Road Trip to Spiti Valley by Car

Splendid, Panoramic, Inquisitive, Trance, and Interesting - These 5 words sum up the ever fragrant road trip to Spiti Valley that we were a part of. Pinnacle of 15,000 ft, 2000+ km of a circuit, 160+ liters of fuel, 15+ destinations en-route, 9 days of travel & adventure, 3 travelers, and 1 fantabulous beast to drive us places. Hundreds of people with lots of stories, infinite memories, and whatnot.

So yes, it was indeed a journey of a lifetime. It was a journey to some mystifying places defying the moribund lifestyle that we follow on a regular basis these days. Heartbeat was echoing only one word, 'Spiti' which somehow started to sound as rhyming to “Peace”.

Yes, we went in search of peace and found loads of it. The terrains were treacherous; the weather was hostile (too hot/cold). But the people were warm & welcoming and the food was just about delicious that would continue to remind you of your home!

  • Trip Duration: - June 24 – July 02
  • Done by: - Subbu, Gaurav, and Umang in a Maruti Swift Petrol that had clocked 100k already.
 

Day 1 - Delhi to Sangla


Route: Gurgaon-Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur-Jhakri-Jeori-Wangtu-Tapri-Karchham-Sangla (627 kilometers in approximately 20 hours).

I returned from yet another interesting day at work only to pick up my bags and start this wonderful expedition in search of what I understood later as my own inner peace. The clock was ticking and I knew my first destination was close to 20 km away (Sec-49) where another fellow traveler was eagerly waiting for me. The rendezvous happened around 11 pm and that was when I met Umang for the first time and exchanged pleasantries.

My little beast was cozily parked in his parking space (thanks to him!). A call was made to our 3rd traveler, Gaurav, who had been expecting us (& waiting to complete his dinner in order to host us). East of Kailash is where we had to pick Gaurav up from.

Little did the both of us know that there would be hot & fresh rajma Chawal, roti & paneer be ready for us at the midnight. With an initial sense of hesitation, we started to dig into & enjoy these yummy dishes (thanks to Gaurav’s family members!).

A full tummy ensured enough inertia for us to start from East of Kailash and we set out on our drive out of Delhi and into the mountains. By dawn, we had crossed the Himalayan expressway and steadily made our way through Shimla. At Narkanda is when we decided to have a pit stop to hog into some home-made Puri Sabji (yes, courtesy Gaurav).

Our journey continued through the hot & humid sections of Rampur, Jhakri & Jeori where we encountered a minor issue with the beast as if she needed a little break. Once we were all set, we made our entry into the Kinnaur valley!

Some artfully cut mountains paving their way to curvy roads welcomed us and we could experience a slight chill in the air as we moved closer to the snow caps. We made our way through Wangtu, Tapri, Karchham (dam with a confluence of water in 2 different colors) and ended day 1 in Sangla at Hotel Tridev Bhagati.


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Day 2 - Sangla to Chitkul to Kalpa


Route: Sangla - Rakcham - Chitkul - Karchham - Reckong Peo - Kalpa (70 km in approximately 8 hours)

A continuous & tiresome drive the previous day prompted us to start a little late in the morning. We picked up our journey towards Chitkul, the last village on the Indian subcontinent before Tibet starts calling it their land!

A stop at Rupin River View resort for breakfast was totally worth it. The restaurant offers stunning views of the valley and provides the best breakfast ambiance one could ask for. Our time at Chitkul was hosted by one Mr. Om Prakash Negi who happens to own the “Last Dhaba of India” and we helped ourselves to some snacks & tea.

A little dialogue was on with the security personnel manning an army post (they denied any further progression on that route as it required prior permissions). Off we made our way towards Karchham again but took the route towards Reckong-Peo and proceeded towards Kalpa, where we would spend the night at Hotel Kalpa retreat.


