Spiti Valley Sprint | Timeless Tabo Village and Beyond

17

The Journey so far-

Teaser… Leading us to heaven…
Views at Hindustan Tibet Road between Nako and Tabo
Day 2 – 6th October, 2011 | Nako Lake – Chango – Sumdo – Tabo – Pin Valley

After spending some quality time it was moment to live from Nako Village. Visit to Nako village and Nako lake was a quiet little surprise which we did cherish the whole day. Our target was to reach Tabo that day only and may be even see Dhankar and come back to take rest at Tabo because of its lower altitude. However, the dreaded Malling Nalla was waiting for us. To give you a background, Malling Nalla is 365 days, 12 months, 24 Hrs landslide zone 😀 … When it is raining or perhaps snow is melting, especially in June – July and that too in noon time, you just have to be lucky enough to cross this deadly passage. Nevertheless, for us it was neither raining nor snow melting time and we had inquired about the water level in it and everyone had told us that there is nothing much in Malling Nalla. 

Meanwhile, I was looking out for views for finding a place to take a panoramic shot of Nako helipad as seen in many pictures, suddenly out of nowhere the road disappeared as I turned my eyes on it. 😯 😯 … There was a huge bump as the car crashed into that big pothole. It appeared that the car must have atleast damaged a lot under the belly 🙁 … But, thankfully only one rubber was out of frame between body and bumper below. After thanking god we moved ahead and I was now paying full attention on the road only 🙂 As soon as we saw a little temple aside the road, we knew that Malling has arrived. The tension started as I have learnt from the past that we should never trust what locales say as for them everything is piece of cake when driving in hills. The initial climb was a bit steep, though not much but I made a mistake in tension of putting a break right on the ascent just to ask about the water level from one of the labour working there. Then, what?? Car just refused to climb 😥 … We reversed towards temple and after gaining momentum again started the climb. We can see the whole mountain towards right with loose soil and stratum ready to fall on us. Everywhere we looked, the mountain was similar in natureand I was feeling that is why it is called all time landslide zone. At one spot, the road was pretty narrow and labours were working on one side to maintain and there were rocks lying there on the road. I knew the dZire GC will find it hard to clear them so asked everyone to step out and come along after I cross that stretch. The tension was building up as I started hearing the sound of water and when I reached there I took a great sigh of relief as the water level was indeed too low and crossing it with little care to avoid rocks beneath was not much difficult task. In the whole exercise, I forgot to stop the car for my travel mates and hence they had to get wet into the chilling cold waters of Maling  Nalla 😆 … I was hearing the oohhs and aaahhss as they crossed the nalla. It was indeed funny for me and as soon as they got into car there were some sweet little words or statements showering on me 😉 … But, after enjoying the story for couple of minutes and thanking god again we were on the way towards Tabo.

Unusual soil formations, just ahead of Malling Nalla…
Views at Hindustan Tibet Road between Nako and Tabo

As we crossed malling nalla we started to descent towards Chango, a place where you will find loads of apple orchards. The descent was quite steep at places and I had to drive carefully to reach Chango but the views were just mind blowing. As we reached Chango, Dhruv could not resist to step out of the car and plucked one apple from the nearby orchard. We warned him that we will deny any relations if someone will catch him 😀 … Meanwhile he went greedy and after plucking one apple, he was trying for more and meanwhile the owner/caretaker stepped out :lol:.. I started giving him the signal by blowing horn but he thought we are asking him to come back 😀 … Meanwhile the caretaker, coming towards him but by continuous horns Dhruv managed to escape at last moment. We tried to apologize by waving our hands to the owner/caretaker … It was only after entering the car Dhruv realized the someone was watching him and he managed to escape. Anyways, the apple tasted nice and sweet and most importantly so fresh.

After sometime, we reached Sumdo and a board saying “Welcome to Spiti Valley…” and smiles on our face. Sumdo is the place where Spiti Valley starts and Kinnaur Valley ends. At Sumdo, you need to register yourself again at police checkpost as the region fall under Inner Line permit zone or near LAC (Line of Actual Control) and Foreigners need to submit their copy permits at Sumdo (Refer link here for more details). The most interesting part for us was the Y-Fork that leads you uphill to Kaurik. Kaurik is a mysterious place which was deserted some 25-28 years back in earthquake/flash floods and now you can find ruins of the place if you are ready to hike a bit once the road ends after about 19 KMs. Beyond Kaurik, there is a village called Lepcha which requires you to further hike about an hour or so. Lepcha is the last place in India you can reach and ahead lies Tibet beyond the Indo-Tibet Border ends. Anyhow, Kaurik falls under a restricted area as far as I know and permits are hard to find for Kaurik. So, best bet is to land there and ask the permissions from army guys if you can pass through. If they say yes, then go ahead and explore this amzing mysterious place in Spiti Valley 🙂 … Enough of background, we were short of time so we continued on NH-22 towards Tabo.

