Hampi to Bangalore Airport and Contacts Info


It was the last day of our long trip when we started around 8.00 in the morning from Hampi and headed towards Hospet and then Chitradurga via NH13 and then proceeded towards Tumkur via 4 lane NH4 and finally took a left from Dospeta towards Airport. Around 50km road on NH13 between Hospet and Chitradurga is pathetic. The rest of the route was superb. That day almost all flights were delayed due to bad weather and Spice Jet somehow settled it earlier score with us and left dot in time (Probably the only flight that day which left on time) and we reached Kolkata on time. We were tired after 21 days of travel but enriched so much by whatever this magical state had offered us.

Car Odo Reading:

Kamalapur – 46365
Hospet – 46376
Chitradurga – 46513
Tumkur – 46647
Dospeta – 46667 (Turn Left towards Devanahalli)
Bangalore Airport – 46739



I took the Car from a tour opeartor called Sathish from Bangalore who was quite helpful and dependable always. He provided me a 2011 Xylo, that ran for 40K and was in absolutely good condition. The rate I negotiated was Rs. 8.5 per km for Non AC. We switched on AC as and when required (It was absolutely necessary at Coastal circuit) but that was managed by one full tank of diesel which I paid extra. So approximately I paid Rs. 2000/- extra for running the AC as and when required. If you take an AC vehicle, it would be around Rs. 11/- per km and with minimum 250km of run per day.

I can recommend Satish @ +919060789049 and +919945028749. But make sure you won’t get the same driver Venkatesh (@+919620853162) whom I got.


1. The accommodation for Mysore, Madikeri, Belur, Badami and Hampi was at KSTDC Hotels and Badami and Belur were really value for money. Rest were just Ok (Madikeri was very good but expensive) and service is almost non-existant. I booked all online at : http://www.karnatakaholidays.net/

2. The accommodation for Kabini and Bhadra was at JLR, both were excellent, booked online at http://www.junglelodges.com where you can get 5% discount too.

3. At Waynad (Kalpetta) I stayed at Hotel Woodlands @950 (Non AC), I would certainly recommend: +918547102547 (Cell) / 04936202547 (Land Line)

4. At Thirunelly, I stayed at KTDC, Tamarind and booked by phone and email.
Hotel is nice but food is very costly.
Contact : http://www.ktdc.com/tamarind-thirunelli.php

Tamarind KTDC Easy Hotel
Thirunelly Temple P.O.
Mananthavady, Wayanad – 670 646
Tel: +91-4935-210475, +91-9447739472
Email: tamarindthirunelly@ktdc.com

5. Mangalore: I stayed at West Side Inn, it was unplanned stay and the hotel was just ok for an AC Room @1100.

Phone: 2439491 / 2439495 (Prefix Mangalore STD Code)

6. Maravanthe: I stayed at Turtle Bay, standard rooms are very very small, I had to change to a deluxe room and it was costly @2800. But if you can afford, this is a place to be. Contact : +919741133451 (C) / 08254265422

Mr. Abraham Chacko was manager, can be reached at +919845374079

7. Gokarna: Nimmu Guest House, was ok @1600 but I would try Namaste Cafe next time. It would have been nice if they had restaurant facility. You can contact @ +919538527252

8. Tirthahally: Vihangama Resort, I stayed at standard room @1500, which was definitely good and the food was good as well. You can contact @08181228211/08181227025. Manager Mr. Kaneena Kadidal can be reached at +919448105125

Turtle Bay at Maravanthe and Vihangama at Tirthahally both are having websites, you can google them.

Lessons Learnt:

If what I faced was normal, then Coastal circuit doesn’t have anything called winter. It’s summer / monsoon and very hot kind of weather. You must be geared up with sun protection cream ./ hats etc. and plan your travel as early as you can in the morning. We constantly got 36 degrees C in December when Northern India was under tremendous cold wave.

If you don’t like crowded places, Karnataka should better be avoided in December. Everywhere I found tremendous rush of school kids who even were staying in KSTDC hotels free of cost and breaking the almost non existant services of those hotels. In Hampi we didn’t even get a cup of tea as they were busy attending to the school children.

Keep your moneybag full with 10 Rs. notes, every where you would find some toll or parking and few are having the habits of returning you the change, many times you might get a subscription/donation bill of the amount you are supposed to get back. Challenge them if you find something wrong, I have seen many times people are trying collect fake tolls.

Make sure your driver atleast can speak some hindi/english and if you don’t know Kannada, practice Dumb Charades, might help you really. Northern part was much easier to handle as they understand hindi/english but Southern part was really a pain.

