Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti Trip Report September – 2015

#1 Oct 14th, 2015, 17:10
Join Date:
May 2012
  • saikatbabai is offline
Here is the report of our recent Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti trip from Kolkata.

Time of journey: 19-Sep-2015 to 04-Oct-2015

Places covered: Narkanda – Sarahan – Sangla – Chitkul – Kalpa – Nako – Tabo – Dhankar – Kaza – Komic – Langza – Key – Kibber – Losar – Chandratal – Keylong – Udipur & Trilokinath – Manali

Our team: Wife, Son (5 years), Dad (63 years), Mom, Mother-in-law (61 years) and I

19-Sep: Start by Howrah – Delhi – Kalka Mail. Train started at 19:40, right time. I called our driver Mr. Tenzin Chauppel (+91-9418433973) whom I contacted first four months back (my biggest mistake). I have got nice feedback about him from Devil On Wheels ( ). I told him that I will call him back once we reach Delhi as by that time we will get an idea about when will the train reach Kalka.

20-Sep: In train. We reached Delhi at 22:30. I called Tenzin. But he did not picked up the phone thrice.

21-Sep: I could not sleep well as a tension was always chasing me, Tenzin did not picked up phone. I woke up at 04:45. The train was standing at Ambala. I started calling Tezin again and again. But every time call got disconnected after full ring. Suddenly I received a text at 05:22 from him saying – “Me nhi aa saka I am realy sory”. Translation – I cannot come. Sorry sir.

Just try to get into my position. I contacted this person four months back and since then I kept contact with him in a interval of three to four weeks, kept reminding him about our dates.I also offered him a token amount of money as advance.But he denied to take and told me that it was not mandatory to make him confirmed for our tour. He always said – “Hanji hanji” (Translation – Ok ok). I even talked to him when the train started from Howrah and he responded similar way. I had the total responsibility of our team which have elderly persons and child. I took a deep breath and replied him – “Kya aap kisi aur ko vej rahe hay?” (Translation – Are you sending someone else?). Reply – “Aaj aap log narkanda tak a jao kal me aap logo k liye mera ek dost hai jo bahot achha gadi chalata hai or expert hai,vej raha hu. .sory sir ji” (Translation – You come up to Narkanda today. I will send one of my friends from tomorrow who is an expert and good driver. Sorry sir). So friends, please never contact Tenzin Chauppel for a tour if you do not want to go through a situation like me.

I had collected some “Good” drivers contact. From there I called Vinkal to whom I talked earlier also but did not confirmed as he was offering me Innova and I was looking for Scorpio or at least Xylo. His phone was switched off – quite normal as it was only 5:30. Then I called Mahesh who received my called and said he is at Chandigarh railway station right now and waiting for his customer who is in the same train. He arranged for a Xylo for us within five minutes – what a damage control !!! He asked us to get down from the train at Chandigarh as he was present there. I called every one and informed the fact. We get ready at lightning speed and got down at Chandigarh. Mahesh arranged a taxi up to Shimla and we had to pay for it as per standard rate. It was an Ertiga.

We started for Shimla. On the way we had breakfast with delicious aloo parantha. At Shimla we meet Dharamvir – our driver for rest of our tour. We shifted to his Xylo and stared for Narkanda. We checked in to Hotel Hatu (HPTDC) at 14:30 which was pre-booked. The hotel was good. After lunch we spent some time the nice lawn on the hotel.


22-Sep: There was overcast from the morning and heavy rain started soon. We had to cancel our visit to Hatu Peak and headed Sarahan. Reaching Sarahan was eventless. We checked in to Hotel Tregopan (Debbhumi – pre booked) at 14:00. There all rooms do not have window or have window at such a position with hill and shrub that it cannot be open. So we requested for rooms with window and those are at front side. Stuffs were helpful enough to provide us that. After lunch we went to Bhimakali Temple and Raj Bari. Raj Bari was closed.

