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Chandranath 12th June 2016 06:14 PM

Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Village
 
11 Attachment(s)
SPITI is a place which is revered by many, but explored by few. It is quite common to treat it as corridor while returning from or going to Ladakh as an extension of that tour or at times it is a halt over between the thrill of doing the circuit from Shimla to Manali via Rohtang La and Kunzum La. Yes the logs and travel stories of Kaza (the headquarters of Spiti) are available but are far and few considering the volumes of such logs of its more illustrious partner destination Leh.

Spiti has its own challenges equal to Leh or more, boasts of altitudes at places higher than any destination in the World and presents a life as secluded as any of the wildest destinations in the Globe.

Challenging my own limits is what I have always tried to in life, especially when the challenges lead to some beautiful vistas and opens up to nerve assaulting feelings. It was with this mindset that I have been scouting for the place to visit for the last one year. Spiti fitted in beautifully.

The time selected as per convenience was end May, so chances of Kunzum pass opening was not there. This was a deterrent for many, but a boon in disguise for me. I never intended to cross over and stand in the huge traffic jam of Rohtang. I never meant to reach Manali in its bustling touristy best. I never wanted to walk the streets of Kulu being mindful of who in the crowd is trampling on my shoes. I just wanted to BE in Spiti and feel it and not be a tourist out there.

Preparations on I was greatly helped by my friends in Kolkata from HVK East forum and Car Photography group. Thankful to HVK himself for sending me details of the route. And last but not the least was grateful to the Kolkata chapter of TAI forum for the help, guidance and sincere wishes and a promise to travel with me as I gain those heights.

Before I get into the details here is how it went in a snapshot

The first tourist spot we halted was a tiny village called Neen 9 km downhill from Koti which is 6 km from Chail on the Chail Kufri Road.
Attachment 203015

Kalpa came in next and the magnificent Kinner Kailash was asusal a sight to behold.
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Tabo was at its pristine best with the best of the monasteries.
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Kaza the final destination was loaded with beauty on the roads.
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We explored the highest motorable Village in the World Komic which had 114 people as population and this monastery.
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We checked into Kibber the erstwhile highest motorable village at height of 14,000 ft plus
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Key monasetry was visually the most pleasing
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We never forgot to check on the rare naturally preserved mummy in Gue village while returning
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A word about us. The group was the same which did the last year Gahrwal trip comprising of myself my wife and my 5 year old son along with my school chum Partha and his wife.
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The charriot the same. My 6 year old trusted Xylo. Battered by rockfaces, shaken by the non existant roads, vertigoed by the heights, terrorised by the oxygen deficiency, swept by the winds, blown by the dust and plundered by hailstorms in different stages the Xylo and me never stopped talking to each other in the 5,000 km plus single/solo drive.
Attachment 203008


Read on for the entire story..

TSIVipul 12th June 2016 07:08 PM

Re: XYLO Blogs: Kolkata- Kalpa- Kaza; SPITI fied in the World's Highest Motorable Vil
 
More pics needed [anger]

AppU 13th June 2016 01:13 PM

Re: XYLO Blogs: Kolkata- Kalpa- Kaza; SPITI fied in the World's Highest Motorable Vil
 
crispy write-up and brilliant pics.

But, still we want more [;)]

Biswas 13th June 2016 06:58 PM

Re: XYLO Blogs: Kolkata- Kalpa- Kaza; SPITI fied in the World's Highest Motorable Vil
 
Waiting for the remaining parts.

Please provide the NH2 details also.[:)]

Chandranath 8th August 2016 01:50 AM

Re: Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Villa
 
1 Attachment(s)
Sorry for the delay in continuing my story. But before I go on here is the entire trip log details of kilometers covered and time taken. It has been minutely driven and written and covers and features major breaks in between. However photography breaks and fuel pit stops have been not considered though the photography breaks did consume a lot of time and slowed the Xylo's run. Also not considered were the stoppages at toll plazas which were a headache and consumed huge time and energy.

My thanks to my friend and navigator for my past 3 drives Partha Chakraborty for not only managing the log in a diary but also putting up the excel in a very short time for me to share. This apart the regular finance management, cash handling, taking pictures and movies on the go.

Would request and urge all to go through the detailed log to understand the trip better and also for everyone's reference.

Attachment 205971

The story will continue with pictures

Chandranath 9th August 2016 03:52 PM

Re: XYLO Blogs: Kolkata- Kalpa- Kaza; SPITI fied in the World's Highest Motorable Vil
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Biswas (Post 503794)
Waiting for the remaining parts.

