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Old 23rd May 2011, 15:31   #46
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

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Hi fine69, real good pictures. Sharp & clear. Keep up the good work.
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Congrats, the first Himalayan Trip!
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I think it was a thread where I had suggested this route, probably you had asked by posting the blue line marked in the link from MapmyIndia
Thank you very much mate, I just wish you had told me about the dam..err..collapsed bridge also :P


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The average speed on NH22 will definitely be faster, albeit the broken road (between Shima & Narkanda) may take a toll on man and machine. IMHO, the Basantpur-Kingal is too big a diversion over a very narrow (gotta drive slow), albeit a very smooth, road.
I think we gotta try this sometime, you on NH-22 via Narkanda and I on the Basantpur-Kingal road, race from Shimla to Kingal.


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Wowwww! thats some teaser!
Amazing pics
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I salute you Boss. You have brought out the streak of adventure out in all of us, I mean, armchair adventure travelers.
Thanks for the kind words, finalized Day 2, posting it soon.
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Old 23rd May 2011, 15:53   #47
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I think we gotta try this sometime, you on NH-22 via Narkanda and I on the Basantpur-Kingal road, race from Shimla to Kingal.
Hehehe! On a serious note, I won't participate mate and neither should you nor anyone else. Racing in the hills is a complete NO (unless a rally). I have seen a Captiva go down a slope while racing with another car. Both cars were from Delhi. It scared the willies outta me. To quote one of the BRO sign boards in Ladakh: "No race, no rally, enjoy the beauty of the valley"!
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Old 23rd May 2011, 20:43   #48
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

Day 2 - Sarahan to Chitkul

The plan wasn't to wake up early, thanks to a little chit-chat we had last night with a taxi driver. All along I was thinking that Sarahan to Sangla was going to take more than half a day but I was told that it takes only 3 hours. We decided to wake up at 7 am and the plan was to leave by 8:30 am. The morning was typical cold but charming nonetheless. Me being an atheist had no interest in visiting the main temple but a little persuasion from wife and we decided to make a quick visit inside. The temple has been beautifully made and looks very nice from inside, wooden interiors with entire floor carpeted.

Pics of the Bhimkali Temple Complex & the beautiful morning

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The Main Temple

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Without having breakfast we left Sarahan around 8:30 am. The next item on agenda was to stop at a dhaba for breakfast and click some pics besides the steep gorge that is enroute Sangla.

Before we could find a dhaba the entry check-post to Kinnaur Valley greeted us. One must get their vehicle details, destination, DL no. etc. entered for record purpose here. A few minutes on this route and we came across the famous passageway through the mountain.

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We were both very excited to go through it. Its funny how passing through this insignificant tunnel (kind of) felt so good, like an achievement, however small it was (don't know how many can relate to this).

Enroute

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Able to gauge the elevation?

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There's a blue bus somewhere, yes that's a regular full-size bus!

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We crossed a few small villages and were on lookout for a village named Wangtu, as the plan was to stop here for breakfast. After about 45 mins we reached Wangtu but there weren't any dhabas/small restaurants roadside. Well they were on the side of the road alright but about 8-12 feet high. It looked like the entire market area was high up on the right side of the road and it was difficult to figure out if there were any food joints. We decided to continue moving and stop someplace where we don't have to trek our way to eat. :P

Is that where we are headed?

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Another half an hour has passed by and we haven't been able to locate any place to eat. Soon we were on the infamous road besides the Sutlej river, dodging small rocks falling off the mountains with dust all around. If one was to drive at a little higher speeds it would be somewhat similar to being in a rally.

Greenery across the road

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Road to Sangla

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I stopped at this point to click a few pics of our Swift, got back inside, put it in 1st gear and...

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…experienced my first wheel-spin with this car. It looked like I had to go back and climb with a little momentum so I went reverse (imagine reverse in the pic above), my wife screamed when I let the brakes go the first time as she thought the car was going back on its own, it was a little scary as the road was pretty steep and it was all sand and gravels instead of tar. I tell her that I'm in control and she need not worry. About 15-20 meters back and we start climbing again, we reach the exact same spot as before but the wheels spin again and this time I get a little worried too. My wife screams again, somewhat subtly this time. I tell her to keep calm and that I was gonna try again. I go back, around 25-30 meters this time, and start climbing with a little more speed, I accelerate as soon as we near the spot and with we make it this time, with still a little wheel-spinning though. The relief was one of its kind.

