After lot of planning and meetings, we completed the Tribal Circuit of Himachal on a Skoda Fabia, Suzuki Dezire and a Pulsar 200 in the summer months of 2015. Here is a trip report/photo blog/experience from the trip.
Day 1 June 27, 2015 ( Delhi – Shimla – Narkanda ) 445 kms 12 hrs 30 mins.
Start: Dwarka Sector 22 at 5:10 AM
7:10 AM 120 km: Tea at Simran Dhaba
9:00 AM 250 km: L&T Toll
10:30 AM 305 km: Breakfast at Jawli
3:45 PM 396 km: Lunch ( noodles and bread omelet)10 km ahead of Kufri
End: Narkanda @ 5:45 PM 445 km
Highlights of Day 1:
Smooth travel from Delhi to Shimla and Shimla to Narkanda.
Traffic Jam in Shimla.
We are total 6 explorers ( Partha, Sudesh, Ankur , Siddharth, Niketh and Swapnil). First three in a Skoda Fabia, the next two in a Suzuki Desire and the last but not the least is a lone motorcycle rider. This is our first trip to Lahaul Spiti and we have heard lots of tales of roads ( read no roads ) of the beautiful part of India. Finally we decided to embark on the trip with cars not so suitable per experts for the region. Lets see whats in store.
We all met at the Mahipalpur HP gas station near T3. After a quick group shot we started the trip. Pretty much a boring journey in the hot days of June. The sad part of the trip was the traffic jam in Shimla which made us waste almost 2 hours.
After Kufri the traffic vanished and we cruised effortlessly to Narkanda. We stayed at Negi Guest House whose rooms boasts one the best views of the Himalayas.
Day 2 June 28, 2015 ( Narkanda – Rampur – Recong Peo – Kalpa ) 195 kms 10 hrs 30 mins
Start: Narkanda at 7:00am
8:15 AM 486 km: Satluj Banks
10:00am 534 km: Tea break at Jeori
10:45 AM 547 km: Kinnaur Dwar
11:30 AM 556 km: Tea break at Solding which is 53 km short of Recong Peo.
12:20 PM 571 km: Bad road starts from Wangtu bridge
12:45 PM 570 km: Tapri
2:00 PM 600 km: Karcham
2:12 PM 604 km: Karcham Dam
2:44 PM 615 km: Songtong Bridge
3:10 PM 626 km: Lunch at Rekong Peo
End: Kalpa @ 5:30 PM 640 km
Highlights of Day 2:
Bad roads from Wangtu Bridge to Recong Peo.
The detour of Urni will test your driving skills.
Awesome views from Kalpa and the road near Urni.
After a nice sleep in the hills of Narkanda, we woke up early to savor the sunrise from the balcony. After a quick tea at the bus stop, we embarked on the down hill drive amidst the cool breeze and silence of the pines around. Undoubtedly one of the best moments of the day was the awesome drive from Narkanda to Satluj below.
The road worsened after Wangtu bridge and the journey became a hell till all the way to Recong Peo. The detour from Tapri to Karcham was steep with loose stones and fast downhill cars. The drive took toll on us and we took an hour rest in Peo where we had lunch.
Finally when we reached Kalpa, we stayed at Hotel Golden Apple which is next to famous Kinner Villa with equal or even better views at half the cost. The food was good and the caretaker Mr. Roy was a pleasant person.
Day 3 June 29, 2015 ( Kalpa – Spellow – Pooh – Khab – Nako ) 115 kms 8 hrs 30 mins
Start: Kalpa at 7:30 AM
9:00 AM 659 km: Tapri
10:15 AM 670 km: Kharo Bridge
11:00 AM 684 km:Jhangi
12:00 PM 691km: Spillow
13:45 PM 715 km: Pooh
14:26 PM 727 km: Khab
15:00 PM 734km: Ka Jigs Top
End: Nako @ 5:00 PM 755 km
Highlights of Day 3:
Bad roads from Recong Peo to Khab (Sutlej/Spiti Confluence).
