On May 6, we left Kullu for Kalpa. Since the planning for the Himachal trip had been done in Feb we didn’t have the opportunity to discuss it much with our Himachal expert Amit. This was nearly a 255 Kms trip, the longest we were doing in Himachal. The Kullu taxi Union manager told us that the roads are really bad and it takes drivers nearly 7 to 8 hours. Then we spoke to Tilak, the driver who took us to Manikaran and Naggar. He said the roads were really bad and mostly one way with vehicles standing by and only one side moving at one time. His estimate was about 10 to 11 hours of driving time. So we calculated it will take us 12 hours and decided to leave early. We started from Kullu at 6.30 am as planned. Till Aut the road was passable, then from Aut to Banjar was still doable. As we were leaving Banjar the steep climb started and the road just vanished.
Our first encounter with a bus was irritating, because we were on a steep climb and he was descending and expected us to back up and give way to him. Finally Krishnan told the bus conductor to calm down and that we were inexperienced in these roads. Finally Krishnan managed to back up enough to let the bus pass. The next 30 odd kilometers were pure hell…. With heavenly scenery as the backdrop.
We reached Jalori pass around 9.30 or so. The tea shop guy was really sweet and heated up our dosas. We made him eat one too 🙂 and the tea was so good that even Krishnan had a second cup. As the tea shop guy told us, the roads got a little better at Aani but not much better. The scenery never failed to stun us.
Once you reach Sainj you get onto NH22 and you can breathe easy for the next 80 odd kilometres. From Sainj to Rampur and then till Tapri the roads are good except for a few patches that are affected by humongous stones falling over them. The River Sutlej keeps you company all along as do various hydro power projects.
From Tapri, you have to climb a mountain and take detour of 20 kms and this is really the bad stretch. From Sainj to Tapri, the road is wide and you can enjoy the sights, but this climb is a single lane and several times you need to stand aside and let vehicles go by.
From Karcham, the NH22 is still terrible, all broken till you reach Reckong Peo. The last 11 kms from Reckong Peo to Kalpa is pure bliss :). Here’s probably the best picture of this drive taken by Krishnan just before we reached Kalpa.
We reached Kalpa without having to switch on our headlamps. Yes, we were thoroughly shaken by the road and stirred by the gorgeous mountains :):).
Just wait for the Postcards from Kalpa … What an amazing place.