We covered Kye Monastery during a day visit from Kaza (16 kms approx), we witnessed Golden Eagle, The Red Fox, Yaks and many such beautiful sights to remember. We also visited Kibber Village, the highest motorable village in the world but will cover that in separate post. This one is dedicated to ‘Key’!!!

Key5

Further Readings –

The 11 day road trip to Spiti with 11 months old baby boy!!

Super Seven Things about Spiti Valley you need to know!!

A virtual Road Trip to Spiti via Shimla!!

Categories: Adventure, Discovery, Experience, Himachal, Road Trip, Spiti Valley | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Traveling to Hill Stations? Here’s a quick list of things ‘not to do’ !!!

Hills and Valleys in India enjoy the status of being quite popular vacation destinations throughout the year barring few months. Especially during the months of May and June, you will find people traveling to one or another hill station. Sure the hills provide the needed respite from heat and soothing break. Without a doubt you look forward to the most wonderful time with loved ones and friends and do not wish to ruin your happy mood because of trivial issues.

Hills Poster.jpg

So go on reading…we are sharing our experience highlighting what not to do while traveling and sightseeing high altitude region!!!

  • Stay away from the Horse rides: Most of the places in and around these hill stations are full of bhaiyas offering horse rides claiming to take you to some Switzerland point for bizarre amount. These points are very well approachable on foot as well, in fact you can enjoy the nature more while walking comfortably rather than sitting precariously on these horses. On few patches it is supremely risky to travel by horses. And you don’t want to spend without getting value. However, if you feel to treat this as an activity go ahead, it’s your discretion.
  • Do not travel empty stomach: The route to most of the hill stations goes in circles with lot of twists and turns resulting in motion sickness or some uneasiness (may be not for all) and increased duration of travel (because your vehicle will not be able to cross a particular speed). Most people develop some sickness and by the time you reach you are totally exhausted. Read how to tackle ‘Travel Sickness’. It is advisable to eat healthy, carry mint chewing gum or medicine to help you out in extreme situations. Take a break every 1.30 to 2 hours, treat yourself with pure oxygen, take deep breaths, and stretch your muscles.
  • Binging on unhealthy food stuff: We swear by health is equivalent to wealth. You most likely will find maggi (which is now banned even if it wasn’t it still counted under unhealthy food item) and chai walas (tea vendors) on the locations. Sometimes you will find stalls of Indian burgers; chana chaat etc but there is no surety about the hygiene and quality. The point is just as you prefer bottled mineral water, do make a point to avoid eating unhealthy food stuff; you don’t want to fall sick on vacation. Preferably carry bread and butter / jam, biscuits, tetra pack juices, chocolates to keep hunger at bay and eat only at superior food joints. Just as important as eating healthy, stay hydrated. Keep sipping water, juices, lemonade to avoid feeling queasy.
  • Travel light: Always keep your stuff as minimum as to fit in your backpack. Do carry a pair of comfortable shoes and first aid but avoid unnecessary clutter in your bag, Especially if you wish to do a road trip as well as part of your whole travel plan.
  • Littering the nature: Be responsible, do not leave the empty bottles, beer cans or throw packets / polythene at these places. You are not just spoiling the beauty but contributing to disaster waiting to happen. Take care of Mother Nature to the maximum extent possible.
  • Travel during monsoons: Kindly avoid traveling during monsoons until you are looking forward to extreme adventure; the weather can play havoc at these places. The landslides, cloud bursts, freezing temperatures, slippery roads can make it really tough. We once got stuck at Manali for over 48 hours. The river started overflowing and covered the highway, we were stranded on road and there were no hotels around. We had to request one of the local families to give us shelter. How we managed 24+ hours in a car; here is the full story – Hopes hanging by a thread!!!
  • Travel with the belly!!: Fitness, the most important factor, not just concerned with Travel but overall lifestyle and well-being. Not asking you to join gym but 30 minutes walk/ cycling / swimming or any activity of your choice. Keep yourself fit and work on your stamina to enjoy nature walks, treks, adventure sports at the destination. Also, the fit ones look great in photos 🙂

We’re sure these pointers will help; readers are most welcome to add on to the list:)

Another important thing while choosing vacation spot, try to go for less crowded and less exploited ones, for instance Shimla is one of those hill stations which has become extremely commercialized. There are other myriad other unexplored stations just do some research before planning your trip or just write to us 🙂

Happy tripping!!

Categories: Adventure, Hill Station, Himachal | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Glorious Mountains

Vibrant Spiti

With colors so vivid and views so breathtaking, Spiti Valley will find a place in your heart forever 🙂

We captured this incredible image on the way to Tabo – The Ajanta of Himalayas on our recent road trip to Spiti Valley

We have never seen something like this, the combination of colors adorned by this place naturally is incredible!!! If you are planning to visit Spiti Valley this summer this surely will help – Reaching Spiti Valley, The road that leads to Spiti Valley.

Happy Exploring!!!

Categories: Adventure, Himachal, History, India, Photography, Road Trip, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doorway to Heaven

This beautiful temple door really seems to be the entry to the heavenly mighty Himalayas. We captured this shot at Kalpa, Kinnaur. Kalpa, is few kms from Reckong Peo, the drive itself will make you fall in love with this place. The place could be perfect summer destination !!! Go for a nature walk, relish the Apple orchards and magical views of Kinner Kailash range. We covered Kalpa on our recent road trip to Spiti Valley (April 2016) but you can easily make journey plans only around this place if you have less time and wish to stay in the lap of nature:)Evening at Kalpa

Categories: Hill Station, Himachal, India, Inspiration, Kalpa, Kinnaur, Photography, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The road that leads to Spiti Valley (II)

Delhi – Shimla – Kinnaur – Spiti Valley in April 2016

This post is part of the series – The road that leads to Spiti Valley

Earlier I had shared stunning images of the roads via Shimla – Kinnaur (NH-22)  leading to Spiti Valley. Continuing from Tapri, the virtual tour is here, enjoy the ride 🙂 I had to limit the pictures till Nako, otherwise it was becoming a huge post.

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Tapri to Karcham on the way to Spiti

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A little break and a quick walk 🙂 near Karcham

Kalpa onwards

Approaching Kalpa, the place with gorgeous views of Kinner Kailash Range

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Shongtong Bridge: We observed the bridges on the way were adorned by several Tibetan Prayer Flags and looked so beautiful decorated with them.

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Near Nako :), after crossing Nako one enters into Spiti Valley via Sumdo

The luxuriant green Kinnaur changes to ice capped rocky mountains, you’ll fall in love with scenic beauty and the landscape views!! These sure will give you a feel of the road and help you plan your trip to Spiti, maybe even tempt you to experience the thrill of driving on these roads. I shall be sharing Nako – Tabo – Dhankar – Kaza soon 🙂 and those ones are really beautiful. Till then…..

Happy Exploring!!!

Categories: Adventure, Discovery, Himachal, Kalpa, Kinnaur, New Delhi, Photograpghy, Shimla, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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