Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 23rd August 2014, 16:45   #1
BHPian
 
codelust's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 200
Thanked: 291 Times
Default Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

In 2011 we embarked on a trip, in a petrol Swift and an SX4 to get to Leh through Spiti, from Delhi.

Looking back, with the motley group we had put together, I have no idea why we attempted it. We started late from Kaza (at around 11 AM), and were short on fuel (the pump, as usual, was having trouble dispensing petrol) and eventually had to turn back at the first water crossing after Chhota Dhara and spend the night at the PWD rest house.

Thankfully, even after a series of mistakes that could have made us pay a price too dear, we did manage to clear Spiti and somehow reach Ladakh and Leh.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0214-copy.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_8159-copy.jpg







Having gone through all that, our relief was palpable at the first sight of tarmac.
Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_8178-copy.jpg

Even though we did manage to finish the trip, I had had enough of trying rough terrain in a hatchback. Doing those in a hatch is fun, ticks off an entry or two in the bucket list, but you rarely get to enjoy the journey as you are constantly trying to avoid any degree of considerable harm from being done to the vehicle, which eradicates any possibility of being able to enjoy the journey. Thus came into picture Whitey -- the white Gypsy I managed to pick up from a dealer.

Whitey was love at first sight, even in the dilapidated condition I found her in at a dealer's. She used to be the pilot vehicle for a former lieutenant governor of Delhi and had rarely seen any roads outside the confines of the NCR. A quick test drive confirmed that she was in a bad shape. There was nothing by means of a clutch left on her, everything felt pretty out of place, but she looked to have an eager heart (if vehicles do have a life beyond the metal parts they are made of) and I loved her for that.

She was sorted out at one of the better shops, no expenses spared and a couple of test runs did not throw up any major gremlins. A date was set, with a rallying friend, for another go at Spiti; a trial run to Shimla was done and two well-trusted mechanics gave her the go-ahead. But, they say, a decade-old Gypsy should never have engine that has not been opened up and given the once-over. And that was the sole trick I had missed. Never got the engine opened up and looked into. As fate would have it, on my way back from being checked out by the two reputed mechanics, the engine overheated and since I was not paying enough attention, matters went out of hand really badly.

The short story is that the day before we were to leave for Spiti I was looking at a blown engine and no chance of the vehicle even making it out of Noida. The dreams of Spiti were dashed at that moment. But my friend was to not be disheartened by such dramatic turn of events. He volunteered to press his Punto into service for this mission and drove into Delhi the morning after, from Agra, so that we could get to Spiti.

We started early morning from Delhi, reached Rampur and stayed the night there and by the time we reached Spillow there was a nasty storm that was raging and the mountains were really angry. We would learn later that the kind of winds we saw that day were the worst seen in the region in a decade. We would first get a flat, which meant changing the tire in an environment where you could see nothing and was breathing dust all the time. We then had a stone land on the windscreen and crack it. Which meant we had enough by then and we turned back to Spillow, eventually ending the day with the most bizarre job interview in the history of finance, with the candidate sitting inside a Punto in gale force winds with the phone hooked up to the car charger as the little guest house we shacked up at had no power.

Two quick clips of what we faced that day.





Cut to 2014, and Whitey had, by then, had a heart transplant with a brand new engine block. In 2012 she completed her maiden Ladakh trip which included a trip to the Siachen Base Camp and the really hard route of Hanle to Korzok through Chumur. A lot of drastic changes had happened in the personal sphere and some old relationships were ended, new ones were formed and an impromptu trip to Spiti and Chandratal was planned at the last moment as a consequence of some of those changes. We were attempting it the rough way, camping, sleeping in the Gypsy where possible and on early July 29th morning we set off after dropping off a friend at the New Delhi railway station.

As it always happens, the plan was to sleep well on time and drive a long stint, but, as it always happens, I sleep late and don't get enough sleep and get going anyway. This one was no different on that front.

This is a good point in time to mention that even on the eve of the 2012 trip I had problems with Whitey. The evening before we were to start, I had given her out for a wash and, somehow, after the wash, she was misfiring pretty badly. The service center guys, who washed her, were of help on that front and washed their hands off it and it looked all but certain that I would miss the trip. As a last resort, I took her to my mechanic, expecting a grave prognosis and he just cleaned the injectors, changed the spark plugs and said she will be fine and that is how we got going again on the 2012 trip.

Come July 2014, a similar story unfolds. After being stationary for many months Whitey is taken to the mechanic, looked over and given back to me. I fill her up with half-a-tank of petrol and do a 100 kilometer odd drive in her around south Delhi and finds out that she is misfiring again without any reason to. I am, once again, convinced this is the end of the trip. But, on a morning drive (on the day before we are to leave), she starts firing much cleaner and the more I drove her, the better she got. My guess is that there is some muck in the petrol tank that needs to be cleaned up. In any case, we were again good-to-go.

