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Old 4th June 2018, 15:22   #1
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Default Sailed through Lahaul & Spiti in hatchbacks, sedans & SUVs

Since 2014 we as a small group of like minded people, who met in the 'Car photography' Facebook forum with 6-7 cars try to go for a road trip every year. In the last 4 years, if we add up all our short & long road trips, it will come around 30,000 km of travelling together. We believe in the motto, friends on roads are friends forever. All the kids in our group are very good friends among themselves, we the older one's share a strong bond among each other too. Hope to do many more road trips in the coming years with the same group in the same way.

This year our plan was to do a road trip to Spiti valley with family.
We planned for the trip from last 6 months. Special thanks to Bhpian- SS-Traveller, Blackpearl, Lovecars21, 1100D, R.k.Bharat & HV Kumar for there immense help. Just a simple thanks wont justify their help.

The group-

Team Etios - Bhpian Samba (me) with wife
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Team Swift Ldi- Bhpian SouraC with wife & kid
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Team Swift Vxi- Bhpian Sayata with wife
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Team Thar- Bhapian avrendu with wife & kid
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Team Zest - Bhpian Arindamxeta with wife & kids
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Team Avventura- Mr Rana Adhikari with wife & kid
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Team Scorpio- Mr Indranil Chatterjee with Mr Arghya Pan & his wife
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The whole group-
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A teaser pic from the trip-
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And a couple of teaser video's -





As the introduction section is over lets come to the itinerary & the preparation's of the trip -

17th May 2018- Kolkata - Kanpur
18th May 2018- Kanpur - Karnal
19th May 2018- Karnal - Fagu via Shimla
20th May 2018- Fagu - Kalpa
21st May 2018- Kalpa to Tabo via Nako lake & Gue village
22nd May 2018- Tabo to Kaza via Dhankar Monastery, Pin valley & Mud village
23rd May 2018- Kee, Tashigang, Kibber & Chicham bridge
24th May 2018- Langza, Hikkim, Komic
25th May 2018- Kaza - Manali
26th May 2018- Manali
27th May 2018- Manali - Greater Noida
28th May 2018- Stay at Greater Noida for me & Bhpian Sayata as we stayed at a friends place where as the rest of the team drove to Varanashi.
29th May 2018- Me & Bhpian Sayata drove to Varanashi where as team did sightseeing at Varanashi.
30th May 2018- Varanashi - Kolkata.

Preparations for the trip -

For cars-
Thorough servicing for all the cars were done 15 days prior to the trip.

We carried-
Tool kits
Em-seal
Extra tube
Black tape
Engine oil
Oil filter
coolant
Dot4 brake fluid
Tow ropes
Torch
Airfilter
Tyre inflator
Puncture repair kit
Jump start cable
Extra fuse
20L Jerry can to carry extra fuel

For us-
Medicines as prescribed by doctors for vomiting, diarrhea, acute mountain sickness, head ache, fever, one oxygen can per person, an oxymeter & few other ointments for pain, cuts & bruises.

Apart from medicines we carried plenty of extra drinking water and food for emergency in-case we get stuck on road.

As everything is ready, now let the trip begin-

Last edited by Samba : 6th June 2018 at 19:56.
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Old 4th June 2018, 23:31   #2
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Day 1, Kolkata to Kanpur - 957 kms (16 hours)

We waited for this day for the last few months. Every time we plan for an early morning drive, we cant sleep the night before due to excitement. So this time we decided to drive rather than spending a sleepless night! We decided to meet at 12 am at Azadhind dhaba and drive from there in a convoy.