Please provide the NH2 details also.[:)]

Sorry missed your post earlier. Have posted in above post the full details of NH 2 distance and time wise.

rahul4640 10th August 2016 01:21 PM

Re: Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Villa
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chandranath (Post 509425)
Would request and urge all to go through the detailed log to understand the trip better and also for everyone's reference.
Attachment 205971
The story will continue with pictures

It will be better for me if you mention something about the expenditure. Please ignore my posts if you have mentioned it earlier.

Chandranath 11th August 2016 12:03 AM

Re: Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Villa
 
11 Attachment(s)
DAY 1 - 21st Sep (Kol to Varanasi)

The original plan was to pull upto Allahabad. The wishful starting time was 4 am, but I knew we will fail it by miles and true enough just packed up the Xylo by 5.30 am.
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It was around 6 am that we happily rolled out
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The going was fine till around 24 km from Panagarh where we encountered a massive jam. Initially I thought it was the infamous jam of Panagarh that had made its way back so long. But was told that there was an accident in front. Was waiting patiently when some cars and buses started taking the wrong lane and knowing that it works at times I also followed suit. But it turned out to be an unwise decision as the wrong lane was deliberately stopped by the highway police and the correct lane was being allowed to move on. Here I took a quick call of reversing all the way and taking the right lane. This put me behind by almost a 100 vehicles from where I originally was but the wrong lane was made to wait even as I sped past them BUT a vital hour and a half was wasted already.
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Like always I am of the practice of starting without breakfast and needed a halt. There has been a new Cafe Coffee Day which had opened a month ago near Panagarh and stopped to try it. Normally on the highway I am averse to these sort of decked up joints, but I knew a whole lot of eateries close to my heart was coming up my way for the next few days. So just thought of indulging myself.
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After a sumptuous breakfast and two shots of raw black coffee it was hitting pedal to metal once again. Took the Panagarh bye pass as the road ahead appeared clogged up and hit Assansol around 11.30.

A friend, fellow traveller, one of the biggest drivers I have known and been a huge help and resource in that belt for EVEN "iconic" national characters Abraham Simpson (ABS) came to meet me and see me off. This he does with most drivers who take that way.
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From Assansol at 11.30 am to Aurangabad it was a breeze and reached at 5.30.. Here I met Koushik Samanta, his wife Rakhi and 7 year old daughter Ridhi. Spiti was planned originally by me about a year and a half back. But 6 months back when Koushik knew about it he decided to tag along. We did not drive the entire distance and back together. But tagged along mostly and most importantly in the Spiti night outs. He stays in Burdwan and had left the previous night, he bein mostly a night driver and me a day one. He had reached Aurangabad in the early hours of the day when I had just about left Kolkata. We planned to hit upon each other here in the Hotel Vaishnavi Heights. And the Xylo also met his Ritz (called Ritzy)
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Had a quick lunch and was ready to move on. For Koushik it was again a night long drive to Noida. For me it was ending the day in Varanasi (not Allahabad as we already lost a lot of time)
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Just before Varanasi was a huge traffic hold up. Took us massive time and so did the toll plaza on Vishwa Sundari Bypass. But eventually did cross it as Koushik stayed back for dinner at a wayside dhaba and then onwards to Noida while the xylo went in search for a shelter after a whole days drive of nearly 700 kms. Koushik had suggested Hotel Koushik right on the highway and we got some decent rooms. Dinner taken immediately and we were getting ready for the next day
Attachment 206259

Chandranath 14th August 2016 12:07 PM

Re: Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Villa
 
9 Attachment(s)
Day 2 - 22nd May (Varanasi to Sonepat beyond Delhi)

The day was to be the longest distance wise. As per initial plan it was to start after a holy dip at the Sangam in Allahabad. But due to late arrival we were constrained to stay back in Varanasi last night and hence start that additional kilometers from behind.

Started Varanasi at 6.30 am sharp. It helped us that we stayed on the highway and not inside the city.
Attachment 206416

By 7.45 am we hit the Alahhabad Bypass road. Road from Varanasi to Allahabad has improved a little from when I drove the last time a year and a half back, but Allahabad bypass was butter smooth as usual. Though it is a concrete road mostly on which I do not like driving too much, but it was devoid of even a single pothole on the way.
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Stopped for some beautiful scene on the way
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The bye pass of Allahabad does not have any distraction by the way of eateries. So we patiently drove out of it to grab something. As usual I had started empty stomach and needed to fill it up. The khatyias did attract my attention as they always do and did some relaxing. And trust me they do soothe your body and mind, just that you need to check on the presence of Khatmals.
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Post that we hit the road and reached Kanpur by 11.40 am and sped along upto Ettawah. We had a one hour late lunch break post Ettawah at around 3 pm and hit the Yamuna Express Way by 4.25 pm
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From then on to Noida and New Delhi (around 7.30 pm) where we got lost in the mess called traffic. The idea was to cross Delhi and reach GT Karnal Road where exiting for the next day will be easier. The GPS finally showed us the way and reached Sonepat and checked into a good hotel at 9 pm. Problem with the hotels here is they all are on the other side of the road so you need to move up and then take a u turn. But the Hotel was good and huge with a swimming pool also though we never used it. Food was good and had a nice ending to the day.

