Thursday, May 24, 2018

Best of Kinnaur and Spiti Travels- part 8 - Yoga at Chander-Taal (Moonlake) in Spiti

Hi dear friend,
(For the details of this photo, you have to read till the end)
Story has reached almost at its end. If you are new to my blog, let me give you a quick recap of this adventure. Himalayan hinterlands are a major tourist attraction, but because of the required permit and limited access period, not many are able to have this once in lifetime adventure, which I recently had. Therefore I started to share my story and experience with you here, so that it is beneficial for you and me and the community as a whole.
As told in my earliest post, my journey starts at ShriKhand Kailash Peak Trek, where I met 2 brothers Naren and Rahul, who later became friends from this trip. On our first day we visited Sangla and visited Chhitkul, the last Indian village.
On second day we took a long bike ride back from Sangla to Nako lake.
3rd Day was spent on reaching Tabo, and further visits to Dhankar monastery, Kaza, Kee, Kibber village and Langza Village. On 4th day early morning we visited Komik village- the highest motorable village in the whole world, and crossed the Kunzum Pass near to the evening. This is where our story was ended in the last part.

Reaching the Chandra-Taal

We were not sure, if the Batal would come first, or the diversion to the lake. Descending down from Kunzum Top was easy and costed us nothing but the free gravity. The road is wide, but dusty, and with curves and curves after each 50 metre. Have a look.

(zig-zag descent from Kunzum Top)

(Rahul and Naren on their Pulsar, Kunzum temple on left in the backsight)
I had heard about the crazy streams that we had to cross on the road leading to Chandra-Taal lake, but we wouldn't know how much crazy they were until we really cross them. We rested for few clicks at the diversion point. This is the point where road again comes close to a river, not Spiti, but Chenab river. Spiti river runs on the other side of the Kunzum pass, and we had left her behind.

(board showing the diversion from Gramphu-Batal-Kaza road to Chandra-Taal, river below is Chenab)

(Look at the glacial erodes, the road diversion to left)
The road is wide enough only for small vehicles, like cabs, moreover one can topple over if don't remain on the ruts formed with tyres. They were so deep, enough to get a jump if crossed from one to the another. The first major stream was only about a kilometer distance, made my shoes and pants wet. One has to be very much careful while crossing the streams, look for the water level, don't risk if it reaches 2 feet.

(Crossing the water stream)
Thankfully Naren took these pictures of me, and I am able to share with you. He clicked a selfie as well.

Stream flows few metres down and merges with the Chenab river. A small valley is formed due to the river, and it is very beautiful. Total peace, wow! have a look.

Booking a Tent for Night Camping at Chandra-Taal base Camp

So after this 11 kilometer stretch is covered one reaches at the base camp of the Chandra-Taal. Tents were pitched at various spots on this plane ground of not more than 150*150 square metres space. A police man was on duty, after making our entry he suggested one camp to us.
The price was 600 rupee per person, night and morning meals were included. Toilet was combined for all, and totally a temporary arrangement. There were camps who charged about 2000 rupees and had separate toilet facility inside the tent itself. Also electricity was available in those tents. We needed not to worry about that, because we had a power bank, also stars are more beautiful without electric bulb, anyway.
We booked the tent at around 4:30 PM, and we had enough time to visit the lake 2-3 kilometers further from the base camp. We put our heavy bags inside the tent, and rode above through a zig-zag dustier road. There were 10-12 vehicles at the stop. One has to walk about 300-500 metres distance from the stop to the lake. Read about the lake in the board, that I clicked at the stop.

At Chandra-Taal, tried Yoga, and thankfully didn't break my neck.

(First look of lake)
As you see in the picture above, there were about 20 tourists, mostly Indians. The lake water appears blue, same as the sky above.
We lied flat at the lake bank and waited for people to disperse. Then a sparrow kind of bird came near to me. He was fearless, I had never been so close to a bird in my life. I felt thankful to this bird. It graced me with its closeness and made me feel as if I was safe enough to be trusted. Feeling trusted by a strange bird was definitely a big compliment.
We observed that the number of people was not decreasing, a big group had arrived for filming some video for some song perhaps.

Yoga at Chandel-Taal

I had this idea of doing Shirsha-asanaa, and wanted to be clicked at this beautiful place. It was once in lifetime opportunity. Also Naren is near to master of the Yoga, you won't believe me, what I am going to show you here. Few clicks were clicked at the place where we were lying, but the sun was setting in the same direction, so pics were not that good, except they would make wonderful silhouettes. Please don't try it for yourself at such places, because if you break you neck or back, there is not much of help available. So, make sure that you are confident about whatever you are doing.

(thanks to Naren, for clicking my yoga poses, see his yoga poses below)
We walked to the other side of the lake, so that we could click some pictures without other people. Now sun would be in the back of the cameraman.
Resting for a while and few more clicks.

Back to Base camp and Night

As the sun was moving down towards the mountain, temperature dropped further. One can not stand outside without a jacket. We tried to soak the last rays on the way down to the base camp.

A view of the base camp from higher vantage point on the road to lake.

