Journey to the Magical Land- Spiti, HP Day 2 : Narkanda to Sangla


We slept really well last night. It was a good night’s sleep. After all, I had not slept for last 24 hrs, rode all day including collecting my bike from the station which is not a cake walk. The body had not seen the first day excitement. At the end of the first day when cold greeted us, we greeted him back by drinking Rum which my dad had brought from the Army canteen and after that heavy dinner, more than we needing the sleep the sleep needed us!

This trip was not going to be only about riding and riding. It was also capturing the beauty too. With that intention only I had bought DSLR for this trip. The learning curve was very short for me spanning just 2 months, which was very challenging considering how complex the DSLR works. It was first time for me taking photographs with DSLR on this trip. I was nervous too! You don’t go the Spiti daily.

Before sleeping that night, I put an alarm for 5am to wake-up. A herculean task to complete in cold conditions which I don’t accomplish even at my home in Pune. But, somewhere in my mind, that thing was pulling me ahead, it was telling me you can do it. This is the only chance. I checked the photpills App on my Iphone and searched for the sunrise timings which was showing around 6:15. Sleep now.

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Sunrise showing at 6:39am on my photpills app

I finally manged to get out of bed around 5:45am. There was still time. Both of them were in deep sleep. Carrying tripod in one hand and a DSLR in another I went outside to get a good look on the surroundings. The view was something different from what we saw last evening. I was searching for a good open spot to place my tripod and finally managed to locate it just ahead of our hotel. There was complete silence, felt like the village was deserted and no one lived there. I began the preparation for taking the Sunrise time-lapse from behind the mountains. Soon, it all went automatic and I was left with nothing to do but to admire the surroundings, look distantly at the snow peaked mountains and breathe in the fresh himachali air. I did play with some puppies too who happened to arrive there later when the sun rose and were intruding my camera frame.

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The small green pasture of land @8 O’clock is where I had pitched my DSLR tripod.

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Dogs invading the frame while Time-lapse is in progress….

Later, I retired to my room as it was time to move ahead in the journey. The HATU temple in Narkanda which was part of yesterday’s plan, was to be covered today. Hence, we need to be quick. Bimal ji and Karan had woken up. Since the hotel did not serve breakfast, we readied our-self and decided to have breakfast at the same place where we had dinner last night. Till now the bikes were in good shape having only an electrical box mounting nut fell off. I had quickly replaced it with a spare one which I was carrying.

 

We paid the hotel bill and were off to breakfast. The time was around 9:30. Time did really fly away quickly.

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Bread Omelette and Strong Coffee for breakfast….

One of my friend’s friend had suggested me to visit HATU temple when we were finalizing the itinerary. I would really wanna thank you “Ravi Rana from Haryana” for suggesting me this place.

 

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That’s my friend Ravi Rana from Haryana…

Right after the breakfast we headed in that direction. And, mind you guys, the roads were just awesome. Just what a rider desires. Everything was perfect in that route, the scenery, the roads, the climate. The feeling was great. I was shouting in my mind with joy having getting to feel such thing. Excitement level, extreme. The route to temple was characterized with narrow roads with valley on one side and mountain on another. The tall pine trees completed the scenery. We were greeted with snow as we approached the temple. Bimal ji was leading the pack while Karan was last.

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Going uphill the narrow roads…..

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Pine trees everywhere….

There came one point where it was incline, turn, black ice, slushy and going upwards. I saw Bimal ji struggling with his 350. His rear tyre started to slip and couldn’t get traction. Since it was incline, as soon he braked his bike started slipping downwards. He turned the bike handle instantly and the rear hit the mountain. While valley was at left side and just a feet away, the sight was horrifying. I called our Bimal and told him to stop there and there itself. I went ahead and parked my bike and went to help him.

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Bimal ji up ahead were unable to control the bike on the black ice… His rear of the bike hit the mountain while they were sliding down and the bike stopped. Thank you Mountain for being there!!

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Bimal ji from a different angle..

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Helping Bimal ji get down…

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Inspecting the Crime scene…’Black Ice was the Culprit’

Karan had executed the turn and went a little far ahead. He was not aware of what had just happened. It took us around 20 mins to safely take the bike downwards. Later on, we decided not to push further as it was very risky. While going downwards we stopped at few points for clicking photographs and admire the surrounding views.We headed down and continued our journey towards Rampur.

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Karan admiring the distant snow peaked mountains…

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How did the image came?

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One day…..One day…..

Rampur was around 70kms from Narkanda, and the roads were smooth and we didn’t have any issues. It was not that cold and we were enjoying the riding. I wanted to vlog but my GoPro doesn’t support external mic and hence instead I was just speaking aloud as if GoPro was actual recording it. I was talking to myself a lot. Seeing the mountains, rivers and the lush green tree except the dried apple trees, your mind is full of thoughts.

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The Roads…..

We drove almost non-stop and stopped just ahead of Rampur for lunch. The time was 2pm. We were really hungry after only a meager breakfast meal consisting of only 2 loafs of bread and a 2 egg omelette.

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Hanuman statue. Rampur has arrived…

We had a 2 good big paranthas along with curd, omelette and a big chunk of butter.

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The place where we halted for Lunch…

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Woahhhhh……look at the size of the butter piece….

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Warming up the jacket was necessary…..

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Riding parallel with Sutlej river….

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The famous location spot of Kinnaur Valley…

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Karan was afraid to look down as it was shitty deep..

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Bimal ji with the signature pose…

The condition of the roads didn’t trouble us and we went on smoothly. Some patches along were met with off-roading. We could notice that changing pattern of clouds up above as we moved ahead. The clouds started to get darker and darker. Luckily, there was no rain.

