Day 1 – Hindustan Tibet Highway
We started from Delhi sometime around 11pm. The first leg of the journey requires traversing NH1 from Delhi to Chandigarh and was a smooth ride. Beyond Chandigarh, we bid goodbye to the plains for next several days. NH22 also known as Hindustan Tibet highway starts here. We start moving towards Kalka which is the last broad gauge railhead. Having crossed the plains in the dark of the night, we entered the mountains with sun yet to rise. A perfect morning amidst the nature far from the scorching hot Delhi. Kufri was our first halt where we stopped for a while for breakfast and to stretch the muscles a bit.
After Kufri, we resumed our journey via Narkanda. After about an hour or so the road enters Sutlej valley and starts running parallel to the river Sutlej. This is the first of the six river valleys that are we’re going to travel into, in the following days.
We stopped for lunch somewhere near Rampur. Locals informed that the road condition will gradually keep on deteriorating as we move deeper into the valley. What they didn’t mention was that unlike many other Himalayan roads, this was cut out from a much steeper valley. What that translates to, is that there’s a huge roof like rock, a couple of feet above your head and a vertical trench leading to a heavily flowing river deep down. Yeah, there’s a reason this highway is known as one of the most treacherous roads of the world. 😉
After reaching a place called Karcham, we parted from the NH22 for a detour from the main circuit to Sangla/Baspa valley. The difference from the road before Karcham is only that here onwards the sight of humans (or any living being not rooted to the ground) becomes very rare. It was soon going to get dark so we decided to have the much-needed rest after the long day at Sangla itself and go for Chitkul next day. Found a hotel, checked in and good night!