We start early morning on the 29th with no fixed plan other than to head to Spiti, hopefully Chandratal, and not be back in Delhi for close to two weeks. After a slight detour dropping a friend at the New Delhi Railway Station, we headed back in the right direction. The cameras stayed in their bags through all of the first day as I have lost count of the number of times we had done the route and consider it to be a mountain tax of sorts before you start gaining elevation.

The usual stop at Zilmil Dhaba at Karnal was skipped as we had loaded up on home cooked food and pull over on the roadside to grab a bite, tie down things that need tying down, readjust the gear and do a quick check of the vehicle. Since everything seemed to be fine we proceeded at a leisurely 80 KPH and reach Ambala where we top up the fuel. Zirakpur comes into view and we turn right under the never-ending flyover and start the slow ascent to Kalka where the Himalayan Expressway starts off, saving the mountain-bound lot the penury of having to crawl through what we will call downtown Kalka.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_102350.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_103519.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_104033.jpg

Apologies for the poor quality of the photos. They are all from the phone on day one.

That said, avoiding Kalka also means you miss Parwanoo almost entirely, which has always been a sort of landmark of a journey really beginning (mountain tax paid and done with) for me. But one can't have everything, right? Since the peak tourist season had come to an end, the roads were largely empty. Still, we decided to take the Chail route at Kandaghat, than risk driving through the mess called Shimla and it started to rain. Once past Sadhupul we lose few of the flat-landers who take grave offence to give way to any vehicle behind them and get into some lovely rain and mist that stuck on to the mountainside as if the gods had a pillow fight and left the remnants out there for the humans to gawk at.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_135114.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_135209.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_135644.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_140558.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_140630.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_140659.jpg

The rain was also quite welcome as it has been infernally hot and humid in the northern plains this year. Whitey is bone stock and she has no power steering or air conditioning. Once the engine is warm, the firewall does an excellent job of ensuring that all the heat from the bay is transferred right into the cabin. This is the reason why the Gypsy does not come with a heater. After a few kilometers of driving, even in bitter cold, you will get adequate heating due to the brilliance in design. Long term Gypsy owners are also habituated to having automatic climate control of sorts in the vehicle, with good helpings of the outside climate (rain, snow, dust etc) being faithfully transferred to you inside the vehicle.

As we got to Kufri, which was largely empty of the maddening crowds that it normally has, we were delayed by a HR 26 plate sedan, as the driver thought the middle of the road was the best spot to park his car while he got out to buy something from a shop nearby. Having made appropriate faces and noises of extreme disgust at such behaviour, we moved on and face a slight delay past the Mashobra crossing with a broken electric cable that neatly divides the fork -- the left one going towards Mashobra and the right one heading towards Fagu.

We finally make our first proper halt at Fagu for a loo break and a bite. It had stopped raining by then, but it was still pretty wet. Theog comes and goes and so does Narkanada. There is hardly anyone on the roads and it is all so very lush green. We stop numerous times and don't bother much with taking photos. There is so much of everything to take in that, for a change, we just soak it all up and file away what we see into the bookshelf of our memories. I pass a wistful look at the left turn at Kingal to the road that goes towards the Jalori Pass. In 2009, I had driven alone that route in a raging thunderstorm in a Swift, alone and frightened out of my wits. Made a mental note to explore that route again at a later date.

At 7:30 we reach the little disagreeable town of Rampur, which was our first option to halt for the night. In what could be either termed as inspired call or sheer madness, we decide to push on to Reckong Peo which is a touch over 100 kilometers from Rampur, which should be not a lot of trouble in normal circumstances. The problem was that we were aware that the road would get pretty bad around Wangtu and progress would be really slow. Even so, we did not assume it would take more than 3-hours to cover the distance, without knowing what lay in store for us.

The last time I was on that stretch of road was in 2013. While it was quite bad, it was not bad as what we would see this time around. The work around the dam sites have now progressed towards building various tunnels, which means that the mountains have been blasted everywhere and a lot of the old roads don't exist anymore and there are diversions without any pointers towards the right fork to take and it being late into the evening there was nearly no other vehicle on the roads.

Eventually, we somehow make it past all of that and reach Tapri, which means that Peo is not that far off. At one point we see a fair bit of activity and people on the road, but we drive on undaunted only to be puzzled by lots of big rocks on the road. The volume of the rocks kept increasing and at one point there was no road left at all, the entire mountain was sitting on the road. We turned back and went towards where we saw the people and activity earlier and was stopped by the local cops and got an earful for missing the nearly-nonexistent stop signs. In any case, since the mistake was ours in not paying enough attention, we apologized profusely and they finally calmed down.

