The cold dessert of Lahaul & Spiti (NAKO-TABO)

I know I haven’t written for a while, I believe that’s how daily life consumes you. But trying to relive the memories, and completing the the unfinished. 
Chitkul was a short stay but worth the tiresome journey. I was lucky enough to see a ‘Kinnauri wedding’. It’s always a joy to experience different traditions.
Since the only bus of Chitkul was busy with wedding, my driver from the evening agreed to drop me back to Kharcham from, where I was supposed to board a bus to Nako.

Waited for almost an hour and I could not even hear distant honking noise of the bus.

*Folks do not travel to Lahaul and Spiti, after Chitkul without your own conveyance. You would be stranded for hours and hours.

I hitchhiked with 2 guys from Mumbai who were driving a ‘Zoomcar‘ going to the same destination. They were my saviours and who knew we would make such good travel buddies.

4 hrs of rides and the scenery transitioned from wet green landscape to dry brown high mountains.
I could not resist clicking the picture of the board ‘you are travelling on the world most treacherous road’.

I was confused should I admire the nature or fear it. We were climbing height intermittently.

It was evening and we were there at “the windy village of Nako“, from where everything looked antsize

Nako has multiple accommodation options, ranging from INR 500-2000. They are easily available. Namely there is no major attraction but whats there to do is to understand the lifestyle of Nako people, acclimatise to the weather,  admire the structure of the houses in the village, survival stories during winters. Moreover it’s a stopover for bikers and travelers on the way to Kaza.
Ohh I forgot to mention it is at an altitude of 11000 ft/3300 m and the only phone/network  connectivity is of Bsnl. I could complete only 6 hours of sleep. The altitude was still not very comfortable for me.

The only disappointment was that the route I thought to be raw and tucked away but it was full of bikers and backpackers. I would have loved more isolation. I guess I chose the wrong time.
It was time to move towards the main town of Spiti valley- Kaza. We had planned to visit Tabo & Dhankar monastery on the way.

I was backpacking and taxis there ask for redundant amount of money for short distance, God bless the Mumbain friends.  I tagged along.

TABO

I would have loved staying overnight however couldn’t , shortage of time. But visited “the Tabo Monastery ” estb in 996. There is no light in areas where ancient artwork is done. One can use phone lights to have a glimpse of these exclusive paintings.  What I figured out was there was a lot of Egyptian art influence in the paintings.
Post the heritage walk we had a sumptuous lunch.
And we hit the road again.
DHANKAR GOMPA

This was built in a form of fortress. One can only wonder how was Dhankar Gompa created on these anthill structured mountains .

My traveler freinds were supposed to go to  Pin valley,  they were very kind to find me another ride to Kaza from the point where they took a deroute to Pin valley. The vehicle I boarded came out to be BRO (Border Roads organisation). The officer was very warm, he welcomed me to Kaza, arranged for evening tea in his office  and also made sure that his subordinate dropped me of to the hostel I booked in.It’s hard to  find such people in Metro cities.

The cold dessert of Lahaul & Spiti (NARKANDA- CHITKUL)

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After 3 months of no travel, finally the day came when I could get on with my wishlisted trip of lahaul  and spiti circuit.
Left on the Friday evening,  took a volvo till shimla. Our badluck, it rained on Friday in delhi, so the consiquence was a major jam, which caused delay.

At 10am the volvo dropped us at the outskirts of shimla, and since I had backpacked to this place before , so knew taxi was an expensive option, instead we boarded the intracity bus and got dropped ahead of old bus stand. From there the lift to the mall road was a walkable distance. Suprisingly there wasn’t the amount of crowd I expected to be on a weekend. We quickly freshend up and had our lunch. Post that we walked through the market downhill towards the bus stop, through the long canal, amidst locals, with an 8kg backpack and on the top, it was rainning !  We had to board a bus to Narkanda , luckily got into one which was just about to leave, it was packed, no seats were available.  We had been travelling for almost 18 hrs by then, needed a seat badly , we did get it but after 2hrs of standing in a Zig Zag ride and swaying at every turn. Body and eyes were shouting for a warm bath and a comfy bed.

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After 3 hrs 30 min we were at Narkanda which has 3-4 roadside motels, exorbitantly priced. Got into one, paid 1600 per room after negotiation.

Next day was a long one, we targeted 8 am to catch a bus to ‘karcham’ . Unlike Shimla bus stand we had to wait for 1 hr for the bus. The bus journey was beautiful. The landscape became more scenic as we headed from district Shimla to kinnaur.

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But through out the way it was rainning,  which made the route, all the more riskier.

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Day 2- Travel time to reach destination (CHITKUL) was 8 hrs.
Reached karcham after 6 hrs, it is just a name on the map, you cannot  find even a chai or a cigarette shack there. Thank God we immediately got a bus to Sangla. It’s a detour of 18km from NH22 and has a very limited bus service.

