Kunzum Route K13: Driving Guide from Delhi to Lahaul Spiti (Kaza and Tabo), Nako, Sangla, Thanedar and back

One of the most exciting drives you can do is to start from Delhi, go to Kaza and Tabo in Spiti via Manali and Rohtang Pass, go on to Kinnaur and explore Nako and Sangla (and possibly Kalpa) and return to Delhi via a halt in Thanedar. Here is a driving guide for you on Kunzum Route K13. Click here for more routes. Or click here to printable PDF of the route. Or read the same below. You may also want to read some Travel Tips for Lahaul Spiti.

QUICK REFERENCE
Use the following as a handy route reference guide – a more detailed one is given after this.

Leg 1: Delhi to Manali
Delhi (Rajghat) – Delhi / Haryana Border: 33 kms / 0:26 hrs
Delhi / Haryana Border – Barista Coffee (located on left side of highway itself): 23 kms  / 0:17 hrs
Barista Coffee – Samalkha: 23 kms / 0:12 hrs
Samalkha – Panipat: 17 kms / 0:10 hrs
Panipat – Barista Coffee (located on opposite side of highway): 31 kms / 0:26 hrs
Barista Coffee – Savoy Greens Food Court (next to Karni Lake in Karnal): 13 kms / 0:13 hrs
Savoy Greens – Karnal Toll Plaza (Rs. 81 for cars in 2010): 16 kms / 0:14 hrs
Karnal Toll Plaza – Kurukshetra: 13 kms / 0:11 hrs
Kurukshetra – Ambala: 43 kms / 0:36 hrs
Ambala – Right Turn for Kharar / Roopnagar just before Toll Plaza: 14 kms / 0:15 hrs
Turn for Kharar – Kharar: 42 kms  / 0:41 hrs
Kharar – Kurali Toll Plaza (Rs. 11 for car in 2010): 13 kms / 0:17 hrs
Kurali Toll Plaza – Roopnagar (formerly Ropar): 16 kms / 0:18 hrs
Roopnagar – Right Turn for Manali: 31 kms / 0:42 hrs
Right Turn for Manali – Swarghat: 22 kms / 0:35 hrs
Swarghat – Bilaspur: 42 kms / 1:25 hrs
Bilaspur – Sundernagar: 44 kms / 1:09 hrs
Sundernagar – Mandi: 24 kms / 0:29 hrs
Mandi – Aut Tunnel (2809 m long): 39 kms / 0:51 hrs
Aut Tunnel – Kullu: 31 kms / 0:39 hrs
Kullu – Naggar: 26 kms / 0:55 hrs
Naggar – Manali: 22 kms / 0:37 hrs
Total Distance / Time: 578 kms (361 Miles) / 11:38 hours

Leg 2: Manali – Kaza
Manali – Marhi: 36 kms / 1:30 hrs
Marhi – Rohtang Pass: 16 kms / 1:30 hrs
Rohtang Pass – Gramphoo (Turn Right for Kaza /Spiti): 16 kms / 1:19 hrs
Gramphoo – Chatru: 18 kms / 1:00 hr
Chatru – Chota Dhara: 17 kms / 1:16 hrs
Chota Dhara – Batal: 17 kms / 1:00 hr
Batal – Left Turn for Chandratal (Keep right from here): 3 kms / 0:15 hrs
Turn for Chandratal – Kunzum Pass: 9 kms / 0:30 hrs
Kunzum Pass – Losar: 19 kms / 1:00 hr
Losar – Kaza: 61 kms / 2:00 hrs
Total Distance / Time: 212 kms / 11:20 hrs

Leg 3: Kaza – Tabo
Kaza – Turn for Pin Valley (don’t turn): 18 kms / 0:40 hrs
Turn for Pin Valley – Turn for Lalung: 3 kms / 0:09 hrs
Turn for Lalung – Turn for Dhankar: 6 kms / 0:11 hrs
Turn for Dhankar – Tabo: 23 kms / 0:50 hrs
Total Distance / Time: 50 kms / 1:50 hrs

