A Cup Of Tea at Chanshal Pass

Vargis Khan

Staff member
I know, the name sounds a little strange because there are no restaurants, dhabas or tea stalls at Chanshal Pass top. There are no Maggie points like at Rohtang or army check posts like at several other passes but ever since I saw the pictures of Chanshal Pass top, I had this strong urge to sit down there and sip a cup of tea.

And yes, for this very purpose, I carried a flask from Delhi so I could get some from any of the villages on the way and sip it in at Chanshal top. Funny? I agree.

I have been planning to visit Chanshal Pass for almost 3 years but always for one reason or another, it never materialized until now, so the excitement before this trip was of course sky high. Another reason adding to the excitement was that it would be my first time driving a four wheeler to a high altitude pass. I had crossed several passes multiple times in my previous trips but it was always on my trusted Royal Enfield and this was going to be my first attempt to a pass in my newly bought Mahindra Thar.

Vargis Khan

Staff member
For a brief overview, Chanshal Pass is a high altitude pass that links the villages of Dodra & Kwar to the town of Rohru in Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh. This pass sits atop the Chanshal Peak (and hence the name) which is the highest peak in Shimla district at the height of 4,520 meters but the road only takes you to a maximum height of 3,750 meters (12,303 ft) after which it descends down towards the Dodra & Kwar villages. The pass remains open from May till October and remains covered with snow for rest of the months. So in order to visit the pass, you will have to reach the town of Rohru and from there take the road towards Dodra Kwar. This road will take you across the Chanshal Peak, deep within the Chanshal Valley where it would end at the village of Kwar after Dodra. There are no more roads ahead so you would have no other choice but to return back to Rohru.

I had never been in this region of Himachal Pradesh before so I did not really not what to expect apart from the scenic beauty but one thing that I was certain of was that the roads are going to be bad and when I say bad, I mean bone breaking and soul crushing bad. As a matter of fact, this entire region is notoriously famous for bad roads. Rumor has it that once upon a time, the roads around here were a marvel and then came a Chinese company which was awarded a construction project by the government in this area (I am not sure what that construction project was). The Chinese started digging; tore apart the roads, turned the entire area into a dust bin or mud pit after which their contract was cancelled and government revoked their visas. The construction was left unfinished and so it remains till date. The Himachal PWD (which was supposed to mean public works department but is more or less a public wrecking department now) never got to finish what Chinese started and the result was that almost every road leading to Rohru now has no Tar on it. Drive or ride on these roads and I guarantee that you will agree that they should put up a signboard on these roads reading “All the Best”.

There are 3 routes that you can take to reach Rohru. One is from Shimla via Theog, Kotkhai and Kharapatthar. Second route is from Narkanda via Baghi and Sungri. Third route is via Chakrata, Tiuni and Hatkoti. Of all these 3 routes, the first one is the worst and it will literally test your vehicle’s suspension and your stomach. If you have a hatchback, smaller car or a low ground clearance sedan, this road will become your worst nightmare. The second route is bad as well but comparatively for a smaller distance. The third route in which you enter Himachal through Uttarakhand is the best of the three. There are of course other routes as well through Ramnagar and Sarahan but are longer and less traveled as compared to these three. I of course had no intention to travel on the Kharapatthar route and punish my Thar for no crime so we decided to reach Rohru via Narkanda and return via Chakrata.

Vargis Khan

Staff member
The initial plan laid out was of 4 days. Idea was to reach Rohru on day 1, Cover Chanshal Pass on day 2, reach Chakrata on day 3 and return home to Delhi on day 4. I was quite eager to visit the villages of Dodra and Kwar but did not include it in my itinerary for primarily two reasons. One was that due to bad roads, it is practically impossible to reach Dodra Kwar and return to Rohru on the same day. In order to do that, you will have to start really early from Rohru, like 4 to 5 AM, rush through the entire travel, forget about enjoying the scenic beauty and then only you will be able to reach Dodra Kwar and return to Rohru by late evening. I of course had no intention of doing that. Second reason was that I wasn’t really sure of getting an accommodation in these small villages to spend the night and then also the fact that we only had 4 days in hand so even If there was a choice to spend the night in Dodra Kwar and return to Rohru the next day, we still wouldn’t be able to do it. So in the end, I had to keep this out of the itinerary for a later time.

Another place that I was quite eager to visit was Sadhupul. I know it doesn’t sound familiar or a famous tourist destination and it also isn’t. The only attraction this place has is a series of small restaurants or dhabas alongside a river. The eating arrangements these guys have made are such that you can sit and eat in middle of the river with your feet in the water. Check out the link below and you would know what I mean.


I have been towards Shimla and Chail multiple times before but never knew about this eating arrangement at Sadhupul and was quite eager to try it this time. So after much thought and research, this is how the final itinerary looked like. Little did I know that this plan was only going to remain only an itinerary and the actual trip was going to turn out entirely different.

Day 1: Delhi, Chandigarh, Kandaghat, Sadhupul, Chail, Kufri, Theog, Narkanda, Baghi, Sungri, Tikkar, Rohru

Day 2: Rohru, Chirgaon, Larot, Chanshal Pass and back to Rohru

Day 3: Rohru, Hatkoti, Tiuni, Kanasar, Chakrata

Day 4: Chakrata, Kalsi, Vikasnagar, Paonta Sahib, Yamuna Nagar, Ladwa, Indri, Karnal, Delhi

Vargis Khan

Staff member
I knew that the drive on Day 1 from Delhi to Rohru was going to be long and tiring. I was accompanied on this trip by a friend of mine who was not very confident of driving a Thar so the entire driving part was going to be done by only me. I was also hesitant of driving a car in the hills at night because I had never done it before so we decided to leave Delhi at midnight so that we can comfortably make it to Chandigarh by dawn. That way I wouldn’t have to drive up the hills and it would give us the entire day to make it to Rohru from Chandigarh. Preparing for the long drive ahead, I slept throughout the entire day before the trip and only got up by 7 PM. I was also expecting my friend to get a good sleep as we weren’t going to get any until we reach Rohru the next day but upon waking up, I found a message in my cell from him asking if I was still asleep. I called him back only to find out that he didn’t sleep a wink the entire day. It was 7 PM and we still had a good 5 to 6 hours in hand so I advised him to sleep so that we can enjoy the journey next day but that of course did not happen.

