Old Hindustan Tibet Jeep Safari Expedition - A Journey to Retrace the History
Old Hindustan Tibet Road (OHT) jeep safari expedition-as the name says, this tour takes you to fascinating places and roads where the history speaks about the past. This journey tells about a way where trade and commuting has been commuting since known history. Laid in 19th century by the Bruisers, this road used to connect Rampur, an old entrepot with Tibet for trade through Shipki-La border post on the India-China border. While travelling on this road, you will start imagining the rich past of this place - a valley flanked by Trans Himalayas and The Kinner Kailash range, roads flanked by the river, and plenty of Buddhist and Hindus rambling over for buying and selling. Today, a new NH 22 has replaced the bridle path; however, the old world charm is intact. Even now, the luscious forest, and burst of scarlet scattered over the tree can take anyone's breathe away.
This journey to retrace the history starts from Kasauli, further it leads to Narkanda by crossing Shimla. As you will approach Shimla, sections of the road were lined with bottlebrush, also in flower. On this trip, you will also touch Manali - Leh classic points like Kalpa, Nako, Tabo, and Kaza. The trail also passes through the Daranghati sanctuary in Shimla, and Bhimakali Temple in Sarahan. To travel on this road, till the end, you will need approximately 16 days at your disposal. And to do this, you will need some strength to cope up the high elevation as it is not meant for faint hearted people. If you wish to extend the trip then you can visit the Spiti Valley), and cross over to Manali via the Kunzum La. For more details about the jeep safari expedition, see the itinerary below.
See below for complete itinerary.
Day 01: Delhi - Kalka (by train) - Kasauli (30 Kms)
Board Kalka Shatabdi Express from New Delhi Railway Station for Kalka. Today is going to be your first day of Jeep safari expedition. After enjoying this enthralling four-hour train ride, you will be transferred to your jeeps, which will take you to Kasauli, a picturesque hamlet in the Solan district. Dinner and overnight stay at Kasauli hotel.
Day 02: Kasauli - Shimla via Gambhar Pul (85 Kms)
Kick-start your day with a hearty meal. Your first stopover point of the day will be Shimla by crossing the Gambhar Pul and Sabatho, an ancient army containment area. This route from Kasauli to Shimla carries enormous historical significance in the history of Indian trade and is currently hardly used by the people. Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 03: Shimla - Narkanda (65 Kms) - Baghi - Taklech - Kareri (78 Kms)
Lace up your boots folks as today you are going to experience the inner areas of Old Hindustan Tibet Road while travelling from Shimla to Narkanda. During your 65 km ride, from Shimla till Narkanda, you will pass by some tiny villages like Sanjauli, Theog, Fagu and Matiyana, to reach Narkanda. Reputed as a world class ski resort, Narkanda is quite famous as exotic winter destination in India. Encircled by the imposing mountain ranges, the city of Narkanda provides a commanding view of the western Himalayan Mountain Ranges. After enjoying 15-20 minutes relaxing tea/coffee session at Narkanda, you will leave modern Narkanda- Rampur highway and start approaching OHT road to reach Baghi. While travelling through OHT road, you might experience a bumpy ride for next 175 km, till you reach Baghi, a small hill station. Narrow and bumpy yet scenic trails continue till Taklech. When you will arrive in Taklech, a beautiful view of Great Himalayan range and Chanshal will greet you with open arms. Highlight of today's drive is the forest of Chinar trees, which will accompany you throughout the journey. Next and final stopover of the day will be Taklech; thereupon you will cross a river stream to reach a picturesque hamlet called Kareri, the final destination of the day for overnight stay and dinner.
Day 04: Kareri - Sarahan over Daranghati (97 Kms)-
Post breakfast; continue to drive uphill till Daranghati via Kashapaat village. During the journey, you will pass by a village called Mashnu, thereupon you will drive up to Daranghati Pass. Drive from Kareri to Mashnu is beautiful and from Mashnu we gain the altitude and drive up to the Daranghati Pass through more rough and narrow road. The valley opens its enormous glory and beauty the moments we drive high. From a distance, a fort like structure is visible, which is a temple of one local deity. After few kilometers, you will start noticing bird species like Monal, Tragopan, Koklas and Kalij, which means you have entered the sanctuary. After spending some time at the Daranghati, you will drive up to the Daranghati Pass through rough and narrow road. By travelling for few more kilometers, you will reach top of Daranghati from where the view to remote village called Kasha pat and neighboring mountains. Relish the view of mountains from Daranghati top and then start driving downhill to reach Majholi. After crossing Majhol, keep your vehicle towards the right to reach Sarahan. The romance of the old HT road lies not only in the excitement of retracing a legendary route trod by many adventurous feet but also in the fact that it chronicles in its passage a remarkable transition in climate, vegetation, terrain, people and culture. Sarahan is known for its majestic Bhimakali Temple and has few good hotels of small size.
Day 05: Sarahan - Kalpa (115 Kms)
After seeking blessing of divinity at the Bhimakali temple, start your seventh day driving expedition to reach Kalpa via Chaura, Taranda, Ponda, Nichar, and Tapri. Today, you will continue journey through the new road. On arrival in Kalpa, you will be greeted with the beautiful view of Kinner Kailash Mountains. Dinner and overnight stay at Kalpa.