Koushik Samanta and his Ritz had reached that very morning as they drove in the night from Varanasi where they left us. They had put up in Greater Noida in a friends place and from next day we were to drive together. We coordinated over phone and he had to leave around an hour early to catch up with us as he needed to cross Delhi.

Chandranath 14th August 2016 09:22 PM

Re: Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Villa
 
19 Attachment(s)
Day 3 - 23rd May (Sonepat to Neen near Chail)

The psychological relaxation was there that Koushik Samanta will leave at 6 in the morning and we can relax up to 7 for them to catch up. But this relaxation was carried on a bit too far and before we realised and could get ready Koushik and his Ritz had sped past us as we were still to check out of the hotel.

It took us upto 8 am when we finally had the Xylo to roll on and were to catch up with the Ritz as they would halt for a breakfast break. But some how they stopped to refuel when we sped past them and was hard time matching the coordinates. But finally I stopped nearing Ambala on a highway ATM to refuel my wallet when the Ritz caught up and we were together.
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From here on till Parwanoo we never stopped. The urge to hit the Himalayas was very high and through Chandigarh and other places we just breezed through and before we realised we were knocking in the mountains in Parwanoo at 12 noon. It was the mountains once again but we were greeted with a hailstorm of very high magnitude. Whole lot of road construction work was going on and visibility came down immensely. The wiper was at the maximum but was not enough to clear the windshield of the water. To top it all the small snow cubes falling on the car were so very intense that they threatened to break the windscreen and was making a huge sound on the roof. We proceeded with medium speed but with great caution.

Reached Solan the mid point between Chandigarh and Shimla by almost 2 pm and by now all of us in both cars were extremely hungry as we hardly had anything since morning in our crave to have our brush with the Himalayas. The town as expected was extremely congested and though some good eateries were on the way could not stop due to lack of Parking space.

Once out of the town found the gateway to Nirvana, the factory of Mohan Meakins manufacturers of the iconic Old Monk. Did not miss out on the opportunity of stopping to pay my humble respect to the Monk.
Attachment 206453

And soon after found a decent place to stop for our much awaited lunch.
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Lunch over and it was much more relaxed driving for us upto Kandaghat from where the road branches of towards Chail. The road straight on hits Shimla. We were going to Chail and slightly detour from Chail to a village called Neen where we were to stay the night with my long time friend called Bhasker Sharma. Koushik was to carry on to Theog and onwards to Matiana where again he was having his known people. For Koushik the road through Chail was bypassing the traffic of Shimla and rejoining at Kufri.

The road was narrower than the Shimla road but without any crowd either and we reached Sadhupool in half hour. The bridge over the river was broken and we suddenly encountered the dead end and had to turn back to take a diversion which would take us on the river bed and climb back
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The road down to the bed was extremely steep incline and for only one car to pass. Lucky we never encountered any car from the other side.
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The river bed looked tempting for us to take a longer break. There were small food joints with chairs and tables placed on the flowing river itself. But we still had a journey to complete and so we moved on after a very brief halt.
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Reached Chail by 4.40 and Chail was busy with its season time tourists. It was drizzling slightly and had to encounter its fair share of traffic though hold up was not too big. Further down Chail we reached a spot from where Bhasker's village called Neen was 9 km detour. Stopped and said good bye to Koushik as he was proceeding on the normal route to Theog and Matiana where he would stay and wait for us to catch up next morning.

We detoured from the main road and took the lonely narrow but well metalled road to Neen. In between it was so very desolate that in the entire stretch of 9 km never found a soul to check directions. Bhasker had told us to keep on driving till we hit a small temple.

