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Old 2nd September 2021, 19:29   #1
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Default Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass

It all started when we bought our first 4*4, Jeep Compass Limited Plus, aka Grey Goose, in Nov 2020. The pandemic had kept most of us indoors most of last year. However unable to resist the urge to hit the highways, we did manage few trips to Goa, Pune in the beginning of 2021. But ye dil maange more, and we wanted to drive to some unexplored territories and if we were lucky to engage the 4*4 capabilities of our Grey Goose.

It was around mid June when my wife, Shikha was contemplating a drive to Dharamshala, HP to spend few weeks with her childhood friend there. Unfortunately, the landslide in Dalhousie in mid July played spoil sport and she had to drop the plan, especially after seeing videos of cars getting washed away.

Second in plan was a coastal KA circuit ( Blore- Mangalore- Udupi- Agumbe - Kudremukh) however the landslides in Shiradi ghat, on the Bengaluru-Mangaluru highway and nonstop rain, followed by orange alert by the IMD ruined the plan once again.

Just then, a friend, Shibu Varghese (Team bhp handle - JeepCaptain) suggested a 1 week Spiti trip being organized by Beyond Xpeditions, starting 7th August. We decided instantly to join. The starting point to the trail was Chandigarh where all the cars would meet, which means I would need additional 5-6 days to drive up and down Blore, along with 1 week in Spiti, which would make it close to 2 weeks of leave, something which my manager would never approve

Finally, she decided to drive to Chandigarh, spend time with her friends and relatives in Delhi and I shall join her in Chandigarh for our Spiti circuit. This was supposed to be her longest solo, Bangalore - Mumbai/Bangalore – Kolkata being the few solos she had covered in last couple of years.


Below is the experience in Shikha’s words:


When I decided to drive solo to Chandigarh, I started reading through multiple posts/links/blogs and understood that NH44 is the most preferred route, for its simplicity and predictability. It was supposed to be a butter smooth road in most places, except patches. To my hard luck, I crossed the stretch when UP, MP and neighboring states were experiencing depression, in first week of August. It had been raining nonstop on this stretch for past couple of days which resulted in flooding at Nirmal. Though the water receded, the impact could be seen throughout the stretch in form of potholes. I spoke to some locals at petrol bunks and dhabas, and understood that the potholes are recent development over the past 2-3 weeks of continuous rain.

I encountered heavy to very heavy rain starting from Nagpur until Gwalior. There was water logging in couple of places on highways, and visibility had dropped drastically but luckily I didn’t get stranded anywhere. The day I crossed Jhansi, there were news of roads being blocked the same night between Gwalior – Jhansi due to rivers overflowing.
I had the below plans for stops on the way, however some unavoidable instances (mentioned in details below) delayed my plan by a day:

My initial plan:
Bangalore- Hyderabad – Sagar - Agra – Chandigarh
The stops I finally took:
Bangalore – Hyderabad – Nagpur – Jhansi – Greater Noida – Chandigarh

Bangalore – Nagpur (approx. 1100kms) is easily doable in a day considering the butter smooth stretch for major part of it, however a stop in Hyd was inevitable since my car was due its 2nd free servicing. Yes, for past 4 years, I have been visiting Hyd for my cars' servicing (first for Punto Abarth, and now Jeep Compass). We shifted to Bangalore from Hyderabad after a year of purchasing the Abarth in Hyderabad. Considering the experience I always had with FCA Hyd Service centre, I prefer leaving my car only with them, the people I trust. It sounds funny to many, driving 1000kms up and down Blore – Hyd for a car servicing, but for people for whom cars are not just 'cars', this distance doesn’t matter, does it?

Bangalore – Hyderabad:


Approx distance: 550 kms
Bangalore-Anantpur – Shamshabad - Hyderabad

In 2017-18, I used to travel up and down this stretch, every weekend for almost a year. I generally took 7 hrs door-to-door (Whitefield, Blore – Kondapur, Hyd). However, this time it took over 8.5 hours. There are few diversions due to flyover construction near Kurnool, but the truck traffic on this stretch has increased drastically. I always left early morning by 5-6am, and would reach Hyd home before noon. This time I decided to leave after lunch from Blore, not sure if that’s the culprit, rain adding to the mess. Took a dinner stop at Kritunga on the highway and finally halted at Kondapur for the night.

Toll between Blore – Hyd: (Rs720)

Starting from my home in Bangalore
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-leaving-ss-1.jpg

Bangalore - Hyderabad Highway
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-blorehyd-highway.jpg

While my car was getting serviced, I also refueled myself with some Hyderabadi Biryani at Paradise, followed by a dessert. All set to start the next day.

