2400Km of Solo Spiti Sauntering – Compendium – Links to rest of the Spiti travelog
Several years ago when Google Earth was newly released, I was armchair exploring the hills of Kumaon and Garhwal. At that time I saw a route leading from Garhwal to Himanchal and then to Spiti. The ideas of driving down that route was carefully archived in some corners of the mind and life moved on. Over time other trips happened, but never got a chance to drive from Uttarakhand to Himanchal without getting down into the plains.
The Leh trip in 2015 gave me confidence to go solo. So finally last year I made up my mind to commit to this trip. However, a role change at work in 2016 didn’t leave me with any free time. And that brought me to 2017. I was really committed to making this trip this year.
Put in my vacation plans and booked the ticket. Once that was done, I was amazed at the casualness of my planning. Perhaps the many solo trips I have done over the years gave me more confidence or maybe it was mere carelessness. In the kit was my regular biking stuff and rain gear. In fact later I would realize that I was under prepared for the cold and should have packed better for the wind chill.
The only other planning I did was to ask around bcmtouring forums for a rough itinerary. The folks there are extremely helpful and over the years those forums have become my go to place for travel advice.
On Sep 1st took a flight to Delhi and then the night train to Nainital. Other than a flight cancellation and some crazy traffic in Delhi which almost made me miss my train, getting to Nainital was uneventful. Thanks to the heroic driving (some would call it crazy) of the Ola driver I caught the train just in time.
Sep 2nd was a cold and rainy day in Nainital. While driving in the rain is not exactly appetizing, I didn’t have much choice.
Day 1 – Sun, Sep 3 2017
Day 1 route map
Fortunately the clouds parted in the morning. All packing had been done on the night before and all I had to do was load the bike. I was promptly on my way around 0600.
Leaving early would be my routine on every day though out the trip. It allowed me to ride slower and still cover good amount of distance. Plus there is significantly less traffic in the morning.
Early morning start
Nainital lake as I head towards Bhowali
Early morning sun illuminates the rain drenched pine foliage
The route I had planned to take was Nainital-Almora-Someshwar-Kausani-Gwaldam-Karanprayag and overnight at Rudraprayag if possible. On realizing that the Khairna-Almora road was blocked due to a land slide, I turned towards Ranikhet.
The hills were lush green owning to the good monsoon. The roads were in great condition and I had a great time cruising along.
A JCB clearing the road off a fallen tree on the Ranikhet road
A small village cradled in the lap of Himalayan greenery
Faintly visible Himalayas from Ranikhet. The tall peak is Nanda Devi.
After Ranikhet, I had the option of taking the Dwarhat-Gairsain route to Karagprayag or the slightly longer Gwaldam road which would have me join my original route at Someshwar. I decided to take the Gagas-Binta-Someshwar-Gwaldam route hoping for a clear view of Trishul. To my disappointment, by the time I reached Gwaldam, the sky was overcast and there was no view of the snow-capped peaks.
However, I was glad that I took that route for it took me though some beautiful valleys of Kumaon. Post monsoons, the paddy is turning slightly brown in preparation for cultivation. Rivers and streams are full of water gurgling down the hills.
Blue skies, green field and well laid road. Perfect drive.
Two women tend to their field, preparing for cultivation.
A small river flows down a well cultivate valley to join Kosi River at Someshwar.
Paddy fields near Someshwar.
Someshwar valley stretched below Kausani.
Pine jungles below Kausani.
Cluster of 1000 year old Shiv temples at Baijnath
Selfie amidst a Pine jungle near Gwaldam
Mutton-Roti or Shikar-roti, as it is called in the hills, at Gwaldam
It was almost noon when I reached Gwaldam.The road condition deteriorated a few Km before Gwaldam. The bad condition would continue after too.
Decided to take a break and also have lunch. Gwaldam at the border of Garhwal and Kumaon has lots of small eateries. Sat down for an excellent lunch of mutton curry and tandoori rotis.
By the time I started again, the skies were dark. Within a fifteen minutes of starting, a slight drizzle started and it soon turned into a downpour. Couple of minutes of driving in the rain and I took shelter in a small shack. The place was also being used by road construction workers for shelter from the rain and to keep their stock.
After waiting for 30min, the rain slowed down and I started again.
After Gwaldam, the road condition had deteriorated. Now with the heavy rain, the pot holes was full of water and going was slow. The road conditions did not improve till Rudraprayag.
Pindar River before joining Tharali in Garhwal
A roadside seasonal waterfall before Karanprayag.
After Tharali, the road follows Pinder river till it joins Alaknanda at Karanprayag.
Confluence of Alaknanda and Pinder river at Karanprayag. Pinder is coming from right and Alaknanda from the left.
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.
It was still early when I reached Karanprayag. Decided to move on till Rudraprayag. The road from Karanprayag to Rudraprayag was in excellent condition and quite wide for the hills. Before 1700, I had reached Rudraprayag. Near Sangam, asked a traffic police for hotel options and he directed me towards the direction of Srinagar. There were several options on that road and I picked up Tulsi Hotel after a quick negotiation.
View from room balcony looking towards Srinagar. The road in the middle is the road to Srinagar.
I ordered two cups of tea and a plate of pakora. After resting for a while, had a bath and then I headed towards the Sangam. At the sangam, there is a Narad temple with steps leading down to the river. Went there and hung around for a while. Water was cold and there were not many people around.
Narad temple on the sangam of Mandakini and Alaknanda river. On the left is Mandakini and on the right is Alaknanda.
An old style manual ropeway to cross the Mandakini river.
Exact confluence of the two rivers.
After spending some time listening to the sound of rivers flowing, I came back near the bus stand. Found a busy dhabha for dinner. A good dinner of roti, dal-makhani and alu-matar, and I headed back to the hotel.
Start/End Time: 0600-1645
Expenses – Food: Rs505/-
Expenses – Fuel: Rs0/-
Expenses – Stay: Rs700/-