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Old 16th June 2019, 00:46   #1
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Default Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

With summer at its peak in Delhi, it was time for me to move the mountains again! Having done the Ladakh circuit time time last year, I was quick to respond to Praneev, my travel partner for a short trip to Himachal.

With a mid-week holiday for Eid, we got the perfect opportunity to visit Kinnaur valley and Chitkul. Planned the trip a week in advance and luckily got the dorm at Zostel.

My Fav spot from the trip!:

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2862.jpg

We ended up taking the following route:

Delhi - Chandigarh - Shimla (bypass) - Narkanda - Rampur - Karcham - Sangla - Chitkul - Rampur - Shimla - Delhi

The original plan was as follows:

Day 1: Delhi to Narkanda
Day 2: Narkanda to Chitkul
Day 3: Chitkul to Kotgarh
Day 4: Kotgarh to Chail
Day 5: Chail to Delhi

With 3 instances of tube change followed by a tyre burst on the bullet, it became a to-and-fro trip to Chitkul!

A week before the journey, got my bike serviced from my old mechanic in Delhi (Motorrad have closed their workshop in Gurgaon, luckily the mechanic opened up his own workplace)


Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_9406.jpg

The bike was in mint condition and few cable changes was all that was required.

Day 1: Delhi to Narkanda | 455 kms

We started off by 7:30 am from Gurugram and moved past Delhi in an hour. GT road was a breeze through and we had our first stop at Haldiram's before Chandigarh. It was expected to be a boring ride till we hit the hills. The odometer stopped working in Zirakpur and we got the set replaced from a local mechanic at Panchkula-Shimla cut on the highway. It was 2 pm and the sun was at its full galore.

We moved past Parwanoo and the apart from the occasional jam, the journey was straight forward.

Shimla town:

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_9535.jpg

We reached until Narkanda by 7 pm and called it off for the day. Had booked a dorm at Echor hotel Matiana and the host was super nice! Echor has its property 11 kms before Narkanda town and its a nice little place easily visible on the highway. Only downside being, the bike had to be parked on the roadside.

Day 2: Narkanda to Chitkul | 205 kms

Started the day at 6:45 am with plans to reach Chitkul by noon. It was a cool morning with temperatures around 11 degrees and we were already feeling relieved from the scorching heat in the mainland. But little did we know that the rain-god was gonna usher his blessings upon us that day.

Had sumptuous breakfast ahead of Rampur town by 9:30 am and the weather was super fine until then. As we ascended towards Karcham, it started raining. I had my rain gears on but Praneev was not carrying his raincoat.

It was around 11:30 am and we had crossed Karcham dam to take the right turn towards Sangla. The road turned steep and narrow from here for the next 44 kms. Continuous rains only made it difficult for us to ride. The road is narrow at most corners and we had to push back multiple times due to incoming traffic from top. The climb from Karcham towards Sangla has intermittent Tarmac and the views are amazing! We managed to reach Sangla by 12:30 pm and decided to stop and search for a raincoat shop since Praneev was all drenched by then! Had hot rajma chawal as our efforts to get a raincoat went in vain. Clearly, we had underestimated our journey

We decided to move ahead since locals advised us to move quickly with possibility of landslides on the way ahead. It took us 2 more hours to cross the last stretch of 22 kms including a 20 mins break at Raksham check post to click few photos of the snow-clad mountains all around!

View from Raksham post:

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_9633.jpg

The roads less travelled:

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2693.jpg

Our bike:

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_9618.jpg

The soothing water stream:

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2672.jpg

Chitkul village is another 7 kms from the check-post. The rains had stopped by then as we ascended our way towards our destination. We reached Zostel by 3:30 pm and a sudden feeling of happiness gushed through us the moment we entered the place. Rest of the evening was spent walking around the small village and making new friends!

Zostel in Chitkul:

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_9641.jpg


The last dhaba:

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2729.jpg

Evening views from Zostel <3 :

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2695.jpg

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_9682.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 17th June 2019 at 07:25. Reason: Extra smiley deleted
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Old 16th June 2019, 01:35   #2
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Default re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Day 3: Chitkul | 10 kms

The place had its own charm and we decided to skip Kotgarh and spend the rest of the day at Chitkul, nevermind the prepaid booking at Nama-stay in Kotgarh!

Praneev went on a trek with Zostel mates while I decided to click photos around the village.

Views around:

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2808.jpg


Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2703.jpg


Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_9665.jpg


Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2706.jpg

Visited the ITBP check-post (3 kms from the village) and had a nice chat with the army men about life in hills and the extreme weather conditions. Clicked numerous pics along the way. The melting mountains and Baspa river make for a pretty sight!


Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2803.jpg


Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2800.jpg


Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2750.jpg

It was evening time and freezing cold at the post! There are 8 more ranges beyond until the LoC with the last 40 kms to be trekked!

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2816.jpg

Our Zostel group:


Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2831.jpg


We then decided to ride along the river and this was the best part of the trip!! Evening spent gazing few unbelievable views!

