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Old 1st November 2019, 22:54   #16
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Default re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Day 10: Kaza- Langza - Hikkim - komic - Kaza

Early morning the blue sky was covered with floating clouds. The mountain peaks which were bare yesterday were capped with snow. The cold chilly air whistled inside the room when the door of the balcony was left open. Today we had to makeup for the last day delay so we were all ready within minutes. Our luggage were parked at the reception and the rooms were handed over. We have decided that we will be heading towards Kalpa today once we have completed today’s circuit. The roads are still blocked in Chatru side, so no point heading towards that. The return trip would be long but had no other option. Sometimes it's the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.

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On the way to Langza

The road leading to Langza had incredible landscapes comprising of snow clad mountains, green pastures and barren lonely valley that awe-struck us. Langza Village is primarily dominated by the statue of Lord Buddha, overlooking the valley and an ancient monastery encroached with mud houses. The clouds playfully covered the sun promoting light and shadow games. On the way back, we could see the crystal blue lake shimmering in the bright sun rays engulfed in between the green lustrous hills. An old lady requested for lift till komic and I was more than happy to help her but before that she will accompany us to Hikkim.

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On the way to Langza

Hikkim is another sparsely populated village in Spiti valley at an elevation of 4,400 mts. This tiny hamlet of Hikkim is known for being the home of the highest post office in the world. I hurried to write a letter to my parents that I have made it happen. The postmaster was glad to click a group photo ( the only one in this trip). From Hikkim we were heading to Komic, the highest motorable village in the world.

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Langza

To be continued ...

Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 20:55. Reason: Picture & video spacing.
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Old 1st November 2019, 22:59   #17
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Default re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Day 10 continued ...

Hikkim is another sparsely populated village in Spiti valley at an elevation of 4,400 mts. This tiny hamlet of Hikkim is known for being the home of the highest post office in the world. I hurried to write a letter to my parents that I have made it happen. The postmaster was glad to click a group photo ( the only one in this trip). From Hikkim we were heading to Komic, the highest motorable village in the world.

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Random Snaps of Hikkim

The old lady got down at Komic monastery which also had the world's highest restaurant in its proximity. We were having a sun bath in the restaurant with piping hot noodles. Now it was time to go back to Kaza because there was no news of clearance of the road blocks in Chatru. There was a route to reach Kaza via Demul or take a “U” turn on the same route back. Having cognizance of the road conditions in Demul being risk prudent the decision was to take the same route back.

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Random Snaps Of Komik

To be continued ...

Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 20:56. Reason: Picture spacing.
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Old 1st November 2019, 23:07   #18
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Default re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Day 10 continued ...

Post noon we were back in the hotel. We dumped the bags in the car and started off towards Kalpa but faith held something else to surprise us. The roads were barricaded near the PWD guest house baring big cars travelling towards Kalpa. Way back in Kaza we needed to stay in a budget hotel to save money as we were uncertain of the number of days of stay. Driving towards north east of Kaza, we located the Himachal Tourism Guesthouse at the verge of end of the town. On inquiring it was known that it is full of guests. At the entrance of the guest
house a lady came hurrying towards us to offer rooms in her newly built hotel.

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On the way back to Kaza from Komic

It was good and within budget. All were in agreement. Again we three musketeers (me, Shikha and Tanu) equipped with tripod, some munching and water walked down towards the river bank. The time lapse of the floating clouds over the top of the mountains and the light and shadow dancing over the floating river made the day a delight. In the evening we had the round table conference and decided to leave for Losar early morning. The conclusion day of the Kaza festival could not be left off. The last day of the festival marked the beauty pageant contest to elect the Lahaul queen. For the last dinner in Kaza, we again went back to the same restaurant. The latest updates of the roads were thus know that the roads to Losar has opened and it is expected to open till Manali the next day.
The three days sojourn in Kaza was a complete bundle of stunning landscapes, beautiful villages, monasteries and astonishing night sky.This place was the spectacular one with rocky mountains on either side of the river Spiti leaving us spellbound. They looked like giant fortress structures with spires, pinnacles and windows. Some of the structures of limestone looked like cylindrical or pyramidical standing like knights on duty. The club of villages in the outskirts of Kaza was the salient feature.

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View from our New Stay in Kaza

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We spent the Lazy Afternoon sitting on the river side

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Kaza Monastery @ Evening

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Written in Kaza School Gate

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We spent the last day to Kaza Festival

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Just tried to capture the sky of Kaza

To be continued ...

Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 20:57. Reason: Picture spacing.
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Old 1st November 2019, 23:11   #19
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Default re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Day 11: Kaza to Losar

Early morning the lady owner of the hotel came hopping to tell us the the chairman had announced in the conclusion speech that the roads till Manali will open by 12:00 pm today. Her husband was also trapped in Manali with no communication. By 9:00 AM we were all set to go but before that it was required to change the front stabilizer link bush of my car as the noise was pricking my ears. I went to the garage near Zostel and got it changed in no time as I already had them in stock. Turning back the car was pumping uphill when I creased the brakes hearing a loud noise. It was necessary to look into the reason for it. I again drove to the garage when the bikers group again caught me. Again their dilemma was which way to head towards. Batal roads are closed as per their latest news, only the Kalpa side roads are open for bikes. Being risk prudent they made their mind to head to Kalpa. My car was thoroughly checked but no one could make out the reason for the sound. Thinking that the bumper had jerked the wheels back to its fitted position, I made my way towards Losar. Bad roads lead to good destination.

As Spiti valley is strategically located in the trans-Himalayan niche, the region is surrounded by enormous mountain ranges and traversed by the main line of the Himalayas. Spiti is a land of fascinating contrasts, shocks of green alternating in a barren expanse of russet. You can find lots of variation in mountain structures at this place. The newly completed road into this barren land will surely make you feel like into the wild. We were just intoxicated with the beauty of this place. I could not resist any more and had to stop to behold the scene in my eyes wide open. Some time was spent taking snaps and time lapse accompanied with some munching. The car was dancing on the bumpy roads and the large wheels lashed against the mud guard. The sound made me sceptical when I heard it the second time. I got down to check exactly the leaf springs and yes I nailed it, the main leaf spring of the left rear suspension was broken apart. I did not move the car fearing any further damage rather waited for help located equidistant from Losar and Kaza on either sides.

There was a car coming from Kaza side and Shikha made no miss in waving her hand to stop the car. The driver introduced himself to be an owner of a garage in Kaza and asked us to go by bike and get the mechanic here rather than moving the car. Me and Arijit were about to leave when another sumo came from Losar side and gave us confidence that the car can be taken to kaza for repair. Tanu asked to get in their car to lighten the vehicle and they would also lead us to the best mechanic in Kaza. I followed it diligently avoiding jerks on the bumpy roads. The best mechanic was away and the shop was closed so I went back to the same garage near Zostel. After numerous accidents and loss of a leaf spring, lastly the amendments were done by 3 pm. Rest of the team utilized the time completing lunch with me staying with the car and Shikha packed some lunch for me.

It was already 3 pm that we started for Losar again and this time we have to be swift because roads are tough in the dark. Losar is 56.7 kms with the half of the distance with nice roads and the latter half is tough enough. By 5 pm we were in Losar village were the greenery of the vegetation grabbed my keen attention. Losar is situated at an elevation of 4084 mts being the first habitant village if you are coming from Manali to Kaza via Kunzum La and the last village before the India China border.

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Another view of Kee Monastery from Losar Road

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Few Ransom Snaps between Kaza and Losar

I have seen nice reviews of Nomad’s Cottage and was also suggested by a friend so he sign board of this homestay beckoned me towards it. The rooms were a bit out of budget and we were still objected towards saving money as we were still unsure of the stay duration. To find some more options, I and Arijit went on the bike in the village. Here we found a homestay whose owner was in regular contact with the police station in that location receiving updates of the road blocks through wireless. Staying here would definitely help with the next course of action. The rooms were simple with basic amenities and the best news was that a guest in the same homestay would leave for Chandra taal to witness the sunrise at the lake in his Scorpio. Hurray!!! No more roadblocks and tomorrow we are off to Chandra taal. We have to leave by dawn as the weather may deteriorate and it was necessary to cross Batal and reach Grampu before water level in rivulets was not that high. I will explain later how does that matters and what are the implications. All this information were plattered along with dinner that too with lamb for dinner.

To be continued ...

Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 20:59. Reason: Picture spacing.
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Old 1st November 2019, 23:26   #20
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Default re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Day 12: Losar - Kunzum La - Chandrataal- Batal - Chatru - Gramphu Rohtang - Kothi

All the alarms rang one by one and everyone was packed in their jackets and warmers. Baggages were packed and the engines where cranged. My gigantic engine denied to take a start, I did not realize the the temperature has dropped down to sub zero at night. Jugs of hot water was poured on diesel filter and on the front glass guarded with a thin layer of ice. The bike was also bath with hot water to warm up for the new avenue. The owner was awake by now and was ready with cups of tea for all. By 6 am we were accelerating towards Chandra Taal. At the check post route documents check was completed while I rechecked the road conditions ahead.

