Jaipal Singh Rathore

Jaipal Singh Rathore began his career with Indian Railways. After three years he joined the Department of Customs & Central Excise. After serving for 21 years, Shri Rathore took voluntary retirement as Superintendent in the Department. Presently he is the Head of Corporate Affairs with a reputed public limited company. Shri Rathore is also a prolific writer on a variety of subjects including Philosophy of Life.


Age is just a number, it has no limitations!, but this fact is unbeknownst to many. In fact, any constraint that one may encounter is set on their own accord. One such beast to tame for me sports the name of Lauhal Spiti Biking circuit, which is one of the toughest in the world.

Age is just a number - challenge yourself to be the best of yourself 

Spiti Valley Road is a rugged adventure road and a behemoth of a challenge to tackle. It’s located in a desert mountain valley, high on the Himalayan mountain range in the northeastern part of Himachal Pradesh. Carved into the mountains it’s said to be one of the most savage and threatening biking roads. The route climbs through pine forests and up foothills along the dirt tracks and sealed roads, before ultimately hitting the switchbacks near

Lo and behold, if anyone was up for this challenge, it was the four of us bikers; myself, Mr. R.K. Jadeja, Mr. Dinesh Vyyath & Mr. Manoj Bhasin, all CGST & PF officials in their late fifties.

We four ready to complete one of the toughest biking circuit in the world 

We decided to complete the biking circuit of Lauhal & Spiti valley starting from Chandigarh. First off, we booked our bikes from Ahmedabad to Chandigarh through rail and started our expedition from Chandigarh without knowing that the circuit holds the reputation for being one of the most vicious biking circuits, especially when you have a heavy bike like the Interceptor from  Royal Enfield, which weighs about 250 kgs and stands quite tall. Along with luggage, even a slight imbalance may bring you down from either side of the road where one side is a thousand-of-feet deep valley with a flowing river all along the passage, but you know how the saying goes:- when the going gets tough the tough get going.

Day 1:

We collected our bikes from the railway facility at Chandigarh on the 12th of June'2022, loaded our bags, and kicked the bikes in the morning hours. Our first day was quite smoother as it has tar road and our first destination was just Narkanda, a town in Shimla district, which is at an elevation of 8900   feet. We passed through the beautiful Solan valley and reached at the Himachal Tourism Hotel at Hatu with much ease. The famous Hatu peak was merely 7 km away from our stay, wherein the first-day ride was of total -170 km.

Day 2:

Our target place was Kalpa, which is 165 kms away from Narkanda, a small village in the Sutlej river valley and above Reckong Peo in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. The route was through Rampur Bushahr, a small town in the plains. A major part of the road was quite dusty and rough so we had to drive extremely carefully.

Once we entered the Kinnaur district, it was impossible to not be enamored by its beauty. It consists of majestic mountain ranges with hanging rocks above the road sliced effortlessly so as to pave the way for heavy vehicles; apple orchards, undulating hills, and verdant valleys. The flowing river along the road and Karcham Wangtoo dam are the other attractions which demand for your attention whilst on the journey. 

At the gateway of the beautiful Kinnaur district - a place of natural scenery all round and the eternal snow-laden peaks 

We were yet to encounter much height, but once we reached Reckong Peo, after that, the road suddenly started moving upward with a manifold of curves. Within half an hour’s ride we could witness the snow-laden peaks all around, our hotel which was named after the famous Himalayan peak, ’Kinnaur Kailash,’ was beyond Kalpa village at an altitude of 9800 feet above sea level and it also had a reputation for being a haven for the tourists. The view from the hotel was intriguing and spell-binding. One can spot the Shivalinga at the top of one peak from there itself. The evening sun’s rays gave way to a golden view to these peaks which was unique and captivating.

Beautiful Kalpa - one of the most scenic place in Himachal

Day 3:

We started late from Kalpa because while searching the HPTDC hotel, I lost balance on my Interceptor due to the aforementioned rocky terrain. Due to this, I fell down with the bike, resulting in a broken clutch lever. Since we were determined on completing our journey, we had to replace what was damaged.

We started at 12 PM after the repair and filled petrol with a few litters extra in our cans as someone told us of the lack of petrol pumps henceforth on our excursion before Kaza at least. The route from Kalpa to Kaza is a combination of tar road and off-road, which gave way for quite the smooth sailing. Our first break came about at the Nako village where we had lunch and topped-up petrol tanks as there was a rumour floating about that Kaza petrol pump didn’t have much of a stock. However, and thankfully it later proved to only be a rumour.

