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Old 29th October 2023, 11:00   #1
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Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

The frozen waterfalls, The highest polling station, The holiest monastery, The highest village, The highest Filling station, The mud Houses, The highest level of the post office, The Mummy, Glaciers, the Lowest population Panchayat, the Cold desert, The frozen rivers and lakes - Well, so many things to list but I am sure that you have already drawn a picture of Spiti in your imagination. And it was not the lure of an imaginary land for us, we were there before and this time we preferred the winter to witness how the valley looks covered with a white blanket. On the other hand, the smoother tar roads through the oak woods, the verdant hills, cascading waterfalls and a long drive from the origin to the mouth of the holiest river Ganga pull us to visit Gangotri to be endowed by the goddess Ganga.

It was October 2019 when Tanmoy (My Brother) & Soumyadip (My College Friend) agreed to sail for the North. We had a lot to prepare for the trip but one thing we decided was that we will not do any pre-booking for the entire trip. As we were only three men and no family members we could even spend nights anywhere with a little arrangement of shelter. For food and water, we chose to carry out a complete cooking arrangement to survive for 3-4 days. The biggest question was the vehicle. When I plan for a long trip I always prefer the Lazy Turtle (My Bolero) over any other vehicle as I know my vehicle well and it still offers less electronics compared to the other modern vehicle. On the other side, we had a choice of Soumyadip’s AWD Renault Duster which is very capable, comfortable, fast (Compare to Bolero) and proven over the years. And we envy each other whenever any of us put some good pictures of our vehicle in some good place. It was obvious that we will select the AWD duster not only for a technical reason but it can also be driven by both Soumyadip and Me whereas if we take the Bolero then it's only me who has to drive for the entire trip as Soumyadip is not comfortable to drive Bolero. And with a heavy heart, I agreed not to be overwhelmed with some good snaps of Lazy Turtles from the trip.

For such trips, it is a must to keep the vehicle in top-notch mechanical condition as we did not have any plan for a backup vehicle. Here we got an issue in the vehicle, the duster was less than two years old and only 25000 KM run but sometimes noise was coming from the rear wheel bearing. Without any delay, we asked the Renault service center to replace the pair under warranty and they confirmed that within 3 weeks they will arrange an alternate. Unfortunately, one week before the trip started we were informed that they could not arrange the parts and hence we needed to live with the faulty bearing. I was mostly worried about the situation thinking that even if the bearing works till we return from the trip the noise will increase gradually and it will be irritating for a long drive. Finally, we started the journey on 23rd December with our fingers crossed with the hope that the fault bearing will not give trouble till the end of the trip.

Glimpse:

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Hibernation mode activated

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Winter is coming

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Driving in a winter wonderland

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Standing on a lake

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Memories made in the mountains

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The relaxing murmur of a freezing river

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The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.

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The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness

Itinerary:

DAY 01: Kolkata - Varanasi, UP
DAY 02: Varanasi - Karnal, HR
DAY 03: Karnal - Narkanda, HP
DAY 04: Narkanda - Kalpa, HP
DAY 05: Kalpa - Nako - Puh - Chango, HP
DAY 06: Chango - Dhankar - Kaza, HP
DAY 07: Kaza - Chicham Bridge - Langza - Hikkim - Kaza - Tabo, HP
DAY 08: Tabo - Chango - Rakcham, HP
DAY 09: Rakcham - Chitkul - Suru - Samla, HP
DAY 10: Samla - Chakrata - Tiger Fall - Quansi, UK
DAY 11: Quansi - Uttarkashi, UK
DAY 12: Uttarkashi - Bharwari - Gangotri - Harsil, UK
DAY 13: Harsil - Srinagarh - Khirsu, UK
DAY 14: Khirsu - Rishikesh - Haridwar - Rampur - Meerut - Yamuna Expressway, UP
DAY 15: Yamuna ExpressWay - Lucknow - Dehri, BH
DAY 16: Dehri - Kolkata

Preparation

Other than the periodic vehicle service and enough warm clothes we carried a few utility items which offer more confidence and in a worried situation it works like an additional insurance. Duster provides an ample amount of boot space and I already have the complete set we carried the below items with us -