Previous: Hampi Part-2


West Sikkim -Temi Tea garden, Kaluk, Kanchanjungha

08-May-2011 and 09-May-2011

We started back for Gangtok around 8.00am and with lots of stop and very bad roads (roads were considerably worse than we got it while coming due to the rains in between) along with Rahul’s driving speed and a lunch break, we were able to reach Gangtok by 4.00pm in the afternoon. Nothing much to do there as I never like the ambience of this touristy hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Nainital or Gangtok. I quickly called up Subrata Sarkar of Kaluk hotel to check the availability and found the hotel would be completely empty after a big group leaving on 9th. I made up my mind on the fly, cancelled my 9th ticket, extended my work from home for another couple of days and enquire in Pelling Taxi stand for an exclusive cab for Kaluk from Gangtok. The rate is normally 2500/- if you take Melli- Jorethang- Rishi – Kaluk route which is faster but goes through much lesser heights and the route is not a scenic one. I was aware of the roads and asked the jeep to take me through Singtham, Tarku, Temi Tea Gardens, Damthang, Rabangla, Legship, Rishi to Kaluk. He charged me Rs.1000/- extra and it completely worth it, we started journey at 7.30am and reached Kaluk around 4.30pm with many photo stops and lunch and tea breaks. The driver Ajay is an excellent person, we really had a nice time with him and the guy knows in and out of the route and stopping the car in right bend for us to get a few nice snaps.






Temi Tea garden:




Little Wanderer:


Enroute Kaluk:


10-May-2011 and 11-May-2011

The Kaluk is a place to take rest and unwind yourself. Excellent location with just 1100 people leaving between Kaluk and Rinchenpong. You can see the Gazing lights like a necklace on other part of the hill at night and most importantly mighty Kanchanjhungha range is looming all over Kaluk with Kumbhakarna, North and South Kabur, Pandim, Sinoulchu all can be seen a clear day. The location is awesome and you would surely be short of words to express. You can go for some short hikes to Rinchenpong (just 3 km) and then to Poison lake or the monastery but you can just spend couple of days staring at Himalayas sitting at your room too. My Data Card was working in CDMA instead of HSIA and I took couple of important business calls from US and did some net meeting sitting there, awesome feeling too while talking about business keeping Kanchanjungha in front of your eyes. It certainly has a calming effect. Fortunately meeting didn’t last long and I was back in my world with Kanchanjungha. 10th Evening a depression on Bangladesh made some magic and pulled clouds there and gave some breath-taking moments of sunsets on the backdrop of mighty Kanchanjungha. Next day morning again sunrise was more than my expectation set for May. Didn’t know how 2 hours passed by setting tripods, changing lenses and looking at the ranges until it vanishes in the haze around 8.00am. I came back to reality as I didn’t have any more backup tickets to cancel the return of 11th ticket too. Got a Bolero for dropping me at NJP at 2500/- (may be bargained to 2200 which I didn’t as I was too overwhelmed with my Kanchanjungha experience). The driver Suraj is an excellent driver, probably best in my whole trip, I would surely plan with him for my next trip there at the first opportunity. Started feeling the heat the moment I reached Rishi, Jorethang is awfully hot and same as Melly, fortunately when hitting Sevak, rains have come as a bliss to cool down the weather, reached NJP around 5.00 in the evening. Hada long wait for Padatik Express around 9.00pm but then you can wait for ever what Sikkim offered me in a quick one week trip, silence of Silary, Gems of Old Silk Route, Awesome Gurudongmer, Mind-blowing Rhododendrons, Soothing green of Tea Gardens, Countless Water Falls and mighty Kanchanjungha, a very few hill station can give you this much variety what a small state like Sikkim can give you.

Lights of Pelling from Kaluk:


 First Light :













Previous : North Sikkim – Gurudongmer, Yumthang

North Sikkim – Gurudongmer, Yumthang

05-May-2011 and 06-May-2011

I found couple of dry days forecast and didn’t want to waste time in Gangtok, called Sikkim Travels from Zuluk itself and finalized my trip. I liked them because of their professionalism and quite helpful gesture. They quoted reasonably, 12K for 2N/3D and 18K 3N/4D with an exclusive vehicle. The hotels they kept us was Lachen View Point an excellent hotel with good views of Lachen and very comfortable rooms (Room rent was 2250 per night) and in Seasons’ View in Lachung, another great hotel at highest point of Lachung with great views and excellent ambience. I mentioned I was not sure about the travel dates due to official commitments and they never pressed for advance. They arranged for me the reservations of 5th to 7th only on 4th and without any extra charge. Only issue I had with the driver Rahul, who supposed to be their best driver, no doubt he is a very safe driver but extremely slow and sometimes little stubborn to adjust with you. As I was keen on photography, I requested him to start little early, so his slow driving can be compensated and also being first car you would get less dust specially in a drive like Gurudongmer. But he always showed some excuses not to start early though I observed him boozing till 11.00 almost every night. Even if he see a car some 100 mtrs behind, he would slow down and give side which I don’t mind but then keeps tailgating the car and you would only see dust all around which was quite irritating. So even if you choose Sikkim Tours whom I recommend whole heartedly, make sure you are not driven by Rahul in his Sumo Victa. In my 15 years of Himalayan experience first time I engaged in a verbal duel with a driver in my life, it was so irritating over the 4 days period. No word can be sufficient to describe the beauty of the roads from Lachen to Gurudongmer specially after Thangu and Chopta Valley. Gurudongmer lake is awesome, I have seen many high altitude lakes in Himalaya but this is indeed a special one. You would see the roads to Chola Mu diverts just before Gurudongmer and can see a board clearly showing “Restricted Area, No entry beyond this point”, hardly another 30min drive, if you can manage permit from Ministry of Home in Sikkim and get it endorsed by Army, to reach the highest lake in Himalaya and can get a view of Tibetan plane from there. Wonderful journey back to lachen for lunch and then proceed towards lachung, Till Chungthang, Lachen Chu would be with you and it’s an amazing journey for sure. We reached lachung late in afternoon around 5.30pm but again saw the clouds engulfing the region from all around.

