Day 3 of Spiti trip – Sarahan, hot springs at Jeori, Sangla, Chitkul, Kalpa
Waking up to beautiful views!!
I woke up just before Subbu. From the bed I could see a green mountain on the left. I felt a little disappointed. I wanted to see snow-capped Himalayas and three days into the trip I was still seeing green mountains. Not eager to see this view, I got up to brush my teeth and fresh up.
By the time I was done brushing, Subbu got up and was calling me out to see the views from the balcony. I was little perplexed. She is not as eager to see greenery as I am so I was wondering why she was calling me with so much enthusiasm. I lazily replied that I saw the view and Subbu could not understand why I was so lethargic despite these beautiful views. I slowly went to the balcony. As I did not put on my contact lens, I could only see the vague blurred image of beautiful snow capped mountains.
I rushed back to room, put on my contact lens, and ran as fast as I could to balcony. The views were all clear now and very beautiful! We “are” in Himalayas finally!
We could hear birds chirping merrily. Oh was it beautiful! Such a great way to start day! Subbu ordered some lemon tea. She is a tea aficionado. I ordered coffee. And, peacefully we sat in the balcony and sipped our hot beverages, basking in the warm sun, listening to the birds’ melodious chorus, breathing fresh crisp mountain air, and seeing stunning snow-capped Himalayas. Wow! A feast to senses!
We took some pictures from the balcony. There was so much brightness around that I could not make out if the pictures were coming well or not. This is my first time in Himalayas and first time handling such bright scenes; I did not want to let myself down and return with mediocre images that I am ashamed of. Despite taking several test shots, I just could not gauge the bright scene and I was not at all happy with the image I saw in my camera screen. So as a last desperate attempt, I took exposure bracketed 3 shots hoping that I can merge them later and retrieve much more details. I used this same technique throughout the trip as the scene was almost always bright, with snow reflecting the sunlight. I was so apprehensive until I got back to Hyderabad and worked on the images. Thankfully, this technique worked! I could retrieve a lot of details and create some good images of Himalayas.
We ordered some breakfast and again peacefully ate it in the balcony. Subbu was searching on internet and got to know that there are some hot springs nearby. She wanted to see those hot springs before heading to Sangla.
Jeori hot water springs
Nariender knew these hot water springs and said he would take us. En route he even showed some mahal kind of structure from where the mountain views are good.
The hot water springs at Jeori turned out to be basic. Water is collected in a tank and diverted to two pools; one for females and other for males. The water looked murky; I am not sure if the spring water itself is like that or if visitors polluted it. Worth a visit if you are interested.
From here, we headed to Nariender’s friend house on way to Sangla. We visited his house. It was beautiful with apple orchard in the house. The views from the all rooms were stunning. After exchanging the pleasantries, we resumed our journey.
Somewhere near Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant, we took a pause to refuel. But the fuel station itself was awaiting to refuelled. We had to wait for an hour. During this time, we went to a humble eatery nearby and Subbu ordered Thukpa while I ordered good old maggi. There, we also noticed that the staff prepares their own noodles, something new to both me and Subbu. After refuelling ourselves and vehicle, we resumed our Himalayan journey.
Awesome views and scary roads
The entire day I was awestruck and was staring at mountain peaks open-mouthed. I was simply mesmerised. Subbu understood my state of awe and just let me be.
Sutlej river, beautiful with her aqua greens. The colour quickly changed to muddy brown downstream.
I can never forget this image of glistening smooth snow. I am glad I could recreate the image in my mind.
Another image that I can never forget. I wish I could dip my fingers in the molten glistening snow!
We crossed Sangla quickly and were on our way to Chitkul. Before we reached Chitkul, we saw this cafe that is pure bliss! It is surrounded by scenery on all sides; mountains in 3 sides and river on the 4th. We had some coffee and tea here.
Views around the cafe
Seeing all this beautiful scenery around me and Subbu were very happy. Finally we reached Baspa river camping area in Chitkul. It was simply stunning! The sunset was gorgeous!
After taking a lot of pictures, we returned to Chitkul village. Subbu wanted to go around the village and meet locals. I preferred looking at colours change in the sky while the sun sets.
Fiery oranges over Chitkul.
Beautiful orange shades over a peak in Chitkul.
Temple in Chitkul village
Chitkul village and Baspa river
A bad surprise from Nariender
Nariender suggested that we reach Kalpa and stay there for the night. Kalpa and Reckong Peo are very close. As Kalpa is at higher altitude, views are better so we decided to go ahead with Nariendar’s suggestion. By the time we started from Chitkul, sun had already set. On the way, we were searching accommodation options in Kalpa.
While it was pitch dark and cold outside, Nariendar humorously blurted that he smoked weed while at Chitkul! Me and Subbu were both shocked. Our minds went blank and we didn’t know what to make out of this situation. We never smoked weed or had bhaang. We did not know what it feels like or whether a person can drive under that influence. With winding narrow roads ahead of us, all surrounded by pitch darkness, I actually got very angry but felt very helpless. I just wanted to get down despite the cold temperature, call some nearby police station or tour agent and reach Kalpa or somewhere nearby. But all these options seemed unviable as the signals were spotty. I could sense Subbu’s similar apprehensions. We talked in Telugu so that Nariendar won’t understand what we were talking. We both were disgusted with him and were very worried about ourselves. Not knowing what to do, I called my boyfriend and she called a friend of hers; hoping that someone could share information or perspectives we didn’t know. Both of them advised us to stay calm and let Nariendar drive as long as he seemed normal.
With nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, we gave in. I was just hoping that we would reach Kalpa safely. Somewhere here, we had contacted The Monk hotel and reserved the room. Nariendar negotiated and got the room for us at good price.
With our awkward silence and apprehensive tone, Nariendar realised that we were extremely unhappy with what he did. So he promised that he won’t smoke weed again in our trip. He said he was very “ashamed” of what he did. But we both were lost in our apprehensions and just listened to what he had to say. By this time, we had lost some significant trust we had on our driver.
Reached Kalpa safely
After skipping heart beats at several winding curves, we finally reached Kalpa safely. I thanked my stars. Jai at reception showed us available rooms and Subbu picked the cleaner one. We ordered food; simple Jeera rice and dal. We retired after such an eventful day.