Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh : Delhi to Rampur | Horn please, OK?

Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh : Delhi to Rampur

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Day 1 : Delhi to Rampur, Himachal Pradesh 
When : July 2015 | How far : 480 kms | How long : 12 hrs 

We love living in Singapore. Its 2 hours away from some of the world's best beaches. But you know what they say about too much of a good thing? It makes you run for the mountains. 

Not exactly and we may have mixed up our idioms there. But the point is, we were looking forward to a trip that involved more than lying about on the beach. And boy did we get what we asked for! 

The Road to Spiti

Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh is a treacherously beautiful and relatively undiscovered part of India. Set on the leeward face of the Himalayas, it sits smack in the middle of a cold desert along the border between India & Tibet.

Spiti, we'd heard, has virtually no roads. The national highway running through the valley is little more than a dirt track. Driving on that road in the monsoons is especially tricky since large sections of the valley are prone to landslides.

We did our research, spoke to people who had done the trip before and monitored the weather. Not wanting to get stuck in a desert again, we packed jumper cables, a diesel can, a puncture repair kit, a tow rope and other paraphernalia to get us out of every conceivable tight spot.  Not every tight spot, we found out the hard way. But more on that later.

Our planned route -
Delhi - Shimla - Rampur - Kalpa - Nako - Tabo - Kaza - Chandrataal -Manali - Delhi

An overnight flight got us from Singapore to Delhi and we left for Rampur at 5:30 am the next day. 

Delhi to Shimla

The mountains were green shrouded in monsoon clouds. We stopped for lunch at The Cecil, Oberoi in Shimlaa beautiful heritage hotel set amidst pine trees. 

The Cecil has a rich history. Formerly called Tendrils it was a modest cottage where Rudyard Kipling spent many a summer writing the novel, 'Plain tales from the Hills'. A brass plaque inscribed with the building's history is mounted in the foyer.

Chatting with the friendly staff over a delicious meal, we found out that this hotel was where Mohan Singh Oberoi, the founder of the Oberoi group of hotels, started his career in hospitality. He rose through the ranks and eventually bought the hotel.

The dining room was a throwback to colonial times with wood paneling and thick, luxurious carpets. We were seated in a niche that overlooked a knot of pine trees and it felt like we were suspended in time.

Fortified with lunch we headed to Rampur. The valley dipped and we got closer to the Satluj River, its raging waters audible from far away.

The generically named Rampur is a quiet town down in the valley, as unremarkable as its name. We were checked into the HPTDC guest house near the start of the town. The man at the checkin counter looked bored when we asked him if there was anything to see nearby. He suggested a temple. We decided to stay in instead and plan our drive for the following day.

Stories from the entire trip
Day 1 -> You just read it 
Day 2 -> Rampur to Nako
Days 3 & 4 -> Nako to Kaza
Day 5, 6 & 7 -> Kaza to Manali via Chandrataal

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