Never miss a chance when in Hyderabad

Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-whatsapp-image-20210912-19.51.58.jpeg

When you have a sweet tooth, you feel glad you don't have to share it with anyone
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-whatsapp-image-20210912-19.51.30.jpeg

Hyderabad – Nagpur:


Approx distance: 450kms
Hyderabad – Nirmal – Adilabad – Hinganghat – Nagpur

Excitement of the drive was building up and I had a restless night. I start early morning, hoping to have lunch in Nagpur.

Started from Hyderabad ORR at Gachibowli, and got down at Medak/Nagpur exit(Exit No6). The exit takes you directly on Nagpur ORR. The Nagpur ORR is a 4 lane smooth road, less traffic, no surprises until Adilabad. This stretch is full of truck traffic, all driving at consistent speed and the drivers are polite enough to let you pass. Very limited food options here. As soon you get down from Hyd ORR onto Nagpur ORR you will find few restaurants to your left. Pls finish your meals/ freshening up. Beyond this, you won’t find anything decent until Adilabad. Family restaurants are rare on this stretch, the limited dhabas predominantly serve truck drivers. The petrol bunks are the only savior for washroom facilities. As soon you exit Adilabad, there are 3-4 dhabas and family restaurants. I stopped at Samrat Residency – good food, clean washrooms. Post this, there are no food facilities until Nagpur.
Roads after Adilabad start developing potholes. Slow down.

Remember I mentioned about few unavoidable circumstances. Here is the first one - As soon I entered Hyd ORR, I noticed both the USB ports were not responding. My phone battery was draining fast, thanks to GPS. Since it was Sunday and Service centers being closed, I wasn't sure whom to reach out. I continued, hoping to charge my phone at some restaurant ahead. Called the Service Mgr at Hyd SC. Since there was nothing much to do right then, he suggested me to stop at Nagpur for the day, and he would arrange for a technician at Nagpur. Around same time, reached out to few people in BJC(Bangalore Jeep Club). They suggested to get out of the car, lock it, stay away for 10-15 mins and then restart. Trust me, as funny it sounds, this actually resolved the issue!! In the meanwhile, the Hyd SC Mgr had spoken to the Area Mgr in Nagpur. He called and requested me to sync up with him, as soon I reach Nagpur. He had arranged for a technician to check and resolve the issue, to ensure this doesn’t reoccur.

I reached Nagpur around 3pm, and called up the technician. They came down to my hotel and did a thorough check up. Probably the software upgrade done the previous day during servicing was the culprit. Luckily the issue never cropped up again till date. Though my initial plan was to reach Sagar that day, I had to halt at Nagpur for the night.

Toll between Hyd – Nagpur – (Rs.885)

Starting from Hyderabad ORR
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-hyd-orr-entr.jpg
Hyderabad ORR
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-orr-hyd.jpg
Exit to Nagpur
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-exit-6-nagpur.jpg
Entering Nagpur ORR
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-entering-nagpur-orr.jpg
Nagpur ORR
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-hassle-free-strecth-hydnagpur.jpg
Lunch Break
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-samrat-hotel.jpg
Nothing beats the Dal Tadka in Dhabas
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-lunch-samrat.jpg
Greenery all around
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-hydnag.jpg
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Potholes start developing after Adilabad
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-potholes-after-adilabad.jpg
The infamous cattle occupying the highways
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-cattle-nh-median-hydnag.jpg
Entering Nagpur city
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-entering-nagpur.jpg

Nagpur – Jhansi:


Approx distance: 550kms
Nagpur – Seoni- Narsinghpur – Sagar - Jhansi

Started my day with a plate of piping hot Poha and a glass of ginger tea, I continued on NH44, which completely bypasses Nagpur city. As soon you cross the city, you will cross couple of National Parks, including the Pench NP. It’s a beautiful drive with lush greenery all around, roads are perfect until Seoni. Rare restaurants, washroom facilities on this stretch until Jhansi. It was raining incessantly throughout. Stopped at Hotel Krishna at Kareli for lunch. The restaurant has opened just a year back and serves good food and has clean washrooms. Post this, until Sagar and further till Jhansi, there are no food options.

BEWARE OF COWS on the road. They block the roads and no amount of honking or rain can deter them from highways. The medians have turned green due to rain, which attracts them further. There are cows all over the median and they suddenly get down on the road. You will drive over Betwa river before entering Jhansi. The day I crossed, it was very rough and water level was alarmingly high with strong winds. Another night of rain and the roads were on the verge of getting submerged.