Good Morning sunshine:



Cafe @ 15000 FT:


Road to Gurudongmer:




Gurudongmer Lake:








Roads to Chola Mu:







We got up early again in the sound of relentless rain and found the whole Lachung Valley is invisible, it was not going to be a sunny day. We again had a spat with Rahul, who doesn’t want to leave early even though he used to do it; had it been a 2N-3D trip. These packages of North Sikkim are surely a spoilsports as they dictate the terms in many places. Until Govt makes sure the permits can be easily managed like we get in Ladakh, these practices would continue. Police, tour agencies, hotel owners, check post people, administrations, drivers all are in the nexus and force you to take the package in North Sikkim and make you go in their terms. It’s undoubtedly one of the best part of Sikkim but would be much better if this nexus can be broken and people can arrange their own trips there. The Road to Zero Point via Yumthang was much better than what we took last day from Lachen to Gurudongmer and both sides still blooming with different colors of Rhododendrons. This side of Valley is much greener and from Zero Point, one with RAP can trek through Donkinala Pass to reach Chola Mu, other side of the fork from Chungthang. Visibility turns poorer as we crossed Shivamandir (a place came to news for wrong reasons when an Army helicopter last month lost here in sky and all 4 on board were died). The flowers and greeneries of the valley would touch your soul. At zero point its all snow but very touristy and I don’t like so many people jumping, playing, eating, drinking and completely making a mess of such a nice place. It seems like a picnic and more like Rohtang, may be the place should be avoided in a peak tourist season, I am sure with lesser people and less noise it would have been a pure bliss.









Road thru clouds :


Micro Wonder:



Our Stay:


Previous : East Sikkim – Silary Gaon, Zuluk 

Next : West Sikkim – Temi Tea Gardens, Kaluk

East Sikkim – Sillary Gaon, Zuluk


I had booked a backup in Kanchanjungha Express and took a tiring day journey but in Siliguri greeted by welcome rain and had a good night sleep and get ready for next day journey to Sikkim in a fresh mind and body.


My driver Bhawani was late; he arrived almost around 9.00am when he was supposed to reach at 7.00am, the reason being last evening rain that triggered number of slides and blockage. Bhawani was a nice young man, drives a Sumo owned by Gopal Pradhan,. Our journey started for Sillary Gaon and Silary is in WB and the road goes through normal NH31 till Sevok, takes NH31A towards Gangtok and take right fork towards kalimpong and from Kalimpong towards the road to Reshi, you would get a completely unpaved road, even difficult to recognize unless someone tells you at your left, gone through dense forest to Silary. Its 5km unpaved road, that forest department doesn’t allow to be paved. This is simply out of the world place without electricity and dense forest all around. I saw a few snaps taken from there 2 weeks back and believe me, I never have seen such a long mountain range starting from peaks in Eastern Bhutan till Nepal in almost a 180 degree view. Even if I could see 50% of what the snap showed me, it would have been my experience of viewing longest Himalayan range ever. Unfortunately it was one of the wettest days in my travel, not even distance of a foot was visible but still the ambience was awesome, you feel connected so much to nature. Dilip Tamang, the person owns the resort is an excellent person, we received a very warm welcome and the guest house, so remotely located is very nicely maintained, foods are delicious and most importantly it’s just being located opposite ridge of Gangtok, you would get full signal of all the cell phones, datacards, excellent place to work from home, only if I could manage a solar charger for my Laptop. Anyway I would be back there and next time would stay just 3/4 days in that place only. Reshi is ok, Aritar is good, Zuluk is better but Silary is out of the world, I don’t want to compare but can’t help, go and feel the place before it’s too crowded.

 Zig-Zag road:



Entry of Silary Gaon:







Woke up very early but its all rain everywhere with very dark outside. Heard we can’t start for Zuluk early as its heavily raining there and visibility is lesser than theminimum required for driving. We enjoyed the breakfast with ‘luchi-Alurdom’ and started around 10 in morning when visibility improves slightly. Gone to Renok and then Rangoli where the permit needs to be done for entering the old silk route to Zuluk. You just need one copy of photo and one photo Id like Passport/Voter I Card to get itfrom SDO Office at Rangpo. Bhawani did that for us, we took a cup of tea and ready for real ascent. Roads till Rangoli would be around 5K ft but it starts winding up justafter that and our next destination Zuluk was 9200ft. The roads through Lingtham (permit was checked for first time here), Padamchen to Zuluk is very less traveled andquite good in Sikkim’s standard. You would enjoy the nature at its best all through. We reached Gopal Pradhan’s Dilmaya Retreat around 4.00 in afternoon with lots of photo stops. All wooden guest house was nice, with no geysers but surprisingly with one room heater in it, we loved it in that temperature. Food was good, welcome has enough warmth but still I missed the simplicity of Silary here, may be the place is being commercialized and I could see the reservation book of Gopal Pradhan, almost till June 2nd week the Guest house is completely booked. There is no fixed charge for room/ food and car, it’s completely as you can manage kind of. So remember bargain is the key here. I paid Rs.2500/- per day for a big car where as I was asked Rs. 3500/- per day and I saw in register even people booked same route with Rs. 4000/- per day. If you go for a sunrise trip (which you must go in a clear weather) you have to pay Rs.900/- extra. But again if anybody is keen on Himalayan Sunrise, remember your time would be in Oct Mid to Dec Mid when Monsoon receded, atmosphere has least dust particles, December Fog/Haze hasn’t yet reached Indian subcontinent and Sun is other side of Equator and rises from Southern side as Sunrise never be same when you see the reflection in Southern wall of Himalayas and sun rises from Northern side of Equator. All the best sunrise shots in Himalayas are taken in those two months.


