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The Spiti Marathon: An Unforgettable Odyssey

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  • The Spiti Marathon: An Unforgettable Odyssey



    Years Later: Circa June 2009

    Kaza. Yup, that was the name of the place. Nestled somewhere deep in the far corners of Himachal with route vistas that put most highways to shame. The virgin beauty, untouched by any sort of urbanization. It was next on my list almost immediately after I returned from Ladakh. But the plan never really materialized soon enough owing to the consistently rising work pressures. And leaves too, were far and few.
    Days passed and the frustration levels grew. The urge for riding long, real long became the root cause of all my woes.
    I was going to ride solo; there was no doubt about that. The best things in life are for free and the best rides in life are solo!
    It was just a matter of when now, not how!

    So one fine Wednesday night, post a reprimand from my seniors back in office, I gulped down a red-bull, ate some energy bars and saddled up my extreme, to ride out to kaza. I was branded insane by my friends, but then some habits are hard to change. Hold on, I am not talking about mine, but theirs!


    Day 1:

    Picked up some tools, spares, jockeys and red bull; collectively dumped them into the saddle bags b
    I had a long night and then a long day ahead!
    Post a small prayer, I bid the roomies goodbye and set off at 0000 hrs. The ride was uneventful, same old NH-22 that had seen my footprints innumerous amount of times! Reached Shimla crossed shimla reached Narkanda for my first halt. It was 3:30 am. Narkanda is about 65 kms ahead of Shimla at a height of 2700. Known for the Hatu peak and snow, it has become common among tourists. It was cold, no very cold and extremely dark. There was a strange wail in the air owing to the sound of the wind which caught my attention. Apart from that it was silent! I had a smoke and another red-bull meanwhile flicking to high beam to witness the road ahead. Got nostalgic, went back in time; came to my senses when the cigarette burnt right through the bud and made wince in pain!
    I was back on the road zipping through Rampur reached Jeori. I tanked up here and had the tyres filled. To my sheer amazement the rear had gone down to 20 psi!! That too, when the roads where great!


    Moreover, I t

    The Karcham Dam:













    Crossing Powari:




    Here the roads improved. Black tarmac was a common sight. But at the same time, they became quite narrow. One thing that was bothering me was shooting rocks. Well not exactly rocks, but stones. The wind was ferocious and the stretch between Powari and Khab was notorious for shooting stones, which I too could witness.

    Nothing happened

    I glided across beautifully!








    Khab, confluence of the Spiti and Sutlej ... Met a local guy here who was from Tashiganj, some 5 kms trek from Khab. Enjoyed the interaction I had with him.





    Yours Truly..



    Loop-e-Loop!



    Enroute Nako:






    Spello, Puh, Nako and Chango crossed. Next was Malling Nullah which had troubled many owing to the rush of water glow. BUT, the reality is that Malling was a puddle. I actually crossed it and realized that this must have been the infamous Malling, so took a pic:







    Somehow reached Sumdo and quickly gulped down a third bull to rejuvenate my senses. I Checked from the security folks, and they were affirmative that Geyu is a must visit as most folks overlook the poor mummy that's been grounded there for centuries!!!!! (Actually, for decades )







    Right, so I continued... Took a link road to Geyu, which was an 8km bifurcation. Here I spotted the housed mummy which was oh so life like!!






    Pardon the pictures, they were taken from behind a glass window + forget photography, as I even have trouble in simple point and shoot!! ..
    It is said that the nails and hair of the mummy grow regularly which the village priest trims off time and then!
    After all the surprise and utter disbelief, I took the link road back to the main and continued to Tabo.

    The wind was frightening! I was beginning to feel that somewhere from up the mountain would be a boulder that would come tumbling down and sweep me off the road. So guess what pros the fear brought with it?? I picked up speed and was in Tabo in less than half an hour!









    Tabo houses a really old monastery (around 1000 years old). It is said to be one of the oldest monasteries in India.

    Took a few pics, had a plate of finger licking mutton momos. The people here were so friendly and very innocent. Quite soft-spoken.










