A Winter Bike Ride To Chanshal Pass In Himalayas
The state of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are neighboring states and are blessed with the mighty Himalayan Mountain Range. The states are also known as Dev Bhumi meaning “Land of the Gods” and hosts some of the famous religious sites of India. There are many temples situated in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand which attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. Not only the temples but also, they are famous for the scenic valleys which offer unprecedented natural beauty. I have covered many tourist places situated in both the states during my trip to Kasol, Sach Pass, Badrinath Temple, Binsar etc.
This time I came up with a different idea of planning a trip which will allow me to cover both the sates at the same time. After a lot of research and brainstorming, I finally decided to plan a Bike trip to Chanshal Pass situated near the border of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. A trip to Chanshal Pass provided me the opportunity to ride through both the states simultaneously and explore the lesser known and smaller towns situated in both these states. In this article, I will be sharing my bike trip to Chanshal Pass, the best route to cover Chanshal Pass, road condition of Chanshal Pass and other necessary details which can be beneficial for future riders and travelers. I hope my article will be useful and in case any information or suggestion is required, let me know via comment or mail. I will be glad to help you out.
What Is Chanshal Pass and Its Importance?
Also Read: Bike Trip to The Dangerous Road of India
Chanshal Pass is a high mountain pass situated nearly 160km from the city of Shimla. The pass is at an elevation of 3750 meters. Just like any other mountain pass, the Chanshal Pass connects Pabbar Valley to the Sangla Valley. Chanshal Pass is named after the Chanshal Peak (4520 meters) which is the highest peak in Shimla District. Both Sangla Valley and Pabbar Valley is famous for apple farming and are one of the highest Apple producing valleys. The Rohru-Hatkoti-Jubbal-Kothkhai belt is popularly known as “Apple Valley” and apple produced from here is shipped to the different parts of India. The Chanshal Pass also connects the remote village of Dodra & Kwar which lies on the other side of the pass and remains isolated from the city of Shimla and Rohru for most of the year. Village Dodra and Kwar are one of the remotest villages of India and they are separated by Rupin River (Tributary of Tons which joins River Yamuna). In winter time the village is accessible from Uttarakhand side which involves a trek till Dhaula and the nearest town available for villagers is Tiuni. So once Chanshal Pass is open it provides the opportunity to villagers to reach Rohru which is much bigger town compared to Tiuni. It also allows villagers to sell their products and purchase necessary items for coming winter when the pass is closed.
Chanshal Pass is a high mountain pass located in Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh. The pass connects Rohru to the remote village of Dodra Kwar. Height of Chanshal Pass is 3750m and it remains close barring the short period from April to October. Date of Picture: 27th March 2018 Camera: Nikon D5300
My Bike Trip to Chanshal Pass
As mentioned above, I was already planning a trip which will cover both the sates and Chanshal Pass was the best feasible option for me. So, I did some research on google map and finally decided to start my ride from Uttrakhand and return Delhi via Shimla side. I was planning to make it a round trip but there is no motorable road from Uttrakhand and one has to trek nearly 20km to reach Dodra from Dhaula. Although google map was showing the route from Dhaula to Dodra, when I confirmed it from locals in Tuini, everyone suggested me to avoid this and go via the Rohru route. Even local people were not sure if there is any route which links the village from Uttrakhand side. Since I was left with no choice, I decided to access the Chanshal Pass from Rohru and return via the same route. I also wanted to explore the village of Dodra & Kwar but the shortage of leaves didn’t allow me to do so. I had three days to cover Chanshal Pass and return to Noida to resume my office. With this strict timeline, I decided to give a try and see if Chanshal Pass can be done in four days or not.
Day 1: Noida to Roorkee
I started my trip from Noida early in the morning with aim of reaching Roorkee by afternoon. My college senior was studying in IIT Roorkee so a halt at Roorkee was serving two purposes, one I was able to meet my college senior and two it was en-route to Chanshal Pass. After riding for nearly three hours, I reached Roorkee around 12 PM and met my senior. This was all for my day one ride and now it was time for me to explore IIT Roorkee and nearby places.
Day 2: Roorkee to Tiuni
I had planned to start early in the morning so that I can reach Tiuni by evening, but I slept late in the night and woke up around 9 in the morning. I left the hostel around 10 and I was already late by 2 hours from my planned scheduled. I had to cover nearly 230Km from Roorkee to reach Tiuni and I knew that by the time I will reach Tiuni it will be dark. Anyways, keeping all the calculations aside, I started my ride from Roorkee and took my first break after crossing Dakpatthar Dam. From Dakpatthar one road goes towards Chakrata while other goes to Tiuni via Koti. Once I started my ride from Dakpatthar, I started enjoying the ride with driving on mountain curve and Tons river running parallel to the road. Another amazing part of this route is the frequent change of the state border as Tons River marks the border between Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. As per google map, one bank of the river was in Uttarakhand while the other in Himachal Pradesh. From Dakpatthar my next halt was at Koti where I further enquired about the road and availability of Hotels in Tiuni. I reached Hatal around 5 PM and till Hatal road is very good and you will hardly encounter a bad road. The road from Hatal to Tiuni is very (nearly 15km) and once you reach closer to Tiuni, the condition improves again. I reached Tiuni around 7 PM and it was already dark at that time. Tiuni is a small town with very limited facilities and it is also famous for the confluence of Tons River and the Pabbar River. The entire market runs for nearly 200m and there are 2-3 hotels and restaurants. I booked a room at Hotel Apoorva and concluded my second-day journey to Chanshal Pass.
