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Old 3rd March 2011, 19:13   #1
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Default The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Western Disturbance.
This year's seen a lot of those.

Every couple of days IMD would say "A fresh WD will affect the western Himalayan region over the next 3-4 days".

This meant only one thing. Head to the hills, for that elusive snowfall.

Well snow we did find... lot of it. but will be find the elusive snowfall too? Will the SFO jacket which has made it snow in May work its magic in Feb?

Time to find out.
Time to drive to Narkanda and beyond.

On the road through hell... the NH22.

To go to the falling mountains of Sangla, to the lofty height of Kalpa.

All in search of the white stuff.
And this travelogue is the story of that search. This is the white travelogue, where everything was white.

Before I start with the story, here is a picture of things to come
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204340363_ewvh4xl.jpg
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Old 3rd March 2011, 19:25   #2
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Tanveer, lemme be the first to comment - SUPERB teaser, please bring on the remaining stuff as soon as possible. Your TL's are addictive man.

OT: Whenever i do a Himalayan trip, please do not mind my excessive PM's
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Old 3rd March 2011, 19:29   #3
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Default The highway... up north

New Delhi is the capital city of India. It is very big, and it is very far away from the snow fields of Himalayas.
On your lucky day, you can drive 8 hours and find snow, and on your not so lucky day you may drive 12 and yet not find snowfall or even snow.
However, this time we knew, that we need to drive 12 hours to see some snow, and 17 hours to see a lot of snow.
15cms in Narkanda and 25cms in Kalpa.

Down here, it was a cool spring evening, when we set out on highway, heading towards Solan.
This would be our halt for the night.

It took us 1 hour more than usual, and at midnight, we were at our destination. This would be our launch point.
tomorrow we will drive to Kalpa.

Now ideally, I would have liked to reach here couple of hours before, but then NHAI has other plans.

NH1 is in a mess, and the truckers are a bigger mess. Toll gates are mismanaged, and the diversions... the less said the better.

Nevertheless, we were going to Kalpa tomorrow.

Kalpa as a destination is a lot of things to many people. Its a gateway to Sangla valley, which is just 50kms away, or a very long 2.5 hours away, the way you look at it.
For us its a scary destination. The last time we went to that valley, we had to ring up Tata to send a tech over. The WE had broken down. With just 15000kms on the odo, she had given up.

Now we were going there again.
Not that I am superstitious, but still, some things are very weird and strange.
Sangla valley still hates the white elephant, as we discovered a day later.

But I am digressing.

I was talking about reaching Kalpa.

Coming back to the topic, mountain driving is risky business, and one should never attempt in a state of reduced alertness.
So late sleep meant a late start.
10am we are having breakfast, and soon we are on the road to Kufri.

NH22 is pretty decent. Mind you decent is relative. For a country like India where a road is a luxury, I would call a wide himalayan highway with only a few bad patches decent.

However, kufri became indecent,
Maybe, it was because of the mule droppings, or the never ending cajoling by the roadside "vendors" to abandon the trip and stay in Kufri, because this was the best place on the planet.

I did not have any choice, but to listen, because we were stopped behind a long convoy of vehicles.

This convoy was not going anywhere.
Why? Because a tree was fallen?

Not exactly, a crane can pull a fallen tree, but for some strange reason, the police there had a 2WD crane, which could not even climb the road in reverse due to the bald rubber spinning.

In all that a sleet like snow also started, and it all became muddy and dirty. Or indecent?

Anyways, we waited and waited, while some people came and told us that war of the worlds had started and the route after Kufri had been decimated by aliens.

Thankfully, the road was cleared, and we were on our way to witness the "war of the worlds".

Nothing turned up, mild sleet and snow, and sunshine. WD was eluding us, and it was afternoon when we reached Hotel Hatu for lunch.

It had snowed in the morning, while we were stuck in kufri.

Nevertheless, this would have to do.