As usual it was just spending Rs.900/- for us but doesn’t worth it and visibility was poor and there were huge clouds surrounding Kanchanjungha. If you want to see Kanchanjungha closely may be Pelling/Kaluk in West Sikkim or Singhik in North Sikkim is the place to see but if you want the whole range, you must have to come Eastern Sikkims like Silary or Zuluk, amazing and unhindered view from 10k ft with the whole range visible in front of you. I could clearly understand what a large massif can be visible from the region in a cloudless day. Also note the Thambi view point would give you a much better view than the so called Sunrise Point where visibility angle is much lower. We came back, got some delicious breakfast and then start for Old Silk route covering that amazing winding roads, Nathang Valley, Tukla Valley, Kupup, Old Baba Mandir, Young Husband Track, where you would find the famous sign board showing Lhasa as 520km and the same route Atish Dipankar took while going to Lhasa through the famous pass Jelep La. It’s out of bound for civilians unless you can manage the permission through some army contacts. In Sherathang (where the road to Nathula forks) the India-China Border Trade has started and you would find lots of Chinese vehicles with their goods in this side of the border. From Kupup to Sherathang to Changu it’s almost going through the snow bound roads and we faced frequent snow falls too on the road. From Changu to Gangtok, due to road widening work, roads are pathetic, slides in every 200 to 500 mtrs and dozers are in action every where. Very tricky and delicate sections in between where you find BRO is watching the shooting stones and quickly ask you to cross the region, quite scary to me. Gopal Pradhan decided not to entertain any more Gangtok drop till monsoon is over after our journey and decided to call those who already booked; to change the itinerary.



Memencho Lake:


Young Husband Track:


Frozen Changu:


India-China Border Trade:


Way to Gangtok:


Next: North Sikkim – Gurudongmar, Yumthang


Himachal Pradesh – Chandratal, Kunzum Pass, Kungri, Drive Back to Shimla


I woke up and decided to take a stroll towards the lake again in the morning.

The lake from the hills of other end:

DSC_0314 DSC_0315

Sheep Grazing:


Camp Site:


They say best time to visit the lake is morning, may be between 7 to 10 when the calmness, the serenity will touch your heart, you will be absorbed into the perfect tranquility. There is no wind and the famous Chandratal mirror forms, morning visit is a must to this magic lake, see why:

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Had the prayer flags been missing, the lake might have gone unnoticed, such a perfect mirror it was:



Spiti River Gorge:


Road to Kaza:


Amazing Landscape Continues:

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Kungri PWD Guest House:


Day6, 7 and 8:

We just drove through the remaining part of Spiti to Kinnaur to Kalka while taking 2 nights halt at Kalpa and Narkanda before catching the Kalka Mail on 3rd Night at 23:55 hours. It was uneventful long drive, more to avoid the messy and unpredictable Rohtang Pass and here are few snaps when I look back.

The journey through Kinnaur:


Narkanda Forest Rest House:


Shimla with Monsoon Clouds:

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Previous: Himachal Pradesh – Gramphoo, Batal, Chandratal

The End

Himachal Pradesh – Gramphoo, Batal, Chandratal


Now the most wonderful part of the journey began from Gramphoo onwards as we took the left fork and started moving towards Batal via Chatroo and Chotadhara. The mountains and landscape start turning barren gradually as we crossed Chotadhara. Batal is a place infamous for chill and wind. From here after couple of km of road towards Kunzum pass there is a left fork on motorable road that would take you to Chandratal. The interesting part is we stopped at Batal for a cup of tea at chacha chachi’s shop but there incidentally we came across a couple of bikers who told us specifically that there are 4 tents this year in Chandratal, out of which 2 are 4 km away from lake where as other 2 are just 500mtrs away. When we enquired more a gentleman sitting aside told us, he could take us to one such camp which is close to Chandratal. Now when we started chatting, we found he was none other than Jamaica of BCMT who is very active in Spiti forum. So good friends found, we proceeded towards Chandratal through a narrow road keeping Chandra river at your left. You would acknowledge the height when you reach Chandratal as every step would make you feel tired especially if you are not well conditioned in that height. Next what we have seen, experienced couldn’t be expressed in words, at least beyond my vocabulary, so let’s stop talking and put some snaps to share with you all.