    Loitered around for a bit and then continued till kaza.

    Somewhere on a river bank:





    Weird rock formation:








    Reached Kaza around 1800 hours.



    It had been an 18 hour ride, no sleep, and few breaks. I was tired, but the look on my face showed, that yes, i was satisfied with myself!! I did what I had thought of doing and that in itself was pretty inspiring!
    Continuing, I entered the elusive Kaza! I looked up this guest house named "Kesang Guest House" where an old comrade Puneet was staying for the past 3 days with a lady friend of his. Puneet was on a month long trip across the formidable mountains and has finally landed in kaza over the weekend. I finally found the place and parked on the porch, stretching hard to reduce the back pain. Nonetheless, I scampered up the stairs and got a room. Good room, loads of blankets and quilts to keep u warm and it was dead cheap: Only 100 a night for the room and all!!




    Talk about taking pot shots!!

    I was reasonably tired after all that distance, hence after meeting up with Puneet and the lady , I decided to call it the day, but not after a good 3 mugs of locally made rice beer (which was actually very pathetic and gave me a headache till 12 am!).

    Slept at 1...


    Woke up at 6:30.... Good thing was there was hot water available! Bathing made comfortable...

    Shot off to Key Monastery at around 7 30. It was around 10 kms from Kaza. Key is the biggest monastery in Spiti and is also the place where lots of young Lamas (monks) are trained. A local who I interacted with told me that in the region, every family has to send their youngest son to become a Lama and serve the lord! I found this pretty weird but did not comment keeping in mind their religious sentiments.

    Early morning pics:










    Key Monastary:





    Up at Key, I was given a small tour of the monastery by a middle-aged Lama. He told me certain facts of the culture, by which I was intrigued. One of them was that the senior Lamas wake up at 2 am every alternate day and practice morning prayers till 8 am. This ritual is followed everyday with the Lamas alternating. Immaterial of whether its summers or winters!


    Gette.

    Some where between Key and Kibber








    Kibber

    Here something happened that I had least expected. Just as I was stretching my back, taking rest and clicking pics, I saw the silhouette of a person on a motorcycle striding towards me.



    He was off to Chattru for the day. He had been resting in Kibber for 2 days. We had breakfast together at the hotel he had stayed in. I glanced around the village.



    Finishing off, we rode back to Kaza together where Shamik decided to stay back and ride with me the next day to Manali.

    The rest of the day was spent in gobbling different kind of Spitian delicacies, played cards, had some good old Kasol stuff along with Puneet. Today, I just wanted to sit back and relax; bask in the winter sun, tan my face a bit and catch up on long lost sleep. Interacted with quite a few Israeli tourists and their trysts with dope! As dusk drew nearer, all 4 of us went for a quiet walk in lonely streets of Kaza, had the last meal of the day and retired for the night at the guest house.

    The Guest House:



    Claim of the world's highest petrol pump:



    I was initially planning to go to Komic/Langza and Pin valley but then decided to leave them for next year.






    Now this was the day to bring the main reason for my trip: The mighty Kunzum Pass.

    I was attracted towards passes. I had always been. No such reasons. Just that the challenge the climb to the top offered was too good to resist. Kunzum it was, this time on.

    Hence we packed our stuff and left "Kesang Guest house" pretty early for Losar. If I can recall correctly, it was around 6.
    Losar is the last village in Spiti. From Losar, the rise to Kunzum begins. Beyond Kunzum, you enter Lahaul.

    On the way:










    Shamik and I reached Losar in a couple of hours. It was a very gradual ascend to Losar. You can infer the from the fact that Kaza is at 3600 meters and Losar at ~4100. So 500 meters we rose in a span of 70 kms. The ride so-far was uneventful. I reached Losar at around 7:15 and ordered some fried eggs and allu paranthas there, waiting for Shamik in the meanwhile. The photographer in him persuaded him to take frequent breaks, and that I understood quite well. He arrived some 15 mins later with a big smile on his face .