Toll amount between Nagpur – Jhansi – (Rs.935)

Stopped hoping to say a Hello
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-pench.jpg

Drive through the greenery
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-crossing-forest-reserves.jpg

Somewhere on the highway
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Lunch break
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Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-lunch-nagpurjhansi.jpg

Craters on earth
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-potholesnagjhan.jpg

Cattle rule the roads across UP, MP highways
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-cattle-nagpurjhansi.jpg

Overflowing Betwa river

Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-betwa-nagjhan.jpg


Dinner at Jhansi
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-dinner-jhansi.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 15th September 2021 at 18:37. Reason: As requested
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Old 2nd September 2021, 23:00   #2
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Default Escapade dé Spiti in our Grey Goose

Jhansi – Agra:


Approx Distance: 235kms

Planned to start early in the day and reach Chandigarh the same day, however fate had other plans. Jhansi was in no mood to let go of me so soon, and conspired to hold me back for another couple of hours. Saw a flat tyre as soon I reached the hotel parking at 6am. It was 36 hours of non-stop rain in Jhansi, and I had no option but to wait until 8/9am when the puncture shops open. Found few numbers on google and started dialing them from 7am, but few didn’t respond, while others were switched off. Just then the hotel reception introduced me to Mr Munna Khan, the hotel owner's family driver. Though he works at their residence, he had come to the hotel for some work. Seeing my loaded car and the flat tire, he decided to take up the matter in his own hands. He removed the flat tire, called for an auto, went around 2-3 puncture shops at 8am but to our bad luck, none of the shops had opened. The city was facing power cuts for over 24 hours, which resulted in shop keepers’ phones running out of charge. He waited with me until the shops open. Finally, we got the tire fixed around 9am, had breakfast and I could leave for Greater Noida around 9.30am. Mr. Khan was indeed an angel for me that day.

With Mr. Munna Khan
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210803_084703.jpg
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Exiting Jhansi
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-exiting-jhansi.jpg

You continue on NH 44 from Jhansi to Agra, bypassing many towns (Morena, Dholpur). As soon you exit Jhansi, there is heavy to very heavy truck traffic, waiting to turn right towards Kanpur. Food and washroom facilities limited until Dholpur. Cattles all along the stretch, in the middle of the road plus numerous potholes until Gwalior. You will cross River Chambal after Dholpur. That day it was rough and overflowing.

River Chambal
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-chambal.jpg


Cattle all over once again
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-cattlee.jpg

As if all these were not enough, you have oncoming vehicles coming on right lane, with roads paved with potholes
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-potholes-plus-opp-traffic.jpg

Soon after the Chambal river, you will find very few family restaurants in Dholpur. Try to finish your meals there, because you wont find anything until Agra. I entered Agra city around 2pm, had lunch at Hotel Park. Pretty good butter chicken to be honest. Entering Agra was a nightmare - broken roads full of potholes, water logging, rain adding to the mess.

Irony. The condition of a toll booth entrance
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-toll-before-agra.jpg

Entering Agra
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-entering-agra.jpg

Lunch stop at Agra
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210803_144848-2.jpg
Lip smacking Butter Chicken and Jeera Rice
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Before proceeding to Greater Noida, I decided to take a quick drive around Agra city. Though I wanted to, but avoided entering the Taj since that would mean staying back in Agra for the night.

I would specially like to mention an incidence which occurred here, which might change the view of many who always feel UP is not safe for single women. I, myself, been born brought up in UP, don’t deny that safety of women is indeed a matter of concern there but there are always few people who restore faith that good people do exist.

As soon I got down from the car to have a glimpse of the Taj from a distance, couple of auto drivers and guides started circling around. Some offered to get me a clear view of it from close, but I had to take them in my car and drop them back.
Some suggested to visit a park opposite Shahjahan park. When I went there, found the park empty and closed for public. Seeing all this, 2 gentlemen, Mr, Puran Chand and his friend, whisked me away to a park from where I could finally have a glance. This park is restricted to public though. They work as security guard at the Taj West gate and were returning home after their shift. When they saw my outstation car and that I am trapped by these guides, they came to my rescue. They made sure to wait till I finish clicking pics and also offered to click my pics. They tried some photography tricks, just the way all tourists pose but the end result were more goofy than cute . It was so kind of them to ensure my safety in such a crowded place. They also escorted me to my car and waited till I left.
They also shared their phone numbers for any problems till I am in Agra. Oh, and offered me a free trip to the Taj next time - no ticket, no parking fee.
People like Mr. Khan and Mr.Puran Chand are angels who appear out of nowhere when you least expect help.

Toll amount between Jhansi – Agra – (Rs.350)

Inside Agra city
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-inside-agra.jpg
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At Agra Fort
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-outisde-arga-fort.jpg

With the masterpiece at a distance
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With Mr. Puran Chand and his friend
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210803_163013.jpg


Must try photography tricks, photo courtesy Mr. Chand

Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210803_162749.jpg
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Exiting Agra is also a challenge, considering the city roads dug up everywhere, due to Metro construction. Finally took the Yamuna Expressway and reached Greater Noida where I halted for the night.

Exiting Agra
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-exiting-agra-towards-yew.jpg
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Towards Greater Noida
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-entering-greater-noida.jpg

Last edited by livetodrive : 14th September 2021 at 22:28.
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Old 2nd September 2021, 23:35   #3
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Default Escapade dé Spiti in our Grey Goose

Greater Noida – Chandigarh


Approx Distance: 225kms.

