#60DaysOfSummer Only Photographs

Crossing the Kunzum: Some Freezing Postcards

Jitaditya Narzary

Is a traveller disillusioned by the familiar and fascinated with the unknown... and of course the founder of this blog.

I’d almost forgotten about this part from my #60daysofsummer trip. It was just an eventless crossing compared to what I faced at Sach Pass a couple of weeks later. However, yesterday I just stumbled in the photographs and so I think I should share them anyway.

I was leaving Spiti after a middling trip with some good experiences but also after a bout of AMS. This also made me wonder if I would be able to comfortably cross the 4600 meter high pass or not. I planned to reach Kullu and then go back to Lahaul the next day. It is interesting to note that while the Lahaul and Spiti regions form one district, there is no direct public transport between them. The buses run from Kullu or Manali. So from Spiti I had to cross both Kunzum and Rohtang, come back to Kullu, and then the next day go to Lahaul crossing Rohtang again. As far as Rohtang is concerned, it was full of tourist vehicles and although there were good views, I did not feel like doing anything out there. So, I am limiting myself to Kunzum which still has maintained its aura due to the nature of the road or the lack of it.

I left my hotel in Kaza early morning and rushed to the bus stand. I’d already had some problems with the buses in Spiti and this morning was no different. It was already full and I did not want to stand throughout the long journey through nonexistent roads. However, there was a small private van waiting outside. The driver noticed my hesitation and invited me and told me that he charges the same as the bus. So, the mini van left soon, packed with one American and many locals apart from me.

We crossed Losar village and then started the steep ascent. The midsummer freezing was not very comfortable but the gorges by the side of the road were getting deeper and it kept my spirits high. We reached the top only to find it covered in a thick veil of mist. But the driver stopped anyway for a short break and I got a chance to take out my camera. The chortens (stupas), Tibetan prayer flags, and Mani stones rule the top, as expected. There is also a shrine called Kunzum Mata temple, a personification of the pass. Such objects of faith are needed to keep going on such roads, especially for those who drive.

Kunzum (1)

Kunzum (2)

Kunzum (6)

Kunzum (8)

Kunzum (7)

Kunzum (9)

Kunzum (11)

Kunzum (12)

Kunzum (13)

The descent on the other side was quick after the pass and soon we entered that famed area, which is a reasonably plain stretch but with non-existent roads. It is the valley of the Chandra river and the road also runs along the river bed and often both merge with one another and interrupted by small hilly streams. The landscape was barren but occasionally herds of goats and sheep appeared, causing the kind of traffic jam that I din’t mind and nor did the driver as he got a smoke break.

Kunzum (14)

Kunzum (15)

Kunzum (16)

In between, we crossed the bridge at Batal and stopped for a quick lunch at one of the dhabas that are very popular among the travellers. The journey continued but it lost the desolate charm as we neared Rohtang and the tourist vehicles from Manal gradually appeared. So, I should stop here today. The summer is coming again, there will be newer stuff soon.

19 Comments

  • Mercy Mochary
    2017/03/07 - 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Well written blog! made me nostalgic :).. Though I would recommend u to trek to Chandratal this time.. 🙂 am dead sure u’ll fell in love with the place.

  • 2017/03/09 - 3:15 am | Permalink

    Sounds like you really got out of the beaten path? Without any proper roads, then I assume that you were only one of a very few visiting the site. Impressive. By the way, do you know the meaning of the signs on the rocks? 🙂

  • 2017/03/11 - 4:49 am | Permalink

    I love your photos of the colorful prayer flags. It’s such a contrast with the stark surroundings. Definitely sounds like you made quite a journey though. It seems pretty empty there (maybe the weather you mentioned?)

  • 2017/03/11 - 10:17 pm | Permalink

    I have been to Rohtang Pass in 2000 and still have fond memories of the place and the hour long traffic jam on one of the winding road. As a kid back then I used to wonder what was beyond the mountains of the Rohtang pass.

    Love that the world is so connected these days and we can virtually travel by blogs to some stunning locations like Spiti

  • 2017/03/12 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The pictures are breath taking. The mountains blinded by fog is the best thing I have seen all day on internet . The offbeat path led you to a beautiful destination. I am sure you must have had a wonderful experience.

  • 2017/03/12 - 9:20 pm | Permalink

    The stupas and the colorful Tibetan prayer flags give a feel of the local culture and we find them always accompanied with a pristine serene aura. Good your driver stopped by so that you could capture the charm. This part of India will never stop to fascinate us with its raw beauty, you have beautifully captured pictures.

  • 2017/03/13 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    Spiti is simply mesmerizing. Good that you found a mini van instead of the overcrowded bus. Coming to the monasteries, do you know why the mantras are written in colorful stone? And the flags are also so colorful? I love the splash of colors. Just wondering that there should be some reason behind this tradition

  • 2017/03/14 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Those roads sound pretty treacherous. I don’t think I would like to be the driver although the alternative is putting your trust in someone else. In this case I think I’d trust an expert used to driving these conditions.

  • 2017/03/14 - 11:24 am | Permalink

    The place gives perfect vibes of Tibet! Your pictures are breathtaking and you’ve captured some amazing shots. I didn’t know that this hidden gem is in India!

  • Dane
    2017/03/14 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    Man your photos always blow me away! Those mountains are to die for and I love all the prayer flags! The landscape looks so harsh and desolate but so amazingly beautiful at the same time! Nicely done! 🙂

  • 2017/03/14 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I did road twice to Lahaul Spiti and my hunger and lust for this area have still not ended. I get lost in the music of wind and water. Every time I travel here, I feel nature has revamped these terrains and everything is new. Have you trekked to Chandra Tal? It is awesome and serene.

  • 2017/03/14 - 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t ever been to this part of India and I so wish to cover it this year. The Travel postcards looks inviting. I have heard a lot about Kunzum Pass and its surrounding places. Though I had visited Sela Pass a few years back and it was one of the best experiences so far.

  • 2017/03/14 - 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Ooo – looks very cold indeed.

  • 2017/03/14 - 9:00 pm | Permalink

    You are always seem to find the best mountain passes with the best views to cross or hike. This makes no exception. I don’t know how comfortable I would feel on a narrow road alongside a gorge but it’s definitely worth of the views. The stupas and the Nepalese flags are really pretty.

  • 2017/03/14 - 9:28 pm | Permalink

    I would love those places where goats and sheep cause traffic jams too. All the photos are so mesmerizing. It is such a wonder that you have to take a roundabout way to go from one place to another in such places.

  • 2017/03/15 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    When I see these trekking places I feel like going for it now.
    The scenes are out of the world kinds. And these mountain animals add so much charm.

  • 2017/03/16 - 11:55 am | Permalink

    Loved the post. Amazing pics.

  • Kangan
    2017/04/18 - 5:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s a well written piece. Me and and husband have been planning to drive down to spiti valley in the beginning of May. Would you think it would be possible for us to manage crossing the rohtang pass as the snow was heavy this year? We can’t really reschedule the trip. A reply would be appreciated. 🙂

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