Everything was proceeding swimmingly, but instantaneously, the tar road ended and the raw road with an incredibly rough surface, steep fall or rise with 180-degree curves began. Our speed from 60 km/hr to suddenly came down to 20-30 km/hr only. As if this wasn’t misery-inducing enough, to add fuel to the fire, the wind flow raised to full speed due to a change in weather. We were shaking over our bikes like a puppet being dangled aimlessly their puppeteer. Then began a dust storm, a flying row of rock pieces started hitting the road but we were so lucky that escaped without being hit by a stone. In this changed scenario, it was quite difficult to drive, but since it is better to reach the destination in a hilly region before dark, so we kept driving. Even a bit of land sliding was taking place ahead of us. At one place, the entire traffic was halted due to heavy landslide on the way & govt. machinery was on the duty to clear the route which further delayed us another hour. Finally, we reached Kaza at 8:30 PM, there was a huge rush, but since we had an advance booking at EL Gitano Camps which has alluring Swiss tents in the open sky surrounded by ethereal Himalayan terrain, so we landed safely. We proceeded to have dinner & then slept with excitement to visit places which are amongst the highest in the world. 

Night view of El Gitano campsite - a beautiful place to stay under the open skies at Kaza 

Day 4:

Rudyard Kipling described the Lahaul and Spiti region as ‘a world within a world’ situated about 11,980 feet above sea level, and as it happens, it really is just that. Strung along the Spiti River, Kaza and the Spiti Valley, it has strong geographical and cultural similarities with Tibet and Ladakh.

On the fourth day, we started at nine in the morning & decided to visit the surrounding villages of Spiti valley. There was a splendid tar road till the highest place in that region which really surprised us. All credit goes to our hard-working BRO personnel who work day and night to construct such fascinating road networks at such a high altitude area, especially in adverse weather conditions.

Our dream came true as we never imagined that we would be riding in Spiti valley so suddenly. We reached at Langza village situated at the height of 14435 feet, primarily dominated by a beautiful statue of Lord Buddha overlooking the valley, an ancient monastery and mud houses, did photography and left for nearby village Komic which is the highest motorable village in the world and has a restaurant that too is one of the highest in the world. While returning to our tents, we encountered Hikkim village, which has the highest post office in the world. Very excited to have such amazing things at one place, we reached our destination past difficulties which were caused by traveling on another road which has a rough surface.

Statue of Lord Budhha overlooking the valley in Langza village at Spiti Valley 

Day 5:

It was time for the most exciting part of our itinerary i.e. Chandratal Lake or Moon Lake, distance (96 km), and the route has one more attraction i.e. Chicham Bridge, which is Asia’s highest hanging bridge and we drove over it after clicking a few camera shots. The view all along the way was so scenic, there were snow-laden peaks at a distance, with water flowing parallel to the road, greenery, and hilly terrain all around, the open area gave a feeling of escaping from the worries of life and the mind said, “let the ride on the open road continue forever. Let me be free from all the cares of the world.” This dogmatic state continued on till Losar town, but after that, the tar road ended and the rough road started.

Chicham Bridge - Asia's highest hanging bridge 


Kunjam pass was another attraction on the way to Chandratal. It connects Spiti & Lahaul and highest (15000 ft) motorable pass in India. We stopped to visit Kunjam Mata temple which makes enchanted, empowered, energized, and engrossed with the self, after spending half an hour at the divine shrine moved further.

Kunjum Mata temple at KunjamPass, highest in India 


Before reaching Chandratal, there was a broad knee-deep water crossing and the surface was full of round stones so little that negligence may slip you down the chasm in the deep valley. Nevertheless, with the help of fellow bikers, we crossed that hurdle easily and reached our beautiful & quite spacious tent, which was provided by Jamaica’s Campsite. It was really different experience to spend a night in the lap of nature, under the open sky where the temp was minus 6 degrees, with no electricity (must keep torch along) & disconnected from the rest of the world as no network on any of mobile service provider.


Top of the Komic village , the highest motorable village of the village 

When we reached our stay, slight drizzling started, which is actually very common in the hilly terrain. Our plan to visit Chandratal seemed to be in doldrums, as you never know how long such a period will continue, but since God was with us, after an hour’s rain, the sky became clear and the sun rays hinted at us to get-set-go immediately before the rain god comes again. So without wasting much time, we picked two bikes with a pillion rides each and reached one of the most beautiful natural lakes in the world. The name in itself is mysteriously enchanting of a tranquil water body settled amidst remote mountains. As you transcend upon this enigmatic jewel of Himachal Pradesh, your imagination is beautifully jolted into reality.