23-Sep: Last night there were heavy rain and obviously at morning the Shrikhand peak was welcoming us with sun warmth smile. After breakfast we started for Sangla. After Powri the road was bad. At Karcham the road is good. Jaypee project is now complete and the plant is working. After Karcham there was a stone shooting area and as it was already 14:00 high wind started which helps the shooting. This is a characteristic of Kinnaur and Spiti valley that high wind starts after 13:00 and cloud started covering the sky.

Srikhand Peak

I explained our tour plan and booking to Dharamvir in the very first day. We did not have a booking at Losar. He told me that in Losar options are very few. There are some guest-houses among which two or three only have attached bath in one or two rooms. He know one good option (Sam sing guesthouse) which have two triple bed rooms with attached bath for which they charge rupees 1000/- (per room). If I want to book I may tell him but I have to take decision within next day. Because one of his known drivers will be moving to Losar to whom he can meet next day only. I understood the story that there must be some commission for him. I already had a discussion with Nomad’s Cottage owner Sahil. But he quoted very high. Then I talked to Ramesh Lotey, whose hotel (Spiti Sarai) we have booked at Rangrik (7 km from Kaza). He always said he will make the arrangement but never talked about guesthouse name or tariff.

Upon reaching Sangla we checked in to Hotel Debbhumi Regency (Debbhumi – pre booked). There was a group staying at this hotel who were in package with Debbhumi Travels, Kolkata. So all the rooms at ground and upper floor was occupied. They offered us one double bed room, one triple bed room and one four bed room at underground!!! Soon we realized that these rooms are for drivers and requested for other rooms. They showed us only one triple bed room is vacant at ground floor. We did not took that as all can stay at same floors. At evening we saw a big rat in the triple bed room and complained about it. They said – “ei 8 no. e abar idur poreche. Amra tarie dicchi.”. Translation – again rat has entered in room number 8. We will clear it. It was now clear to us that we got worst rooms of the hotel. We moved to the first floor triple bed room and released two rooms at underground. We spent all time together in the good room. At night me with my father went to the underground for sleep. The blankets were so dirty and smelly that we could not bring it over belly.

We could not understand why Debbhumi took our booking if they were full already. We spend money for three rooms and “enjoyed” only two. I went to Debbhumi as I heard that they are Kinnaur specialist. But our experience is that. In my opinion, HPTDC is the best option in Kinnaur.

24-Sep: After breakfast we started for Chitkul. Road was bad. But the beauty of Chitkul is more than enough to make one forget about that. We spent some quality time at the bank of river Baspa. Then we came back to Sangla, had lunch and headed Kalpa. Road was bad. We saw an ongoing Hydro Power project by Patel group. We reached Kalpa at 16:00 and checked in to Hotel Shital (Debbhumi – pre booked). We saw the same group here also but we got good rooms. This is the only good hotel of Debbhumi we stayed in Kinnaur. But there is no view of Kinnaur Kailash from room.

After a thought I asked Dharamvir to book the guesthouse at Losar for us. He took 1000/- Rs (50%) as advance which he had to send with the car number.


25-Sep: It was our rest day at Kalpa. We visited Roghi and Chini village. Roghi village was really beautiful with full grown apples in trees everywhere. View of Kinnaur Kailash was also good from there. Dharamvir halted at suicide point but no speciality; every point is suicide point in mountain.

Roghi Village

Kinnaur Kailash

26-Sep: It was one of the risky and tough days of our tour – Kalpa to Tabo via Nako Lake. In Dharamvir’s word, panga wala day  As per his advice we started at sharp 06:30 and had breakfast on the way. This part of the road in Kinnaur is very dangerous. You can see lots of warning board by BRO – Stone Shooting Area. Stop. See. Pass. This day we stared to observe Drarambir’s skill and expertise in this area. He was continuously looking at the road as well at the side by uphill; whether stones are coming.

We reached the confluence of Sutluj and Spiti River at 11:30. After that the scenery got completely changed. We all got amazed by the colour of Spiti valley. At last we are here – Heaven. My right index finger started aching due to shutter click. In most of the cases a place looks more beautiful in picture than actual. But believe me, Spiti vally is opposite. It is more and more beautiful than it comes in a snap.