  • 20L diesel Jerry Can and Spout.
  • Jump Start Cable.
  • OBD device with Bluetooth connectivity.
  • 50 feet long ¾ inch diameter nylon rope.
  • Antifreeze diesel additive.
  • Coolant & Brake Oil.
  • Electronic Tyre Inflator and Puncture Kit.
  • Shovel
  • Camping Stool
  • Sleeping Bags (-20 degree C grade)
  • Tent and Tent Light
  • Gas Stove and Butane Gas Canister
  • 50L ice box full of ready-to-eat or easy-to-cook food items.
  • 3 X 2L Thermo Flask for drinking water
  • Head Torch
  • Big Umbrella
  • Packing Tape
  • Car DC to AC (220V) Adapter
  • Tyre Chain ( 1 pair )
  • Oxygen Cans

To be continued ...

Last edited by Sheel : 30th October 2023 at 15:16. Reason: As requested. Typo.
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Old 29th October 2023, 11:12   #2
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

DAY 01: Kolkata - Varanasi, UP


In the last few years, we learnt that if we start on a weekend from Kolkata we face unnecessary traffic in the city which continues till Durgapur/Asansol. The reason is that many people who stay in Kolkata for a job and used to travel to their native place for the weekend used to start on Saturday morning. So keeping this in mind we started on Thursday morning with fresh energy and current work-from-home options allow Soumyadip and my brother to travel on weekdays with their laptops. For the first day, we took many breaks as sometimes Soumyadip or my brother needed to take some important calls in a stable network. On the first evening, we reached Varanasi and decided to spend the night there.


DAY 02: Varanasi - Karnal, HR


As there was not much travel on a fast day, we were full of energy and started early. We kept the Purbanchal highway for the return journey and took the old route via Prayagraj, Kanpur, Lucknow-Agra Expressway, Yamuna Expressway & Eastern Peripheral Expressway. Thankfully we did not have to take breaks for office work as everyone was in holiday mode on the last day of work in the year. With typical food/tea breaks, we reached Karnal around 8:00 PM.

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Somewhere before catching Lucknow-Agra expressway

In 2017, we found a hotel in Karnal that provides a good stay along with safe parking. So without moving further we spent the night in Karnal and prayed for less fog the next morning.

DAY 03: Karnal - Narkanda, HP

This is the third time I chose Narkanda to spend a day there. Not just because of the location connectivity issues, the staying option in Narkanda Circuit House is also very attractive. It was predicted that the morning would be very foggy in Haryana, but after a couple of hours, the road was clear without any waste of time until we reached Narkanda in the afternoon.




Before Narkanda we had to collect the antifreeze diesel additive and one of our friends there delivered us on the way. So we were all set for the next moves.

Reaching in Narkanda, I got a little unhappy. In December 2017 when we were in Narkanda, we saw it was almost covered by snow, however, this time the temperature was even lower than in 2017 still there was hardly any snow on the road or beside. Yes, the weather has changed a lot in the last 4-5 years but I was not sure that it has changed so much.

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Similar frame from dec - 2017 with Lazy Turtle

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Another from 2017 with Lazy Turtle

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The last two times, we had a very good experience in a restaurant situated in Narkanda Market, so this time also we chose to spend the evening in the same restaurant to have some coffee and good food there. I am not very much sure whether the quality has been lessened permanently or not but for the day it was not at all satisfactory. This is the day we started enjoying the sub-zero temperature.

DAY 04: Narkanda - Kalpa, HP

Going to Kalpa was not in the actual plan and we could have gone to Nako directly. However, Kalpa in winter is always a favourite place of mine. The main reason is that in the other season, many people reach there and you will face chaos. In winter most of the hotels get closed so spending some time watching the Kinner Kailash from Kalpa is simply fabulous and we didn't want to miss it. As it was a lazy day and less drive-in plan, we took many breaks in between and reached Kalpa after lunch. As usual, most of the hotel was closed, so we had only a few options to choose from but fortunately, the view from the hotel and balcony was amazing.


This is the only day we got a little snowfall in the evening on this trip.

