Team-BHP (
-   Route / Travel Queries (
-   -   Lahaul - Spiti; Suggestions and help needed (

docfreak 16th May 2010 11:47

Lahaul - Spiti; Suggestions and help needed
hi everybody,
come this 1st week of june, me and my wife are planning to make a trip to lahaul spiti from delhi.
time : approx 10 days
vehicle: swift ldi/scorpio/jeep(i am insisiting on it)
purpose:photography and trekking

we have not much time left and as of yet no planning has been done , so i hope you could help us with it .
some specific questions?
1. swift can make it?
2. haow heavy would the traffic and tourist flow be?
3. road conditions?
4. any recommendations regarding stay, though we plan to stay in our tents, has anyone done that and how has your experience been?
5. route maps and tulips if any one has any?

we both are seasoned travellers and have been to ladakh number of times but lahaul spiti is new to us. so please help and give your suggestions and also if anyone wants to join in , u are more than welcome, even if u dont have your own vehicle

looking forward

deepam and sharat

meghan 16th May 2010 12:16


Originally Posted by docfreak (Post 1888028)
1. swift can make it?
2. haow heavy would the traffic and tourist flow be?
3. road conditions?
4. any recommendations regarding stay, though we plan to stay in our tents, has anyone done that and how has your experience been?
5. route maps and tulips if any one has any?

we both are seasoned travellers and have been to ladakh number of times but lahaul spiti is new to us. so please help and give your suggestions and also if anyone wants to join in , u are more than welcome, even if u dont have your own vehicle

Had been to Spiti valley last year, mid June. Assuming conditions are still similar, yes - Swift can theoretically make it. But I would strongly suggest you take a high G.C car there as we saw some people stranded in an 800! there, and some areas where water still flows over the road are risky.

Traffic would be really heavy till crossing the Rohtang pass, as you may be already knowing. After that there is hardly any. You pass a car truck every 5-10 mins or so, with the gap rising to 30 mins in some stretches.

Road conditions - Again, really bad till the Rohtang pass. But last year they were constructing lots of patches there, so I expect it to be a bit better now. After that its almost no tarmac till Kaza, but the overall roughness is not that bad. Beware of flows of water over the road. I have seen cars getting stuck there a lot and the Qualis that we had taken also got stuck once.

Had stayed in tents near Chhatru, ChandraTal, Tabo and a hotel at Kaza. Tent stay is enjoyable but has its pains, though we actually didn't pitch them.

Just had seen GoogleEarth previously, and its fairly ok just to know some names and distances. I'm sure the more experienced people will contribute more on this. Hope you enjoy the trip!

harjeev 16th May 2010 14:31

So finally you've decided to go for it!
Best of luck with the trip. Thought I cannot give you any info, etc my advise would be to take the scorpio.
Best of luck

hvkumar 16th May 2010 17:15

I would complete the circuit as follows:
Delhi-Manali-Rohtang Pass-Gramphoo-Chhatru-Bad Dhara-Battal-Kunzum la-Losar-Kaza-Attargo-Tabo-Sumdo-Malling Nullah-Nako-Spello-Powari-Karchchum-Rampur-Narkhanda-Shimla-Delhi.

I have done this drive in my Matiz.
I did it in my Scorpio last year.
You can trace the Gramphoo-Kaza-Shimla sector in the following link:
LADAKH Sep 2009 - hvkumar | Google Groups

My friend drove to Kaza via Sumdo (since Kunzum la was still closed) in April, he reported good roads except between Sumdo and Tabo, but that should have improved by now.

No problems for a Swift. Take care at Malling Nullah and after Kunzum la.

docfreak 16th May 2010 21:58

harjeev: yes finally am going for it , would have been nice to have u along but i can understand the domestic compulsions u face.

hvk: i had thought of a similiar itenary but in reverse , starting from the shimla end and ending at the manali end . trekking plans include : to chandratal , in pin valley and one small peak/pass i have heard is between chandratal and kunzumla, am not sure of the name though. could u add time frames and distances as i believe u have done this before. also we were thinking that instead of heading back to manali if we drive through leh to srinagar , just drive through not much of stopping then how much of time would that account for extra?

hvkumar 16th May 2010 22:07

Shimla-Kaza is too tough a day's drive, so you can consider halting at either Kalpa (a detour of 20 kms or so) or at Nako.

