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2400Km of Solo Spiti Sauntering – Day 10/11 – Sundernagar to Chandigarh to Nainital

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

Day 10/11 – Mon/Tue, Sep 11/12 2017 – Sundernagar to Chandigarh to Nainital


Day 10 – Route Map

Day 11 – Route Map

The last two days were somewhat uneventful.

Left Sundernagar early in the morning with the intent to reach Chandigarh by noon and then checkout some places of my childhood memories.

Early morning fog at Sundernagar

Stopped for breakfast on the way to Chandigarh. Booked a hotel in Zirakpur online. Was in the hotel by 1300. After resting for a while, went first to Sec 18, Sec 19 and later to Sec 17.

As a city these places are pretty much the same as they were 25yrs ago. Even the trees I used to play under are the same albeit with a thicker canopy.

Kudos to Chandigarh administration for keeping it that way. I also was pleasantly surprised with the traffic levels. There were no jams and traffic was constantly moving.

Spent the evening in Sec 17th plaza. Did some shopping of books and other stuff in the shops that have been there since I was a kid.

Reached back to hotel around 2230 after dinner at Singh’s chicken.

Next morning again was on the road by 0600. Made pretty good time till Karal and then somewhat slower till Shamli. Stopped for breakfast a little before Shamli.

After Shamli took the Muzaffernagar-Bijnor route, which was a non-divided highway with bad road condition. This was long and tiring.
At the foothills of Nainital, stopped for lunch at Choti-haldwani at 1530.

Climb to Nainital starts

Khurpatal

Village of Narayan Nagar

Back home after 2400KM and 11 days.

Day Stats

Day 10
Distance: 247Km
Start/End Time: 0600-1300
Expenses – Food: Rs995/-
Expenses – Fuel: Rs350/-
Expenses – Stay: Rs1700/-

Day 11
Distance: 419Km
Start/End Time: 0600-1700
Expenses – Food: Rs250/-
Expenses – Fuel: Rs500/-
Expenses – Stay:

2400Km of Solo Spiti Sauntering – Day 9 – Chandratal to Sundernagar

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

Day 9 – Mon, Sep 11 2017 – Chandartal to Sundernagar

Day 9 – Route Map

It was a tough night and I barely slept at all. I didn’t feel much cold as the quilts were nice and comfortable. Maybe it was the AMS effect.

Made a mistake of waking up on my usual time. As I stepped out of the tent, it was cold, grey and drizzling.

Was in two minds as to whether go to the lake or leave for the day. And then it started snowing. Made a hasty decision to leave. Didn’t want to hand around for the rain/sleet to intensify and then get stuck.

Bad idea. Should have gone to the lake once. Pretty soon I was on the road to Batal.

Snow and Rain on the bike

Towards Batal

Reflections

The bridge at Batal. Chacha-Chachi dhabha is just on the right side of the bridge.

The dhabha was open at Batal. Stopped to warm myself up and eat some food. Then started for Grampho.

The road was as bad as I had heard or read. Early in the morning there was no other vehicular traffic. In fact I would not see a vehicle till Chhatru.

Yet the ride was fun. I wasn’t feeling as cold and the skies had cleared up. Other than a could of water crossings where I got my feet wet, there was nothing serious.

Onwards to Grampho

Roads were as bad as everyone had said.

Small hamlet of Chhatru

Few Km after Chhatru, I gave lift to a Raghav who wanted a ride till Grampho.

Along the way we stuck up a conversation. Raghav was a shepherd who grazed his sheep on the other side of Chandratal. He was now bringing his sheep down towards Manali for shearing.  His family stayed near Pathankot with the kids going to school. He spent all his summers grazing sheep in the meadows in the Chandratal area.

There were a few big water crossings after Chhatru which I managed to negotiate without asking Raghav to get off. At Grampho I bade goodbye to him.

Raghav

The road up to Rohtang was pretty messed up. Around a Km below the top, the tar road started. After that it was a breeze.

Upwards to Rohtang

Crowds at Rohtang

Rohtang was a typical tourist spot. Driving down from Rohtang to Manali, I probably crossed 10X more bikes than I had seen on the entire trip till then. Royal Enfield probably does 75% of their sales between Manali and Kerala (which is the other place I see a lot of RE).

Took a quick tea break after the Solang cutoff and then onto Manali.

Distant waterfall below Rohtang

At Manali, I choose to the old Mandi road which goes via Naggar. A while back someone had recommended that I take this road. Since I had some time, why not.