The past 3 days have been quite a strenuous drive for me, leaving early morning everyday and fighting rain and potholes. Knowing that the remaining stretch until Chandigarh is smooth, I decided to take it relaxed. Had a sumptuous breakfast at the Raddison Blu, Greater Noida and left around 11.30am.

How to break-fast when in UP
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-whatsapp-image-20210912-23.06.51.jpeg

The indulgence continues
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-whatsapp-image-20210912-23.06.51-1.jpeg

From G.Noida, took the Eastern Peripheral Expressway until the exit at Rai, approx. distance of 100kms. Its a 6lane Expressway with a speed limit of 120km/hr. No food/ washroom facilities. Take the Ambala exit for Chandigarh.

On Eastern Peripheral Expressway
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-epe.jpg

The Ambala/Panipat exit
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-panipat-exit.jpg

Soon after exiting the EPE, you will reach Murthal, where you have numerous dhabas on both sides of the road. I stopped at the famous Amrik Sukhdev dhaba. Tried their aloo pyaaz paratha and sweet lassi. Amazing food, clean washrooms, parking space abundant.

Another 'must-visit' ticked off
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210805_131917.jpg
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Next to Amrik Dhaba, is Dharam Paaji's own dhaba, with not much crowd to be seen.

Garam Dharam ka thanda Dhaba
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210805_140404.jpg

A small piece of info I learnt – owing to superstition, you will not get non-veg anywhere until Karnal. After stuffing myself to the brim, I head towards Chandigarh.

There is flyover construction work around Sonipat, which results in diversion. Post which, it’s a super amazing highway all along. Be aware of the Interceptors. Speed limit is 90km/hr on this stretch. I noticed few cars being stopped for over speeding. The cops here are in no-mercy mood, and from what I heard, the fine amount is very hefty. Be careful.

Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-a_20210805154053.jpg
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At last
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-n_20210805174646_065_0015_l.jpg

Finally, I finish my longest solo, reaching Chandigarh safe and sound, fighting rain, cyclonic depression, potholes, cattle, my family’s apprehension and the biggest of all, my husband’s worry about his car being safe and sound. (Though he will never admit to it, I know).

Last edited by livetodrive : 14th September 2021 at 15:45.
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Old 5th September 2021, 17:14   #4
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The Escape to Spiti!



Day1: Meet up at Chandigarh


7th August - Finally the day arrives when we meet other members of the expedition. (My husband had arrived the previous day in a Bangalore-Chandigarh flight). It was a convoy of 7 guests cars - 1 Jeep Compass, 1 Discovery, 2 Force Gurkha, 3 Fortuner, along with 5 cars of the organizers. They had a Lead car, a Media car, a doctor, An advance car, mechanic along throughout the trip, along with the team members. Each car was given a walkie-talkie since most of the places we visited didn’t have mobile network. All the cars joining us on the expedition, had checked in at Hyatt Chandigarh. The day went in meeting new people from different cities, stickering the cars, medical check-ups, gorging on sumptuous food and some strolling around in the city.

Our beast
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210807_170938.jpg

Day2: Chandigarh - Narkanda: 175kms

All set for the expedition

Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210808_083333.jpg
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My Breakfast scene
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From an elevation of 1000ft to 9000ft, we passed through mountains covered in clouds, drizzling rain, apple orchids on hills ready to be plucked. What a beautiful stretch. Road conditions good overall.

The Gang
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210808_113207.jpg

Tea break
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210808_111141.jpg

The drive to Narkanda
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Had Lunch at Taj Theog Resort & Spa, Shimla. A beautiful property surrounded by lush green mountains atop a hill.

Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210808_144824.jpg

When in Himachal Pradesh
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#JeepLife

Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210808_123400min.jpg

From there, we proceeded to Hatu peak at Narkanda, close to Hatu Mata temple which is situated atop the second highest peak of Shimla. The peak, situated about 7kms from the city, is a tricky stretch to drive –extremely narrow for 2 way traffic, full of twists and turns and sharp U turns at elevations which needs the driver to be pretty experienced.

Drive to Hatu Peak


Yes, it was a tensed moment when we had big TTs coming from the opposite side. Though it was just 4pm, the drizzle and the forest made it look like its already past 6pm. The peak is an open land, surrounded by beautiful trees all around, a perfect setting for a movie shot or a picnic with close friends. As soon we reached the peak, the weather changed from pleasant to chilling cold, and we had to immediately pull out our warm clothes. The guys managed some hot coffee at the point, a much needed one after the stressful drive. We spent over an hour breathing in some fresh air, chatting, dancing, enjoying the scenery while sipping coffee. By the time we started our drive down to the town, it was dark, which made the drive even more stressful. Rain, pitch darkness, cattle returning home after dark, no barricades on the sides of the deep gorge… the drive of 7kms, took over 45mins. We retire for the night, after some bonfire and amazing dinner spread at Tethy’s Ski Resort, Narkanda.

