DANGEROUS ROADS MANALI to DHARAMSHALA OVER THE SACH PASS
CATEGORY || CYCLING
MONTH || JULY TO OCTOBER
LOCATION || Manali, Lahaul, Pattan Valley, Pangi, Chamba, Dalhousie, Dharamshala
HIGHEST ELEVATION || SACH PASS 4390m
DURATION || 10 Days
GRADE || Easy
ACCOMMODATION || A grade hotels and camps on twin sharing basis
MAX GROUP SIZE || 16, Minimum 4
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION
Pangi is remarkable in its rugged grandeur and austere beauty. The scenery is sublime and imposing and nature appears in her wildest and grandest moods. Everything is on a stupendous scale. The great river rolls along in a deep and narrow gorge, lashing itself into fury, sandwiched between adamantine cliffs that confine it. Precipices spring from the brink in places almost perpendicular to a height of 1,000 to 2,000 feet. On the lower ranges are grassy slopes of rich pasture with dense forests of pine and cedar, while higher up the stern and majestic mountains attaining an altitude from 18,000 to 21,000 feet rising far above the line of eternal snow. But all this is not rugged and sublimity and naked beauty. Every few miles the traveler reaches tolerably open nooks of surpassing beauty, which may have been small lakes in some gone by age, while the river was cutting its course.” Dr J Hutchinson 1910 ……. nothing has changed much ever since.
Welcome to the High Adventure of 2019. Mountain Biking on one of the world’s most dangerous roads from Manali to Dharamshala over the Sach Pass 4390mts, passing through Lahaul, Pattan Valley, Pangi and Chamba collectively known as the Chandrabhaga valley because of the fast flowing Chandrabhaga river, also known as Chenab.
In the words of Minakshi Chaudhary in her book ‘Exploring Pangi Himalaya – A world beyond civilisation’, she remarks “If you want to avenge someone politically send them to the Pangi Valley”. An old saying in Himachal Pradesh that stands valid even today. This fearful feeling comes out of reluctance. Who wants to live in a snow-bound region, cut-off from the external world for more than six months? Moreover a family man from outside world has no business in the Pangi Valley.
Pangi is a narrow valley in the middle Himalaya, sandwiched between the mighty Pir Panjals and the Zanskar ranges. Avid Travellers use deep metaphors and adjectives to describe the region ‘forlorn’, ‘Time and space acquire a new dimension in this land locked, snow bound valley’ (Minakshi Chaudhary). Being snowbound for most of the year, lend to its semi arctic conditions rendering harsh living.
ABOUT THE TRIP
To quote Dr. Hutchinson again “Every few miles the traveller reaches tolerably open nooks or surpassing beauty, which may have been small lakes in some gone by age, while the river was cutting its course. The interlink roads or paths from one village to the other till now are so narrow and dangerous that in several areas two people cannot cross each other and in other parts a person can only put his one feet on the path to cross the area. In some places precipice affords no space for any path, therefore the path had to be carved on the face of the cliff supported by iron bars fixed horizontally into the rock , elsewhere the path crosses from ledge to ledge by means of wooden narrow bridges of primitive and insecure kind, sometimes at a giddy height above the torrent.”
This description still holds true, though now the Border road has constructed a road, and it is one of the most dangerous road in the world.
And this is our playground for our Mountain Biking Adventure through the Pangi Himalaya over the Sach pass. Yes expect Giddy heights, Torrential streams to cross, gruelling uphills, thrilling downhills, tough gradients. Also expect stunning scenery, a memory which will resonate and the best hospitality with camaraderie. Read on through for the itinerary and other details.