The changing landscape from green Kinnaur to brown Nako.
The beautiful Ka Zigs.
The confluence of Sutlej and Spiti.
We started from Kalpa early morning after a hot tea. Target was to get the car checked for some hits it took while reaching Kalpa. We drove to Rekong Peo and got the underbody checked and felt better. Then the rough ride started along “The Most Treacherous Road Of The World”.
Overall the rough will give goose bumps to every driver. We stopped at locations which were beautiful as well as scary. Finally we reached Jhangi where we decided to have early lunch at 11:00 AM. The weather was nice sunny and the cool breeze made the day.
The road was bad after this as well till few miles before Pooh where it turned into a metaled race track. But the smooth ride did not last long and we experienced bad roads again.
When we reached Khab Bridge, we took many pictures and were feeling happy since the road ahead to Nako was in good shape. We interacted with a taxi coming from Leh. The driver scared us saying it will be difficult for us to make through the road ahead in a small car. Its time we need to meet people who motivate rather than scare.
The switchbacks of the ride to Nako is breathtaking. We were taking pictures of the loop from the top when we found that a family riding a Honda City coming up. Immediately we recognized it as the family we met at the hotel in Kalpa who were note sure of going ahead. We spend lots of time in the spot taking pictures and then proceeded to Nako.
At Nako we took a room in a guest house next to the lake and also camped along the shores. Though it was getting overcast during the later half of the day, after dinner the sky cleared and we got some decent shots of the campsite along the lake. Thankfully we crossed some of the worst roads on the country with out the monsoon rains.
Day 4 June 30, 2015 ( Nako – Chango – Sumdo – Tabo – Kaza ) 117 kms 11 hrs 15 mins
Start: Nako at 6:45 AM
8:50 778 km: Chango
9:15 AM – 12 PM: Stuck at Sumdo landslide ( 2 kms short of Sumdo )
1:15 PM 820 km: Tabo
End: Kaza @ 6:00 PM 872 km
Highlights of Day 4:
Crossing the Nallah (water crossing) just after Nako at a very high altitude which gives goose bumps.
The apples of Chango and the moonscapes before it.
The landslide just before Sumdo where we were stuck for hours.
The awesome monastery of Tabo. The best we have seen till date.
The beautiful drive along Spiti river till Kaza.
The night was pretty windy but we did well inside the tent. We woke up early to find an overcast sky. After tea we started climbing towards Malling and crossed the nallah early. The flow was less even though the crossing was at very steep terrain.
Soon we cruised through the roads to reach Chango, where the apples are sweeter than anywhere else on the planet. After a quick stop we moved on further. Then the thing happened. The landslide struck just before Sumdo and we were stuck for hours. Finally when the landslide cleared we moved on to enter Sumdo where we checked in at the Police Check Post for Spiti.
The drive from Sumdo to Tabo to Kaza is beautiful and we made many stops while making this trip. Let the picture speak and the writing take a halt. We stayed at Circuit House of Kaza whose location is simply brilliant.
Day 5 July 01, 2015 ( Kaza – Langza – Key – Losar ) 137 kms 10 hrs 15 mins
Start: Kaza at 7:15 AM
8:45 AM 898 km: Langza
10:15 AM 914 km: Kaza
12:30 PM 927 km: Key
2:30 PM 950 km: Kaza
5:30 PM 1009 km: Losar
Highlights of Day 5:
Awesome landscapes from Kaza to Losar.
After a nice sleep in the circuit house, we woke up to a rainy morning. Outside was cold and wet. With weather God not happy, we were also little worried about the rain.
Today Swapnil is not feeling well and showed mild symptoms of AMS. He decided to take rest while we take a short trip to Langza village and return to hotel.
Langza village located at elevations of 4000+ m ASL, is a breathtaking steep drive from Kaza. But once we reach the top, the beauty of the village takes your breath away. It was drizzling while we climbed which changed to mild rain as re started moving around on foot. We took shelter at a house below the Buddha Statue and had a nice tea. Mr. Tenjing is very courteous and took care and we spent nice time there.