Completed the packing and loaded the car boot in the evening itself!
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Bhpian Soura C & avrendu decided to start early at 6pm, reach early and take rest at Kanpur. Rest of the 5 cars decided to meet at 12 am at Azadhind dhaba and start our drive. So we left home around 10-30pm bidding goodbye to my parents. Felt bad leaving them back at home for the trip.
Bhpian Mi2n was on his drive to Uttarakhand on the very same day. So he decided to drive with us till Allahabad and take the cut for Lucknow. So we 6 cars started to roll in the midnight. Traffic was sparse and our progress was quite satisfactory.
We crossed Varanashi in 11hours and were cruising through Allahabad bypass by noon.
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Reached our hotel at Kanpur by 2-30pm. It was dam hot. After a 957km drive we were enough tired, so had some food and took a power nap. Evening was spent chitchatting among ourselves.

Day 2, Kanpur to Karnal- 606kms (11 hours)

Today we were destined to drive on few of the India's best expressways like the Agra- Lucknow expressway, then on Yamuna expressway. As the roads were great and distance was around 600km, we started lazily around 9-45am. From Kanpur till Etawah the roads were excellent 6 lane highways. We had fun pushing our cars.

By 12 pm we hit Agra - Lucknow expressway. The roads were excellent & devoid of traffic. Few may say driving here is a bliss and few may say driving on these roads are boring! I prefer not to comment!

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Soon we were driving on Yamuna expressway.
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Had lunch at one of the eateries on Yamuna expressway.

We reached Greater Noida by 4pm and crossed Delhi by 5-30pm with the help of Gmaps.

Our very own Dbhpian SS-Traveller decided to drive with us till Karnal and have chicken Paratha together. We met him near Azadpur and drove till Murthal, where we took a paratha break at Amrik Sukdev.

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After having Aloo paratha together, our next target was to have chicken paratha together and then retire for the day!

A pic from Mayur Dhaba, Karnal.
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After dinner we came back to our hotel by 12 am and Bhpian SS traveller drove back all the way till Delhi. A special thanks to him for taking a 300kms drive just to spend time with us.

Next day our plan was to drive till Fagu. So finally we are going to be in the lap of Himalaya's.

Last edited by Aditya : 7th June 2018 at 07:56. Reason: Extra smiley deleted
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Old 5th June 2018, 14:28   #3
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Day 3, Karnal to Fagu Via Shimla - 236 km (7 hours)

With the excitement to hit the Himalaya's we started around 9am from Karnal. The first leg of the journey till Chandigarh was in plain land with good roads. We were soon cruising on Himalayan Expressway and we were gaining heights. The road was initially under construction. Due to summer vacation, road was congested with vehicle's from Delhi , Punjab and Chandigarh. Traffic was slow. Some drivers were new to the hills and were stalling their vehicles, that led to further delay. With slow traffic, progress was literally slow & boring. Traffic eased out a bit after crossing Solan but again it got messy as we were nearing Shimla. The last 6km to Shimla took us nearly an hour with crawling traffic. Seeing the traffic we chucked the idea to visit the mall. We continued on the main road, which leads to Fagu. We stopped at a restaurant at Shimla to have lunch and then continue till Fagu.

Few pics around Shimla.
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Roads from Shimla to Fagu was good and we covered it in around 20 minutes. Checked in at HPTDC Fagu. Its a nice property in a nice loacation with good view. Though the property felt a bit old & lacked the modern touch, still i would say, it offered us a pleasant stay with friendly staffs.

Pics around Fagu.
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Plan for day 4 was to drive till Kalpa.

Day 4, Fagu to Kalpa - 212 km (7 hours)

We left Fagu around 9am. Road was scenic. As we were nearing Narkanda, we could spot snow capped mountains travelling along with us!
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Few pics on the way.
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By 12pm we reached Rampur and had our lunch.

After Rampur, the terrain started changing and the snow capped peaks statred getting closer to us.

The most famous clicking point on this stretch. As few cars were already standing their to click pics, i didn't bother to stop and make the way narrower. A video of the same.



A pic of my steed on the way.
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We reached Kalpa around 4pm.
Checked in at HPTDC. The location was majestic and the property was well maintained too.

Pics from HPTDC kalpa.
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Tried my luck on some night photography.
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Post the photography session had dinner and called it a day.