We had to take right from Karcham dam to get to Chitkul. Just as we were about to reach the dam premises we took a small halt for tea. The time was 4:30 pm. We could feel the transition of temperature from hot, warm to cold now. We knew that soon it was gonna get dark.

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The Karchham Wangtoo Dam board…

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Because Chai was,is and will always be life…..

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Ahhhhh…the Snow covered Mountains closer to us know….

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Pee break….

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These rocks play a key role in Spiti…more on them in my next blog. But as of now, when you are on Spiti circuit, keep a watch on mountains. They are not friendly.

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2nd refueling after Chandigarh…before the Karchham dam…

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Taking right for Chitkul at Karchham dam..

As soon as we took right from the Karchham dam, it started to drizzle. We knew that this would happen. At this altitude the mountains control the weather. Chitkul was still 30kms to go and the road started to tear up. It was complete off-road and hence our speeds reduced. Chitkul is the last village of India which we had planned to visit as a part of the plan but seeing the time and the external conditions, driving 30kms was not feasible for us. Instead, we decided to halt at Sangla which is 18kms before Chitkul and pushed Chitkul to explore for the next day. Since it started to get dark, there was a sudden wave of cold which gripped us. Our condition became same like what happened to us the evening in Narkanda. Each and every body part of us started to freeze.

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The scenery started to change color to white. The white snow-clad mountains you see just above my right front mirrors is where Chitkul is located…

Now the scenery had completely changed, there were snow-clad mountains everywhere. We later came to know that 2 days prior it had snowed heavily in Chitkul and Sangla side. This report was given to us by the local people in Narkanda when we left the city in the morning. We could see white everywhere. We didn’t want to miss this chance hence we stopped for a brief period of time clicking pictures in the cold. Since the distance had been reduced to Sangla, we were of no hurry to reach the place. A moment once gone is gone.

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My hands literally froze while taking this shot…removing gloves was like suicide..

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Groupfie….

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Soaking in the weather…

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Bimal ji with a pose…see the clouds behind him…

The drizzle continued, in fact it increased as we left the place where we had stopped for photo.

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Hazy view through my GoPro lens…notice my Visor…

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Entering the Sangla town..

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Searching for a good hotel…

The time was 6:45pm and it was pitch dark now. On seeing the mountains while climbing to reach the town, we had mutually decided to find a hotel which was far away from others and gave us an open view of the mountains. We found such hotel at the extreme exit end of Sangla town. We decided to halt there and called up the hotel guy to negotiate a deal. 1000 bucks it was with single room, double bed and an extra bed. The view it offered of the mountains in front was amazing. The photos will be uploaded in the next blog since I took them next morning.

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Look at the amount of snow right in front of our door step..

We checked into the hotel at around 7pm. All the luggage from the bike was transferred to the room and we got rid of our jackets and riding pants. It was still drizzling. Seeing this condition, we assumed that it might snow tomorrow and that Chitkul up ahead would already be snowing even now.

We quickly changed to our thermals and felt very light weight. You don’t know how much those jacket and trousers weight. It’s almost like wearing an astronaut suit. The rum from the other night was still left and we finished it all there itself. Since the program was not completed yet, we ordered whiskey which the hotel guy promptly arranged it for us. The Rum and Whiskey both gave us required warmth to carry the things ahead. Before the program had begun, we had told the hotel guys of the dinner menu and ate the dinner right after our drinking was done.

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Chal bhai…bet ja…

The dinner was served piping hot and it just went inside the stomach at more than the  required pace. We had ordered Chicken and roti along with daal, rice and a mix veg.

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We both were high….

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Bimal ji taking a moment…..

Bimal was really high and it was interfering with his photo taking ability. Seeing the mountains in front of us and in close, everyone was excited to take a photo of it. The hotel was situated in a way that it had mountains from all its sides. A tough place to find  in the dark. Since the moon was nearing its full size, the snow on the mountain was glowing and it didn’t really look like night-time. We could see everything and everyone out there. Only DSLR’s were capable to take photos in such light. Mobiles failed badly. We could see some starts come nicely above the mountains but they were not in large numbers. The moonlight disturbed the starry view. I did a time-lapse of the moving stars keeping the tripod facing in alignment with the front face of the hotel. Karan too followed the same. We were on the terrace shooting all these while Bimal ji were still getting a sharp focus on some distant star. He was not able to do it due to his inebriated condition.

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One of the many photos taking during the star trail timelapse.

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Capturing the moon before it is set…

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That’s the back side of the Kinner Kailash mountain as seen on the northern front of the hotel and as seen from Sangla side…

Once the DSLR went in auto, I tried to help Bimal ji in getting a proper focus but he was out of this world and in his own. Soon he went to sleep while we two still kept clicking photos from the terrace. We had really loved the hotel and the view was such that I didn’t knew where to focus my camera after my time-lapse got finished. We both slept around 12:30am after getting the last shot of the moon before it sat behind the mountains far away.

The cold was really getting on us as we had not protected our hands in order to operate the camera. It was high time we went inside and slept. The temp must have been around -3 to -4 deg at that time. We didn’t have gage to measure it but, we could tell. Such level of cold had not been previously experienced by me.

Packing all the things safely in the camera bag, we slept a good night.

Guys, really sorry for the poor quality of the photos. Its not my fault but WordPress’s. You will get to see all the high quality images through FB or Insta.

Good Morning from Sangla – Next Blog. 

Categories: Himachal Pradesh, Travel

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