To be continued ...
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Old 29th October 2023, 11:41   #3
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

DAY 05: Kalpa - Nako - Puh - Chango, HP

Morning in Kalpa was painted by the nature of the Himalayas with a sunny morning, clear blue sky and snow-covered peak. Whenever I see such a morning after a restless drive it normalizes all the exhaustion and boosts the energy to go beyond and repeat it again and again. Somewhere I read that Kalpa is a sleepy village in the Himalayas. And it's true, every time I visited the place I felt the same ‘sleepy’ things in Kalpa. It is okay to plan for many activities, but just sitting somewhere in a silent place and watching the Shivling peak from there could be a better plan than activities.


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Some random snaps of Kalpa before leaving


Spending a little time in Kalpa everyone with me was waiting for the adventure part of the trip and that is ‘SPITI’.

Flux got filled with boiling water, with multiple layers of clothes and warm jackets and after a quick check of the vehicle, we started to witness the extreme weather of the chilling spirit. After a few odd KM of driving through the roads where mountains cover the top like a mushroom when we reached the wide open valleys, we felt the chilling wind of the north. I remember, even on a sunny noon it was tough to hold a camera because of the chilling wind. As the weather was extremely dry we were always trying to keep ourselves hydrated as much as possible throughout the day. By 2:00 PM we reached Nako and the temperature was -23 degree centigrade whereas it felt like -28 degrees because of dryness and no snowfall.


Reaching Nako we just walked on the lake, and had some enjoyable moments but after some time spent there, we found some unexpected crowds on the lake and some of them started flying drones. These sudden crowds just broke the calmness of the place and we decided to move on.


On the Aug-2019 Spiti trip, we made a good friend ‘Liton’ at Chango. He is an adventurous guy living at Chango for 6 years and runs a homestay inside an apple orchard (https://www.facebook.com/yellowleavesSpiti/) and originates from Kolkata. He never misses the winter in Spiti as he organizes many snow-leopard excursions every year. We already informed Liton that we will be going to his place for the day so we had no hurry for a hotel or searching for a stay. After Nako we take many breaks on the road just to enjoy the weather and take some snaps.


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Liton’s place offered us more than expectations. Not only are clean and big rooms, fireplaces or hot water available, but the people running the place are also very nice, friendly and supportive. I could not believe that in such weather they gave us a choice of food like Chinese, Bengali or north India. Spending the evening sitting in the apple garden, having countless tea, pakoras and muri and chatting with Liton and his staff was an amazing experience. We also got the bad news that the cook who was there on our last visit died in a bus accident on Spiti roads. The bus fell 1000 ft. down from the mountain road.

Overall, the day was good and by swapping experiences with Liton and his staff we found ourselves filled with joy.

2017 Kalpa / Chitkul / Uttarakhand - https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...tarakhand.html (Snow-laden Himachal and Heavenly Uttarakhand)

2019 Spiti - https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...l-pradesh.html (On the road again! Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh)

To be continued ....
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Old 29th October 2023, 12:01   #4
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

DAY 06: Chango - Dhankar - Kaza, HP

One year back I was hospitalized for a long period due to COVID and Soumya has a record of having COVID three times in the last one and a half years. We always call my brother (Tanmoy) a steam engine as he is the youngest and fittest among us. Considering the health condition of Soumya we did not book any homestay in Kaza or Mud. We wanted to take the discussion on the go as it is the first time in such low temperatures and on such a long trip too for Soumya. Whatever, after reaching Tabo Soumya felt that he can go to Kaza if not further and we moved towards Kaza.


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Liton's place ( Chango)

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Malling Nala

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Random snaps at Chango before starting for Kaza


On the way, we took a small break in Dhankar Monastery. Though the monastery was closed due to winter, it is still one of the best places from where we get a wider view of Spiti. And around 3:00 PM we reached Kaza.


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Some random snaps on the way

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Dhankar


To be continued ...
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Old 29th October 2023, 12:08   #5
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

Day 6 continued ...


As we did not have any bookings in the winter season, it is really difficult to get accommodation in Kaza as there is limited storage of water and food. So even though there are very few tourists this season, getting a homestay without booking is very difficult. Fortunately, we found a wonderful one and that too because the booking was withdrawn by the guest for the day.


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Lingti Waterfall



We spent the evening sitting in the common room and chatting with the family members and it was a nice ece. At the same time, we came to know that 3 days back someone died in the nearby homestay as he went out in the middle of the night to smoke after drinking heavily and the homestay owner had no idea about this. The homestay owner found the person frozen sitting on a chair just outside of the homestay the next morning.

