Solo Bike Ride to Sach Pass, Spiti and Kinnaur Valley

Raghu Rover

Member
Day 13 - Kalpa to Chitkul

What do you say when you wake up in the morning and see this view outside your window?!

There are times when you feel like freezing the moment. I was sitting in the balcony of my hotel early in the morning and hoping the clouds make way for clear skies. Until I looked at the scene in front.

It was very still, and not windy, unlike last evening. Everything was so quiet, silent. I could almost hear my thoughts. The clouds were still, as were the apple trees. I did not see or hear any traffic, it was as if the world around me was in a freeze-frame. These few moments felt like an eternity, as if time had stopped in its tracks for a while...

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Famous Kinnaur apples. They look too delicious, don't they?


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Rain-kissed delicious Kinnaur apples. They were not ready then. Harvesting begins in October/November. Don't wait to buy them if they have hit your local market.



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On the way to Roghi village. The reason for going there was to see the famous 'Suicide point'. But then I got to know it's not in the village but well before it. It was just a few kilometers from the turn towards Kalpa.



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Suicide point.


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This is a thrilling vertical slope near Roghi village. Why this is called Suicide point, I have no idea, but I could see graffiti on the cliff with names and love signs. The cliff would make an excellent bungee jumping or parasailing point, I think...

Selfie time at Suicide point! ;)


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The sole connection to Peo and Kalpa to the outside world is the Shangtong bridge from the Shimla side and Apka bridge from the Spiti side. They are the lifelines of this region.



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The slush fest starts just after Karcham.


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Baspa reservoir just before Sangla.

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Raghu Rover

Member
Another slushfest!


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Start of the beautiful Sangla valley.


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Sangla valley can be approached after crossing Karcham, on the way to Chitkul. Nestled in the midst of the lower Himalayan range, with Baspa river flowing along amidst stunning vistas, it's a treat for sore eyes.



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Eye-catching spot just before Rackham.



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Rackham valley with buckwheat fields in full bloom.

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View from ITBP check-post at Mastrang.


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Finally arrived at Chitkul. The heart was full of joy at seeing the board but the joy soon turned into disappointment.


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Again, just like Nako, the frantic pace of construction could be seen at Chitkul as well. Here it was more commercial as private parties have taken land on lease from the owners and are constructing hotels. The breathtaking views that we saw the last time around were completely covered up by the construction. I guess next time Chitkul and Nako will not feature in my plans.


An evening stroll on the banks of the Baspa river.


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Tomorrow, I move to Sarahan, the last pit stop of the trip.
 

Raghu Rover

Member
Day - 14 - Chitkul to Sarahan


Woke up to a sunny day! It's strange how a bright sunny day, with a fresh breeze flowing around and the greenery filling up the mountains can lift your spirit and bring a smile upon your face for no reason. I packed my stuff and got out of the under-construction hotel room I had slept in. That made me glad too.


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Must take this picture every time! :)

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The Chitkul valley was showing it's true colors now. It made me realize how much I had missed yesterday, riding in the rain and clouds.


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Raghu Rover

Member
Thanks to the early morning sunshine, the slush had dried out at most places and I was able to maintain a decent speed. I saw a large number of chameleons around the roadside and on the road, all along the way till Sangla. I suppose they had come out to enjoy the sunshine, but a lot of them on the road ended up getting crushed under the wheels of passing vehicles.


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Beautiful Sangla valley.


I had a fulfilling, late breakfast of a very large Parantha, Dahi, and tea at a dhaba at Sangla. The food last night at the Deblok hotel had left a kind of bitter taste in the mouth. The nice breakfast helped shake it off.

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Baspa hydroelectric project at Karcham.


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On the way to Sarahan. Is this signboard too obvious or is it just me?


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Velvety, emerald green mountains look so enchanting in the rainy season. Also, for a perspective, look at the toy-like trucks next to the mountain!


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After taking a diversion towards Sarahan from Jeori, I reached this place. It's directly in front of the Bhima Kali temple.



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Raghu Rover

Member
I reached Sarahan late in the afternoon. It had drizzled all the way, after the euphoria of early morning sunshine at Chitkul. Even after I reached Sarahan, the clouds continued playing hide and seek until it got dark.

