Chandrataal – Spiti Circuit
Work at times gets busy and you do not get to write on the most memorable trip that you have completed. Here i am, taking time, thanks to the Hyderabad Traffic, and writing the Day 6 & 7 today….
For those of you who have not read the earlier part of the circuit, here are the links:
So on Day 5, we have reached till the petrol fueling station in Kaza starting at the Hotel Old Monk at 0800 hrs with a hope that they might open at 0830 which was their regular open time, being a govt. run fueling station, they came around 0900 hrs and started with fueling the two wheeler vehicles before moving to the four wheeler’s. Having waited for so long and to ensure that there was enough fuel, we waited to get the tank full & take an additional top-up before starting on our journey further.
One thing, that i have been advised and learnt while driving in the hills is
- Check your vehicle tyre’s constantly
- Ensure you have your tank fuel and a reserve is provisioned for
- Plan for some food / snacks to tackle any eventuality
We started on our journey from Kaza on Day Six to our next most admired destination…. Any Guesses? yes, it is Chandratal Lake, also known as the Moon Lake over Chandra River.
There is one unique aspect about Chandratal, you need to cross the most dangerous road – Kunzum La Pass, the beauty of this route is, you would keep guessing if you are driving on a patch created by constant vehicle movement or on an actual road, you would not find even one small patch of good road and constant mud road which gets narrow as you go each step further that greets you.
Now, if you are travelling in the Himalayas, this is a common sight and while we were not prepared for the stretch from Batal Rd – Chandratal Rd – we managed the ascent to Chandratal Lake.
We reached our destination after stopping at Kunzum Stupas and visiting Kunzum Mata.
oh yeah, missed mentioning a experience here….
While we diverted to Kunzum Stupas, we stumbled upon one of the worst ascent in loose mud (if i can call it that) and even in the first gear, the mighty XUV500 could not manage moving ahead.. there was this couple who stayed at the same place in Kaza as we, and they spotted us and their driver came to rescue and helped me with guidance to navigate the patch.
Done with that, we moved on and reached this beautiful place – Kunzum Stupas.
We spent some time at Kunzum Stupas and Himachal Tourism is actually trying to see that there are basic amenities if not everything for travelers and we spotted a toilet facility here.
As we were taking pictures, we had another group travelling in Innova and again who stayed with us in Kaza reach there.
Having experienced the roads first-hand, we asked the driver of Xylo before us and the Innova to stay close to us as we navigate the patch to Chandratal (this patch is actually a trek route and the camping guys have tried their best to make a passage for cars to pass by).
While going on this challenging route, i had to stop actually to get a help from the Innova driver to help me in angling the car to give way to the one coming in the opposite direction.
Having navigating this, we moved further, crossing a water crossing and finally reaching our destination, the most beautiful Chandratal Camp Area.
We reached Chandratal Lake camp-area around 1400 hrs and were now hungry… The guys here were helpful and quickly prepared some nice Maggi and hot chai for us which we gulped in no time and were content for then.
It was close to 1500 hrs and we had seen some dangerous paths leading to the the path to Chandratal Lake and could not resist to asking our new friends in the Xylo to give us a lift to Chandratal Lake. (a very wise decision i would say as this needed a expert to drive us on).
We travelling like around 2kms uphill and reached the walking / could i say the trek point to Chandratal Lake.
Having spent time till around 1700 hrs, we decided to return to our camps, and moved on, it was super windy and the cold chill made us wear all we could to not feel the chill..
Reaching our camps, we then had hot chai and started exploring the place outside, walking around when the camp guys noticed a flat Tyre or an almost flat Tyre in our car. They were supportive enough and i could not thank them much, to change with a spare Tyre and help us with a person from the nearby camp to come in the morning to fix the puncture.
As the wind started getting stronger and harsh, we retired to our tents and spent a while admiring this beautiful place that we are going to stay a night and believe me, our first camping experience.
We went to the dining tent to have our dinner around 2000 hrs, having piping hot rotis, curry, dal and rice as we sat at the Chula (used for heating water) for warming ourselves in this harsh cold wind condition.
Finishing Dinner, we did some stargazing (i still need to learn to capture the beautiful stars and milky-way in my camera) and could only capture them in our memories for this trip.
The camp manager understanding our plight and the constant chilly wind, gave us hot water bags to keep us warm which actually help us retire for the night around 2200 hrs.
We woke up around 0530 in the morning, enjoying the beauty this place has to offer as we got ready for our next part of the journey the most dangerous Chandratal Rd – Batal – Gramphu – Rothang Pass – Manali leg.
We came to the car to just assure ourselves that there are no more surprises as we get started and saw that the car was covered in a sheet of thin ice for which we had to wait for the sunrise and sunshine to help us in addition to the heater in the car.
It was almost 0900 hrs in the morning, and the car was normal, the camp incharge helped us in packing some bread for breakfast enroute and we started on our trip again through the narrow patches of trek route back onto Chandratal Rd to Batal.
At one point on this path, i almost lost it and wanted to stop not getting enough courage to go further, that was a moment when my wife encouraged me to go further and that she has all the confidence in me which actually made me get the courage to go and in no time, we made it to the Batal road.
We stopped for Chai at Batal and that was when a few backpackers who missed their bus (they started a bit early from Chandratal Camp) at Batal asked if we can give them a lift until Keylong / Manali, i was more than happy to have more company with us (and i would say you why in a minute) and they hopped in to join us.
We started on our journey to Gramphu – Rothang Pass – Manali and were tensed but at the same time enjoying this unexplored and wonderful journey of a lifetime that we were on.
We crossed the Batal Rest House slowly navigating our way on this path as we were going further. From no-where we had a biker join us and it was almost like a blessing in disguise as they realizing that we were first-timers in the Mountains were monitoring our progress on this dangerous route.
They were there almost at every water crossing (Nala Crossing) and were helping us with directions to cross over and be careful. Helping us with maneuvering the vehicles which were coming towards us and we were surprised by their helpful nature. We were careful in our path and our friends who joined us in Batal were very helpful to help us at these Nala crossings as well (One of them was a Banker in Delhi on a backpacking trip and the other two were brothers from Chennai who were on their first Spiti trip and worked at the Wakf Board there).
We were halfway through stopped a while to take on a few snacks, get a bio break and moved on.
The journey was a bit tiring, exciting, challenging, motivating and we were taking a good amount of caution as we moved further.
Crossing all the Nalas (water crossings) we were inching towards Rothang Pass moving through the hairpins / turns / bad patches with the help of our friends on a RE and the guys who joined us as Batal.
We crossed Gramphu, Chhatru and moving by the Chenab river reached Rothang Pass around 1600 hrs.
One thing we noticed was that our friends on the Royal Enfield were no where to be seen and they did not even stop or wait for us to thank them, hope to see our paths cross again….
This was one nerve-wrecking drive i would say…
We spend a while at Rothang Pass and then moved on towards Manali our destination for the day.
Rothang Pass has good tourist amenities with Bio-Toilets at prominent places to cater to tourists.
We dropped our friends who were so helpful at Manali and proceeded to our final stop.
We reached our destination (Manali / Vashisht) where we were booked for the next two days.
Reaching our OYO, we just could not wait for the check-in and crashed into the room.
One thing that i felt during this trip is, it helps you enhance your courage, confidence, guts to take risk and finally make new friends.
With this, i come to a close of the Day Six and Seven of the Spiti Circuit and look forward to take sometime out to write the last leg of this circuit from Manali back to Delhi.
Until then, take care, do read my blog and if you find it interesting, do like it on social media which would be a major motivation for a blogger.