The surreal beauty of the lake smacks you in the face, it looks as if the heavens have meticulously hand-painted this Kohinoor of nature with their own palette. We did our photography, I danced at the bank of this beautiful lake gleefully since I was extremely happy to witness this divinely beautiful lake.

at Chandratal Lake - KOhinoor of nature 

One thing I would like to add here is that at a high altitude, there is a dearth of oxygen and little exertion makes you breathless, which is true. The majority of people start taking Dimox tablet, (Acetazolamide) which is used to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness, but if you are regular in walking/jogging or yoga there is no need to take such precautionary tablet, moreover, I felt even more rejuvenated during the entire trip without any precautionary tablet, but keeping a set of such medicines is always advisable.

When you come out of the toughest part you won't be the same person as at the start. and that's what this ride is all about  

Day 6:

From Chandratal to Manali was the worst part of our itinerary since the road features gravel and asphalt sections. It’s also known as Gramphu-Batal-Kaza road and 80% of the route has no pavement. Along the road you will have to forge streams, perhaps even small rivers, negotiate with melting glaciers, and drive over piles of sand, rocks, and round gravels. It’s a narrow road barely good enough to drive. It serves as a reminder that we are still connected with the world and also gives us access to the terrain that feels almost uncharted.

PARA 22Driving involves wading through streams originating from melting snow, which run across the road in a bid to meet Chandra River far below in the valley. Sections of the road are narrow enough to barely let a jeep pass, and any error in judgment would only mean tumbling down the valley and into the fast-flowing river. Yet, there are hardly any accidents, thanks to little traffic and the drivers who are used to these roads. The stretch of this rough road is like that only, you would feel while riding like crossing different hurdle levels as in the case of a video game, the moment you cross one hurdle and breathe a sigh of relief, there is an even bigger hurdle coming up next and it continues to distend until you reach the tar road, which begins after a whopping 60 km.

Once we reached to tar road the speed of bikes suddenly rose from 20 km/hr to 100 km/hr and in a few minutes we were at the entry gate of the Atal Tunnel, a symbol of an engineering marvel. This tunnel proved a boon for many reasons as it not only shortened the distance by 46 km from Manali to Leh and Spiti which in turn reduced the time by 4 to 5 hours but great ease during winter as well when the entire region gets frozen due to heavy snowfall. It is the longest (9.02 km)highway single-tube tunnel above 10 thousand feet in the world, riding experience in this tunnel was completely different.

Atal tunnel -the world's largest highway tunnel located at an altitude of 10k feet 

Once we reach our hotel at Manali there was a big surprise for us as our life partners along with their beautiful friends who were already staying in the same hotel welcomed us and offer to cut a delicious cake for being completed one of the toughest biking circuits, we forgot all our fatigue and joined them in celebrations..a big thanks to all of them.

 Day 7

The last day of the trip i.e. Manali to Chandīgarh was a 300 km ride, but it became more arduous when a heavy pour began at the exact time of our departure. However, we had a reservation for the evening flight and before that, we had to book our bikes at Chandigarh railway parcel office, so we had to get going, yes, even in weather such as this. The fear of skidding over wet roads forced our hands to ride slowly. Moreover, when we neared the end of our trip, we encounter a steep valley with thousands of curves. This contributed to our increasing despair. At last, when 90 km left a good highway road allowed us to speed up, with all efforts and a continuous drive without break allowed us to reach Chandigarh at 5:30 in the evening (10 hours). Overall, it was a very tiring ride, even though it has a tar road. We had to cancel the flight tickets as we were yet to even book the bikes, which took three hours, and finally, we left for Ahmedabad through the early morning flight from Delhi.

P.S: One must visit this beautiful valley i.e. Lahaul & Spiti either on bike or through a four-wheeler since we found this entire region as less explored and a hidden treasure of the Himalayan range. Though we came to know later that this is one of the toughest biking routes in the world and we bikers fell with our bikes 2-3 times on this arduous off-road but our spirit was quite high, better avoid heavy bike-like interceptor(Royal Enfield).

Thanks for reading this post. Pl don't forget to comment or share your own experiences, if any, on this mail 

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