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Old 1st February 2014, 21:34   #1
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Default Trip to Chandratal and Killar

This is my first post in this forum, although I have driven to different places since past few years. I had actually planned this trip to visit Zanskar accompanied by my father, but unfortunately could not reach Srinagar due to some ongoing unrest in the valley in the month of August, 2013. So we returned from Udhampur and reached Chandratal via Manali. After camping at Chandratal we visited Killar. Wanted to share few pictures from this trip which will remain etched in my memory due to all the adventures I experienced during this journey.
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Old 2nd February 2014, 21:33   #2
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Default Re: Trip to Chandratal and Killar

Congratulations on your first post on tbhp. Pictures are perfect and awesome... happy you would be to keep these pics reserved for posting on tbhp once you've become a member.
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Old 3rd February 2014, 18:56   #3
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Default Re: Trip to Chandratal and Killar

It is encouraging for me to see some “Thanks”. I have uploaded few more pictures, enjoy them till the time I come up with the whole experience.
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Old 3rd February 2014, 23:06   #4
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Default Re: Trip to Chandratal and Killar

Fantastic set of photographs, specially the frame where the road winds into the clouds, the tent in the foreground and a lovely backdrop. Would be lovely if you could trace a map of the routes you have taken, a little more in detail of how your days passed, food and accommodation. Waiting for more photographs.
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Old 7th February 2014, 21:41   #5
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Default Re: Trip to Chandratal and Killar

Due to office could not work on this thread. Few more pics. The whole story coming shortly.
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Old 8th February 2014, 14:20   #6
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Default Re: Trip to Chandratal and Killar

The last set of pics...............
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Old 8th February 2014, 19:07   #7
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The experience......


Generally for me a road trip is always a family affair. But destiny had other plans in store for me. So, this time it was only my father who would accompany me in this trip. I started planning for my trip a few months in advance. Thanks to the travelogues on TeamBhp which helped me with valuable information.

So, my trip itinerary was planned as per below

Day 1: Start from Gurgaon and reach Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir.
Day 2: After an overnight stay in Srinagar, start for Kargil
Day 3: After an overnight stay in Kargil, start for Padum (Zanskar)
Day 4: Stay in Padum
Day 5: Start from Padum and reach Kargil
Day 6: Start from Kargil and arrive in Srinagar
Day 7: Ovrernight stay in Srinagar and start for Gurgaon

So, we decided to travel on a Friday in the month of August.

Day 1: So, finally the day arrived when we were about to start our journey. My father arrived in the morning on Friday from Calcutta. I came back from office at 5pm and took a small nap in the evening. We started at 9pm and reached Karnal at around 11pm and had dinner. Some lovely parathas with butter!! Then the epic drive began.

Day 2: Around 6:30am we crossed Lakhanpur check post and entered J&K. After a 30 minutes drive, we decided to have breakfast. We started driving again to reach Srinagar. Once we were driving through NH1A we noticed people staring at us with surprise which prompted me to ask my father if I was driving too fast. Also there was a noticeable police presence and lesser number of vehicles on the roads which we crossed. Few kilometers before Udhampur we were caught in a traffic jam. There were a number of vehicles in front of us because of which we could not understand the reason for the blockage. We got down from the vehicle to gauge the situation and found that a tractor was placed in the middle of the road to block traffic. We also found groups of people shouting slogans. So, we asked the local people as to what was going on. They explained that this was because of the ongoing unrest in the valley. Soon, we got to know that curfew had been imposed in the cities of Jammu and Udhampur. And the locals also informed us that even if we waited till the agitation was over and drove to Srinagar we will be left stranded there as there were chances of curfew being imposed in Srinagar as well. We took this advice as a word of caution. So, we decided to retreat from the battle-zone!! At that moment the only thought that came into our minds was to cross the J&K border as soon as possible and enter Punjab. While reaching Lakhanpur check post we were caught in the midst of such agitations thrice, we also saw angry mobs burning down tyres. At one such place we were told to turn off our vehicles and wait, and the road was blocked by two trucks in the middle. I got down from my vehicle and started talking to a few taxi-drivers. Suddenly we saw an ambulance arriving at the scene. The taxi driver advised me that the agitators would not stop the ambulance and will remove the trucks from the middle of the road to make way. So, our best chance to escape from this situation was to follow the ambulance and drive away. Soon, we crossed Lakhanpur.

