2400Km of Solo Spiti Sauntering – Panoramas

2400Km of Solo Spiti Sauntering – Compendium – Links to rest of the Spiti travelog

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A set of panoramas from the recent Spiti Ride. To cover for not carrying a wide angle lens (widest I had was 28mm), I resorted to taking multiple shots and then merging off cameras.

Monsoons is a time of revival; everything comes alive. Post monsoons is probably the best time to travel in the Kumaon hills. A small lush green settlement on the banks of Alaknanda River which takes a wide turn to flow down towards its confluence with Mandakani River.  A 7 picture panorama shot vertically, taken a few Km after Karanprayag.

River Alaknanda takes a perfect U turn as it descends down towards Srinagar. Further down at Devprayag it’ll join Bhagirathi to become Ganga.  A 8 picture panorama shot vertically taken a few km down the confluence of Alaknanga and Mandakini

On one side of the Tehri Reservoir an elaborate network of infrastructure has been built with roads, power transmission lines, small townships and everything else a growing population needs. On the other side are the back-roads just wide enough to carry a small jeep, nondescript villages, terraced fields and untouched nature. Being solo on a bike gives the flexibility to explore these unknown lands. An 8 picture panorama of around the back-roads of Tehri reservoir. The reservoir is visible on the far right while terraced fields are there in the middle. My bike is on the left side.

As one moves deeper into the Spiti Valley, traversing towards Tabo and Kaza, the landscape gets bleaker and beaker. The mountains are all rocks and stones except for deep in the valleys where some cultivation is found. An 8 picture panorama above is taken from a ledge off the road showing the vast stretch of mountains across the Spiti river.

I liked Dhankar more than any other place in the Spiti Valley. The village is remotely located high above the valley with some sweeping views of the river below. The old monastery is a lovely place located precariously on a cliff, commanding excellent views of the landscape below. An 8 picture panorama of the view from Dhankar Fort.  On the left, the yellow building is the new monastery. Opposite that is the trail that goes up to Dhankar Lake. Reaching out towards the center from the right  is  the Spiti river. The cliffs on the extreme right house the fort and the old monastery.

The trail that leads to Dhankar Lake has panoramic views of the village of Dhankar with its new and old monastery. For 3/4th of the distance the trail rises steeply with open views of the valley below. In the early morning, 5 shot panorama above, the entire valley is still deep in shadows while the peaks to the to the West receive their first  rays of sun. The moon can also be seen setting on the left.

Surroundings reflect in the high altitude Dhankar Lake near Dhankar Fort in Spiti valley, Himanchal Pradesh.

A thousand feet climb on the hill opposite the Dhankar Monastery and one finds himself in solitude on the banks of this small lake. One one side rise the towering mountains capped with snow and on the other a steep drop to the Spiti Valley. I had woken up early for the early morning walk to the lake from the Monastery (where I was staying) before any other soul stirred. The three dogs who got startled as I open the door, ungrudging accompanied me on the walk up to the lake. The lake itself was devoid of any human presence except a small temple and a notice board. While the water levels were quite low, the surroundings reflected well on the calm water.

Above is a 5 part panorama looking South-East from the banks of the lake.

The usual road from Dhankar to Kaza follows the Spiti river closely. It is probably the most important road in the valley, connecting major towns and villages. However, for the adventurous souls there are alternate roads available which are no more than mud tracks. These rise above the river and provide a top down view on the river and the hills towering across.

A 7 shot panorama of the Spiti River between Dhankar and Kaza and the towering hills across. On the left the some fields and tar road can be seen next to the river.

One of the perks of riding solo is the freedom to turn down an unknown road/trail/direction on a whim. As I drove down from Dhankar to Kaza, the fuel on my bike was dipping low. Yet I had in mind a route a fellow traveler had mentioned off the diversion to Demul. I was in two minds on taking that route since I left Dhankar. Yet as I paused at junction where the road turned right towards Demul, I completely forgot that the fuel was low and the road was more of a trail than a road. The beautiful surrounding was all that preoccupied my mind. For the next few hours I did not see any signs of habitation till the trail topped a pass over Komic.

The first panorama above is a 6 shot image looking South East. The road I followed is on the left; Off to the right is a small dry stream bed which probably irrigated the meadow in the center, with small patches of grass for cattle or runaway horses.

The 2nd panorama above is an 8 shot image looking North East from the pass above Komic. Just above the seat of the bike is the Komic Monastery. Towards the center is the village of Hikkim with the highest operational post office.

The Key Monastery overlooks a vast span on Spiti Valley with the villages of Rangrik and Sumling across the river. I had ridden out early to watch the sun rise on the monastery. However the monastery is located in such a way that the sun rises among the mountains behind the monastery. The sunlight barely reaches the monastery walls much later in the morning.  The two panoramas above are the view of Spiti Valley from below the key Monastery.

First is a 7 image panorama with the slightly snow dusted mountains with the Kunzum pass somewhere in between.

The second is a 9 image panorama of the flat-topped mountain just across the river which is split into its various veins. The light reflected off the dry mountains shower a golden hue on the waters below.

Barren mountains reflect on irrigation pond near Sumling in the Spiti Valley. As I took a quick break to adjust one of my bags straps, I saw this small pond with absolutely still waters reflecting the mountains across the road. While the pond was small, the vastness of the landscape it reflected required a very wide perspective to shoot resulting in a 6 picture panorama.

Much has been written about the Chandratal for me to add anything new. While I was at the lake, the sky was overcast and wind was blowing preventing the surroundings from reflecting in the water. The lake still is mesmerizing. The first two panoramas above are taken from the top of a hillock on the west of the lake, while the other three from the lake shores.

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