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A 1.5 hr of roller coaster ride on the narrow, twisty and deconstructed  road literally got our hearts in our mouth. The Baspa river gushing on one side. On reaching we took a sigh of relief, ate some “assorted  veg Pakora and teas” to calm us. It was cold, we had to take our quilt jackets out.  Now was the delima , since it was already 5pm and we planned to reach Chitkul which is 1.5hrs further, the same day. But sangla was not a beauty and we didn’t want to waste our day. There is only one bus which is owned by the resident of sangla, so it moves as per the situation of the village. If there is a wedding the bus will go in the baraat, and will leave the travellers to figure out their own mode of transport.

Alas we got a cab, on negotiation we brought him to Rs1000 for just dropping us 24km further to sangla. In delhi ncr I ride an uber for 30 km in just Rs400, so this came as a shocker.

Good that we went to chitkul because it was worth a night stay.

Chilling breeze
3 small restaurants
Accommodation ranging  between INR 400-4000
Tibetan dogs as size of me.
A beautiful temple.
Travelers to share experiences.

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Tirthan solitude

wpid-img-20150406-wa0011.jpgAfter a messed up month, it was  time to take a trip up to the mountains to introspect.

Story of my expedition to tirthan…

A place which is less known to the outer world, the great mountains acting as a shield against the modern invasion.

A perfect workaholics retreat.

It has an easy approach from Delhi,  people going by bus drop down at Aut (stopover just at the end of the  3km tunnel en route manali).Board a taxi @INR 900 to go to Goshaini (village consisting of 20 houses out of which 10 are tuned into home stays).  Tip: make sure to book in advance In order to have a roof to sleep under.

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Stay
The famous home stays are:

Luxury

# Rajus’s cottage – Inr 4000 per couple inclusive of all the three meals
# Trout valley- Inr 4500 per couple inclusive of all the three meals.

Budget

# Trout house owned by Khem singh ji
As I prefer an unplanned trip, we were homeless . All homestays were booked however we managed to get a room far away in the woods by the help of khem ji.

Things to do
#Trout fishing
#walk up to the waterfall, which is absolutely not smooth.

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But you would have breathtaking views.

Spend a day and a half to actualy get into the feeler of the place. Early to rise would definitely be a wise decision.

17km away from goshaini is ‘Giyagi’ which is a bit on a higher altitude so one witness two terrain during the visit.

Stay
We stayed at Shringi homestay consisting of 3 cottages made of teak wood, low ceiling with a magnificent view.

wpid-20150404_174820.jpgThe same is maintained by an old couple, surprising is that they have no helper. Also they have a tiny consumer shop with basic commodities. Tip: carry a tissue roll during the trip.

Things to do

# 5 km further is ‘Jelori pass’ which connects this secluded valley with the capital shimla. It has snow even during the month and of april.

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# Small shacks selling rajma rice, maggie (oops this was when it wasn’t banned) and himachali chai (tea)
We were lucky enough to reach the place when hailstorm started.  The temperature dropped drastically that we had to sit besides the stove (tip: carry at least a hoodie or a jacket along)

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Jelori can be accessed by a two or a four wheeler and can be covered in half a day.
There is no direct bus from Giyagi to Aut.
There are three options-
*take a local bus to banjar and change
*take a shared gypsy to banjar and board another bus to aut.
*hire a personal cab

Overall a three day trip, which can be completed on a long weekend.

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Trio in Old manali

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The wander lust had reached the verge that it had to be satisfied, so we blocked weekend having 3 nights and 2 days in our hand. We three girls decided to relax in the mountains and all of us had been to Manali but not to Rohtang. That is when we booked a package. We made sure that our hotel was in Old Manali as it less commercialized, got cafes where in you can see vivid culture and to the most you are out of the city like hustle bustle.

We boarded our volvo at 8:30PM, reached the Manli bus stand at 10:30pm. A chauffeur was waiting in  a BMW….. ohhh by that I meant Big Maruti Wagonar. Our hotel was located further Old Manali amidst the apple orchards. The USP of the hotel was it had rooms on the name of Bollywood filmstars, so we three young ladies were given Mr. Bachan’s themed room.

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  view from our room

After a while we head towards the usual sightseeing places, Hidimba devi temple,hot water spring, mall road and we also ate the local dish called ‘Siddu’ , steamed  bread with a stuffing of veggies and walnuts served with the dimsum sauce. Delicious is the word for them. We bought the local fruit wine, which we consumed the very night.

Next day was a hectic schedule for us as we had to go to Rohtang pass as well be back on time to board our return bus. So took a taxi to the ‘Attraction’ of the trip. Located at a height of 13000 Ft above sea level. Stopped in between to have Aloo Paratha with hot tea (nothing like it).

We were made to wear the Alien looking snow jumper suites before we make ourselves freeze to death. It was difficult to breath as we were on relay high altitude. We had to walk at least a Kilometer to reach the Snow patch.

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Rohtang Pass

There it was like a “small ice skating ring in a metro city on a Sunday.” But I managed to get a seat in one of the shacks, priced like a 3 star hotel (a Maggie selling at Rs 100). We clicked a lot of pictures and were good to go back home.

We reached back to Delhi at 6 in the morning on a Monday and what do you think was next, full day of work along with day dreaming about the next trip.

Adios!! Soon coming up with more trails……….