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!
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 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!
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.
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.
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
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 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!
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!
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!
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!
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 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.
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!
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!
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!
I recently visited Panna and Bandhavgarh in MP. These days as soon as I sit in a car I fall asleep. But the previous night I retired early (read no internet in the room) and I woke up quite fresh. Hence I was not falling asleep in the car. It was difficult to pass time, within 20 minutes I was wondering how to pass those long hours? But after a while we were we were mobbed by cows on the road. It happens sometimes in the city too but this was really a big herd.
It took us some time to get out of this cow jam. If the school bus would not have come, I think it would have taken us much longer to get out! The school bus driver and the helper were the pros, they must be doing it daily! They got out within no time leaving the cow herd behind!
After 25 minutes I asked the diver if he had music. That is the song you here while we were trying to clear the cow obstacle. When we reached the driver thanked me for letting him play music! I was surprised as I had equally enjoyed it!
Mobbed by the Cows in MP, India
We were actually stuck in this jam for much longer than what you see in the video. It was after a minute or two that it dawned on me to make a video of being stuck with the cows. It is so much fun when you are on a vacation.
Panna to Bandhavgarh is about five and a half hours drive. It is a single lane road with traffic coming from both sides. My diver was a careful one and I was very thankful for it. At no point he indulged in rash driving. In the end it was fun being mobbed by the cows.
These days as I have started playing around with videos I am looking at my old folders as well. I remember this bumpy ride from Beshishehar to Sangey really well. It required a strong back, it was that bumpy. Sangey could be one of the starting points of Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal. Many people feel the charm of the trek has gone down with a kaccha road now running at least up to Chame. But you can see what is the condition of the road.
I am always torn between roads and no roads argument. I tried talking to the locals on the issue of the road. A lady at the lodge in Manang said because of the road the prices of transporting food dropped down. So, it was a win-win situation for everyone.
The Bumpy Road to Sangey, Nepal
While talking to the people I realized that they resented the fact that helicopters would fly to lift stranded tourists but not for the locals. I could not explain it to them that they flew only for those who had insurance. I wonder why chopper companies could not run an insurance scheme for local people.
The local people in the far flung villages, particularly without road connections, found it very difficult to reach a hospital when someone was ill. Transporting an ill person was a great challenge. I could hear then loud and clear on that one.
While going for the trek, I took the jeep and the road for granted. While coming back, it was another story. There was heavy rain which washed away the roads, so there was no jeep. Which meant I had to walk more and more. And in the end I realized that sometimes finding a jeep could be almost the best part in a rain soaked trek!