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Old 30th June 2018, 18:38   #1
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Default A Road Trip to Spiti Valley from Ahmedabad

Hello,

I recently completed a road trip from my Hometown Ahmedabad to Spiti Valley in May-2018. The trip lasted for 10 days and an adventurous 4000 Kms where we experienced everything starting from 4 lane highways to off roading at 14000 ft. Though it was a challenging task to complete the road trip in 10 days but with proper planning and mindset we completed the trip. We are a crazy family who love to travel by road no matter what the distance or time is.

Below I have described everything right from the Planning stage to completing the final leg of the Journey.

The Planning Stage (Jan-March):

We started planning for this trip from Jan-2018. The initial activities done during the planning stage are as follows:

1) Getting the Right Vehicle-

I own 4 cars of all Body types (Accord/Swift/Kwid/Xylo). I chose the Xylo for this trip primarily for the below reasons:
- Easy to accommodate luggage as well as all the 5 persons.
- Being a big and sturdy vehicle it gives you the assurance of being reliable on all types of roads.
- Xylo comes with good ground clearance & efficient hauling power which is ideal for those roads.

2) Researching on the routes and finalizing the itenary:

This was the most important and time taking activity. However, with availability of internet and websites like Google,Team BHP & Youtube your task gets very easy. You just need to type "Spiti Valley road Trip" on the above websites and you can get loads of links to blogs/Videos etc. for planning your Itenary. Though you need to give sufficient time on this and need to prepare your Itenary after thorough research and sufficient information.

Nevertheless it took 3 months to finalize the routes, places to stay & visit and ultimately plan the entire trip. My only advice to all enthusiastic travelers is to research as much as possible on your plan through internet and best if you can interact with anybody who has done or is planning to do a similar trip.

With all the research and collecting data in 3 months time we finally decided on the following itenary:

Day-1: Ahmedabad to Rewari via Abu road, Jaipur. (850 Kms/16 hours).
Day-2: Rewari to Narkanda via Karnal, Kurukshetra,Ambala,Zirakpur, Shimla (550 Kms/14 hours)
Day-3: Narkanda to Sangla (160 kms/7 Hours)
Day-4: Sangla to Nako (140 Kms/7 Hours).
Day-5: Nako to Kaza via Tabo, Dhankar (140 Kms/7 Hours).
Day-6: Kaza to Hikkim/Komic/Langza/Kee/Kibber. (Full day trip and back to Kaza).
Day-7: Kaza to Manali. (200 Kms/13 Hours).
Day-8:Manali to Bilaspur (190 Kms/7 Hours).
Day-9: Bilaspur to New Delhi (400 Kms/ 8 Hours).
Day-10: New Delhi to Ahmedabad (950 Kms/ 15 Hours).
This was done considering we climb altitude gradually and thereby avoiding any health issues. (Explained in detail in Point No. 4)

3) Hotel Booking:

We booked few hotels through online websites and rest by directly calling the Hotel management. Few tips which I would like to share on this are as follows:
- Always talk to the Hotel management directly and negotiate their final rates. Once done compare it with the prices offered Online and then book the hotel. Mostly you will get a better deal by directly discussing with the Hotel management.
- Go with Only room plan as fooding is quite cheaper in those places.
- Select the hotel which has got good road connectivity from the Main highway.
- Hotels with proper facilities are must if travelling with Family.

4) Health & Fitness for tackling AMS & other sickness:

This is an important aspect of the trip as you need to work on our Health & Fitness levels especially for the urban crowds. People who are involved in one or the other physical activities need not worry much. We researched a lot on how to tackle AMS and sustain in the changing weather conditions for e.g. the day we started our trip the temperature at Ahmedabad was 45DegC whereas once we entered Himachal the temperature kept dropping to as low as -2 DegC. Hence, sustaining the changing weather conditions is also necessary.
Few tips to get this through are listed below:
- Have a daily exercise routine atleast 2-3 months prior to starting your trip.
- Consult your family physician for further guidance and prepare a list of necessary medication that needs to be carried while travelling. (Keep medicines for indigestion, cold, fever etc.)
- When travelling at higher altitudes, plan your itenary in such a way that you gain altitude gradually as this will give your body enough time to get acclimatized.
- Keep your body hydrated while travelling because at higher altitudes there are chances of getting dehydrated due to less oxygen in the atmosphere. Drinking plenty of water alongwith Ginger helps your body remain hydrated.
- Donít smoke or drink throughout the trip and avoid doing so atleast 24 hours before starting your trip.
- Locate hospitals and health care centers on google and try to end your day near to those places. This will help in case of any emergency. (Few places such as Shimla, Narkanda, Reckong Peo, Kaza, Manali)