While I was busy packing, I realized the RC of m beloved Thar was missing along with the insurance papers. I practically combed through my entire stuff for next 4 hours, turned the entire house upside down however the papers were still missing. This kind of dampened my spirits for two reasons, one was that driving that long in another state with no papers was highly risky. Second reason was that I started to wonder if this was an ominous sign right at the begin. Backing out was not really an option so I hoped for the best, gathered whatever papers I could find which included a xerox copy of the RC and all the bills from when I bought the Thar and decided to continue with the trip anyways.

By 1 AM, I had packed my bags, loaded everything in Thar, called my friend to tell him to be ready and by the time I started from my place, the clock was showing 1 AM.


Vargis Khan

Staff member
It took my less than 15 minutes to reach my friend’s place, who by now had been awake for almost 18 hrs, and by 1.30 AM, both of us were on our way towards Chandigarh.

NH1 one was its usual self; smooth, busy and dangerous with overloaded trucks and speeding cars. It was a monotonous drive with both of us sitting silently listening to the music. First break came at Gulshan Dhaba after Sonipat. I did not get a chance to grab a bite since I woke up in the evening so I sat down to feast while the lack of sleep started to take its toll on my fellow traveler.

After half an hour break, we started the monotonous drive again only to take another break at Haveli after Karnal to grab a cup of coffee each.



After Haveli, we did not stop again and continued all the way till Chandigarh. My friend had already started dozing off in Thar and took a few quick naps in between. Seeing him nodding his head in sleep, I started to doubt if he will be able to keep up with the long day that lay ahead of us. Despite my repeated requests to move in the backs seats and get some sleep before we hit the mountain region, he annoyingly remained in the front passenger seat, refusing and singing the same song that he wasn’t sleepy while his head kept bobbing.

Dawn was already breaking in while we entered the outskirts of Chandigarh and stopped at a Dhaba for a cup of tea.



Continued on our way and noticed this funny sign board.


We turned on the Himalayan expressway just before Chandigarh and pretty soon were climbing up towards Shimla. My fellow traveler had now been awake of over 26 hours and within first half an hour of our mountain journey, my doubts came true. The lack of sleep turned into motion sickness and it was impossible for him to continue any further. We stopped somewhere along the highway while deciding the best option to continue.


Vargis Khan

Staff member
After a short discussion and looking at his sleep deprived condition, I was forced to modify our travel plans and there came the first change in our set itinerary. The scenic town of Chail was barely 40 kms from where we stood and it was agreed that we will stay in Chail for the day and continue towards Rohru the next. It wasn’t even 9 AM at that time and we would be in Chail within a couple of hours at most, including our decided stop at Sadhupul, leaving us with an entire day of doing nothing. It also meant adding another day to the trip but there wasn’t really much of a choice. I had been to Chail before but the thought of staying there still excited me because that way I would be able to witness the sunset at Kali ka tibba which had one of the most amazing ones I had ever seen. And so the itinerary was modified and we started towards Chail via Sadhupul.

The famous 110 years old bridge at Sadhupul was recently damaged when an overloaded truck carrying apples tried to cross it. Until a new bridge was constructed, a dirt road was put up for vehicular traffic which we turned on after Kandaghat. A few kilometers driving down the steep descent and we were soon sitting at one of the restaurants at Sadhupul. Much to my disappointment, they had removed the previous arrangement of setting up tables in the river. For a moment I thought of driving on and skip the eating plans but since we were there, we stopped anyways to grab a quick bite.


Shortly after Sadhupul, we reached Chail and checked into Hotel Deventure . Some of the few guests had just checked out so we had to wait for a while at the reception while the staff cleaned the room and got it ready for us.


As expected, my friend hit the bed and was snoring moments after we entered the room. I on the other hand wasn’t sleepy at all and decided to take a stroll around.

Small town of Chail




Vargis Khan

Staff member
After walking around for a little while, I had lunch at one of the restaurants at Chail market and headed back to the hotel. My friend of course was still sleeping and continued to do so until 5 PM when I had to wake him up so that we could see the sunset from Kali ka tibba.

Unfortunately, my biggest excitement about staying at Chail turned into a disappointment as we took our own sweet time to get ready and get out of the hotel. By the time we reached the sunset point, the show was over and all that remained was only the orange sky.


Temple at Kali ka Tibba


The drive till Kali ka Tibba is quite steep and narrow on a dirt road and I did not want to risk driving back on it in pitch black so we did not stay at the temple for long and started back shortly. The last few kilometers were however still driven in dark with our headlights set on high beam. We drove straight to Chail market for dinner after which it was time to get back to the hotel and call it a day but not before I could get some night shots from our hotel.

Pool table outside our room at the hotel.


The night view of Shimla from our hotel.


Milky way ... not very clear though but this is the best I could get from Chail.


After I had my fill of night time photography, we watched TV for a little while and so was the end of our first day of journey which was not really that happening but unexpected still.