Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Great Himalayan Expedition - Beasters in Lahaul,Spiti,Sangla & Kinnaur.

Getting the bike shipped from Bangalore to Delhi is one helluva task. Got the bike packed with no scope of damages for the train to Delhi.I got it checked in Delhi once again and found the wires were cut some places. Got it changed at the last moment.The last 2 days had gone more in the preparation of collecting Mats and sleeping bags from Dimensions in Sheikh Sarai and meeting in the “Mecca” Karol Bagh for Shopping of Bike Spares. Riding in New Delhi is one hell of a task when the humidity hits a whopping 97% with the traffic snarls.
Day 1- 21st June.08
New Delhi to Bilaspur
Thanks to all as we were more organized. Met at Azadpur Mandi at 5am. I would not have made it here with the help of Abhay since driving down from Vasant aparts. to the meeting point was far. We got our 1st experience when our co rider Amar lost his pouch on the road. Clueless where it had fallen, we left soon for the highway. Yes, I finally made it on the highway and we didn’t waste a single minute getting out of Delhi. We stopped midway for Breakfast at one of the famous dhaba’s for Paranthas’ and chai-Jhilmil Dhaba. Thanks to Rohit who knew Delhi-Chandigarh highway and ridden a dozen times. We reached Chandigarh mid day at “Katani Dhaba’ for brunch.The yummy Paranthas were to good and had more n more - to find the Cramster jacket difficult to wear. Now- we head for the hills - Swarghat and further. Got a wee bit taste and bid adieu to the plains. The fresh air, road curves and trees - wow, we are in the Himalayas.Stopped for chai at 3 pm - when we got a 1st jhatka - Amar's standard bike gave problems,,it refused to start as it had ignition problem. Tool box, battery check up,oil - all that and it didnt work. We lost 2 hours of riding and had to dump it in a tempo for Bilaspur. Since Nishant and Megha were behind, we had to wait for them to catch up. Getting Amars bike fixed at Baldev Mechanic in Bilaspur took time. We settled for the day at Sangam guest house with thora sa Rum and heavy dinner.

Day 2 -22nd June.08
Bilaspur to Manali
Woke up late - left for Manali at 8. Amar - now his bike been fixed left early as he wanted to see Rohtang Pass and head back to Delhi. The ride was comfortable having good highways. We stopped for at Delhi Durbar in Mandi. Rohit suggested to take the Old Manali route to Vashist - less people and less traffic. A decent ride with less of trouble and settled near the old bridge in Hotel Dreamland. Had to help Nishant fix his Ladakh carrier as the "Patti" broke. Tanked up in the evening. Had to help once again - Amar's bike since it gave problem down hill in Rohtang. I wouldn't recommend a Standard bike on long tours as this one gave hell loads of problems. A yummy dinner with the Bikers and heard Panauti's story of his solo trip to Leh.

Day 3 -23rd June.08

Manali to Chatru via Rohtang (3970 m) n Gramphoo.
We left at 5am as we heard a mega traffic jam in Rohtang Pass - one of turns had mud n slush.Gaining an altitude of 2050mts - we had more to climb the pass. I had to squeeze my bike to get over the traffic - took the nearby hills to over take the jam. We lost 2 hours of precious climbing due to traffic and lanslide and i knew the Nallahs at mid day are high.The view Rohtang (3970 Mts) was beautiful seeing the herringboned ridges into the Lahaul Valley. Few kms. further - i found the SonaPani Glacier and down to Gramphoo - you get to see the Lahaul & Spiti Valley. We stopped for at Gramphoo. As you take right - the real safari begins with off roading - now only mud,slush, rocks and water crossings for another 170 kms - this was the moment i waited for years. It was a dream riding in this region. The 1st Nalla crossing was terrible - the water flow was high and glacier water was too cold. The 500's managed - Rohit and Nishant's bike. Manu tried his level best to over - he did but with burnt clutch plates - we tried to fixed it but it didnt work. Had to leave the bike n head to Chatru as it was getting dark. Leaving the chaotic traffic and coming to Lahaul is an experience - here its more rugged and loads of barren rocks in the mountains. I managed to do a small trek with Saurabh up in the hills to get a good view of the Lahaul Landscape.Here, at Prem Dhaba - we got the real hang over of "AMS" as Pooja says - aao mujh me sama jao - its Acute Mountain Sickness.We took a few snaps on the Chatru bridge and planned for next days early ride.

