Spiti Expedition – Kaza – Giu Mummy – Kalpa (228 KM)
Finally, time has come to bid adieu to Kaza for our return journey via same route. With enchanting memories of Kaza, Hikkim, Komic & Kunzum we were again up for a treacherous journey through Hindustan – Tibet Highway. Since we were travelling through same route, we decided to take detour towards Giu Mummy as well as Kalpa to complete our wishlist for this sojourn. Till now we have followed our itinerary thereby achieving our goal and similarly we have planned to cover the return journey in three days with overnight halt at Kalpa and Narkanda/Shimla. We were eagerly waiting for our return journey so that we can witness what we had covered in dark while coming towards Kaza. We followed the below route for our journey:
Kaza – Tabo – Geyu Monastery – Khab – Sumdo – Nako – Pooh – Spillo – Reckong Peo – Kalpa
We woke up early in the morning and enjoyed the surrounding area near our hotel. Our target was to leave as early as possible so that we could cover maximum journey during day time. We packed our bags and fully loaded the car for the return journey. The thought of being high altitude sickness has become history and added an extra comfort for our journey. We visited the nearby monastery at Kaza and took the blessings from god and started our journey @ 10:30 a.m. with trip meter at 2522 KMs. After a drive of 2 hours we reached Tabo and took a brief halt to celebrate occasion amidst beautiful backdrop of Himalaya. We will cherish those moment till eternity. A small and beautiful halt gave us the necessary impetus for our ongoing journey. We proceeded towards our next destination “Giu Monastery”, a diversion of 8 KM from NH22. We reached Geyu Monastery @ 1:40 p.m. thereby covering a distance of 75 KMs.
Spiti River passing through the valley
Giu Mummy & Monastery
Before starting our sojourn of Spiti Valley this place has raised our curiosity as well as excitment due to an existence of naturally preserved “Mummy” and we were here to witness the same. What we saw was an unbelievable sight of a naturally preserved mummy inside a glass case completely dried up and the eyes, teeth and hair on its head still intact. Giu a tiny hamlet situated at a height of 10000 feet 40 KMs away from Tabo with very thin population has gained prominence because of existence of “Mummy”. An orange coloured cemented gate marks the deviation towards this village on NH22 from where it is 8 KMs away with steep climb with moderate road conditions. People of Giu village and the region around consider this mummy to be of a monk and carbon dating has confirmed that it is more than 550 years old. Every villager has been entrusted upon the responsibility to keep custody of the monastery on a rotation basis and show it to travellers when they arrive. Luckily we found the Good Samaritan very soon who guided us towards the monastery. The village has few food joints and best bet to stay would be at some local’s place. A little stream passes alongside the village and landscape as usual was magnificent. We were highly impressed by this small stopover. Prayers are offered daily at the shrine by the locals. The world is divided between the scientific and the mystical but one thing is for certain that the Mummy has put this small village of Giu on the globe.
Entrance Gate towards Giu Village
Beautiful Giu Monastery
Naturally Preserved 550 Years old Mummy
View from Giu Monastery
Water Stream running beside Giu Road
Khab – Confluence of Spiti & Sutlej River
We left from Giu at 2:40 p.m. and once again on the highway with untold mystery everywhere. Within few minutes of our journey we reached a junction where we crossed over to another valley thereby marking an end of our sojourn in Spiti Valley. This beautiful place is known as “Khab” a small village on NH22 at the confluence of Spiti River and Sutlej River. The Spiti River flowing through the Spiti valley here meets the Sutlej, which originates from Mansarovar Lake in Tibet.
Khab – confluence of Spiti & Sutlej River
Enjoying the landscape
Khab to Kalpa
By 3:15 p.m. we reached Sumdo thereby covering a distance of 89 KMs. The road ahead was mix of good and bad. There was a gradual gradient from Sumdo onwards and road conditions were good. The vast expanse of rocky mountain and view of valley were an overwhelming sight. There were numerous hairpin bends and the sight of green belt alongside Sutlej River at the bottom of valley was awesome. It was overwhelming to see that villagers have started plantation in this cold desert and looks like they are getting success as well. We saw lot of orchards in high terrains which one could not even imagine doing it.
Just like Ladakh, Spiti also has varied terrains and we encountered one more similarity i.e. moonland on this stretch. We continued our onwards journey and reached Nako @ 4:40 p.m. thereby covering 123 KMs. We continued our onward journey through majestic Himalayan terrains and crossed Pooh @ 6:00 p.m. and Spillo @ 6:50 p.m. thereby covering 161 & 185 KMs respectively. We took tea break of 1 hour at Spillo thereby giving ourselves the much needed rest specially the bikers.
Moonland in between Sumdo & Nako
A small village at the base alongside Sutlej River
Plantation on desert mountains along with tiny villages
By the time we started from Spillo it was dark and we had to cover next 43 KMs of our journey in dark including the most treacherous stretch of highway. Initially we thought of taking a halt at Akpa just before the rough patches but decided to move on. Slowly and steadily we covered this phase of our journey as well. By that time our cellular network had also started working and we started looking for stay options at Kalpa. By the time we reached Kalpa, we had finalised “Kinner Villa” as our stay option and reached there by 11:00 p.m. thereby covering 228 KMs during the day. The hotel staff prepared dinner for us and once again we signed off for the day with an anticipation of what’s in store for us.
In all we covered 228 KMs during the day and covered the same stretch of NH22 during daytime that we had previously covered in dark. We also covered “Giu Mummy” & “Khab” which was the highlight of the day. The highway actually is a gateway to heaven with changing topography and landscape at every stage. The highway had very less vehicular traffic with long stretches of uninhabited landscapes. A stunning journey that brings you near to yourself and makes us realise the importance of our existence.