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Old 22nd November 2015, 10:05   #1
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Default Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!

So here is my first travelogue that I am sharing with BHPians. I have a ground hugging Fiat Punto (2011) and as the name suggest, it literally has the least ground clearance and is heaviest of all the hatchbacks. For me exteriors of a car matter a lot so when I was buying a car, I couldnít think of anyone else other than the Italians and ended up buying this. However, all this does not stop me from taking my car to places accessible only by tough off-roaders. Coming back to my trip, we had a few holidays coming up near Diwali so I hatched a plan. Thinking of a place to go, the first place that came to my mind was Kalpa and just like any other traveller would do, I started checking out the Hotels, road condition and weather in November. Things I discovered were not comforting, the weather was in the negative, roads in the interior were rough and blocked with landslides and most of the hotels I called were closed for winters. When asked for reason, they said that as the temperature is below zero, the water had started to freeze in the pipes and thus the routine operations of the hotel could not be performed. Seems genuine. Looking at these conditions, the plan seemed to be impossible, as all I had was a camera and an Italian little hatchback, neither of which was designed and tested to work in these conditions.

I didnít loose hope and a few phone calls later, I managed to find a room. We were scheduled to leave the next day. When I say we it means the two of us, me and one of my friend. People say that it is difficult to find a friend who is as crazy as you are, but I found one. I didnít opt for more people as it would lead to a lot more weight with the luggage and all, and thus, lowering the car even more. Before going to sleep that night, I checked the weather on my phone and I would be wrong if I say that it cheered me up.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-day-0.jpg

The next morning we left Chandigarh at sharp 6 AM. Our plan was to reach Shimla by 8:30-9:00 AM to avoid rush-hour traffic. It was still dark outside and by the time we started climbing the sun rose and gave us a splendid view.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-morning-view-day-1.jpg

It wasnít going as planned, all thanks to my friendís last nightís Hangover. I couldnít keep up the pace, as the speed and twisted roads made him even more sick. We stopped at Solan around 8:00 am for tea. Despite this sickness he was determined enough to carry out the journey. Driving slowly and after a lot of stoppages, we managed to cross Shimla and Sanjouli by 9:30 AM. Now we were on the road to Kufri. It is covered with Pine trees and the rising sun rays, steering through its leaves made hell of a view. A perfect driving environment.

Finally, we reached Narkanda, our overnight halt. Checked in at Hotel Hatu and headed straight to The Hatu Peak. It would be a trailer for the car, describing the extremities yet to come and also a test proving whether or not it stilll possesses that zeal. We started the famous 6 km narrow climb for the Hatu Peak. The first 3 kms were a piece of cake, the road was good and we cruised in second and an occasional third gear.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-hatu-peakliving-edge.jpg

After 3 kms things started to become rough. The 2015 monsoons had ruined the last few kms of this stretch. The 4th and 5th Km being the roughest. The road was totally damaged and the underlying sharp rocks along with mountain soil made the climbing difficult. As one might recall that the last few kilometres are the steepest. During a hill start, the car couldnít find the required traction to climb, in some cases we even had to reverse back to a levelled surface and start the climb again with enough momentum to carry us to the next levelled surface. This hill start problem could be solved by Brute Force acceleration but it would result in wheel spin initially, which would not be good for tyres especially when the surface is made up of sharp stones. We still had more than half of the journey left and only one spare tyre.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-hatu-road.jpg

As we climbed higher and higher the view became better and the temperature dropped to single digit. The last kilometre was not that bad and we reached the top. The view from the peak was marvellous. Looking at the distant snow covered peaks, we were even more tempted to carry out the next half of the journey as that would take us even more close to them.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-hatu-view.jpg
Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-hatu-view-2.jpg

After paying obeisance at the temple and resting there for sometime we started the descent backwards. It wasnít that tough and made it to the hotel in about 30 minutes. After parking the car there, I just inspected the tyres and the news wasnít good. Two of the four tyres had got a crack on the side wall. We rushed to the local puncture repair shop to get an expert advice. That person said that on plains this wonít be an issue but when we told him that we were planning to go to Kalpa, he didnít seem confident enough.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-tyre.jpg

Due to decreasing temperature, the pressure inside the tyre increases and driving with increased pressure on a road with potholes or no road at all can be dangerous. If the Hatu Peak road could do this, we can very well imagine what lays ahead of us.