Last edited by Samba : 6th June 2018 at 17:00.
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Old 5th June 2018, 15:38   #4
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Day 5, Kalpa to Tabo via Nako and Gue village - 194 km (9 hours)

The morning at Kalpa Hptdc, offered us a majestic view of the snow peaks with a bright sunny weather. All of us including the kids indulged ourselves in some photo session.

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By the time we started rolling it was nearly 10am. Refueled our cars at Reconpio and we were all set to enter Spiti!

Pics en-route to Nako.
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Enter the Avventura!
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The road, 20km prior to Pooh was in bad shape. It took us more than an hour to cover the stretch. The good news is, road work is going on in this stretch.

We reached Nako around 2pm. On spot we decided to visit Nako lake. Going down till the lake was literally easy but the return back climb through the stairs were taking us out of breath.

A pic of Nako lake.

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At Nako Helipad

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From Nako our next destination was to visit Gue village to see the famous 650 years old Mummy of Sangha Tenzin. After crossing Nako we crossed the dreaded Malling nala, but crossing the nala was literally easy with no challenge thrown at us. We must be lucky.

At one place it became too windy and small stones started falling from the hills. We were caught in between. So had no option's rather than accelerating out fast from that zone. I kept an eye, if any big boulder or stone was coming down! Luckily that was not the case, else had to maneuver otherwise. With few small stones pelting on our cars, we went out of the place without much damage. May be at one or two places the color got chipped out.

Soon we were at the point from where the road to Gue monastery deviates. We took that road and drove 14km uphill to reach the monastery. This road was scenic.

Pics from Gue monastery.
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By the time we reached here, it was already 4pm and we were hungry. We ordered Maggi to quench our hunger. Maggi never tasted better anytime before!

By 5pm we started our journey towards Tabo and witnessed few awesome views of light and shade of the setting sun.

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We entered Tabo by 6pm. Visited Tabo monastery before checking in to our hotel rooms.

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Old 5th June 2018, 16:18   #5
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Day 6, Tabo to Kaza via Dhankar Monastery, Pin valley & Mud village. 124km (9 hours)

Left Tabo by 9am and our first target was to reach Dhankar monastery. The morning drive was scenic. At places it was too windy and small stones were falling from the hills.

A video for reference-


Once we were out of this stretch we stopped numerous times to click pics and enjoy the nature.

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From here our next stop was at Dhankar monastery. A road deviates from the main road, which takes us 9km uphill to reach Dhankar.

Pics around Dhankar Monastery

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Few of our team members decided to visit inside the monastery and explore it. I was not much interested to go inside and check out. So decided to come down to the main road and drive till the river bed and have some fun with our cars till the rest of the team arrive.

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Old 5th June 2018, 16:22   #6
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Continuation of day 6

Pin valley welcomed us with a small swirl storm from the distance!

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Driving through Pin valley towards Mud was superbly scenic.
The metal roads turned into dirt tracks & that actually increased the raw beauty and added the fun quotient to the drive.



The beautiful spots on pin valley where we stopped en-route to Mud village.

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Give me Red!
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Heard a lot about the tasty home made Pizza of Tara guest house at Mud. So how can we miss it!

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Though we didn't stay here, i still checked their rooms and the view from their rooms.

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Kids of our team happily posed for my cam!

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After spending a good time in the lap of nature in Pin valley we started our journey to reach Kaza. En-route we decided to do some car photography by blocking the road! Sparse traffic gave us the privilege to block the road & do some photography at our desired locations.

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And some nature photography too.

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Finally we reached our hotel at Kaza by 7pm. A day well spent in the admist of nature.

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Old 5th June 2018, 19:42   #7
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Day 7, Key Monastery, Tashigang , Kibber , Chicham bridge - 73 km (7 hours)

At Kaza we had two full days to spare for exploring the places around Kaza. This was our itinerary for day one.

Refueled our cars from world highest petrol outlet before setting on the journey.

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Our first stop was at Key Gompa.

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View of Kee Monastery from different angle's.

