Off Beat Himachal - Lahaul Spiti with Sangala Valley
1 night at Manali - 2 nights at Kaza - 2 nights Kalpa - 3 nights Sangala - 1 night Thanedar
Here is how you will spend your time
Day 1: Chandigarh To Manali (290 Kms – 7 Hours)
Start from Chandigarh to Manali, You may stop at Mandi for Lunch. Reach Manali & check in Hotel Apple Country. Very good and decent hotel. Rooms are quite big with beautiful view of Mountains at back side. Overnight at Hotel Apple Country – Manali.
Day 2: Manali To Kaza. (220 Kms 9 Hours)
Start very early morning with packed meal (Lunch), topped up the fuel and start driving towards unexplored areas of northern part of Himachal Pradesh known as Lahaul – Spiti. Till Rohtang Pass the road is bit narrow but very scenic and lush green. You may enjoy some Dhabas on the bank of river Bias before Rohtang Pass with nice arrangement of chairs and tables on small islands of the river and they serve snacks in the middle of water. Once you cross Rohtang Pass, the mountains are totally different, with beautiful snow peaks. When you reach Batal, take a left turn to reach Chandratal Lake - approximately at the height of 4551 mtrs from sea level. Amazing sight to see Chandratal Lake. Once you cross Kunzum Pass, after couple of kilometers you will see river Spiti, reach Losar village the first picturesque hamlet of Spiti Valley. Geologically and archaeologically, Spiti is a living museum. The mountains are devoid of any vegetation and eroded by wind, sun and snow over thousands of years has laid bare the rocks. The valley offers unparalleled view in shades of russet, purple, yellow and pink. The wind swept slopes of barren mountains with boulders make outlandish landscape. Reach Kaza and check in Hotel The Spiti – HPTDC with modern amenities. Overnight at The Spiti – Kaza.
Travel from Manali to Kaza
Day 3: Around Kaza
Early morning one can see the rugged and rocky mountain slopes sweep down to the riverbeds giving the landscape a moon-like appearance. After breakfast, visit Key Monastery (Gompa), which is 7 kilometers away from Kaza. Key Gompa is situated between Kaza and Kibber on a hill top at the height of 4116 meters. Key Gompa is almost thousand years old, the biggest monastery in the Spiti valley with fine murals and valuable collection of Kangyur - ancient Buddhist texts. The monastery is a show case of different architectural and building style of many people who had controlled it over ages and was truly a sight to behold. After lunch in second half, drive for Komic (ko = cock and mic = eye) Village 22 kilometers from Kaza. Komic village is highest motorable village in Asia. Drive back to Kaza market, Kaza has two parts – old Kaza and new Kaza divided by the creek. In old Kaza, there is a bus stand, market and some small hotels. In new Kaza there are few government buildings, fuel pump and tinned roof buildings. Overnight at The Spiti – Kaza.
Day 4: Kaza – Dhankar – Tabo - Kalpa (208 Kms)
After breakfast, start your journey towards Tabo. After couple of kilometers there is a beautiful sight of Dhankar monastery (at the altitude of 3889 meters). Dhankar is about 800 year old monastery. The monastery overlooks the confluence of Pin and Spiti rivers. Reach Tabo a world heritage site, which has got oldest monastery in this region, built in AD 996 by translator, Ringchen Znangpo. The monastery looks like mud and timber boxes. It is a complex that holds nine temples, twenty-three chortens, a monk's chamber and an extension that houses the nun's chamber. The core is bounded by an earthen wall and encloses an area of 6300 square meters. Just short of the complex are contemporary monastic structures. On the sheer cliff-face above the enclave are a series of caves were used as dwelling units by the monks, and includes an assembly hall. Here again dim faces of paintings that once adorned the rock face are visible. After 21 kilometers from Tabo you may take a left turn to see mummy in the Geu village, 11 kilometers from the NH 22. Geu villagers have known about the mummy since 1975. Again start your journey towards Kalpa. Kalpa has all the makings of an Indian Fairyland. At a height of 10,900 feet in Himachal Pradesh, on the NH22 in Kinnaur District is this hideaway town. Beyond Recong Peo (14 km from Powari), on the link road, passing through an old village – Chinni Gaon is the main village of the district - Kalpa. Check in hotel Kinnaur villas with superb view of Mount Kinnaur Kailash. Overnight at Hotel Kinnar Villas – Kalpa.
Travel from Kaza to Kalpa
Day 5: Kalpa Sightseeing
After breakfast, walk through deodhar forest towards Rogi Village - around two kilometer walk – one way. Normally it is a spectacular sight early in the morning, as the rising sun touches the snow peaks with crimson and gold light. Kalpa is a town with a history of ancient temples and mythical fables. A town, presenting also a kaleidoscope of magical spectacles - the milky white Shivling peaks and awe-inspiring Kinner Kailash ranges rising up to 20,000 feet, the fiery Sutlej hurtling through deep gorges, the winding mountain road bordered by chilgoza forests. It is said that Kalpa was the legendary winter home of lord Shiva, who is said to retire here each winter for some hashish-inspired meditation. After finishing temples, drive to Rekong Peo for window shopping and to see the town. Dinner and overnight at Kinnaur Villas.