We reached Nako in one more hour. Dharamvir guided us to a restaurant
where we ordered mutton momo and chowmin and went to see the lake. It is more like a big pond surrounded by beautiful trees. After that we had lunch and started for Tabo. There were BRO at work at many places. We got stuck at two places where BRO guys were cutting stones from mountain. Then they cleared the road. It was the story of half an hour at each occasion. After all these hurdles we reached Tabo at 15:50 and checked in to Hotel Tiger Den (Prebooked - Self). It was a mid range hotel with all necessary amenities (clean bed, clean attached bathroom with geyser, clean towel, power backup for lights only) at such in Spiti valley.

Nako Lake

BRO at work

Here we meet Mahesh once again. Mahesh, Dharamvir and I had a conversation. They told me that there are two nice villages at very high altitude in Spiti vally – Langza and Komic. This can be covered in next day after executing my original plan to go to Rangrik (Kaza) via Dhankar. But I have to pay one day rate to Dharamvir for that. Mahesh had shown us some pictures of those places to get an idea. No doubt those are heavenly beautiful. I shown those to other members and they agreed to cover these as probably we will not be going to visit this circuit again. I requested Dharamvir to reduce the rate but he refused and said we should go to the place and then think whether one day rate can be spent for this. He termed this tour as Dharamvir Special.

27-Sep: We stared for Dhankar after visiting thousand years old Tabo Monastery. As we proceed scenery became more and more beautiful. At Dhankar monastery a monk sitting outside the main part told us that we can go inside and see. We did so and when we came out he told us there is an entry fee of Rs 25/- per person…!!!

Tabo Monastery

Om Mani Padme Hum

We had our lunch at Kaza and Dharamvir filled up his Xylo tank. Then we started for Langza and Komic. The views were really breathtaking. The beautiful colour of the mountain made us feel like Heaven. However road was bad. Komic village is at an altitude of 15,049 ft, almost same as Kunzum top…!!! We thanked Dharamvir for guiding us to such a beautiful place. At about 17:00 we reached our hotel Spiti Sarai at Rangrik (Pre booked). We really did not expect such a hotel at 12,000 ft altitude. It was awesome.

Komic & Langza Village

28-Sep: We had our breakfast and started for Kibber. After spending some time in Kibber village we moved to Key monastery. Then we came back to to the hotel, had our lunch, took luggage and started for Losar. Very bad road prolonged our 50 km travel to 2.5 hours. We checked in to Samsing guesthouse. It was wooden floored with clean bed and bathroom with geyser. What else one should expect at such a small village just before Kunzum pass at such an altitude?

Key Monastery

Way to Losar

29-Sep: We woke up in the morning and found there is no water on tap. Upon telling this to the guesthouse owner he found that the water has become ice…!!! He made arrangement of water for us in bucket, 2 bucket cold and 1 bucket hot. We started at sharp 07:00 am as this was the second and last “pangawala” day of our tour.

Rode started becoming worse and worse. We reached Kunzum top and took some picture. Without wasting much time there we started again and after a few kilometres we get in to the road for Chandratal. This road was dangerously narrow and of poor quality. After moving 14 km through this road the jeepable road ends. We started walking towards Chandratal. It was a 20 min stretch with relaxed walking and do not have many ups and downs – easy road. Finally we reached beside the Chandratal and amazed by its beauty. Beauty of the reflection of snow capped mountain in the crystal clear water is awesome. The water was just chilly.

Kunzum Pass

Way to Chandratal


After Chandratal we came back through the same road up to the junction and moved towards Batal. We had lunch at Batal and started for Keylong. After Batal the road is bad to the level of beyond imagination. Actually there is no road. Only boulders are there and SUVs are moving through that. I doubt how Innova could perform here with its low ground clearance. We crossed many nullahs. But two nullahs after Chota Dhara was most dangerous. Dharamvir shown his intense expertise of driving in these road and crossed all this extremely difficult part with all of us sitting in the car and luggage on the top. This road continued up to Gramphoo. It took almost 4 hours to make it Batal to Gramphoo. After that the road is better up to Koksar. Then the road is very good for another 20 kms. After that it is poor again but not the worse. We reached Kelong at 19:30 and checked in to Hotel New Geyspa (pre booked). This hotel was also very good.

