Trip Report - Kinnaur, Spiti@October 18-November 3, 2010

#1 Nov 10th, 2010, 15:02
Join Date:
Jul 2007
  • arinhere is offline
First of all very thanks and my regards to Indiamike for helping us out to make such wonderful trip.

My english is not very good, so forgive me if anything is wrong, I just tried to explain what I felt during that trip


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October 18

So after long discussion and planning we were ready to start. Sirshendu[Max], Saswati[Max's wife], Raj and me[Arin]. But excitement waiting for us since the first day. Just before 2 hours we came to know that 2 of our tickets were not confirmed and that was named after me and Raj. Just what to do situation. Then we made some arrangement with TT [don't want to mention that in public forum] and started for delhi.

October 19

Reached delhi at 11.30 AM and after having some lunch boarded on Una Janshatabdi at 2.35 PM for Chandigarh. The journey was comfortable. Called vinkle our tour operator from the train as he was waiting for us in the Chandigarh station. While we reached Chandigarh it was 7.00 PM. We meet Vinkle, very soft spoken and cordial fellow and informed him that we will start for Narkanda tomorrow morning within 7 AM. Then booked an auto went to our hotel. Hotel super palace got nice large rooms with all kind of facilities.

October 20

Our car was waiting for us outside. A scorpio. Vinkle was right about him time. But he was not driving. Sanju our driver, a nice young boy. We made very clear in the first day about the route we took. So we started that way. As we planned to travel through the scenic route of chail[which was longer than the normal route], we started towards that. Our destination for today was Narkanda. Crossed Chandigarh, Kalka and suddenly the mighty himalayan valley appears. The road through pine Forrest was amazing. Took and lunch at roadside dhaba with Roti and Shahi Paneer and continued our journey. We stopped such often that when we reached Narkanda it was 5.00 PM. So we didn't want to miss the chance of missing the sunset from Hatu Peak mandir. Hatu peak mandir is situated at a distance of 7 Km from Narkanda market. We took direction from there and drove towards hatu Peak. It was starting to dark.

After the Narkanda Market a narrow road was there to the Hatu Peak mandir.The distance is 6 KMs. By the time we covered that distance it was almost dark and a reddish sky above the mountains made it a treat to eyes. The evening puja was about to start, so we stayed there, took some snaps and returned to Narkanda at 6.45 PM. Our booking was at Mahamaya Palace. Nice hotel with great food. I didn't know that Solan known as Mushroom City of India, so at the dinner mushroom was must .

October 21

We normally woke up early while we travel. So as usually we freshened up, ordered our breakfast and me and max gone for a walk and as expected, a horizon with snow clad mountains appears in front of us. Local people informed us that some snowfall in mountain has occurred in the night. Anyway we get back to the hotel after taking some snaps took our breakfast and started for Sarahan. This is a huge day as we also planned to meet Sudeshna di on the way.

Sudeshna Di's house was at Jeori, on the road to Sarahan. I called her up meet sudeshna di. I just don't know what to say about sudeshna di, she is so cordial and down to earth. Like we know her for long time. We ate some brilliant aloo ka parantha at sudeshna di's house with dahi and its just home like experience. She informed us many things about the place and also promised us to treat us with fish curry while she will be in Kolkata .

We reached Sarahan at 3.30 PM. Our booking was at Mount View, which we booked from Himachal Tourism website and the experience was pathetic. Small damped room. After seeing the hotel even we tried to cancel and tried to book on Vimkali temple but nothing works. On the other hand, Sarahan was just awesome. The mountains we viewed from Narkanda, sarahan brought then so close. But weather was not clear as the cloud was hovering all over the place.

Anyway after checking in, we freshened up and started for the helipad ground. The helipad ground is about 1.5 kms walk to the forrest. We reached there by 5 PM and view was spectacular. All snow covered mountains in its full show. Just awesome. We stay there half an hour and returned to the beautiful Bhimkali temple. Took some tea at the temple canteen, ordered our dinner over there and get back to the guest house by 7 PM.