They said we had to take a 20-kilometer diversion to get past the landslide and that the road is really narrow and traffic movement is allowed only in one direction at a time. We were allowed to leave only under the strict instructions to never take a left turn anywhere and to pull over and make way for oncoming traffic should we see anything of that sort. We made through most of the diversion without any problems only to see a large convoy of trucks come up the last descent. Being the good sorts, we pulled over and took short naps while the 50-60 odd trucks groaned up a climb that looked hard even in the Gypsy.

Once all the trucks went past, we quickly covered the rest of the ascent and merged with the main road again near Chooling and proceeded towards Peo. At Peo the local cops asked us about what we were doing there and were quite helpful. None of the hotels in town looked open or non-shady, so we took their leave and headed towards Kalpa. At Kalpa, we found decent hotels, but could not get even one of them to open. It was quite close to midnight by then and we were both quite tired, so we parked outside one of the hotels and slept in the Gypsy.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_145029.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_151502.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_161357.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_161551.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_163321.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_163326.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_163331.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_163334.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140729_171507.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_054101.jpg

Morning came accompanied by the sounds of local schoolgirls out for training and we decided to try our luck with getting a room for a couple of hours to freshen up. Once again, we had no luck at almost every place we could find. Eventually, we decided to call it quits and head down to Peo and get going early to Kaza. We had a good breakfast at the main circle and tanked up at the fuel pump and trundled down back to the main highway and our fancy early start plans were put to rest by the first thing we saw on the road -- a landslide and the accompanying traffic jam.

By now, the trip had started in earnest as we were now in the properly harsh terrain of the Himalayas and the cameras came out.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1849.jpg
You can see the jam caused by the landslide in the distance.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1848.jpg
They seem to have carried on the pillow fight even through the night.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1853.jpg
Muddy flows my river.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1865.jpg
Jam wait is a good time to get a nap. That little red pillow came quite handy for that.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1861.jpg
How do they even grow up there?

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1873.jpg
Finally on her way to fulfill her Spitian destiny.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0073_1.jpg
Waiting to exhale. It was a tad stinky and very dusty there.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0079_1.jpg
Making a forward looking statement.

Last edited by codelust : 23rd August 2014 at 19:01.
codelust is offline   (7) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 23rd August 2014, 19:01   #2
BHPian
 
codelust's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 200
Thanked: 291 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0080_1.jpg
These guys are the real heroes in these unforgiving terrain.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0083_1.jpg

Every mountain landslide will have a bunch waiting near the ledge as a standard feature.

They took close to an hour to clear the landslide and it would all have been a smooth and quick thing to move ahead if everyone had not tried to leave at the same time, leading to yet another jam. Meanwhile, we decided to give a lift to a GREF employee till Nako. Since we were carrying camping gear, there was little space left in the vehicle and the front seats are from the original Honda City, which meant there was little space left to climb in through them and the rear seats were the front seats from an Alto. As a result, we would decline every request for a lift, which was a hard thing to do. Both locals and soldiers in these areas have few transportation options and it felt really bad to decline them. Before the next trip in those areas, I need to get the rear seats changed back to the side-facing ones.

That said, at a much later time in the trip, I had two lanky Sikh soldiers in the front passenger seat at the same time, which led to some interesting scenes for my co-passenger who was not in the car at that time. But that story will have to wait.

Once the jam issues were sorted out, everyone decided to take off in a mad rush. Much dust was kicked up but the standout madman was a cabbie in a Toyota Etios who was belting the car through places where even we, in the Gypsy, were treading very carefully. Spillow was reached eventually, which was where the last proper Spiti attempt started getting into trouble, resulting in the about turn before Pooh. We kept pushing ahead crossed Pooh, where we went back and forth trying to find the right route in the army area and at the Khab bridge I noticed that the engine check light had come on. This had happened even before the trip and was taken care of, but it was not a good sign to have that happen at that time.

To make matters worse, the engine was also heating up a lot more than what it should have and we had to, at one point, pull over and let it cool down as the engine seemed to be also down on power. And, as if all that drama was not enough I was not feeling that well due to the altitude and the long hours spent behind the wheel. We had already covered well over 600 KMs on day one and were in the process of covering another 200 KMs in harsh terrain and in a vehicle with no air conditioning. After reaching Nako, we dropped the GREF employee, took a long break to relax and eat something and soon moved past Malling. Thankfully, the engine started behaving a lot better and at Sumdo we marked our presence at the check post.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_072926.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_095629.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_095647.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_095730.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_095735.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_100113.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_121127.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_121829.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_121943.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_122004.jpg

We didn't stop at Tabo, as we wanted to get to Kaza now as quickly as possible. I wanted a hot shower, a comfortable bed and some fresh food. With Kaza not too far off, we pulled over to the riverside to enjoy the barren, but spectacular view of Spiti. And as luck would have it Spiti decided to welcome us with a double rainbow and it was nothing but sheer magic to be able to see that. After 30 minutes of doing nothing but quiet contemplation we proceeded to Kaza and found both parking and a comfortable room at Sakya Abode. I pretty much crashed right after that and it would take me a lot of rest to get back into a good shape again.

