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Old 21st January 2022, 20:33   #1
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Default Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

A little introduction



I have a huge hunger for adrenaline, and I constantly look forward to adventures.

Being in Delhi, Himalayas are an easy access, well almost, and we decided that it had to be Spiti this time in December.

Preparation



Most of my trips are impromptu and there's less planning involved but when it comes to an expedition like this, especially during winters, planning for the worse is important.

What all we carried :
  • A butane stove
  • Two blankets
  • 20 litres of drinking water
  • Dry fruits
  • Ready to cook food (Wai Wai, Pasta, etc)
  • Pinnis (Any punjabis here?)
  • Extra Jackets
  • Torch
  • Chewing Gum
  • Snacks/Munchies
  • Disposable cups/plates
  • Coffee
  • Medicines and anti-inflammatory spray

A day prior, I took my car to my nearest Skoda service centre for a general checkup just to make sure everything was okay.

Day 1



We started off on 22nd December 2021 at around 10:00 PM, tanked up at the nearest Indian Oil bunk and took the eastern peripheral expressway to avoid Delhi traffic.

Reached Shimla in a comfortable 7 and a half hours and took our first coffee break, breathed in the fresh air and started off again.

We had initially planned to stay at Rampur Bushahr or Reckong Peo but cancelled it as we thought we could stretch and reach Kaza by evening.

It was around 4:00 PM and we had reached Nako, took a break, bought a few essentials from the local store and started off again.

Hit Kaza (Subdivisional headquarters of Spiti) at around 8:30 PM, and there we were, Delhi to Kaza in 22-23 hours, thanks to the butane stove, because of which, we could take relatively shorter breaks.

To let the body acclimatise, it is always suggested to take it slow and reach higher altitude destinations slowly with halts in between, we avoided staying as we were short on time.

Once, we reached, started looking for a homestay, found one and quickly snuggled in.

A little later, there was a knock on the door and we were invited for the dinner.

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_2946.jpg

He's Dorje, our homestay host, a very warm and welcoming guy.

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_2950.jpg

Had a tasty meal and wished them good night.

Since we had come in directly from Delhi, and were still acclimatising didn't have a sound sleep and there was a lot of tossing and turning the entire night.

Day 2



The next morning, I had a few office calls to make, thanks to the fast mobile internet (60mbps+), I could do so.

I was not wearing gloves and went out to do Facetime with my Fiancee to show her around a little and in less than 2 mins, my hands were frozen and that's when I realised that it's not cold, it is really cold.

Minus 13 degree celsius

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_3098.jpg

The water lines in Spiti at this time of the year are frozen and it really affects the everyday routine. You can forget about bathing if you're here in winters.

We were relaxing and enjoying the morning sunshine and started our day late, had aloo pranthas in the breakfast and left homestay at around 2:00 Pm for Losar.

Losar is a village situated at around 13500 ft. and it receives a lot snowfall every year, in summers, the local crop is green peas.

You'll come across beautiful landscape on your way to Losar, you would really want to stop and take pictures.

Frozen Spiti river

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_2967.jpg

Cooking a meal on our way

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_2816.jpg

That's me, soaking sun !

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_2819.jpg

Skoda's ad shoot

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_2824.jpg

And then we were welcomed in the village with this

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_3038_2.jpg

We didn't see even a single human being in the entire village, wonder where everyone was, inside their homes maybe !

In the evening, we could see the clouds coming down and in a while it started to snow, didn't wanted to take any risks, as it's very easy to get stuck in snow especially when you're not travelling in groups and have no one around to pull you out, we headed back to our homestay in Kaza.

Fortunately, we had a better sleep today.

Day 3



As usual the day started with a few office calls and we were off to Langza before 12:00 PM.

Langza is a village situated at 14,500 ft. and is a must visit if you're in Spiti, it is famous for large Buddha statue, said to be 1000 years old.

The Statue:

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_3121.jpg

Buddha watching over the Himalayas

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_3127.jpg

Meanwhile, I was making us pasta and a local guy came over very curious asked me about the stove and it's working etc, later on I got to know that he had a tea/maggi stall over there.

Spent some time here and headed to Hikkim.

Hikkim is known for it's world's highest post office, to get to the post office, you'll have to park your vehicle and walk 100 metres inside the village.

