Spiti Road Trip | Ep.5 | Kaza to Manali via Kunzum – Roaming Hawks
Road is turning to left again another water crossing I guess Hello Friends, and welcome to the fifth episode in the Spiti series This was also the day, I was most excited about We start from Kaza and pass through Rangrik, Hal, Kyoto before reaching Losar Just beyond Losar is the place where Spiti river forms due to the confluence of 3 smaller streams Technically speaking, Spiti Valley ends here After crossing Kunzum La, you will travel in the Chandra river’s valley, which is under Lahaul You will reach Batal after descending Kunzum There are no roads beyond this and you travel on a river bed till Chhatru Gramphu is the place where Kaza Manali road merges with the Leh Manali road Just after the left turn at Gramphu, climb to Rohtang starts After coming down from Rohtang, you travel along the Beas river till Manali Since we are still in Spiti, the views just keep getting better and better One moment you are travelling along a valley, the next, you are entering a deep gorge and in the next, driving on a plateau You will get to see everything On such plains, it is better to take these dirt tracks as they are less bumpy and often, faster This is the limestone area near Kyoto That bright red bridge will carry us over to the left bank of Spiti This is a new bridge. The older one, I guess, you can still see standing right beside it Many drivers refer this stretch as “Khooni Rasta” (Killer Road) Why? I don’t know exactly This road towards the right, will take you to Chicham and Kibber Even though the (limestone) mining is now stopped the name Kyoto is still synonymous with quality limestone This is the Kyoto Village Just outsite the Kyoto village, you will see this stupa or chorten, whatever you want to call it. Built atop a single rock it would be quite interesting to know, how they built it On the left, Ganmo peak is obscured by the clouds otherwise we would have gotten a great view from here We are about to reach Losar Those few houses on the left comprise the village of Chichong Here, we will cross the Spiti river for the last time We have reached Losar Since we started early from Kaza it’s just about the right time for a breakfast break While leaving Losar, remember to enter your details at the checkpost This is the Welcome gate of Losar or the exit gate, in our case Like I showed you earlier on the map, 3 different streams converge here Pangnu, Kibji and Taktsi Technically, we are now leaving the Spiti Valley Till Kunzum, we will travel along Taktsi The gradual ascent to Kunzum pass starts after Losar Kunzum is approximately 20 kms from here Look at the river, down on the left, we were at the same level a few minutes back You will occassionally encounter such streams which flow down into the Taktsi and eventually into Spiti Look at that island right in the middle of the river, or rather, a stream Just before Kunzum, you will come across this Chorten or Stupa As per my research, this place is called Shitkar but, I haven’t been able to find any info about this Chorten or Stupa Please share in the comments, if you know more Straight ahead, you can see the prayer flags on Kunzum and beyond it, obscured by the clouds, are the CB 12, 13 and 14, all 6000m plus peaks Kunzum Pass connects the Spiti and Lahaul valleys While Buddhism is the major religion in Spiti, it is Hinduism in Lahaul You will see both faiths sort of merging here Just of the main road, there is a temple dedicated to the presiding deity of this pass – Kunzum Mata And some Chortens As per local legends, there was a magic stone here coins used to stick to it automatically It was stolen many times, but, surprisingly, was always back here the next morning It now remains locked somewhere in this complex away from prying eyes People believe, before moving ahead, one should circle around the temple for blessings And the odds you face while travelling on this stretch, you can’t really blame them You need every ounce of blessing you can get Faith and beliefs aside, the panoramic views from this place are incredible Glaciers between the various Chandrabhaga CB peaks appear just at an arm’s length away Due to the clouds, we are not able to get a clear view But hey, I am not complaining, This place was still Magic! Just ahead of the Pass, this stream is a good place to taste some real Himalayan water Weather has deteriorated and it’s raining now Nice view of the CB-16 peak, slightly on the right As we descend Kunzum, we come across the second river for today, Chandra It merges with Bhaga and forms Chandrabhaga and enters Kashmir where its called Chenab The road towards right is going to Chandertaal The bridge you see in the distance is Batal Here we cross over to the right bank of Chandra river Do take a break at Batal, Chandra Dhaba It is run by an extremely compassionate and generous couple affectionately referred as Chacha Chachi by everyone travelling on this stretch They are running this Dhaba for the last 44 years They have helped out numerous people in distress They have also been awarded Godfrey Phillips National Bravery Award Spend sometime here, interact with them and you will see a new side of life! If there is so much snow by the side of the road in July you can imagine the conditions here in peak winters Right infront of us is the Bara Shigri Glacier After Gangotri, it is the longest glacier in the Himalayas From here, we can only see the snout of the glacier but it extends till almost 30kms back Clouds are obscuring the clear view of Devachan and Lalana peaks, but still, This is an amazing view! From here, starts a adventure water crossings, rocks and what not At times, it feels like we are driving in a river, not on road Apart from water crossings, you will also have to negotiate a few landslides Since we are new to the terrain, and the vehicle was fully loaded, we got down to move a few rocks for smooth passage This is the Chhatru PWD rest house There are a few dhabas near the bridge you can take a break here Interesting tiriva about this place Opening scene of Irfan Khan starrer “A Road To Ladakh” was shot here, on the bridge and the dhabas You can watch it on Amazon Prime The older bridge is not in use anymore and there is a new one just beside it We are now moving to the left bank of Chandra river and the road is gaining altitude Between Chhatru and Gramphu keep an eye on your right You will get to see innumerable water falls This must be a lesser known pass, as the road was rising till this point, and seems to be going down after this point There is a small dhaba if you want to take a break Road is turning to left again another water crossing I guess This is going to be the biggest water crossing till now What should we do? There is a huge stone on that side Nothing, it’s just the side step, go on As the day progresses, snow starts to melt on the peaks And all this water then starts coming down to the lower reaches by afternoon So, the water level in these crossings increases post noon and continues to increase till midnight Try to cross these stretches when the water level is low Plan you departures from Kaza or Manali in that way Now we have taken a left at Gramphu and joined the Leh Manali highway Bidding good bye to Chandra river The weather on Rohtang is also pretty bad By the time we reached Manali, it had been almost 12 hours since we started from Kaza 12 hours to cover 200 odd kms you can do the math! So, this ends the Spiti series Do let me know how did you like it and any suggestions you might have Thanks for watching keep rocking and keep roaming!