At Hatu Peak
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-hatu-peak-copy-2.jpg

Tethy's Ski Resort, Narkanda
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-tethys-resortmin.jpg

Morning view from the room
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210809_055220-copy.jpg
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A video compilation of the drive Don't forget to plug in your headphones.

Last edited by livetodrive : 14th September 2021 at 23:07.
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Old 7th September 2021, 07:57   #5
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Day3: Narkanda to Sangla:170kms



We started after breakfast from our resort, refueled at the city and proceeded towards Rampur Bashahr, driving along the Satluj river for most part of the stretch.
Road conditions good overall.

Ever ready to pose
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210809_091626min.jpg
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Stopped for tea at Nau Nabh heritage hotel, Rampur. Beautiful interiors, carved out of wood giving a royal feel. Just next to the hotel is the Padam Palace, or Rampur Palace, built in 1917 during the time of Raja Padam Dev Singh. Time just stands still here. It is indeed a perfect blend of taste, style and architecture.
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210809_121340.jpg

Padam Palace/ Rampur Palace
Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass-img_20210809_120732min.jpg

Post our tea break, we continue towards Sangla. Roads are good overall.

Enroute Sangla
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We reach Banjara Camps and Retreat, Sangla, our stay for the next 2 nights. Its a beautiful property amidst apple orchid on the banks of the river Baspa. With hundreds of apple trees all around our rooms, and mountains covered in cloud at a distance, the view was breathtaking. You could sit all day and hear the water gushing by while admiring the lush green hills. It was such a therapeutic feel after a whole day’s drive. The evening started with Bonfire by the river, wholesome starters, lip smacking dinner and we finally call it a day.

Abode for the night - Banjara Camps, Sangla
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Bonfire by the river
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The property also has some luxurious tents by the river
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Apple Apple everywhere
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Day4: Sangla – Chitkul – Sangla; 50kms



The next day, we decided to spend the day around Sangla. Soon after breakfast, we head towards Chitkul – the last inhabited village within the Indian boundaries on the old Indo-Tibetan Road.

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At an altitude of 11320 ft, this village is believed to have the cleanest air in India.

Road quality start deteriorating, from good to average, with broken stretches in multiple places. River Baspa flows all along surrounded by green mountains.

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While travelling to the valley, you will also pass through the Rakcham village which is commonly known as the model village of the region.

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We had a river side lunch along the banks of river Baspa, followed by a leisurely walk around the village, playing with the local kids, visiting the temples, drinking water from the stream, clicking pics and finally heading back to our resort in Sangla.

Lunch by River Baspa
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Camouflage
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Chitkul Village
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At River Baspa
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Day5: Sangla – Kalpa - Nako: 130kms



After a beautiful breakfast at the Banjara Camps, we start our drive towards Nako, situated at 12000ft. The road conditions good mostly, considering they are constructed and maintained by BRO. You will see the change in landscape every 30 mins. From rocky to green patches, to complete barren as you head towards Nako. The roads entering Nako are butter smooth, freshly laid and with sunset nearing the time we reached Nako, the view was amazing!

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We stop for our lunch at Hotel Kinner Villa, Kalpa. With beautiful Kinnaur Kailash in the backdrop, the view was mesmerizing to say the least.

Hotel Kinner Villa, Kalpa
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Kinnaur Kailash range in the backdrop
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Fell short by few inches
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Seeing the roads so well maintained, makes you wonder when roads at such altitude and treacherous conditions can be maintained so well, what level of corruption and inefficiency would you require to build roads in plain lands, which develops crack and potholes every year!

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We stop for our evening tea at Cafe Lungta, another beautiful one among the hills. The colorful prayer flags fluttering up in the air, the cool breeze, soft music in the background.. Just the ideal setup for meditation.

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We reach our destination for the night in Kinner Camps, a beautiful property overlooking the Nako village. Staying in tents at a height of 12000ft, having starters and dinner by the bonfire, stargazing at midnight. It was a lifetime experience. The view of the sunrise next morning on the snow clad Kinner Kailash range at a distance, turning them slowly from white to Golden was a sight to behold.

Heading to Nako
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At Nako village
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Stay for the night - Kinner Camps
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Panoramic view of sunrise
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Day 6: Nako – Gue Village – Kaza: 112 kms



As soon you start your drive upwards from Nako, you will notice a sudden drastic change in landscape. Absolute no vegetation, dry land. Kaza is a land of rustic beauty. Population is absent for miles after miles, road conditions changing from pitch to gravel. For most part of the stretch, there are no proper roads, but lose sand, stones with river flowing along your left. You cross few small water streams on the way.

