In the last two articles we talked about How To Travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur and How To Travel to Spiti Valley from Manali side. Now that we know how we are going to travel to Spiti Valley, if one has to make a choice among the two of them, then let’s looks at some advantages of traveling to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur route, popularly known as Hindustan – Tibet Highway.
If you compare the road to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur Route with road to Spiti Valley from Manali, there are certain definitive advantages of both these beautiful routes. In this article, I will enlist 5 main reasons to travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur route and in the next article I will talk about few advantages of the other way round as well that is from Manali side.
1. Acclimatization and AMS: Sometimes, people traveling or going directly to Spiti Valley or Kaza / Losar from Manali suffers from acute mountain sickness due to the sudden change of altitude with which the body is not adapted as Kaza is about 3600 Mtrs high in altitude. However, Hindustan – Tibet Highway provides a gradual ascent to travellers thus helps them fight any chances of acute mountain sickness (AMS) caused due to sudden change in high altitudes and let them enjoy the beautiful vistas in relaxed and peaceful manner.
2. Ugly & Messy Drive to Rohtang Pass: You have to go through the ever messy Rohtang Pass and its widely famous huge traffic jams which in the month of May-June can last even for days 😯 🙂 … The drivers coming from other side will bully you, break the lines and block the traffic coming from other side. Sometimes even ignorant, ill-mannered people driving from plains are also responsible for this queue breaks and resulting in deadlocks for hours. This only creates frustration and agony, plus some people suffer from ill-health too while starnded for long hours at that high altitude. As those summer and vacation months passes by, monsoons magic comes in and makes the road to Rohtang Pass, especially between Marhi to Rohtang Pass (14 odd KMs) extremely slushy. So, in case you are self driving, get ready for some real fun and adventure through slush.
3. Drama of Manali – Rohtang Pass Permits: Of course, it is a trivial process that you need to get the permits if you you are coming over in a non-HP vehicle and going towards Rohtang Pass from Manali side. Again, a kind of piss-off and can force you to alter the drive plans or stay even as they are issued in office hours 🙂 … For more details on this permits problem, you can read the article: Non – HP Vehicles Need Permit on Manali – Rohtang Pass Road
Starting June-2013 there has been several revisions of the process how these permits are obtained and now in the end with so many different versions of getting permits from SDM Office OR Green Tax Barrier or Tourism Office, no one is clear about the situation 😀 … So, until it gets cleared, go and explore yourself how you will get the permits to cross over Rohtang Pass. Major reports are that they are being issued from Tourism Office and yes one thing is sure that you will need to pay Rs 100 as congestion fees for traveling to Rohtang Pass in non-HP vehicle.
4. Limited Window of Travel (Jun to Sept): The roads to Spiti Valley opens up only in June mid types with the opening of whole route between Gramphu (a small diversion point on manali -Leh Highway ahead of Rohtang Pass) to Kunzum Pass. Gramphu to Kunzum Pass route remains buried under snow glaciers which needs to be cut-through and since this road is low on priority for BRO, they start opening it at later stages only after making Manali – Leh Highway almost completely operational. Even after opening of Manali – Leh Highway, the progress of opening of Gramphu to Kunzum Pass and beyond is not that quick even though work is done from both ends that is from Gramphu end as well as Losar end. In fact the work from Losar end starts form March itself with the opening of road from Kaza to Losar first and then carrying the snow clearance operations towards Kunzum Pass and beyond upto Chota Dhara which falls under ther division. Road upto Chota Dhara is cleared from the division of Lahaul Valley (I hope I am correct in this assumption :))
Then, by September Kunzum Pass starts receieving snowfall and is not an ideal time to be beyond Kunzum Pass at that time of the year because you can get starnded for some hours to days in between Grampu and Kunzum Pass as it is happening for the last couple of years. As October begins, the risk becomes even higher. Hence, you are limited by a small window of 4 months for traveling the road to Spiti Valley from Manali side.
5. Beauty of Hindustan – Tibet Highway: In the end, of course, you miss the entire beauty as well as adventure over one of the most trecherous roads of the world: Hindustan – Tibet Highway, which is unmatched and I call it a destination in itself 🙂 … I am not denying the road beyond Rohtang Pass and towards Kunzum Pass is not that scenic but there is hell lot more attached to Hindustan – Tibet Highway than road from Manali over Kunzum Pass. Just to get an idea of sightseeing places over this amazing road which shall not be missed, check the article: Hindustan Tibet Road & NH – 22 | Interesting Places
I hope this will help all of you who are in a bit of confusion among these two routes. In the next article of the series, I will also talk about some of the reasons which you shall consider to Travel Spiti Valley from Manali side as well, just in case you are feeling too much bounded :)…
Have you ever been to Spiti Valley through Hindustan – Tibet Highway or via Manali? If yes, please share your view points, suggestions or inputs as comments below, it will help other fellow travellers to plan their own journey too.
Are you planning to go to Spiti Valley via Hindustan – Tibet Highway or Manali? If yes, please feel free to ask any queries or doubts you have regarding the your plan either in comments section OR in the DoW – Himalayan Travel Community & Forums. I will be happy to reply and discuss them with you. Looking forward to your responses 🙂