A Journey Along the Old Hindustan-Tibet Road
Travelling is not always about reaching your destination, a major chunk of the fun lies in the journey as well. If you happen to be a nature lover, road trips are a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings and soak it all in so that the memories linger for a long time to come. Also, one of the charms of doing road trips in India lies in the eateries or dhabas along the route and as we all know half the fun of a journey lies in eating local food.
Of the several interesting road trips in India, the Old Hindustan Tibet road trip is perhaps the one guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping and leave you wanting for more. The beautiful mountains, the cool mountain air, the scenic landscapes and the variety of colour that we see more than makes up for the sometimes rough and arduous journey. Considered to be one of the most dangerous routes, the Hindustan-Tibet road dates back to 1850 when Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor-General of British India, first commissioned the construction work to be started on this road to create trade ties between India and Tibet. The road has been the main route for trade and communication since then and is a remarkable feat of human effort on one of the highest ranges of the world.
The old Hindustan-Tibet road trip starts from Shimla, through Kinnaur Valley and then to the very beautiful and remote Spiti valley via Nako and finally winding up at Khab on the Tibet border. Not for the faint hearted, this road trip offers opportunities to experience adventure and natural beauty like never before and takes thrill and excitement to simply another level.
From Shimla, we carry on to Sangla, in the Kinnaur Valley. A major part of the Hindustan-Tibet road passes through Kinnaur and goes along the banks of the river Sutlej and finally enters Tibet at Shipki La pass. About 28 km from Sangla lies the village Chitkul in Kinnaur and this is the last inhabited village on this road on the Indo-Tibet border. Kinnaur is a picturesque district with deep forests, orchards, and beautiful hamlets. Also famous here is the Shivlinga, a natural rock formation, at the peak of Kinnaur Kailash. Make it a point to chat with the locals to get an insight into their culture, lifestyle, and traditions.
From Sangla, we carry on to Nako at a height of some 12000 feet above sea level. Visit the Nako Monastery as well as other Buddhist temples around. Roam around the Nako village, mix with the locals and then spend some time relaxing at the Nako lake.
Nako Lake surrounded by Nako village
Nako Lake surrounded by Nako village From Nako, cross over to the Spiti Valley. Spiti valley is one of the most remote and picturesque places you will ever get to see, with valleys, deep gorges, mountain peaks, gushing streams, the Spiti River, lakes at high altitude and monasteries. One can’t get closer to nature than this. Probably the best place to do some soul searching and letting nature work wonders for you and leave you with an experience like never before. At Tabo in Spiti, visit the Tabo Gompa, the oldest continuously functioning monastery in India. The highlight here are the spectacular frescoes portraying the life of the Buddha and stories from the Jataka tales.
From here move to Dhankar, the traditional capital of Spiti . Located on top of a hill is the Dhankar monastery with a statue of the Dhyan Buddha and home to 160 Lamas.
From here we take the road to Kaza and visit the Ki monastery from here which is at a distance of 7km. The Ki monastery located on top of a hill at an altitude of 4, 166 meters above sea level is the biggest monastery of Spiti Valley. A three storied structure, it comprises of storage rooms underground, the beautifully decorated assembly hall in the middle and a temple and the head Lama’s quarter on the top floor. A scenic drive from here takes us to the village of Kibber with vast stretches of beautiful pastures.
From Kaza, our drive takes us to the beautiful Chandra Tal Lake (lake of the moon). One of the most spectacular lakes in India , camping here is an experience to be treasured. The route brings us back to Kinnaur, the border town Khab and up to the Shipki La pass, at an elevation of 18, 599 ft above sea level, and finally, carries on to Tibet. A special permit is required to get to the Shipki La pass. Here ends the Indian side of the road at the actual line of control.
A never to be forgotten road trip, a must do for road trip lovers, a journey like this is going to be etched in your memory forever.