We started moving down and reached Kaza where we decided on the path forward. Our car will move ahead to Losar, the dezire will get a local driver for the stretch between Kaza and Manali and the biker will take rest for couple of days and then leave for Manali. But before that we decided to change hotel for the people staying in Kaza.
Once all this is done, we drove to Key Monastery and spent time there. After lunch, we dropped the Dezire and Motorcycle in Kaza and moved ahead to Losar, so that we can cross Kunzum early and avoid the water crossings with our Fabia.
Kaza to Losar was a nice drive with lots of pictures shot at the location. Let them speak the story.
Day 6 July 02, 2015 ( Losar – Kunzum La – Batal – Chatru – Rohtang La – Kullu) 199 kms 13 hrs 30 mins
Start:Losar at 5:35 AM
7:10 AM 1028 km: Kunzum La
8:45 AM 1040 km: Batal
11:10 AM 1056 km: Chota Dhara
12:39 PM 1073 km: Chatru
2:46 PM 1090 km: Gramphoo
3:50 PM 1105 km: Rohtang Pass
End: Kullu @ 7:00 PM 1208 km
Highlights of Day 6:
Most difficult road conditions of the whole trip.
Awesome landscapes all along.
Water crossings and negotiating the bends.
Beautiful Rohtang Pass and Manali.
We initially had a plant to go to Chandratal today. But the sleep at 4000 m ASL in Losar and the hectic schedules before took toll on us. We could not sleep well and most members are not doing fine. So we cancelled the plan of trek to Chandratal and decided to continue with the road trip.
We started after tea in the early morning wee hours of 5:30 AM. There is simply no road ahead of this. It is all stones and stones. The Fabia moved slowly and steadily ahead towards Kunzum. The few ( read 4 nos.) local taxi vehicles which crossed us were known to us since they stayed in the same hotel. After negotiating the curves and steep gradient we made it to the pass after 1 1/2 hours. We were elated.
The downhill from the pass to Batal is more steep than the climb with more ice and water crossings. The reverse journey will surely be more difficult. We moved out of the car a locations to reduce weight and helped in navigation. After 1 1/2 hours we reached Batal. It is still early morning and we thought of taking a taxi to Chandratal. The steep price made us think otherwise.
While we were having breakfast, the other car arrived from Kaza. We decided to follow it till Manali, since bigger group will help us in negotiating the water crossings.
The drive from now to Rohtang was a nightmare and practically we drove on the river bed. This 65 kms stretch took us 7 hours. Our car got stuck at 2 locations, but we managed without and damage underbody. Undoubtedly this scenic stretch is the worst road we have driven till date. Ladakh seams a highway in front of this. At few locations water crossing was a feet deep while at others big rocks created problem for the small car. The big cars like Fortuner, Bolero which we saw on the way moved easily in this section.
The road ahead of Rohtang Pass was butter smooth and this green tree lined section was the most enjoyable section. We stopped near Bhuntar and called it a day.
Day 7 July 03, 2015 ( Kullu – Kiratpur – Ambala – Delhi) 537 kms 11 hrs
Start: Kullu at 5:45 AM
7:00 AM 1273 km: Mandi @
7:30 AM 1297 km: Sundernagar
10:30 AM 1402 km: Kiratpur
3:45 PM 1700 km: Delhi
End: Dwarka Sector 22 at 4:50 PM 1745 km
Highlights of Day 7:
Awesome road from Manali to Delhi. No complaints.
We started early and were sceptical about the bad roads from Bilaspur to Kiratpur. Luckily the road was in nice shape and we cruised through the hills and the plains easily. We made it to home with an average speed of 49 kmph which included breakfast, lunch and a ticket break.
In Punjab we paid a fine because of no number plate in the front which we lost yesterday in the Batal – Chatru Section.
Finally safely we ended the trip.