5) Servicing of the Car:

We got our car serviced thoroughly 1 week prior to leaving for the trip. Some mandatory activities done and to be taken care of is listed below if not done in a brief time:
- Oil & Oil filter to be changed if not done recently.
- Air filter & diesel filter to be changed.
- Differential (for RWD) & gear oil to be changed. (Got this done since my car was 2.5 Lakh kms old might not be required for newly bought vehicles).
- Wipers to be changed if not in good condition.
- Check your battery health. Better not to take chance on this.
- Get all the brake liners and brake pads checked/replaced. Brakes play an important role while travelling in Hills.
- Carry extra Fan-belt and pair of bulbs of headlamps during the trip.
- Check the condition of the tyres. Old worn out tyres will get punctured on those roads.
- Learn how to change the tyres, fan belt, headlight bulbs in case you need to do on your own.

6) Tracking of weather conditions & route opening:

The Kaza to Manali route remains closed for most time of the year. It opens mostly in May end and remains so till September. There are many websites and blogs available for this where we got ample of information on the weather condition and route opening dates.

I was accompanied by my Wife, Parents and younger Brother. We were 3 persons for driving the Car (Dad, myself and brother). On such trips it is essential to have an additional person driving with you. The roads and the terrains require adequate amount of patience, expertise and rest for negotiating the path.

The Final Day of Starting the Journey:

So after spending almost 3 months time for planning and doing preparation for the trip we finally set ourselves on this Journey from Ahmedabad on 19th May, 2018

Our day-wise detailed trip is as under:

Day-1: Ahmedabad to Rewari (850 Kms/16 Hours):

We started our trip at 7 am in the morning from Ahmedabad. Took around half n hour to pack the roof carrier and placing other luggage inside the car. It is must to have the luggage in roof carrier covered with Tarpaulin sheet.
Our stop for Day-1 was Rewari, we took the Ahmedabad-Mehsana-Aburoad-Ajmer-Jaipur route. From Ahmedabad you can reach Jaipur by 3 routes as mentioned below:
1. Via Aburoad and Sirohi.
2. Via Udaipur and Nathdwara.
3. Via Chittorgarh
I prefer going with option-1 since this route is less crowded and is 4 lane all the way. Hence, you can cover an average distance of 70-80 Kms in a hour with limited stops. After driving for 16 hours we checked into a highway side hotel which was quite decent and available at a reasonable price.

Day-2: Rewari to Narkanda (550 Kms/14 Hours):

This day was important as we were to travel across Haryana, Punjab and then finally reach our first stop in Himachal. Narkanda is 60 kms after crossing Shimla town. As per the rule we started off early in the morning at 7:30 AM from Rewari.

We took the Rohtak-Karnal-Panipat-Kurukshetra-Ambala-Shimla route to reach Narkanda. The roads were fantastic all the way till Zirakpur and we even got the chance to drive on THE GRAND TRUNK ROAD. We reached Zirakpur in 6 hours which was 310 Kms from Rewari.

After having lunch at a Punjabi dhaba we started off around 2:30 Pm from Zirakpur. The next 140 Kms journey from Zirakpur to Narkanda took almost 7 hours. Normally this is doable in less than 5 hours but due to ongoing road expansion work between Zirakpur and Shimla our journey got slowed down and was delayed by couple of hours.

However, all this was subsided by the beautiful sunset view at Shogi which is just next to Shimla. This was the first occasion where the majestic Himalayas showered us with its true beauty.

After driving for almost 14 hours from Rewari we finally reached Narkanda at around 9:30 PM. We experienced the cold winter like feeling for the first time. The temperature that night in Narkanda was around 5 DegC. A good dinner and sound sleep at night made up for the long tiring journey of last 2 days.

Day-3 Narkanda to Sangla-Chitkul (160 Kms/7 Hours):

The morning in Narkanda was majestic and beautiful. We could feel the freshness in the atmosphere and peace that one craves in busy urban life. Our day started with a good breakfast as we started our further journey towards Sangla which was 160 Kms from Narkanda.

