Spiti Travelogue: Day 8

Back on Earth: We leave Spi­ti and head back towards Man­ali

Learn­ing from our past mis­takes, we got off to an ear­ly start at 6:00 AM from Kaza. We planned to trav­el from Kaza back to Solang, a lit­tle ham­let just north of Man­ali. Man­ali has become a major tourist attrac­tion and the com­mer­cial­ism of the place deterred us. Solang was peace­ful, qui­et, less com­mer­cial­ized and thus a great alter­na­tive to Man­ali.

We had break­fast at Losar. When com­ing, we had reached Losar in the late evening, when we were not in any great shape. This time, we looked around and observed the vil­lage. There was some farm­ing around. A rare sight was a few cows and cou­ple of dogs. The cows and dogs were fur­ry like bears.

On our way fur­ther, this time we halt­ed at Kun­zam Pass. While com­ing, I was dis­ap­point­ed by Kun­zam because I could hard­ly see any­thing clear­ly in the dim light from the mov­ing jeep, while endur­ing the effects of alti­tude. Now, Kun­zam was a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence alto­geth­er. It was noon, and we were fine. As soon as we stepped out of the jeep, I was fas­ci­nat­ed.

Kunzam Pass

Tem­ple of Kun­zam Devi at the top of Kun­zam Pass. All vehi­cles cir­cle this tem­ple before pro­ceed­ing fur­ther…

The scale of the moun­tains and val­leys was of a dif­fer­ent order alto­geth­er. The panora­ma from the top of the pass was enthralling and awe-inspir­ing.

Chortens on Kunzam

Chort­ens at the top of Kun­zam Pass

Kun­zam’ means meet­ing place for Ibex. A chort­en of stones erect­ed ages ago marks the crest of the pass. These are struc­tures made by stones piled on top of each oth­er. A major attrac­tion north of Kun­zam pass is the Chan­drataal Lake. A nat­ur­al lake sit­u­at­ed at 14,000 ft above sea lev­el, it is about a kilo­me­ter in length and half a kilo­me­ter in breadth at its widest. This is a clear blue water lake, and is a 8.5 km trek from Kun­zam Pass. Trekking to the lake was not in the scope of our plans, but we very much wished to have at least a glimpse of this nat­ur­al won­der.

We trekked upwards the moun­tain slopes for some time to a point from where you could see beyond. I felt I was look­ing at some mag­i­cal won­der­land seen in dreams and fan­tasies. The sight seemed out of this earth. A stream of water amidst frozen ice flowed through the moun­tain val­ley into the lake, which was entire­ly frozen. The frozen lake was ethe­re­al. It was a heav­en­ly abode, untouched by man.

Chandrataal

The gray above is the frozen Chan­drataal lake…

Chandrataal 1 Chandrataal 2

Some more splen­did views of Chan­drataal…

From this point, the view of Kun­zam pass from above was also mag­nif­i­cent. I was able to click a cou­ple of good pho­tographs of the Kun­zam pass from this van­tage point.

Kunzam Pass from above

The two specks in the cen­ter are trucks on the road…

Soon, we were back on our way, stop­ping only for tea at Chhatadu, reach­ing Mad­hi for din­ner. The excel­lent con­di­tion we were all in was a tes­ti­mo­ni­al to our acclima­ti­za­tion. After din­ner, we had hot black tea with lemon, a sooth­ing drink in that weath­er.

We reached Solang and checked into Friend­ship Hotel, which was our lodge for the next cou­ple of days.

Next: Day 9

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