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-0m7a2866.jpg

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_9694.jpg

We managed to find an accommodation nearby in the village and slept off early to gear up for the return journey next day. Praneev had other plans on his mind and he went for a star gazing walk while I was happily dreaming in my bed!

Last edited by saurabh89 : 16th June 2019 at 01:42.
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Old 16th June 2019, 02:13   #3
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Default re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Day 4: Chitkul to Narkanda | 210 Kms

Little did we know that our return journey would turn out to be horrendous! The decent until Karcham was smooth and we managed to reach there by 9:30 am. Then started the ordeal... 30 kms before Rampur, the rear tyre went flat. Luckily had spotted a repair shop 2 kms before and we went back only to realise the tube had 6 punctures and the slime had lasted it's life! Its the same tube on which I had done Ladakh circuit last year and so I had no regrets for the punctures. The real prob started now as we were not carrying spare tubes!

Like I said, had underestimated the journey. Besides the 120/80/18 size is not too common for mechanics to keep spares. Managed to get hold of an under sized tube and we restarted our journey. 25 Kms on the way, the tyre went flat again!

By this time, we had run out of cash as well!!

I had to drop Praneev and ride slowly until Rampur. It's a big town in this belt but we couldn't find the right fit tube again! Managed to get an undersized tube whilst Praneev was hitch-hiking until the location.

It was 3 pm and our plan to reach until Chail (where we had a paid booking) was getting difficult. We had lunch at HP tourism restaurant in Rampur and started onwards.

50 Kms into the drive, the tyre went flat again around 6:30 pm after Kumarsain village. Now it was turning scary!! We were stranded on the mountain side and a Himachali gentlemen came out of the blue and stopped his car looking at our apathy. He offered to lend a spare tube he had for his '95 model classic!

I hopped onto his car and we went back few kms until a cherry shop where his bike was parked. He gave me his tube and left. I got the bike back until the cherry shop, unloaded the luggage and descended back 9 kms to kumarsain village. Had to open up the tyre myself this time since the mechanic had no idea how to open up the bullet.

The tyre had a 2 inch internal cut. Might have happened in the rocky patch beyond Sangla until Chitkul. The tyre had served its life (Even though Odo read only 13800 kms).

Managed to put a getter and reloaded an over-sized tube this time. Drove back slowly until the cherry shop by 8 pm. The shop keeper was nice to treat my friend well.

We decided to ride until Narkanda and chuck the plan for Chail. Managed to reach Echor Hotel by 9:30 pm. We slept praying to somehow reach until Shimla the next day.


Day 5: Narkanda to Delhi | 460 Kms

Started calling up tyre shops in Shimla early morning to get a tyre-tube set. It being a Sunday, most shops were closed. Naresh Brothers in Dhalli was open and they had a set with them.

14 kms from Echor, the tyre went flat again, 4th time! We decided to open up the bullet here and take the rim to Shimla and get the replacement. There was a hanuman mandir nearby, 3 kms before Theog. Opened up the bullet there and hitch-hiked until Dhalli. Had to walk for few kms with the rim on the shoulders. The pain did not end there, and the tube had a manufacturing defect. This time purchased the tyre and got 2 unndersized tubes (100/90/18). Took the HRTC bus back to theog and restarted by 5:30 pm towards Delhi. This whole episode had taken 7 hours of our travel time.

With Monday morning office, had to Reach Delhi! Crossed Shimla by 7:30 pm and drove all night until Gurgaon. We were back by 6 am.

That's the two of us:

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_9628.jpg

The trip turned out to be far more expensive than planned, but the lessons will remain etched into our memories forever, besides we have few more stories to share with pals!

1) Always carry spares (including tubes) - we had cables, plugs and few other essentials

2) Trust locals in hills

3) Believe in faith - there are kind men everywhere. Do good and god will help in some way or the other!


Until next time, happy travelling!
- Saurabh Sathe

Last edited by Aditya : 17th June 2019 at 07:26. Reason: Deleting extra smiley
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Old 17th June 2019, 07:28   #4
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Default re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 17th June 2019, 11:18   #5
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Nice snaps. Chitkul definitely was a really nice destination at some point of time. But the rampant constructions all around have been taking the beauty away slowly. It won't be too long before it becomes somewhat like Manali.
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Old 17th June 2019, 11:28   #6
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Having Punctures on a heavy bike on steep inclines is very scary,
I faced the same situation on my TBTS500 while going to Mukteshwar,
but luckily I had a portable air pump, my riding group had a puncture kit, and we got it fixed right away.

Ride safe, liked the pictures around the ITBP post.
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Old 17th June 2019, 12:27   #7
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Very nice stories , superb pics. In fact the narration of tyre burst stories were so simple yet elegant that it made the stories lively. Sorry but one thing I had to confess that, when I read tyre burst once again for the 4th time I started laughing.. like seriously, "kitne baar honge yaar"

But thanks for sharing, it was a nice read!