October 22

We woke up early as usual, freshened up and started for the helipad point again for the sunrise. But Mother Nature was in no mood to show her beauty, as the sky was covered with clouds. After waiting sometime we get back to our hotel, took some breakfast at Vimkali Temple Canteen and got ready to start. Our destination for that day was Chitkul. We were very excited as we heard so much about that place, but who knows whatís waiting for us. Anyway we said goodbye to Sarahan and started for Chitkul at 10 AM. In the midway Sanju did some maintenance check in the car like fuel, air etc.

As we travelled towards Sangla, weather became started to get worsen. Thick cloud in the sky, the it was drizzling some moments. We manage to reach Tupri by 2.30PM, took our lunch in a road side dhaba and started again at 3.15 PM. The road condition was not good, as hydro project work was going on in Karcham and moreover the road get muddy as it was drizzling often. Still we manage to reach Kuppa [the most landslide prone zone just before Sangla]. Sanju drove carefully through that portion and we reached Sangla by 4.15 PM. The entrance of the sangla was just awesome. Baspa was flowing on the valley, mountain peaks were full of snow, and itís just breathtaking. But we got stuck. Due to some local problem some peoples blocked the bridge towards Chitkul and the whole communication got cut.

We wait and wait and at 6 PM, they took off the road block and the situation got more critical. The car from both side were stuck and they all trying to out at the same time it creates more traffic jam. At that moment police appears and tried to resolve the situation. By the meantime it was almost 7 PM and it was raining terribly. Sanju told us this may started snowing very soon and just within 15 minutes, we noticed that snow is dropping on our windscreen. Our one of the greatest desires got life then. On the other hand sangla was not clear till then and 8 cars were supposed to drive towards Chitkul then.

It took another 30 minutes to get out of the situation. Then we started driving. The snowfall is just increasing as the moments passed. The road from Sangla to Chitkul were very narrow and all the cars driving into that. This was one of the most thrilling experiences we ever had in our life. Still we manage to drive 12 kms on that situation. The interesting fact of snow is, one can drive on it till it is fresh and loose, once it freezes then no breaks works on it. We came to realize that all of a sudden. Sanju was driving steadily, suddenly tire skids and our car moved to the danger end. Sanju made it stop. We saw that all cars stood in queue, as the road ahead in blocked with frozen ice. Our wiper stopped working by that time. Sanju went outside to talk to others. After certain time he came back and told us we have to walk 1.5 KMs through the snow to Rackcham. The temperature was freezing outside. We strongly denied, as by the time we reach Rakcham, everything will be wet in snow. Then we saw that, the hotel peoples in Rakhcham were coming with some local peoples. They informed us, they will help the drivers to get to the hotel. But road conditions were not in good shape at all and more over our car got stuck. Sanju got nervous in his previous skidding experience. So he didnít try to take any risk. All cars passed, but we still stuck. Then Virender came. He was driving an innova. He gave tips to Sanju to get out of the situation, but Sanju was not willing to take any kind of risk. Then virendar sat on driverís seat, drove in that manner like nothing happened.

Our pulse became normal, as we reached Hotel Pine River View at Rakcham and due to the obvious reason hotel was full. So I called Vinkle to make some arrangement, and thank to him and of course the hotel owner we got a room, though itís a double bed room, still a life savior. We ordered some dinner, have it and go to bed.

October 23

We woke up early as usual, and it was still snowing. Almost zero visibility all around. This was our first experience at snow, and what could be thrilling and adventurous than this. On the other hand we were disappointed as our next destinations seemed unreachable by then and no other groups werenít going forward if by any chance the road opened. So we decided letís see what will happen, but for now letís enjoy this.