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Early Morning at Losar

Kunzum La is at a distance of 18.3 kms and even though google map may say that it is gettable in 17 mins, believe it is not. There were no roads rather it was barren desert and you can take any direction you wish to. At Kunzum La is at an elevation of 4590 mts. and is one of the highest motorable mountain passes of India. Forming the watershed between Lahaul and Spiti, this 4590m pass is accessed by multiple switchbacks. The place is topped by a grassy area where stupas are strewn with fluttering prayer flags.

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Kunzum La

Local drivers (and even the buses) briefly divert from the road to perform a respectful circuit around them. The meadow was encroached with white-top peaks behind and deep abyss on either sides. The road to Chandratal is a 14 kilometers long stretch that bifurcates from Kaza Manali road and takes you to the famous moon lake. The bifurcation is about 2 kilometers before Batal. This entire 14 kilometers long road is extremely narrow; barely wide enough for one car; and you are bound to get stuck if there was a car coming from the opposite direction. On one side of the road is the steep mountain and a steep fall into Chandra river on the other side. The car was parked 2 kms away from the lake at the parking area and beyond that there is no other option but to trek up to the lake. We procured the entry pass and enquiried of food. Knowing that in lunch we will get rice, I already ordered and asked them to prepare while we will be back from the lake.

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On the way to Chandrataal

For a brief introduction, Chandra Taal, commonly referred to as Chandratal and literally meaning as the “Moon Lake”; is a high altitude lake located in Samudra Tapu plateau, in Lahaul & Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh. At an altitude of 4,300 meters, this lake is the source of Chandra River and its name “Chandra” is believed to be derived from its moon like shape. Chandra River originates from a glacier on south-eastern side of the Baralacha La Pass. These small streams of water flow down in the direction of Kunzum pass and form Chandratal in a broad slush plain amidst the peaks of Kunzum range.


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Hiking Route to Chandrataal

Completely enthralled by the natural beauty of Chandratal, sitting in between high rising snow-capped peaks. We walked along the trek route and the route was les tedious than the Dhankar lake trek. Within minutes we were at the top of the hill and we could see the crystal clear lake on one side and the glaciers on the other. Bad roads lead to good destination and I realized it when I reached Chandratal Lake. The reflection of the snow capped mountains were portrait like an image on the clear water. The bright sun made the ice dazzle more making it difficult to look at. The first sight of the lake took away all the pain of the arduous journey. As per the locales, Chandertal is this point from where Yudhishtra (Eldest among Pandavas of the Mahabharata epic) was taken to heaven in his mortal form. It is also believed to be blessed, and visited by fairies at night. At a height of around 14100 feet above sea level, the lake is surrounded by scree, and brown mountains, which in the winter season turn white.
The huge cirque here offers a magnificent view of the lake and far off snow-clad peaks of the Himalayan Mountain Range; thus, making it a paradise for photographers. The rolling hills, green meadows, wild flora and small waterfalls on the way will urge you to say WOW! Upon reaching this Himalayan Lake, you will be bewitched with its shades of brown, azure and white as it perfectly blends with the surroundings, which are all grassy and mountainous. You may say it is completely surreal! After all the water seemed to quench all thirst and we missed no chance to flush out our kidneys with this water. I gobbled the water like a thirsty duck.

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Chandrataal & Surroundings

After spending some quality time rejuvenating and relaxing, we walked back to the parking area where Arijit and Tamasi were already waiting for us. We were hungry and lunch was served in no time. At the elevation the plain rice and dal was like the best meal I ever had in the trip.

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Returning from Taal

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The Great Food for the day

To be continued ...

Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 21:00. Reason: Picture & video spacing.
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Old 1st November 2019, 23:35   #21
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Day 12 continued ...

After lunch we hurried towards Grampu.The bad broken narrow roads, water streams, slush and whatever the terrain threw at me, I drove with patience. It was NH 505 but I would have named it the highest motorable river bed in the world. Though the distance is approximately 140 km, it does not mean that the journey is easy or short. It can easily take about 7-8 hours from Chandratal to Manali via Batal and Rohtang Pass.

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Returning from Chandrataal

At most rivulet Arijit drove without pillion have better balancing. The chota dhara conspired to wash us away but the battle was won by turtle which slowly swam across. After chota dhara there was bara dhara which came in the way with more rigour and current of water but Turtle again hopped on the boulders and slipped by. This is what I was talking about when I was worried about the increase in water level in the rivulets. The large boulders on either sides of the narrow passage made it a tunnel to pass through. After passing all this river beds finally we reached Chhatru but the adventure and scary roads was still not over.

