It's an 8 years old story when we planned to do a road journey to Lahaul & Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. My friend Puneet organized this trip for his colleagues at Cybrain Solutions and I was only outsider invited for this trip. It was a quick plan and I reached Chandigarh on same day. This Photo Journey shares some of the exciting moments from this trip to Lahaul & Spiti, along with details & tips to explore this beautiful region of Himachal Pradesh.
We reached Chandigarh bus stand in sector-43 and most of the buses with overloaded that night. We were planning to take bus till Bilaspur and then hire a cab for next journey. Idea was to have a pahadi driver for challenging terrains of Lahaul & Spiti. When there was no possibilities of finding seats in buses, we booked a cab from Chandigarh to Bilaspur. It takes 3 hrs to reach Bilaspur from Chandigarh, although this road is very unpredictable. At times, the stretch around Swarghat is jammed. These days, people also prefer to take Una route to go to Manali. This route directly takes you to Ner chowk near mandi. The road condition is very good as compared to the other route via Bilaspur.
Naresh had already called his friend to bring his 4*4 to Bilaspur. We reached Bilaspur early in the morning and boarded another vehicle. The journey in hilly terrains started. Through Sundernagar, Mandi & Bhuntar, we reached Kullu. We had breakfast at Naresh's uncle's place. Later we realized that we shouldn't have stopped at Kullu breakfast. After taking bath and a heavy breakfast, we headed towards Rohtang Pass. Idea was to hit Udaipur by night. We had already booked a guest house at Udaipur. Manali is 290 kilometers from Chandigarh and it takes around 8 ours to reach Manali. The road after Pandoh dam is relatively narrow, so overall speed goes down.
It took forever to cross Rohtang Pass. As usual, there was heavy jam around Marhi & Rohtang Pass. We eneded up wasting 3-4 hrs in jam and it started getting dark as we crossed Rohtang pass. Crossing Rohtang pass was our first challenge. There were hardly any road around the pass. Melting snow had broken all the roads and streams of water had made the road very vulnerable.
In above photograph you can see the road condition around Rohtang Pass. The melting snow makes the condition of these roads like this. At times, the scenes of these roads are scary and you feel like stopping your vehicle let the water flow down. It's pretty hard to figure out the fragility of various parts of the road. Mostly drivers intend to drive towards the inner part, but sometimes slope of the road or water-flow compels you to be around the edge. This is very scary.
Above is the photograph of Beas river near Padoh dam in Mandi region. One needs to follow this river till Manali.
Having wide roads till Rohtang Pass was a luxury. Beyond one point, the road got narrow and it kept shrinking till we hit the Lahual & Spiti border. The above is the one which is offering you huge space to place your vehicle. Then we hit the road which could only handle single vehicle at any point of time. On one side there was a huge range of mountains and on the edge, Chandra river was flowing. So you loose the track, either you hit into the rocky mountain and get into the river. We were praying that no vehicle comes from other side. Because it was a task to give pass to other vehicle. One of the vehicles have to move back to reach a place from where they can cross each other.
The situation was worse in the dark. We could only see some part of the road and our car started moving slow. In slow motion, the sound of river-flow was very scary. Imagine the sounds of fast moving water in a river and you are sitting in a car with darkness all around. And the road next to you is very narrow. This was first time, I was hell scared of hills and river. I have spent my life in hills and travelled many times during odd hours, but never got scared. Now these moments are very special for all us. Most of us were trying to keep each other busy and distract from that scary sound of fast flowing river.
Around Tandi, Chandra and Bhagirathi meet. At the confluence point, we had to go left and move towards Trilokinath.
After a while we came across a land-slide and road was completely broken. Water was flowing through the road and everything was in rush. Some stones were also falling down from the mountain above us. We took our car back and waited for 30 minutes. Now it was only water which was stopping our way. The shape of road had changed. Now road was not flat and instead it was bent down by 45 degrees. As we thought of getting back, an SUV came and crossed this road in speed. It looked like a very powerful car. We couldn't notice, which car it was. Probably some imported car. We also took out the iron rods from our car and adjusted some of the rocks lying around. We made our way towards Udaipur, our halt for the day.
By now, everyone was tired and we wanted to hit Udaipur ASAP. And then we encountered another landslide. Now we didn't have any option but to get back. Luckily some of us had idea about this region and suggested to head towards Tirlokinath temple. There are few guest rooms in temple campus. We reached temple at around 2:30am and there was no one around, except some dangerous breeds of dogs. We kept knocking the guest-room doors. No one opened the door, but we could hear the snoring sounds :).
We started collecting some dry wood for bonfire. It was chilling around the Lahaul mountains. Most of us were shivering even in front of fire. Soon, we decided to take out all of our warm cloths and get packed in the car. Some of us could sleep inside the car and few were still struggling with the chill. After the sleep of 2.5 hrs, one of our friends came to us and asked us to get up. At around 5am we got comfortable beds to sleep. It was a fun filled ride, with lot of unexpected things. Now when I think of this experience, I miss those moments. And wonder that how these activities could happen in 24 hours.
My first trip to Lahaul went very well and most of us remember these moments when we get together.
I am sure that you would have got an idea of landscapes and kind of adventure Lahaul & Spiti can offer you. I will soon we sharing more from Lahaul & Spiti. Mainly focusing on things to do, places to explore and places to stay.