Snowfall stopped around 11.30 AM. We went outside and saw something what we never seen before. The nature is completely grey. 2-3 feet snow all around us, cloud still all over in the Baspa valley, the road is almost covered with snow and the view was just spectacular. I have no words to describe it. So we walked through the snow all around, took snaps and enjoyed thoroughly.

In the evening, we spoke to Sanju & other drivers, they told us, the road will be open by tomorrow but most of the groups reluctant to continue with their plan, and they planned to return Shimla or Manali. We got confused as if the road got opened then no other groups will go to Spiti, so by any chance we stuck then it will be a big problem for us. On the other hand we donít want to miss the opportunity as the road got opened. This gave us a point to think. We decided that we will go upto Kalpa and then will take information about road condition and decide what can be done.

October 24
We woke up early as usual and saw bright sunshine all around. The frozen snow on road began to melt and few cars coming from Sangla. Me and Max asked them about the situation. They informed us, the road is fine, though a bit landslide was occurred in Kuppa but that has been taken care of by PWD and the road is now fine and many groups started to return to Shimla or Manali from Sangla. But we stick to our plan and decided to go Kalpa.

We paid hotel bill after breakfast and ask then owner about the probable condition. He told us, this is not the season for snow, snowing happened due to bad weather, so if the weather donít go bad then it will be great in Spiti as far as the view is concerned and also normally once such large scale snowfall occurred then weather gets cleared for next few days.

This was a big relief for us and we decided to take that risk at that moment. So we started for Kalpa at 10.30 PM. Rakcham to Kalpa is about 3 hours journey. Road condition is bad in some places due to hydro project works, but it worth it once your reach Kalpa.

We reached Kalpa at 1.30 PM and got mesmerized by the Sibling and Parvati. What a beauty! Snow clad mountains spreading her arms all around Kalpa. Our booking was at Rakpa Regency, which is the best place to stay at Kalpa as far as my point of view is concerned. This is on the top place, from where you will get a great view of that Kinnaur Range. Anyway we freshened up, took our lunch and gone for walk in the apple garden, just behind our hotel and also saw beautiful sunset over Sibling and Parvati.
In the evening, I got call from Deep [an IM member and very helpful guy]. Deep was at Kalpa yesterday and they tried to go to Kaza but they stucked at Pooh, some loose stones came on road and made a road block. Hydro project peoples were tried to fix that. But Deep was unlucky as he had to drop his plan for Kaza there. But he told me that we can continue as it will be fixed by the time we cross. I still thank him for informing us. Thanks Deep

October 25

Our destination for that day was Tabo. Kalpa to Tabo was approx 170 KM. So we started by 8.30 AM. Took some money from ATM at Recong Peo at continued our journey. Road from Recong Peo to Pooh was pathetic. As we approached towards Pooh, the vista changed slowly. No greenery, soil made mountains, which we never witnessed before. Just beautiful.

We took our lunch at a roadside dhaba and reached Nako by 3.00 PM. Then a small walk to Nako lake. Nako Lake itself is beautiful, you can even see the reflection of the mountain on the water. We took some snaps over there, spend around 30 minutes and started for Tabo.

On the way to Tabo we crossed the notorious Mailing Nala and drove towards Tabo with the Spiti River besides. When we reached Tabo, it was 5.30 PM. It was getting dark. Sanju parked our car in front of Tabo Monastry and me and max has gone for finding a hotel. But that a isolated place on earth. We were the only tourist on Tabo, all the hotels and shops are closed by that time. We tried to convince the Himachal Tourism hotel guard for 2 rooms but he was not willing to do that without prior booking. So as we have no way out, we get back to our car and spoke to Lamaji of Tabo Monastry about 2 rooms. As it was fully empty, he agreed to give us 2 rooms @ of 350 INR. But few rules no smoking and drinking inside the guest house. Drinking was not a problem but me, raj and max all are smokers. This was a bit problem for us. But what to do?