Entering Sangla

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We reached Sangla around 12 pm but it was different from what we had anticipated - (1) It wasn't as cold as it should've been (2) it wasn't even as beautiful as it was supposed to be (3) there wasn't any snow at all!

Last night when we got talking to that taxi driver he told us that Sangla was covered with snow just one month back when he had come with another tourist group and as per the latest information he had it was wiser to stay at Sangla and make Chitkul a day's visit due to the unexpected snowfall which could block the roads, to and from Chitkul. However, with no snow in the town, an almost barren valley (beauty-wise) around and temperature not that low, this was definitely not going to be our stop for the night. We decided to have lunch here instead (remember we haven't had anything to eat yet!) and continue to Chitkul.

The itinerary for the trip went through certain changes, against the one mentioned in the first page, and you'll figure the actual one out as we proceed.

So we stop at the main market in town and wife spots a Tibetan café on the first floor. She had only recently started eating non-vegetarian food and absolutely loves chicken-momos (I do too). So we are all excited about having chicken-momos only the restaurant doesn't have any. The little kid managing the restaurant tells us that there's only mutton-momos and chowmein in the kitchen. I order mutton-momos and ask my wife to look around in the market for another restaurant where she could have the regular food. The momos are served with a soup (don't know what kind) and they tasted just about ok. I know a lot of mutton-momo lovers reading this would be surprised that such a meal was only about ok?! Wife comes back looking disappointed as she couldn't find any place that looked like it would serve good food. I ask her to try the momos and we are both able to somewhat fill our tummies until we have a proper meal.

The Tibetian Cafe

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Momos

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Sangla, at that time of year, didn't have much to offer us besides the momos so we chose not to break our journey here and instead, head to Chitkul.

Leaving Sangla behind

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Mountain Lizard

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We were now nearing the snow clad mountains

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and the sun kept on getting brighter

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...to be contd!

Last edited by fine69 : 23rd May 2011 at 20:55.
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Old 24th May 2011, 11:49   #49
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

Wow!!! The views look awesome and equally scary. In the picture dsc09810, it looks like you have passed an avalanche prone area. Did you encounter falling rocks/debris while driving? Looks like the road itself is wide enough for one vehicle
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Old 24th May 2011, 22:12   #50
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Hehehe! On a serious note, I won't participate mate and neither should you nor anyone else.
I was kidding too

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Wow!!! The views look awesome and equally scary. In the picture dsc09810, it looks like you have passed an avalanche prone area. Did you encounter falling rocks/debris while driving? Looks like the road itself is wide enough for one vehicle
I agree with you, the views were beautiful but some scary too. We did encounter rocks falling at a lot of places, the only option was to stop - look - go. At times it was like a race against the rocks, just thinking about it gives me goosebumps!

Update: Day 2 almost complete, should be able to post it by tomorrow night, thanks all for your patience.

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Old 24th May 2011, 22:58   #51
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

great log

just for your information which may be useful in future - google maps is very useful and a good idea - the easiest way to transfer your contacts from Nokia to BB is using outlook - synchronize contacts first from nokia to out look and then with BB to Outlook

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realized that transferring 1k+ contacts from Nokia E72 to Blackberry 8100 wasn't possible via PC or Bluetooth (may be there is a way but I wasn't able to figure anything out)
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Old 25th May 2011, 12:44   #52
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Default Re: Road Trip to the Last Village of India

I am hooked onto this TL,after ages a really good read.The wheel spin part literally had me in a spin!Looking forward to more.
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Old 25th May 2011, 15:55   #53
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Wow!!! The views look awesome and equally scary. In the picture dsc09810, it looks like you have passed an avalanche prone area. Did you encounter falling rocks/debris while driving? Looks like the road itself is wide enough for one vehicle
This is really really scary. If vehicles are coming in both directions, then??? and this is looking like a single lane from start to end..
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Old 25th May 2011, 20:32   #54
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Day 2...contd!

It was indeed the last village of India, Chitkul! We were greeted by the typical "Chitkul welcomes you" signboard but had to stop as just besides it was another that said, "PWD Resthouse". Having booked no hotel/guesthouse earlier we were entirely depending on whatever places of stay would be available. I got down from the car and started walking towards it.