Last edited by cp171185 : 17th June 2019 at 12:28.
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Old 17th June 2019, 12:27   #8
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kandisa View Post
Nice snaps. But the rampant constructions all around have been taking the beauty away slowly. It won't be too long before it becomes somewhat like Manali.
I agree to this. Although the roads are not as deserted compared to Ladakh, this stretch can also turn into a nightmare for 20-25 kms. The locals were talking of having internet connectivity in the village by July 2019 end. I believe, post that the serenity of the village will be a lost cause!

And I say this, knowing that I work in telecom sector

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitish.arnold View Post
Having Punctures on a heavy bike on steep inclines is very scary,

Ride safe, liked the pictures around the ITBP post.
Didn't imagine the TYRE will get a cut. You are right, we were lucky to descend the mountains safely. Cheers!!
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Old 17th June 2019, 12:33   #9
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Thanks for the amazing photographs and a nice report of your trip. Recent news says that even Chitkul is overcrowded nowadays, what was the situation of Chitkul during your visit?
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Old 17th June 2019, 13:01   #10
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

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Originally Posted by cp171185 View Post
Very nice stories , superb pics. when I read tyre burst once again for the 4th time I started laughing.. like seriously, "kitne baar honge yaar"
Imagine our apathy at 7pm in the evening. I had lost mental strength when the tube got burst that time. Reminded me of my antics on Baralachala pass last year. Story here (Day 10):

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...ml#post4432245 (How does it feel to ride to the Himalayas? My experience of Ladakh Valley on an Enfield Bullet)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SJM1214 View Post
Recent news says that even Chitkul is overcrowded nowadays, what was the situation of Chitkul during your visit?
In week 1 of June, Chitkul had close to 150-200 tourists visiting per day. Few cars had to turn back to Sangla in the evening due to unavailability of home-stays.
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Old 17th June 2019, 14:02   #11
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Saurabh, great log. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Ordeal of flat tire must have been annoying, I guess having a company should have helped.

On learning your story of the person who helped you with a spare tube, I am reminded of a similar experience some years back when we were driving around Munnar. Misguided by Google maps took some steep hilly road and our vehicle stalled on a 30+ gradient. It was Gap road, facing bison valley with a deep gorge right next and vehicle refused to start. No body around, the sound of jungle felt seemingly amplified reverberating all through your head. With a toddler on board, it was a haunting experience. After 10 minutes or so, some stranger on a bike approached us. Now we were even more scared, what if he loots. Fortunately he was only trying to help. I tried to crank again and after few attempts the engine came alive. Although it felt absolutely powerless I could barely manage to crawl. Looking at our desperation, the good Samaritan followed us like a body guard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saurabh89 View Post
Believe in faith - there are kind men everywhere. Do good and god will help in some way or the other!
totally agree, I think that summarizes very well.

Last edited by Thermodynamics : 17th June 2019 at 14:06.
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Old 17th June 2019, 14:03   #12
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Quote:
Originally Posted by saurabh89 View Post
With a mid-week holiday for Eid, we got the perfect opportunity to visit Kinnaur valley and Chitkul.
One of the most beautiful places in India. I've been there a couple of times and would still love to go there again.

Quote:
The last dhaba:
Here are some pics from my 2017 trip to Spiti (6 BHpians + 2 friends and 4 cars):
Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_0648.jpg

Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border-img_0664.jpg
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Old 17th June 2019, 20:04   #13
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

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Originally Posted by Thermodynamics View Post
After 10 minutes or so, some stranger on a bike approached us. Now we were even more scared, what if he loots. Fortunately he was only trying to help. I tried to crank again and after few attempts the engine came alive.
Hey! That sounds scary, but yeah I get it that trips do have such moments at times.

Quote:
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[ATTACH=IMG_0648.JPG
1885779[/ATTACH]
Its nice to see BHPians together. I have never attended any meet till date. Will surely try to attend the next Delhi meet.
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Old 17th June 2019, 20:47   #14
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Quote:
Originally Posted by saurabh89 View Post
Day 4: Chitkul to Narkanda | 210 Kms

Little did we know that our return journey would turn out to be horrendous! .......
.......
1) Always carry spares (including tubes) - we had cables, plugs and few other essentials

2) Trust locals in hills

3) Believe in faith - there are kind men everywhere. Do good and god will help in some way or the other!


Until next time, happy travelling!
- Saurabh Sathe
Great to read your short but sweet travelogue. These are the things you can do only during your young ages. I have had such travelling experiences (on public transport/ hitch hiking etc.) which when I look back now are "horrendous", but at that time, when I did it, they were never felt so.
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Old 19th June 2019, 21:11   #15
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Default Re: Summer Retreat : Delhi to Chitkul, the last village on the Tibet border

Thank you for a travelogue where you let the photos do the talking and for not posting photos of the food in the thali!. Loved your photos.
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