Road from Batal to Gramphoo

We meet that group from Debbhumi here in dining hall again and they were complaining about many things – they skipped Chandratal, adjusted time such a way that one needs to skip one meal. We really surprised as we heard that Debbhumi have a good reputation for this circuit. We thanked our fortune that we booked only three hotels from them and nothing else. Friends, be aware of Debbhumi travels, Kolkata.

30-Sep: It was the day planned to visit Udaipur and Trilokinath. Again the road was very bad but not like Batal to Gramphoo  In Udaipur there is only a temple. We had lunch there and moved to Trilokinath. The Trilokinath temple is of mixed culture of Hinduism and Buddhism. My feeling is there is no meaning to visit Udaipur and Trilokinath travelling almost 100 kilometers of nasty road. In fact going straight to Manali instead of Kelong may be a good decision. But while planning to Lahaul Spiti one has to keep backup days in plan as can get stuck at any place.




01-Oct: It was our last day with Dharamvir. We started at 09:00 and reached Manali at 13:30. En route we took some snaps at Rohtang. Rohtang is now cleaned a lot. No tea shop. Only 1000 cars are going to Rohtang from Manali per day (600 petrol and 400 diesel) and one need to take permit for this one day before between 10:00 to 20:00 from Tourist Information Centre, Manali Mall.
We said good bye to Dharamvir and checked in to Hotel Chandrabhaga. It was really a good hotel on the mall at very reasonable rate. After lunch we took rest and at evening did some shopping.

Way to Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass

02-Oct: We visited Hadimba Mata temple and then had lunch. At 17:00 we checked out from hotel and proceed towards the government bus stand. Soon we located the HPTDC Volvo for Delhi and loaded our luggage in to the bus. It started at 17:30 and the next halt was at a dhaba for dinner at 22:30.

03-Oct: The bus haulted at Karnal Haveli in the early morning and reached Delhi (Mandi house) at 07:45. From there we took two taxies for New Delhi station where we pre-booked 2 double bed AC Retiring Rooms. AC rooms starting from room number 500 is on the platform no 16 and rest are on Paharganj side (platform no. 1). Our room no was 126 & 127. The rooms clearly lack maintenance. Bathrooms were shabby. However beds were clean and AC was working. We checked out at 16:20 and boarded Howrah Rajdhani from platform no. 15.

04-Oct: Rajdhani Express doing good justice to its name reached Howrah on time.

Useful informations:


Hotel Hatu, Narkanda (recomended)

Hotel Tregopan, Sarahan (not - recomended). Hotel Srikhand (HPTDC) is the best option here.

Hotel Debbhumi Regency, Sangla (not - recomended). One should not stay at Sangla at all. Stay at Chitkul (Cannot remember the hotel name but rooms are excellent. We went there for toilet. Owner Gurcharan Singh +91 9816602220/8679297000) or at least Rakcham (Rupin River View, Naresh Jishtu +91 9816686789).

Hotel Shital, Kalpa (recomended). The Kinner Kailash (HPTDC) is better option.

Hotel Tiger Den, Tabo (Recomended). Hotel Siddarth is also good option.

Hotel Spiti Sarai, Rangrik, Kaza (highly recomended). Ramesh Lotey +91 9418439247

Samsing Guesthouse, Losar (recomended). Ramesh Lotey can be contacted for booking at Losar. He is very resourceful in that area.

Hotel New Geyspa, Keylong (highly recommended) Jagan Karpa +91 9418133522/9418136055

Hotel Chandrabhaga, Manali (highly recomended) Prashant Kumar +91 9816078055

Car and driver:

Dharamvir (+91 9418174848, +91 9816074848) drives his own Xylo (rear seat front faced). He has superb driving quality and lot of experience about this circuit.

