The first time I had heard about Kaza was in 1999, when Abhishek had gone there to officiate for the Raid De Himalaya. He and I had officiated a post together in the inaugural 1998 Raid De Himalaya and since I couldn’t join Abhishek in 1999, it bothered me a lot, and it continued to do so for a long time. The next best thing to do was a road trip from Shimla to Kaza along the Hindustan Tibet Road and I kept thinking about undertaking this journey for almost 16 years.
In July 2016, Sanjay and Abhishek embarked on this exact road trip, on what was “My Dream Trip”. I couldn’t join them on that trip and Spiti eluded me once more.
However, destiny had a much better experience in store for me. I entered Spiti in the best possible way – “On Foot”, during our Bhabha Pin Trek in September 2016. And I think of it as one of the defining moments of my life – Walking into Spiti, rather than in a vehicle, as I had always imagined it would be. But I didn’t explore Spiti at all once we finished the trek, for the road trip had to be done, whenever it would happen.
I’ve been on this road till Powari a few times. And I have full theoretical knowledge of this road in terms of names of places and frequent study of Google Maps and other available references. I have done all the back-end publishing of Sanjay’s posts from the July trip so I know a few places that we will cross.
And now I’m finally on “My Dream Trip”. After Powari, it’ll be the first time that I’ll actually be on the road to Kaza. And I look forward to at least seeing the places on the road. Considering our destination for the day is pretty far, I don’t know at how many places we’ll actually stop. Nonetheless, traveling on this road, which has been on my mind and heart for ages, in itself is good enough.
As we head out further along the Winter Trip to Spiti, I’m going in with a blank slate. I might or might not see or feel something different. It will be bitterly cold and I don’t handle cold very well, in spite of being born and brought up in Shimla. However, it’s never too late to experience something new.