Sumdo checkpost from where the Spiti valley starts…
Sumdo, Views at Hindustan Tibet Road between Nako and Tabo
Yet Another… Road towards Heaven…
Views at Hindustan Tibet Road between Nako and Tabo
Finally the views from Spiti Valley starts alongside Spiti River…
Views at Hindustan Tibet Road between Nako and Tabo
The white queen… raring to enter and explore the land of dragons and monks…
Views at Hindustan Tibet Road between Nako and Tabo

Soon, came the diversion towards Geyu where the famous 550+ year old mummy lies. It is said that hair  and perhaps nails of that mummy are still growing but I am not pretty sure about this fact 😀 … Again, with stones on our heart 😉 , we bypassed the turn and continued towards Tabo. Deep inside my heart I was feeling when will I come back to explore all these leftover places as 4 days are not enough to explore all this 🙁 … The views and colors of Spiti were making us feel WOW!! and we can smell that Tabo was nearing. There were two kids who wanted the lift and we quickly let us in as we had a space for one. We reached Tabo, dropped both kids and rushed to the famous Tabo monastery. Tabo is a timeless place I felt, there is so much to feel there. Soon, the Tabo Monastery will make it to world’s heritage list (more info here)… The experience of exploring the monastery, the helipad and Tabo town was pretty soothing + refreshing. After exploring the place we started searching the accommodation because I wanted to stay at lower height to acclimatize, as compared to Kaza or Pin Valley. To our bad luck we could not find one, PWD rest house rejected the request too as they were running booked 🙁 …

The Geyu diversion where the 550+ odd year old mummy resides…
Welcome gate for turn to Geyu Village
The colors of Spiti Valley…
Views at Hindustan Tibet Road between Nako and Tabo
Leading us to heaven….
Views at Hindustan Tibet Road between Nako and Tabo
Flowers from Tabo…
Flowers at Tabo Monastery at Tabo Village
A Chorten at Tabo Monastery… soon it will be on world’s heritage list…
Chorten at Tabo Monastery at Tabo Village
A Chorten at Tabo Monastery…
Chorten at Tabo Monastery at Tabo Village
Another Chorten at Tabo Monastery…
Chorten at Tabo Monastery at Tabo Village
The Prayer Wheels… Always rotate them in clockwise direction 🙂
Prayer Wheels at Tabo Monastery at Tabo Village
Tabo Monastery at Tabo Village…
Tabo Monastery at Tabo Village
A Flag, Flying High at Tabo Monastery….
A Flag at Tabo Monastery at Tabo Village
A view from Tabo Helipad…
Views at Tabo Village from Tabo Helipad
Another view from Tabo Helipad…
Views at Tabo Village from Tabo Helipad
Whatever snow is left is present far away…
Views from road to Kaza from Tabo

We did see some home stays in Tabo but we were interested in staying at PWD Rest House only and since there was ample daylight left, we thought we can reach Poh about 12-15 KMs ahead. There was a rest house at Poh which was vacant but the caretaker asked us to go to Pin Valley and stay there because though he was willing to give rooms but told us that if someone comes up even in the middle of night with booking slips then we need to vacate the rooms. Now, both Tabo (~3000 Mtrs) and Poh (~3200 Mtrs) were out of order. Pin Valley is about 3600 Mtrs which is too much for a second night stay and surely there was a call around for Acute Mountain Sickness, AMS (read here more about AMS and its importance)… But, we had no choice than to move ahead because the  daylight was running. Soon we hit Attargoo from where a state highway goes to Pin Valley across the bridge on the left side. Kaza was about 19 KMs and so was Sagnam in Pin Valley approximately. But, we were interested in Pin Valley so decided to move to beautifully located PWD Rest House at Sagnam which we have seen in the pictures over the net. The roads in the pin valley were not that great and with little day light left we reached Sagnam, PWD Rest House. Again the same story of booking started and vacating the rooms at night if someone comes with slip 🙁 … But, this time we were more determined to convince the caretaker there. We tried everything but he was insisting us to go to Mud where we can surely find homestays. Finally, after much pursuance he agreed with a condition that we need to vacate if someone comes in (We knew no one will after dark 😀 ). Temperatures had dipped considerably and my car’s temperature meter was reading 2 degree Celsius 😯 … I bet it was much colder than that but now we had a room to sleep. This time there was only one room but guess it was good to beat the cold. We had Maggies with us which Dhruv and Saurabh went to prepare immediately. At night the caretaker prepared nice Dal Rice and mix vegetable. We loved it to the core and went to sleep within no time. But, I must say, the wind was too chilly that evening and it was a very cold night later…

The Journey ahead-

End of this part!!!

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17 Comments

  1. sanjeev tandon on

    We (three bikers) are going to Leh from Delhi on 27th Aug. We have planned to go by shimla-Nako-Tabo-Kaza-Keylong. Is it really very difficult to pass the Malling mala for bike? We have RE Thunderbird-500 & 300 and Pulsar 150cc. Condition of Srinagar is not good hence we are avoiding that route. Please suggest which route to follow.

    • Sanjeev, not really now. Things have eased and only on few bad days it remains dreadful else mostly fine. You can follow the route from Shimla – Narkanda – Rampur – Reckong Peo – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Gramphu – Keylong – Sarchu – Leh

  2. Hi Dheeraj,

    Do you know anything more about the flag at Tabo Monastery? We saw it for sale in a shop in Kaza, too, but still have no idea what it stands for.

    Matt

    • Hi Matt,

      Prayer Flags hosts various auspicious symbols, invocations, prayers and mantras on them and they are mostly placed or hung so that the wind can carry the vibrations with them inscribed on it which brings happiness, prosperity, long life to the flag planter and those who are living near by to it. That is the significance of these flags.

      Regards
      Dheeraj

  3. Pingback: Spiti Valley Sprint | A Scenic Drive from Mud Village to Kaza - DeViL on WheeLs...

  4. Pingback: Spiti Valley Sprint | Autumn Colors of Nako Lake - DeViL on WheeLs...

    • Yes Dickey, Tabo Village is indeed beautiful and lovely to spend few days. I also loved our little stay there and thinking of going back very soon 🙂

      Regards
      Dheeraj

  5. Pingback: Spiti Valley Sprint | A Carzy Drive from Kaza to Delhi

  6. Abhishek Sharma on

    AWESOME!! stunning pictures. Definitely a must visit place.

    Thanks for sharing man..

  7. H V KUmar on

    It is a pity that PWD rest houses even in remote places act so unhelpful when it comes to accommodating tourists, I too have had unpleasant experiences in many PWD rest houses. Are permist for Kaurik/Shiki la issued out of Sumdo check post?

    • Yes HVK sir!! It is infact horrifying because last year we had families with us in Kinnaur and it was raining and still no body gave us the room upto Kalpa. We started searching at 7.30 PM when it started raining in Bhawanagar and no one gave us the room till Kalpa where we reached at 1.10 AM at mid-night. Then, no one opened the doors at Kalpa hotels and we finally slept in the car only till 5 AM in the morning 🙁 🙁 … Considering my wife and my friend's wife with us it was horrifying indeed driving through Kinnaur at mid-night and that too with rains pouring…

      Well, there are no permits that are issued for these two places, Kaurik and Shipki La by direct access. It may be possible with some contacts but I havn't heard anything about it. Best bet is to land there directly and then you need to be lucky enough to assure the guy at the post that you will just return without any trouble. I guess for Kaurik it may not be that much tough because the road ends after about 18-20 KMs and then you need to hike about for one hour to reach ruins of Kaurik village. After that 1 hour hike takes you to last hamlet in India, guess Lepcha which is just before Indo-Tibet Border. So, considering these two things I guess it will be easier to take on the spot permission from the ITBP guy for Kaurik.

      Now, for Shipki La it is different story as it is a pass that connects India and Tibet. Also, the route to Shipki La comes before Nako or Ka – Zigs and just before the Khab bridge (about 1.5 KMs), you will see a Y-Fork with uphill going towards Khab Village – Namgia – Shipki La. I guess it is about 40 KMs from the highway and then you are only allowed to go to Namgia village. From there, the road ascends to Shpki La and again a lot of things depend if the guys at the posts allow you to go there. Plus be ready for good session of interrogations and all sought of gadgets packed in the bag including the camera, because photography is strictly prohibited there. I have known just two guys who have done Shipki La and one of them really had tough time with the ITBP guys who deposited all his electronic gadgets before allowing him to venture ahead. On return he was allowed to take them back 😀 … So, it is quite an adventure but again they both were bikers and I am not sure how they will react seeing the car over there 😀 😀 ….

      More information about Shipki La taken from a thread at BCMT linked here:

      He strangely asked, “What are you doing? Are you alone? The roads are not for 2-wheelers.Think again” I smiled and asked again. He replied, “There will be GREF (General Reserve Engineering Force) camp after 14 kmts uphill from Namgia. There is a diversion from Namgia village to Chupan and Dogri. You need to get the permission from On-Duty Officer there. They will definitely let you go. But, before that you need to get your proofs verified from ITBP check-post at Dogri itself.

      Dogri is 14 kmts from Namgia and in total 23 kmts from Khab Bridge. Shipki La Pass is 18 kmts more from Dogri.

      Hats off to Archit who did it all alone 🙂 …

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

  8. Anonymous on

    ये यात्रा बिल्कुल उपशी से सरचू के बीच जैसी लग रही है।

    • Thanks alot Sandeep. The colors of Ladakh and Spiti Valley are almost identical in nature and culture too. Some times it is said to be mini-Ladakh as you might know 🙂 … A definitive place to find soul and peace and colors of Ladakh near Delhi 😀 …

      Cheers!!
      Dheeraj

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