Freezing Nako & Tabo – Snow White Spiti

21

The Journey so far…

Starting over from where we left, it was decided we would stay at Nako and I somehow was not that comfortable. The moment I stepped out of the car, a wave of extreme cold just ran down my body and left me in shiver 😯 😯 … Immediately, I went back inside the car and started looking for my heavy jacket. After putting it up and wrapping myself from head to toe, I finally went out in search of a place to stay at Nako.

The Frozen Nako Lake
The Frozen Nako Lake

It was freezing cold out there walking on the roads of Nako Village at that time of the day and during that time of the year… I was experiencing such cold for the first time in my life, so it was kind of tough for me. We checked out one stay which was very very basic and had mattresses with dirt & filth on the floor. Most men whom we could spot, were drunk, so entertaining us was difficult for them. Looking at the place and considering Shikha was also with us, we could not have taken it rather would have preferred traveling down to Chango even at night. We went out and looked for some kids, who then told us to visit aunty’s house who was the care taker of IPH Guest House. The kids were very helping and showed us the way to aunty’s house. We went in and requested for the keys. Her son came out too and they were shocked to see us 😯 😯

Aunty asked “Aap kya karne aaye ho abhi?? …. Itna Thandd hai yahan to???” (What are you doing here??? It is so cold out here???)… We smiled at each other and replied reluctantly, “Ghoomne aayein hai… tourist hain !!” and she replied “Paagal ho aaplog, season mein aana tha na…” (You people are mad, should have come in season time) 😀 😀 … But, listening that we were accompanied with a lady as well, she was further shocked and asked her son to quickly go with us to open the guest house. We were feeling blessed 🙂 🙂 … They invited us to sit inside as the rooms were warm and have tea with them, but we politely said no as it would mean getting comfort of warmth and then getting back in cold will be much tougher. But, such is the magic of these humble human beings in Himalayas and you get to feel the real meaning of “Atithi Devo Bhava !!” … Whenever I travel to Himalayas, these people always reminds me one fact that Humanity is still not dead, it still exist but we should know where it could be found and you know it now too, Himalayas it is 🙂 …

The lady told us that washrooms are locked and we need to go wide open, if required, even at night 😯 😯 … However, we knew about such hardships and were ready for it. Mind you, it was just Day 2 for us 😀 😀 … On the way to guest house, her son told us that it will be the first time the Guest House will be opened after almost 6 months of closure. We walked back to car and I was quite slow to reach back to the car being afraid of AMS. We had to drive down the narrow lane that goes towards Nako Lake and with snow on that road, it was quite a scary drive at night 🙁 … The boy opened the gate of the guest house and everything inside looked frozen. In one room, the water had been dripping from the surface of the roof and it was all frozen as thick sheet of ice inside. The passage to the kitchen passed through it only, so we had to take care while walking to kitchen and our rooms. Thank god that kitchen had a working cylinder and stove to boil water, at least, if some of the body parts felt numb at night 😀 😀

Now, it was just a matter of passing time in cold with nothing to do before we sleep for the Day at Nako. We took out whatever we had in the form of food and made some wai wai chaat out of it served with Old Monk. I was not much interested in it but still took one peg to beat the bone chilling conditions we were living through that night. Soon, I could not feel the tip of the fingers of my legs in the shoes, such was the cold inside the rooms… I kept walking, standing, moving here and there just to keep that feeling of cold bite away 😀 … After a while AMS symptoms had started dripping in with lack of appetite and dis-interest. Sany & Shikha prepared some soup in the kitchen and I went inside the cover of quilts, blanket and my sleeping bag 😛 😛 … Soon, Sany and Shikha dozed off too. I tried my best to sleep that night but all in vein as mild symptoms of AMS had hit and sleeplessness with disinterest is one of them 🙁 … Somehow, with little naps here and there, a long freezing night passed by.