The real objective, Chandratal, was still quite a way off. But both Whitey and I had broken our Spiti jinx and that was more than enough to celebrate on day two.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1894.jpg
You can see the enthu cutlet Etios up front.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1893.jpg
They know the drill well.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1897.jpg
A bit too washed out, but too lazy to fix.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1896.jpg
"Do come", of course we will.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1900.jpg
Oel ngati kameie

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1898.jpg
Hard hat gone.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1904.jpg
Clearly muddy.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1917.jpg
Nako!

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1916.jpg
Nako, the village.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1922.jpg
First of the prayer flags.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0086_1.jpg
The light and shadow show beings.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0092_1.jpg
The lavash and dip comes out. Bonnet doubles up as a dining table.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0095.jpg
Same wall, seen by the Nikon.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0094_1.jpg
Downside upside down.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0097_1.jpg
The protesting donkey of Nako. It protested all the way from the truck stop to the village.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0098_1.jpg
Nikon Nako.

Last edited by codelust : 23rd August 2014 at 19:32.
codelust is offline   (7) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 23rd August 2014, 19:36   #3
BHPian
 
codelust's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 200
Thanked: 291 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_141657.jpg
Sir, which shade of brown would you like?

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_142206.jpg
A different perspective, maybe?

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_153727.jpg
The board shatters the jinx. We have crossed over to the stark side.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_122636.jpg
Which brings out the shemagh, the best dust killer known to me.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_173726.jpg
So, let us light it up a bit.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140730_173756.jpg
Add a dash of colour.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1930.jpg
Shadows, what about the shadows?

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1927.jpg
This landscape must be flagged.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1933.jpg
One of the really rare other vehicles that we saw on the road.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1931.jpg
And, as always a river is always around the corner.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1941.jpg
There are tracks on pretty much every mountain!

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1940.jpg
Faraway pretty village.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1948.jpg
Faraway pretty village, not so faraway anymore.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1947.jpg
Bonsai delta.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1970.jpg
The dude up there asks, "who stole my cotton?"

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1962.jpg
He looks to be real angry, looking everywhere now.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1972.jpg
A wider valley? No, problem, just shine more light on it.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1971.jpg
The drama continues. Cotton still nowhere to be found.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1976.jpg
The ire turns into a penetrating glare.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1975.jpg
And the search continues -- left and right.

We will continue after a commercial break!

Last edited by codelust : 23rd August 2014 at 19:58.
codelust is offline   (8) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 25th August 2014, 12:23   #4
GTO
Team-BHP Support
 
GTO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Bombay
Posts: 47,729
Thanked: 89,229 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
GTO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th August 2014, 15:29   #5
BHPian
 
coolmel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 395
Thanked: 121 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Loved it. Bring on more ire!
coolmel is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 25th August 2014, 18:40   #6
BHPian
 
codelust's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 200
Thanked: 291 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1988.jpg
And, yes, it rained. In Spiti!

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1984.jpg
Raindrops throw a curveball. But the earth's big glove misses nothing.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1977.jpg
O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river;
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow forever and forever.


Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2004.jpg
Best one of the bridge valley.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2003.jpg
It is a universe of such vistas, but your eyes never tire of them.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_1998.jpg
Thus Ran Rik; why?

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2008.jpg
This is a better view. Spot the tiny 800 in the picture. Spiti does nothing in half measures. Everything is king size.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2006.jpg
Find something really captivating about the bridge and entire picture.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2005.jpg
We'll cross the bridge after we get to it.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2019.jpg
...

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0103_1.jpg
Contemplative man.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0104_1.jpg
Molten cold.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0112_1.jpg
Sharpshooter.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0116_1.jpg
Nature's sculpture.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0119_1.jpg
Out of focus due to sheer laziness.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0125_1.jpg
Single strand.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0126_1.jpg
Bridge is around the corner.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0128_1.jpg
Scale, proportions, perspective.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2009.jpg
Will the bus stop?