On reaching the first place I saw was the temple, but before I could visit the temple, I needed to eat. The was a very decent dhaba just near the bus stop run by a Nepali lady. I ordered a simple veg thali, it was the best food I had had in the last 2 weeks! I was astonished as to how much it tasted like homemade food and not the usual dhaba crap. I gobbled it up in minutes.

After bargaining for a room in the adjoining hotel, I called home, rested a bit, and then decided to go on a photography session of the temple and its surroundings. Unfortunately, I could not go inside the main temple as it was closed at that time.


A few pictures of the Bhima Kali temple.

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Raghu Rover

Member
Day 15 - Sarahan to Delhi

I thought to start a little early from Sarahan but could only start by 10 am. Until Kumarsain the route was sunny with occasional, dark clouds over the horizon. As soon as I got close to Narkanda, it became pitch dark and the clouds descended on the road.

I foresaw a very strong likelihood of rain and took shelter in a chai shop before it would rain cats and dogs, which it did for nearly one and a half hours. I stayed at the chai shop all this time and treated myself to several cups of tea while my Black beauty kept on drenching on the pouring rain! I could do little; there was no shelter on the side of the road.

Finally, after an hour and a half later the rain started to slow down a little but didn't stop. The lady who I think wanted me gone from the shop told me that it had been drizzling/raining since yesterday and there is no chance it will stop completely. Oh well! I took the hint and moved out in the drizzle.

The road ahead was was full of clouds/mist, making it difficult to ride at a pace. Just before the main Narkanda market, it began to rain heavily, so much that I was practically blind. I somehow made it to my usual pit stop at Narkanda for many years now, Negi Himalayan Dhaba. It was jam-packed with the afternoon lunch crowd but somehow I got a table at the deep end.

I ordered hot chocolate to ward off the cold and afterward a regular veg thali. I got out of there when the rain stopped completely, after an hour.

From Narkanda, it was a torturous ride to Shimla. Loaded apple trucks, tourist vehicles, and local traffic made the highway resemble hell. It took me a good 3 hours to reach Shimla and I again had to cross the town, which I love and abhor at the same time.

After crossing Shimla, the next pit stop was at Kandaghat and the sun was starting to go down. I planned to reach Chandigarh/Ambala and then decide the next course of action.

Pouring rain close to Narkanda.

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The twilight hour at Solan. Had to stop to capture it!


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After Solan, I stopped at the Giani Dhaba at Dharampur and got myself some dinner. It was 8 pm. I planned to go till the Chandigarh bypass at least, before deciding on anything.

It was 9:30 when I reached the Chandigarh bypass, battling crazy traffic, under construction highway, and high beam headlights! I stopped at a dhaba on the way towards Ambala. To go or to stay was now the dilemma and the big question.

After half an hour of deliberation, I decided I would ride till Delhi without a stop. Off I went and it was one of the most satisfying night rides I ever did. The traffic was super smooth and I was at Mukarba Chowk flyover by 1 am. This was my best Chandigarh - Delhi timing! It took me another 20 minutes to reach home courtesy of the newly built flyovers over the Rohini - Janakpuri stretch and I was in my bed by 2 am.

Thus ended my sojourn. I hope you have enjoyed it! Many thanks for your appreciation and kind words. Until the next Travelogue.

Cheers!
 

rajkumar. r

Member
Nice and Wonderful Experience. The pictures look beautiful and some of them looks as if they are paintings. Great. I enjoyed your way of writing especially the humorous narrations in many places. Finished it in one go. Simply Superb.
 

rajkumar. r

Member
Day - 6 - Keylong to Batal

The next day I woke up early and started getting ready. The destination for today was going to be Chandratal.

This was supposed to be a tough day. I knew because I had done this stretch two years ago and I was prepared for what this day was going to bring my way, or so I thought.

I started around 9 am. The sun had come out and it was sunny, the blue skies looked inviting and I set out in high hopes of reaching Chandrataal by evening.

