Right at the beginning I was catapulted into another world. India is very different from what I've seen so far. Especially with the traffic I had big problems. Cyclists do not have an easy life on the Indian roads. The eternal horn concerts were already running pretty fast. I was really happy when I reached Rishikesh.
After a few days rest, it was finally slow in the mountains. On the second day I was greeted by a heavy monsoon rain. In the middle of the night my tent was hit by the storm. With my body I had to lean against the inner tent. A nice welcome gift!
After a few days I reached the Kinnaur district. Kinnaur is located in the northeastern corner of Himachal Pradesh and borders Tibet to the east. A mountainous area with a height of 2,320 to 6,816 meters. The administrative headquarters of the Kinnaur district is located in Reckong Peo. There I was able to issue an Inner Line Permit. Foreigners are not allowed to enter the region without ILP.
The route is also notorious for the many rides that lurk here. Shortly before the city of Pooh, I was almost hit by a rockfall and above Nako a 50-meter section of the road was demolished by a rockfall.
Only on foot you could cross the section. My bike and all the luggage I had to take with me. After that the way was free for me in the Spiti Valley. The valley and the surrounding region are one of the least populated regions of India. Spiti is surrounded by high mountain ranges. It is a research and cultural center for Buddhists.
After 12 days in the saddle I reached Tabo, where I spent a few days in the guest house of the monastery. Tabo is known as the oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in India and the Himalayas. The Tabo Monastery was founded in 996 by the Tibetan Buddhist Rinchen Zangpo (Mahauru Ramabhadra).
The monks had shown me a map of all the important monasteries in the Spiti Valley. So I went to Dhankar first. On the way, a mud stream had flooded part of the road. But I already had enough experience with such situations and had soon overcome the obstacle.
Dhankar is at an altitude of 3,894 meters (12,774 feet). It was built as a fortress monastery in Central Tibetan pattern. Dhankar was the traditional capital of the Kingdom of Spiti in the 17th century and has some features dating back to the 12th century. It was the seat of the early rulers of Spiti, the Nonos.
The Spiti Valley is a fantastic place to camp. You can set up your tent as you please and enjoy the silence. In the rest of India this is practically impossible. From Dhankar I cycled via Kaza to the next monastery.
The Kye Monastery is located on a hill at an altitude of 4,166 meters above sea level. It is the largest monastery in the Spiti Valley and a religious training center for lamas. The Kye Monastery was founded in the 11th century. It houses nearly 250 monks.
From the monastery we drove to Kibber, it is a village at 4270 meters. There I made the mistake of living in a host family. The Indians do not know much about the standard of hygiene. The next day I was really glad to be able to sleep in the tent again. The temperatures were always cooler and on my 33rd birthday I reached Losar.
The road to Kunzum La Pass and all accommodation in the village were closed. So I froze my birthday in the tent. When I fell asleep, I was completely undecided as to how the journey should continue.
The next morning the whole landscape was covered in snow and the next blizzard was already announced. So for me only the retreat remained. I went back to Kaza in a single day.
In Kaza I lived in a hostel. Since I was too tired to cook myself, I decided to eat at the hostel. The Indian cuisine is enormously diverse. Hygienic conditions are also a disaster here. In the middle of the night I ran to the toilet and vomited the food on the toilet. Only after 8 days did I feel fit enough to continue.
Meanwhile, I have decided to cover the entire distance. The staff at the hostel advised me to make a detour to Langza, Hikkim, Komic and Pin Valley. From Kaza it went directly up the mountain. It took me a full day for the 23 kilometer route.
After another cold night, I visited Tangyud Monastery the next day. It is one of the highest gompas (monasteries) in India, at an altitude of 4,520 meters (14,830 ft). It is believed that there was a former Kadampa facility founded by Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055 CE). It is one of only two monasteries of the Sakya sect in Spiti.
Unfortunately the way to Demul was still impassable. So I went back to Kaza and from there to Pin Valley. Right next to the Pin River I opened my tent. The next day I visited the last monastery on my list. The Kungri Monastery is a Buddhist monastery of the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Kungri is the second oldest monastery in Spiti, built around 1330.
On the same day I drove back to the Spiti Valley and rested two days in Tabo in the guest house of the monastery. Then I had to increase the climb to Nako again. At this point I said goodbye to this beautiful area. The trip to the Spiti Valley was definitely a highlight from which I will optimize my whole life. The lifestyle of the people, mixed with the beautiful mountain landscape, has moved me deeply.
Shortly afterwards, I wanted to return to this area. Cycling in India is enormously dangerous in my view and I would not recommend it. I was quite happy when I reached the border to Nepal two weeks later.
A German motorcyclist described the Spiti Valley in Nepal very well: "It is the most beautiful place in India because it is not like India". I can only agree with this statement.