A bike trip to Spiti was my long back wish. During my Ladakh trip, I once planned to cover Spiti valley as well, but that requires at least 10 more days, because there is a lot more to explore from varied landscape to the oldest and beautiful monasteries, the river beds and some highest villages and their civilization in the Kinnaur valley, Lahaul and Spiti Valley, and also the Pin Valley. This place looks similar to Ladakh all from the high altitude barren lands, blue rivers, Crystal clear Lakes and monasteries. The only difference is fewer travellers and tourists compared to Ladakh.
And if I talk about the riding experience and the road conditions. There’s a hell lot of difference compared to Ladakh. The Roads and terrains are extreme, that’s why the BRO termed it “The worlds most treacherous road”.
One can reach Spiti valley via Shimla or via Manali. We decided to take the Shimla route, and the reason is that the Spiti Valley is situated at an average altitude of above 3300m in the trans-Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh. Because of the less oxygen supply at this height, our body will require a certain amount of acclimatization before we enter the Spiti Valley. Going via Shimla side will help us gradually increase the altitude and our body gets acclimatized properly, hence fewer chances of getting hit with Acute Mountain Sickness. Secondly, we get a chance to traverse the Hindustan – Tibet Highway which is one of the most adventurous roads in the world. Riding or Driving on Hindustan – Tibet Road is a journey in itself even if you do not visit any places in Spiti Valley.
Day 1: Delhi – Chandigarh – Solan
Distance covered- 335 km
It was the month of October followed by a long weekend. I finally decided a bike trip with my better half. After all preparations, We Saddled our bike and departed from Delhi around 10. AM. And after one and a half hour ride we reached Sukhdev Dhaba in Murthal where we had paranthas in our breakfast. We then departed via Panipat, Karnal, Ambala then Chandigarh.
We now have covered almost 270 km and planned to reach Shimla as our first-day destination. But we found many roadblocks due to road extensions and some landslides, which lead to some delay. And by the time we reached Solan, we encountered some mechanical problem in the rear wheel of my bike, it was already 8 PM So we decided not to go further. So, we booked a hotel room in Himani resorts located at Mall road, Solan for our night stay.
Day 2: Solan – Shimla – Rampur
Distance covered- 172 Km
The next day I got my bike repaired and after checkout from the hotel, we departed. We had our breakfast in a local dhaba on our way. After covering 46 km which took almost 1 and a half hour, we reached Shimla. As we already spent a lot more time in Solan we decided to skip halting here and soon we reached Kufri. We decided to have maggie and tea in a roadside stall and resumed our journey.
We then reached Narkanda, which is about 60 KMs from Shimla and it took around 2 hours to reach there. The road from Narkanda to Rampur was smooth, curvaceous and breathtaking. We booked our accommodation in little chef hotel in Rampur located on the river bank of Satluj.
Day3: Rampur – Sangla – Chitkul
Distance Covered- 119 Km
On day 3 we have planned to reach Chitkul, which is the last village in Baspa valley. We had our breakfast in Jhakri, a small village just after crossing Rampur. After crossing Jeori, we reached Kinnaur valley and found a waterfall on our way, which was quite amazing, many travellers and tourists halted by the side of this waterfall to take a glance at it, so as we did.
On our way, we found many hydel power plants while reaching Tapri. We had our lunch in Tapri and continued towards Karcham.
From Karcham, we took a diversion for Sangla. There is a huge dam built over Satluj at Karchham. We stood by side of this water reservoir for some photographs and crossed a bridge towards Sangla.
The valley starting from Karcham till Chitkul is known as Baspa valley named after the Baspa river. This valley is also called as Sangla Valley. After reaching Sangla, I found a Petrol pump there and fueled up the tank. Sangla is famous for Nages temple and Kamru Fort. The Sangla Valley is rich in apple orchards, apricot, wall-nut, cedar trees, and glacial streams with trout.