THE ITINERARY AT A GLANCE
DAY ONE ARRIVAL MANALI
DAY TWO MANALI TO MARHI
DAY THREE MARHI TO SISSU
DAY FOUR SISSU TO UDAIPUR
DAY FIVE UDAIPUR TO PURTHI
DAY SIX PURTHI TO KILAR
DAY SEVEN KILAR TO SACH PASS TO BAIRAGAD
DAY EIGHT BAIRAGAD TO CHAMBA
DAY NINE CHAMBA TO DALHOUSIE
DAY TEN DALHOUSIE TO DHARAMSHALA
DAY ELEVEN EVENING DEPARTURE FROM DHARAMSHALA
DAY ONE ARRIVAL MANALI AND ACCLIMITIZATION RIDE
Arrive in Manali in the morning and check into your Hotel. After a deserved rest and breakfast we head out by noon and go for an acclimatization ride towards Naggar (18kms one way) and then head back to the Hotel for early evening snacks and a brief orientation about the ride. O/N HPTDC Kunzum/HPTDC Log Huts/Johnsons Lodge or similar
DAY TWO MANALI to MARHI
Distance 42kms Elevation – Manali 1995mts, Marhi 3215mts Gain 1220mts
The day starts at 8:00AM with a level ride till snow and avalanche centre on the Manali – Rohtang road, a 5 kms ride where our first nutrition halt is also located. From here on it gradually inclines till Palchan, with the incline increasing till Kothi. It’s long switchbacks from Kothi onwards till Gulaba at a total distance of 26 kms from Manali. Gulaba stands at 2600mts and is also our lunch halt. The tree line starts leaving us a while after Gulaba and Marhi our camp for tonight is 14 kms away. We do encounter headwinds on the uphill on our way into the camp at about 3 kms. O/N Camp
DAY THREE MARHI to SISSU
Distance 46kms Elevation – Rohtang 3950mts, Sissu 2750mts Gain 800mts
A tough start to the day as we continue the uphill ride towards Rohtang Pass 3950mts at 16kms from the Marhi camp. The ride is on tarmac for about 6 kms, thereafter we ride on broken tarmac, slush and a rocky surface. The climb is on switchbacks and a 2-4 (recommended gear ratio) should see us easily being able to clock 4kmph, enabling to finish the climb in 4 hours. The first 5 kms of the 18kms downhill to Koksar are a delight and the rest 14kms on offroad. We keep straight most of the way, stopping, looking and going and not going wrong in the direction of Spiti valley at Gramphoo. It’s a wave of a ride after Koksar till Sissu, 12kms going up and down on a brilliant tarred road. O/N PLM DHARA hotel/GOLD DROP CAMPS
DAY FOUR SISSU to UDAIPUR
Distance 71kms Elevation Udaipur 2650mts Gain 400mts
Today we stay in Lahaul itself and the first is the scenic ride to Tandi the confluence of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers, 25kms, a mix of easy uphills and some thrilling downhills. We cross to the other side of the river at about 2kms of Tandi and start following the course of Chandrabhaga river, which stays with us for the next four days. This is the Pattan valley and we do cross a few streams today and past small villages of Jahalma, Shansha, Thirot we reach Udaipur the biggest settlement before Kilar on this route. Bitumen paved road is bid goodbye a short distance after Shansha and thereafter its all rocky gravel. A 51 kms of ride with a scenery to reckon with, we approximate about 8 hours of riding for the slowest rider. O/N Hotel Amandeep/Rest House
DAY FIVE UDAIPUR to PURTHI
Distance 51kms Elevation PURTHI 2575mts Gain 800mts
This scenery gets upscale today, precipices reaching out to the sky and the torrential Chandrabhaga running along your ride. It’s an early start for one of the difficult stream crossings early on Madgran, and there on a fairly level ride of 22kms to the beautiful village of Tindi. This is where the adventure begins as we slowly start climbing and then suddenly descending through sharp blind turns and hair raising Cliffside drops of 1000mts. This is the entry to Pangi valley at Purthi, narrow roads and waterfalls on the road coming through the pines, 39 kms of hair raising ride and immensely beautiful, last 2kms a detour for the rest house. O/N Camping at Rest House
DAY SIX PURTHI to KILAR
Distance 28kms Elevation KILAR 2750mts Gain 750mts
A short day but nevertheless tough, challenging and at the same time rewarding with the rugged beauty. The winding road goes past Cherry the first settlement after Purthi and then climbs towards Kilar, the headquarters of Pangi sub division of Chamba. We reach by early afternoon and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. O/N Guest House/Rest House/Camp
DAY SEVEN KILAR to SACH PASS to BAIRAGAD
Distance 76kms Elevation Sach Pass 4420mts, Bogatu 3600mts Bairagad 2800mts