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From Kee our next destination was Tashigang. Its at a height of approximately 14,000 feet. This journey exceeded my expectation. The beauty of the drive was raw and untouched. We hardly came across any cars en-route. The road was a dirt track from just before the entry gate of Kibber. But the beauty offered by this 25km single way journey will be remembered lifetime. The road surface is bad but manageable in any cars. We drove till the end where Tashigang village is located. Its a very small village consisting of just 30-50 people.

Sharing the pics-

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My Etios beautifully snapped by Bhpian avrendu's(da) wife. Thanks for the pics.

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Old 5th June 2018, 19:54   #8
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Continuation of day 7

Getting a chance to photograph all our team cars together in such a location can be any car lovers dream come true!

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A video from the drive to Tashigang.



After this mesmerizing drive we had our lunch at Kibber.
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From Kibber we visited Asia's highest bridge. Chicham Bridge.

Samba met Samba!
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A pic while coming back from Chicham bridge to Kaza.

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Old 5th June 2018, 20:58   #9
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Day 8, Kaza Monastery, Langza, Hikkim, Komic - 43 km (5 hours)

It was our 2nd free day to explore around kaza and we shortlisted these four places. Our hotel was located just next to the Kaza Monastery. So we just walked in and had a good time inside. Its beautifully crafted.

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After visiting the monastery our first visit was at Langza.

Langza is a small village consisting of around 250 people. A big Buddha statute is one of the major attraction of this place.

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From Langza our next destination was Hikkim. Hikkim has the world's highest post office at an altitude of 14,567 feet. Here we all took the privilege of writing a letter to our residence from the worlds highest post office. Hope to receive the post cards soon. This can be kept as a token.

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The post master of worlds highest post office.

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After the walk back from the post office we had tea and maggi which tasted heavenly in this environment.

From Hikkim we drove to Komic, which is claimed as the world's highest village at 14,000+ feet height.

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A pic on the way to kaza from Komic.

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Having some fun en-route

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In the evening Bhpian R.K.Bharat came to our hotel to meet us. We had a gala time chatting with him. He knows every nook and corner of Spiti and he shared is mind-blowing experiences with us.

Bhpian R.K.Bharat's famous Maruti Gypsy. Please pardon the pic quality, taken by mobile in low light.

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Target for the next day was to drive to Manali. We were tensed. Have heard and read a lot of horror stories about this stretch. So we decided to leave as early as possible. Our target was to leave hotel by 6am. So we all called it a day by 10pm.

Last edited by Samba : 6th June 2018 at 16:22.
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Old 5th June 2018, 23:33   #10
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Day 9, Kaza to Manlai - 194km (13.5 hours)

By the time we started rolling it was 6-30am. The early morning in Kaza looked beautiful.

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The drive from Kaza to Losar was a picturesque drive.



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We crossed Losar by 9am and started climbing towards Kunzum top. We were getting closer to the snow.



Few pics at Kunzum top.

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After spending 30 mins at Kunzum top we started our climb down towards Batal.

We were driving through snow walls and it was white with snow every where.



Few pics on the way.

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We had to give Chandertal a miss as roads were closed due to snow. Snow was yet to get cleared.

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Old 5th June 2018, 23:36   #11
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Continuation of day 9

From Batal road condition deteriorated drastically. Some times we were driving on river beds, sometimes on boulders/gravels and some times on water crossings! This 90 km stretch took us 3-4 hours and we had to drive on 1st and 2nd gear all through out. The scenic beauty was awesome and scary both. At places i could see big rocks or boulders are just placed in a very risky position. In nut shell its a landslide prone route. Falling of stones are very common.
Driving was a challenge with low ground clearance cars. My Etios did undertook 4-5 underbelly hits but luckily they were not injurious.

After crossing every bad stretch we waited for all our team cars to cross that stretch & only after that we continued together. The diesel car owners complained of turbo lag due to rarefied air. This terrain is so dusty that our car's air filters were getting clogged. We realized that once we opened the airfilters at Manali.