I woke up to see weather and it was all cloudy which meant trouble as we could end up getting caught in snowfall in the middle of nowhere on the way to Tabo. But, that was a worry for later part of the day and it was time to check out the Frozen Nako Lake Sany and me went out to tread the trails towards the frozen Nako Lake… Well the first sight, was just WOW !! Had it been blue colored sky that day, the pictures would have come out wow too … We walked all along the lake, seeing the snow filled Nako village and the snow covered mountains range in the backdrop… Due to white color in sky as well as snow around, the pictures were not coming well. Hence, we decided to walk back to the guest house and start rolling to Tabo and Kaza where Tsering bhai was waiting for our safe arrival 😉

Snow around IPH Guest House Nako
Snow around IPH Guest House Nako

Snow around IPH Guest House Nako

Snow around IPH Guest House Nako
The Trail to Frozen Nako Lake
The Trail to Frozen Nako Lake
The Frozen Nako Lake – The First Sight
The Frozen Nako Lake - First Sight
The Frozen Nako Lake – In Two Tones
The Frozen Nako Lake - in Two Tones
The Frozen Nako Lake – The Other Side
The Frozen Nako Lake - The Other Side
Horses at Nako Surviving on Ice Cold Water
Horses at Nako Surviving on Ice Cold Water

We walked back to the guest house, got refreshed, settled the bills with Aunty ji and thanked her from the bottom of our hearts before leaving for Tabo – Kaza. You can reach the her at 09459965240 and if there will be availability, she will be able to assist you with stay there in IPH Guest House at Nako.

Day 3 | Nako – Chango – Sumdo – Tabo – Kaza

The sun had broken out of clouds and we could see shades of blue in the sky but in patches. This section especially the drive from Nako – Malling Nalla – Chango is one of my favourite sections of this ever adventurous road to Spiti Valley and with white backdrop, it looked just magical. Saying a prayer, we passed the landslide zone of Malling Nalla which was a kind of semi frozen and the fresh landslide had some slush but nothing much of a worry. We passed through it and then there was a truck collecting landslide stones, our first halt. Our plan was to reach Chango and have breakfast but as soon as we reached Chango, everything was closed 😥 … We decided to move further and see if something is open on the route to Tabo. At Shialkhar Village, we saw few locals having breakfast outside a tea shack and we decided to join them.

As usual, at the first glance they were surprised to see a tourist up there during that time of the year. But, then they all welcomed us. They offered breakfast they were having and we were overjoyed. That tea shack served tea and food but the locals shared their food with us. It was such a humbling feeling. We came to understand their hardships during off season and had good time discussing with all of them. The vegetable was nice and so was local breads they had served us. In that cold, tea tasted heavenly 😀 😀 … We discussed the last night and came to know all three of us could not sleep properly, so was the affect of AMS at Nako. Of course, right from Jeori we climbed to one of the highest villages of this route, that is Nako and slept in such cold on second day of the trip. It was bound to happen. Luckily, the mild symptoms were gone and all three were feeling way much better. Coming back, we clicked some pictures with locals and when I tried to pay the bill, the dhabha guy just refused it 😯 😯 … However, I persisted and asked him to keep the money as a token of small gesture of goodwill from our end. They were overjoyed too as we spent time with them and shared meals too. This separates Devils from rest, the way we travel, the way we connect… We were very much thankful to all of them as there was no signs of food up to Hurling or Tabo after this village as I knew.

The snow filled Nako Village
The snow filled Nako Village

The snow filled Nako Village
Nako Village and Jaw Dropping Backdrop
Nako Village and Jaw Dropping Backdrop
As smooth as butter – Snow & Road near Nako
As smooth as butter - Snow & Road near Nako
The view towards Chango
The view towards Chango
The loops to descend to Chango from Nako
The loops to descend to Chango from Nako
Something similar to moonland of Ladakh but in Spiti
Something similar to moonland of Ladakh but in Spiti
The breakfast we shared with locals at Shialkhar
The breakfast we shared with locals at Shialkhar
Having breakfast with locals at Shialkhar
Having breakfast with locals at Shialkhar

We were again on the road and there was a tricky section ahead as we were about to enter Spiti Valley at Sumdo The shooting stones keep falling on this stretch before Sumdo and as we passed a stone hit the top of the car 😯 😯 … Thank god it was a small one so we raced through that zone quickly. After reaching Sumdo, I went in the checkpost to enter our details as we were under Inner Line where foreigners need to submit the permits and as Indian Nationals, we just need to enter the details with vehicle number just as we did at Akpa – Jangi checkpost last day.

