It was a cloudy day and the lake, frankly speaking, was not as beautiful as we’d thought it would be. Don’t know about the others, but I was kinda disappointed. All the mirror shots that we’d seen on the web, the snow capped peaks and the awesome scenery just didn’t make sense at the time. I regret that now. I think it was the weather. Cloudy, raining and gloomy. I’d love to go to Chandertal again and see it in all its glory again … on a bright sunny morning.
Joshi and I got up early this morning after a good night’s sleep. The time had come for the thing we’d been dreading all this time, ever since we started planning the trip. There were no loos here and we had to go !! We contemplated paying the Japanese tourists some money to use their toilet tents, but they were dismantling the tents and so that idea was out of the can. We looked at each other and it was clear … joshi needed to go first ;)
So, off he went, with the soap strips. The lake had a small stream emerging from it (which I think would go on to become the Chandra river). And the rest, as they is history :-) It wasn’t as uncomfortable as we thought it would be. In the end, a task well done :-)
By this time everyone had woken up and we went for a bit of photography. Walking was tough at that altitude and I chose to stick closer to the lake shore, while the others went up to take better pics. This is what I got.
Do you blame me for thinking that this detour wasn’t worth it. Trust me Chandertal has her days. This is what it is capable of.
Given a chance, I’ll definitely go back. I’ll just be better prepared this time :-)
By the time we finished breakfast, the drizzle had turned into proper rain and Joshi and Sandhu were, for the lack of a better word, terrified. They were worried thinking that the muddy road would become a slushy muddy road and the streams that we crossed in the evening would be torrential rivers by now. There would be landslides, avalanches and what not along the way and we’ll never be able to get out of the place.
I was not terrified … Just too lazy to tie up the luggage and start moving. Ashok and Pandey, both nurturing their headaches, couldn’t care less. And Amar had gone on a stroll along the lake. I got up, rather reluctantly, packed my stuff and somehow managed to climb the 20 mtrs to where the bike was parked. and thats when we realised that we had to climb a pretty steep slope to reach the main road. Now, the bikes weren’t already performing well and now we had a slope to climb on a slushy mountain trail. We figured the only way we could this was to push our bikes and push we did. Joshi went first, Sandhu pushed his bike. I went next, Joshi pushed my bike, I pushed Ashok’s and so on till we all reached the main path. The rest of the road was, to be fair, easy. The rain had been just enough to actually help pack the sand and it was easier to drive on now. And we were more careful about the water crossings this time and made sure to remove our shoes before we attempted them. I also made sure that I had the bike on first gear before stepping in the water !
We hit the main Kazaa-Batal road pretty soon and after that it was all downhill till Batal, where we were hoping to have a small butt-break. The roads were slightly better in the sense that atleast they were now atleast wide enough and we weren’t scared of falling off the road. Batal, situated at the at the foot of the kunzum, turned out to be a big let down. The village, whose boards we had been seeing since the last 50 kms was just one small dhaba. Nothing else. Not even a single house. I mean, chandertal had more population than this place. Anyway, since this was the first human settlement after the kunzum pass, almost every vehicle stopped here for a while. We did too. Had tea, cold drinks etc and moved on. We also met a foreign couple riding 500cc enfields here. It was impressive to see the tiny girl riding the 500cc indian beast.
We’d be seeing them again in a while …Even though the pass was over, the condition of the roads didn’t improve. We were riding along the Chandra river and the road at times looks like just like a river bed. My guess is that this part of the road must have been under a glacier during the winters, which would explain the condition of the road.
A little further down the road, we met the bike riding couple again. The girl’s bike had a puncture and they looked quite helpless. We had a foot pump with us and tried filling the tyre with air so that the bike could be run for some distance at least. But it seems that the puncture was pretty big cause the air in the tyre was not holding up at all. We waited for some time with them, stopped a truck going towards manali and helped them put the bike in it. The girl sat in the back of the truck along with the bike and the guy rode behind it. Hopefully they reached Manali safely.
The road from batal to gramphoo passes through a narrow valley with awesome views of snow capped peaks, water crossings and glaciers right on the road and even more streams formed by the melting glaciers.
Gramphoo is another small 3 or 4 dhaba place at the base of the rohtang pass, on the manali-leh highway. This is where the road we had been travelling on joins the main manali-leh highway. For people coming from Manali, Gramphoo is the place to turn if you have to go to the spiti valley, or carry on into the lahaul region and further on to Leh.We reached Gramphoo around 2 in the afternoon and had tea and lunch at one of the small dhabas. We also found some vaseline cream to put on our cracked lips. The cold creams that we were carrying were of no use at all in that region where the air hardly had any moisture. The vaseline was a life saver really.The road improved from here on and we managed to reach Tandi, the last petrol pump before Leh, pretty quickly. Tanked up here and also took extra petrol in the bottles that we were carrying.
Tandi is about 7 kms from Keylong which was to be our night halt for the day. We reached Keylong with plenty of sun to go through. I found a garage and got my bike’s silencer and horn fixed, and Pandey who didn’t know that Tandi was the last petrol pump, and so didn’t get petrol filled, went back to Tandi to get petrol. Joshi and Amar went ahead searching for the place where we had our acco booked, which we found was another 40 kms away, so we decided to take a room in Keylong itself and not push ourselves too much. Keylong is the district headquarters of the lahaul region and has plenty of accomodation options. We got a decent deal for a 6 bed dorm at the HPTDC guest house and took a bath (with hot water) and slept like babies that night.
The next day we were to cross the infamous Baralacha la and were going to stay at the highest transit camp in the world at Pang. And Ashok wasn’t too keen on that :-)