We could see Nirula’s not very far away. So, we decided to take a stop over there as we wanted to sit back and gather ourselves from the huge shock that we underwent. Never ever had we been in the middle of such a situation though we had often read about such incidents in the newspaper. The only thing that crossed our minds was that we were able to escape unscathed from such a troubled situation.

I started chalking out a new travel plan as we did not want to waste the long journey that we had embarked upon. Here‘s how my new travel itinerary looked like

Day 2: Reach Manali
Day 3: Cross Rohtang Pass and reach Chandratal via Batal. Camping at Chandratal.
Day 4: Start from Chandratal and reach Losar (Rest Day)
Day 5: Start from Losar and reach Killar via Udaipur
Day 6: Start from Killar and reach Manali
Day 7: Start from Manali and reach Gurgaon

Now, the next step was to arrange for the permit to cross Rohtang Pass. I called up the hotel where we stay whenever we visit Manali. The manager of the hotel told me that he could arrange for the permit within a few hours, but I needed to email the relevant documents to him. So, I called up my wife and told her to send the copies of my RC and Driving License to the email id of the hotel. And I waited there till I got a confirmation from the manager that my permit was ready. Within an hour they had arranged for the permit. I was relieved and started my drive towards Manali via Kangra valley. We reached Manali at around 10.30pm on day 2 of my trip. The epic drive which entailed a total distance of over 1000 km and approximately 25 hours of driving had finally ended.