Sent a souvenir to my fiancee

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_3142.jpg

Beautiful landscape in between

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_3110.jpg

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_3111-1.jpg

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_3134-1.jpg

After Hikkim, we headed to our safe haven in Kaza and were bound to leave for Delhi next morning.

Day 4



Woke up at usual 7:00 - 7:30 Am !

No office calls today, it's a Sunday.

Had good breakfast, exchanged a few pleasantries with the homestay hosts and bid them goodbye !

Fired up the engine and waited a couple of minutes, then went straight to the "world's highest petrol pump' to tank up.

A thing to note here, I saw a lot of people who had diesel cars struggling with starting them up in the morning, petrol is a boon in such cold weather.

Petrol pump was open and the attendant was nowhere to be found, had a little chitter chatter with locals, and went off without filling up any fuel.

Came back after a while and tanked up.

My friend was not really feeling well and we went to the nearby chemist and bought a few sachets of ORS, we told him we were heading back to Delhi and he told us to be careful because it had snowed in Narkanda and we would be reaching there in the night and it could be risky because of black ice.

On our way back :

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_3156.jpg

Wallpaper :

Winter Spiti in a Kushaq-img_3161.jpg


The journey back was smooth till Narkanda, after which there was snow on the road and we saw a Bolero not being able to climb a hairpin bend, we carefully creeped forward for at least 10-12kms and it proved to be the most tiring part of the entire journey as my eyes were out on the bonnet.

We took a nap soon after to recharge ourselves and later got back on track.

The rest of the journey was smooth and we were home by Monday evening, very tired but fresh.

A few tips for the fellows


  • A general vehicle check up is always recommended before you commence
  • Always carry food and water
  • Seek advise form locals whenever in doubt
  • Travel in groups

With this trip, my vehicle had also completed 10,000 kms.

Wish to have more such trips and will keep sharing with you all !

Drive safe !
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Old 21st January 2022, 22:26   #2
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Nice short travelogue there. Keep exploring. Kushaq is a very capable vehicle. Is your one an automatic?
Driving for 20+ hours at a stretch is always an achievement.
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Old 21st January 2022, 23:19   #3
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

A very nicely put down travelogue, enjoyed reading!

Did you feel any power lag with the petrol engine at any point of time?
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Old 22nd January 2022, 10:10   #4
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

A very nice and confidence inspiring travelogue for people who doesn’t have 4*4 vehicle. I will surely attempt to go to Spiti in the winters next time. The only problem I see is mine is a diesel vehicle and you mentioned that diesel vehicles were having problem with ignition.

Will any jump starter like below be any useful there? Any idea?

https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07XLZ1CFT/...ETE81GNNSMBW17
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Old 22nd January 2022, 11:01   #5
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Quote:
Originally Posted by busydrive View Post
Nice short travelogue there. Keep exploring. Kushaq is a very capable vehicle. Is your one an automatic?
Driving for 20+ hours at a stretch is always an achievement.
Thank you! Mine's a manual.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deepesh Goel View Post
A very nicely put down travelogue, enjoyed reading!

Did you feel any power lag with the petrol engine at any point of time?
Thank you ! There's no power lag as long as you're in the right gear, acceleration is brisk on the open highways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sahil624 View Post
A very nice and confidence inspiring travelogue for people who doesn’t have 4*4 vehicle. I will surely attempt to go to Spiti in the winters next time. The only problem I see is mine is a diesel vehicle and you mentioned that diesel vehicles were having problem with ignition.

Will any jump starter like below be any useful there? Any idea?

https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07XLZ1CFT/...ETE81GNNSMBW17
Thank you ! You don't need to worry about the diesel freezing as long as you're careful with a few pointers. I am adding them below.
  • Add anti gel diesel additive
  • Keep your fuel tank full
  • Start your vehicle every few hours.
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Old 23rd January 2022, 11:21   #6
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Nice write up and lovely pics.
Did you see the need for traction control and ESC kicking in on the tougher and slippery bits of the road?
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Old 23rd January 2022, 12:36   #7
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Great travelogue! And loved the bit about the pinnis. It is the superfood for punjabis while travelling!
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Old 23rd January 2022, 12:42   #8
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mustang Sammy View Post
Nice write up and lovely pics.
Did you see the need for traction control and ESC kicking in on the tougher and slippery bits of the road?
Thank you!