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The place was relaxed and warm and the room was also very clean and warm. So we were more than happy to get such a place without pre-booking and we were also served a remarkable dinner.

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Our Stay in Kaza

After dinner, we were checking the temperature and found that the temperature was already -24 degree centigrade and the forecast was that it could reach -28 degrees in the morning. So we decided to keep our vehicle engine on for the whole night. My brother went out to start the vehicle and came back in 10 minutes and we discovered that the car can’t be locked from outside if the engine is on. So we left it unlocked and notified Soumya that in the case of the Bolero, I can lock the car with the spare key even if the engine is on. We got a dramatic reaction from Soumya that he didn't want to keep his vehicle unlocked for the whole night. I assured him that there is nothing to worry about, no one is going to tamper with his car here and that too the vehicle is inside a fence. He made many calls here and there to many duster owners, and finally came to know that he has no option but to lock the vehicle 😛.

To be continued ...
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Old 29th October 2023, 12:33   #6
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

DAY 07: Kaza - Chicham Bridge - Langza - Hikkim - Kaza - Tabo, HP

I do not know whether Soumya had a good sleep or not as his car was unlocked, me and my brother had an extremely good sleep last night and we were full of energy from the morning. As the vehicle was on for the whole night we had no uncertainty or any cold start issue and we decided to leave early for the day.

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Morning view from window

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Happiness for sun

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Kaza - 8:30 AM, Morning is chilling as expected


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Time to start




We started from Kaza a little early and covered Key, Kibber, Chicham Bridge, Langza & Hikkim on the exact day. This year as I told you earlier there was less snow than expected and SPITI was not entirely white rather the barren lands were visible here and there in many places on the way. Still, there was no less beauty to enjoy the journey.

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Key/Kee Monastery without snow

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Chicham Bridge

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To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 29th October 2023 at 12:43.
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Old 29th October 2023, 12:55   #7
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

Day 7 Continued ...

Standing at Hikkim, we were scheduling for the next few days. While me and my brother were intending to go to Losar the next day and Pin Valley the day after tomorrow. Soumya said that he is facing some health issues and it would be better if we plan for a warm place for the next. And we had no option other than going with his desires as he suffered from COVID three times and we didn't want to take any risk of life.


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Hikkim

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Random Snaps


In the later part of the day, we went back to Kaza, had our lunch in a restaurant in the market area and then left for Tabo.

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Lunch at Kaza Market

My brother Tanmoy was a little upset because we missed both the beautiful places Losar and Pin Valley but the good thing is it triggered him to book a THAR right after returning from the trip. The black THAR is in our home now and already has a pair of team-bhp strikers on it. Let's see how the season goes with them along with the old lazy turtle in the coming days.


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The thar in recent Zanskar trip .. travelogue coming soon


It was already dark and late enough when we reached Tabo in such winter. The owner of Kaza homestay was very nice and she took the responsibility to book a room for us in Tabo and arrange everything we may need as we will be on the go from Kaza to Tabo. If we get delayed it will be very tough for us to get a room in Tabo. She kept her promises and arranged everything for us in Tabo, we just reached, made a call to the Tabo homestay and they came out to help us. Unfortunately, here we did not get an attached toilet and it was outside and way far from our room.

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When we reached Tabo


As we planned to go to sleep a little late because of the outside toilet, my brother and I planned for a walk in the old monastery area and riverside whereas Soumya was comfortable inside the common dining area beside the fireplace after dinner. It was extremely cold but not like Kaza. Before going to sleep we made sure the vehicle is covered properly and the antifreeze additive was already mixed with diesel.
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Old 29th October 2023, 13:12   #8
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

DAY 08: Tabo - Chango - Rakcham, HP


As we reduced the days in Spiti, we have another 10 days left in our hands and I had no intention of coming back to Kolkata and spoiling my leaves. So last night I planned to visit Harsil and Gangotri, and then from there, we can go back to Kolkata by following the path of Ganga. But before that, I didn't want to miss my all-time favorite place Chitkul.

On the chilling morning of Tabo, the first important thing was to start the vehicle. And here I was impressed by the performance of the duster. I guess the outside temperature was a little less than the vehicle was showing, still, the engine just got started without a single drama in -12 degree centigrade and it was really impressive. We kept the vehicle engine on for some time and utilized the time to have our breakfast.