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A small deviation, an impromptu plan, for some photoshoot and car drifting

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We reach Gue Monastery in Gue village. Though entry inside the Monastery in restricted, the view is mesmerizing from there. Situated on the top of the village, with snow clad mountain range all around, it’s a rare sight. There is a 550year old mummy of a Buddhist monk, who was found in the same sitting position during an excavation.

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550 year old mummy
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From there, we head to Tabo for our lunch. Post lunch took a walk around the Tabo Monastery. Another beautiful architecture, protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. Can you imagine when was this monastery constructed? It was the year 0996!! Inside the monastery, its dark, with only natural lights coming in from the ventilators. No artificial lights are allowed inside the building. The walls are covered with paintings, murals, statues, some dating back to 900AD. There are 32 life size statues of deities along the walls, depicting different postures for meditation.

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Tabo Village
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Tabo Monastery
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On our way to our resort, we refuel our cars at the highest Petrol bunk in the world, at Kaza at a height of 12270ft. You don’t have any option of cards or online payment here, only cash.

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We retire for the night at the Grand Dewachen, a beautiful property in the outskirts of Kaza. The hotel has large open land all around, with stream of water flowing just next to our rooms. We could view the famous Key monastery from our hotel rooms.

Heading to our resort
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View from our room - Grand Dewachen, Kaza
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Clear sky and the moon
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Star Gazing
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Day7: A day around Kaza



The next day, we planned to explore Kaza. Honestly, 1 day is too less to soak in the beauty of Kaza. You should stay there for couple of days, just to admire the rustic beauty of the place, breath in some chilled fresh air and enjoy nature at its best. A morning tea among Himalayas, with view of the first sunrays falling on distant peaks is mesmerizing. Wish time froze.

Morning view from hotel
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Initially, we were a little disappointed with only 50kms drive planned for the day. But trust me, once you start driving on this stretch, the 50kms takes hours to accomplish. Rough terrain, narrow roads in hills, steep gorge on the sides, nonexistent roads at multiple places, traffic jam in hills, rapid climb with multiple hair pin bends. Not an easy task at all.

Post breakfast we proceeded towards Hikkim, the world’s highest post office. We sent out post cards to our friends/relatives from there. Please note, most of the mobile networks don’t work after Nako. So ensure to have the address (specially PIN codes) of your family members handy. You will have no option to search your mails or call up people to confirm the address. Secondly, ensure to carry postal stamps with you. The day we reached, there was shortage of postal stamps for few people in the group.

The drive to Hikkim
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At Hikkim - World's highest Post Office
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Kaza has mostly brown barren surroundings for miles. As boring it may sound, the beauty is something you need to witness. No camera or DSLR can capture the rawness of this place. The landscape changes with every turn you take in the hills - though dry rough terrain throughout, the shadow of clouds on hills plays the trick, ranging from dark to golden to brown.

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From Hikkim, we proceed to another of world’s highest – the highest village in the world, Komic. Its known to be the highest motorable road in the world, at an altitude of 15000ft above sea level. We had Butter tea at the World's Highest restaurant, in Komic. Butter tea was new to me. Initially, I was bit skeptical hearing the combination of tea and butter! But its not disappointing for sure. Will I try it again? Well, I don't think so


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Butter tea at Komic

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From there we head to Langza, a small unexplored, untouched and offbeat village guarded by a huge Buddha statue overlooking the Himalayas, situated at an altitude of 14500ft. The locals believe that Buddha protects their village. Sipping green tea, while enjoying strong chill wind in your face and enjoying the view of Himalayas all around.

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This is how Buddha sees the valley
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We have lunch at a small place next to the statue, named Spaceship, in the middle of nowhere. What a surprising change from the regular buffet spread. We had steaming hot Maggi with veggies and eggs, gulping it down with ginger tea. Maggi has never tasted so good, as it did with Himalayas in the backdrop. Slurrrppp...

Lunch place
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From there we headed to the Key Monastery, which was 10kms away from our hotel. At a height of 13600ft, the view of the monastery on the hilltop is a beautiful sight. We could see the monastery from our hotel room, and the monastery shining up in the first rays of the sun was quite alluring. You need to climb few step up from the parking up to the monastery. Once inside, it’s a different experience all together. You can instantly sense the positivity, the calmness and the smiling faces of the monks make you feel so much at ease. The monks took us around the monastery, showing us various murals and books, explaining their background and significance. You are allowed to click pictures only in the main prayer hall, and the open areas. Post the tour, they took us to their kitchen and offered us their sacred tea. We also spent some time meditating in the caves, built centuries ago. The caves indeed have some magical energy about them, how else can you gain a sense of inner peace and a calm mind almost immediately!


Drive to Key Monastery

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Inside Key Monastery
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A mini replica of snow leopard on the premises
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After spending more than an hour exploring the monastery, we start our drive back to our resort.

