Posts Tagged With: Road trip from Delhi to Spiti

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.

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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’!!!

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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!!

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

Dhankar, Spiti – the Heights that will make your heart go boom!!!

Tickling the travel bug with an offbeat treasure between Tabo and Kaza, Spiti Valley

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Also featured in “Tangy Picks” on Blogadda

Our visit to Tabo village had left us excited and yearning for more. After visiting the Tabo Gompa and taking a short walk in Tabo village we were ready to continue our 11 days Trans Himalayan voyage.

We began driving towards Kaza around 11 am (though our next stop was Dhankar); thankfully the road was straight and real smooth. The sun out there was bright enough to give us serious tan however the wind was chilly. And it was super windy!!!

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Take me wherever these roads go!!

Beautiful! Beautiful! Journey

Spiti River was accompanying us religiously; it looked so pristine and blue. We couldn’t hold back our excitement and decided to go closer and feel the water. We really wanted to stay more but the ruthless Sun and our restless Baby boy pushed us to drive further.

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Pristine waters of Spiti River glorified by bright blue sky!!

The Entrance

It’s hard to miss the road to Dhankar; it’s beautiful and quite evident.

The Ascend

This is the ‘BEST’ part of visiting Dhankar. The magnificent views that your eyes witness will fill your heart with excitement beyond ordinary. There are many turns on this road and the views keep changing with every turn leaving one with great expectations.

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Ashish taking a quick break and enjoying the wind!! He deserved all the breaks after all he was the one driving throughout. The challenging and strenuous roads are nothing less than tight rope walk more so when there is a 11 months old little baby in a tow!!

As an encore the car keeps shaking most of the time owing to strong wind.

Road to Dhankar

There it is!! The picturesque Dhankar Village

Places to be visited

One peculiar thing about Spiti Valley is that it’s not really about sightseeing but more about enjoying the journey, adrenaline rush and spectacular nature.

Mostly at all the destinations you will find a Monastery (Gompa) and/or a Fort accompanied by amazing history and legends.

Dhankar- The Intriguing History!!

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. Don’t miss out on the Lhakhang Gompa – the Monastery of the followers of Lha-O, famous lama who was born in 1121. The highlight of the monastery is the a statue of Vairochana or Dhayan Buddha with 4 figures seated back to back.

Dhankar served as the ancient capital of the Spiti Valley Kingdom in the 17th century. The Nonos, the former rulers of Spiti, chose this strategic high altitude village for competent control. The legends say that the monastery has also served as a prison in the former era.

The monastery is associated with Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism and has around 150 lamas residing in it.

Dhankar Landscape

What a gorgeous combination of chocolate dipped descending terrains and ice capped mountains!!! @Dhankar, Spiti Valley

The monasteries in Spiti Valley are mostly locked (at least in April they most certainly are) but the Monk usually opens it up on request for the visit. And sometimes the Monk will happily give you a tour explaining all the details about idols, scriptures, artifacts. We were not so lucky at Dhankar but at Tabo Gompa we met a super friendly Monk who spent so much time clarifying our doubts about Buddhism and Tibetan religion and culture.

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Landscape view of Dhankar, Spiti Valley

Dhankar Gompa / Monastery is declared as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world by World Monuments Fund in 2006. The ceilings and walls mostly made of wood are in dilapidated condition yet the beauty is eternal.

If you liked reading about Dhankar, then this might interest you too –

The Epic Road Trip to Spiti Valley

Totally Tabo-ed!!!

Sarahan – Abode of Goddess Bhimalkali

Majestic Mountain Range at Kalpa!!!

Happy Exploring!!

Cheers, Untraveled Routes
Categories: India, Offbeat Travel, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Dhankar Heights!! (I)

Dhankar Landscape

Landscape view of Dhankar – The vegetation belt can be observed with the Spiti river flowing in the background. This was capture in April 2016 and therefore the belt is not as green as it should be.

At an elevation of 12,774 feet (3894m); Dhankar is a scenic village that lies between Tabo and Kaza. The entry to the village is hard to miss!! The meaning of the word ‘Dhankar’ is fort on a cliff.

Dhankar was the traditional capital of Spiti Valley ruled by the Nonos in 17th century. The fort and the monastery has deteriorated over the years and mostly ruined. However the monastery is being built to replace the old one.

Will share more pictures of this beautiful place soon 🙂

Categories: Road Trip, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The New Monastery at Tabo

Tabo - New Monastery

Glimpse of a new monastic complex at Tabo. The construction of new monastery is under progress.

Tabo Monastery was built in 996 AD (more than a millennium back!!) covering about 6,300 sq. m , it’s one of the oldest surviving monasteries in the world. We covered Tabo as part of our 10 days road trip from New Delhi – Spiti – New Delhi.

The premises are covered by mud structures crafted beautifully to form particular shape, as we entered the main temple, intrigued and curious , we just kept gazing at the temple!!! The main complex is manifestation of eternal Indo-Tibetan art and culture. Take a virtual tour of the oldest and divine monastic complex here – Totally Tabo -ed!!!

Happy Exploring!!!

 

 

Categories: Road Trip, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti, Travel Experience | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beautiful Companion

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This shot was captured at the Bhimakali Temple in Sarahan. The innocent dog was just strolling through the premises spreading smiles to all strangers 🙂

Sarahan, could be the answer to your search for the offbeat and scenic hill station in Himachal!!!

Know more about Sarahan.

Categories: Road Trip, Sarahan, Kinnaur, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti, Travel Experience | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The road that leads to Spiti Valley (III)

This article is part of the series ‘The road that leads to Spiti Valley‘.

Finally! Spiti it is !!

I’m as much excited to write this post and share the captivating pictures with fellow travelers and readers. The best part about the ‘Road Trip to Spiti Valley‘ is that the surrounding views change in every few minutes leaving you with a feeling of surprise and appreciation for nature.

The 10 day long enduring road trip that we did to Spiti Valley seemed totally worth once we crossed Nako!!! From the Kinnaur route, one enters Spiti Valley via Sumdo.

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Heading to Tabo!!

The road is a bit rock strewn at intervals but mostly it’s a smooth ride. In April’16, lot of work was going on the roads till Tabo, I’m assuming by now the roads must be in perfect condition.

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Wondering what to do in Tabo village, just check out ‘Totally Tabo -ed‘, a detailed post on visit to Tabo Village!!!

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Tabo, here we come!!!

Road to Dhankar

Road to Dhankar, Spiti. This route happens to be my favorite, the landscape views of ice capped mountains in combination with chocolate hills and Spiti River flowing by, so divine!!!

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Categories: Adventure, Offbeat Travel, Photography, Road Trip, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Doorway to Heaven (II)

Temple DoorWhat a beautiful place for a temple door to be located!!! Perched on top, seems to transpose you directly into the lap of gorgeous Himalayas 🙂

This shot was captured at Kalpa, Kinnaur en route to ‘Road Trip to Spiti Valley‘. You can check out more heavenly pictures here – ‘Himalayan range at Kalpa

Happy Exploring!!!

Categories: Adventure, Road Trip, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti, Travel Experience | Tags: , , , , , | 6 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

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

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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

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

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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.

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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!!!

 

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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.

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Categories: Offbeat Travel, Photography, Road Trip, Sarahan, Kinnaur, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti, Travel Experience | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

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