This was a good choice. While the road was narrow and had good traffic, it was more picturesque than what I remembered of the main Manali-Mandi highway.

Deodar jungle

Apples galore

After Kullu, it was a regular ride trying to cover as much distance as I could. I was hoping to get to Chandigarh by noon on the next day.

Reservoir before Mandi

Quick break for chole-kulche

By the time I reached Sundernagar, it was getting dark. So decided to stay there. Bilaspur would have been too late.

Found a decent room at Hotel Hamsafar and rested a while. Later went to the stalls near the bus stand for dinner before calling it a day.

Day Stats

Distance: 280.2Km
Start/End Time: 0615-1830
Expenses – Food: Rs340/-
Expenses – Fuel: Rs500/-
Expenses – Stay: Rs510/-

2400Km of Solo Spiti Sauntering – Day 8 – Kaza to Chandratal

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

Day 8 – Sun, Sep 10 2017 – Kaza to Chandartal

Day 8 – Route Map

The morning routine was the same. I was on the road by 0600. The morning was unusually cold. At one point I was tempted to take out the other pair of cold weather gloves from the bag, but then decided to continue. I also couldn’t find any open shop to ward myself with a cup of tea.

The terrain, though as barren as the last few days, was quite different. The road cut through a valley which was like a wide plain between two range of hills. Down below Spiti river was a constant companion.

An irrigation pond

A remote monastery

After around 20Km from Kaza, the tar on the road disappeared. Slowly i began to realize why this road from Kaza to Grampho is so infamous. But this was just the trailer. There was more fun to come.

Tar road disappears

Barren high altitude meadows

And there is still a long way to go

A larger than life view

Spiti River accompanying the road all along

A road side Chorten

Heading towards the snows

As I approached Losar, the blue skies disappeared and few drops fell from the sky. The cold increased and I was worried about the drizzle growing into a cold rain.

Taking a break at Losar was my backup plan. Having heard of the bad road condition up to Kunzum La, I wasn’t very keen to ride up to the pass under heavy rain.

Approaching Losar

At Losar, I found a few shops and took a break. By the time I finished with my tea and a packet of biscuits, the rain had stopped.

After registering at a checkpost, I started the climb to Kunzum La.

Approaching Kunzum La

A lone cyclist

Almost at Kunzum La

The climb to Kunzum La was uneventful. Bike managed quite well, while my bum did not do so well. Up at the pass it was cold and windy. I was the only one around.

Clicked a few pictures and I was on my way down to Batal

Kunzum La

The road down to Batal was in a pretty bad condition. It was also quite steep with a series of switch backs.

At Batal, I stopped at the famous Chacha-Chachi dabha. The place was crowded with a few vehicles outside and 8-10 people inside. After 2 glasses of tea and a plate of Rajma-Chawal, I was ready for Chandratal.

First meal of the day at Chacha-Chachi dhabha

Outside the Chacha-Chachi dhabha

Onward to Chandartal

The road to Chandratal was bad as expected. After to decent water crossings, I was at the campground area. The first tent setup I saw was of Jamiaca. After talking to the person, for some reason I did not feel like taking that one.

So I moved to Tenzing camp which was run by the son of Chacha-Chachi. His price was lower, so I took a single person tent.

I had started drizzling again. So after a cup of hot black tea, I dozed off. It was only 1215.

Chandartal Finally!!

I woke up around 1500 and rode up to the parking lot. It was pretty cold and somewhat miserable weather. With the clouds around, there was no chance of the famous reflections the lake was famous for.

Chenab River near Chandartal

A 10 pic panorama of Chandartal

Chandartal

Prayer flags at Chandartal

Yours truly at Chandartal

Chandartal

After hiking around the lake, I went down to the shore and sat down to talk with a group of students from Punjab. They were quite keen to take a dip in the waters and were waiting for the tourists to thin out.

Around 1700 I went back to the tents. The rain continued on and off.

View on the way back to the campgrounds

There was nothing much to do at the campground. It was cold and windy. So I went inside my tent and snuggled under a quilt.

Around 2000, I went to the common dinner tent for food. A large group of Israelis had arrived. The group of students from the lake were also there. After an hour of dinner and conversations, I headed back to sleep.

Day Stats

Distance: 115.5Km
Start/End Time: 0600-1218
Expenses – Food: Rs140/-
Expenses – Fuel: 0/-
Expenses – Stay: Rs700/- (incl food)