The drive down from Key Monastery
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Before heading back to the hotel, the big boys (read cars) decided to take a swim in the river. Yes! We went river crossing!! Another 1st experience for us. Gushing through flowing water, the tires trying to balance from one rock to another, it was an amazing experience.
A small video compilation of all the fun we had in water.


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Day 8: Kaza – Chandrataal – Manali: 200kms



As they say, save the best for the last. The last day of our trip started with a drive from Kaza towards Chandra Taal Lake. Its a tough terrain, with gravel road all along.

The entire stretch between Kaza – Manali is a non-existent road. Only stone chips, gravel, water streams flowing on the road, steep sharp hairpin turns cover the entire stretch, testing the driving skills of even experienced drivers. And its not for an hour or so, but its easily a drive of 7-8hours non stop on such terrain, if you also plan to include Chandrataal lake. This was the first time we had to engage the 4*4 at few places. Until the previous days, the car did just fine in 4*2 mode.

From Kaza, the road from the small town of Losar runs on the right bank of a tributary of the Spiti. It climbs through a dry, semi-desert landscape, up to the Kunzum Pass. You realize the tough drive was worth it the moment you reach Kunzum pass. It is a beautiful mountain pass in the Kunzum Range of Himalayas, at an altitude of 15,000 feet above sea level. The entire surrounding is full of colorful prayer flags fluttering high up in the air with glaciers in the background. I personally have never seen any place as beautiful anywhere till date. Be prepared for very strong cold wind, considering the altitude of this place.

At Kunzum Pass
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Some photoshoots
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And some fun


After spending a good hour here, sipping hot coffee and doing some filmy style photoshoots, we head towards Chandrataal. The drive once again is as stressful as you can imagine. Extreme narrow roads in the mountains, super rough terrain, no vegetation or inhabitation for miles.. We finally manage to reach Chandrataal. It’s a good 1.5-2kms trek from the parking, not a tough one at all, to reach the lake. Once you reach the lake, the first glance of it makes you forget the entire tiredness of the trek. Amazingly beautiful sea green water surrounded by lush green mountains. You get a 360degree view of snow clad mountains at a distance. Don’t miss dipping your feet in the water.

Drive to Chandrataal Lake:
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At Chandrataal parking
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The trek to the lake
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Chandra Taal:
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All refreshed, we start our drive back to head towards lunch. Another drive on similar road conditions, we reach Chandra dhaba, more popularly known as Chacha - Chachi Dhaba at Batal, on the way to Manali. The Chacha-Chachi duo have a history of helping stranded tourists and giving them shelter and food. You have options of dal-chawal, rajma-chawal, omlette, maggie, tea. Don’t miss the tea here, specially.

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At Chandra Dhaba
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Post lunch, we are on the roads again, heading to Manali. They don’t call it the most treacherous road in the world, for no reason. You need some really good driving skills to hold the steering steady when maneuvering on this stretch. And one more thing which you will definitely need on this stretch – Patience… Specially when your odometer will not have a scope to go beyond 10km/hr. and you know you have another good 50-60kms ahead before you find ‘roads’. Took us 4.5hours approx from Batal to finally reach the Atal Tunnel. Another 15 mins drive to Solang Valley resort, our abode for the night.

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Cloud resting on hills
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With this, an unforgettable trip comes to an end on 14th August. Post dinner, bidding goodbyes to all, exchanging numbers, promises to be in touch on social media, we head back to our mundane lives, with suitcase full of memories, smiles, experiences, new friends. Few cars, from Delhi and Bangalore, left the following morning. Few others decided to spend a day in Manali and leave the next day.


Last edited by livetodrive : 14th September 2021 at 21:30.
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When WFH meant Work From Himalayas

We, my husband and I, decided to spend a day in Manali. He had his flights booked from Chandigarh for Bangalore on 16th August, so we planned to leave early morning from Manali and head straight to the airport for his evening flight. On 15th Aug, we checked in at a resort in Aleo, close to Mall road, Manali. The city was completely deserted with hardly any tourists and roads, shops were mostly empty . No crowd in Mall road, no rush in restaurants. The next morning, the view, the ambience around the hotel was so mesmerizing, that we instantly decided to stay back in Manali for a week. Yes, it sounds crazy to cancel flight tickets at the last minute and decide for WFH from the hills. But life will be so mundane if you don’t do crazy things sometimes.. Right?

We spent the next 1 week relaxing, working during the day and going around the town for dinner, ensuring to cover all the highly recommended restaurants, relishing Momos, Thukpas and Trouts. The other evenings, we would just stroll around Mall road, nibbling on street food. Also paid a visit to the highly worshipped Hadimba Devi temple.

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WFH - Work From Himalayas
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At Hadimba Devi Temple
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Where Clouds descend
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A stroll in the Mall Road, Manali
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Manali's famous Trout fish
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How dinners looked like
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The next Saturday we drive from Manali - Chandigarh and the following day he takes a Chandigarh – Bangalore flight. I start my return drive with the Grey Goose. The initial plan was to take the longer route back home (Delhi-Jaipur-Vadodara-Mumbai–Bangalore), however with over 2 weeks of leave already, combined with all the fatigue from the Spiti trip, I changed plan at the last moment and took the same stretch back home.