And we did.
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Bhasker was there to welcome us at his home. We went past his newly built tented accommodation to the 2 story cottage which he kept for us.
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He then showed us around his apple orchard which would be in full bloom around 3 months from then.
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Evening and night was extremely windy and cold. We sat together with some locally bought flower squash and drinks. They tasted amazing specially the Rhododendron and the Peach flavours. And they kept us warm at heart.
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At night Bhasker showed us his house within the orchard and campus where we were staying and I particularly liked the kitchen.
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Dinner was plentiful and we retired to a good and peaceful night sleep

Mathew 15th August 2016 01:03 AM

Re: Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Villa
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chandranath (Post 509777)
DAY 1 - 21st Sep (Kol to Varanasi)

Congrats Chandranath.

Wishing you, a Happy Independence Day.

I was following this Thread. Brilliant Tour neatly executed. Your excel sheet is comprehensive, and the figure 5005 is very interesting. Could have been another jumbo Travelogue, similar to SmoothRider's. Few corrections, the title of the excel sheet, and title of this thread reply (as in the above highlight).

Chandranath 15th August 2016 01:58 AM

Re: Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Villa
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mathew (Post 510110)
Congrats Chandranath.

Wishing you, a Happy Independence Day.

I was following this Thread. Brilliant Tour neatly executed. Your excel sheet is comprehensive, and the figure 5005 is very interesting. Could have been another jumbo Travelogue, similar to SmoothRider's. Few corrections, the title of the excel sheet, and title of this thread reply (as in the above highlight).

Thanks and oops. How do I rectify the date now[surprise].

The excel was named Km and expense as originally it did have the expenses laid out in the second sheet. I deleted that sheet to work on it and upload it at the end of the log. So the minor defection.

Hash Ibm 15th August 2016 01:17 PM

Re: Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Villa
 
Thanks a lot Chandranath, for taking us also to your trip[drive], waiting for more.
Happy Independence Day[cheers]

Chandranath 17th August 2016 09:24 AM

Re: Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Villa
 
14 Attachment(s)
Day 4 – 24th May (Neen to Kalpa)

If the previous day we were ahead of Koushik Samanta by an hour today it was his turn to be ahead of us by almost 2 hours. As planned he had gone ahead and stayed in Matiana which was almost 50 km ahead of where we were staying. So today it was we who needed a lot of catching up to do. As per plans got up by 6.30 am to start by 7am. The early morning sky was extremely clear
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and the first to be ready for the day was my son Jijo..
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But then came a heavy downpour drowning all our plans for an early exit. It was so heavy that we could not even leave our cottage to go to where the Xylo was parked as it was a longish walk through the orchards and past the kitchen and crossing Bhasker’s apartment. Checked on the phone with Koushik and he said it was raining heavily there too and they too got delayed. After some time as the rain eased we took out the umbrellas and made our way to the parking with the luggage.
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Bhasker was there to see us off and it was well past 8 that the Xylo rolled off
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We rejoined NH22 the Hindusthan Tibet Road (Shimla Kalpa Highway) at Kufri. It was 9 am and being peak season time could understand that the small hillside destination was just getting ready to welcome its share of tourists coming in from Shimla. We rolled on and reached Theog from where we needed to refuel both our wallets and the Xylo. Unfortunately be it private or the public banks not a single ATM was in working condition which was a cause of worry. The Xylo had no such refuelling problems though.
Attachment 206760

We reached Matiana at around 10 where we had original plans to reach 8.30 to catch up with Koushik but for the rain delay. As per our telephonic conversation Koushik had already started rolling and we were to catch up somewhere on NH 22. The search for the elusive ATM which would give us cash was still on and Matiana also failed us with its non operative ATMs. It was a cause of worry now as we reached Narkanda by 10.30 also to find the so called famous banks including SBI machines not being able to dispense cash. Took a small break to top up on the rations of fruits and biscuits..
Attachment 206761

As Partha went in search for cash. He got it ultimately from the most unlikeliest of places. A Himachal Pradesh Govt Co operative bank ATM was working and saved our day and to an extent the trip worries. We moved on and decided to break for brunch in the next one hour subject to finding decent roadside joints. The views were very good.
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But just within 15 minutes of rolling on caught up with Koushik and his Ritzy. They had taken a small detour from Narkanda to check on the Hatu Peak and this helped us in catching up faster. And the first thing after meeting each other we did was to stop to eat as neither of us in both cars had much of a decent breakfast.
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Jijo also met Koushik’s daughter Riddhi didi (elder by a year) and the chemistry for the rest of the trip started building..
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They took some time in preparing the lunch but it was absolutely fresh and tasty consisting of Rajma and Chawal and Aloo Parantha.
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bhvm 17th August 2016 10:10 AM

Re: Xylo Blogs: Kolkata - Kalpa - Kaza; Spiti Fied in World's Highest Motorable Villa
 
Sooper Writeup Buddy!
Keep more rollin!


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