From Nako, it is a drive of around 4-5 hours to Kaza. Assuming that there is no dislocation thanks to landslide repairs work at Malling Nullah.

Kaza-Manali is a very long day's drive, but possibly the best thing to do since you will arrive in Rohtang Pass towards the evening when it has less traffic jams.

Chandra tal is around 3 hours drive from Kaza.

I think you may be referring to Stok Stingri peak.

If you leave from Chnadra tal in the morning, you can be in Keylong/Jispa by evening. With an early start from Chandra tal, you can even reach Sarchu the same day, but that will need some zestful driving.

From Keylong/Jispa/Sarchu, you can reach Leh in one long day of driving (inevitable since you have no decent accomodation after Sarchu till Leh).

You can do Leh-Dras in one day and Dras-Srinagar the next day. But you do not have to stop over in Sruiagar if you are in a hurry, and can target Patnitop/Udhamnpur that day.

CDM 17th May 2010 11:09

Have planned a similar trip.

Am doing Delhi-Rampur Bushahr-Sangla-Kaza (2 nights)-Chandratal-Jispa-Leh (with trips to Nubra, Pangong)-Tso Moriri-Jispa-Manali-Delhi.

Am taking an Innova, does anyone see in problems for the Innova making the trip (I understand that most taxis on the route are Innovas).

Also, is Sangla -Kaza doable in one day? If so, what would be the driving time?



hvkumar 17th May 2010 12:19


Originally Posted by CDM (Post 1889351)
Also, is Sangla -Kaza doable in one day? If so, what would be the driving time?



I have done Kaza-Sangla the same day, leaving Kaza after 9 am, stopping over in Tabo, getting disrupted because of landslide work at Malling Nullah, and reaching Sangla by 9 pm.

Check out the link to get an idea of how the day went:
LADAKH Sep 2009 - hvkumar | Google Groups
See Day 13

wanderernomad 17th May 2010 12:52

HV: Its stok kangri, but I am sure it must have been a typo. Anyway yes I would suggest going from Shimla and exit from Manali. I would suggest any place this side of Nako for the days journey from Shimla. Rekongpeo or Pooh make a more viable alternative than Kalpa or Nako. The driving times are full of variables in Hills, therefore I would suggest not pushing it too much. Kaza - Sangla is doable in a day but whats the rush?
@Docfreak: Do pay a visit towards Shipkila. These days they allow Indian nationals to venture more close to LOC. There is a trek route from Nako to Khab which is excellent, I am told. I have not done it as yet. Do camp slightly further from Chitkul if you plan on going to Sangla. There are a couple of good grounds about km from the road head.
Staying in your tents is ok provided you are equipped for High Altitude gear. Night temperatures can fall drastically. Plus I would suggest night camps as near to your parked vehicle as I can unless you venture deep into the valleys. If you do so do ask around the locals for the nomad huts in your area. And please take the Scorpio.

hvkumar 17th May 2010 13:03

wandernomad, thanks for pointing out the typo.
Yes, I agree, what is the rush, if you have the time, take the Shimla-Kaza drive leisurely, so many lovely places en route.

tsk1979 17th May 2010 13:41

6 Attachment(s)
First week of june? and Spiti is the target.
Now there are 2 routes
1. Via manali-Kunzum
2. Via Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur highway
The first route is preferable, as there is no malling nallah here. Malling can close in any season due to landslide. For example some of my friends who went in April had to return as Malling was closed due to landslide.
So when you take this route, there is some risk.
Now we come to Kunzum
Kunzum should be open in first week of june. your best bet is to call up somebody in Kaza(PWD? and ask them.
If its okay, then you proceed via manali.

Now I have never done the Rampur route, but I have done the manali route upto Kunzum.
The first obstacle is Rohtang. Its not too high(3900mts), and is a pass which is thronged by tourists, however, in June, its a mess. there are big potholes which can eat up cars, and then there are tourists and more tourists, which can eat you up.
So make sure you are out of manali by 7am and heading towards rohtang.
your 4x4 with 500mm GC and 1000bhp engine can scale mountains, but one wrongly parked car will shave off 5 hours.
So avoid that car, leave early.
Secondly, in a small car, there is a good chance of grounding. The road is a mess, So be careful. In a MUV you are higher so its safer.