Now we had an important decision to make, whether or not to continue the journey?

That night over a drink we decided to continue the journey. We would start really early the next day so that we have enough day time left to cover the last 60 km carefully. We called it a night early and went to bed around 8:30 PM.

Day 2:

Next day we were up early and started the journey at the break of dawn. The time in the car was 6:56 AM and the temperature was 4 degrees. First self and the diesel engine roared into life. I kept it running idle for a while and then off we went. The road till Kumarsain was well paved but the intermittent potholes due to the monsoon this year brought down our average speed, but this wasnít a concern because we had a lot of time left. We were enjoying the view. The rising sun rays falling on the distant snow covered mountains.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-morning-view-day-2.jpg

We reached Rampur at about 9 AM, there was some traditional fair going on along the NH 22. People were setting up their stalls, colours all around the National Highway. Thankfully we were early so we didnít find much traffic and cruised past the town. Now we were on the road to Jhakri, the rough roads were about to start and soon we got a glimpse of the future, our first landslide encounter. This landslide stretch was about 3 kms long and it was like a U-turn from one mountain side to another. As you can see in the picture below, we came from the other side. From there till here, it was all mountain rock road. I was being extra careful of the uneven spots but still at some places the underside of the car got slammed and bruised.

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We crossed Jhakri and it reminded me of my childhood when I used to come visit my Uncle, who used to work here with Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board. Things have changed since then and have become better with time for sure. Jeori was about 5 km ahead and we stopped for a while, to check on the tyres and click a photograph or two.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-way.jpg

We reached Jeori around 10:30 AM and stopped for breakfast there. Now the unexplored territory had started. I had driven to Sarahan before but for Kalpa the route was different from here. With about 6 hours of day light left and 80 kms to go, we seemed confident to make it. We were on the road to Wangtu and it was as smooth as silk. We wondered what all the hype was about? The roads were good, people were friendly and weather was awesome, but as it turned out, we spoke too soon!

We stopped for a picture at the world famous spot.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-famous-view.jpg

We reached Wangtu and crossed over the dam to the opposite mountain. As soon as we crossed, the road stopped and gave way to a track made up of gravel. We thought that it would be a patch, but it later turned out that we would never see a well paved road again today!

Name:  Bad Road Near Tapri.jpg
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To be frank, this was still an expressway when compared to the conditions that were yet to come. Tapri was 8 km from here and it took us around 40 minutes to cover. We reached there at about 1 PM and had lunch as we would not find anything to eat after Tapri. After our lunch we started for Karcham, about 3 km later we found a narrow track going down into the gorge. There were no sign boards so we ignored it and continued on the main road. As soon as we crossed the next bend, we were in for a shock, a huge pile of sand and mountain boulders had taken the road down. We could hear the sound of gravel and sand still falling on top of our car, I immediately took a 3 point U-turn and rushed back to a safe spot. The narrow track that we ignored earlier was the diversion.

We started the deep descent on the narrow track made up mainly of fallen rocks. The underside of the car was bruised many times during this descent, but there was nothing much that I could do. We crossed the bridge, again made up of fallen rocks, over a stream of water and came to the opposite mountain, where a temporary road made us cross the landslide. From here we could see the actual damage. The slide was from the top of the mountain and it was about 1000 ft high. Small pieces of gravel were still falling from the top. The main road was totally wrecked. We continued on the temporary road and later crossed the bridge on the other side and joined the National Highway again.

After 5 km at 15 km/hr we reached Karcham Dam. From here we continued on NH 22 and about 3 kms later we crossed a steel bridge to the opposite mountain and over here the roads became even more worse. We were in the blasting zone and the roads were totally damaged.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-bad-road-blasting-board.jpg

Huge boulders had fallen from the mountains and were firmly planted in the road, thus, making it majorly unlevelled. As usual, these rocks kept on hitting the underside of the car as if they had an old rivalry with it.