TO BE CONTINUED……
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Old 9th February 2014, 21:28   #8
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Day 3: We woke up early in the morning and started our journey towards Chandrataal. We decided that we will have breakfast at Rohtang Pass. The last time we crossed Rohtang Pass- in 2012 the road was in a pretty bad shape-full of mud and slush. So, keeping that in mind we started our journey early. But to my utmost surprise the entire stretch was a smooth tarmac this time except for a 200 meter stretch which was still the same due to a recent landslide. We produced all the documents at the Rohtang check post and reached around 9am. We had breakfast-some piping hot Maggi. There were only a couple of Maggi and tea stalls that were functional in and around Rohtang during that time. Around 10am we started for Chandrataal. After driving a few kilometers we took the right turn for Spiti. The road was very deserted with vehicles few and far between. We found many stream crossings making us feel that we were driving across a hilly river. Spiti river was always with us beside the narrow road that we were travelling through. We took a break in Chatru, had some tea and some lovely paranthas. The river Spiti running in full flow-beside the dhaba in Chatru made for a very pleasant view. We continued through the rocky road and reached Batal at around 2pm. This time even though I was carrying my tent with me I was not sure if I would be able to camp anywhere. Also, I was not carrying any sleeping bag, mattress or a torch- all of which are required for camping. And here I found my saviour-Tenzing. He is the son of the owner of Batal dhaba. We struck a deal with him as per which he would provide us with sleeping bags, mattresses and torches. Also he would provide us with dinner in the camp at around 8pm. Then we loaded all the stuff in our vehicle and started our journey towards the “Moon’s lake”.
The Chandrataal trail is a narrow single track-or rather a cattle track. Slowly and steadily we reached the parking area near Chandrataal. We left the vehicle there and started trekking towards the lake. Tenzing helped us in fixing the camp and told us he will be back with the dinner by 8pm.Then we decided to take a walk around the lake- the distance was more than 2 kms. We also checked the starting point of the trek from Chandrataal to Surajtal. Slowly we could realize that AMS was creeping in and we decided to get back to the camp. Tenzing was very punctual in providing the dinner. Although the dinner was a pretty simple one-roti, daal and vegetables, but the feeling was special because of the surroundings. It was my first meal inside a tent. As darkness approached, the mercury dipped. And the wind was very chilly. We slipped into our sleeping bags and around 9:30pm we went off to sleep. But due to AMS my sleep was disrupted, so I woke up around 3am. I waited for daylight to break as I knew when dawn sets in, the water of the lake becomes a reflection of the surrounding hills. I was eager to capture these moments in my camera.
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Old 9th February 2014, 21:31   #9
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Day 4: At around 7:30 am Tenzing came back, helped us to wrap the tent and it was a trek beck to the vehicle. We loaded the vehicle and started our journey back to the Batal dhaba. Oh!! Just forgot to mention that breakfast was also a part of the deal that we had struck with Tenzing. As we were having our breakfast in Batal dhaba, we decided to take the day off and rest in a small village of Losar, at an altitude of around 14,500 feet. While going to Losar, we visited Kumzum La and prayed at the temple. Once we reached Losar, we stayed in a hotel near the check post. Although the lunch was not a very sumptuous affair but the view of the village with the hills surrounding it made the meal special. Generally an afternoon siesta is a small one, but for us it was a long one. In the afternoon before dusk, we decided to take a stroll around the village. And to my astonishment, I met a policeman at the Losar check post whom we had met during our 2012 trip in a check post near Tabo. At around 8pm we had dinner and went off to sleep as the next day we were about to hit the road to Killar.
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Old 15th February 2014, 20:04   #10
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Day 5: We started early morning fully aware of the fact that we were about to cross one of the most dangerous and adventurous stretches that I had ever driven across-Losar to Grampoo. Because when I had driven across this road for the first time- in 2012, my vehicle had got stuck in one of the many water crossings which were formed from melted glaciers. By God‘s grace, a group of locals who were coming behind us helped in getting the vehicle out as it had got stuck amidst the rocks in the water crossing. This time the course of most of the water crossings had changed which made it tougher to cross. Meanwhile, just forgot to mention earlier that we had our breakfast at the Batal dhaba and bid adieu to Tenzing. Around 11am we reached Tandi and got our vehicle refuelled from the one and only fuel pump in that stretch. After refuelling, we took the road towards Udaipur. Initially it was a pleasant drive as it was drizzling. As we travelled further, we found that work was going on towards widening the road by BRO as a part of the Tandi- Kishtwar road widening project. Once we crossed Udaipur, the situation changed drastically as it started raining heavily and the road started to look scary. After driving on this stretch I take back my words where I had earlier mentioned that the road from Losar to Grampoo was the most dangerous stretches to drive across. The road was very muddy and a less travelled one apart from very few local vehicles and buses. After crossing few kilometres from Udaipur, we came across one of the worst water crossings in our entire trip. This is called “Daldal nalah”. The engulfing nature of the nalah made it look like a demon. The muddy water made it impossible for us to view the road condition and it was only by sheer judgment that we were able to cross the “nalah”. The tremendous force with which