Feb last year had a lot more snow. For now this would have to do. Atleast things were white, and our spirits were lifted. Will we find more white in Kalpa?
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204317505_paeqmxl.jpg

christmas trees?
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204323517_8cr2vxl.jpg

A quick lunch and we were on the NH22 again.
It was better than before, and the route was scenic.

No time for pics. We wanted to reach Kalpa before midnight you see.

But then, I did manage to halt near Narkanda, and capture the road.
Things were white. Future would be whiter
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204317882_ikvdgxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204318069_prarkxl.jpg

We were going to Kalpa!

TO BE CONT........
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Old 3rd March 2011, 20:06   #4
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

great pictures and very good narration.

Waiting for more.
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Old 3rd March 2011, 20:07   #5
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Man! what a travelogue! At first i refused to believe that this is India! Looks like switzerland.
Waiting for the entire travelogue desperately.
And, you gotta help me too if i plan a road trip to this region!
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Old 3rd March 2011, 20:44   #6
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Nice start to a quintessential TSK Travelogue.

It's quite disappointing that the whole loop cannot be done in these months. I mean for people like us, who stay very far away from the region, we can go only when we can possibly cover the whole circuit.

However, looking at the photos, even half the loop is more fulfilling that the full loop in summer.
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Old 3rd March 2011, 20:47   #7
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Nice teaser Tanveer, when we went in search of snow in end november last year, we had to come back disappointed, the picture of Hotel Hatu is what we expected to see, but we had to settle for this:

Name:  IMG_4091 640x480.JPG
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Size:  80.8 KB

The only ice we found was on top of Hatu Peak:

Name:  IMG_4201 640x480.JPG
Views: 10045
Size:  128.3 KB

Nice to see all the snow, please bring on more pictures.
regards,
Hari.
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Old 3rd March 2011, 21:06   #8
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Glued to this narration Tanveer. Bring more and bring it fast...
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Old 3rd March 2011, 21:13   #9
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Tanveer,

Wonderful photographs. By the way, when did you travel?
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Old 4th March 2011, 12:12   #10
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Cool, amazing, fantastic, brrrrr! The highway to heaven seems terrific. And the teaser is splendid. There must be something about Kinnaur and surreal photographs.

As usual, waiting for the story (and pics) to unfold.
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Old 4th March 2011, 13:13   #11
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

great teaser pics tsk. I am also planning a trip mid march. I am hooked.
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Old 4th March 2011, 14:16   #12
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

Quote:
Originally Posted by skartik2 View Post
great pictures and very good narration.

Waiting for more.
Thanks!
Quote:
Originally Posted by DMehta View Post
Man! what a travelogue! At first i refused to believe that this is India! Looks like switzerland.
Waiting for the entire travelogue desperately.
And, you gotta help me too if i plan a road trip to this region!
Sure DMehta
Quote:
Originally Posted by sen2009 View Post
Nice start to a quintessential TSK Travelogue.

It's quite disappointing that the whole loop cannot be done in these months. I mean for people like us, who stay very far away from the region, we can go only when we can possibly cover the whole circuit.

However, looking at the photos, even half the loop is more fulfilling that the full loop in summer.
You can go till Spiti in this season. so you can actually do quite a bit, except for Lahaul
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeskywalker View Post
Nice teaser Tanveer, when we went in search of snow in end november last year, we had to come back disappointed, the picture of Hotel Hatu is what we expected to see, but we had to settle for this:

Attachment 510964

The only ice we found was on top of Hatu Peak:

Attachment 510965

Nice to see all the snow, please bring on more pictures.
regards,
Hari.
November is not really time for snow. Feb is the best time. Even March is good
Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
Glued to this narration Tanveer. Bring more and bring it fast...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish View Post
Tanveer,

Wonderful photographs. By the way, when did you travel?
We went there around 26th Feb
Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Cool, amazing, fantastic, brrrrr! The highway to heaven seems terrific. And the teaser is splendid. There must be something about Kinnaur and surreal photographs.

