“Traveling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
― Ibn Battuta.
I had read these famous words long back, and then again and again over social media until they lost their essence. I would say to myself ” yeah, it’s an interesting fact, and quite true, but what’s the big deal..!”
It took me a week in Spiti valley, followed by a thought block of many days to realize the meaning of the above quote.
Still overwhelmed and unsure where to begin the travelogue, let’s take it from the start.
Spiti had been on my list since I had seen Leh-Ladakh in 2016. Due to some time constraints, I couldn’t explore it completely and had to return home half finished.
Since then, I had been looking for a way to make up for that. From some online and offline advice, I understood that Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh is a place that beats Ladakh in its beauty, and is still not that ”touristy’. The idea had been planted.
Cut to 2018, it’s Leh season again, and my daydreaming is at its peak. Over Instagram, I got to know about Tripver, an online community of travellers which was organising a Spiti trip sometime in August. I told them my itinerary and intention to click pictures. They said ” Why don’t you go in July? we already have a bunch of photography/ astronomy enthusiasts and a professional vlogger, Tanya Khanijow travelling to see the Lunar eclipse at Chandratal.” I was sold.
Here’s the day by day breakdown :
Day 1 and 2: Crawl from Pune to Mumbai and fly to Delhi then take an overnight bus to Shimla.
Delhi was horribly hot for a Pune dweller where it drizzles politely in monsoon and you get a “hot day’ notification if it crosses 25 deg cel. I was cursing a lot and clicking some street pictures at the same time. Had to kill a couple of hours till the night bus.
Pro tip :
Don’t venture far away from your next departure point. Delhi traffic is not only thick but also unpredictable.
Connaught Place is lined with restaurants and eateries fit for every pocket. There are a couple of movie theatres too. Also, If your bus is from ‘Majnoo ka Tila‘ like mine was, and it mostly is if going to the mountains, then the ‘Tibetan market’ is a good place to explore.
Day 2: From Shimla reach Narkanda and rest till next day.
So, after braving the heat of Delhi I got my ass into the chilled Indo-Canadian charted Volvo bus service. The lights were off soon and the next thing I remember is waking up to a hot cup of chai at a bus halt high in the misty hills of Shimla for everyone to quickly freshen up.
Once on the road, especially on a bus, you never know when the next ‘freshen up’ stop might come. So make the most of it.
On reaching Narkanda, the photographer within me could finally indulge the beauty of nature and people around. Carrying backbreaking camera gear was beginning to look worthwhile.
Narkanda in itself is a small town. The best view of the valley is from the hotel Mount view, run by Mr Kedarnath. The only other place worth the time is the Hatu peak and temple. Only during winter, Narkanda is famous for its ski resorts.
The New Himalayan Dhaba soon became our second home for its piping hot tasty food, scenic windows and retro decor.
Day 3: Leave from Narkanda and reach Kalpa.
The third day was going to be a long and scenic drive from Narkanda to Kapla. We loved Narkanda a little too much, hence it was late night by the time we reached Kalpa.
We had a night halt at Tab exotica hotel. It is an excellent place to stay and the food is really yum..! I wish we could spend some time exploring Kalpa, but we couldn’t. We had a b’day celebration at Kalpa though..!
Day 4: Leave Kalpa and reach Kaza via Nako village and Tabo monastery.
So far, I was enjoying the lush mountain slopes and clouds. But the proverbial Spiti landscape of gigantic brown mountains coupled with a pristine blue sky and pure white clouds were making its absence feel.
Pro tip :
Non BSNL phone networks will start to disappear after Kalpa. Having an active BSNL phone really helps.
Day 4 was meant to reach Kaza, the heart of Lahaul-Spiti valley via quick stops at Nako village and Tabo monastery.
Nako village is a small and beautiful pitstop on the way to Kaza. It is famous for a lake, called Nako lake and an oasis of green farmland amidst an arid desert of mountains. One can choose to stay at Nako as well, there are plenty of homestays.
Tabo Monastery is a few kilometers before Kaza. One can stay there as well, but we had our accomadation booked at Kaza, hence had to rush. Tabo is a village in Lahaul Spiti district, like Nako. The monastery is around a thousand years old. We were lucky to have reached right at the time of their evening prayer. It is wonderfully clean and calm place, exactly what we needed after a long day on the road.
By the time we were done with Tabo, the day was almost ending. To avoid night drive in the mountians, we rushed to Kaza.
Ironically we had to stop our vehicle just as we entered Kaza due to the sheer beauty of the land…!!! ‘Kaza-scapes‘ can turn anyone into a pro photographer..! I can’t wait to tell you the story of Kaza in the next part of the travelogue.
Thanks for dropping by..!
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