Tabo Monastery guest house was nice, with good rooms and all facilities. Their canteen was at the ground floor. Lamaji told us to order dinner at the earliest as the restaurants will close by 8 PM. So after freshened up we went the restaurant and finish our dinner with mutton chowmin and momo, as there were no other foods left. One good thing about the restaurant was, you can smoke here

October 26

We woke up in the morning and the weather was perfect, blue sky with bright sunshine. Our destination for that day was to reach Kaza, and on the way visit Dhankar Monastery and T-So Lake. We freshened up and got ready within 8.00 AM, took some breakfast at the restaurant and went to visit Tabo Monastery. One of the old heritage monasteries of India is Tabo Monastery, very beautiful and unique design, compare to others. We walked around it, took some snaps, make a donation to the monastery sponsored school and say goodbye to Tabo.

We just crossed the Tabo Bridge and suddenly our Scorpio had got flat tires. So that causes one more hour delay. When we reached Dhankar Monastery it was 12.30 PM. Bout our bad luck, main Dhankar Monastery was closed due to some religious program on new Dhankar Monastery. Anyway we stayed sometime over there and started walk for T-So lake, but on the midway we lost, then some local people directed us the way to return. We return to our car around 2.30 PM and started for Kaza. The road to Kaza is beautiful. Wide open valley in the midst of the mountains gave us an out of the world feeling.

In Kaza our booking was at Spiti Sarai, but Spiti Sarai was closed due to cold weather at Kaza. So we asked local people over there, they gave us the address of Sakya Abode. Sakya Abode is in the midst of Kaza, near petrol pump. The hotel is beautiful and with all kind of facilities and above all good food.

October 27

We woke up early, and get ready for sight seen. Our plan was to visit Kye, Kibber, Langza, Comic. Kye and Kibber are in one direction and Comic and Langza is in another. So we planned to go for the Comic and Langza first. We started at 11 PM for Comic and Langza. The road to Langza and Comic are good in respect of view. Valley over the mountains with snow clad peaks. You will get the wide open vista. Itís so beautiful, we just sat on the valley for long time and relish the moment. Itís simply great. Everyone must go to comic and langza. The road through snow is awesome, in some moment we feel like, we will see god after next turn, itís so beautiful.

We get back to hotel at 2.30 PM and after having some lunch we started for Kye and Kibber at 3.15 PM. There is not much to see expect Kye Monastery in Kye, Kibber on the other hand is good, but after seeing Langza and Comic, you will get kibber not that upto the mark. I recommend you to go Kye and Kibber first then try Langza and Comic so that you can enjoy them all thoroughly.
We returned at 5.30 PM. On the return we spend some time on the Spiti valley. It was so beautiful. We were a bit tensed on the other hand, as we donít know how to return and also we were the only tourists in Kaza? Though we heard that Kunzum got opened and few cars came from Manali to Kaza last day and 2 cars has gone from Kaza to Manali safely. But we didnít hear anything from the horseís mouth about the road condition. Our hotel owner told us that he has a booking of foreigners today and they started from Manali in the morning and will reach Kaza by evening. So we have to wait for them to come, if we come to know that the road is good then we will go through Kunzum in spite of returning through the same way.

We were having our dinner at 9 PM and while we coming back to our room, we found that those foreigners arrived. We talked to them; they told us the road is very risky as there are still lots of frozen ice on the road, so driving is a bit risky. Then we spoke to the drivers along with Sanju, they told us the same, but the good thing was, they will return to Manali tomorrow through Kunzum, and when the Sun is at top, so that the ice on the road melts.

So thatís decided, we are heading towards Manali tomorrow through Kunzum first then Rothang.