Is driving a sedan or hatch in this section impossible?
Definitely it's possible.

Is it advisable to drive a sedan or a hatch back in this stretch?
I will say no! But if one wants to drive, please drive with utmost care and caution. You can damage your vehicle anytime.

We were lucky that all our 7 cars came out unhurt from this stretch.

If one is driving on this stretch the driver hardly gets any chance to enjoy the surroundings. So do take few stops, take rest enjoy the nature and give some rest to the car too!

We did take a few short breaks to click the natural beauty and enjoy the nature. This place offers raw beauty.

Few pics on the way.

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One of the water crossings among plenty of them!



Finally after 4 hours of hurdle we reached Koksar. It was a sigh of relief for us.

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Oncoming vehicles told us the road for Rotang climb is too bad. After driving on this road we found that to be easy!

To our good luck Rotang was white with snow but too crowdy.
A couple of video's while crossing Rotang pass. Actually due to too much crowd, we skipped stopping at Rotang top.





Few pics after coming a couple of kilometer down from Rotang top.

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Had a late lunch at Marhi and drove to Manali. Manali had a horrible traffic jam. The last 2 km to Manali took us more than 2 hours.

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Finally we reached our hotel, dog tired by 8pm!

Last edited by Aditya : 8th June 2018 at 07:57. Reason: Typo
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Old 6th June 2018, 00:25   #12
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Day 10, rest day at Manali

On this day, guys planned to chill in the hotel whereas ladies will go shopping.

The hotel we were put in was named 'Ride inn'. This hotel can be a bikers paradise. Am sure any biker or automobile lover will love the way this hotel has been decorated. Mr Godwin the owner of this hotel has used his heart to build this hotel. Sharing few pics for reference.

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The view from the hotel

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A nicely modded gypsy.
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When the ladies indulged themselves in shopping we spoilt ourselves with some good food.

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In the evening we had a good time chatting among ourselves in the cool manali weather, had a yummy dinner and called it a day. We were a bit sad as it was going to be our last day on the hills in this trip. Our plan for the next day was to drive to Greater Nodia.

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Old 6th June 2018, 00:49   #13
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Day 11, Manali to Greater Noida - 557 km (15 hours)

Started from Manali at 8am. Team decided to visit Kiratpur and then drive to Delhi. Me and Bhpian Sayata planned to stay the next day at Greater Nodia at my friends place. So to reach his flat early me and Sayata decided to skip Kiratpur & drive straight to Greater Nodia. As-usual the drive from Manali was having heavy traffic. Most of the drivers of the plain land were overtaking on blind curves ! I had to be extra cautious on this drive. Took lunch break just before Bilaspur around 12-30pm. After lunch, drove constantly till Mohali for having a tea break at 4pm. By 7pm we reached Panipat "Haveli' and took another break to have some snacks. Started by 8-30pm from Panipat and reached my friends place at Delhi by 11pm. This is the same friend with whom i did the Ladakh trip in 2015. Unfortunately he & his wife had to give this trip a miss. So decided to spend a day at his place. At the end bonding with college buddies are always special!

Day 12 Greater Noida, Local drive of around 21 km.

We woke up late and had a gala time chatting among ourselves. Post lunch Bhpian Predatorwheelz came to meet us. Me, Samya ( my college buddy) and Bhpian Predatorwheelz decided to click some pics of our meet. In the mean time Bhpian Sayata went to fix his swift's fog lamp from a local fng as it became lose.

With my college friend Samya and his Liva.

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With Bhpian Predatorwheelz and his Verna Crdi.
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In the evening DBhpian SS-traveller and his wife came to meet us all the way from Delhi. He even helped me and Sayata to DIY some small issues in our respective cars. After-all he is one of the technical guru of Team Bhp!

The evening was well spent having a great chit chat session with some good Chinese food!