Day 6: Kalpa – Sangla (40 Kms – 2 Hour)
After breakfast, start further journey. Visit a temple in the village Kothi – next to Rekong Peo. The gold idol of the goddess resides in the sanctum sanctorum of this wood and stone made temple. Tope-up fuel tank at Powari and proceed further. After around twenty five kilometres, take a left turn to reach Sangla, the straight road is heading towards Shimla. You will see big Hydro Electric plant generating 1000 mega watt electricity of Jaypee Group of companies. The village houses are unique examples of wooden architecture. Tibetan wood carvings Centre also exist here. The quaint little houses, temples, gompas, and the people of Sangla Valley conjure up a perfect image of Shangri-La. Thousands years old monasteries still exist in the adjoining area. Both the Buddhists and Hindus live in perfect harmony symbolizing the traditional brotherhood and friendship. Your discovery of the lesser-known Himalayas can begin at the Banjara Camp eight kilometre further from the town in the Sangla Valley. At a height of 2,700 mts the Banjara Camp is surrounded by towering mountains on all sides and is set on the banks of the Baspa River that surges through the valley. Once you park you vehicle you have to walk around 400 meters to reach the camp and you see white and yellow colored flower beds in the premises. It is like a nature in nature. The Camp is an ideal setting for total relaxation with cosy Swiss-style tents that have attached bathrooms, a well-equipped kitchen and evening bonfires that keeps the chill away. Now Banjara Camps has retreat rooms & river side cottages also. After lunch walk towards village Batseri up to hanging bridge on the river Baspa. The whole evening you may spend on Baspa River banks and enjoy the nature, flow and sound of river. Around at 7.00 pm you will experience more calm and relaxing than sitting around the bonfire, beside the gurgling Baspa river, feeding the senses with the sweet sounds of the fresh mountain air while also feeding the stomach from a scrumptious barbeque. Overnight at Banjara Camps and even you enjoy sweet sound of River Baspa while sleeping also.
Travel from Kalpa to Sangla
Taxi to Chandigarh, fly to Belgaum, taxi
Taxi to Chandigarh, fly to Mumbai, train
Day 7: Sangla Valley
After breakfast at leisure, take a packed lunch to visit Chitkul 11 kms. Please carry your woollens and rain cheaters. The road is very scenic and see few water streams passing through the road. Reached Chitkul (3450m) is the first village of the Baspa valley and the last village on the old Hindustan-Tibet trade route. Situated on the right bank of Baspa river and there is a road along the left bank from Karcham. There are 3 temples of local goddess Mathi, the main ones are said to have been constructed about 500 years ago. It is also the last point you can travel to without a permit. Of particular interest at Chitkul are its houses with slate or wooden plank roofs, a Buddhist temple and a small tower. The Kagyupa temple has a highly valued old image of the Shakyamuni Buddha, a Wheel of life and four Directional Kings on either side of the door. Trek to Nagasthi from Chitkul, the last Indian border outpost manned by ITBP personnel. It is a level walk of about 4 kms. one way. Drive back to camps & relax in the evening. You may avail soft adventurous activities like river crossing, rappelling, rock climbing (at extra cost). Dinner and overnight at Banjara Camps – Sangla.
Day 8: Sangla
After breakfast, walk to the neighboring village Basteri. It is a small but beautiful village. The people are frank, honest, hospitable and peace loving. However, they have a rich cultural legacy and a wealth of legends and myths. They follow Buddhism and Hinduism. It is believed that the Pandavas came and resided in the land while in the exile. In the ancient mythology the people of region are known as Kinners, the halfway between men and gods. According to the old scriptures, the Kinner Kanyas (girls) were famous for their beauty and were used as Vish Kanyas (poison girls) by the kings and royal families to overcome their enemies through their seductive "talents". Relax in the noon under the tree on hammocks. Around at 5.30 pm after high tea, drive to Sangla village to see Kamru fort and temples. From the village it is very stiff climbing to reach Kamru. Sangla village is on a slope with houses rising one above the other with gigantic Kinner-Kailash peak is towering over it. This fort is the place where rajas of Kinnaur were crowned. Now the fort is dedicated to Kamakshi Devi, the Goddess idol was brought from Guwahati (Assam). There is also another temple known as Bering Nag dedicated to Jagas God and a Buddhist monastery is worth a visit. Dinner in moon light and overnight at Banjara Camps - Sangla.
Day 9: Sangla – Sarahan – Thanedar
Drive for Thanedar via Sarahan with packed breakfast. Sarahan (2165m) is located halfway up a high mountain side. The road to Sarahan winds past flowering jacaranda trees that give way to stately pines. This sparsely populated tract is steeped in ancient legends and here is the famous Bhimakali temple - regarded as one of the fifty-one sacred 'Shaktipeeths'. The temple's unusual architecture and wealth of carvings have made it a resplendent example of what is loosely called the 'Indo-Tibetan Style'. Drive further towards Thanedar, if you are lucky you may see clouds below you and Apple orchards on both the sides of the road. Reach Thanedar and check in a hotel - Nestled amongst acres of apple blossoms is the Banjara Orchard Retreat - an eco-friendly gateway that will enchant nature lovers. Evening drive from the Banjara Orchard Retreat gets you to the Tani Jubber Lake. This virtually stamp size mountain lake is popular spot in idyllic setting. Now because of the newly constructed road, the lake has become very small like a pond. A Hindu temple dedicated to “Nag Devta” is built next to the lake. From here one can go to Hatu Peak, 3136 meter high to see a panoramic view of the Pir Panjal and the Dhauladhar ranges of Himalayas. Enjoy beautiful mountain view surrounded by apple trees.
Travel from Sangla to Thanedar
Taxi, fly to Lucknow, train
Day 10: Thanedar – Chandigarh
Drive from Thanedar to Chandigarh (184 Kms – 7 hours), after breakfast. Pass through Narkanda, bypassing Shimla, Solan & Pinjore. You may have lunch on the way with choice of beautiful Dhabas or good restaurants. End of beautiful journey of soft adventurous but most scenic with different terrain roads from dry mountains to lush green places.