We then crossed few more beautiful villages like Batseri, Rakchham on our way to Chitkul which is the last village on this road. Before we reached Chitkul we need to stop by a check post as to register our vehicle. Chitkul is a beautiful small village located right next to Baspa river. Both Sangla and Chitkul have several hotels. Since we have reached Chitkul late that day we found difficulties in hunting for a hotel due to a huge rush. At last, we found one and it costs bit higher that day compared to other days because of the high demand and a huge rush of travellers.
Day 4: Chitkul – Sangla – Kalpa – Pooh
Distance covered-118 km
After a small exploration in the local village, we departed from Chitkul on Day 4. On returning we stopped at Sangla had our breakfast at Sangla restaurant, upstairs to the first floor this restaurant was built traditionally using wooden planks. Having breakfast in a restaurant surrounded by snow cladded peaks was an amazing experience. We ordered maggie, omellete, and parantha with chutney, the chutney was something different, which I never tasted before and was so mouthwatering. We also did some small shopping in the local shops and I must say it was cheaper for the woollen cloths as compared to the metro cities. After Karcham we diverted towards Kalpa. Just before reaching Peo there we found a fuel station to fill the tank once again, as the next one will be at Kaza only. We skipped going to Reckong Peo (or Kalpa), as we need to divert from the highway and then accent to reach Peo.
We continued our journey and stopped for lunch in a roadside Punjabi dhaba at a place called, Skibba. After lunch, we departed and crossed a wire suspension bridge with a wooden base over the Satluj river and only one vehicle could pass at a time through it. Soon after crossing the bridge, we stopped by security check post to register our vehicle.
We have planned to reach Nako this day, but when we reached Pooh, we decided to stay here and not to go further so that we can spend some time and get relaxed, instead of being in a hurry to Nako. Hence, we diverted from the highway and ascended to Pooh village. Reaching Pooh, we found a guest house there, named as “Valley view” which is cheaper and peaceful and the view from its balcony was breathtaking and we witnessed a beautiful sunset. Pooh gave us a different vibe and we also witnessed a local traditional marriage function there.
Day 5: Pooh – Nako – Gue – Tabo
Distance Covered- 115 km
On day 5 we saddled again and left Pooh. The village was connected by another road to the main highway. So, we took this new road and it saved some distance and time instead of going back to the point from where we entered Pooh. Just after exiting from Pooh we reached Dubling, a small village and after that, we reached Khab, where the Spiti river and Satluj river confluences also known as Khab Sangam. The peak of Reo Purgyal, which rises to 22,400 feet (6,800 m), and is the highest mountain in Himachal Pradesh can be seen from here, and the cold desert of Spiti lies across the nearby bridge. After crossing the Khab bridge we then entered the Kazigs, numerous hairpin bends just like the Gata loops of Ladakh. Riding about 35 km from Khab with some rough patched in between, we reached Nako. Khab which is at an altitude of 2,438 m (7,999 ft) from there we got elevated to 3,662 m (12,014 ft) when we reached Nako. We had our lunch in a roadside restaurant in Nako and tried fresh apple juice there. After lunch, we entered the village to visit Nako Lake. Nako monastery, dated to 1025 AD is also an important landmark in this village.
We then departed from Nako and then crossed Malling Nallah, which is the dreadful water crossing on this highway. We crossed Chango and then Sumdo both a small village in Kinnaur Valley. Sumdo is also considered as a political border of Kinnaur Valley and Spiti Valley. After Sumdo, we took a diversion and rode to about 9 km to Gue village which is situated at an altitude of around 10,499 ft and is only a few km away from the Indo-China border. This place is famous for a 500 years old mummy. After visiting Gue Gompa we returned back. And then in an hour, we reached Tabo which is 34 km from Gue. In Tabo, we booked our accommodation in Hotel Maitreya Regency. The hotel was decent and served us authentic food.