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2033.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2028.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2024.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2042.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2041.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2050.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2047.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2044.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2061.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2053.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2055.jpg
codelust is offline   (6) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th August 2014, 13:08   #7
BHPian
 
codelust's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 200
Thanked: 291 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2077.jpg
The double rainbow that greeted us near Kaza. Initially, we had walked away from the Gypsy without the camera in hand, and by the time we got the camera, the second one had faded. You can make out a little bit of it in the top right corner.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2065.jpg
Two days of hard driving over 800 KMs took its toll on me. Was pretty gone by this point.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2078.jpg
Contemplative Whitey.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2074.jpg
Double trouble.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2094.jpg
Gold tinted cotton.

At Sakya Abode we run into a colleague of my friend who had been biking across HP for a few days. We catch up over dinner and how he's been contributing various parts of his kit and gear to the road, losing clothes, camera and parts of the bike along the way. I am too tired to even eat, but have to. So managed to gobble down some Skew and collapse into bed.

The next day we decide to take it easy and potter around Kaza itself and take as many days as required to recover. Our idea was to get to Chandratal and trek in the direction of the famous route that goes to Baralacha La and camp somewhere out there for a couple of days and return. That was going to be tough and at least 15K feet up and I had to acclimatize well for that. So we spent two days in Kaza, driving around aimlessly and enjoying the slower pace compared to the first two days.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0131_1.jpg
Green fuzz.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0136_1.jpg
Bowtie clould.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0140.jpg
My laziness with the camera continues, resulting in mostly soft focus and badly shot frames.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0143_1.jpg
Ginger Lemon Honey Tea -- can't have enough of it and I like mine with some fresh mint in it.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0144_1.jpg
Basking in the sun. Something we will get more than enough of in the days to come.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0146_1.jpg
Legs, everywhere!

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0148_1.jpg
Another one to our endless collection of cloud shots.

Next day in Kaza, we stepped out and first drove towards Rangrik. We turned around from there and crossed the bridge again and headed in the direction of Kee/Kibber. I survived Kibber quite well and we had some lunch in the village. The only other people not from the village in town were the serious trekkers, including a middle-aged French couple who did not have the ILP for Karzok and was in long discussions with the other trekkers what could happen to him if he trekked into Karzok from the other side without the ILP.

Lunch done, we were sauntering down the mountain when we saw the route to Chicham. My friend wanted me to show the gorgeous gorges before Chicham and she was spot on. It is worth the little hike from the main road.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2107.jpg
First break, towards Kibber

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2109.jpg
When it stark, it is starker than anywhere in Spiti. When it is green, it is greener than anywhere in Spiti.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2113.jpg
It is a serious bit of climb up to Kibber. Can't be seen this picture.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2119.jpg
Kibber.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0151_1.jpg
Out of focus again.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0153_1.jpg
The local workhorse.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0155_1.jpg
Very shady business.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0177_1.jpg
Contemplation I.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0178_1.jpg
Contemplation II.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0180.jpg
I like these weird angles and perspectives.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0181_1.jpg
Chicham in the distance. We did not eventually go there.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0182_1.jpg
Must have been quite a view from there, though.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0183_1.jpg
That's the periphery of Kibber.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0184_1.jpg
Have to go back down that road soon.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0193_1.jpg
The gorgeous gorges of Chicham.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0195_1.jpg
Pulled up shadows a bit so that it gives you a better idea of how massive and spectacular it is.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0198_1.jpg
Another view.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0201_1.jpg
Kibber!
codelust is offline   (5) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th August 2014, 13:24   #8
BHPian
 
codelust's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 200
Thanked: 291 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0202_1.jpg
...

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0203_1.jpg
Spot the friend in the frame.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0205_1.jpg
Gorgeous gorge with Chicham in the background.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0209_1.jpg
Answer to the previous "spot the friend" question.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0210_1.jpg
That is how far behind Whitey is. We could have driven her down to that point, but these are grazing lands.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0211_1.jpg
Life on the edge. Gorge-ous!

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0217_1.jpg
Shadows are falling and Iíve been here all day
Itís too hot to sleep, time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
Iíve still got the scars that the sun didnít heal
Thereís not even room enough to be anywhere
Itís not dark yet, but itís getting there


Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0218_1.jpg
The road to Chicham.


Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0219_1.jpg
One of my favourite shots from the entire trip.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2139.jpg
Kee.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0223_1.jpg
Kee.