We travelled to Sangla in 7 hours and all along the route we were greeted by the beautiful Kinnaur Valley. The beauty of this place cannot be described in words and the journey itself was breathtaking. We travelled on the famous Hindustan-Tibet Road and reached our destination for the day which was Sangla. The climb from Reckong Peo to Sangla was difficult and took almost 1 hour time. The roads were in bad shape and being narrow with a steep climb you need to be patient and have time in your hand.

We finally reached Sangla and ended Day-3 of our journey. We had earlier planned to cover Chitkul but due to time constraint we decided to skip it. However, if you are planning to visit Sangla then do take some time out for Chitkul which 2 hours drive from Sangla.

Day-4: Sangla to Nako (140 Kms/7 Hours):

The morning in Sangla was beautiful as we woke up to the view of Kinner Kailash Mountains and gushing voice of Baspa river. Our destination for Day-4 was Nako which is situated at 140 Kms from Sangla. Nako is the border town between the districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti.

We got the glimpse of Khab which serves as a confluence of Spiti and Satluj River. The roads till Nako were treacherous and we experienced road blocks at multiple places due to blasting activity being done by BRO(Border Road organization) for clearing the landslides and road widening. Nako is located at an altitude of 12000 Ft. and hence, this was our first experience in the high altitude areas. Sangla is located at an altitude of 8900 ft. from where we climbed more than 3100 ft. to end our day in Nako.

Nako has got a lake and a monastery to visit and can be visited when passing from there. All the along the route we found many hoardings with funny statements warning about the driving safe in the valley. One such hoarding said ďDONíT BE A GAMA IN THE LAND OF LAMAĒ.

After Reckong Peo the terrains totally changed from Green Mountains to Cold desert baren landscape. The temperature that night fell below 0 DegC and the wind was bone chilling. We stayed at Kinner Camps who were very cooperative and provided us with all the necessary facilities to sustain the cold temperature.

Day-5: Nako to Kaza via Tabo, Dhankar (140 Kms/7 Hours):

After spending the night in bone chilling wind we started our journey towards Kaza which the district headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti. Our first stop for today was Tabo which is located 63 kms/2.5 hours from Nako. The Tabo monastery is one of the oldest monasteries built in 996 AD. Photography is not allowed inside the monastery but we could take few photos outside the monastery.

We had our lunch in Tabo and then left for Dhankar which is 47 Kms and takes couple of hours to reach. Dhankar is located at an altitude of 12770 ft. where the climb and the terrain is quite tough and needs a lot of patience for negotiating the route. However, the view of the valley from the top is awesome. Above the Dhankar village there is a monastery and a lake. For Info: The monastery is accessible by road while for reaching the lake you need to trek for 4 hours.

Post Dhankar we continued our journey to Kaza and reached there by 5pm in the evening. Kaza is the district headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti district and is somewhat commercialized then the rest of the places.

Day-6 A Day trip to Hikkim, Komic & Langza from Kaza
On Day-6 of our road trip we decided to visit the nearby villages from Kaza each of which has its own significance.

1. Langza: Located at an altitude of 14500 ft. the significance of this village is the huge idol of Gautam Budha looking at the Langza Valley. The view from this point will surely mesmerize you.It took almost 1.5 hours to reach from Kaza.
2. Hikkim: After having quick photography session we drove to Hikkim where the worldís highest post office is located at 14567 ft. We had bought post cards from Kaza and decided to post them from Hikkim to our address. Mr. Rinchan Cherring is the post master who has been running this post office since last 30 years.
3. Komic: This place is the Highest Village connected by a motorable road. The altitude of this Village is 15027 ft. walking down a few steps is difficult task as you start feeling breathless. However, reaching their itself is a big achievement.

The roads from Kaza to these villages are very narrow and not tarred. The hairpin turns are quite stiff and your vehicle needs to be in good condition to take on such roads. To make matters worse there no signboards or milestones on this route, your only supports are the local people. They are quite helpful and they would never hesitate to help you out when lost on these roads.

Earlier we had planned to cover Kee/Kibber on Day-6 but my father got stuck by AMS and we had to spend the rest of our day at Kaza. There is health center in Kaza who are equipped with all the facilities and provide services to people free of cost. After spending couple of hours in the hospital my father was all hale and hearty.

For Info: The oxygen percentage in a human body should not drop below 80%. Whenever you are visiting Spiti Valley, make sure to visit the health center and get yourself diagnosed. 80% of the people get hit by AMS in such areas.