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Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-bad-road-2.jpg

Finally we took a left turn and were on the state highway to Kalpa. This was much better than the National Highway. Kalpa was about 19 km from here and we would be climbing at least 5000 feet in these 19 kms. The snow covered Kinner Kailash range became visible and we were climbing towards it only. With every climbing hair pin bend (Or Kainchi (Meaning Scissors) in the local language) the range became closer and closer.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-kinner-kailash.jpg

The car had taken a lot of beating today and now on this steep climbing road it was still putting up a good show. We crossed PO and climbed further. After a few more hair pin bends, we reached Kalpa. The temperature was around 2 degrees at that time. We checked-in in our hotel. The view from our room was magnificent:

Everyone was expecting snowfall that day but sadly it didnít happen. It had snowed a day ago. Still, the view from our room was splendid.

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-kinner-kailash-2.jpg

And the final pic for the one that went through all the roughs and odds to get us here safe and sound:

Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!-final.jpg

Last edited by abhishek003 : 22nd November 2015 at 18:48.
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Old 23rd November 2015, 08:33   #2
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Default re: Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 23rd November 2015, 12:56   #3
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Default Re: Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!

Very scenic, thanks for sharing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek003 View Post
The 2015 monsoons had ruined the last few kms of this stretch. The 4th and 5th Km being the roughest. The road was totally damaged and the underlying sharp rocks along with mountain soil made the climbing difficult.

Two of the four tyres had got a crack on the side wall.

I was being extra careful of the uneven spots but still at some places the underside of the car got slammed and bruised.

The underside of the car was bruised many times during this descent, but there was nothing much that I could do.
Just a suggestion: When you're visiting a place that you know will abuse your car, why not get a self-drive rental? There are so many of them today (Zoom, Myles etc.), the pricing is good & there's ample car choices too.

Personally, that's what I would do. Never put my own car through such terror.
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Old 23rd November 2015, 17:36   #4
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Default Re: Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!

very beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.
Big thanks to team-bhp travelogue section. its a one stop shop to show how beautiful and varied our homeland is!

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek003 View Post
It wasnít going as planned, all thanks to my friendís last nightís Hangover.

That night over a drink we decided to continue the journey. We would start really early the next day so that we have enough day time left to cover the last 60 km carefully.
Dont want to sound like a mother - But would humbly request avoiding alcohol on road trips (especially if you are driving). It can be a danger to you and for other people on the road.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek003 View Post
We could hear the sound of gravel and sand still falling on top of our car, I immediately took a 3 point U-turn and rushed back to a safe spot.

The underside of the car was bruised many times during this descent, but there was nothing much that I could do.
ouch. That hurts especially if its my car. would rather hire a jeep to do such trips. Its also more fun on a 4 X 4 to do these terrains.
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Old 23rd November 2015, 20:06   #5
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Default Re: Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!

It must have felt nice to be there at this time of the season without much tourists.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek003 View Post
After parking the car there, I just inspected the tyres and the news wasnít good. Two of the four tyres had got a crack on the side wall.

As you can see in the picture below, we came from the other side. From there till here, it was all mountain rock road. I was being extra careful of the uneven spots but still at some places the underside of the car got slammed and bruised.
By reading those lines above, I was feeling the pain car would have gone through. I will never risk my vehicle knowing that road conditions are like these. Please take the car to service center and check the under body for damages, if not already.
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Old 23rd November 2015, 21:10   #6
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Thanks a lot

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Originally Posted by FuelInjector View Post
Dont want to sound like a mother - But would humbly request avoiding alcohol on road trips (especially if you are driving). It can be a danger to you and for other people on the road.
I couldn't agree with you more on this, I am a complete teetotaller. And yes, when I read that sentence again, it does seem the other way round. Apologies!

Indeed, it did!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulba View Post

By reading those lines above, I was feeling the pain car would have gone through. I will never risk my vehicle knowing that road conditions are like these. Please take the car to service center and check the under body for damages, if not already.
I totally understand and respect your point of view. Its not that I don't feel that, its just that I like to take it to the max. Secondly, I have had it checked just after the visit. Everything is perfect.

Last edited by ampere : 24th November 2015 at 07:29. Reason: Back to back posts merged
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Old 24th November 2015, 01:45   #7
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Post Re: Kalpa in November: A hatchback, few landslides & some snow!

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek003 View Post
I have had it checked just after the visit. Everything is perfect.
Excellent photos, picturesque!
As rightly suggested by GTO & Fuel Injector, renting a 4x4 would have been a real fun. However, your adventurist guts & your Punto's ability to successfully challenge the steep climbs & rough terrain are laudable
Thanks for sharing.
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