Before getting on board for the day, I discussed the changes in the plan with Soumya and Tanmoy. Though Chitkul was another chilling place in this region, yet Soumya agreed to spend another day as he heard many things about Chitkul from our last couple of visits.

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Random snaps at Tabo

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blocked for some time at Malling Nala

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WB meets HR

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We visited Liton's place again to say good bye

We had enough time in hand to reach Chitkul before sunset. However, a landslide at Malling Nala and another road accident right after Malling Nala killed the time. The recovery took a huge time to clear the road. While we were waiting at the other side of Malling Nala we came to know that one of my friends ( Sayantan ) was traveling towards Tabo and he was waiting at the other side of Malling Nala at the same time. Before 2013, when Sayantan was in Kolkata we had many motorcycle trips together but now as he has moved to Jammu for a job, we do not get many options to meet each other. Never thought that we will meet on the road itself that too in Spiti.



Met our friends and shared many stories of the last few years and spent some good time with tea and chocolates we were carrying with us and got much delayed for Chitkul for some delightful reasons. Spent the night at Rakcham and got a very comfortable stay which carried some smiles to Soumya’s face.

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On the way to Sangla

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When we reached Sangla

To be continued ...
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Old 29th October 2023, 13:30   #9
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

DAY 09: Rakcham - Chitkul - Suru - Samla, HP

The morning at Rackham was awesome. It was a nice property with a great view of snow fields and mountains while having our breakfast. As it was a little warmer than the other places Soumya was feeling comfortable and boosted with lots of energy. We decided to visit Chitkul which is one of the favorite places for me and my brother.

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Our balcony

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What could be better than such a scenic breakfast ?

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another view from our stay









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Random Snaps Rakcham


Before hitting Chitkul, we spent some time on the river side of the Rakcham and reached Chitkul at noon. Like always, I have no words to define the beauty of Chitkul. Better, I am attaching some snaps which can describe a little better than my words.

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Random Snaps Chitkul


In the later part of the day, we moved towards Samala (Himachal). For the day it was a little difficult to manage a budget hotel as it was 31st Dec night. However, we managed to get one good stay at Samala with a little over budget but that justified the journey and new year celebration with some good food and ambience.

To be continued ...
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Old 29th October 2023, 13:36   #10
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

DAY 10: Samla - Chakrata - Tiger Fall - Quansi, UK
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The first thing we felt the next morning is that we have reached someplace where the temperature is not sub-zero any more. And we utilize this by having a good bath after almost a week. The sky was clear, hence we started our day with lots of energy and freshness. From Samla we headed towards Chakrata and the drive was very joyful with dark tar roads and pine forest on either side of the road. Instead of taking a break in the locality we took a small break in the forest and had our breakfast cooked by ourselves. Around 2:00 PM we reached Chakrata. It was a little more crowded than the expectation and the reason was 1st January. People were roaming around the market areas and all the famous restaurants were full. Somehow, we managed to complete our lunch and then agreed to sidestep the crowd and drive a little more for the day.

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Before starting from Samla

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Random Snaps in Chakrata



Before leaving Chakrata we visited the famous Tiger Falls there. It is very famous and I would say that it is good enough for spending some time, but at the same time it was overcrowded and I don't like a place which asks for parking charges, especially in the Himalayas 😛. As the road towards the Tiger Falls was narrow and the place was overcrowded for the day it took a lot of time. Once we reached the main road without discussion we took just the opposite direction of Chakrata and we were ready to explore some unknown place.


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Tiger Falls

We were driving towards the unknown and the road was almost empty. We decided that after sunset we will look for any village on the way and we can easily camp somewhere nearby the village.

It was already dark when we reached Quansi, we had no idea that we would get any hotel/homestay. We asked people for the availability of some food and while chatting with them we also came to know that there is a guesthouse that is mainly used by the State Bank of India which we may get for the stay. The guest house was right after entering the village. We met the owner of the guest house and he told us that it has only one room which is Luxury and A1 quality. He also informed us that generally he gives it to the SBI officer as he has a tie-up with the bank. However, as there is no one for the day, we can get it. I was a little worried about the description of the room thinking that it might be a little expensive, yet, there is no harm in seeing it and then discussed the charges. The room was really good and the charge surprised us all. He just asked for 500/- all-inclusive and he also informed us that there will not be any trouble in getting food. He will organize it in a nearby tea shop that used to cook for the visitors of the guest house.

