Monday, 29 December 2014

Its a pity that we had to leave Spiti ...

We stayed at Tabo as it became dark and cold in a whiff which was totally expected. On a motorcycle its going to be a little brutal riding with the windchill and lack of heating equipment. It was a fine homestay and no complaints at all. We slept that extra one hour as we had very little riding to reach Kaza, a quaint village in the Indo-Tibetian border. Lot more people, gasoline availability and ATMs made life a lot simpler. It made me feel very sad that we had to leave the Spiti valley. So I made up mind that I will be back here, may be in the winter ?

Whats more to come was gnarly roads, more amazing people and the road to keylong via Batal and Kunzum la. I am going to let the photos do the talking !

Home stay in Tabo

The Spiti river

Thats me trying to run to pose, but the camera beat me to it !

First glimpse of Kaza

No Caption required !

We stayed in Kaza that day, did some much needed laundry and more or less spent the remainder of the day gazing around without any real purpose. It was nothing short of awe.

The road from Kaza to Kunzum 

We found this massive plains in the middle of nowhere and we were hell bent on getting some throws!

And, Yes - 2 hands...that how you catch the disc :) 

The roads got gnarly, and the scenery became heavenly ..

At Kunzum La

First sight of snow and we had to park and explore !

and Yes, Gnarly roads anyone ?

If you're on the wrong motorcycle, its the difference between enduring and having fun

Single tracks and the Spiti river !

You can literally see for miles ! 

Terrible terrible roads and lots to learn ! Yeah, So what...we kept dropping our bikes..

The gruelling 176 kms from Kaza to Keylong is the epitome of adventure on a motorcycle. Even on Dual sport machines with ample OOumPH, it took us a good 10+ hours on the saddle (with lots of stoppage to enjoy the scenery, of course). With 70+ kms of amazing tarmac, the remaining 100 kms took most of the 10 hrs of riding.

I cant imagine being back there on the 'wrong motorcycle'. Even with light weight motorcycles, its nothing short of a battle. The terrain is absolutely unforgiving and there is no room for error. Its key to know your limits. Not to mention the altitude. Yes, we dropped our motorcycles. It was hard to pick them back up and continue 'unbroken'. The water crossing or what the locals affectionately call "Nalaas" are extremely excruciating to cross. The water crossings on the leh-manali highway after Jispa and ZingZing Bar are a 'joke' compared to the ones that you'll encounter in Spiti. The water is freezing cold and the later you are during the course of the day, the bigger the water crossings. The inhospitable conditions will make you feel like shit at the end of the day. A false dilemma, or false dichotomy sets in, I was even wondering why I like doing this.

If not for the great tarmac from Gramphu to Keylong, which brings some life back into you, the road or the lack of any will break anyone and everyone. True story.

It was 8pm !
We live to ride another day and reach keylong to enter the lahul valley

And, Its that time of the year... Here's wishing all you dual sport delinquents and other goofy quirky motorcycle enthusiasts an awesome year ahead ! Keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down, see you on the road in 2015 !


Wednesday, 26 November 2014


It was Nice sunny day in Reckong Peo. At approximately 7500 ft, its something that I could get used to.  Oh boy were the women pretty there ! Drop Dead Gorgeous, simple, comprehensive yet concise. I was drool mongering like Jim Carrey from 'The Mask'. No kidding..

I was talking to myself, telling me to concentrate on the narrow spirally roads rather than gaping at strange pretty women in awe! Yep, I think thats about time when I realised that my chain slider washer had fallen off from the previous day and the chain was in contact with the swingarm making an unpleasant noise. Wallah ! Double wammy time ... I found this little guy in my rear tyre.

Nailed it ! 
I was fortunate to find a puncture shop right next to the little mechanic who helped me with the washer and a bolt to fix the chain slider. 

We had some spare time to catch up on breakfast, and guess what. I encountered the bestest aloo paratha's in the world. True story.

It was a laid back day as 'early' did'nt happen, thanks to a flat tyre. But, Better now than tomorrow or dayafter or the day after that... In hindsight, I am glad that it happened where there was help. I was carrying spare tubes, puncture kits, A Mini air compressor, tyre irons, etc. However, I am no expert in changing tyres. So, It can be a little scary or lets call it 'adventurous' if it happens in the wilderness.

We rode many precarious wooden bridges and I had to stop and take a photo of at least one of them !

