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Greatest Indian roads – Batal to Gramphoo (Himachal Pradesh)
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Greatest Indian roads – Batal to Gramphoo (Himachal Pradesh)

Vir Nakai

The roads from the plains up to Spiti are beyond spectacular. There is no doubt about that. But even on that stretch there are some patches that are more phenomenal than the rest. Leaving Kaza behind as you ride your way up to Kunzum La, it’s an adventurous stretch for sure. But nothing compares to the brilliance of the stretch between Batal and Gramphoo.

Batal used to be just a spot with a great dhaba, but over time many more have sprung up. When you descend Kunzum La and ride towards Keylong, it is the first place to stop for some chai and hot food. Now the stretch from here to Gramphoo is only about 49km but it could take you the better part of a day to cover. There has never been any tarmac laid down on this part and that’s still a distant dream. You leave Batal and find yourself riding in the old river bed beside the raging Chenab. You find yourself at the base of this not so broad valley hugging the right bank as you climb up the rocky trail.

If you are here early in the season there are still huge snow banks and ice on the tracks. If it is later in the season, there are huge stretches of deep water crossings. The trail itself is a path cut out of the mountainside, large enough for just one vehicle. With water flowing down the loose rocky surface it really makes for a fun ride. But it doesn’t stop there. Once you cross the rocky bit you find yourself right by the river, riding on hard mud surfaces peppered with boulders and rocks as you follow the river to Chattru. It’s a good spot to grab a bite and have some chai because the trail is far from over.

From Chattru you cross a bridge and go over the river to the left bank road. Here again it is a hard pack of mud and rock. There are also huge ice banks just above the road that create two mega water crossings. It’s not really easy to give an accurate description for the nature of the road keeps changing every year. So you never know what to expect. That’s the beauty of this ride. And let’s not forget, it’s mind-numbingly beautiful too.