The place where shooting stone hit the roof of our car before Sumdo
The place where shooting stone hit the roof of our car before Sumdo

This is where we entered Spiti Valley and started rolling to Tabo as Geyu Village road was closed. The 550 year old mummy is preserved at Geyu Village but due to snow presence the road was closed. We moved to Tabo along the Spiti river smoothly and the presence of snow over the mountains alongside road started dominating. We reached Tabo and explored the Tabo Monastery for about half an hour. Tabo Monastery  comes under World Heritage Site and is a good monastery to visit. The caves up on the hills where monks use to meditate is something special to witness. Even the Tabo monastery looked different with white backdrop but we were yet to encounter true whiteness 😀 😀 … As we moved ahead, a local asked for a lift up to Kaza and we obliged happily 🙂 …

The Frozen Moments towards Tabo
The Frozen Moments towards Tabo
Snow laden peaks on the way to Tabo
Snow laden peaks on the way to Tabo
Sany, capturing a frozen moment
Sany, capturing a frozen moment
The Rare Smooth Road to Tabo from Nako… A Dis-illusion for us
The Rare Smooth Road to Tabo from Nako... A Dis-illusion for us

The Rare Smooth Road to Tabo from Nako... A Dis-illusion for us
Spiti River, taking a turn
Spiti River, taking a turn
Spiti River, taking another turn
Spiti River, taking a turn
Tabo Monastery
Tabo Monastery
Prayer Wheels at Tabo Monastery
Prayer Wheels at Tabo Monastery
Tabo Monastery Complex
Tabo Monastery Complex

Tabo Monastery Complex

Tabo Monastery Complex

Tabo Monastery Complex
The Roar from Tabo Monastery
The Roar from Tabo Monastery

As we reached Schichiling (the village where diversion road goes to Dhangkar Monastery), the whole scenery changed to pure vast white ground with just a black dirt track passing through it over which we were running our car. Clouds had covered the entire valley and it was all dark with white color in whole 360 degree vast view. It was the first time I was seeing so much of snow for such a long distance. Almost everything was white where ever I could see, as if an ocean of snow 🙂 🙂 … Kaza was still some distance away and road was hell in condition with slush and pot holes filled with water in them due to melting snow. It became darker and darker and we could feel the tension. The protector rod / guard behind the car also got loose and started making noise. Every time our car goes into the pothole, the sound of it gave Goosebumps to Sany and soon the frustration piped in. There was a fear of that guard falling off and no means to carry it with us for next week or so. The local whom we gave lift was very helpful and as we stopped at one village, he asked for long strap from a local and we tied up the guard in a way it does not fall off. We could make it that he was sent by god to us for a reason 🙂 🙂 … All thanks to him for this kind help.

The Road to Kaza from Tabo
The Road to Kaza from Tabo
Snow Filled Views between Kaza and Tabo
Snow Filled Views between Kaza and Tabo

Snow Filled Views between Kaza and Tabo

Snow Filled Views between Kaza and Tabo

Snow Filled Views between Kaza and Tabo
Sany wanted to capture the car, somehow in that cold 😀
Sany wanted to capture the car, somehow in that cold
More Snow Filled Views between Kaza and Tabo
More Snow Filled Views between Kaza and Tabo

More Snow Filled Views between Kaza and Tabo

More Snow Filled Views between Kaza and Tabo

More Snow Filled Views between Kaza and Tabo

We struggled through these potholes and bad roads all the way to Kaza and for the first time I went through this kind of pain on this road between Kaza and Tabo as otherwise it used to be quite a fine road. Kaza board welcomed us with big cheer and whiteness around. It was sigh of relief for us, the local thanked us as we thanked him back for his support and bid adieus. Tsering bhai & Mottu bhai were waiting for us at the hotel and I have already written my detailed review about this amazing place to stay in Kaza: Sakya Abode Kaza – An Enriching Experience in Spiti Valley. We were blessed to have a friend like Tsering Bhai, who opened the hotel rooms just for us only in such extreme weather conditions, without any staff and lot of troubles. Cannot thank him enough… I could already feel the frozen days ahead…

The Boulders on the way to Kaza from Tabo
The Boulders on the way to Kaza from Tabo
Welcome to Kaza – Spiti Valley
Welcome to Kaza - Spiti Valley
Kaza Under Snow Cover… That’s how it looked from the room balcony of Snow Lion
Kaza Under Snow Cover... That's how it looked from the room balcony of Snow Lion

Kaza Under Snow Cover... That's how it looked from the room balcony of Snow Lion

I hope you liked this part of the Snow White Spiti Valley Travel Tale.