Believe it or not,  We were asked to pull over as road maintenance folks had planted Dynamite a little further ahead ? Yes, Dynamite. We even heard it go off. It was a blast !

More himalayan wildlife
Waiting for the road to clear, I decided to pose for a (cliche'd) profile picture that can used in social media. I was such a stereotype.

There's something about Spiti. I am definitely going back. I am not sure if it was the quaint villages, the amazing people we met, The raw untouched beauty of the valley or the himalayas starring right at you from places and angles that you've not seen her. The terrain is nothing like the leh-manali highway. Surprise after surprise. Even the moon was out in broad day light.

When you're here on your motorcycle, the first thing that strikes you is the fact that the perceived "I am totally incharge" is lost. You are anything but in control.

"the natural forces are so great that human endeavours to tame them barely register"

And then, you reach Nako .. Or i'd like to remember it as the quaintest place I've visited, and l'll always remember it as "Shang-ri-la" in my head.


Lets throw in some 'moon land' in spiti, shall we ?
With the day coming to an end, we decided to stop at Tabo for the night. The sun was setting and the light was spreading beyond the horizon. It was all a little delusional. The sight was utterly unreal. Dispersion of light is a beautiful thing, whats even more extraordinary is Spiti valley itself. Gnarly roads, great people and the ever fascinating himalayas are going to make any mortal keep coming back !

I am no photographer, its just Spiti is that beautiful!

So remember this, Spiti's gonna keep you guessing and thats how awesome it is. It was a pity that we leave Spiti to enter the lahul valley soon.

What keeps you guessing ? - SPITI

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Glory days begin

No Guts, No Glory ...

Every day from today will be glorious and nothing short of Epic. Paved roads, No roads, Single lane tracks & trails is pretty much what it is, A Side of India few travelers know Exists...

We started our day with shallow rocky shoulders stretches and slowly finding your way through small villages to the eastern side of Kunzum Pass. It would take us 3 days to reach Kaza khus and we would begin our ascent towards Kunzum which was open for tourists only a day before our departure from Delhi. We wanted to halt at Parwarnoo on Day 1, however with lots of mile munching we were closer to Narkanda, which was our halt for Day 2.  So we gunned to reached Kalpa.

Thats #bluesbaby re-bungy'ing his luggage..
Apparently, what we were riding was the NH22. The roads were rather dusty and glory just began. From what I recall, everyday the condition of the roads kept deteriorating, bringing more glory. It took us a decent 3 days to get used to packing our luggage and reaching the state of "fall free". In Hindsight, Fall free is such an illusion !

All day on that eventful day, we were riding beside a tributary of the Great Sutlej. All I can say is, she was alive ! Its more than just background sound as she eventually paves the way slicing through the valley. It was quite sad to see dams being constructed. Dams block free flowing water, and that sucks. Soon, there will be no white waters here after the hydro projects begin in full swing.

Last fuel station enroute to Kalpa

The roads are non existant. Its just mud and dirt all the way till you reach the little town of Rekong Peo, and then ascent to Kalpa, a little village uptop.

Road work and clearing rubble in progress

Fire roads all the way

How epic is epic ?

Why would people build a dam and get rid of all this awesomeness ? I just didn't get it. China and India are already in a geopolitical cold war like situation with the rivers of the himalayas. Oh yes, I am talking about the Bhramhaputra. The Zangmu Dam is under construction now in tibet. Whats more alarming is so called "Tibet's largest hydropower station", The Zangmu was partly operational this Sunday (Yes, Yesterday ..The 23rd of November 2014).  This is bad news. Remember the flash floods in Uttarkashi last year ? Well, we can expect many more in this region of northern eastern India, and the Zangmu is solely to be blamed. Sometimes civilisation as a term is abused quite much. To generate an estimated 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, the indigenous people (mostly tribes) are going to get displaced. Remember James Cameron's Avatar ? Yep, Same story. The truth is none of these tribal people need the 2.5 billion whatever and have been living in peace and harmony. All of a sudden we just want to screw with their livelihoods and go bat shit on them. 

If you want to help the cause, you can sign the petition here

Back to gnarly roads!

It was a glorious day indeed. The next morning was epic'er .. I saw a Moth, The Kinnaur Kailash from little Kalpa and even ate some stolen apples from the previous day..

A moth...

...The Snow capped Kinnaur Kailash

The little kalpa !

..And Stolen Apples..