Day 06: Kalpa - Sangla excursion (120 Kms)
After so many action packed days, now it's time to relax and move in the harmony of nature. Today, you will be going for a sightseeing tour to Sangla valley in Kinnaur and Chitkul, the last village on Indo China border. After completing the sightseeing tour, you will return back to Kalpa via Rekang Poe. Dinner and overnight stay at Kalpa camp.
Day 07: Kalpa - Nako through Kanum Monastery (112 Kms)-
Cross Kalpa and start driving downhill to reach Jangi via Pangi village and Aren. 16 km from drive from Aren, will take you to Kanum monastery, which is home to many sacred texts, studies in 1920 by Hungarian Christian monk - Alexander Csoma. Further, you will visit Pooh in Kinnaur. From Pooh the road descends again to meet the Sutlej at Dubling, and then we start the 15 km ascent drive towards Namgia village, the last village bordering Tibet before Shipki La. Next spot for the day is Khab, the place where Spiti & Sutlej River meets. From Khab, you will drive up the hill to reach Nako, a village located at an altitude of 3662 meters. In Nako village, you will see a beautiful lake and monastery dedicated to Lord Padamsambhava. Dinner and overnight stay at Nako.
Day 08: Nako - Tabo (63 Kms/2 hrs)
After visiting the monastery in Nako region, embark on a drive to Tabo through Maling and Sumdo. During the journey, you will come across a village called Tashigang, which is believed to be the meditation ground of Guru Padmasambhava. Quite close to Tashigang is a small waterfall and cave, which is dubbed as the abode of fairies. Your next stopover for the day will be Sumdo, from where you will take a permit to visit further. Due to its closeness to China border, this area remains under the high vigilance of army. After 100 kilometers strenuous drive from Tashigang, you will be reaching Tabo. Upon arrival in Tabo, you will be transferred to a hotel. In the second half of the day, you will visit the group of monasteries, which were believed to be found in 996AD. With its original decoration and art images intact, it is considered to be the oldest continuously functioning Buddhist monastery in India and the Himalayas and also known as Ajanta of Himalayas. Dinner and overnight stay at Tabo hotel.
Day 09: Tabo - Kaza with Dhankar, Lhalung and Pin Monasteries (100 Kms approx)
In the morning, you will be exploring the caves in Tabo, where once great sages used to pray. After breakfast, set forth on your journey to Pin Valley via Dhankar Monastery. The capital of Spiti Valley Kingdom during the 17th century, Dhankar was the seat of early rulers of Spiti, the Nonos, who had the right to cultivate the government lands nearby and were required to keep the fort in repair. Situated at 3,894 meters (12,774 feet) in the Spiti Valley between Tabo and Kaza, the complex is located on a 300 m long cliff, overlooking the confluence of Spiti and Pin Rivers. After spending some time at Dhankar Monastery, you will be going for a drive to Pin Valley via Kungri, yet another beautiful monastery in Himachal Pradesh. After a visit to the monastery, we leave for a small trip to Mud, the last village of Pin Valley and from where trek routes to Kullu and Kinnaur commences to reach Pin Parvati and Bhaba Passes. Further, you will cross the river at Attargu and then drive 14 km to reach Lhalung Monastery in Lingti Valley. Dubbed as the Golden Temple by the people of the Buddhist community, Lhalung Monastery is one of the earliest monasteries founded in Spiti by the great Tibetan Buddhist lotswa (translator), Rinchen Zangpo, the king of western Himalayan Kingdom of Guge during the late 10th century CE. After paying a visit to the monastery, get down on the streets to visit Kaza, which is 10 km from Lhalung Monastery. Evening and overnight stay at a hotel in Kaza.
Day 10: Kaza - full day excursion of Key, Kibber, Langza, Hikkim and Komic Monasteries (50 Kms approx)
Post breakfast; embark on a drive to Kee Gompa, followed by a trip to Kibber Village, Hikkim, Langza and Komic. On this day, you will visit the biggest monastery of Spiti Valley, Kee Gompa, and Hikkim and Komic, highest villages of the world connected with the road. After spending a day with the ancient monasteries of Spiti valley, we will get back to Kaza hotel. Dinner and overnight stay at Kaza.
Day 11: Kaza - Chandratal Lake (98 Kms)
Embark on a 98 km drive to reach Chandratal Lake via Kunzum Pass. Journey from Kaza till Kunzum Pass will be scenic as you pass through barren landscape, calmly flowing river and remote villages. The herds of ibex can be seen on the way in close by barren shining mountains. Hansa and Losar are two lovely villages on the road side giving impression of a remote lifestyle. After few kilometers from Losar, the drive up hill to reach Kunzum Pass (4551 Meters), which offers a fantastic view of several high mountain peaks in front of eyes. After reaching a certain point, you will drop your jeep and start walking to reach Chandratal Lake for overnight stay and dinner.
Day 12: Chandratal - Manali (122 Kms) - Delhi
Today, you will drive to Manali by crossing Batal, a village on another side of Kunzum La, Chota Dara and Chatru at the base of famous Bara Shigri Glaciers. After driving for few kilometers you will reach Rohtang Pass and further drive down the hill to reach Manali. From here catch AC Volvo bus for Delhi at 16:30 hrs. Overnight journey.
Day 13: Arrive Delhi
Early morning in between 07:00 - 08:00 hrs arrival at Delhi.