The journey to Lahaul and Spiti Valley begins from Chandigarh at the break of dawn, making a quick stop at Timber trail for breakfast and getting back on the road towards the idyllic town of Narkanda in Himachal Pradesh. Nestled amidst tranquil apple orchards, the warm people at the Tethys Resort treat us to a roaring bonfire and a delicious buffet dinner, with an ample serving of stories about the rich history of the region. The following day had us driving towards Sangla via the gorgeous Kinnaur Valley. Here, we get the opportunity to visit India’s largest private sector hydroelectric plant, the Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant on the Sutlej River. Post this exciting & informative tour of the plant; we set out towards Banjara Camps, a luxurious glamping experience for the next two nights.
Having had our fill of the stunning Sangla Valley, we drove to Chitkul which enjoys the distinction of being India’s last village on the ancient Hindustan – Tibet route. And if this was not heavenly enough, a picnic lunch beside a rippling stream made sure even the most unyielding amongst us were charmed by the grace of unspoilt nature. Day four of the excursion was tailor-made for driving enthusiasts. With the World’s Most Treacherous Road splayed out before us, we proceeded to cover the 190 kilometres distance to Tabo for a well-deserved break. The setting of India’s oldest monastery, a mud structure which dates back to 996 A.D., Tabo was a welcome revelation. The following day we continued towards Kaza – the largest township in Spiti, situated at an altitude of 12,000 feet. We decided to explore the place at night on foot and walked around for hours gazing at the mesmerising glittery stars shining in the sky, lying down in the middle of the road, and wondering about our place in nature’s grand scheme of life.
The villages around Kaza are believed to be some of the highest in the world. Frozen in time, these make for some of the most picturesque drives of the entire expedition. Amongst other main attractions, we also paid a visit to the Key Monastery; prettily perched atop a cliff overlooking the spectacular valleys below. We also visited Hikkim – the highest post office in the world from where we send out postcards to family and friends along with visiting Komic, the highest village in the world connected by a motorable road.
On the seventh day, we left at dawn for Manali with 205 kilometres of momentous terrain ahead of us, which took us through the famous Kunzum and Rohtang Pass. Gliding across rivers, glaciers and undulating tracks in our vehicles, this was the best and the most fascinating drive of our journey. After 15 hours of arduous – yet spirit-lifting – driving the previous day, the penultimate day of our journey offered a much-needed break to all the participants. Sleeping, shopping at the Mall Road, sightseeing, cafe hopping in Old Manali – we did it all!