Leg 4: Tabo – Sangla
Tabo – Hurling: 20 kms / 0:35 hrs
Hurling – Sumdo: 9 kms / 0:15 hrs
Sumdo – Chango: 13 kms / 0:25 hrs
Chango – Nako: 24 kms / 0:45 hrs
Nako – Puh: 40 kms / 1:15 hrs
Puh – Spillo: 25 kms / 0:40 hrs
Spillo – Turn for Rekong Peo / Kalpa: 34 kms / 1:20 hrs
Turn for Rekong Peo / Kalpa – Powari: 2 kms / 0:03 hrs
Powari – Turn at Karcham: 13 kms / 0:30 hrs
Turn at Karcham – Sangla Town: 17 kms / 0:50 hrs
Sangla Town – Banjara Camps: 10 kms / 0:40 hrs
Total Distance / Time: 207 kms / 7:08 hrs

Leg 5: Sangla – Thanedar
Sangla (Banjara Camps) – Sangla Town: 10 kms / 0:30 hrs
Sangla Town – Karcham Bridge: 17 kms / 0:50 hrs
Karcham Bridge – Tapri: 11 kms / 0:20 hrs
Tapri – Wangtu: 8 kms / 0:15 mins
Wangtu – Jai Taranda Maa Temple (Public restrooms here): 18 kms / 0:45 mins
Jai Taranda Maa Temple – Jeori: 20 kms / 0:40 hrs
Jeori – Jhakri: 11 kms / 0:25 hrs
Jhakri – Rampur Bushehr: 13 kms / 0:30 hrs
Rampur – Turn for Thanedar: 29 kms / 0:35 hrs
Turn for Thanedar – Thanedar Town: 22 kms / 0:45 hrs
Total Distance / Time: 159 kms / 5:35 hrs

Leg 6: Thanedar – Delhi
Thanedar – Narkanda: 18 kms / 0:35 hrs
Narkanda – Theog: 33 kms / 1:05 hrs
Theog – Kufri: 15 kms / 0:40 hrs
Kufri – Dhalli: 7 kms / 0:15 hrs
Dhalli – End of bypass after Simla: 26 kms / 1:00 hrs
From Dhalli, you can take a bypass and avoid Simla town but it is a longer distance. I took the bypass which ends a few kms after Hotel Cecil (Oberoi chain) in Simla.

End of Simla bypass – Shoghi: 10 kms / 0:15 hrs
Shoghi – Kandaghat: 18 kms / 0:25 hrs
Kandaghat – Solan: 16 kms  / 0:25 hrs
Solan – Kumarhatti: 15 kms / 0:30 hrs
Kumarhatti – Dharampur: 5 kms/ 0:07 hrs
Dharampur – Kalka: 25 kms / 0:45 hrs
Kalka – Dera Bassi: 36 kms / 0:45 hrs
Dera Bassi – Ambala: 32 kms / 0:30 hrs
Ambala – Pipli / Kurukshetra: 43 kms / 0:40 hrs
Pipli – Karna Lake / Savoy Greens Food Court in Karnal: 28 kms / 0:25 hrs
Karna Lake – Barista Coffee (Pitstop): 13 kms / 0:20 hrs
Barista Coffee – Panipat Toll (just before town): 26 kms / 0:30 hrs
Panipat Toll – Haveli Restaurant (on opposite side of highway): 43 kms / 0:35 hrs
Haveli – Delhi Border: 25 kms / 0:20 hrs
Delhi Border – Rajghat: 32 kms / 0:40 hrs
Total Distance / Time: 466 kms / 10:50 hrs

DRIVING GUIDE WITH NOTES

This is the easy part of the journey even though a bit long. The roads are generally good all through, and you will not be very stressed.

Leg 1: Delhi to Manali
Delhi (Rajghat) – Delhi / Haryana Border: 33 kms / 0:26 hrs
Distance marked from here in kms: Ambala 170, Karnal 92

Delhi / Haryana Border – Barista Coffee (located on left side of highway itself): 23 kms  / 0:17 hrs
If you prefer, there is a Café Coffee Day just 2 kms down and a very nice multi cuisine restaurant Haveli soon after; I think the latter is open 24 hours.

Barista Coffee – Samalkha: 23 kms / 0:12 hrs
Samalkha – Panipat: 17 kms / 0:10 hrs
Stick to the central lanes as you approach Panipat so you can take the flyover over the city – if you go through the city below the flyover, it could take you 30 minutes or longer.

Panipat – Barista Coffee (located on opposite side of highway): 31 kms / 0:26 hrs
I took a break here – Barista is open 24 hrs here

Barista Coffee – Savoy Greens Food Court (next to Karni Lake in Karnal): 13 kms / 0:13 hrs
The Savoy Greens is one of the better places to eat on the highway. The food court offers a selection of McDonalds, Costa Coffee, Subway, Domino’s Pizza, Kwality (North Indian dishes), a South Indian counter besides others.