Landscape started turning Barren, approaching Spiti:


Wild Flowers in August:


Another lovely landscape:


Unstoppable Chandra River:


Typical Spiti Scape:


Road towards Chandratal:




Trek Group coming from Baralacha:

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First Glimpse of the Magic Lake:


Meeting the Nomads, they were supposed to start their 2 months long journey to Dharamsala by another couple of days:


Warm welcome with a cup of hot tea:


Magic Moments with the Magic Lake:

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Life is a box of chocolate or a pack of ….. 🙂

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What an amazing background to have a snap:


The pretty dog:

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Magnificent Vista:


Previous: Himachal Pradesh – Pangi Valley, Pattan Valley, Lahaul Valley, Journey from Killar to Khoksar

Next: Himachal Pradesh – Chandratal, Kunzum Pass, Kungri, Drive Back to Shimla

Himachal Pradesh – Pangi Valley, Pattan Valley, Lahaul Valley, Journey from Killar to Khoksar


We knew that a wet weather system would set for 14th and 15th in the region and mentally prepared for a wet day ahead. It was as expected started with showers and visibility was quite low.

We have progressed 550 odd km in such a terrain in 2 days, a good achievement.


The more we progressed through the narrow gorges of Chandrabhaga, with low visibility and absolute remoteness and surging Chandrabhaga deep into the gorge, only word to describe the ambience was Mystic. Driving an hour, you won’t find a vehicle from opposite direction, so much was the loneliness. Suddenly the silence broken when we found couple of people around a HRTC bus stopped in the middle of the road. We enquired and found it was a punctured tyre and they never thought at that hour any vehicle could come from opposite side, so stopped the bus in the middle and started changing the tyres. We were frustrated but really didn’t had any option other than waiting for almost an hour.

We resumed our journey and it was really a fascinating drive across one of the loneliest road in the country, Waterfalls all around, clouds playing in the sky, little drizzle all the time made the whole journey really memorable.

Chandrabhaga Gorge:


A Waterfalls across the road:


Mystic Valley in other side:


Raging Water flowing across:


The Scary Road goes on:

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The Waterfalls on the other side meeting Chandrabhaga through a glacier:


The valley widens as we approach from Tindi:


Then we faced another blockade just few km before Udaipur. It was a raging water crossing, simply scaring, locally known as daldal nala. You see and decide what you call it, water crossing, falls, river whatever but never can be a road. Big stones pulled in the force of water making it impassable even for bigger vehicle like HRTC Buses. A lone dozer was the only hope but somehow it was not starting, Now we started getting nervous. The dozer guy was frantically looking for a spanner to start it and to our luck, somehow our driver Vinkal had it with him. The dozer started after a try of almost 45 mins and started to clear the boulders and stones to make it passable.

There it is:


A closer look:


God always gifts us some wonderful moments whatever scary situation it is, see the smile, it gives you courage even in difficult situation:


The lone dozer is trying at its best:


Vista opened up more as we hit Lahaul Valley on Leh – Manali Road:

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The Khoksar PWD GH in the evening:


Previous: Himachal Pradesh – Crossing Sach Pass to Killar in Pangi Valley

Next: Himachal Pradesh – Gramphoo, Batal, Chandratal

Himachal Pradesh – Crossing Sach Pass to Killar in Pangi Valley


Nothing much to write as this day was to feel the nature in various form, initially lush green Chamba, then slushy and muddy upward drive from Bairagarh to Kalaban to Satrundi and finally to the Sach Pass and then killer drive to Killar, never have seen such a steep gradient while getting down from Sach Pas to Bogutu. A complete change in weather, mountains, rocks and everything around you would surely mesmerize you once you cross this mighty pass. You might redefine what remoteness is once you cross this section. I have a dream of going to Killar – Kishtwar one day but this awesome journey from Chamba across the Pangi valley would remain in my memory for long.

The road till Bairagarh is tarred and you will enjoy the scenic Chamba all along but after Bairagarh things would start changing. It was before 10km of Kalaban, suddenly the road got vanished and we started realizing why so many traveller consider Sach pass so challenging. Vinkal being a very expert and efficient driver really made a mess and finally it was the local contractors who got us out of the trouble. At least 10 people pushed the car from behind and one got into driver’s seat and next 40 seconds was a thriller, we were stuck for almost half an hour and it was a great relief once we crossed the section.

The road from Satrundi towards top was rocky rather than muddy but the wild flowers around you would cast a magical spell, I have never seen so much of wild flowers, may be August was good time to see the flowers but that was an experience hard to forget.

The moment we crossed Sach Pass, blue sky and gorgeous sun gave us a warm welcome as we entered the rain shadow region, few challenging water crossing, few tense moments with rock falling and few unnerving moments of driving took us to Bogutu where we had tea, but at 5.00 in afternoon with bright sun at top, we felt the chill of Pangi Valley, couldn’t stand in open ground, it was so windy.

The road at this end was blasted from sheer rocky terrain and the colors of the deep canyons were amazing. Few waterfalls straight on the road made it more thrilling, we were tired and finally reached Killar around 7, another 12 hours of journey. We booked Killar PWD which was excellent, I have stayed many HP PWD but this one along with the one in Sissu stands out. We were very tired but the caretaker of the GH couldn’t arrange food as he was busy in entertaining some Govt Babus. We had our dinner outside and quickly retired for the day.

Few moments as I look back:

It’s all very soothing green until you reach Bairagarh: DSC_0080 DSC_0083 DSC_0086 DSC_0088 DSC_0089

The distances from Bairagarh still a good 77 km away from Killar: DSC_0091

The road from Bairagarh to Satarundi:

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Wild Flowers are Amazing:


Everywhere wild flowers:


In the middle of Ice Wall:


At Sach Pass:


Remoteness at its best:


Other side is NOT always green:


Lone Ice wall:


Waterfalls will greet you at every bend:


Free Car Wash, see the width of the road:


Amazingly colorful rocks and kudos to them who blasted a road here:


Ohh My God, I don’t know why you are taking my snap?


