A tent perched at 14,000 ft, watching the milky way galaxy and siting on the meadows encircling the turquoise blue water, Isha and I were living a dream. We spent more than a day at Chandrataal, but it felt so less. Our body had coped with the thin air all around and we both were geared up for Day 2. Our expectations from Spiti had raised.
Chandrataal to Batal:
Tenzin dropped us back to Batal and we finally got to meet Mr. & Mrs. Dorjee (famously known as Chacha-chachi). An extra-ordinary, humble, funny and amazing couple in their late 50s. We clicked pics with them and had Rajma-Chawal at their Chandra Dhaba. Tenzin had left for Manali and we were waiting for our bus to Kaza.
The HRTC bus that starts from Manali around 4.30AM for Kaza, reaches Batal around 12.30PM. From Mr. Dorjee we came to know that the bus was late by couple of hours and so he asked us to rest at his place till the bus arrives. And just to roast us, he would come to us and say “Aaj bus nahi aayegi.” Batal and Chandrataal has no phone network connectivity but in case you have any emergency, ITBP has setup a satellite phone at Batal and if you are lucky, you can use it to make calls. Unfortunately it wasn’t working at our time. After waiting for couple of hours, finally the bus arrived.
Batal to Kaza Ride:
We boarded the bus. Batal to Kaza is 90km or you can say a 5 hours ride including all stops. Due to poor road conditions and sharp turns, our bus never crossed the 20kmph limit. Our first stop was Kunzum Pass. At 15,060 ft, surrounded by snow-clad mountains, Kunzum is a high mountain pass between Kaza & Manali where the Kunzum deity resides & blesses the travellers. The stupa is covered with colourful prayer flags. Isha and I gulped a sip of Gatorade (to keep our self hydrated) and went near the edge to get more close to the chilly winds. Minutes later we paid our respect to the Kunzum deity and got inside the bus.
Kunzum to Kaza bus ride was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. As you approach towards Losar, the roads starts getting better and the landscapes outside the window turns stunningly beautiful. Spiti is a cold desert, and wherever you see greenry is where people live. The harmony between barren mountains and fertile valleys is where you fall in love with this place. The barren mountains changed their shades every minute. The peaks played hide and seek with the clouds. It was serene, peaceful and secluded.
The bus stopped at Losar where all foreigners had to take permission from Lahaul and Spiti Administration to visit Spiti. Losar has a market as well as BSNL connectivity. No other network works in Spiti. From 15,060 ft we came down to 13,400 ft. The bus took another 2 hours from Losar to reach Kaza. Time went by so fast that we hardly realized how these 5 hours passed.
Kaza is the largest township of Spiti valley. Rudyard Kipling described Lahaul and Spiti region as ‘a world within a world’. I probably can never describe in words what that feeling was when we reached Kaza. It was cold and we realized that we were stronger than we had thought. We made it so far doing more than 24 hours of journey in last 48 hours travelling through the high passes of the Himalayas without having any headache and altitude sickness. While I was enquiring about the bus timings, monasteries and gompas, Isha finalized a home-stay. (Yeah, she is fast!) We were not in mood to rest, so we dropped our backpack and went to stroll on Kaza roads.
Spiti is a land of mystic people. Every stranger we met in Kaza greeted us with smiles. We learned to Julley!