Day-7: Kaza to Manali via Losar, Kunzum Pass, Batal, Chatru, Gramphu, Rohtang Pass (200 Kms/13 hours)

Day-7 indeed proved to be Luck no.7 for us as we embarked on this journey which proved to be most treacherous and adventurous part of the entire trip. The stretch from Kaza to Manali covers 2 mountain passes Kunzum La and Rohtang La. (La means pass in local language). The roads till Rangrik are tarred but after crossing it you will not find tarred roads or even roads till Rohtang La. This stretch is approx. 150 Kms and takes the maximum time. You can hardly drive in 2nd gear and not more than a speed of 10-15 km/hr.

We had our breakfast in Losar which is 50 kms from Kaza. After having breakfast we started towards crossing the first high mountain pass of this route i.e. Kunzum La which is located at 15100 ft. The roads are narrow, stiff and in very bad condition. Yet the experience of driving in the snow laden mountains was sheer pleasure and treat for urban people like us. The decent is tougher as the slope is sharp and full of mud, boulders and sharp hairpin turns.

After crossing Kunzum La we reached Batal where the famous Chacha-Chachi dhaba is situated where we had our lunch. The Chacha & Chachi are an elderly couple who run their dhaba in Batal and offer very delicious food. Whenever travelling on this route plan your meal at this place.

We continued our journey towards Manali, little did we know that the condition of the roads are going to worsen. The route was far from being tarred or a muddy one as it was totally filled with huge rocks and boulders on which even a car like Xylo would wobble terribly. We could hardly put the second gear while driving on this patch which continued till Gramphoo a good 100 kms away from Batal.

One thing we could not deny is the beauty of the mountains on this route as we felt that this was the most scenic route in the entire trip. Around 5pm we reached Gramphoo from where we took the Leh-Manali highway. It was sight of relief for us as we were finally driving on tarred roads after off-roading for almost 10 hours. We scaled to Rohtang top which was chilly and full of snow all around the roads. After grueling 13 hours drive we finally reached Manali and called it a day.

Day-8 & 9: Manali to Delhi via Mandi, Bilaspur, Ambala (570 Kms/14 hours):
From Manali we started our journey back home via Delhi. Though doable in 1 day we decided to split the journey in 2 days. We took a night halt at Bilaspur and then continued our journey to Delhi. The next day Parents took a flight to Ahmedabad and Myself, Wife and Younger brother drove to Ahmedabad.

Day-10: Delhi to Ahmedabad (950 Kms/15 hours):

This was the last day of our road trip as we started from Delhi around 8:30 AM taking the Jaipur, Ajmer, Pali, Abu road route. The journey was pleasant as our machine The Xylo continued performing to our expectations. We reached our hometown Ahmedabad in 15 hours and completed our Spiti Valley road trip in 10 days.
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Last edited by abhikb : 1st July 2018 at 16:50.
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Old 1st July 2018, 18:15   #2
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Default Re: A Road Trip to Spiti Valley from Ahmedabad

Thread moved from Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 14th August 2018, 09:19   #3
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Default Re: A Road Trip to Spiti Valley from Ahmedabad

Ladakh and Spiti are very close to my heart. It is always exciting to see/spot a GJ vehicle in this region. I like the details mentioned in your travelogue. It was a perfect plan and nicely executed.