So Sweet:


Grazing on Glaciers:


Killar PWD GH – another Must Stay:


Previous: Himachal Pradesh – Kalatop

Next: Himachal Pradesh – Pangi Valley, Pattan Valley, Lahaul Valley, Journey from Killar to Khoksar

Himachal Pradesh – Kalatop

Last time in 2010 when I visited Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti around June, I missed going to Chandratal as the road was closed. The road to Chandratal usually gets open in July middle and usually gets closed between end September to first week of October. The road between Batal to Chandratal is scary enough to drive in couple of places and it’s quite risky to try it in too early or too late in the season. The other road which is just a trek route exists from Kunzum top to Chandratal but that’s too steep yet short and quite risky to try when its snow bound in early season. So I promised to myself to be back in this circuit again but probably in a time when approach to the lake is more likely to be opened. My objective was to camp a night near lake and those whoever visited this place surely know how difficult that is even in the peak summer months, as the places is surrounded by all high Chandrabhaga peaks and Barasigdi glaciers. It’s the sheer wind chill that makes you feel terrible since afternoon, that’s a typical Tibetan weather with high wind, tremendous chill and abrupt drop in temperature once Sun is down. So for me the best possible window to try to Chandratal was August. Now as I already visited the region two years back, I thought of making an over ambitious plan of adding Sach Pass and Pangi Valley and entering the circuit from Chamba region, traverse through Pangi Valley, Pattan Valley, Lahaul Valley, Chandra Valley, Spiti Valley and finally through Kinnaur Valley coming out to Great Indian Plains and all these in flat one week. Those who are not aware Sach Pass is arguably India’s most difficult motorable pass to cross through. The driver we decided to go with was our trusted Vinkal who drove me in my last Himachal trip. We call this as Grand Tribal Circuit of Himachal.

 The itinerary and plan was as below:

Day1 – Chandigarh – Journey to Khajiar – Stay at Kalatop Forest RH
Day2 – Khajiar – Tissa – Bairagarh – Sach Pass – Killar – Stay at Killar PWD GH
Day3 – Killar – Udaipur – Tandi – Sissu – Khoksar – Stay at Khoksar PWD GH
Day4 – Khoksar – Chatru – Batal – Chandratal. – Stay at tent
Day5 – Chandratal – Kunzum Pass – Losar – Kaza – Tabo – Stay at Kungri PWD GH
Day6 – Tabo- Kalpa – Stay at Private Accommodation
Day7 – Kalpa- Narkanda – Stay at Narkanda Forest Rest House
Day 8 – Narkanda – Kalka – Board Kalka Mail at 11.55pm

This log is primarily be a photologue as in my earlier report of Kinnaur-Spiti-Lahaul, I covered most of the places in details.


Our route was as below for first day:

Route Day1

Between Baddi and Nalagarh NH21A is a shame for anything called road forget about NH. As we did it by hired HP Car which doesn’t have permit to travel through Punjab we had to compromise on our route, else for approaching Kalatop I would always prefer through Pathankot – Dalhousi route any day.

Surprisingly we found the section between Swarghat to Jalwaji via Bhakra was extremely scenic and very few cars you would find and a good opportunity to embrace nature while you drive. One of my best drive in HP. In Bhakra we had a lovely breakfast with alu-parotha watching the dam just opposite to us.

From Shahpur (Point E) road became drastically bad for 20/25km which I would surely avoid if I go next time and would try taking Shahpur – Nurpur and then go up towards Lahru. In this stretch we were stopped by locals and advised not to proceed as we saw stones were coming down from mountains pretty regularly. But we were so tired after 2 days of train journey and 400km of drive, we took our chances and passing through live land slides rather than making our route any longer.

Meanwhile I called up Harsh for Kalatop’s exact location but for some unknown reason, the live road atlas somehow got confused Kalatop with Patnitop and frantically trying to rectify our route by asking us to move towards Jammu as soon as possible Later he realized we were following exactly his Sach Pass trail and helped to a great extent as he always does. As per advice form Harsh we took the Jot route from Lahru and that was really a heavenly experience, visibility was almost touching zero, we got another Sumo ahead of us who tried his best to give us side so that we could overtake him, but we are too determined to follow his backlights. That’s the best you could do in such a low visibility and in so much of a winding road.

Kalatop’s location is awesome and I would certainly return there again to stay for couple of days, not sure when that will happen as this wish list keep on increasing but never I get a chance to visit a place second time. It’s within forest area and if you have plan to visit try reaching Kalatop check post by 5.00pm. We were late and we had troubles in finding the person in check post to give us an entry there.