And then Spiti decided to unleash some of more of its magic with a spectacular sunset. The rest of the photos are a riot of colours. Will just let them do the talking.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0228.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0229_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0231_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0233_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0235_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0242_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0243_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0245_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0248.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2140.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2141.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2144.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2158.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2165.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2185.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2186.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2191.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2202.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2207.jpg
codelust is offline   (8) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 26th August 2014, 13:34   #9
Senior - BHPian
 
sdp1975's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 1,592
Thanked: 920 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Quote:
Originally Posted by codelust View Post
Even though we did manage to finish the trip, I had had enough of trying rough terrain in a hatchback. Doing those in a hatch is fun, ticks off an entry or two in the bucket list, but you rarely get to enjoy the journey as you are constantly trying to avoid any degree of considerable harm from being done to the vehicle, which eradicates any possibility of being able to enjoy the journey.
A couple of weeks ago I was watching Overdrive on a trip to Ladakh.

The presenter was saying that the roads had significantly improved since last year . While that was good in way , that also took away the charm of Ladakh being difficult to reach, and that there were more soda bottles on the roadsides now.

How would you compare the roads now since your last trip in 2011 , is it still hard to do it in a hatch ? I'm asking this as I've been thinking of doing this in my Punto.

Last edited by sdp1975 : 26th August 2014 at 13:36.
sdp1975 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 26th August 2014, 13:35   #10
BHPian
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 186
Thanked: 156 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Amazing pictures and the colorful shades! And, even better write up and the spirit to do the drive.
Traveller Nayak is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th August 2014, 16:20   #11
BHPian
 
rockyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 253
Thanked: 11 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Lovely write-up & photos. Just back from the same places. But we did it in a hired Qualis. Sorting out my pix as we speak.

sdp1975 - Depends on the route. If you are taking about Manali to Leh - its almost a normal road now except few patches. But Spiti valley there are bad roads to no roads. Hatch is not a good idea. The Punto tyres and under body will take its toll. Having said that the popular cars in that region is M800, Alto, Alto K10 (few) and new Alto 800 and of course various versions of Bolero. Water crossing in afternoon can be tricky as water levels rise up.
rockyb is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 27th August 2014, 00:16   #12
BHPian
 
codelust's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 200
Thanked: 291 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

The last day in Kaza had a few errands to be dealt with. We were still a bit short on supplies for the camping ahead and Whitey also had to be tanked up. Somewhere along the way, the question was raised, "why not move on to Leh from Chandratal and do a bit of shopping there?" The answer being a resounding "yes" meant we needed fuel to get us all the way into Leh.

The engine check light also needed to be attended to, even though, by then I had become not too bothered by it. The vehicle was performing normally again and it would have been a loose wire somewhere that was causing it. Still, we had to be careful and pulled into the Maruti ASS only to find that they had no power and were already working with quite a few vehicles.

A stop was made along the way in the market for the supplies and we had good daal chaawal and chai in one of the restaurants and we proceeded to the petrol pump to find that the petrol was not being dispensed again. The story behind the issue only with petrol is that when the sun comes up nice and strong any time after 9, it builds up vapour in the underground tank, which does not have a cover above it. The simple solution is to build some sort of canopy over it, but since the land where the pump is property of the forest department, clearance is required for any construction, which the department refuses to give. Consequently, after so many years, the problem remains as one that has an easy solution, but an impossible one.

The pump guys tell us to check either late in evening or early morning for fuel and we figure out that is probably a better deal than to wait around endlessly.

We then move to wander about in the area in front of the PWD Rest House to spend some quality time with the river and the gorgeous scenery. Pulled back into the hotel after another nice slow day and pack as we'd have to leave as early as possible the next morning. Only if we could find the fuel.


Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2219.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2221.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2223.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2224.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2227.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2229.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2230.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2232.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2242.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2244.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2245.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2250.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2251.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2257.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2260.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2261.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2262.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2266.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2269.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2272.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2280.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2281.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2282.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0250_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0253_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0260_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0261_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0269_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0275_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0276_1.jpg
codelust is offline   (4) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 27th August 2014, 00:21   #13
BHPian
 
codelust's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 200
Thanked: 291 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0279_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0280_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0289_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0290_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0291_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0296_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0299_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0302_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0307_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0308_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0311_1.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dsc_0312.jpg


Quote:
Originally Posted by coolmel View Post
Loved it. Bring on more ire!
Thanks! We are only at stage one of the trip, two more stages to go. Hang in there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdp1975 View Post
A couple of weeks ago I was watching Overdrive on a trip to Ladakh.

How would you compare the roads now since your last trip in 2011 , is it still hard to do it in a hatch ? I'm asking this as I've been thinking of doing this in my Punto.
Honestly, it is cakewalk compared to 2011. When I first did the route in 2009, that too solo, in the Swift, Rohtang itself looked nothing like what it is now, which is a blacktop and a royal mess. As long as you don't drive silly and respect the mountains, you will be fine in pretty much anything.