Day 4 -24th June.08
Chatru to Kaza via Batal & Kunzum Pass.(4590m)

We bid farewell to Manu and Saurabh as they had to get the bike fixed in Manali and it wasnt possible for them to catch up. I hope if Manu reads this - he makes it some day on this route - as this was his 2nd attempt to Lahal & Spiti. Getting used to the Nallahs and dirt track - now it was farely easy driving. The 2nd day in Lahaul - the landscape was similar and i felt i was in an unknown territory. On this stretch - we found no traffic at all and no bikers. The mountains are so huge as if they would eat you - barren and untouched with clear blue skies.Crossed Chota dhara and reached mid day at Batal. Had with garam chai n maggi tohead further to K.Pass.Crossing the Chandera river valley - the muddy n dusty ascent after Batal to Kunzum Pass was tuff. I found the need to have a 500 as i would see Rohit and Nishant cruising over mountains with ease. Tuff turns and ziz zag curves - it seemed y'r climbing the Pass - on 1st gear ,,the bike screamed for extra power as every curve was difficult. I enjoyed the view crossing the Bara Shigri glacier. Reached and did a parikrama. Kunzum Pass (4551mts.) is a point which divides the Lahaul Spiti Region, since we crossed Lahaul - now we would travel in Spiti. After a breif photo shoot - we head to Spiti.15 kms down hill- you reach "Takcha" where the valley broadens with the river. I am short of words to describe Spiti. The 70 kms ride from K.Pass to Kaza is gorgeous - a mixture of the Rockies n Colorado mountains. The view is amazing and riding in Spiti was heaven - i felt that every minute driving in Spiti is worth it. Stark beauty, narrow valleys,,,as Rudyard Kipling says in his book Kim - Spiti - is a world within a world and the place the Gods' live.Had lunch at Losar, i rode to Kaza with good roads crossing Hamsa,Pangma,Morang and Rangrik.Checked in at Norbuling Guest house at Kaza.

Day 5 -25th June.08
Kaza - Caumic, Ki(4116m)& Kibber(4205m) Gompas
A relaxed day - left late for Caumic Gompa via Langza Village. At a very high altitude - the day ride was tuff but worth a visit. Steep rocky mountains and strips of cultivable land - the village Langza,Hikkim and Caumic were beautiful. Caumic Gompa - you get the real taste of Buddhism and meet tribal people. Settled for a cuppa of tea and left for Kaza. The gang wanted to rest where i found time to visit Ki and Kibber. Riding alone on this section was worth it - Ki and Kibber. Reaching Kibber had steep climbs. Kibber is the highest permanently inhabited village in the world. at Kibber - the view is awesome. I wish i had managed a day to trek on this route. Imagine temperatures dropping to below 35 degree C - people survive only to the prayers of "Om Mani Padme Hum". I dont know the number of shots i managed to click - but its worth it.I ran out of fuel - so drove downhill 10 kms to save fuel and reach Kaza.

Day 6 -26th June.08

Kaza to Nako via Tabo (3050m) n Malling Nallah

Tanked up at Kaza with extra fuel -left at 8am for Nako. I had loads of doubts crossing Malling - hearing the crossing was too tuff and road clearance. The roads were good and we zoomed by villages reaching Tabo by 10. Nishant's left his purse at the guest house and we had to find ways to get it at Tabo.Finally we left Tabo as Freya-RTMC would collect the purse.Thanks to Sanju. We crossed Sumdo - close to China border. From Chango - a 20 km uphill to Malling - we found neat n widened roads. On few turns - my bike refused to climb as the ascent was very high. I had to stop for a few minutes as the clutch plates were hot - i feared that it would burn. Climbing Malling Nalah reminded of Changla terrain. As we approached nearer - it got barren with dusty roads,,the crossing had a high flow of cold water with a turn. This was it - Rohit, Nishant and me had to reiki and check out the water level,,,unpack my luggage - cross the river and with full throttle - cross Malling. Yes - we did it. It was one of the difficult Nalla crossing we did on the entire route,,one slight miss - and the water would have seeped in the engine.Reached Nako by evening and checked in Knaygoh Guest house.

