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.
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 😉
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.
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.
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 🙂 …
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.
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…
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 🙂 🙂