Thanks for this detailed write up with nice photographs.
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Old 14th August 2018, 12:59   #4
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Very nice travelog and beautiful pictures. Congratulation on completing this wonderful journey.
I and my wife drove this route in September 2015 in our Dzire. The first day we left Ahmedabad at 0400 hours and ended the day in Chandigarh. The second day drive was from Chandigarh to Chail and the next day drove upto Narkanda. The fourth day drive was from Narkanda to Rakcham. The fifth day was spent in Kalpa and the next day in Dhankar monastery. We moved on to Losar next day and the eighth day was spent in Chandratal lake. Our car broke down on the Kaza side of Rothang pass and was towed to Manali. It was repaired in two days and we then drove from Manali to Chandigarh and the next night reached Ahmedabad. Total 12 days on the trip.
It was a fantastic drive as you have experienced and want to go back and spend a leisurely time in Spiti valley. You missed Chitkul, which was beautiful and Chandratal lake, which would not have been open in May. Next time plan a trip in late September, when the watercrossings would be easier and not many people around.
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Old 14th August 2018, 19:54   #5
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Originally Posted by SajiNSalin View Post
Very nice travelog and beautiful pictures. Congratulation on completing this wonderful journey.
I and my wife drove this route in September 2015 in our Dzire. The first day we left Ahmedabad at 0400 hours and ended the day in Chandigarh. The second day drive was from Chandigarh to Chail and the next day drove upto Narkanda. The fourth day drive was from Narkanda to Rakcham. The fifth day was spent in Kalpa and the next day in Dhankar monastery. We moved on to Losar next day and the eighth day was spent in Chandratal lake. Our car broke down on the Kaza side of Rothang pass and was towed to Manali. It was repaired in two days and we then drove from Manali to Chandigarh and the next night reached Ahmedabad. Total 12 days on the trip.
It was a fantastic drive as you have experienced and want to go back and spend a leisurely time in Spiti valley. You missed Chitkul, which was beautiful and Chandratal lake, which would not have been open in May. Next time plan a trip in late September, when the watercrossings would be easier and not many people around.
Yes will surely include chitkul and chandtratal next time. Good to see like minded people. Ahmedabad to Chandigarh in a single day is indeed a daunting task.
Next year I am planning to do Ladakh-Spiti drive.
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Old 14th August 2018, 20:20   #6
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Nice travelogue and Ahmedabad to Spiti, with the family, is quite some drive.

Good to see that you did the entire circuit and returned via Manali. Many people prefer tracing the same route back from Kaza towards Shimla because of Kunzum La.

Best wishes for your future trips!
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Old 16th September 2018, 00:55   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJM1214 View Post
Ladakh and Spiti are very close to my heart. It is always exciting to see/spot a GJ vehicle in this region. I like the details mentioned in your travelogue. It was a perfect plan and nicely executed.



Thanks for this detailed write up with nice photographs.

Thanks for visiting the travelogue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Biraj View Post
Nice travelogue and Ahmedabad to Spiti, with the family, is quite some drive.

Good to see that you did the entire circuit and returned via Manali. Many people prefer tracing the same route back from Kaza towards Shimla because of Kunzum La.

Best wishes for your future trips!

Thanks for visiting the travelogue.

Last edited by bblost : 16th September 2018 at 01:00. Reason: back to back
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Old 15th September 2020, 19:14   #8
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Our car broke down on the Kaza side of Rothang pass and was towed to Manali. It was repaired in two days and we then drove from Manali to Chandigarh and the next night reached Ahmedabad.
What happened to the car? Did bad roads played part in breakdown?
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Old 15th September 2020, 19:40   #9
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Default Re: A Road Trip to Spiti Valley from Ahmedabad

A travelogue on Spiti can never go wrong! Lovely pictures. Did you do the Dhankar lake hike? Also, what happened to the vehicle that it had to be towed?
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Old 15th September 2020, 22:17   #10
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A travelogue on Spiti can never go wrong! Lovely pictures. Did you do the Dhankar lake hike?
Hi Sumitro da, probably itís the Himalayan essence that adds flavor to such travelogues.
Honestly, didnít had much idea about Dhankar lake trek before the trip. IIRC, we had reached Dhankar monastery in the afternoon and then got to know about the trek, but a local at monastery said it will take few hours to reach, hence dropped the plan. Moreover, few things are better kept for next time so that you have a strong reason to drive again.
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Old 17th September 2020, 18:39   #11
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What happened to the car? Did bad roads played part in breakdown?
The drive from Chandratal lake to Rohtang pass shook up the vehicle so much that three of the engine mounting bolts sheared off. The car started losing power and made a lot of protesting noises and finally the engine went dead. Stopped on the Leh side of Rohtang pass and opened the hood to find the engine almost dropping to the ground. A friendly Team Bhp team on a Thar who were returning from Leh towed us to Manali.
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Old 17th September 2020, 19:58   #12
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The drive from Chandratal lake to Rohtang pass shook up the vehicle so much that three of the engine mounting bolts sheared off. The car started losing power and made a lot of protesting noises and finally the engine went dead. Stopped on the Leh side of Rohtang pass and opened the hood to find the engine almost dropping to the ground. A friendly Team Bhp team on a Thar who were returning from Leh towed us to Manali.
Thatís a terrifying experience, the roads after Kunzum La are indeed bone and car breaker types. Luckily our jolly old Xylo made it through and we could reach ahmedabad safely.
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