Day 7 -27th June.08
Nako is a beautiful village, our guest house had a perfect view of the Nako Tal overseeing the village. It looked like a perfect holiday - sipping Tea, writing points for the Blog and Beasters discussing school old days and past rides.Me,Pooja & Rohit did a Nako tour of the village and settled for late lunch. We found the village empty as most had gone to the fields and only a few Cow noises. Did a small trek to get a view of the mountains.Late dinner at the Knaygoh Guest house.

Day 8 -28th June.08

Nako to Sangla via Khab,Pooh,Skibba,Karcham

Left at 8am, drove for 1 hour to reach Pooh.A rocky terrain downhill with beautiful ghats. Stopped for Nishants carrier repair.We stopped at the Check post after Pooh and met few cyclists. Reaching Kalpa, we found the mountains landscape change -now it was green, snow capped mountains with fog and tarred roads. We reached Karcham - where we had to take a deviation to Sangla - 22 kms. The uphill had a good view - pine forest with loads of greenery. Yes - we were n Sangla Valley - a landscape totally different than Lahal and Spiti.Reached in the afternoon at Prakash Guest house.

Day 8 -29th June.08
The view from the guest house was perfect - the mountains were covered in fog. The guest house had a big apple farm and we could see the Beasters Bike - resting.I took a walk with the Beasters to Sangla village - met a Kinnauri family, they offered Chai and showed their Carpets and badam jewelry. Vidya Rath is currently a school teacher. Did some shopping in the evening and had a heavy lunch n dinner. We were supposed to go to Chitkul but the roads conditions were not good and loads of water crossing.

Day 9 -30th June.08
Sangla to Narkanda (2708m) via Rampur

Since it was a long day ride to Shimla - had to leave early - but not that early of course. We got a good stretch of the Rampur ghats and the roads were perfect.I was sad for a while since now - we got back to civilization and the heat would get me in wearing the Cramster jacket. Stopped mid way for brunch - i could feel the plains would not be far. Then came the Narkanda ghats at noon - the stretch was good with a good gradient. As we entered the ghats - i found the view was great with lots of fod in the mountains,,at some stretches - visibility was bad and had to slow down. A nice ride to Narkanda - at the entrance - i found the Beasters waiting for me for Chai. We took a break - it was almost evening - and by Nishant and Rohits persuasion - we stayed at Hatu Peak - Narkanda. The Hotel Hatu had an amazing view and cosy rooms.It was my last night with the Beasters as i would take a detour to meet my freinds in Ludhiana and then to Delhi.

Day 10 -01st July.08
Narkanda to Ludhiana via Shimla

I had to leave early as i had a long distance to cover to ludhiana. Crossing Narkanda to Shimla was a nice ride with a good panoramic view of the Snow peaks and the cedar forests.I wanted to take a few pics. in Shimla - but when i saw the traffic - i was in no mood to burn my clutch plates - i zoomed to the bypass for Chandigarh.On downhill - i could feel the heat and was wondering what it would be in Delhi. Bought 4 kgs of small apples for freinds and reaching Chandigarh by 3pm. Got lost on the way but soon found the route to Ludhiana. Got the highway for Ludhiana - this route was tiring as it was very very humid,,,i miss the hills. I reached Hardeeps pind - Basti Jodhewal by 5ish.Happy to meet Hardeep after 3 years and saw his new horses.

Riders - Beasters-New Delhi
1. Rajiv Jispa (Electra 350cc-Blue)
2. Rohit Sharma (
Machismo 500cc)
3. Nishant (modified 500cc)

1. Pooja

Total distance covered
2350 kms.

Photo links

Important Contacts and Phone Nos.
1. Mahendru Motors - (Adchini.New Delhi) 011-26856331
2. Salim Mechanic - (Uphaar Cinema.New Delhi)
3. Shanta Negi - (Kinner Camps.Nako
4. Surender - Alpine Trek - Manali
5. Cramster - Bangalore 080 41519713