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Day 3 - Kalpa to Tabo


Route: Kalpa - Roghi (Suicide point) - Reckong Peo - Spillow - Pooh - Khab (confluence of Spiti & Sutlej Rivers) - Nako - Sumdo - Giu village (Mummy) - Tabo (190 kms in approximately 11 hours)

A good night’s sleep enabled us to start our day a bit early. Umang was up with his SLR shots of the sunrise. The clouds were not been his best friends though. They kept playing a cover early in the morning and did not allow him to capture the view that he was looking for!

We packed up & started our journey towards village Roghi to visit the well-known suicide point, which indeed was one! An age-old fort, offering a breath-taking view of the ‘Kinner Kailash’ was standing against the test of time which Umang & I visited. Gaurav opted to stay out of the trek due to a slight illness.

We set out our journey from Kalpa through Reckong-Peo, targeting to end our day at Tabo. The road leading to Tabo (via Nako) was one of the most treacherous routes in the country and it somehow proudly boasts about the same! Travel through Spillow, Pooh, Khab (where you can experience some scenic drives) eventually brought us to Nako. The lake there could be avoided, although is a tourist’s wish-list item. The helipad provides a 360-degree view of the astounding Himalayan ranges.

Off we gassed ourselves immediately towards Sumdo, where a little detour of 9 km would take us to a 5000-year-old mummy in Geu village. We experienced pitch black river water along the drive towards the village, which was a bit surprising! We reached the village around dusk and gave ourselves just about the right amount of time to visit the mummy.

The care-taker of the place, Tanzy Tandup turned out to be a tech freak. He shared his Facebook, Instagram, and other contact details and explained to us a little bit about the mummy & the surrounding monastery. Little did we know that we were only an ounce away from the international border with China (we came to know of this later!).

We started our journey towards Tabo and en route, we encountered the first (albeit small) river crossing! We reached Tabo by night where Bittu Bhai was ready with his accommodation and homemade food. Umang found a wonderful terrace to shoot some SLR pics of constellations and the night sky. Gaurav accompanied his enjoyment, while I preferred to slip underneath the sheets for the night.


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Day 4 - Tabo to Mud Village (Pin Valley)


Route: Tabo (sightseeing) - Dhankar Monastery - Sagnam - Pin Valley -Mud Village (80 kilometers in approximately 7 hours)

A wonderful start to the day with a visit to the Tabo monastery and the surrounding places (including caves) before we set out our drive towards Dhankar. By afternoon we reached Dhankar which was waiting with its splendid views of the valley and light sense of chilled air, just enough for the warmers to be brought out!

The monastery was an awesome and serene visit and after much contemplation, we arrived at the decision of not trekking up to the Dhankar Lake. We then proceeded towards Mud village where we would halt for the night.

The drive to Mud village could be described as the best stretch on the entire circuit. The Pin valley offers some astonishing, refreshing views which would awe anyone out of their minds. The innocence around the air is simply unbelievable and you are sure to find your inner-self if you could indulge in these mystic musings. I did. This picturesque journey brought us into Mud village where we checked into Tara GH & homestay.

I will let our pictures talk more about how was our day.


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Day 5 - Mud Village to Kaza


Route: Mud Village - Kaza - Langza - Hikkim - Komic - Kaza (Neemaling hotel) (80 kilometers in approximately 8 hours)

A very early start saw us at the foothill of a glacier which was slowly paving the way to a stream, thanks to the Sun god! An easy-level trek took us to the mouth of the glacier, offering some stunning views of the valley below.

We headed back to the hotel, finished breakfast, and set out towards Kaza, the financial spinner of this entire circuit. After reaching Kaza, we took stock of the fuel shortage and made some plans to accommodate the fuel shortage and overcome the same.

Post these discussions, we made our way towards Langza where the Buddha calmly rests amidst the snow-capped peaks; proceeding onto Hikkim (where the world’s highest located post office is present) and moved on towards Komic.

We were looking to stay in Komic for the night. But the fuel situation down at Kaza forced a change of plans and we returned to Kaza for the night, refueled, and checked into hotel Neemaling for the night.


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