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Random Snaps NH-505

The sun was high in the horizon and created mirage making the water streams look like pitch roads. At a distance I could see vehicles piled ahead of us. I thought the vehicles were standing still to pass the truck coming from opposite direction but then a Sumo crossed the truck, I also made my move.

While crossing the vehicles I realized that there is no one and them came the thought that those were the people who left Kaza hearing the roads were blocked and got stuck here due to landslides. People were rescued by the disaster management team but the vehicles were left abandoned. The queue also included expensive bikes. The rivulet were lost and big stream with gushing water of Pagal Nala made me go crazy. After crossing the last hurdle, it was only pebbles and boulders to concentrate upon. The black clouds were chasing us making us hurry towards Grampu. River Chandra was watching the whole challenge heartedly flowing beside us. I am astonished to think how the HPTDC buses run on this route. Finally at Grampu the pitch road was waiting for us.

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Finally we reached Gramphu

I had never been so eager to see a pitch black road. The roads were badly damaged due to the heavy rainfall for the last three days. There were landslides at many places and the roads were diverted from the Leh Manali highway. Many roads have gone down mts below with the scree rolling down the mountains. It was already drizzling at by evening we crossed Rohtang La which was over crowded with biker groups. Between Rohtang pass and Manali vehicles have again piled up and the reason is again landslide. It as cleared but the motion of the traffic was very sluggish. Tanu and Arijit were on bike and could pass through. But suddenly there was complete stagnation in the movement of the traffic. There was no network either to get in touch with Arijit for any information. We were stuck in the same place for a round 2 hrs and it was getting dark now. In the meantime I was having a conversation with the local cab drivers who suggested me to stay in Kothi rather than Manali. As Manali will be overcrowded with people because the roads have open after three days and floods of tourists will be occupying the place. After 2 hrs there was a drift in the traffic and we slowly merged in the movement. At the second turn after passing some army trucks we were at the stop of a major landslide were the scree was still heaped up on the sides of the road. The continuous drizzling has worsened the conditions further. Army trucks gave way to public transport to help them reach their destinations before it’s too dark. Few kms later we saw Tanu and Arijit waiting for us at the road-side Dhaba. On meeting them the real story was known. Just when Tanu crossed the landslide area, behind him the second round of scree felt on the road which was again blocked auguring danger. I lead the bike towards Kothi which is 12 kms from Manali at an elevation of 2500 mts. Everyone was gazing on the route to find a hotel anywhere beside the highway. Looking back Shikha saw the piled of vehicles still stuck near Rohtang pass and it head lights of the traffic made it look like a train crawling over the turning roads. At around 9 pm a cafe ‘Cafe Chalte Chalte” caught our attention. On enquiring I came to know that it is a hotel and rooms are available. It was a good one, so we wasted no time and checked in. Dinner was on me as a treat as my turtle has completed hundred thousands kms last day. Being tired of the arduous journey, each one of us was soon asleep on our cozy beds.

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Scenic Traffic Jam

To be continued ...

Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 21:02. Reason: Picture & video spacing.
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Old 1st November 2019, 23:43   #22
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Default re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Day 13: Kothi - Manali - Ambala Cantt

Next morning was bright and fresh as we enjoyed having breakfast at the open restaurant just above the apple orchard. The place looked amazing covered with valleys all around and the lofty clouds ran like a small kid in the field of blue sky.

On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh-img_20190822_085320.jpg

On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh-img_20190822_091949.jpg

On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh-img_20190822_092003.jpg

On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh-img_20190822_092016.jpg

On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh-tkd_1851.jpg

On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh-tkd_1852.jpg

On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh-tkd_1853.jpg
Sunny Morning @ Kothi

At 9:30 am we headed to our way back home. The return journey is always a mix of joy of having enjoyed such serene nature and sorrow of getting back to the route life. On the way at Mandi we washed the car and the bike and then stopped to have lunch at another Dhaba. For evening snacks there was another break in Bharatgarh, Punjab. We were targeting to reach Karnal Haryana but it seemed difficult because Arijit was feeling sleepy and it was not safe to make him drive. On reaching Ambala everyone started searching for hotels and most of the volumes of hotels appeared marked in Ambala Cantt area on google map. At Ambala Cantt one after another hotel lights made our eyes blink. Seeing a huge parking lot, I stopped to check out that hotel. Somehow it was only a matter of sleep so we did not bother ourselves much just that it was AC rooms and that was enough. Total distance covered for the day was 353 kms.

