The Gorgeous Spiti Valley

To me gorgeous skies and Spiti Valley are synonymous. I first ventured there in the year 2007. My husband, my nephew and I trekked from Langza to  Dhankar. I was an Assistant Professor at that time. Then came a lull of seven years. I went to Chandratal last year and I was a professor! Then came 2015 and I went back to the Spiti Valley again, only I had quit my job! I want to go back to Spiti again, that I am sure of, not sure of what will be the status of my job!

roads-spiti-valley
The Roads in Spiti Valley

However, the status of the roads have not changed in the last eight years or so. There were almost no roads when I went in 2007 and there are almost no roads now. You can see the tire tracks above which go through water! There is more mud and stone than tar on the roads. It makes for a back breaking, neck spraining journey but I am willing to take it every year! I so love the region.

batal-bridge
The Bridge at Batal

Batal is almost a no man’s land. There are just two small dhabas, in 2007 there was one, the Chandra Dhaba. Just one more dhaba in 8 years, the amount of time it took be to go from an assistant professor to professor to jobless!

batal-lahaul
Dusk Falls as I Walk back from Chandratal

There is a road that goes close to Chandratal now. Once again it is a mud track where only one vehicle can pass at a time. It two of them come face to face one has to reverse and find a spot which is wide enough to let the other vehicle pass! However, my major worry was the weather, as last year all I got was the rains and clouds.

near-chandratal
The Spiti Blues

This year I was lucky in the end. I did get the Spiti Blues literally in the sky and figuratively once I got back! I strongly recommend a trip to Spiti.

This post is part of Sky Watch Friday. Do check them out.

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Everyone should visit Lahaul and Spiti once in their lifetimes. It was my third third trip to the region. I went in 2007 when we trekked through the region and then more recently to Chandratal in 2014. I say that one trip per year to Spiti is a must! I hope you will enjoy my postcards from Lahaul and Spiti

Near Rohtang Pass

rohtang-pass
Near Rohtang Pass

I have gone beyond Rohtang Pass only when I ventured into Ladakh or Spiti. It has never been a destination on its own for me. It used to be a pain with so many vehicles and traffic jams. The recent curb by NGT on the number of vehicles has certainly eased the situation.

The Road to Spiti

road-spiti
Where is the Road?

The road to Lahaul and Spiti is very beautiful, but at times there is hardly any road! I asked the driver, Ranbir ji, to break for a second while we were crossing this water pond! This is part of the road to Spiti!

The Bridge at Batal

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The Bridge at Batal

Last year my nephew and I went to Chandratal. My nephew, the original brat, Brat 1 took a similar shot. I had to wait for one year to do a repeat performance but I got my shot too. It looks more dangerous that it actually was. But I would still recommend extreme caution if you wish to try this!

Women at Chandra Dhaba, Batal

chandra-dhaba-batal
The Women at Chandra Dhaba, Batal

It is always a pleasure to reach Chandra Dhaba at Batal because that means lunch and meeting the legendary Chacha and Chachi of the Chandra Dhaba. Their son Tenzing is no running a camp at Chandratal.  In this picture we city slickers posed with the beauties of region!

Lift to Chandratal

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The Lift to Chandratal, while Ranbir Looks On!

There are many public vehicles plying on the Manali-Batal-Kaza route. Chandratal is a detour from Batal. If you do not have your own vehicle be prepared to reach in whichever way you can. This gentleman from Mumbai took a lift at the roof of our jeep. Ranbir was not too thrilled about it but he agreed as the Chacha and Chachi asked him to take the gentleman along!

The Tents at Chandratal

tents-chandratal-lahaul
The Tents at Chandratal

This year the tents have been pushed back further from the lake but I am not complaining. I want the lake to be there for Chhavi and her children too! And the blue you see in the sky is the Spiti Blue, no filter has been used in any of these pictures! Almost all the pictures here are straight from the camera!