the mud filled water was gushing out had washed away the entire road and it was straight away going down to the river below the gorge. So, a slightest misjudgement on our part would take us straight down to the river. In the midst of all this tension, I could not click any photographs. But this was not the end of our tension or miseries. As we went a little further, suddenly we noticed that the road took a turn. Rocks from above the hill had fallen and gathered in a place and formed a hump in such a way that it became a slope with a steep curve. I drove over the slope with my vehicle tilting dangerously towards the gorge. While crossing the “Daldal nalah” my father was very scared looking at the enormity of the water crossing. But this time I crossed the slope even before my father had realised what had happened. After driving for one and a half hours, we found ourselves in the midst of local vehicles ahead of us. Guess what!! It was a landslide. Vehicles were stranded there for almost 4 hours. But we were lucky as BRO had already started work in clearing this landslide. And we were able to cross that stretch within 45 minutes. As we drove ahead, we suddenly realized that we would not be able to reach Killar in day light. This became a nightmare for my father. Also, due to the cloudy weather my GPS stopped receiving any satellite signals and was not showing any route. At the site of the landslide, a pick-up truck driver offered to guide me to a particular village. From that village, a local villager who had hitched a ride in the pick-up truck- requested us for a ride in our vehicle as the pick-up truck would not go any further. By the time the villager reached his destination, it was already pitch-dark and we could not see what was on either side of the road. Our view was limited to whatever was caught in the focus of the vehicle head-light. The villager had pointed towards two small lights high up above a hill and told us that this was “Killar”. We could not ascertain how many hills we had to cross to reach that particular point. Then after driving for a few kilometers, the GPS suddenly started working and we started climbing up the steep slope of the hills. Also, slowly clouds started engulfing the entire road and our visibility was almost reduced to only a few metres. After driving for 45 minutes, the GPS connectivity suddenly went off. As it was a straight drive, we kept on driving on that particular stretch. Suddenly we found a jackal in front of our vehicle and it was staring at us. Around 8pm, we reached a place where the road divided into two and we were confused as we did not have GPS to help us navigate through the correct route. My father offered to get down from the vehicle and take a look but I warned him from doing that as we had already encountered a wild animal and there might be more such animals in the area. Suddenly, we discovered a milestone (hidden behind a bush) which showed that Killar was 3 kms ahead and we had to take the right cut. Driving ahead we reached Killar at around 8:30pm. We took a hotel. After taking a shower, we decided to go out for dinner. Some lovely tandoori rotis and sabzi !! After talking to the dhaba owner where we had our dinner, a wild thought ran across my mind- to return through Sach Pass and camp at Satrundi. Instantly another thought came into my mind, I had read a few travelogues on Sach Pass in which it was written that this journey is not for the weak hearted. And my navigator in this journey-my father was a weak hearted person. So, we dropped this plan and decided to take the same route back to Manali. So, this was the end of our epic journey for Day 5.
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Old 18th February 2014, 17:56   #11
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Congratulation on completing the Trip. Awesome photography.
I liked the last pic (Water falling down the mountain).
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Old 19th February 2014, 20:16   #12
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Day 6: Initially we thought of spending this day in Killar. But after a discussion with my father, we finally decided to start for Manali. When we woke up early in the morning, it was cloudy and was raining as well. For a moment it seemed that we are in a “Paradise of Clouds”. Our decision to start for Manali on that day itself was prompted by the fact that the water level in the water crossings would increase and become tougher to cross, especially the “Daldal Nalah”. And if the rains increased, there was a possibility of flash floods and this was a landslide-prone zone as well. So, we started at around 7:30am. We decided to munch on some left over stuff in the vehicle itself. During this time we took few pictures of clouds entrapped between the hills, which made for a very beautiful sight. As we moved ahead towards Udaipur, we found that BRO had cleared the road where a small landslide had created a road block last evening. I was eager to take pictured of the devastating “Daldal nalah” as I could not take any pictures of this water crossing last evening. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the water crossing, there was less water and more BRO workers. They have created a small rock barrier to channelize the water from the “nalah” in a proper manner. From there few BRO workers requested us for a ride, to drop them to Udaipur. We reached Manali around 5pm and checked in at our regular hotel. Had our dinner early and ended the day.
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Old 19th February 2014, 20:20   #13
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Day 7: The last leg of our journey began, from Manali to Gurgaon. We were not sure about our lunch, but had decided to have our dinner at Puran Singh ‘s Dhaba at Ambala. But it was all in vain, as we reached Ambala pretty early for dinner and we marched ahead towards Gurgaon and decided to have dinner with our family. We reached Gurgaon around 9:30pm.

So, our CB and Killar experience ended with lots of memorable moments full of adventure. Oh, not to forget- from tomorrow the bad experience starts, I have to join office!!


***Will be back with another experience soon ( Khajjiar in Winters!!)
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