Savoy Greens – Karnal Toll Plaza (Rs. 81 for cars in 2010): 16 kms / 0:14 hrs
Karnal Toll Plaza – Kurukshetra: 13 kms / 0:11 hrs
This is the same as Pipli it seems – Kurukshetra is a little inside from the highway

Kurukshetra – Ambala: 43 kms / 0:36 hrs
Just after the town there is a Saagar Ratna restaurant (serving south and north Indian cuisines, and usually do a good job – except the last time I was there) – a good option for a meal.

It is also a good idea to tank up at or a before Ambala. Fuel is much more expensive in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

Ambala – Right Turn for Kharar / Roopnagar just before Toll Plaza: 14 kms / 0:15 hrs
When you exit Ambala, don’t take the road to Chandigarh but the one to Jalandhar along NH1. Shortly after you will come to a toll plaza – don’t cross it. There is a right turn just before that, take that.

Turn for Kharar – Kharar: 42 kms  / 0:41 hrs
You hit NH21 after this that goes all the way to Manali

Kharar – Kurali Toll Plaza (Rs. 11 for car in 2010): 13 kms / 0:17 hrs
Kurali Toll Plaza – Roopnagar (formerly Ropar): 16 kms / 0:18 hrs
Roopnagar – Right Turn for Manali: 31 kms / 0:42 hrs
Be careful here – it is easy to miss this turn. I did and overshot by 8kms. There is a flyover under construction next to a railway crossing and a fuel station. You have to turn right here over the tracks. Traffic sometimes tends to get jammed here.

Right Turn for Manali – Swarghat: 22 kms / 0:35 hrs
Swarghat – Bilaspur: 42 kms / 1:25 hrs
The road become mountainous from here. It was generally a good road but has deteriorated lately especially after the unexceptionally heavy rains of 2010.

Bilaspur – Sundernagar: 44 kms / 1:09 hrs
Sundernagar – Mandi: 24 kms / 0:29 hrs
Mandi – Aut Tunnel (2809 m long): 39 kms / 0:51 hrs
Aut Tunnel – Kullu: 31 kms / 0:39 hrs
Kullu – Naggar: 26 kms / 0:55 hrs
After you cross Kullu town, you will see a bridge going across the river. Slow down, take a U-turn to the left and go onto the bridge to cross over. This will take you on the right bank – I took this as my hotel is located on that side. The drive is along a narrower road that takes you through villages and Naggar – all along, you will see fruit orchards, a delightful sight at all time especially when they bear fruits or flowers. You may choose not to cross the river and continue straight – that gets you to the centre of Manali town quicker.

A good idea to tank up in Kullu or Manali – the next fuel station will be in Kaza. And supplies there can be erratic – and you will have to wait to get to Powari to find the next station.

Naggar – Manali: 22 kms / 0:37 hrs
Total Distance / Time: 588 kms / 13:18 hours

General Notes for the Delhi – Manali Drive:
* There is no dearth of fuel stations and places to eat along the way.
* It is always advisable to leave early from Delhi, preferably by 6 a.m. since it is a long journey and it is not advisable to drive in the dark on highways.

Leg 2: Manali – Kaza
This is one of the most beautiful drives you will ever undertake – and also one of the most challenging. There is virtually no road and weather conditions can change fast – many groups were stuck for days when heavy unseasonal snows came down in June 2010. But worry not – be careful and no one gets hurt.

Manali – Marhi: 36 kms / 1:30 hrs
This is the better part of the road – and you will generally have a smooth run. Of course, there will be rough patches – and all it takes is one stuck vehicle to throw all traffic out of gear. At Marhi, you can take a break for tea / snacks / meal at one of the many roadside Dhabas (restaurants). Most restrooms belong to the Dhabas and they only allow paying customers to use it. Buy a tea or cola if need be to use it – there are not too many opportunities to go behind rocks for a long time after this.

Marhi – Rohtang Pass: 16 kms / 1:30 hrs
This is a bad stretch, getting worse with every monsoon rains and winter snow. You will make only slow progress when you go off season with limited traffic, and it will be a snarl during holiday season.

Marked Altitide for Rohtang Pass: 3,980 m (13,057 ft)

Rohtang Pass – Gramphoo (Turn Right for Kaza /Spiti): 16 kms / 1:19 hrs
Be careful not to miss the turn. If you go straight and drive for two days, you will reach Ladakh.