Manali - Chandigarh
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Somewhere Near Dholpur
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The rain had receded in most places, rivers looked calm, water logging no more, though I did face rain while crossing UP and MP, but it was much manageable than what I crossed during my onwards journey.

28 days, 9 states, ~6300kms later am finally back home. While I type this, I am already working on my next solo road trip, to some unexplored location very soon.

Back home after 28 days
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Dirty cars have a story to tell

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Our trail
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The Spiti circuit
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Every time I hit the Indian highways, my respect towards the truck drivers only increases. You can witness the multiple challenges they encounter everyday, but there is never a sign of frustration on them. I always find them extremely cooperative, helpful and polite. Enough has been discussed about their agony on multiple threads here, so I wont go in details but can only hope their situation improves some day. They truly deserve a better life.

Few essentials I carried along:
Puncture Repair Kit, 5lts DEF can, spare Wiper blades, a deflated tube, Air Compressor. Oh yes, before you ask, I do know the usage procedure for all. Except for the puncture repair kit, I have changed/refilled the rest myself somewhere sometime.

This blog would be incomplete without few credits, who made my drive and the Spiti trip so smooth:

Shibu Varghese (JeepCaptain) from 4*4 India group: For introducing me to BeyondXpeditions, and preparing me for the drive. Tips on what essential things to carry, how to prepare the car for any adverse condition on the road along with being available just a phone call away anytime I reach out to him. Shibu has been driving to Himalayas for over 12years now, and his inputs on weather predictions, road conditions and how to handle your car in any terrain were very helpful.

Mr. HV Kumar, or as we all know him, HVK: He helped me plan out the routes, my night halts, upcoming places of food/fuel ahead, all these while I was on the move. He also kept updating me of the rain, road conditions and if any water logging ahead. Even when he was on a trip, he ensured to keep a check on me from time to time, ensuring am on track. Seeing his support, my family was convinced that I am in safe hands.

Beyond Xpeditions: An amazing group of energetic, soft spoken, fun loving guys, who make the toughest tasks look so easy. Right from the time we met them at Chandigarh, till we bid adieu in Manali, they ensured support at every step to each and every guest. Be it helping with technical issues in a car, or arranging hot coffee in the most unexpected places, arranging bonfire by the river or feeding us forcibly beyond our appetite. This group is a pleasure to travel with. Post Manali, they ensured to keep checking on me couple of times a day, until I reached my Bangalore home. And you know what’s the best part about them. You will always see a smile on their faces, under any circumstance. Reach out to them on their facebook and Instagram page.

My Husband: Even when friends and family were apprehensive of me driving all alone so far, that too in such adverse weather conditions in the central part of India, his confidence in me never fell short. While I was on the road, he ensured to speak to my parents everyday even in his busy schedule, to make them feel better and instill confidence. Which man wouldn’t like his bachelorhood, when wife plans to be away from home for few days, especially when you have been locked in together for over 1.5 yrs.. But letting her go with your 8months old Jeep Compass, that’s some courage. Proud of you my man!!


As they say, Travelling is the most intense form of learning. Until our roads cross someday on some highway, stay safe!


Last edited by Aditya : 15th September 2021 at 18:40. Reason: As requested
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Old 15th September 2021, 06:41   #12
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Default Re: Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!

Going to our homepage today
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Old 15th September 2021, 07:34   #13
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Default Re: Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass

Lovely one. Great pics and narration.

I must say, this is ‘Hugely Inspiring’. May your tribe of solo trip drivers in India grow. I have sent this link to m wife to read this, and I see that my morning coffee is getting delayed. She’s too absorbed on this one.

Great to know about the good souls/angels tour encountered. Humanity exists.
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Old 15th September 2021, 08:54   #14
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Default Re: Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass

Very nicely documented! Reminded me of the same route my wife and I had taken in 2016 with Mahindra Adventures (Chandigrah to Chandigarh). The only difference was Atal tunnel was not there but all the other places are familiar

Kudos for the solo drive part from Bangalore to Chandigarh! Loved the last minute plan change of extending the trip by a week! Always good to unwind in such beautiful places.
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Old 15th September 2021, 09:02   #15
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Default Re: Bangalore to Spiti in a Jeep Compass

Very nicely written travelogue with awesome pics and some nice video compilation! You literally walked us through this trip.

Gutsy move to drive solo till Chandigarh and back especially in bad weather conditions.

Thanks for sharing your feedback about HVK and Beyond Xpeditions.

And nice of FCA/Hyderabad dealer to arrange a technician visit your hotel in Nagpur to check the USB port issue.
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