We spent a very charming evening in Quansi roaming around the beautiful village and chatting with local people. We had a wonderful homely dinner in the arranged shop. The shop again surprised us with the dinner charge. For 3 people they charged us 300/- and explained that Rs - 150/- for 500 gm cooked chicken and 3 meals 50/- each which includes - rice, roti, dal, vegetables and 1 sweet. They also suggested we have our breakfast in the same shop as there will not be any village/shop on the way we will be driving today.

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Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand-tkd_4892.jpg
Night Sky from Quansi


To be continued ...

Last edited by PointZero : 29th October 2023 at 13:48.
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Old 29th October 2023, 13:46   #11
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

DAY 11: Quansi - Uttarkashi - Maneri, UK

On the last day when we were looking for a camping site, we found several beautiful places on the way. Though we missed the camping opportunities for a day, at the same time we were happy for the evening in the Quansi. In the morning we found that the place might be a paradise for bird photographers. I tried to capture a few birds in my frame but finally realized that I am not at all good at photography. While leaving Quansi we were discussing that the places we found last day of camping were awesome, and if we get similar places we can take long breaks and spend some time in such a lonesome place.


We left Quansi at 9:00 AM and at 10:30 we reached another unknown beautiful place. Spent some time and captured some timelapse before heading towards Uttarkashi. As we took an unknown road the overall journey was enjoyable and less crowded.

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Quansi Random Snaps


The next known place was Uttarkashi. However, we were not interested in staying in Uttarkashi and wished to spend the night in a less crowded place. We drove around 23 odd kilometers after Uttarkashi and found a place near Maneri. The hotel was closed for the off-season but still, they agreed to book the room as it was already evening. We took the hotel caretaker with us and came back to Uttarkashi to buy some chicken, vegetables etc. Then requested him to allow us to cook ourselves. The caretaker was actually from Harsil and we were discussing his childhood and how the place has developed over 20 years. We were carrying a barbecue stick with us and as we went, we spent the evening with the caretaker ( Manish Rana ) and one of his friends ( Ballu Rana ) accompanying us for the evening. It was chilling cold and having a barbecue on the bank of the Ganga along with local friends was remarkable. That day Manish also planned to go to Harsil on the next day to visit his village, however, as we were not sure about the return journey he dropped the plan as he could not stay outside the hotel during the night as he has complete responsibility for the hotel.

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At Manish's place

To be continued ...
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Old 29th October 2023, 13:47   #12
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

Quote:
Originally Posted by PointZero View Post
Well, so many things to list but I am sure that you have already drawn a picture of Spiti in your imagination.
Very detailed travelogue. And fantastic photographs. Compliments to you Sir for the effort of documenting it in such a splendid manner.

In fact, this is my destination for next year's ride. You have made my work so much easier.

Thanks again...
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Old 29th October 2023, 13:57   #13
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand


DAY 12: Maneri - Bharwari - Gangotri - Harsil, UK


The next morning the owner of the hotel met with us. While making payment for the stay he denied taking any money. He was glad that we spent such a great evening last night and instead of taking any payments he gave us a lot of packed food and water to make our journey smoother.


The more we were approaching Gangotri, the road was less traffic and after Bharwari we found almost no traffic on the road. Before noon we reached Gangotri and I guess we were the only visitors for that time. There was not a single car in the parking lot and we found no one in Gangotri other than some holy man in the area. We spent a couple of hours by the riverside and I was visualizing a busy day in Gangotri. Every hotel, guest house was closed and empty and the number of hotels and guest houses tells us how much crowd is possible in the season.

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Towards and at Gangotri


After spending a couple of hours, we came back to Harsil Valley and we decided to spend the day in Harsil Valley and took some rest.