Some memories as I look back:

Lush Green Chamba District covered in Mystic Clouds:

DSC_0042 DSC_0044

He is too kind to allow me to take a close shot:


Famous Khajiyar Meadows but visibility was poor due to evening approaching and it was quite clouded and raining:

DSC_0048 DSC_0053

Sunset from Kalatop FRH:


At far side, lights are on in Dalhousi:


Kalatop FRH – a must stay:

DSC_0064 DSC_0066

Next: Himachal Pradesh – Crossing Sach Pass to Killar in Pangi Valley

Himachal Pradesh – Lahaul, Land of Folklores and Tirthan Valley

22nd June:

We started the day early around 7.30am and headed towards Baralacha in a nice sunny day. Road was excellent in almost all section except couple of water crossing just beyond Keylong and Darcha. We crossed, Jispa, Darcha, saw the new alignment of Manali-Leh highway after Darcha via Zanskar. Entry of vehicle was required at Darcha and it was probably the third place after Sumdo and Losar where we had to do the same formalities. Crossed Patseo and enroute visited a nice and small Dipak Tal with wonderful turquoise color and moved towards Zingzingbar. From here we started a journey of lifetime, I have seen lots of snow in Europe and US but never felt it could be so divine before this. We started getting lost in the middle of snow as we come closer to this famous pass that cuts through Great Himalayan range (Himadri Himalaya), highest east west spread among all the Himalayan ranges. No word could do justice to exactly how we felt for next 2 hours. On the way found almost frozen Surajtal, a treat to eyes. Met an horrendous traffic jam near pass as it’s just one lane road by then and there was no traffic restriction in place that made the chaos. One police bus got stuck in between making it worse and along with that found large number of oil tankers approaching the pass. When pass was only opened to light vehicles, don’t know how these oil tankers were allowed, may be they come under essential service. For the first time probably we enjoyed the traffic jam in life as 95% of tourist were Leh bound and they were really anxious as Sarchu tent was not ready by then, where as we enjoyed every moment stucking in the ice age as we knew we had to start return journey the moment we reached the top and had no hurry to come out of that heaven. On way back we took our lunch at Darcha and then proceeded to Sissu for stay in PWD RH. This is another PWD RH, that one should stay, extremely good location and nice rooms.

The Vista Changes:

30399_The Vista Changes

Amidst all white:

30404_Amidst all white

Towards Baralacha Pass:

30407_Towards Barlacha Pass

Kudos to BRO for a Road like this:

30430_Kudos to BRO for a Road like this

Frozen Suraj Taal:

30502_Frozen SurajTaal

Dipak Taal:

30543_Dipak Taal

PWD RH at Sissu, a must stay:

30626_PWD RH at Sissu, a must stay

23rd June:

In the morning started for a trek to Sissu Waterfalls, it requires crossing Chandra river over nice bridge and then the waterfalls stream through a precarious bridge with some loose stones and woods. Some very steep ascent and you could see the main falls clearly from very close. Other easier option would be to drive to the helipad below and from helipad you can get a nice view of the falls. We started after breakfast towards Tandi where Chandra meets Bhaga to form Chandrabhaga and flowing westward. Our destinations for the day were Udaipur and Trilokinath in Pattan Valley and found it’s much greener than Lahaul even. Chandrabhaga would be all along with you flowing at your left. In Udaipur Mrikulamata Temple was great with its wooden carving. We took another great lunch in Udaipur and headed for Trilokinath, the Trilokinath location was amazing and probably only temple that has hosts Shiva and Buddha together. If someone plans well, can include a 3 hour trek, one way, to Sat Dhar, a nice meadow from here. Trek towards Bharmor/Manimahesh in Chamba can be taken through Kalicho pass from here. The road was quite good all through except a 10km stretch from Thirot towards Udaipur. This section was one of the worst among all roads I traveled in Himachal including famous Batal Gramphoo. Not sure due to this section or not, on 13th day from start we faced a puncture for first time in trip here. Our stay was scheduled at Gondhla PWD,that itself is in fabulous location but seems not much tourist stay here. Gondhla has no tourist infrastructure and as a result no availability of foods and accommodations here, we found PWD RH even doesn’t have any arrangement for food and finally settled with Veg Chowmin for the night. It was close to full moon and the surroundings of Chandra River with high mountains and lovely valleys in a moonlit night was simply awesome.

Chandra from front and Bhaga from left meets at Tandi and flows as Chandrabhaga towards right:

30722_Chandra from front and Bhaga from left meets at Tandi and flows as Chandrabhaga towards right



Pattan Valley is the greenest among all:

30774_Pattan Valley is the greenest among all

Mrikula Devi Temple at Udaipur:

30816_Mrikula Devi Temple at Udaipur

Trilokinath Temple:

30836_Trilokinath Temple

HRTC Bus – Himachal’s Lifeline:

30858_HRTC Bus - Himachal's Lifeline

24th June:

Around 3 in the early morning we realized a sudden change in weather hitting by a severe storm and heavy rains. I realized IMD missed the date by a day as it was 25th when the disturbance was supposed to hit. We didn’t realize much in night that followed by a partly sunny morning with some clouds. We started early as our objective was not to get stuck at Rohtang traffic jam. We hit road by 7.00am and soon after crossing Sissu we found road is completely blocked at Pagal Nallah due to huge slide. We knew about a bypass through a village road to reach Khoksar from BCMT website and easily found out the road after back tracking couple of km. The bypass road was awesomely scenic and we saw Pagal Nalah from top then as 2 dozers were in full service there. Reached Khoksar at 8.30 and took breakfast. Started for Rohtang and found one more slide where we had to wait for 20 mins before it’s cleared and we headed towards Rohtang. After 20 years I saw Rohtang and it’s a complete change and I couldn’t figure out much rather than just lots and lots of people, cars, horses, donkeys and what not. It’s difficult to recognize Rohtang separately from Delhi Pragati Maidan or Kolkata Maidan unless Pir Panjal range used to be there. A classic example of irresponsible mass tourism and surely when Rohtang Tunnel would be ready, Himachal Govt might make it an amusement park with some rides and a good entry fee to generate better revenue. God saves this Pass!! We got stuck in traffic jam as usual and finally reached Manali around 1.30pm and stayed at Ocean Inn. No intention of getting out in Manali as the place was horribly crowded comparing to the heavenly places we came across earlier. We took the rest of the day full rest and weather gone worse to worst as evening approaches, enjoyed the rain from hotels all along. Enjoyed Italy Slovakia match on TV and some tennis as well. The hotel was just inaugurated 2 months back and very new property and we got room for 1400. Food was awfully bad and when we asked the reason, the guy told the restaurant was outsourced, not a compelling alibi though.

Rohtang Pass:

30948_Rohtang Pass

Water Falls from Rohtang:

30972_Water Falls from Rohtang

Towards Manali:

30997_Towards Manali

Near Kothi:

40001_Near Kothi

25th June:

Early morning started for Sairopa and still it was raining heavily. On the way Vinkal did his first mistake of the trip by saying about Kullu Shawl factories and my wife got hell-bent by then to do some shopping that I carefully avoided since beginning. Usually I play with weight/luggage restriction excuses for flight quite well to counter shopping but this time unfortunately we had to return by Train, my last excuse fell flat as it’s clearly written in all corner “Credit Cards Accepted” and all hell broke loose as we entered the factory, in next one hour our luggage counter gone up by three and countless number of times I had to choose between multiple colors and designs, none of them honestly looks attractive to me. Somehow got out the factory and soon found the weather is improving (what a coincidence!!) , taken nice lunch at splendor dhaba just before Aut and crossing Aut tunnel we took left to enter into another heaven. Banjar Valley is surely one of the greenest corner of Himachal. Tirthan, the cleanest river of Himachal starts showing up and we follow the river, take a left before Banjar towards Gushaini, the entrance of Great Himalayan National Park. Before 5 km of Gushaini, we reached Sairopa. The forest RH was awesome, I booked 2 rooms over phone by calling Shamshi range office, for 500 it’s out of the world. You can easily stay for 3/4 days in this ambience and would enjoy every moment of it. Set 3 was best room that somehow range officer allotted us. Gone for small walks near Tirthan and saw many flowers and birds in between. Apples and pears all the way with lush green surroundings and magical Tirthan in front, set a stage that is difficult to forget easily. No cooking in FRH but a nearby shop would serve you delicious dinner, breakfast and lunch at your room.

Tirthan Probably Cleanest River in Himachal:

40090_Tirthan Probably Cleanest River in Himachal

Sairopa Forest RH, a Must Stay:

40173_Sairopa Forest RH, a Must Stay



Best Place to Read ‘Sahaj Path’:

40237_Best Place to Read 'Sahaj Path'

26th June:

Woke up early, enjoyed the sunrise and first time I didn’t feel like moving on, it’s an addictive place and I would come back with a long vacation here. Ultimately started at 11.00 in morning (maximum late start in the trip) and proceeded towards Banjar and then towards Jalori pass via Jhibi and Shoja. Nice green surroundings everywhere with tall pine forests in every corner. Shoja end of Jalori is extremely stiff and almost all the way till pass it’s a journey in first gear from Shoja. We proceeded through Khanag, Ani and Luhri and crossing Luhri Bridge, we took the right towards Sunni instead of normal route that goes towards Sainj. This route is shortest to come to Shimla and just follows Sutlej all the ways. We had an invitation for lunch in Vinkal’s native place, Sunni on that day and we enjoyed it fully. It’s nice flat land with lots of farming. Only problem is it’s extremely hot as it’s in valley floor of Sutlej. Through Basantpur, we reached Naldehra in evening and liked a hotel Rock Heaven in Mashobra a few km ahead of Naldehra as we had no intention of staying at Shimla. The hotel was good at 1000 and food was equally good too.

40259_Approaching Jalori

27th June:

Our last day in heaven, started around noon after lunch as we had to catch Delhi Shatabdi at 5.45 in evening, Had to come to Shimla as I had to pay rest 50% of the Car rental to owner there and then some uneventful moments before we reached Kalka. In Dharampur, we returned the 6 empty cans of 5 ltr water bottle in Gianni Dhaba and got 120 bucks refunded, Just before Kalka it’s always a traffic jam that would eat out some time of yours specially if its a weekend. Anyway we reached well before time and had a good journey back to Delhi. It’s a warm welcome literally to 40 degree from 5 degree.

28th June / 29th June:I had some work there in Delhi, the reason why the trip preponed for a week, completed that, intentionally took ride in a Delhi Private Bus and DTC low floor AC Bus to enjoy the contrast and then finally took Duronto Express from NDLS to reach Kolkata on 29th. It’s a wonderful journey and one of my most memorable trip that ends here.

Previous: Himachal Pradesh – Into the Thin Air of Spiti Part-2

The End