A biker group looked amazing on that zig-zag road leading from lake to base camp down below.

Tents at the base camp.
We were offered simple rice and daal at dinner. It felt suicidal to get out of the tent at night, cold wind was furious. Sky was overcast with the clouds so no luck with the stars. We were given Kambal and Quilt, so night was quite comfortable inside the tent.
We started early in the morning at around 5:00 AM. Reason was that our next destination was to return back to our normal life, but this last stretch of about 40 kilometers from Batal to Rohtang would be the toughest among the whole trip. There would be numerous water streams to cross, and they swell up in the noon. Let's keep that part for the story for the next post.
Thanks for visiting.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Best of Kinnaur and Spiti Travels- part 7 - across Kunjum Pass

After filling our bike tanks at Kaza we started to Lossar at around 10:30 AM on 13th July, of 2017. This was our 4th day this Kinnaur Spiti national highway.

Kaza to Lossar

In earlier post, I mentioned Lossar. Lossar is the major station that comes in between Kaza to kunzum Top. Its distance is about 55 km from Kaza, and only 18 km from Lossar.
This 55 km of distance has pakka and katcha road stretches almost in equal proportion, but the road is simple and also runs low and parallel with the Spiti river. In between you cross few wooden or steel bridges across the streams of fresh, yet violent water coming down from the barren slopes of the mountains.

(Spiti river valley)

(Road from kaza to Lossar)

(Some stretches has this greenish layer)


(closer view)

(Lossar village, as seen from the wooden bridge)
We reached Lossar at about 1:00 PM. There were 2-3 Dhabas(restaurants) which served the Indian and some chinese dishes as well. Me and Naren ate rice, kidney beans and curry, while Rahul ate about 3 parathas, a copious amount. In those 20 minutes of stop, we got the opportunity of talking to co-travellers on the route. First, 3 bikers stopped at the Dhaba and then two cabs, one with young boys and girls and other with the aged people.

Lossar to Kunzum Top

Just at the end of the village a small checkpost makes your entry in register. We started at around 2:00 PM from Lossar. This stretch of 18 km after Lossar to Kunzum Pass is dusty and one has to cross and rise above the elevation of Spiti river, and therefore many curves on the slope of the mountain are to be tackled safely. A major stream is crossed via yet another wooden bridge similar to the one we saw a kilometer back from Lossar. Both of these streams merge with the Spiti river.

Upstream  - just after crossing Lossar)

(Photo session on the bridge)


my 100 cc bike, was enough for a 60 kg person(I)

(have another look)
There is no village or a single home on this stretch, and also wouldn't be possible for them to be, the reason is the snow and elevation. At the mid heights before reaching Kunzum, this beautiful strut(maybe worshipped by Buddhists, I wouldn't know.) picked my attention. The weather was so refreshing, look at the sky color. The small patches of glaciers on the mountain tops appears like the ice on the cake... lol. I know bad analogy.

It provided a lovely view of the mountain peaks in the back.
Road further deteriorates after this point. And rises like a mountain trek.

At Kunzum

Kunzum Pass/Top was only about 4-5 kilometers(as per my faint memory calculations) from this point. Pass has an elevation of around 4590 metres above mean sea level, and therefore this route gets closed in winters. It opens only for the summer months, therefore this spiti valley gets cut off from Manali or Lahaul. In winter buses run from Kaza to Reckong Peo which remains connected with Shimla.

(look at the beautiful peaks in back)

(Road at Kunzum Pass)

(The informatory board at Kunzum Pass)
A big banner gate welcomes you, there is no roof and therefore the temple is open air. When we reached, a HRTC bus was stopped next to the temple dedicated to goddess Kunzum. Bus services are available from Kullu and Manali,and they run in the morning time only, because they tend to reach Kaza before the noon, because water in the streams gets swelled after noon. This happens due to the high rate of melting of ice due to more heat in the afternoon.

(See that circle of road around the open air temple of goddess Kunzum, a bus to the right)
People pray here for a safe journey on this dangerous route. We also went in there, made a circle around the temple. Till then first that cab with youth and then a biker group which was behind us reached the pass. They started doing same. We were done, so we started further towards our next destination.

(Naren in front)

(The open air temple, somehow the image won't turn left in steemit)

(Mantras stone relief outside the temple)

(closer view of the Kunzum temple)

Riding towards Chander Taal Lake

The road descends down very steeply in a zigzag manner. We managed with gravity and saved some petrol in our tanks. Our next destination was Chander-Taal lake, so before reaching Batal, which is at about 11 kilometers from Kunzum top, we have to take a right turn on this single lane road that is solely constructed as a connection to Chander-Taal Lake.

(the link road to Chander-Taal Lake)
We would have descended about 7-8 kilometers until this board is reached, which reads the information about the diversion towards Chander-Taal lake. Our plan was to camp at the Chander-Taal lake base camp and visit the lake. That would completer the 4 days and 4 nights of this long trip. Let's keep that part of the story for the upcoming post of this series.
Thanks for the kind visit.
Browse the other parts of the story in my blog.