During our 2012 drive the most amusing thing to watch was climbing up Zoji La, really early in the season, not long after the pass opened, when it is quite rough, being schooled by a local brand new Hyundai Verna, while we were in the famed Gypsy. The right temperament and skill can overcome a lot of the limitations of the machinery.

Even on this drive there was this amusing instance where a Scorpio from Gurgaon held up traffic at a water crossing in Spiti which was being cleared by every vehicle there without breaking a sweat. Us flat landers have a solution for every obstacle -- just gun the damn thing. While, on the mountains, especially with the new cars, the anti-stall will enable you to crawl over most bad terrain.

The Punto should do it quite easily. On More Plains we saw an Assam registered Punto that looked in good shape. We also overtook a DL plate Figo that seemed to have taken a bit of a beating. But it is still a lot better than the old days when I have seen hatches returning bumper-less after a drive. It is a breeze compared to all that.

Drive safe, try the drier months (August) and it will be less crowded too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveller Nayak View Post
Amazing pictures and the colorful shades! And, even better write up and the spirit to do the drive.
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockyb View Post
Lovely write-up & photos. Just back from the same places. But we did it in a hired Qualis. Sorting out my pix as we speak.
Thanks!

The Qualis is the old favourite of those regions before the newer Sumos and the Innovas took over.

Will look forward to reading your travelogue. Where all did you guys go?

Last edited by codelust : 27th August 2014 at 00:31. Reason: Adding replies to comments
codelust is offline   (6) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 27th August 2014, 00:52   #14
BHPian
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Delhi
Posts: 307
Thanked: 244 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Brilliant travelogue Codelust.

My story of the ever elusive chandra tal has such an uncanny similarity to yours that it is freakish. I almost felt I was reading my own story.

It took me 6 years and 3 visits to find chandratal.

I am just so excited after reading yours that I have to share mine with you. Apologies for hijacking your thread.

Attempt 1 - June 2008 - I went in a group of two bikes and a zen from Manali side. Left early in the morning from Manali and hit the mother of all jams enroute rohtang. Zen managed to reach gramphoo by lunch only.
Left for chandratal and zen got stuck spectacularly in the first long glacier crossing before chatru with all four tires up and sitting merrily on the boulders.

Zen gets stuck at the first glacier crossing. Please pay note to the amount of daylight in the pic
Name:  b.JPG
Views: 4602
Size:  73.9 KB

Still pushing through the same crossing in freezing waters and fading light. It moved @ 1 inch per minute.
Name:  c.JPG
Views: 4601
Size:  70.6 KB

Finally out of the crossing after more than 3 hours of toiling & pushing it through bare manpower, only to realise there is even tougher crossing at the next turn and it was already dark.
Name:  d.JPG
Views: 4583
Size:  59.7 KB

Abandoned the car there and rode back triple on each bike to gramphoo to take shelter for the night. The car was rescued the next morning when water levels were lower.

Those who think that the crossing was not that difficult , there was a Tata 207 stuck before us for a good 1 hours. The water level was a feet only but flow was very high and it had brought big boulders with it. See pic of stuck 207 with 6 people pushing.
Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-.jpg

Decided to try the circuit from Shimla side and rode non stop from Manali till narkanda that day. Went upto sarahan but was again met with landslides.
Finally turned back with a strong resolve to come back again to tame this arrogant terrain.

Attempt 2 - September 2010
This time I went in a 4x4 MM550 jeep with super M/T tires (read tractor tires) and squashed spiti terrain like a bug. We did it from the Shimla side and boy did the jeep perform without a hiccup. No glacier crossing was too deep, no boulder too high and no climb too steep. I remember crossing Maling Nala at 12 in the night with over 2 feet of gushing water and huge boulders and not even bothering to slow down to slot into 4x4.
Being late september chandratal had already been abandoned by tourists and dhaba owner. Even the guys at Batal had vanished. Forest officials had dug multiple trenches enroute to dissuade lunatics like us. We took innumerable off routes, climbing straight mountain side with jeep lugging in 4L with tractor tires digging in for grip and managed to reach till the last motorable point.
Chandratal here I come stop me if you can I proclaimed at that point. Little did I know that it had many more tricks up its sleeve. After trekking for good half an hour in snow there was no sign of the lake. We could find the valley from where the rivulet originated but no lake. The whole valley was covered in snow. Disheartened we turned back. Later while comparing the pics off the net and google earth 3D back in Delhi, I would realise that the lake had performed the vanishing trick on me and was hiding beneath that snow.

Attempt 3 - August 2014
This time the goal was clear - chandratal. Delhi to Manali mundane commute was delegated to the HPTDC luxurious volvo monster and Twin Spark bullet 350s were hired for the trip from Manali. We carried everything from tents to food to sleeping bags even after multiple confirmations that accommodation and dhabas are pitched up at chandratal. Water was quite high at the glacier crossings but with some manpower the bulls drove us through. The whole trip went like clockwork and I finally managed much awaited 'DARSHAN' of chandratal.