On roads with snow/ice, it's easy to see the traction control light come on, if you're not easy on the accelerator and it does let you know the limits of your tyres on current conditions by cutting power.

I feel EDL (Electronic Differential Lock) is of a better use when you're on snow or slush, where the grip on two front wheels could be different.
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Old 23rd January 2022, 17:51   #9
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

That's the trip I have been thinking of for the last few days but kept feeling it would be better and more comfortable to explore Spiti in the Summers. Great travelogue! Have a few questions though :

1. At these are sub-zero temperatures, did you have running water in the washrooms of your homestay? Also, how did you manage to keep the water you were carrying in liquid state?
2. Which stretches of roads were the trickiest? How did your car perform on black ice?
3. Did you feel that the cold climate hindered your travel plans and you had to miss out on a few locations?

Thanks!
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Old 23rd January 2022, 19:42   #10
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Quote:
Originally Posted by AutoConsultant View Post
That's the trip I have been thinking of for the last few days but kept feeling it would be better and more comfortable to explore Spiti in the Summers. Great travelogue! Have a few questions though :

1. At these are sub-zero temperatures, did you have running water in the washrooms of your homestay? Also, how did you manage to keep the water you were carrying in liquid state?
2. Which stretches of roads were the trickiest? How did your car perform on black ice?
3. Did you feel that the cold climate hindered your travel plans and you had to miss out on a few locations?

Thanks!
Thank you!

If it's going to be your first time in Spiti, I suggest you to go during April-August.

There's no running water during winters, water is stored in drums inside. They use warm water for everyday chores, which is heated on tandoor.

Kinnaur and Spiti will demand your constant attention on the road. Black ice is extremely risky because from the driver's seat it is difficult to gauge it's presence, it usually is present on cold winter nights. Driving on it is a challenge and I've seen even 4*4 slipping and turning, it's worse when it's a slope and a car skids even with brakes applied. Gotta be very very careful and it's best to avoid driving during nights in sub zero temperatures, if there has been snowfall/rain.

I have driven through black ice in Narkanda, my car did okay, being gentle on accelerator, brakes, steering and maintaining a constant motion in lower gears helps.

Fortunately, I didn't miss out on any locations due to cold but yes there were delays and it is suggested to not venture out much in remote locations once the sun is down, so had to keep that in mind.
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Old 23rd January 2022, 23:49   #11
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Quote:
Originally Posted by KharbandaKartik View Post

A little introduction



I have a huge hunger for adrenaline, and I constantly look forward to adventures.
What a lovely travelogue ! One question. Is it not advisable to equip your vehicle with snow chains if you know that you will encounter snow and ice at some parts of your journey? It makes the drive a lot safer.
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Old 24th January 2022, 10:38   #12
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Excellent T"log with amazing photographs. Thanks for Sharing.
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Old 24th January 2022, 12:05   #13
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Quote:
Originally Posted by shaheenazk View Post
What a lovely travelogue ! One question. Is it not advisable to equip your vehicle with snow chains if you know that you will encounter snow and ice at some parts of your journey? It makes the drive a lot safer.
Thank you!

Snow chains are very useful but at the same time are difficult to put on and it is not suggested to drive with the chains on if there's no snow/ice.

In my drive there was snow on and off, it would have been very cumbersome to put the chains on and off several times.

With everything being said, it does make sense to put on the chains for sake of safety, I'll give it a try next time.
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Old 3rd February 2022, 00:41   #14
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Very nice post Kartik. Carrying a butane stove surely makes sense in these times.

I keep coming back to this travelogue time and again. For 1 - I've been wanting to escape the wfh life for a while and venture out safely in the open. And 2 - I got a Taigun 1.0 AT to make 1 happen.

The one thing that is keeping me from doing a trip which involves snow patches is that AT. Do you think a MT would aid in having better control on the kind of roads you went through?
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Old 3rd February 2022, 16:30   #15
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Default Re: Winter Spiti in a Kushaq

Great Travelogue Kartik. A crisp one.

Have a query though !

How are the road conditions enroute Spiti & adjoining areas of interest considering I have Polo GT 2021. Will GC be an issue ?

Regards,
Vikram.
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