Saturday, May 13, 2017

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

Dear Readers, 

It's been long since I had 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 them the complete credit. Hotel bookings, places to visit, route to be followed and intervals to be taken. Everything was planned meticulously. 


  1. Pulsar 200 NS
  2. Bullet 500
  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 no one around)
  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)

Although, the valley is a rain deprived area but do keep your rain gear handy 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 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 the road and lorries zipping past you. 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. We dumped our luggage in the room, had our dinner and slept. 

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 I had to take the medicine after having 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. 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 from superb roads to no roads after Wangtoo till Karchcham dam which means dust flying and your butt getting 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 in 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. We reached the place at 7 pm, with the clouds hovering over us and the sound of the river flowing just next to you. 

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 man 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 and I must say 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 the tent I updated the notes in my phone and slept. The sound of the flowing river made me more excited for Day 3.

Day 3: Chhitkul - Reckong Peo - Spello (100 kms)

We woke up to a beautiful morning and I was the first one to get up to view the sunrise from China's side. It was simply mesmerizing and it completely refreshed my mind. I clicked a few photos as well. 

We started getting ready, had our breakfast and clicked a photograph with the guest room caretaker. We started our journey back to National Highway No. 505 and again entered the bad stretch of road at Karchcham towards Kalpa. The primary reason for us to visit Kalpa was to refuel our tanks, because the next petrol pump was in Kaza which is around 200 kms from Kalpa. After reaching Kalpa, we stopped at a small shop and had noodles with a view of the Kinner Kailash Range. Here are a few photos: 

Kinner Kailash Range View

After having an early lunch, we started our journey towards the majestic Spiti valley. As usual the road conditions were not good and we could not stop to click photos because we were warned by security officials that these are landslide prone areas. The roads were so bad that I had to stop near a bridge to relax my back and butt. Watching me do that a security personnel came and asked me, "Are you alright?" and I said "Yes!". This gave me a very clear idea that it's not gonna be easy road ahead and the terrain will get tougher. Around 6.30 pm, we reached Spello, we did not plan to ride further as it was getting dark, also there was no place to stay in Nako. Checked into a small hotel. The room was not at all good, no fan and mattresses still covered in plastic sheets. I could not sleep properly.The hotel owner told us that Dalai Lama had stayed in his hotel which I refuse to believe looking at the condition of the place. Day 3 ends!

Day 4: Spello - Giu - Tabo (112 kms)

We woke up around 7 am, got ready, had breakfast, loaded the luggage and started moving towards Tabo. The scenic beauty of the place was amazing and seriously can't be explained in words. We were gaining altitude at a good pace. Then came the board where it was written Welcome to Lahul and Spiti. Euphoria for me!

While ascending towards Nako, we witnessed beautiful gorges and pure blue skies. Every turn was a new story for us. A few more photos:

As the altitude increased, the oxygen level reduced but being well informed and aware riders, we took decent number of water breaks and Shashank's wife had got Patanjali energy bars (Ramdev baba is everywhere). This kept us energized and hydrated. Unfortunately, the Bullet started giving problems while climbing. It was losing power and finally it broke down at Nako. We asked the locals if there was a mechanic and none of them had any idea. So while Shashank was busy waiting and thinking what to do next. I clicked a photo.

A group of Bulleteers where coming from Spello and Ayushi decided to stop them for help since we did not have options left and to our good luck they had a mechanic with a back up vehicle. The lead of the group was from Gurgaon. He was very kind and helpful. The spark plug had gone for a toss and was replaced with a new one. We thanked the mechanic and the group lead. While heading towards Sumdo, we faced a small road block as BRO folks were were constructing a road and within 30 minutes, the road was done!! Below is the photo:

Never in my life I was so happy and scared to death on the very same day.The death defying moment came just 500 meters before the check post at Sumdo, Shashank was just 50 m ahead of me, meanwhile the BRO labor told me that rocks can fall anytime so don't wait. The truck coming from the opposite side passed Shashank's bike clearing our way to move, he had moved just 10 m ahead and rocks came tumbling down. They were not that big in size but big enough to take away a life. Seconds after witnessing this, I slammed the 1st gear, rode over the stones, mud, dust and crossed that shooting stones area in a single breath because there was no going back. We stopped at the check post and for 2 minutes were thinking what had happened with us. After drinking water, we finished the formalities at the check post. Continuing our journey towards Tabo, we clicked more photos:

We took a detour of around 20 kms to Giu where there is a beautiful monastery. Our bikes started asking for oxygen and somehow we managed to reach Giu village, where a couple of villagers fed us with Maggi and tea inside their home. A few photos:

After having our lunch and getting hydrated, we headed towards the monastery. The main shrine was closed but that section was open where the mummy was placed. Shashank and Ayushi went inside and got to see it closely, unlike me as I was wearing boots. Opening and wearing them back again was an upheaval task. I clicked the photo from outside the door. 

