Getting high in Himachal

National Highway 22 runs alongside the mighty Sutlej river from the Tibet border to the old British summer capital at Shimla. The sections we cycled were no fun at all. The area around Pooh was spoiled by roadworks and dust; at Wangtu the valley was one big hydro-electric scar; roadside villages like Spillow and Tapri were absolute holes, and by the time we arrived in Jeori there was just too much traffic for comfort. All this made Neil grumpy.

Fortunately for both of us the British under Lord Dalhousie built a high road in the 1850s, and it was onto this that we were able to escape for a few days.

A wonderful escape it was too, providing some of our favourite days riding of the whole trip. Stunning, close up views of Kinnaur Kailash which rose majestically on the south side of the valley, tranquil kilometres of jeep track through pine forests, 100 year old rest-houses perched in true British style where the views were at their best, beautiful villages like Jangi and Kalpa with their pagoda-roofed houses – all made the 500m climb up from the valley floor well worthwhile.

It provided some fun too on the sections which aren’t motorable: pushing on walking paths between Roghi and Urni and carrying bikes over landslides near Pangi, aided by willing young local hands.

Thanks Lord Dalhousie for providing an alternative to the usual Himachal high in Manali, and we agree with you about Kalpa: it could well be our favourite place in the Indian Himalaya too.

See our full Hindustan-Tibet byway photo set on Flickr, or check out a selection of these below:

Cycling by Kinnaur Kailash
Cycling by Kinnaur Kailash.

Cycling on the old Hindustan-Tibet byway
Cruising along the old highway.

Cycling the old Hindustan-Tibet byway
Fantastic Kinnauri mountain backdrop.

The old Hindustan-Tibet byway
Surface deteriorating.

On the old Hindustan-Tibet byway
Obstacles in all directions. This is in the section between Rarung and Pangi that was badly damaged in the 2011 monsoon.

Our helpful assistants on the old Hindustan-Tibet byway
Our helpful assistants near Pangi. One of the landslides they helped us cross is on the left side of the photo.

A helpful band of lads on the old Hindustan Tibet byway
Many hands make light work. Carrying over the landslides near Pangi.

The old Hindustan-Tibet byway
Back riding. Woohoo!

Kalpa - our favourite village in Himachal
Kalpa and Kinnaur Kailash. One of our favourite villages in India.

Narrow section of the old Hindustan-Tibet byway
A narrow section of the old byway.

The old Hindustan-Tibet byway
This took a few minutes to carry bikes and luggage across.

Breakfast in Daran Ghati
Breakfast in Daran Ghati. Nearing the end of our time on the old byway. The road was motorable at this point, but was still a harder cycle than pretty much anything we found in Ladakh.

Lovely slate roof in Himachal
Himachali slate roof.

Sunset in Bahli
Sunset in Bahli.

2 thoughts on “Getting high in Himachal

  1. Harriet and Neil Pike

    Cheers Cass – The views from the high road were great. If we hadn’t been in such a hurry to get to Nepal during the good weather season we could’ve hung out in Kalpa a long, long time!
    Yep, a meeting in the CB next year is pencilled in the diary!
    un abrazo,

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