The Journey ahead…

Have you ever been to Nako or Tabo Village? Or are you planning a drive to Spiti Valley over it sometime soon and have any queries? Do share, in either comments section below or in Itinerary Advice Forum of DoW Community with all other devils 🙂 🙂

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You can call me an Avid Traveler, a Day - Night Dreamer and a Passionate Lover of Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in Himalayas & sharing back those Himalayan Travel experiences with the other fellow Travelers... I am in love with Spreading Smiles in Himalayas through DoW Causes & currently enjoying life as Happy Traveling Soul at DoW Community. You can read more about me in detail at the link here ...

21 Comments

  1. shardul kadam on

    Hi guys……. The great and brave journey by you people.. My self and my mother visited Spiti in July. Though it was snowless we found it very tough. you guys might really enjoyed the spiti. We went ahead to losar and via kunzum pass reached manali it was adventurous journey.
    hats off to you guys……

  2. Hi dheeraj,
    first up, that’s such a wonderfully written travelogue, that i can actually live through your experiences.
    i wanted to know if a visit to spiti valley was possible during the long weekend from 1-5 oct? and what the road conditions would be and if you knew any drivers in and around delhi who would be familiar with the place?
    thanks in advance ..cheers 😀

      • hi dheeraj,
        thanks for such a quick response, could you suggest some place where we might be able to go, where there might be snow at this time of the year?
        is reckong peo a good place to go?
        thanks 🙂

        • Rahul at this time of the year, there is no snow anywhere in reaches. You can try Kinnaur Valley but that would also I feel be a bit of traveling everyday, if you are OK with it then you can do so as night halts – Narkanda, Sangla, Kalpa, Sarahan/Rampur, Delhi

  3. Dear Dheeraj bhai,
    I am an avid traveler but mostly I keep on travelling to the same places already visited, this time I am planning to do a circuit from 25 sept till 05 oct from shimla on my maruti ertiga zdi,with my parents, wife and 1 n half year old daughter kindly guide me, sorry for the open ended question as lots of questions are bouncing in my head. I would also like to salute to your commendable effort of describing Himalayas.

    • Prateek, all is fine but that part of 1.5 yr kid is what is giving me concerns. Have you taken her to such long journeys in Himalayas before? It depends on person to person to take the children of such age group because AMS do not matter with respect to age or sex or any physical health condition. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness I shall say :D… The issue with children is that they tend to exert the body considering it the same kind of place they belong to and this elevates the chances of getting struck with AMS. Secondly, they are not much expressive about their uneasy feelings, so it is parents who need to watch out and take care that the child is not suffering from uneasy feelings, headache or nausea and is behaving properly. With 2+ year child, I think he/she will also be NOT able to convey the uneasiness she may feel. You have to be vigilant and if you notice any such feeling or he/she tells you about such a feeling then please do not ascend anywhere, either descend to lower altitude or stay at the same place to watch things overnight and if symptom increase then start descending immediately. Same is applicable for any adult as well. And yes, do keep the body adequately hydrated!!

      Also, PLEASE read the article: Traveling to Ladakh with Kids or Babies. This article covers this topic in complete detail.

  4. Hi dhiraj, enjoyed reading your blog. If I want to do the whole circuit and even experience such snow as you have shown, which is the best month to visit? I am planning to go next year

  5. dr. j. n . mishra on

    I and my wife,smt. kanta mishra, visited nako village on 15/16 may,2014. Our experience has been exactly like that of yours. Reading yours account of the stay make us feel as if you have written our account invisibly. There were rains and snow on 12,13,14 of May and weather conditions were winter like those days. Kudos to you.

    • Thank you Dr. JN Mishra, glad I was able to refresh your memories of Nako Village. Great to know that you were able to witness snow in May and I can imagine the scenes around.

  6. Rajan Kapur on

    Dear Dheeraj
    Thanks for posting this series — I enjoy your photos and writing. Please consider posting imagery from Google maps or Bing maps from your journeys.

    Keep on traveling!
    Warm regards
    -rajan

  7. Fantastic description of the journey. The moment I read about falling stones, my heart started beating fast. 🙂 Having experienced such moments, I can understand your situation. But in the end, it’s so worth of going there. 🙂

    P.S.- I still haven’t replied to your message on FB. Will do so. 🙂

    • Thank you so much Nisha !! Yeah, It was a nightmare traveling on that road and as the stone fall on the roof of the car, the feeling inside is just crazy and gives jitters even now today 😀 😀 …

      And yeah, no worries on the message part, reply back as and when convenient to you 🙂

  8. Pingback: The Easy Drive of NH-22 - Snow White Spiti

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