Day 3: Tiuni to Chanshal Pass and Back to Rohru
Human never learns from their mistake and I am no exception. Again, I slept late in the night (watching CID solving their case) and woke up late. Today I was late by one hour and started my ride from Tiuni to Rohru. The road is in excellent condition (part of Hathkoti-Shimla) and finally I was able to clock 60km/hr on mountains. I took one hour to reach Rohru and to my surprise, Rohru is a big city with lots of restaurants, service center, and good hotels. From Rohru one road leads to Shimla, second to Rampur Bushahr and third to Chanshal Pass. After taking one-hour lunch plus photography break, I resumed my ride.
From Rohru I have the follow the following route Rohru -> Chirgaon -> Tikri -> Larot -> Chanshal Pass. From Tikri one has to take a right turn, cross the bridge on Pabbar River and continue on Larot-Dodra-Kwar road. Till Tikri road is partially good partially bad but once you cross the bridge, the real challenge starts. From Tikri Chanshal Pass is around 28Km and road condition starts deteriorating. By the time I reached Larot, I was literally riding on rock boulders which were making it difficult to maintain the balance of the bike. After riding for nearly 5 km I first saw the glimpse of snow on road and clicked few pictures (worse was yet to come for me). I took nearly 1 hour to cover the 15 km from Larot and I had yet to cover 13km more to reach the pass. But the time Chanshal Pass was 10km more the snow on road made it difficult to ride. There is an Army Camp where army men were practicing for upcoming Skiing competition. They informed that Chanshal ski slopes is one of the longest in South Asia and used by the experts for practicing purpose. Anyways I had to cover 7 km more to reach the pass and I took nearly 90 minutes to cover the last 7km. The snow on the road, melting water from snow and mud it all made nearly impossible to ride till the top.
I reached Chanshal Pass around 4:30 PM and enjoyed the breathtaking view it was offering. I stayed there for around one hour, talked with PWD workers who were clearing the road as well as a local driver. I shot a drone video from there and clicked more photos I started returning around 5:30 but the flow of water coming from melting snow became more turbulent. I lost my balance and to prevent the bike from falling stepped my left foot into the water. It felt like someone has pinched 1000 pins into my left foot. I tried to drive further but the pain was too much, and I was scared of being a victim of frostbite. Anyhow, I reached the army camp and asked army men sit in front of the fire for some time. The best thing about Indian Army personnel is that they are not only brave in the battlefield but kind in their civic life. They offered me Tea with chips and asked me why I came here? I should have gone to some known places like Mussoorie or Shimla. After staying there for 30 min I thanked them for their hospitality and moved further. But the worst was yet to come when I noticed that my GoPro fell from my helmet and I had no clue where I lost it. It was a big disaster for me as not only the trip was going to cost me 30K extra but also, I lost all the videos I shot since the start of my journey. I was in dilemma to search but then abandoned my plan as it was too dark and not advisable to ride on such risky road in the night. Finally, I reached Rohru around 8:30 PM with a heavy heart and booked one room.
Day 4: From Rohru to Noida
I wake up 6:00 AM in the morning to give one shot and find my camera. I knew that the Chanshal Pass road is less used so and I lost it in the evening so there were chances I can find my GoPro it I start searching early in the morning. I was even prepared that if my GoPro gets damaged that is fine just the memory card remains safe. I rode at the fastest speed I could ride and found my GoPro 2 km ahead of Larot. Its lens was screen was broken and voice command not working. I was happy that I found the camera with memory card intact. I returned to Rohru, packed my bag and started my journey back to Noida. From Rohru I followed the Rohru -Theog road and then from Theog took the State Highway towards Solan. Since today I had to cover a distance of 470Km the frequency of photography breaks was small. I reached Chandigarh around 7:00 PM and from there it was a straight road with no more curvy mountain road. I reached Noida around 12:00 AM and finally concluded my bike trip to Chanshal Pass.
Thanks for reading. If you like my traveling experiences, kindly share on social media. If you have any questions regarding planning a trip to Chanshal Pass do let me know via comment and mail. I will love to assist. Stay safe and Happy Travelling….