October 28

We got ready within 7 AM, but all the drivers told us they will wait until the sun rises. So we waited and started together at 8.30 AM, planned to have our breakfast at Loser. So we started. The road to Loser was good, but as were heading towards the mountain top we were seeing lots of snow all around the mountains as well as the valley. We reached loser at 10.00 AM, had our breakfast with aloo ka parantha. 2 cars also went for Manali we heard there. I asked a driver, how the road of the kunzum will be? Will it be the same as the Loser. He smiled and replied, ďSaab, yeh to trailor tha, film to samne suru hoga.Ē [This was the trailor, the film will begin now].
Raj got a bit nervous, as he still remembered the previous experience of skidding in Rackcham. At 11.15 AM we started for Kunzum, snow level increases and after 15-20 minutes we can now see the zigzag road through snow. Sanju got to pee now due to his nature . We all give our all respect to almighty and started.

The starting road was not in that bad shape, though no black road visible, still those were loose snow and as the car was running slowly, so itís safe till then. As we approached towards Kunzum top the snow level got more and more and sometime as usual tire skids. But we got a bit experience now and we know this can happen. So this way we reached Kunzum top around 12.15 PM. Raj was speechless till now. We kudos to almighty for this safe drive till now. On the other hand the beauty of Kunzum La took all the tensions from us. We shouted together ďKunzum La JuleyĒ, which we heard from a local guy on the way.

One of the cars which were carrying some local peoples of Loser to Manali got flat tires. That driver told Sanju to carry on and he will join soon. To came down was more dangerous that getting up. As we knew that no break will work here and if the car skids badly, this will go down straight to the bottom. Sanju was a good driver and we came to know his capability then. He just drove like a master on the place. Tire skids often but that was a fare risk. Raj was completely speechless again. The road condition was so bad, that we became very happy while we saw some sold on the road, now you can imagine the rest.

We can now see Chandrabhaga at the bottom and Batal at a distance. At 1.30 PM we crossed Kunzum and reached Batal. Batal is amazing. Snow clad mountains all around with chandrabhaga in the middle; just like we saw in our dream, in a fairy world. Simply its heaven. We spend around 15 minutes at batal and started for chatru, where we supposed to have our lunch. Raj again in his full form. Singing all the way. Road from batal to chatru was no road at all, it was the valley of chandrabhaga, is completely in bad shape. But the beauty is breath taking and now we can assume that the risk is worth, as good thing donít come easily in life.

We reached chatru at 2.45 PM, had our lunch and started for Gramphoo, which the junction of Manali-Leh highway. The road to gramphoo was almost same and while we reach there it was 4.30 PM. Now we have to reach Rothang top and 50 Kms from there is Manali. We expected to see some more cars on Manali-Leh highway, but I guess we were wrong. Only found few trucks on the road driving to Keylong. So we were all alone as we came till now.
Road to Rothang was much wider than Kunzum, this was the only plus point but there are more snow than kunzum in rothang. Though the road was clear. We able to reach rothang top by 5.00 PM. Rothang top was completely lonely. We only 5 peoples over there. We got it funny remembering that, peoples comes to rothang to play with the snow.

Anyway we spend some time at rothang and started for Manali. Now the road from rothang top to Marhi, the below point of rothang is a disaster, especially after this 22nd October snowfall. Still we manage to get down to Marhi at 6.00 PM. After marhi the road to Manali was very good and while we reached Manali it was 7.30 PM. We booked a hotel in New Manali, checked in and informed all about our safe journey.

October 29

We spend the whole day in Manali, just booked our Volvo ticket to Delhi from Shimla for 31st October.

October 30

Started for Manali to Shimla at 9 AM, reached Shimla at 7.30 PM. Shimla was more crowded rather than Manali and costly, frankly speaking I didnít like it that much. After checking in into the hotel we paid Sanju and said good bye to him.

October 31

We boarded on Volvo from Shimla to Delhi at 9 PM and reached Delhi ISBT on 5.30 AM in the morning.

November 1

We checked in hotel in Pahargunj, near New Delhi Railway Station and spend whole day in complete rest.