As usual, waiting for the story (and pics) to unfold.
Kinnaur was even better long time back. The 3 dams in the region have ruined it. Sangla valley is also just a run of the mill valley now, with some decent landscapes near chitkul, and entire Sangla area not worth it
Quote:
Originally Posted by v&v View Post
great teaser pics tsk. I am also planning a trip mid march. I am hooked.
Its going to be white even in mid march, going to Sangla valley? Be aware that that there is no running water atleast in Kalpa.
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Old 4th March 2011, 14:23   #13
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Default Kalpa!

The road to Kalpa is very good from Narkanda, till you hit Jeori
After that even through its called a National highway, its more of a dirt track.
The rains had made it worse.

It was all slush. So it was around 6:30 when we reached Karcham, and after that the last 20 odd kms to Recong Peo were even worse.

At one point we got stuck in slush trying to avoid an oncoming 800, and I had to use 4WD. This is the state of national highway.

found two trucks stuck in slush. apparently they will wait for sunshine and then move out. But since they weren't there the next day, I presume the bulldozers pulled them out.

Later we got to know that 2 vehicles had fallen in sutlej when part of the road gave way and they skidded.

So it is truly a highway through hell.

After recong peo its a short track less than 15kms which makes you rise almost 500mts

And this means snow on the road in this season

Taken a couple of kms before Kalpa
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204319928_umzvyxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204321960_dkuoxxl.jpg

Finally around 8 we reach the hotel, and aorund 200mts before the parking, the road is blocked with snow.
An 800 is parked there, which means very less space to maneuver.

Nevertheless, I squeeze in the gap and enter the gap in 4WD.

The front tires go in, but the moment rear tires go on the snow, the safari starts skidding and spinning wheels.
The snow is almost a foot deep, and hard like ice.

We back up and park. Its dark, and I have no idea how to inform the hotel staff since I have forgotten to take the number of the hotel.

A call to hitanshu, and we have the number.
They are quite amazed that we are there.

Few minutes later they come for the luggage and we retire to our room.
The sky is clearing up, and stars are coming out. But its time to sleep after a 10 hour long gruelling drive.

Narkanda to Kalpa has taken us 5 hours to cover. A distance of 180kms, with majority of these in the "plains".
such is the state of NH22.

TO BE CONT...........
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Old 4th March 2011, 15:31   #14
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Default White Kalpa

As the skies were clearing, the night was cold.
Very very cold.
It was 8:30 when we got our cup of tea, and dared to venture out to the fairyland.

Kalpa was white. all white.
Yesterday morning's snowfall I guess was the reason.

This dude sure believes in psychedelic color schemes for house painting
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204346656_uobjaxl.jpg

The landscape
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204348162_gd4zuxl.jpg

Its white
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204349266_d9mvbxl.jpg

Our cottage
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204350077_ygwsexl.jpg

The main office and the dining hall of the HPTDC hotel. Further down is the kalpa cottage which remains closed in winters. It has duplex rooms also for big families
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204351404_z6qwhxl.jpg

the Clouds were obscuring the Kinner Kailash range, but with wind picking up they would soon be history.

A view of the entire complex with the apple trees. In April-May they bloom, and by monsoon they give the best apples in the region
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204353045_twbvmxl.jpg

Clouds start clearing, and the ranges become visible
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204343062_uk4wgxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204344013_hjp6fxl.jpg

I have never seen the Kinner Kailash range with so much snow. It looked surreal!
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204763270_yssycxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204761322_nb8zlxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204764154_dgrflxl.jpg

The trees. Looked more like a scene of a Christmas movie. Never seen so much snow before coating the landscape like this. Rohtang does get higher snowfall, but the slopes are usually devoid of vegetation
The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204772286_9kbehxl.jpg

The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda-1204787800_hjqaqxl.jpg

TO BE CONT..........
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Old 4th March 2011, 15:48   #15
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Default Re: The White Travelogue - Kalpa-Sangla-Narkanda

I've done the Spiti - Lahaul loop a couple of times on a bike during the summers but this is just mindblowing. I wont dare to this on the bike though, but you've gotten me thinking of taking the beast for a spin next Feb

How far can you go at this time of the year? Tabo/Pin Valley/Kaza?
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