Day 14: Ambala Cantt - Fatehpur (UP)

Early this morning I was awakened by the loud sound of bhajan played on speakers. Arijit had to catch his flight from Delhi today so he will be leaving us beyond Panipath. Ambala Cantt is near the railway station that is the reason there are so many budget hotels and restaurants here. You can find good food at affordable prices here. From the snow capped mountains down on the plains the heat was unbearable. Though the morning breeze was still cold, by noon it will be warming up.

On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh-img_20190823_075853.jpg
The only picture for the day

Arijit took his necessary things in his backpack and majority of his luggage was dumped in my car. Starting at 7:30 am in the morning, we were crossing the Panipath city by 9 am and at the same point of a political rally was on the road. Traffic was sluggish at Ram Nagar in Panipath and I again suspected a delay of hours. Arijit was skillful enough to slip between the gaps of the traffic with his bike. Beyond Panipath my car turned left and Arijit’s bike went straight towards Delhi. With some small meal breaks, we were in Fatehpur at 11 pm travelling a total distance of 775 kms.

Day 15: Fatehpur(UP) - Saram (Jharkhand)

From Fatehpur to kolkata is 937 kms which I don't want to drive in a single day. Shikha came up with the idea to stay at her aunt’s place tonight which would mean a 70 kms off route travel. Still we all agreed as it will let her see her aunt after 6 years and even it will be my first visit after7 years of marriage. In the darkness, the reflector on the black pitch roads gave me the feel of red carpet drive. The trees covered the roads forming a tunnel baring the moon from seeing us. By 10 pm we were in Saram which is a small town near Tenughat dam in Jharkhand. Today distance covered for the day was 660 kms.

Day 16: Saram (JH) - Kolkata

We left Saram at 3 pm after I had my noon nap post a lip smacking lunch. Distance to travel was 386 kms and the roads were nice so no worry. By 11 pm we reached home.


A journey, after all, neither begins in the instant we set out, nor ends when we have reached our doorstep once again. It starts much earlier and is never really over, because the film of memory continues running on inside of us long after we have come to a physical stand still.
Indeed, there exists something like a contagion of travel, and the disease is essentially incurable.


On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh-img_20190820_110844.jpg
Lazy Turtle Completed Hundred Thousands KMs on it's own terrain

Thank You !

- Point Zero

Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 21:04. Reason: Picture & video spacing.
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Old 10th November 2019, 00:57   #23
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Default re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Thread moved from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10th November 2019, 02:51   #24
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Default re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Just one word, WOW!! Re-lived our 2017 trip to Spiti through your travelogue. Rated a well deserved 5 stars, thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th November 2019, 10:34   #25
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Default Re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Fantastic report there PointZero! Love to see your Bolero in such scenic locations. Keep it up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PointZero View Post
This picture reminds me of my visit to Spiti couple of years ago!
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Old 11th November 2019, 13:21   #26
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Default Re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

The following phrase is getting repetitive, but brings back memories of my solo ride from 2016.

Very nice pictures and a brave trip PZ. The batal to Manali stretch is truly a killer. Didn't you break bread at chacha chachi's at batal?

Your friend on the FZ, did he ship his bike to Delhi from Kolkata?
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Old 11th November 2019, 14:39   #27
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Default Re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Man! You just blew me away!
Wonderful narration and jaw dropping snaps. Without me having to travel to Spiti, you opene up it beauty in front of us. Many thanks for sharing such a brilliant piece of work. Rated the well deserved five stars.

Spiti has been on my radar for quite some time now. Only that something or the other comes up and I fail to conclude a trip that side.

Could you kindly share your itinerary?
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Old 11th November 2019, 15:57   #28
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Default Re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Yes, it was a great TR and very good photographs. I marvelled at the very casual attitude with which you tackled the problems you had, especially with the Bolero. leaf spring broken. I would have split a gut. Gear not engaging, Car not starting. Great job.
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Old 11th November 2019, 20:21   #29
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Default Re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Brother, you are no ordinary human being! A normal human being cant write a Ladakh and Spiti travelogue at the same time and get both of them published together.
If anyone is clueless on what am saying, then please go through this link too -
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...h-kashmir.html (Three tickets to paradise - Ladakh & Kashmir)

Just completed reading both. Both are 5* materials with some brilliant pics and awesome narration.
Felt good to see the Fz25 travelling with you. Sadly my Fz25 will not see the Himalaya in it's life, but it felt great to see other's taking their Fz25 for such trips.
Few dreams remain as dreams. We cant get all.

Keep travelling and keep gifting us with such wonderful travelogue's.
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Old 12th November 2019, 20:12   #30
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Default Re: On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Mesmerizing pictures sir, truly food for the soul. I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed blog and immersive narration. And have to agree with you 100% on this "Bad roads lead to great destinations". Thank you for sharing
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