November 2 and November 3

We boarded on Howrah-Rajdhani Express from delhi and reached howrah at 10.30 AM in the morning next day.

Vinkle: 09459262520
Sanju: 09805333284

Hotel Mahamaya Palace
Mobile: 94180 42448, 98169 48668
Rating: 3/5

We stayed at Hotel Mountview, booked from Himachal Tourism website. Completely not recommended. Please find Kshilís trip report for the Vimkali Temples Number.
Rating: 0/5

Hotel Rupin River View
Ph: 01786-244225
Cell: 098166-86789 / 094180-92894
Rating: 4.5/5

Panchali Resort
Sandeep Karar Ė 09816803505

Rakpa Regency
Sandeep Karar Ė 09816803505
Rating: 4/5

Tabo Monastery
Contact: Thinley Ė 0941857963
Ph: 01906-223333, 223315
Fax: 223403
Rating: 3/5

Hotel Sakya Abode
Ph: 01906-222256
Fax: 222254
Mob: 0-9418556213, 9418757496, 9418759368
Rating: 4/5

Hotel Snowbird
Shabir: 098164-52312 / 098822-79412 / 092170-93103
Rating: 3.5/5
#2 Nov 10th, 2010, 15:54
Join Date:
Feb 2010
  • kshil is offline
Wow!!!! Arin, excellent report and man who cares about English when it's all about Himalayas. Anyways I enjoyed thoroughly and it's a great sense of character that you guys keep continuing and completed the loop even after such a bad weather in Sangla. You probably missed Tashigang, one must go after Kibber in same route, it's awesome place and probably best in the Kaza valley. Anyway it seems Dhankar Lake, Chandrataal, Pin Valley and most importantly Lahaul would call you back again very soon there

Cheers and thanks for sharing
#3 Nov 10th, 2010, 16:08
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Jul 2010
Mumbai, India
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  • isurud13 is offline
Yes I also just completed the journey but did nt go beyond Kalpa as I was alone and was freezing...As kshil says I do know the mighty himalayas will call me again to see Spiti and Ladakh.....
#4 Nov 15th, 2010, 17:46
Join Date:
May 2008
  • dipnarayan.bhandari is offline
Oh..great trip report Arin and sorry that I couldn't call you after last time you called from Rohtang.

Your photos again showing me what I missed, but love for Himalaya never ends.. will probably be there some other time.

The day when you entered kalpa, we stuck near Pooh till 5.30 p.m hoping the JCBs will clear that. When it didn't happen we moved to Rampur and the day after reached Manali crossing Jalori Jat(Pass).

Next day I and one friend did a bit adventure and as it was Tuesday and Rohtang pass closed for tourists but open for buses. We board a bus to Keylong, it took us 6 hrs and after spending a day there we returned Manali the next evening.

Rohtang was as pathetic as you saw but a marvelous weather whole day gave us stunning view..
#5 Nov 15th, 2010, 19:18
Join Date:
Jul 2007
  • arinhere is offline
no problem was a marvelous trip and my best trip so far....I will always remember it and will also remember the people I met during this trip....

IM rocks again and great cheers for the IM members .... proud to be an IMr
#6 Nov 17th, 2010, 22:27
Join Date:
Oct 2009
Bangalore, India
  • sasanka is offline
Thanks Arin for the excellent trip report. I planned the trip around the same time but couldn't make it as I have shifted to Bangalore for professional reasons. Hope to visit sometime next year.

Treasured Vacations
#7 Apr 3rd, 2013, 00:58
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Apr 2009
  • varabi is offline
lovely tr
#8 Apr 9th, 2013, 13:33
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Jul 2007
  • arinhere is offline
Thanks all for your comments
#9 Apr 9th, 2013, 13:48
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Dec 2012
  • SomaGhosh is offline
An excellent trip report...keep up the good work
Warm Regards

My travel blog
#10 Nov 27th, 2017, 15:36
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  • arinhere is offline
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