After you cross rohtang, you come to a place called Gramphoo.You can eat maggi here if you want to. It costs 25rs, which is exactly 1/3rd of cost of maggi at Rohtang Pass.

After that you go towards kunzum pass.
Its a rocky gravel track.
you have to watch out for largish stones. Sometimes you admire the scenery and a stone takes out your oil sump. Not good at all, esp because there isn't any bsnl network either.

So be careful.
Near kunzum comes a real real bad road section, with rocks jutting out. Be careful here. Sidewall damage is possible, so keep your speed to a crawl, and negotiate your route with care.

After that climb to kunzum is okay, but even a mild snow shower can turn the road to a slippery mess. Your real wheel drive car will have trouble at the hairpins esp if the tires are bald.
FWDs will do okay, but be careful with RWD.

After kunzum I have no idea, but even in the toughest of conditions downhill is never a problem.
Hopefully that answers your questions.
Also remember, Kaza fuel pump is closed on sundays and holidays. So fill full tank at manali, at the BP Pure for Sure pump at the mall.
That should easily give you a 500kms range, enough to do kaza comfortably

Lastly, some pics of the track in October.
Our return from Kunzum was in a snowstorm. In your case, that chance is bleak, except on the pass.

Some pics
Track near Gramphoo
Attachment 349765

These two are more near kunzum
Attachment 349766
Note how dirt changes to loose stones. Very bumpy
Attachment 349767

This pic was right before kunzum climb
Attachment 349768

Now the kunzum. Expect snow walls there if its open. And very bumpy terrain
Attachment 349771

On our way back I took one pic of the tough section. Sharp rocks.
Attachment 349772

As for Chandertaal, the attempt would be futile. It usually opens after 15th june. PWD does not start snow cutting work unless they are sure that there will be no more snowfalls. The track is very 4x4ish. MUVs also do it, but its narrow and steep at places, and if its icy, its very slippery. Road is as wide as a safari, and you also get water crossings.

hvkumar 17th May 2010 14:46

Compared to Rohtang, I think Kunzum la is quite a cakewalk unless the weather is bad.

Except for Malling Nullah, the Shimla-Kaza route is fine. MY friend drove from Pune to Kaza end of March and roads were OK, but as tsk1979 says, it is unpredictable and can close down with every minor landslide.

Both Pooh and Nako have hotels to stay in, but both are popular with foreigners, so check out in advanace before you arive there, else you may be out of room.

After Nako, the only place where you can stay in is at Tabo. Remember, Sumdo is only a checkpost and has no facilities at all.

Road from Gramphoo to Kaza, near Chhatru

Climbing up to Kunzum la from Bad dhara

Road to Chandra tal

Near Bada Dhara

docfreak 17th May 2010 23:36

thanks for ur prompt response everybody.

it seems taking the scorpio would be a better idea. keeping in mind roads , slush and snow. though i am yet pushing for the jeep but wife is not very keen.

tents also seem to be way we would be staying. we have our tents and kits ready , always :D. it would add to flexibility and fun .

the stok kangri, has anyone here done it ? is it a trek or a climbing excercise? how far from the road head? and guides available? what is the duration from road head and back?

also has anyone done chandra tal on foot? seems possible to me , going by what i have read and seen , there must be some shorter routes as well, any guides for that? did anyone stay at chandratal overnight?or was it just touch and go? please could we have some pictures of chandratal here.

started making out list of things to be taken. anyone would like to share any lists u made ? also any route maps u charted ?

when i went last to leh from the manali route, i was in the route opening party, it was tremendous fun, looking forward to this now , already these pictures and the whole fun has started to eat up my dream time, and i have started day dreamingstupid:.

tsk: as i see u are in delhi, is it possible that i could meet u ?

hvkumar 17th May 2010 23:57

Chandra tal is 14 kms from Battal, the main Gramphoo-Kunzum la road. The road winds along the Chandra river, and I think the walking path is also the same route.

Check out this link for the checklist I prepared for my Ladakh trip:

Chandra tal, but the water has already dried up and snow is setting in - Sep 2004

tsk1979 18th May 2010 10:39


Originally Posted by docfreak (Post 1890966)

tsk: as i see u are in delhi, is it possible that i could meet u ?

Sure, you can PM me your number we can catch up.
Regarding Stok Kangri, read this travelogue
STOK KANGRI ... unending adventure ! - India Travel Forum,
It has all the information you need and more

All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 02:27.