    We finished our breakfast and headed out towards Kunzum, but not before checking in at the army post in Losar.

    The trail to Kunzum:






    At Kunzum, Finally!!! It was so cold that all I could manage was a gritty little smile










    Darkie:





    From here on the road conditions began to deteriorate. From Bad to worse. Narrow to even more narrow. We were facing a lot difficulty navigating the bike through those gravel trails.


    There were cuts and bruises on the tyre and it was all shaven bald! I was sure of a few punctures but could not ascertain how many. I correctly remember filling in 40 Psi at Kaza which had reduced to just 5 in span of 100 kms! My heart sank as the worst stretch of roads was about to begin. I cursed myself for not replacing the rear tyre before commencing the journey.

    Nonetheless, I continued. I had the made the decision of going on this ride and hell I was even prepared to get off every 10 kms if I had to fill in air in that bald piece of rubber!

    From Batal:






    Now Batal - Chota dhara was nothing but river bed. Yes pure and simple, a river bed! And there were many markings there; different paths which eventually led to one road out of Batal. I got confused at first and took a wrong path which ended at a melting glacial snout! Turned back and signaled Shamik to re-route.
    They ought to put a sign up there somewhere!
    Somehow we managed to get on track and rode off to Chota Dhara.

    That said, this was my most wonderful and most memorable stretch of the entire trip... owing to the beauty around and awesome off-roading!

    Look for yourself ...












    It took us 2 hours to cover the 16 km between batal and Chota dhara!

    At chota dhara there is PWD rest house. It was closed when we got there. But, there is a nice lawn extending beyond the front porch where camping in summers would be fun!










    The road quality remained the same. But then again, for me, it was the more the merrier.

    We encountered mild snowfall and then lots of rain at Chattru which was another 15 kms away from chota-dhara. This delayed our ride by 1.5 hours ...

    The dhaba at Chattru:







    Anyhow, when the rain did subside, it was 3:30 pm. 9 and a half hours and Manali still 80 odd kms away. No worries, we moved on.

    Reached Gramphoo and hit the Manali - Leh road.

    Now I was filled with disgust!! The pain was a result of slushy roads, melting ice, and lots and lots and lots of tourists. They had made their way beyond Rohtang too!! Took an hour to reach Rohtang where diesel fumes and horse sh** greeted me!!


    My cell was in the network again so made a few calls and informed those who matter the most to me, of my being fit and fine.

    Reached Manali after hoarding against long queues. Took us around 2.5 hours to get from Rohtang to Manali! The tourist season was in its full flow and as far as the eye could see, there were Tata Sumos parked. Manali too, was a mess.

    Looked at the watch, it was 8

    Looked at Shamik, he had made up his mind to stay back, but so had I; to move on.

    Bid goodbye, had a red bull and left Manali at 8:20 pm
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Time: 4 am
    Location: Chandigarh
    Total hours travelled in the day: 22 hours
    .
    .
    .
    End of Story....

    Some facts:
    Total Expenditure: Rs 3500

    Troubles: None except for the psi problem.







    Conclusion
    People do a lot of different things in life. Some jump airplanes, others tattoo body parts. There are folks who make it big, earn a lot!
    When I ask myself that have I done or what do I do. The answer is simple, I ride!

    -Vaibhav Sabharwal

    PS: You find this worth a winner? Then do vote for me! To know how to vote click on the link below:

    http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/best-tra...r-contest.html










    Last edited by kurtrules; 02-01-2010, 04:49 PM.
    " I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not" - Kurt Cobain

  • #2
    Best Travel Blogger Contest Thread Approved.

    Wonderful! A brilliant trip-log there Kurt; and I still remember reading it earlier and getting just as excited.
    :)

    Comment


    • #3
      best one so far....excellent log and pics .....
      sigpicGirls are like roads, more the curves, more the dangerous they are.

      To ride or not to ride?? is a....
      very very stupid question....