What a day, today! This is the ultimate challenge. A whopping 1800mts of climbing through 46kms, of offroad, numerous streams and altitude gain. We start as early as 0500hrs in the morning and allow ourselves at least 8-9 hours with nutrition halts and photo ops to reach Sach pass top. From Sach pass top its a 120 kms descent to Chamba, however keeping our time in mind we will descend just 30kms to reach Bairagarh, our camp for the night with a drop of 1600mts in Altitude. O/N Camps
DAY EIGHT Bairagarh to Tissa to Chamba
Distance 90kms Chamba 996mts
This must be one of the longest stretches of Downhill mountain biking anywhere in the Himalayas. The vegetation changes to Alpine green and leaving the Chandrabhaga valley behind us we enter the Ravi river valley at Chamba. The bitumen tarred road meets us near Tissa as we continue our descent into Chamba, with one last surprise of a 7kms ascent into Chamba town. O/N HPTDC Hotel Irawati
DAY NINE Chamba to Dalhousie
Distance 56 kms Elevation Dalhousie 2036 mts
From the warmth of Chamba, we today ride to the cedar freshness of the colonial hill station of Dalhousie. A climb of 24 kms, at parts which is steep gets us to world famous glade of Khajiar and from there a winding downhill through kalatop sanctuary gets us to Dalhousie. O/N Hotel
DAY TEN Dalhousie to Shahpur to Dharamshala
Distance 91kms to Shahpur and 38kms to McLeodganj
The Penultimate day! Fairly straight riding as we descend from the mountain and into the plains of Kangra. We finish the ride at Shahpur and from there we are transported to McLeodganj, The little Tibet, to celebrate our most adventurous ride through one of the most dangerous roads in the world. O/N Udeechee Huts.
DAY ELEVEN Dharamshala to Home
There are many options to go back home from Dharamshala. One can travel to Pathankot (80kms) and take connecting trains to Ambala, Delhi, Mumbai and other destinations. One can take a bus to Chandigarh and a connecting flight from there to your destination. The best is however to explore the Kangra valley by day and take the evening Volvo to Delhi.
COST OF THE TRIP
Double Occupancy: Rs. 48,000/- Per Person
Single Occupancy: Rs. 67,000/- Per Person
Cycle Rental : Rs. 10,000/-
TRANSPORT OPTIONS (Delhi – Manali – Delhi)
For travel from Delhi to Manali and back one can choose between air & road. There are lots of Public Transport like Volvos, Deluxe and ordinary buses plying between Delhi/Chandigarh and Manali. Bhuntar airport (near Manali) is connected to Delhi but there aren’t too many flights and at times there are chances of flights getting cancelled due to bad weather so check with the airlines before booking. For departure from Leh you can choose to fly out or take a tempo traveler back to manali. We can arrange transportation for you on actuals.
Temperatures and climate vary according to the altitude. The summer days are warm with brilliant blue skies (max 18°C. min 5°C), but the weather in mountainous areas can be very unpredictable. Come prepared for chilly evenings and a small possibility of rain. Early morning starts and descents at altitude require good quality weather gear.
ABOUT OUR CYCLING TRIPS
In line with our philosophy of giving our clients an up, close & personal experience we Endeavour to make our clients ride the best possible routes in a specific region and give them the true local flavor. Unlike a lot of other companies who prescribe to the totally ‘rough it out’ way of running their trips we don’t mind admitting that we like our clients to be cycling with some bit of comfort. We as a company believe that tasty/nutritious food, great campsite and a comfortable bed at the end of the day is very essential to an outdoors trip
A Typical Day: We like to start early, so our clients are normally up by about 6:30 a.m. You will be woken up with bed tea and get a bowl of hot water to wash up. After a sumptuous breakfast you will set out on the day’s ride by about 8:00 a.m. normal day you will ride for about 6-7 hours to reach the campsite. En route you will have packed lunch. You will be at the campsite around 3:00 p.m. This gives you enough time to relax, take pictures, arrange your luggage and enjoy cups of tea/coffee. You will get an evening snack which is followed by dinner at about 7:30 p.m. Clients normally spend some time together in the mess tent or outside chatting up before retiring for the day at around 9:00 p.m. We have the support vehicles with us so on any stretch if one is not feeling up to it one can hitch a ride in the vehicle.