Shashank also had a brief chat session with the ITBP soldier, he told us that the mountain you see on the left, on the other side of it is China. After this visit, our minds were relaxed and we continued towards Tabo. The earth was gulping the sun and it's rays made the barren mountains look even more beautiful. Here are more photos on our way to Tabo:

Entrance to Tabo
After a long and an adventurous day, we finally reached Tabo and checked into a guest house managed by a Nepali couple. I had never seen such a calm and peaceful place. After dumping our luggage and changing, we went for a stroll in the village. It was magical. All we could see is the locals and Israelis. We entered a cafe where people were smoking up, drinking and playing guitar. All were in a merry mood and I could not see any Indian which is personally good for me, we have enough of them in our metropolitan cities. This a different world all together and you need to enjoy it.

Room @ Tabo

Dinner time! The couple cooked good food for us. We ordered a Taco and thought that the quantity would be just like the ones we get the cities (peanuts!) but two huge tacos were served to us. Photo is below:

There was an American sitting just next to us who suggested us to order Shakshuka (Famous Israeli dish) which normally is served in breakfast but we decided to have it in dinner. Here is a photo of that too:

After having dinner, the guest room manager told us to come out and look at the sky. We came out and kept gazing at the sky. Never in my life I had seen so many stars, it was the Milky Way galaxy visible to the naked eyes. Sometimes I just wish life could be so simple. With all the good thoughts pouring into my head, I went back to my room, ducked into my quilt and slept. Day 4 finishes!

Our bikes parked

Selfie Time

Small street @ Tabo

Day 5: Tabo - Dhankar - Kaza - Hikkim - Langza - Komic - Kaza (100 kms approx)

As usual I woke up early morning to see the sunrise. The couple was too lazy to get up early but finally got up after I got all animated. We got ready and proceeded to have our breakfast. We ordered bread and omelette. The preparation just blew us away.

Breakfastwati @ Tabo

Curtains in the breakfast hall
After having breakfast, since we had less kms to cover that day and had time in our hand. We decided to visit the Tabo Monastery. Photography is not allowed inside the premises and there is no light inside the main shrine but it was so peaceful. You want to find the lost person in you, come to Tabo. Some photos from outside:

What a way to say 'Dont smoke'

The new shrine

We went to shop and finally I bought the prayers flag. The actual story behind this was that I wanted to earn this and not just buy the flag from Delhi. The feeling was amazing to earn that prayer flag in Tabo. My advice to all the bikers, you should always earn this. Ayushi tied that flag on my bike and voila! Here I will leave you with a nice quote from Dalai Lama:

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions"

Time to move ahead. We loaded our bags on the bikes, bid good bye to the lovely couple managing the guest room and cranked the bikes to explore more. The road from Tabo to Kaza is picturesque. At every turn you will feel like clicking a photo. 

From the main road to Kaza from Tabo, we took a detour of 8 kms to Dhankar Monastery. The road conditions were average which I feel is excellent in such places. The monastery was beautiful but the main shrine was closed. Not sure about the reason. We took a stroll around the complex and clicked again.

Mia and Biwi

After Dhankar, we headed towards Kaza which was close to about 25 kms from Dhankar. The beauty of the barren land could not be matched. This part of the country is totally different. The dry and cold geographies have their own charm. As a human you need to embrace it and respect nature as always. We kept looking left and right while riding our steeds to the enjoy nature. The road conditions were not that good but not that bad either. You need to be careful of the stones which come in your path. We took those much needed water breaks energized with Patanjali energy bars. Life savers, I must say.

Finally, we reached Kaza (mini Leh city). Shashank had booked couple of tents in Zostel which was just before entering Kaza city on the left hand side, downhill. Due to fatigue, unloading the luggage took our breath away. Here is a photo of our bikes parked adjacent to the tents.

After looking at the tents, I got excited yet again because it was my second time in a tent.When I entered the tent, it looked comfortable initially but it actually restricted my mobility a lot considering that I am 6 feet 2 inches tall. It was difficult for me to adjust in that small space. Anyways, took hotel manager's mobile to inform parents the status since we were out of network for more than 2 days and will continue to be till we reach Manali.


  1. Hi there, quickly. Do you still have your Mojo with you? How much do the accessories weigh approximately that come with the tourer edition e.g. steel engine guards and baggage carrier attachments.

    1. Hi...currently I own Mojo...the total weight would come out to be around 180 kgs..with all the accessories...