The journey till Gramphu was uneventful. The only hiccups were the road work happening on the highway because of which I had to slow down sometimes on a wonderful tarred highway. I think most people take good roads for granted. I did too but realized how grateful I am that I have good roads to ride on only when I rode on bad roads, worse roads, and no roads at all.

My first break for the day for breakfast was at Sissu, where I had an opulent breakfast of omelet, sliced bread, and a cup of tea for rupees 90!

I'm not really sure what prompted the lady to bill me so generously. I was on a motorcycle, I was wearing my riding gear, I had a cam, wait!

It must be the action cam attached to my helmet, which she must've mistaken to be a GoPro and automatically assumed that I must be loaded, not realizing it's a cheap Chinese copy.

Damn you GoPro, you cost me money even when I don't have you! Anyway, I gave her the money, half-heartedly, and moved on.

This is where the Lahaul side of the Manali tunnel will be.


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The heart-stopping moments started when I crossed Khoksar. Why? Let me explain.

The trucks had started to race with me starting from Gramphu and I was in a cat-mouse game with them. While we were doing this, I lost sight of my goal and ended up past Rohtang pass top. I realized where I was only when I saw the board pointing down towards Marhi!

What the hell! How did I reach here? Wasn't I supposed to go to Chandrataal and not Manali?! I asked a worker working on the side about the exit to Kaza and he told me that I had left it 14 kilometers behind at Khoksar!

I was devastated! I didn't want to go back to the same rocky roads, slush, and crazy truckers. For a second, I even thought about going to Manali instead and spending my days eating in German bakeries and lounging in cafés and riverside restaurants. But then my conscience intervened.

I had not come here all the way to have an easy time. If I wanted that, I would've stayed back home instead. Okay, I'm going back to find the way back to Spiti. With a new determination, I took a U-turn and went 14 kilometers back only to find the signboard to Kaza staring in my face.

How could I have missed this? By now I had wasted at least 2 important hours of my day and was in a hurry to make up for the lost time.


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I saw this man dancing away merrily at the top

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When I saw the distance to Chattru, I was happy because it said 15 kilometers. That's not going to take more than an hour, I said to myself and moved ahead. I had hardly gone 4-5 kilometers when it started to rain and I saw the famous 'Pagal Nallah' staring at me. It was overflowing ferociously, even though it was just past the afternoon.

I managed to get stuck in it and would have been stuck for a long time, had it not been for a good Samaritan, who again, like the ones before, appeared on the scene and helped me cross. I also helped him cross the nallah and we exchanged high fives from a distance after getting across.

I encountered three more large water crossings but made it through and when I reached Chattru, I looked at my watch to see it was 2 pm! and I still had to cover 100 odd kilometers.

There is no way in hell I'm going to be able to make it to Chandrataal today. I decided to bide my time at Chattru, ordered several cups of tea, Maggi, squeeze dried my shoes and socks. I must have spent close to an hour when it started to drizzle heavily.

I was in two minds now, to move ahead regardless of the rain or to stay back at Chattru for the day. Sometimes, my brain thinks I haven't had many adventures for the day and makes stupid decisions. It decided I must move on. So move on I did, in the pouring rain.



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Needless to say, I was thoroughly exhausted when I reached Batal. I had encountered some of the worst terrains in my life on the way. I lost count of the water crossings I crossed on the way. I was just riding on like a Zombie, over rocks, boulders, slush, water, which thankfully was not so deep.

The road seemed never-ending. I only stopped when I saw the board for 'Kangri Dhaba' and realized I must be in Batal. It was already close to 6 pm and I had been riding on a back-breaking terrain nonstop for nearly 3 hours.

The rain was showing no sign of stopping, and it was getting teeth-chattering cold. I decided to end the day at Kangri dhaba and took a dorm bed for 100 rupees.

It doesn't really rain heavily in Spiti the way it rains at other places. It always drizzles, sometimes heavy, sometimes light. Though I must admit the experience of riding through low lying, misty clouds would be something else; but not when you're faced with a hostile path, literally riding on top of sharp rocks, rubble, slushy road, and overflowing water streams.

I think it may even be fun to go through this terrain in a 4x4 but that's not what was I on!

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Pictures of Day 5 & Day 6 are not able to view. Might be some updation problem. Please check it
 
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