Day 6: Tabo – Dhankar – Kaza – Langza – Hikkim – Komic – Kaza
Distance Covered – 110 km
On day 6 we freshened up and visited the Tabo Monastery. This monastery was founded in 996 AD and is noted for being the oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in both India and Himalayas. After visiting this monastery we resumed our journey towards Dhankar Monastery which is 31 km from Tabo and lies on the way to Kaza. We just need to divert from the highway and ascend to reach Dhankar village which is elevated at an altitude of 3,894 metres (12,774 feet). The monastery is built on a 1000-foot (300-metre) high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a gompa. Dhang or dang means cliff and kar or khar means fort. Hence Dhangkar means fort on a cliff. There is lake which is situated above the village of Dhankar at an altitude of 4136 meters (13570 feet) in the middle of the hills. A 1hr steep hike is required to reach the lake from the village.
We then descended for 8 km from Dhankar to get back to the highway. We took a bit offroad in the river bed to get ourselves closer to the Spiti river, a pristine sparkling blue river which is shallow in nature. After spending some time on the river bed we ride back and reached Kaza.
Kaza is the subdivisional headquarters of the remote Spiti Valley in the Lahaul and Spiti district and situated along the Spiti River at an elevation of 3,650 metres (11,980 ft) which is the largest township and commercial centre of the valley. The ancient Sakya Tangyud Monastery is one of the points of interest in this town.
Reaching Kaza, we found a bit rush there. Even though there are plenty of options are available for a stay in Kaza. Still, we spend some time hunting for a hotel to stay as the good ones were occupied. At last, we found one in Kunzom Spiti Inn, located in the main market for a good price. We dropped our luggage at the hotel, did lunch and proceeded to visit Langza, Komic and Hikkim first, which is an offbeat location around Kaza.
We filled our tank at the world’s highest petrol pump, which is in Kaza. After that, we took a diversion from the highway and ascended towards Langza, which is 14 km away from Kaza at an altitude of around 14,550 above sea-level (4435 metres). Just riding a few km we found a diversion which leads you to Hikkim. So we can cover this circuit in either way. The road up to Langza is tarmacked, whereas for Hikkim and Komic it is rough.
Langza is known for the presence of marine fossils and the breathtaking view of Chau Chau Kang Nelda peak sitting on top of the village. Just reaching Langza we then went to see the statue of Buddha overlooking the valley. And we met a lady who sold us a fossil. After Langza, we then headed towards Komic, which is around 10 km from Langza. Komic village, at an altitude of about 4587 Mtrs, is popularly known as the highest motorable village in the world. The Tangyud Monastery, yet another attraction is considered to be over 500 years old and one of the highest altitude gompas in India. We then visited Hikkim, which is 4 km from Komic and is popularly known for the highest post office in the world and the highest polling station in the world. From Hikkim we rode for another 16 km to reach Kaza.
Day 7: Kaza – Ki – Kibber – Tashiganj – Chandratal
Distance Covered – 127 km
On this day we planned to reach Chandratal also covering Ki, Kibber and Tashigang. We booked our campings in advance for Chandratal in Kaza, as we feared that the camps may get occupied. There are numerous camps available in Chandratal and one can book the camps either in Kaza, Losar or Chandratal itself. After breakfast, we left Kaza to visit Ki Monastery located on top of a hill at an altitude of 4,166 metres (13,668 ft). It is the biggest monastery of Spiti Valley and a religious training centre for Lamas. After visiting this monastery we then left for Gette and then Tashigang, where we spotted the Himalayan Ibex. The road to Tashigang was completely offroad and is around 16 km from Kibber. After visiting Tashigang we then came back to Kibber, another high village situated at an altitude of around 4270 m. (14200 ft). This place consists of a monstery and the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary. Kibber lies in a narrow valley on the summit of a limestone rock. For Losar/Chandratal, either we can get into the road bypassing this village or we can visit this village and further the road gets connected to the main road. We did the same, we entered the village and exited from the other end.
Riding to a few distance we found a bridge called Chicham bridge which is said to be the Asia’s highest bridge at an altitude of 4.037m (13,244ft). Crossing this bridge you will reach Chicham Village. And we continued our journey in this road, which is newly constructed and was smooth, thus saved some time and energy. And I will advise not to take the NH 505 from Kaza and skip Rangrik, instead go via Key, Kibber as the road condition of NH 505 is worst.
