The Trans Himalayan voyage through Shimla – Kinnaur – Spiti Valley
We have done road trips before (Dainkund Peak, Betaab Valley, Mandhavgarh) 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 in mighty Himalayas
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.
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.
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!!!
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
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 car 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.
You might like to read – How to reach Spiti Valley here – https://untraveledroutes.wordpress.com/transcendent-spiti/