Part 1 spoke about the varied idiosyncrasies and difficulties that we encountered [I forgot to tell that the trip by itself was almost snuffed out before it could even begin - a non-starter. 2 Durontos were starting at almost the same time... and I was in the Delhi bound train [as that was the only thing we could take to go to Himachal] and my friend was calling me from a Coimbatore bound train [parked about 8 platforms away] and asking me heatedly as to why he couldnt find our names in the carriage... A bit of explaining, coaxing, abusing and stern warning led him to the train that I was seated in... about 2 minutes and a few seconds before scheduled departure. He didnt believe my words till he
Part 2 goes about to explain the trip to hinterland...
So, we took a spacio [the rugged hill variant of Tata Sumo] and we were ready for all eventualities -cold, hunger and trip exhaustion, so to speak and ready for the trip. We planned to meet up early and the driver realised that its his time to act up and came about an hour and a half late... LATE and we started late. [Better late than never]
About 30 minutes into the drive and we were stopped at the check post [mangalwar funda. They stopped all vehicles travelling through Rohtang La during Tuesdays between 8AM-4PM. Reason: Building all-weather roads. Dynamiting Himalayas to point of destruction and lay new all-weather roads and tunnels. Not that I complain... the BSF and Army stationed in the high altitude desperately need that road for supplies and I dont mind that a bit. So, we were trapped in Kothi with nothing to do but twiddle our thumbs.
|Kothi - the place where we got stranded. Not just the Dhaba though|
We started on our way at 3.30 PM only to be stopped again at Marhi [pronouced Madi] so we can leave that place in a while. More stoppage time and pics sessions later, we finally started on our mission... our journey to Spiti. [Lesson: God tested our resolve... and we didnt flinch. Moral: Tough times dont last. Wait for your exit. Update: This thought helps me now. Feb 2013!
|Enroute to Rohtang La|
|First view of Ice|
|Bathal - View around the "city"|
|Is that a detour? No, its THE route. All routes are this way. This one leads to Chander taal|
Chander taal is quite comfortably situated and its slightly off the original route that one needs to take to Kunzum La. One gets a small bifurcation in the road and one needs to take the deviation [on the left] to head to Chander taal. So, our Kunzum La was postponed till we came back from the lake.
|Definite change in the texture of mountains. More leeward and desolate. Enroute to Chandler taal|
|Chander taal from a vantage view point|
|In and around the lake|
|Chander taal - cross sectional view|
|Prayer flags, mountains. lake, clouds reflections!|
|Up close and personal|
|In its full glory|
We were moving up the altitude quite quickly. Chander taal is situated at about an altitude of 14100 feet above MSL and has mountains of scree in the overhang along the whole of one side. A pretty memorable moment and a very very enthralling sight to behold the stillness of the water and the quiet of the mountains... and the distant sound of water gently flowing and a subtle chirp of a bird nearby while trying to move across. One can sight a few chortens in the hills nearby [to pay homage to the dead]. The lake boasts of being a sage haven for a lot of migratory birds from various parts of the world and plays its part in the ecological balance too. The lake, apparently, has no visible source but has a clear outlet which leads to the scientific belief that water on the lake comes from underground.
|Whats worse than wearing a flimsy t-shirt at 14100 feet? Hint: wearing a 3/4ths. I did both.|
|More relevant dressing but still more can be done|
In the middle of this lake and mountain ranges, I tried an alternate trail and all seemed well for about 30-40 mins... before I realised that I lost my way... w/o any GPS [and phones dont work anyway]. Used mountains as reference points [almost everything looked washed and didnt help much in terms of unique features... but, hey, I HAD to find my way back to humanity, and finally made it to the normal trail after a while.
|Gods own playground with slide|
|Shining like a turquoise gem. Shimmering in the sun light|
On the way back, we stopped in the small shop [again, a tent owner] for tea and heard from him that the snow was expected anytime and he was moving back to turquoise that night. Off to Manali to spend about 6 months there and then come back when the pass opens [Rohtang La, Kunzum La and even the passes that lead up to Leh usually close between October-March/April when they are covered under deep snow].
We proceeded on our way to Kunzum La. Situted at a height of 14931 feet above MSL, Kunzum La is the highest point in Spiti valley and it is the entrance of Spiti valley [while getting connected from Lahaul valley].
To be continued... as Part 3. This is getting bigger than I ever imagined