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I spoke to the care-taker there and he showed me one of the two rooms that wasn't occupied. The room was neat and tidy and for 200 rupees a night I really couldn't ask for more. However, the catch was that since we didn't book it from their main booking office (at Bhawa Nagar) we would have to vacate it in case somebody comes there with a pre-booking. I asked the care-taker what were the chances of something like this happening and he told me though the chances were very low but in case somebody did come, we'd have to vacate it instantly. He couldn't even call up the office at Bhawa nagar as the phone lines were dead. There was another guy who was staying in the guesthouse without any pre-booking also but I decided to make this a last resort (literally). Though I wonder who would have been thrown out first in case someone with a booking came, us or the guy who was staying before us?

We went further in the village and spoke to the owner of Thakur guesthouse. He said that the water pipes were frozen and suggested that we checkout the hotel a little further (pointing towards a 3 storey building). Even if the water pipes weren't frozen I don't think we'd have stayed at Thakur's, it was very muddy in the courtyard and foul-smelling. We proceeded further towards, wait what does it say, "Shahenshah Resort?", it wasn't one of the resorts I'd read about - Rani, Raj, Thakur or Panchali guesthouse. Just by looking at the building I felt that the tariff here wouldn't be in our budget so I was little skeptic about even checking it out but we didn't really have many options. The care-takers (2 guys) greeted us with a smile and asked which floor we'd like to stay at, without having any second thoughts we said, "Top floor". The first room that we checked out had the best view of all the hotel rooms that we'd ever stayed at. Hesitatingly I asked for the tariff, having heard what I did, "400 only" I had a real big grin on my face. Now that's how you use the word "only", not like, "jeans for 2999 only", "shirt for 1999 only". Without expressing any of what I'm expressing here I told the guy that we'd take it. The moment he stepped out we literally jumped with joy. The next thing was to get the car in to the compound and luggage in to the room.

Car parked

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Now that's called a view(s) from the hotel room

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The Last Motorable Road

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Army jawans going to the checkpost

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It was about 3 pm so we decided to have lunch and then step out to wander around a little. We weren't expecting a mouth-watering treat but the food turned out to be beyond palatable, it was actually very delicious. Having filled our tummies to the brim we decided to rest for about half an hour and then move out.

I'd entered the village in a T-shirt but while settling down in the room I had realized that it was colder than it looked. Jackets on and we were off.

Treading the Last Motorable Road

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It looked so innocent

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Some kind of gateway?

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Besides exploring the village another item on the agenda was to capture the sunset

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This rock was huge, doesn't look that big in the picture though

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Random

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Views around

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When we decided to move out of the room we had to choose between "besides the river down below" or "remain up high to capture the sunset". We decided to not go down towards the river because that was the plan for the next day and today we could capture the sunset. So I asked my wife to keep left, towards the mountain, as the sunset view would be better if we were high up.

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We had a hard time trying to be close to the mountain as either rock walls or huge boulders would block the path. My wife kept on telling me to move towards the plains which had a proper walking path but I insisted on keeping left.

Finally after a while when there was no path left to tread upon we had to come down a little in the fields. Well it wasn't before we had to cross such rock-walls and go through the thorny bushes which wasn't very pleasant.

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We both agree that I'm brainier out of us two but its times like these when I'm reminded that it doesn't mean I'm always right. Since I rarely accept my defeat and know that she'd be reading this I think I'd want to tell her that she's right a lot of times, I might not acknowledge it but that doesn't mean I don't know it. However corny it may sound it’s the truth. All the bhpians must be wondering where did this sudden outburst of emotions came from.

Ok so back to the log, she spotted some snow and wanted to build a snowman

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I told her that she could build as big a snowman as she wanted the next day once we get to the other side so we left it at this

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Some more views

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...to be contd!
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Old 25th May 2011, 21:12   #55
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Day 2...contd!

Since we didn't want to wander far-off we decided to stop and enjoy the beauty around

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Some pictures for our bedroom wall, I know they are a little dramatic

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This one reminds me how gigantic and majestic the mountains were

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This is how the sunset looked

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Now the sun wasn't supposed to go down just like that, all this while I was expecting it to turn red/orange and the horizon in to orange/yellow color but it seemed that the sunset here was abrupt. The sun would just suddenly hide behind the mountains, without any red/orange effects.

