Saturday, May 13, 2017

Spiti Valley Trip Sept 2016 - 50 shades of brown!!

Dear Readers, 

It's been long since I have posted a blog. My blogging interest went into dormancy for at least 2 years post shifting from Bangalore to Delhi. At that same time, this relocation gave me an opportunity to contemplate about my motorcycle ride to that part of the Himalayas which is yet to be explored by a lot of people around the world and has a beauty which is just out of this world. I decided to explore Spiti valley as I had seen a lot of people riding to that place and posting photos on their social network. Moreover, life does not give you many chances to explore places and it also depends on your willingness to travel. The right mix of these ingredients and you will be steaming with all the enthusiasm you need! :-)


My intent is to keep this travel blog simple and more informative in order to help motorcycle tourers in the best way possible. 



Ride Dates: 3 Sep 2016 to 11 Sep 2016


Riders: Initially, it was just me and later on I was being accompanied by Shashank and his wife Ayushi on a Bullet 500


Planning: Do I look like a guy with a plan? ;-)


Most of the planning was done by the nice couple who were my partners. I give the complete credit to them. From hotel bookings to route to probably taking intervals were precisely planned and chalked out to detail. 


Motorcycles:


  1. Pulsar 200 NS
  2. Bullet 500 (Please note the bike did NOT have a fuel gauge with a tank capacity of 13 liters only) 
Gears:


  1. Riding Jackets
  2. Riding Pants
  3. Helmets
  4. Gloves
  5. Warm gloves 
  6. Riding boots
  7. Face Mask for preventing you from inhaling insane amounts of dust
  8. Sun glasses for preventing you from becoming blind 

Medical Kit(s)/Cosmetics/other essentials:
  1. Combiflam/Disprin for headache
  2. Diamox (for breathing related problems) and Stemetil (for nausea) - AMS related
  3. Crocin for fever
  4. Dettol
  5. Bandages
  6. Norflox 
  7. ORS
  8. Glucon D
  9. Electrol
  10. 4 Bottles of water
  11. Nivea Milk Cream for dryness (Remember Spiti is similar to a cold desert and dryness is all what you will get)
  12. Honey
  13. Energy bars
  14. Cash (Never trust ATMs in this part of the country)
Motorcycle Spares

  1. Clutch wire (Because you don't want to be stuck in a place with a broken clutch wire and there is no one around for 100 kms)
  2. Accelerator wire (Take it easy but if in case you have a bad day, you should have it)
  3. Sparks Plugs 
  4. Fuse
  5. Engine Oil (Bullet friend had it but I did not, because I trust Motul)
  6. Foot Pump
  7. Tubeless Puncture Kit (Pulsar 200 NS)
Clothing: 

Although, the valley is a rain deprived area but do keep rain gear because before entering or exiting the valley, you might encounter rain and we did, while on our way back from Manali to Chandigarh. One sweater and muffler will be adequate enough to save you from the cold in the evening and at night. During the day time, you will not need it because the blazing sun while give you just the right amount of tan. Make sure you take adequate clothing and take care of yourself because you need to. 


Packing my bags


Day 1: Delhi to Narkanda (450 kms)

We started our ride at around 6:30 am from Delhi and the meeting point was Dhaula Kuan. Crossing through Delhi sometimes is a cumbersome task but it was a breeze this time and we were cruising on National Highway 1 (Karnal Highway). The mandatory morning tea with paranthas and curd was taken at Food Garage restaurant which is 90 kms far from Delhi. 


The ride is on!



After having breakfast we started our ride towards Narkanda. The highway is awesome but be careful of local people crossing roads and lorries. The weather was not that hot, very less traffic, we reached Zirakpur in no time and took a right turn towards Shimla under the Zirakpur flyover. If you go straight, you will reach Chandigarh which was not in our plan. After that turn Shashank noticed that his bike's speedometer stopped working and then we stopped to have it checked which consumed 1 hour. Somehow the mechanic managed to fix it! We started moving towards Shimla. The Himalayan Expressway was amazing to ride on and then started the hill climb but to our dismay the widening of the Shimla highway was in progress so the roads were not good, there was traffic and lot of dust flying. Our hunger made us stop at Sagar Ratna for lunch and we still had good 120 kms to be covered. 








After lunch, we started our journey towards Narkanda, the road became smooth as we gained altitude. Leaning into the curves with the cool breeze touching me gently made me think of the mightier Himalayas more and more. We crossed Shimla and reached Narkanda after sunset. The couple hunted for a hotel and finally we took shelter in Hotel Mount View after rounds of negotiations done by Shashank. 


The photograph of the hotel room @ Narkanda

Day 2: Narkanda to Chhitkul (190 kms)

So for me the second day started with a headache which was almost unbearable so had to take the medicine post breakfast and it was time to gear up for the day. 


Leaving the hotel @ Narkanda

Initially, I was not really keen to visit Chhitkul which is a detour of almost 55 kms from the main highway (NH505) starting from Karchcham Dam. On our way to Chhitkul, we crossed Jeori, Wangtoo, Tapri, Karchcham and Sangla. The beauty of the Satluj valley was out of the world. The tarmac was good till Wangtoo, thanks to the defence settlement in that area and you can easily do speeds of 80 kmph to 90 kmph. Posting a few photos:






Me and Shashank looking at the beautiful nature
We had lunch at Sarahan just before Bhabhanagar. The greenery was really good post the monsoon season. We went to superb roads to no roads after Wangtoo till Karchcham dam which means dust flying and your butt gets a good massage. No problem, this is a real life biker. Once you reach Karchcham, there is a T intersection from where you need to take a right turn towards Sangla valley. 






After entering Sangla valley, the tarmac more or less disappeared and was visible only on fragments. The place is picturesque and takes your breath away. After 30 kms, we reached Sangla and halted for a quick snack. Shashank and Ayushi insisted on having Thupka, the local dish made of soup, noodles and lots of vegetables. After looking at the quantity, I felt already full and had noodles. After having the "quick snack", we started towards Chhitkul. The vistas were just mind boggling. The reached the place at 7 pm. 










One guy approached us to offer tents and to our surprise it was just on the banks of Baspa river. It was cold and the sound of the river flowing through was really soothing. The camp was known as Baspa Camp. The in-charge gave us the biggest tent available since all the tents were empty due to off season. This was the first time I was staying in a tent, nature's lap is really comfortable. Dinner was served to us in time and beer (some local brand) was arranged for my dear friend. Lying in tent I updated the notes in my phone and slept. The sound of the flowing river made me more excited for Day 3.