Few pics of the glacier crossings enroute
Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dscn0838.jpg
Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-dscn0841.jpg

cheers
Vishwas
vishwaschettri is offline   (6) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 27th August 2014, 12:00   #15
BHPian
 
codelust's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 200
Thanked: 291 Times
Default re: Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal

Before we went to sleep on day 4 I did another round of the petrol pump to see if they were open by some chance and, unsurprisingly, they were not. The HP Government Gypsy, nearly out of fuel, that had been waiting since morning near the pump was still parked around there. Life there is tough and abrasive. As tourists we see and experience only a smidgeon of what the local people go through. And yet, they don't have even the slightest sense of entitlement us city folks have.

Before finally going off to sleep, I managed to have another nice chat with Tsering, the lovely gentleman who runs Sakya Abode in Kaza. He was complaining about how the roads are still the same "in his little village", but the traffic has become intolerable. From my last visit to the town, they had cleaned up the market in Kaza, but the local infrastructure was pretty terrible.

Brought to mind the old dilemma that one has about these pristine places. They do have an equal right to have access to all modern facilities, but those same facilities will also, eventually, destroy the unique way of life that exists there; something that really struggles to exist anywhere in the world now. A smarter civilization would ensure that they are comfortable, given multiple healthy choices, and not forced to join the mass produced/mass experienced monoculture.

Coming back from such thoughts, we end day 4 settling the bills and hopes high that we will find fuel in the morning. The fuel level in the Gypsy was quite OK and we should make it easily to the nearest available fuel pump (in the direction of Manali-Leh) at Tandi, but Leh itself would be touch-and-go.

Early day 5 I woke up to the sounds of the alarm and headed to the pump, only to find it far from open. I tried again at a reasonable time, this time taking the vehicle along with me and hit gold. The pump was open and it could get us the fuel we needed. I topped up the Gypsy and also wanted an additional 5 liters in a can, just in case. The nozzle malfunctioned while filling the can and it wound up pumping 8, instead of 5 liters and having paid for the fuel, I headed back to the guest house and we left as planned.

The Spiti before Kaza is the one that can be done with relative ease in any vehicle. The Spiti after Kaza is a different story. Till Losar it is manageable, but, as soon as you make the entry at Losar check post and head out you will see that the road vanishes. It was not always this way. Last time I was there, the roads were bad, but not this bad. It would be impossible to take anything but a high ground clearance vehicle on those road and we did not see a single hatch or a sedan after Hansa. Even those were owned by the local villagers and not tourists.

We had the usual serving of tea at the Dhaba at Losar, where the boy who was running the shop was sheepish in asking for more than the MRP on a couple of bottles of water. He had paid more than the usual rate thanks to an enterprising dude from Manali and he'd have sold it to us at a loss at MRP. We found a kitten in the dhaba who refused to be friendly and while wondering about pet dogs, at a later time in the trip, my friend told me that Buddhists don't like to keep dogs; instead, they keep cats.

The non-existent road after Losar got only marginally better after the check post, but the starkness of the landscape made up more than enough for it. As the approach to Kunzum came into sight, we caught the first glimpse of the Chandrabhaga Range, which was also a bittersweet reunion for my friend as her favourite peak was obscured by clouds. As it was with most of our drive, Kunzum La was largely deserted. We parked Whitey and spent some time wandering around on our own. Chandratal was not too far and we could take it easy and that is what we did.

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2284.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2287.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2289.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2292.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2294.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2295.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2297.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2298.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2301.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2302.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2304.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2308.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2309.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2310.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2312.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2314.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2315.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2318.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2320.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2323.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2326.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2331.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_2332.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140802_095309.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140802_100435.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140802_102204.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140802_103853.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140802_110035.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140802_122302.jpg

Moonface returns to the Lake of the Moon - Spiti & Chandratal-img_20140802_122440.jpg
codelust is offline   (4) Thanks Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Spiti Splendour - Delhi to Spiti in an XUV500 vittal Travelogues 32 30th July 2016 10:52
To the moon (lake) & back : Chandratal vardhan.harsh Travelogues 52 7th July 2014 17:03
The lake of the moon and the Spiti Sprint! tsk1979 Travelogues 134 31st May 2014 16:02
Rohtang Didn't Let me Pass; Spiti & Chandratal It Was! BolBolero Travelogues 110 11th September 2010 00:12
Icy trip to Solang valley, Parashar lake and frozen Serolsar Lake phamilyman Travelogues 61 4th February 2009 17:22


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 08:42.

Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks