No where on earth you will find a similar terrain. Riding hundreds of kilometres without even seeing another human or vegetation, the cold dessert of Spiti is another world.
Hamirpur – Manali – Spiti Valley – Shimal – Hamirpur Ride : Day 3
The mighty Kunzum La lay at an altitude of staggering 4600 meters, one of the highest motor-able pass in India was ahead of us at a distance of 12kms from Batal. The 15 hairpins and narrow road of this pass tests even the most experienced riders. We were told about this small patch of rough road till Kunzum pass from Batal, it was a fine morning and we were energised.
We were in the cold desert of Spiti, in a place called Batal, falls in the Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.
Kunzum mata temple, Kunzum pass, photo by Arfat Ahmed Matte
I was carrying a can of petrol in my hand while sitting on the saddle, so before leaving Batal I emptied the can in our petrol tank and tied the can to the bike. That made my hands free now. We crossed the bridge at Batal and soon the steep climb to Kunzum started. We passed three hairpins and it was fine. Little did we noticed the dry ice and water on the muddy road. As soon as we turned to the 4th hairpin, we suddenly noticed the ice on road and frozen water from a small stream accross the road, I yelled to Athul, “ICE!”, before he could do something, I hit the road on my back. Luckily, I landed on the backpack. I stood up the very next moment, Athul was standing near the bike. Suddenly the bike felt so heavy to lift up. I tired my best to do it myself.
Athul stood there frozen, I noticed the fuel leaking out, I realised how precious the fuel is, my efforts was in vain, I dropped the bike back. Removed my backpack and yelled at Athul to give me a hand. Some how we managed to pull the bike up. We both stood there in silence for sometime. Few jeeps passed, waving at us, asking if something was wrong, we just smiled at them. We both were not harmed, no injuries, but the break lever was slightly bent, we started the bike, it was working, checked everything, the fuel ws still wet around the engine and the tank. It leaked through the fuel tank cap. There was nothing to do about it. We hoped on and continued the ride.
We reached Kunzum La in less-than an hour from Batal. The stunning view around the pass shows the Bara-Sigri Glacier, the second largest glacier in the world. The small temple of Kunzum mata can be seen at a distance. The temple and the surroundings are covered with Buddhist prayer flags flying in the wind. The road towards Chandratal Lake can also be seen. There is also a trekking trail to the same from the pass. Kaza is another 75 kms ahead. We didn’t stay for more than 15 minutes at the pass, and rode towards Kaza.
Athul posing for a photo infront of the gateway to Spiti valley on the RE Himalayan he just bought.
The road was better after Kunzum La, and we reached Kaza at noon. We reached fast and was not tired. The highest priority for us was to visit Key monastry, but since it was already after noon, we decided to visit the monastry next morning. So we went to the nearby villages. Chicham, with a high altitude bridge connecting the village to the valley, Komic, the highest village connected with a motorable road, Hikkim with worlds highest post office were few to name. My next post is a detailed blog about villages in Spiti valley and things to do in Kaza, stay tuned for the next post.
Snow covered Kunzum La, photo by Arfat Ahmed Matte
It was getting dark, we didn’t book any room and normally hotels charges like 2000 rupees a room for 2. So, we were riding from one end to another end of Kaza asking for cheaper accommodation. Finally we were at the door steps of Zostel at the far end of Kaza, outside the town. All the beds at Zostel were pre-booked, and we didn’t have any internet to check or book online.
It was then that Pooja who was assisting us with the accommodation at Zostel noticed a cancellation. She understood our misery and provided us with small tent outside the building. We settled for the tent with sleeping bags for 600 rupees.
Inside our small tent at Zostel Kaza
Zostel main building, view from our tent.