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Aryan View Post
        Wonderful! A brilliant trip-log there Kurt; and I still remember reading it earlier and getting just as excited.
        same here.
        Vaiibhav just check the link for voting as only the image is being displayed.
        sigpic

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by k2cool_87 View Post
          best one so far....excellent log and pics .....
          + 1 to that.

          Excellent & worth endeavour done (ride + snaps) i really liked the snaps taken, as noticed you have tried to reveal the inner beauty of the places hope you are a natural beauty lover.. (I m deadly lover of natural beauty & clicking photos in diff angles is my hobby)
          Great write up too. .. I m definately voting for you...
          The Art of Safe Riding http://www.ridesafewith.me/

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          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Aryan View Post
            Best Travel Blogger Contest Thread Approved.

            Wonderful! A brilliant trip-log there Kurt; and I still remember reading it earlier and getting just as excited.
            Thanks rahega Aryan!

            Originally posted by k2cool_87 View Post
            best one so far....excellent log and pics .....
            Thank you!

            Originally posted by darkknight View Post
            same here.
            Vaiibhav just check the link for voting as only the image is being displayed.
            Yes, I am facing trouble with that. Hence I have added a link in place, before the image.

            Originally posted by himanshumm View Post
            + 1 to that.

            Excellent & worth endeavour done (ride + snaps) i really liked the snaps taken, as noticed you have tried to reveal the inner beauty of the places hope you are a natural beauty lover.. (I m deadly lover of natural beauty & clicking photos in diff angles is my hobby)
            Great write up too. .. I m definately voting for you...
            Thank you very much Himanshu, and yes, I am a nature lover!
            " I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not" - Kurt Cobain

            Comment


            • #7
              Excellent job there Vaibhav sir Kudos...
              Ride Safe & Ride Long-->
              Zayn

              Comment


              • #8
                Totally awesome - I voted 5 stars! Enjoyed the beautiful pictures and humor sprinkled travelogue Kudo's on taking your CBZ where KTM's and GS adventures would fear to tread...

                This is the best so far - I have some stiff competition now to my to-be-posted trip log

                Comment


                • #9
                  *****
                  I hope this says it all.
                  Click Here To Visit My Biking World

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Awesome pics!!
                    The Story Of My Life

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by zayn View Post
                      Excellent job there Vaibhav sir Kudos...
                      Thank you zayn!

                      Originally posted by bluevolt View Post
                      Totally awesome - I voted 5 stars! Enjoyed the beautiful pictures and humor sprinkled travelogue Kudo's on taking your CBZ where KTM's and GS adventures would fear to tread...

                      This is the best so far - I have some stiff competition now to my to-be-posted trip log
                      Thank You Blue Volt. Looking forward to your travelogue. BTW I have another one in my kitty

                      Originally posted by tourer_kashif View Post
                      *****
                      I hope this says it all.
                      It says a lot of things Kashif. Thanks!

                      Awesome pics!!
                      Thanks!
                      " I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not" - Kurt Cobain

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Lovely stuff dude.

                        But you need MUCH better pics man. Thoda attention le ke pics click karne ka na!!
                        http://www.bikenomads.com/wiki/index.php/Leh - All you ever need to know about getting Leh'd.
                        My posting Philosophy

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by hitanshu View Post
                          Lovely stuff dude.

                          But you need MUCH better pics man. Thoda attention le ke pics click karne ka na!!
                          Thanks! Agar zyada attention leta toh Narkanda se hi vaapis aana padta
                          " I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not" - Kurt Cobain

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            ha ha. I'm sure you noticed all the cute kudis you saw enroute - and (probably still) recall them vividly. And all of that without crashing or returning from Narkanda!

                            Need I say more?
                            http://www.bikenomads.com/wiki/index.php/Leh - All you ever need to know about getting Leh'd.
                            My posting Philosophy

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by hitanshu View Post
                              ha ha. I'm sure you noticed all the cute kudis you saw enroute - and (probably still) recall them vividly. And all of that without crashing or returning from Narkanda!

                              Need I say more?
                              Well, they are not for public eyes maharaaj! Some things are better left hidden
                              " I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not" - Kurt Cobain

                              Comment

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