So riding for around 41 km from Kibber we reached Losar, where we had our lunch and proceeded further for Kunzum Pass which is 18 km from Losar and the first pass on our way which is elevated at 4,590 m or 15,060 ft. A few km descend from Kunzum La we then de-routed to Chandratal alongside the Chenab river. The Jeepable distance from Kunzum Pass to Chandratal Lake is 12 km. And further two km to trek. The road is totally an offroad and we met two water passes on our way. We then reached the camp area, dropped our luggage there and then proceeded to Visit Lake. The lake point is further 2-3 km from the campsite, a complete offroad with one water pass on the way. And then further we have to trek for around 2 km to reach the lake from the parking area. After some pics and videos, we returned back to our tent. Chandratal is elevated at a height of around 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) and one has to carry extra clothing as the temperature here dips to below -4 at night.
Day 8: Chandratal – Chhattru – Manali
Distance Covered – 146 km
The next morning when we wake up we found the freezing scenario everywhere. The solid state of water and frozen dews on grass and a layer of frozen dew covering my bike is what we witnessed. And after breakfast, we departed from Chandratal and then reached Batal. And then rode for another 32 km on a bumpy and washed-out road to reach Chhatru. The road was totally in a bad condition with several water-passes. By reaching Chhatru, we had lunch there and proceeded further again on these bumpy off-road. The 20 km ride from Chhatru till Gramphu is yet in a continuation of the treacherous and backbreaking route with several water-passes that one has ever imagined. By reaching Gramphu we took a sigh of relief and ascended towards Rohtang Pass elevated at 3,978 m (13,050 ft) which is 13 km from Gramphu. After Rohtang Pass, we then descended to Marhi which is 17 km in distance. And a further 35 km from Marhi we reached Manali. Reaching Manali we picked our phone and started hunting for Hotels. Thanks to the advanced technology, where you actually don’t need to roam around the city for hotel hunting. Also, we got discount through online booking. So we booked our accommodation in Golden tulip, Old Manali. The hotel was decent and after having dinner, its time for a deep sleep.
Day 9: Manali – Manikaran – Mandi
Distance covered: 191 km
The next morning after having breakfast in the hotel we went out for some local sightseeing at Hadimba temple. After that, we departed to visit Manikaran, which is 83 km from Manali. For Manikaran we need to divert from Bhuntar from there it’s a 35 km ride. We stopped in Bhuntar for lunch and continued our journey. Soon we reached Jari, from where Malana Hydel Plant can be seen, also we need to divert from here to visit the ancient Malana village. After Jari we entered the thick dense forest and riding further 7 km from here we reached Kasol, a famous Hamlet situated in the Parvati Valley on the bank of Parvati river. This village is a major attraction for many tourists and travellers, an ideal place for relaxation, a party place, a backpacker’s paradise and a base for various trekkings. From Kasol we ride for another 5 km to reach Manikaran. Manikaran is located in the Parvati Valley on river Parvati. This small town attracts tourists visiting Manali and Kullu to its hot springs and regarded as the pilgrim centre for both Hindus and Sikhs.
The gurudwara is located right next to the Parvati river and is built in the memory of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who is believed to have visited this place. The place is famous for its hot boiling sulphur springs, which are revered by lakhs who come here for a dip in the curing water. Even the langar was cooked in the hot spring water. We then returned and continued our journey. Since we ran out of time so we decided to stay in Mandi.
Day 10: Mandi – Chandigarh – Delhi
Distance covered: 477 km
The last day of our journey was the longest and tiring as we have to cover almost 446 km. We saddled our luggage and prepared our journey from Mandi. We took the route via Sundernagar, Bilaspur, Kiratpur and Chandigarh. At the end of this journey, we have covered almost 1975 km in total, filled with thrill and adventure. This journey will stay a reminiscence and we enjoyed every part of it.