Bhpian Sayata with SS-traveller
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Day 13, Greater Noida to Varanashi - 758 km (11 hours)

This was going to be a long drive but on great roads. We decided to start by 8am but by the time we started it was already 9am.
In no time we crossed Agra and we were cruising on Agra-Lucknow expressway. The speed-limit capping is still not legally introduced on the Agra-Lucknow expressway, so we pushed a bit on this road. We merged on Nh 19 before Etawah and crossed Kanpur by 2pm. In 5 hours we drove 450+ km. That was quite a good timing.
Both the cars stopped for lunch after Kanpur. Post lunch the drive till Handia was smooth. The stretch from Handia to Varanashi was full of diversion's and slow traffic. Reached the outskirts of Varanashi by 7pm but to reach our hotel at Cantonment area took us another one hour. We checked in at our hotel by 8pm. Our rooms were booked at hotel Costa River. It was a nice & cosy stay.

Rest of the team spent a leisure day sightseeing Varanashi. The very next day whole team was scheduled to drive to Kolkata together.


Day 14, Varanashi to Kolkata - 645 km. (13 hours)


Lazily we started around 10am from Varanashi. Gmaps showed our way to the highway via Mughal Sarai. The traffic inside Varanashi city was a mess. 15km to highway took us 1 hour 15 minutes. We crossed the old bridge over the Ganges.

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By 11-15 am we hit the highway. Road till Aurangabad had plenty of diversion's and the Sasaram toll plaza added around 20 minutes to our drive. By 2pm we had a late lunch at Aurangabad. Started from there by 3pm and from there it was a continuous drive till Kolkata barring one or two small fuel and tea breaks. We reached home by 11pm.

4,639.5 km of awesomeness!
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Old 6th June 2018, 01:14   #14
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Few small bits-

1) Do Ladakh first & then Spiti!
Ladakh do not offer greenery and the terrain takes a toll on both - people and their cars. Spiti is one step ahead of Ladakh! The altitude of few places in Ladakh is more but do not underestimate Spiti. It requires the same kind of attention and fitness.
Kaza- Manali stretch is even worst than the Leh-Manali stretch. In regards to beauty i felt, Spiti to be more raw & untouched than Ladakh. Spiti is still less infested with tourists due to less popularity. Before it become a hit tourist spot from a Bollywood flick, do the Spiti circuit!
Its very difficult to compare Spiti with Ladakh which people usually do. Though the terrains are similar, one must do both the circuits and both are worth it.

My Ladakh travelogue- http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...r-kolkata.html (Sailed through the high passes in Hatchbacks, SUVs & a Sedan - Our Ladakh chapter from Kolkata)

2) Take good precaution for cold and Ams. Drink lots of water. The place is too dry. So carry moisturizers and lip balms.

3) Enter Kaza from the Shimla side, so you get time to acclimatize.

4) Availability of car mechanics and proper service centers for cars are less compared to other places. So get your car ready before the trip. Though Maruti, Tata, Mahindra, Hyundai and Toyota are common in Kaza. Parts can be sourced if required but it may take a bit of time.

5) Locals are friendly and helpful. Even local taxi drivers are good and friendly. They do not get angry seeing outstation cars.

6) Avoid driving in night time. This circuit is landslide prone, so visibility in night will be limited. Few times small stones fell on our cars but we detected them before hand. At night that's not possible.

7) Can a hatch back or sedan do Spiti?
Any car can be driven till Kaza from the Shimla side without any problem. Kaza to Kunzum is doable too for any cars. Kunzum to Chandertal & Manali will be debatable. Yes it can be done but cars may get damaged. An suv is any day a better choice for this section. Water crossings and boulders may give you some nasty surprises.

8) Do we require any permits or ILP?
No

9)Is their any medical help at Kaza?
Yes, its there. Kaza is a proper town and one will get all kind of helps.

10)Most of the hotels do not provide room heaters, so carrying a portable room heater or a heating pad may come out to be handy in the night, when it really become cold.

Thanks for reading,
Regards
Samba.

Last edited by Samba : 6th June 2018 at 20:42.
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Old 7th June 2018, 07:52   #15
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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