The Horses near Chandratal

horses-chandratal-lahaul
The Horses near the Chandratal

The vehicles go quite close to Chandratal but after a point they have to be parked. The walk to the lake is equally beautiful. The horses were enjoying their grass.

Looking away from Chandratal

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The Beautiful Walk to Chandratal

I was not too happy about the cloud cover in the sky. I wanted the blazing blue skies that I see in other pictures. But the rain gods were not listening to me yet!

The Beauty called Chandratal

chandratal
Amazing Chandratal

I know I should be grateful for standing at such an awesome place! But I wanted the typical Spiti Blue! Clouds denied me that for a second year in a row!

Crossing Kunzul La

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Kunzum La- The Pass to Spiti

Last year I ventured only up to Chandratal but this year I was headed further into Spiti. This was a last minute personal trip that I did with my trusted guide Ramakant Sharma. There is much more to the trip that these initial pictures! I am so happy that I could do this trip!

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If you have visited Chandratal in Spiti, you could stop reading now. If you are yet to visit the region, what are you waiting for? Ladakh has now become very popular with tourists. Spiti is equally beautiful and less crowded. I find the terrain very similar at both the places.

But there is one crucial difference, Leh has an airport whereas Kaza has none. So reaching Spiti is more difficult. When I went in 2007 there were government buses. But when I revisited in 2014, I didn’t see any buses on the road! There were only shared jeeps, SUVs and hired jeeps.

road-chandratal-spiti
The Road to Chandratal

The road sometimes resembles a waterfall! But the region is so stunningly beautiful that it is worth all the hassle. As it is difficult to reach, it is not as crowded as Ladakh.

chandra-river-spiti
Chandra River, Spiti

Spiti is home to one of the most beautiful high altitude lakes, Chandratal. There is a fair weather road all most all the way to Chandratal. But last year it was impassable due to a landslide when I was in the region. We walked all of those 14 kilometers to reach Chandratal. For a long time our path went along the Chandra River. With a landscape this beautiful, and my penchant for walking, I had nothing to complain about.

campsite-chandratal-spiti
The Campsite at Chandratal, Spiti

If I could change only one thing about this scene, it would be the incessant rain and clouds that kept us company. While it was pleasant to walk on a overcast day, it wa no fun when it obscured all the views and kept us indoors. Later in the evening a bird came by to drink in the stream. It was out source of water and joy too!

chandratal-Spiti
The Beautiful Chandratal, Spiti

I got only a partial view of the lakes as the clouds didn’t let me to view it! Even then it was so beautiful. I am itching to go back once again. Let us see when!

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Another year is here with new possibilities. I have two major chunk of leaves, one in the last week of January and another in the last week of March. I am already planning for the January vacation though I have not been able to finalize it. It was for March I was thinking hard and then I decided I am surely going to trek, where I do not know as of now. I was looking at my Chandratal pictures for posting to today’s Skywatch Friday and that made me long even more for a trek.

Our Tent at Batal, Spiti
Our Tent at Batal, Spiti

There is something about staying in a tent that makes me so happy. I guess it is not so much about the tent as much as about the surroundings with the peace and quiet that comes along with it.There was  big group of foreign trekkers that had camped in the same field at Batal and yet it never felt crowded.

Batal, Spiti
Stones near Chandra River, Batal, Spiti

The sky at Batal did put on a show for a few hours. Before and after this evening all I got was grey clouds. The stones left by the Chandra River held a fascination both for me and my nephew. We walked by the river collecting stones for quite sometime.

I usually stay away from deciding what is good for others, but if I could make one recommendation to everyone, it would be to try trekking once. I love it so much that I am sticking my neck out for it! If you like walking and don’t get too bothered about staying in a tent, you should try trekking. I mean I do not believe in travel will set you free theory but the closest I ever came to believing it is on a trek!

People who cannot walk or do not like to walk, are not going to enjoy trekking, that goes without saying. But even then, you never know unless you try!

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