Accommodation: At Manali you will stay in very good quality A grade hotels. You will have the option to upgrade if required. All accommodation is mentioned in the itinerary.
Meals: Our kitchen team travels with the clients and dishes out hot and tasty meals. We normally provide an early breakfast after which clients are given their packed lunch. Once at the campsite clients are given evening snacks, unlimited tea/coffee, soup followed by a sumptuous dinner. Our cuisine is a mix of Indian, Chinese, Continental & local. All meals are generally vegetarian and non vegetarian. A typical day’s meal would look like
Breakfast: Porridge/Poha/Upma, Toast/Paranthas with butter, Peanut butter, Cheese, Jam, Eggs, Banana, Tea/Coffee/Hot chocolate
Packed Lunch: Indian bread with vegetables, Sandwich, Apple, Juice, Chocolate,pasta,burgers etc.
Evening Snack: Tea/Coffee with cookies & Indian fries.
Dinner: For non vegetarians we try to serve a non vegetarian preparation everyday, A typical dinner includes Dal, Vegetables, Rice, Salad, Soya, Indian bread. The menu is cyclic and we ensure the dine out is an experience which resonates.
Cost does not Include
Payment terms & conditions
50% payment to be made in advance at the time of booking the trip. The rest upon arrival at the start destination.
Payment to be made by Bank Transfer/Cheque/DD in favour of Being Out There payable at SHIMLA. The details are | A/C Name – Being Out There, Bank – Himachal Pradesh Gramin Bank, A/C # 89432100000134, IFS CODE – PUNB0HPGB04.
Payment for this trip can be adjusted against any future trips, if you have to cancel.
More than 30 days: Full refund (after deducting any expenses that have been incurred for hotel bookings, transport, etc.)
21-30 days: 75% of trip cost will be refunded (after deducting any expenses that have been incurred for hotel bookings, transport, etc.)
14-21 days: 50% of trip cost will be refunded (after deducting any expenses that have been incurred for hotel bookings, transport, etc.)
Less than 14 days: No refund
MINIMUM REQUIREMENT FOR THE TRIP TO RUN
The EXPERIENCE SPITI BY CYCLING ride is an expedition in itself and requires huge logistics. To make it sustainable and at the same time maintain our service and hospitality standards, we require that a minimum of 6 people are participating. If that is not happening we will either refund you the full amount or urge you to join the next trip or any other trip we organize. The refund will take about 15 business days.
Please note that Riders must bring their own mountain (all terrain) cycles. The roads generally are not suitable for bikes fitted with road tyres (slicks), even though some sections are in reasonably good condition. There will be sections higher up that will be in poor condition due to snow/slush from the winter months, possible landslip, and use of the road by heavy vehicles at times. Hybrid bikes with ‘chunky’ mountain tyres are most suitable. Riders should also bring a range of spare parts which may include; chain links or chains, spare tyres and pump, at least 4 spare tubes and puncture repair kit, cables, pedals and a good tool kit.
Though there would be a mechanic accompanying us carrying a good repair kit and spares but it is still necessary for everyone to bring some spares; this also ensures you have parts that will fit your bike. There will be a staff member to assist with running repairs when we are biking and at our overnight stops should problems be more complicated. As a general rule, less complex or high tech bikes are easier to fix and obtain parts for if necessary. If you plan to buy a new bike before the trip, make sure you are completely familiar with it prior to departing. You should fit at least 2 one litre water bottles to your bike. Water will be available from the back up vehicle.
For riders unfamiliar with our Himalayan organization you will be very well catered for. Our cycling expedition takes us into remote regions where there are no villages and no hotels. Therefore during the cycling expedition we will be camping. We will select camps away from the road where you will sleep in comfortable two person tents and be looked after by our crew who will come with us. They will prepare all meals including your early morning cup of tea. All you have to do is pack your gear into your kitbag. During the day you will be accompanied by a support vehicle which is at your disposal should you not wish to cycle. Your other entire luggage will go into the Luggage van accompanying us.