After about an hour we decided to walk back

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They were heading back as well

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I turned my back and this looked beautiful

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Remember the huge rock I spoke about, I figured there was one way to indicate how big it was

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I was super-excited about going to the other side the next day

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I had wanted to capture a moving car like this but what the heck, cow works too

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Some really strong winds would do this

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To the village

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From T-shirt to Sweat-shirt + Jacket

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The village

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Remaining sunlight at the higest peak

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There used to be a dhaba here but no more

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This is what you see when you are just about to enter Chitkul, the welcome board on the left

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I didn't know we'd have to cross THAT bridge until the next day, see it?

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This HAD to be clicked

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Shahenshah Resort

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We could spot only 2 shops in the village out of which one was open and guess what we bought from him - Playing Cards! A young couple in the mountains with no tv in the room, I mean no disturbance at all, and that's what we decide to do! Play cards!!

With the sun down the night started to get extremely cold, almost unbearable

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We finally got ourselves wasted and binged on some yummy egg-curry and dal with roti and chawal and went to sleep.

Place of Stay - Shahenshah Resort
Room No. 403 (has the best view of all rooms, big room with carpeted floor, attached bathroom with hot water)
Tariff - 400/-
Food Quality - Excellent (home-cooked)

PS: Having finished writing this, I realize how AWESOME the day really was! Did we really do all this in a day?! :-)

...and thanks to all the bhpians for rating the travelogue a 5-star, I'm humbled.

Last edited by fine69 : 25th May 2011 at 21:20.
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Old 25th May 2011, 21:27   #56
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I must say one amazing ride you had. Its not the big towns and tourist places but locations like these really brings travels alive.

But the only issue is, if people travel across country travel with their family they will only end up in Manali/Shimla. If one lives closer to these places; in otherwords, if one can plan to drive to these places, he/she can get the best vacation possible (just like the one you had ) ! Very nice indeed.
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Old 25th May 2011, 23:22   #57
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Lovely pics!
Chitkul Indeed is an unforgettable place.
Doubly so for us.
There are delightful memories of service lights, and rocks falling on windshield associated with this valley
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Old 26th May 2011, 01:05   #58
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a very nicely written and inspiring travel story, I must say. Your photographs are a treat to the eyes and bring out the beauty of the mountains. Thanks for this wonderful travelogue. Wish you many more beautiful journeys like this one.
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Old 26th May 2011, 15:15   #59
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Cool, that's what you call a room with a view mate. And the views captured by you are wonderful. Awaiting the story of the "other side".
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Old 27th May 2011, 14:41   #60
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Originally Posted by Turbanator View Post
the easiest way to transfer your contacts from Nokia to BB is using outlook - synchronize contacts first from nokia to out look and then with BB to Outlook
Yeah you are right, this is one way, but the problem that we had was that my father's laptop didn't have BB desktop manager (had outlook) and my PC didn't have MS office installed (had BB dekstop manager) as it was very recently formatted. Since I didn't have much time I thought what the heck, let this one be like all my previous non-GPS trips.

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Originally Posted by ranjitp1 View Post
I am hooked onto this TL,after ages a really good read.The wheel spin part literally had me in a spin!Looking forward to more.
Thanks

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Originally Posted by turbo_delight View Post
This is really really scary. If vehicles are coming in both directions, then??? and this is looking like a single lane from start to end..
One could reverse a little in case there was a vehicle from the other side but what actually made it scarier was rocks falling off the cliff.

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I must say one amazing ride you had. Its not the big towns and tourist places but locations like these really brings travels alive.
Spot on!
But the only issue is, if people travel across country travel with their family they will only end up in Manali/Shimla. If one lives closer to these places; in otherwords, if one can plan to drive to these places, he/she can get the best vacation possible (just like the one you had ) ! Very nice indeed.
If time is a constraint then yes, specially when one wants to drive in their own car. But then if we've got mountains people down south have beaches.

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Lovely pics!
Chitkul Indeed is an unforgettable place.
Doubly so for us.
There are delightful memories of service lights, and rocks falling on windshield associated with this valley
Thanks and I must tell you that your logs helped me in preparing myself mentally for such situations.

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a very nicely written and inspiring travel story, I must say. Your photographs are a treat to the eyes and bring out the beauty of the mountains. Thanks for this wonderful travelogue. Wish you many more beautiful journeys like this one.
Thanks much.

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Cool, that's what you call a room with a view mate. And the views captured by you are wonderful. Awaiting the story of the "other side".
Thanks, I've realized that the place of stay also affects the experience (don't know if same is the case with all). At least for us, if we get a comfortable place to stay the overall experience gets way better.

I'm penning down the story of the other side, should be ready by this weekend.
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