Our Travelogue

The first time I heard about this region was when I visited a travel exhibition in Mumbai. I was planning a vacation at that point of time & was looking at going to some place that was out of this world & was yet to be fully discovered by the regular tourists. I still remember this guy from the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation who was really passionate about describing this place to me & was highly recommending me to go there. We were three couples, from Mumbai. I had the entire itinerary chalked out, we would catch the Rajdhani Express from Mumbai, reach Delhi in the morning, where a Toyota Qualis vehicle would be waiting for us, proceed to Shimla from Delhi by late evening that day. The next day start for Kalpa that was roughly 9 hours from Shimla. Stay in Kalpa for 3 days & see the Kinner Kailash range, then proceed to Kaza via Nako. Stay in Kaza for 2 days, visit Ki Monastery & Kibber (one of the highest motorable villages in the world at a height of around 4220 mts above sea level), from Kaza go to Batal stay there for a day to go to Chandratal lake & finally end the journey at Manali. It was planned to perfection. However, the best-laid plans have a habit of coming undone. A week before we started, we came to know that Kapla was cut off due to landslides. We had to totally change our plan & cut out Kalpa from our trip & had to start from Manali instead of Shimla. On reaching Manali, just as we were checking in to our hotel, we came across a group who were coming from Kaza. This was a team that was totally not prepared for the trip & were a real shaken bunch. They managed to shake our driver as well & as a result of which we found that we were without a driver. We realized that if we would have taken this driver, we would have been so dead. The terrain requires very skilled drivers as the road or something like it is VERY BAD! Is just a narrow path or loose rubble with some really hair rising turns. We found this local tour operator who happened to be the best thing that happened to us in the trip, as they were a bunch of really professional guys who were really reasonable in their rates. They provided us with their vehicle, a driver who was the total opposite of the one we left behind in Manali, a guide who was a walking encyclopedia on the region & a very good cook, tents & an itinerary that almost covered whatever we wanted to see despite loosing few days. We could not cover the Kalpa region as it was still cut off. Our first experience with high altitude was at Kunzum pass, which is at 4550 mts. As soon as we opened the door of our vehicle we were hit or rather slapped with gutsy winds with no oxygen. We all could feel our lungs gasping for O2 & our head that was totally disoriented & doing the splits. We hurriedly paid respects to the local deity there, as is the custom before proceeding to our campsite called Takcha. The first night was restless because of lack of oxygen & a massive headache. It took us nearly two days to acclimatize but we lived with it & after some time really didn’t notice it as we were so completely lost in the majesty of what we were seeing. The landscape was so magnificent that we all had this feeling of being dwarfed by the sheer beauty of stark nature. On the penultimate day, we were off to Chandratal Lake. Its 15 kms from Batal, 12 of which can be driven & the last 3 kms is a slightly strenuous trek. The road from Batal to Chandratal is REALLY scary. It is very difficult to put to words what we saw on reaching Chandratal. Heaven, surreal, breath taking, fentabulous, mind-boggling, awesome, majestic, amazing are some of the superlatives that come close to describing the place.There is something so spiritual about that place that somehow, I had a feeling of my soul being cleansed after visiting the lake.