Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Lahaul and Spiti

Dear  Globetrotters, it had been over a week of my parents circumnavigation trip and they had been experiencing a different kind of world (click here for Part I, Kinnaur). Even though I was some 800km away, I was having my own share of their experiences. Sitting in increasingly hot summer of Gurgaon I was jealous of the increasingly cold weather they were facing. They were spending money on buying more woollens like caps and pullovers since the ones they carried proved to be insufficient and I was eating 5rs ice cream bars after lunch. Then they were struggling to stay in touch; fortunately my mom’s BSNL mobile came to the rescue but my dad could use his Airtel neither to make calls nor to access internet. In fact it was after ages that they had to use the PCO to make a call to me.

Kaza, Lahaul and Spiti and a World of its Own

That PCO call came from Nako lake (Read Part I, Kinnaur to find more, click here ) and my dad told me that they were then planning to go to Kaza (click for location and how to reach Kaza) the next day and that part of the journey was perhaps the most exciting of their entire trip. The road was along the amazing Spiti river and their bus took almost 7 hours to cover a distance of 100km and once they reached Kaza after 9pm, it was pitch dark with no soul to help them go anywhere. Thankfully two bank officers just happened to turn up and became the rescuers. The nice chaps in fact had a torch with them and actually took my parents to the rest house where dad had made their reservations in advance. Had they not turned up, my parents would have had the worst experience of not just the trip (spending two hours in rain in a broken rain shelter two days ago would not even come close) but perhaps the life.

The beauty of Kaza (click for location and how to reach Kaza), which is situated at an altitude of 3,650m/11,980ft in the Spiti Valley of Lahaul and Spiti district, that they experienced the next day took away all the tiring experience of the day before and they felt content considering they had now reached the exact middle point of their circumnavigation trip (510km from Bilaspur). This was definitely going to be the point of return since the road beyond this place was closed and as dangerous as it could get. The weather may have played spoil sport with their circumnavigation plans, but while visiting such terrain, you must always be prepared for the worse things to happen.

The adventures continued even during journey back home

They started their journey back and stayed the night at Reckong Peo and the adventure was not over yet. Their plan was to stay the night and take early morning bus to Shimla where they would have reached in like 11 hours after travelling 225km and then take late night bus to reach home at Bilaspur after another 3.5 hours and 90km. But some surprises were still left. The road was closed thanks to a landslide and they had to stay out for one more day. Even when they started the next day, they first had to take a bus to the point of landslide, then shift to a smaller vehicle that could only cross the affected area, then again take a bus to finally reach Shimla.

And then eventually they reached home in Bilaspur at midnight after 11 days and 1020km. The call that I got from my dad once they entered home brought relief to all of us considering the challenges that were thrown at them by the ever changing scenarios. But my dad’s voice had another story to tell – it was filled with satisfaction of having seen so many places, excitement of having lived those moments, sadness of having missed completing the circumnavigation and above all anticipation of looking forward to his next trip.

How to reach and where to stay in Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti?

If you are a frequent traveller then you know this and if you are not then take note of this, visiting offbeat tourist destinations can be tricky, always full of surprises and devoid of usual facilities and that is something that adds to the excitement.

To reach there, only option is by road and best way is to use state road transport buses. The roads are scary and difficult to drive on, you never know when snow or landslide will force you to abandon your own vehicle and shift to another one and it’s so far off that driving can tire you off. One more thing, these buses are not tourist buses so don’t expect any kind of luxuries at all.

For stay, you’ll easily find hotels in all the places that I have mentioned. These may again not be the luxury hotels you may be used to but are neat and clean and reasonably priced. And I don’t think you can make reservations online, but no harm in searching and trying. My parents were able to find a hotel everywhere easily after reaching there and I don’t think they had to pay much for any of those.

One trip in one life time, that’s bare minimum and will do too

I know these places are so far off and do not promise a smooth trip but I think they deserve to be visited. One trip in one life time, that’s a must. My dad had been to most of these places before, for my mom it was the first time and frankly their age is not really on their side and they were travelling alone too. But for travel aficionados like them visiting new places is one of the things matters, rest all is secondary.  Proud of my DNA, proclivity for travelling and inspired by them, I’ll definitely make this trip my own one day and share my first hand experiences, something I like more and never miss a chance of.