Mahesh (+91 9816021611, +91 9418031611) drives his own Scorpio (rear seat front faced).
#2 Oct 14th, 2015, 18:23
Join Date:
Apr 2009
Delhi, India
  • rg1283 is offline
Great trip report. Loved the story and photos.

You have been quite brave to do this with elderly parents. Hope no one had to face altitude-related issues.

Blogging occasionally:
#3 Oct 14th, 2015, 19:36
Join Date:
May 2012
  • saikatbabai is offline
Originally Posted by rg1283 View Post Great trip report. Loved the story and photos.

You have been quite brave to do this with elderly parents. Hope no one had to face altitude-related issues.


Only my mother in law could not make it to Chandratal.
#4 Oct 15th, 2015, 10:32
Join Date:
Jun 2015
  • sarath7750 is offline
In fact I too had a worse experience with Tenzin Chauppel. I thought it was some reall issue with him and that's why I didn't mention it in the previous post. But some other person also had a similar issue making me write this post.

I contacted this chap after recommended by DOW community some 1 month before my trip. I called him and we settled at a price and the vehicle was booked. After that he was in regular contact with me through WhatsApp by sending some weather updates and snaps.

Days passed and we (me and my wife) started our journey from Kerala and reached Chandigarh. We took a cab from airport and our bus to Narkanda was in the evening. So straight away we went to one mall. From there I tried Tenzin just to update him that we reached here and also to check whether he started for Narkanda. He picked the call and told that he cannot come for the trip because of some family problems it seems and he disconnected. I was really worried. I had no ones contact number in Chandigarh nor in Shimla, Kinnaur or Spiti. I was wholly depending on this person.

Again I called him and begged him to either come or give some other options. He told that he will give his friend's number named Dilip residing at Kalpa who is also the owner or Sumo Spacio ( Listed above). Immediately without wasting time I called Dilip and he told that he is on some other trip, but in a very pleasant manner he told me "Don't worry Saab, I will give you one of my friend's number who can help you out." And he gave me Maheshji's number.

In fact I am so happy inspite of the worse experience with Tenzin that I got an opportunity to meet Maheshji.

Any body who is contacting Tenzin, please ensure the confirmation. Otherwise go for some other good driver

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk
#5 Oct 15th, 2015, 11:10
Join Date:
Feb 2015
  • SwamiCharan is offline
Very Nice report with lot of helpful information... Thanks
Lamkhaga Pass, Madhyamaheshwar -> Nandi Kund -> Ghiyavinayak Pass, Manimahesh parikrama, Kinnaur Kailash Shivling, Neelkanth
#6 Oct 15th, 2015, 15:11
Join Date:
Jan 2013
  • Joydtraveller is offline
Hi Saikat,

very nice TR and great pics. it would be wonderful if you share a few more pics

and 'the front facing rear seat' totally makes sense! This is the only time when i read a TR where this info is given and I know it is very useful, especially when you have people in your team who are not comfortable in a long hilly journey.

I am planning for a Kinnaur trip (not Lahaul and Spiti) some time next year and I will use this TR as the base of my research. and i will ask you a lot of questions in the coming months as I will try to gather more input.

Hope you won't mind.

Thanks again for sharing.
#7 Oct 15th, 2015, 15:47
Join Date:
May 2012
  • saikatbabai is offline
Hi Joy,

Thank you.

I will be happy to help you about the Kinnaur trip
#8 Nov 2nd, 2015, 14:18
A story teller...for IM
Join Date:
Oct 2012
  • Legless soul is offline
Nice Trip Report

Could you please share some cost information(car, hotels etc). So that others will have an idea about the budget of undertaking a similar trip.
If a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it cant be solved, worrying will do no good ~ H.H
#9 Nov 2nd, 2015, 16:37
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Dec 2012
  • SomaGhosh is offline
A very helpful TR. thanks
Warm Regards

My travel blog
#10 Nov 3rd, 2015, 13:00
Join Date:
May 2012
  • saikatbabai is offline

Cost of Car and Hotels

Originally Posted by Legless soul View Post Nice Trip Report

Could you please share some cost information(car, hotels etc). So that others will have an idea about the budget of undertaking a similar trip.