Harsil Valley is one of the best-kept secrets of Uttarakhand. Situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi River, this little hamlet is part of the equally gorgeous Uttarkashi district. The valley is surrounded by dense Oak and Deodar forests and is a place where nature greets us with a warm embrace. The shimmering and gurgling streams, the apple orchards, and the chirping of birds make this off-beat location a prized possession of Uttarakhand. According to a local myth, Harsil got its name from the Bhagirathi and the Jalandhari rivers as once they argued over their significance. Lord Hari, also known as Vishnu, was asked to intervene. He turned himself into a great stone and absorbed their anger. Even today, the waters of the two rivers have become a little less turbulent.

( Source - https://www.adotrip.com/destination-.../harsil-valley )

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Some random snaps at Harsil



Before searching for any hotel/stay, we were more interested in spending time on the riverside and we found a place where we can take Lazy Turtle nearest to the stream. In the evening we spend some time shopping for handmade woolen clothes, socks and very flavorsome food.


It was already midnight and suddenly we found that the outside lights were getting dimmed slowly and suddenly they just disappeared. Just coming out of the hotel balcony we were amazed to see that many floating clouds had covered the hotel garden and that was the reason that the lights disappeared. There was a weather forecast for snowfall at night but we were unfortunate for the time.

To be continued ...
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Old 29th October 2023, 14:05   #14
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

DAY 13: Harsil - Srinagarh - Khirsu, UK

Now it was time to return home. Though we could spend a couple of more days in the Himalayas, Soumyadip was a little worried about the COVID 3rd wave in Kolkata. He was getting endless calls from home about the situation and that triggered the panic for him. We cut the extra days from our trip but not Khirsu.

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Tehri Dam, on the way to Khirsu


The hill station located in the Pauri Garhwal district offers astonishing views of the Himalayas, including a panorama of peaks like the Panchachuli, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, and Trishul. It was a very joyful drive from Harsil to Khirsu and when we reached Khirsu it was already afternoon and we missed the panoramic view of Khirsu. While entering the village we discover the chapping of many unknown birds in the woods. That day we did not have much to do so we spent the evening on hot food in chilling weather.


DAY 14: Khirsu - Rishikesh - Haridwar - Rampur - Meerut - Yamuna Expressway, UP


As yesterday we did not get the famous view of the mountain from Khirsu, we planned for a lazy start. However, the mountain has its mood and sometimes it offers more than you expected and sometimes it acts like a miserly old man. So it was a day when the rain continued from the morning. I still had some hope, that if the rain stops we can get a view of cloud pockets and snow-covered mountains which sometimes looks even better than a clear sky.


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It was a covid time, yet its hard to miss the flavor of Lucknow



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Night at Yamuna Expressway


Till the middle of the day, we did not find any scope of seeing the sight and it was time to leave for home. We had no further plan for any stay, and we decided to cover an odd distance of 1875 kilometers via the Purbachal Expressway.


Due to continuous rain, the traffic was very slow and with minimal breaks, we reached the Jewar Banger ( the first facility and refreshment halt ) of Yamuna Expressway. We were about to take the Purbachal Expressway for the first time and we had no idea what was available there and we also wanted to enter into any city hotel to avoid the third wave of COVID. We spent our night in the car itself, had some coffee and Maggie made by ourselves and slept around 4 hours inside the car.


DAY 15, 16: Yamuna ExpressWay - Lucknow - Dehri, BH - Kolkata


Though it was not a very good sleep, at least we restored sufficient energy for the day. As we planned to experience Purbachal Expressway from Lucknow, Soumyadip was more interested to have Biryani and Kababs in Lucknow rather than returning to Kolkata fast and quarantining at home. And nobody knows whether it is leading to another lockdown or not. So not only he packed food for lunch in Lucknow he also packed some Paratha and Kabab for the afternoon. We could have stretched the driving to Kolkata, but we got a newly built hotel at Dehri (Bihar) and decided to have a good sleep for the day.


The next day before the afternoon we reached Kolkata safely and quarantined ourselves for 7 days before meeting family members.


The AWD duster performed incredibly well with some noise in the rear wheel bearing.

Thanks for reading -
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Old 29th October 2023, 20:53   #15
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Re: Winter was there when we sailed for the North - Spiti & Uttarakhand

Great travel guide! The pictures, especially the ones of the food, were amazing. I half-expected to see some stovetop cooking – that would've been a treat. I'm currently planning a trip and I've never experienced a snowfall. I suppose December would be an ideal time. Thanks for sharing!
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