90 Days Cycling in the Himalayas: Day 13: Dhankar to Kaza

Unlucky Number 13 for us, as we descended from the serene and gorgeous Dhankar Monastery to Kaza. This was part of our 90 Day cycle ride in the Himalalyas covering Spiti, Zanskar, Batalik, Ladakh, Nubra, Shyok, Pangong, Hanle, Tso Moriri, Garhwal and Kumaon.


Day 13 Dhankar to Kaza

The shortest cycling day was unlucky number thirteen.

Since we had just 25 km to ride we were extremely relaxed about the ride. The morning was a normal affair of waking at 530. With such an early morning routine, we upped and tootled off to the Dhankar Lake, a couple of kilometres from the monastery.

Being fit enough to ride a cycle in the Himalayas doesn’t mean outright fitness. Climbing mountains while on the saddle of our bikes hadn’t prepared us for walking up one! Within 20 metres of the climb we were huffing and puffing. It was ridiculous how unfit we felt without the wheels of our bikes!

Our breathlessness aside, we reached the lake after a nice trek. The lake unfortunately didn’t take our breath away. It is a small water body which had shrunk drastically. The highlight of the lake was finding pug marks in the damp soil. Not knowing enough about wildlife I clicked a couple of pictures to check with my friends.

We returned to the monastery just in time for breakfast. The food and menu was far fancier than what one would expect in a monastery. Breakfast like dinner the previous night ended up being a 3 hour affair as conversations from dinner were carried over and reignited!

After much dilly dallying we finally hit the road to Kaza, the district headquarters for the Lahaul Spiti region. The biggest urban dwelling in that part of the world. If there was anything to be bought, it was in Kaza.

Cycling from Dhankar to Kaza
Last view of the Dhankar Monastery before we left the village!

Flat Road and Flat on Road

Si hit the road too hard, as he suffered a puncture on the gravel downhill. On inspecting the puncture I found the tyres were literally crumbling. Apparently he hadn’t changed the rubber in six years. A result of a lack of experience, a lesson he would hopefully take away. Not in the mood to repair a puncture by the roadside, I changed the tube on his bike and we proceeded to Kaza.

Our first stop in town was a puncture repair shop, where we got the tyre patched and the tube repaired. From there we were directed to a nearby homestay. Unlike others we had stayed in, this was actually staying in someone’s home!

Dhankar Lake
The underwhelming Dhankar Lake
Cycling from Dhankar to Kaza
Flora of the place
Cycling from Dhankar to Kaza
Pug Marks, anyone who can recognise the tracks?

Kaza

After dumping our bags there, we headed out to explore the town. There isn’t much to explore and the rain gods had other plans.

Kaza being in the middle of a mountain desert doesn’t see rain, especially not more than a few drops. That day it rained quite heavily, which dampened our spirits as we flitted around the town like a couple of ghosts.

We did find the famed German Bakery with some tasty treats and an ‘authentic’ Tibetan themed restaurant owned and run by a Punjabi! In the meantime Si was busy hunting for Sattu and his friends. His methodology was rather embarrassing, as he stuck his head into every shop and yelled out the names of his friends!

The incessant rain saw us return to our homestay from the restaurant only to later learn that Si’s friends had gone to the same restaurant 15 minutes after we left!

The owner of the homestay sat and chatted with us late into the night about life in the Spiti Valley and the foolishness of cycling in the mountains! He finally left us once he realised that we were on the verge of falling asleep mid-sentence!

Dhankar Lake
A stupa near the Dhankar Lakeside
Trekking to Dhankar Lake
Cyclists aren’t built for walking. We struggle!

Route Profile

There is a small climb as one exits from Dhankar before a dirt road descent all the way down to the main highway.

The road is more or less flat from there to Kaza. The only challenge being the strong winds post 2 PM.

Kaza being the largest town in Spiti provides all creature comforts! If something isn’t available in Kaza, it won’t be available anywhere till Manali. Use this place to stock up on all necessary supplies.

The Trek to Dhankar Lake

Elevation profile from Dhankar to Kaza
Cycle ride from Dhankar to Kaza

Expenses

Food for Two 1520
Stay for Two 800


READ THE 14TH DAY’S BLOG FROM KAZA TO LOSAR

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4 thoughts on “90 Days Cycling in the Himalayas: Day 13: Dhankar to Kaza

  1. I’m far from being a wildlife expert, but these don’t look like pug marks at all, because there is no impression of the heel, and I think that cats have four toes. These marks indicate three toes and a heavy animal. Cannot even be a three toed bear because again there is no heel mark. Cattle are cleft hooved (two toes), so this is probably from the deer family, if they are three toed, which I really don’t know.

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