Xylo Rs 3000/- per day. Chandigarh to shimla in Ertiga Rs 3500/-


Hotel Hatu, Narkanda (HPTDC).
HPTDC hotel tariff can be found and booked from their web site

Hotel Tregopan (Debbhumi), Sarahan Rs 900/- (NOT recomended). Hotel Srikhand (HPTDC) is the best option here.
Debbhumi hotels can be booked from their office at 28 B B Ganguly Street or from their web site But web site shows higher price.

Hotel Debbhumi Regency (Debbhumi), Sangla Rs 900/- (NOT recomended). One should not stay at Sangla at all. Stay at Chitkul.

Chitkul - Can not remember hotel name. Rs 1200 to 1600/- Owner Gurcharan Singh +91 9816602220/8679297000.

Rupin River View, Rakcham Rs 1200/- Owner Naresh Jishtu +91 9816686789.

Hotel Shital (Debbhumi), Kalpa Rs 1000/- (Recomended). The Kinner Kailash (HPTDC) is better option.

Hotel Tiger Den, Tabo 1000/- (Recomended). Hotel Siddarth is also good option (similar tariff). Can be booked through Ramesh Lotey or Debbhumi.

Hotel Spiti Sarai, Rangrik, Kaza Rs 1200/- (Highly recomended). Ramesh Lotey +91 9418439247.

Samsing Guesthouse, Losar Rs 1000/- (Recomended). Ramesh Lotey can be contacted for booking at Losar. He is very resourceful in that area.

Hotel New Geyspa, Keylong Rs 1200/- (Highly recommended) Jagan Karpa +91 9418133522/9418136055.

Hotel Chandrabhaga, Manali Rs 1000/- (Highly recomended) Prashant Kumar +91 9816078055.

Hope this will help.
#11 Nov 4th, 2015, 01:15
Join Date:
Apr 2008
New Delhi, NCR
  • blackfog is offline
Many thanks Saikat for sharing such detailed information.

“Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming ... WOW! What a ride!”
#12 Nov 5th, 2015, 16:48
Join Date:
Mar 2010
  • saikatroy is offline

Excellent review

I planned this route in 2013...but due to the flash flood, I had to change the plan and went to Ladakh instead.

Now I am planning to go Spiti Valley (with Solang and Kalpa) in June 2016 so I visited IM and voila! Most of my queries are answered in your detailed review.

Thank you so much.
Saikat Roy

See my photos at

See my blog about North Sikkim at

My photography portfolio (under construction):
#13 Dec 21st, 2015, 10:47
Join Date:
Dec 2011
  • drtejaschauhan is offline
Hi saikat
I'm planning to do the sarahan kalpa sangla valley pin valley trip in April end 2016 in self driven car like scorpion with family and friends.
I'm not usedbto mountain drive but otherwise "good"/on plains!
do u think it will be safe for self driving in these regions ?
however I'm very keen for self driven trip
dr. TBC
#14 Dec 21st, 2015, 13:12
Join Date:
Feb 2014
Some pretend-place where bluebirds sing and there's a whiskey spring...
  • the_blue_bharal is offline
Originally Posted by drtejaschauhan View Post Hi saikat
I'm planning to do the sarahan kalpa sangla valley pin valley trip in April end 2016 in self driven car like scorpion with family and friends.
I'm not usedbto mountain drive but otherwise "good"/on plains!
do u think it will be safe for self driving in these regions ?
however I'm very keen for self driven trip
dr. TBC
No-one can declare it super-safe, nor that there is a huge, unworthy risk. It's upto you if you want to do it. Many people from plains I know have done it, and many want to, but take a local driver due to fear.
But surely, roads ahead of Rampur are generally in extremely bad condition. It's at a higher difficulty/ risk level as compared to a common mountain drive to Shimla, Manali etc.
Learning to be silent.
Last edited by the_blue_bharal; Dec 21st, 2015 at 15:14..
#15 Dec 21st, 2015, 13:18
Join Date:
May 2009
  • arupratan ghosh is offline
Nice report & information . Thanks for sharing

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