Distance marked from here in kms: Kaza 137, Tabo 177, Keylong 51

Gramphoo – Chatru: 18 kms / 1:00 hr
They have a couple of roadside Dhabas too. I was told there is a satellite phone that one can use in an emergency – but could not see one. Not that I enquired. There is a Government guest house – but don’t expect anything fancy.

A sign indicated Chatru to be at an altitude of 11,100 feet with a population of 100.

Distance marked from here in kms: Kaza 120, Kunzum Pass 43

Chatru – Chota Dhara: 17 kms / 1:16 hrs
Chota Dhara – Batal: 17 kms / 1:00 hr
You start the climb to Kunzum La (Pass) after this.

Batal – Left Turn for Chandratal (Keep right from here): 3 kms / 0:15 hrs
Don’t turn left unless you intend going to Chandratal Lake. Keep to the right.

Turn for Chandratal – Kunzum Pass: 9 kms / 0:30 hrs
This is where the journey of Kunzum.com started in 2007 – and we have been traveling and writing and clicking since then. You also have to be careful here: It is always very cold and windy here. In 2007, it was dry but I could not stand outside the car for too long. My last trip was in October and a snow storm was building up. I was not experienced enough to know whether it would stop at just the snowflakes falling or if I would get stuck. I chose to play it safe and continued driving after only a brief halt.

Marked Altitude 4551 metres (14,931 feet); Distance marked from here in kms: Kaza 78, Losar 19

Kunzum Pass – Losar: 19 kms / 1:00 hr
Not a bad idea to stop for a tea here. You anyway need to get off and enter your personal and vehicle information with the police. A formality for Indians. Foreigners need an Inner Line Permit.

Losar’s marked altitude is 4,079 metres (13,379 ft) with a population of 227.

Losar – Kaza: 61 kms / 2:00 hrs
As you get closer to Kaza, a sign on an ornamental Buddhist gate greets you with the message: ‘MOST WELCOME TO SPITI VALLEY.’

Reached Kaza after a long drive – it seemed to have taken longer than in 2007. Even if I discount the additional time spent on photography. The roads have actually gotten worse – especially after Losar and before Rohtang. There were virtually no roads ever between Rohtang and Losar.

Marked Altitude for Kaza: 3660 m (12,007 feet)

Total Distance / Time: 212 kms / 11:20 hrs

Leg 3: Kaza – Tabo
Distance marked from Kaza in kms: Simla 412, Rekong Peo 199, Pooh 143, Nako 104

Kaza – Turn for Pin Valley (don’t turn): 18 kms / 0:40 hrs
Turn for Pin Valley – Turn for Lalung: 3 kms / 0:09 hrs
Turn for Lalung – Turn for Dhankar: 6 kms / 0:11 hrs
Turn for Dhankar – Tabo: 23 kms / 0:50 hrs
Marked Altitude for Tabo: 3050 m (10,006 feet)

Total Distance / Time: 50 kms / 1:50 hrs

Leg 4: Tabo – Sangla via Nako
Distance marked from Tabo in kms: Simla 366, Rampur 239, Nako 58

Tabo – Hurling: 20 kms / 0:35 hrs
Hurling – Sumdo: 9 kms / 0:15 hrs
You cross from Lahaul Spiti into Kinnaur district from here. You need to enter your personal and vehicle information in the police register here – a formality for Indians. Foreigners need to show an Inner Line Permit.

Sumdo – Chango: 13 kms / 0:25 hrs
Chango – Nako: 24 kms / 0:45 hrs
The village and lake are about one km inside from the main highway

Nako – Pooh: 40 kms / 1:15 hrs
Puh – Spillo: 25 kms / 0:40 hrs
You need to enter your personal and vehicle information in the police register here – a formality for Indians. Foreigners need to show an Inner Line Permit.

My car also got a car wash here: water was falling onto the highway from an overhanging rock above like a waterfall. The impact was good to wash the dirt away J

Spillo – Turn for Rekong Peo / Kalpa: 34 kms / 1:20 hrs
There is another turn a few miles before this for Rekong Peo / Kalpa and takes lesser time. But that road apparently got destroyed in landslides and rains in 2010. And may take some time repairing. I was stuck for nearly two hours between the two turns for Rekong Peo.

Turn for Rekong Peo / Kalpa – Powari: 2 kms / 0:03 hrs
You can tank up here.

Powari – Turn at Karcham: 13 kms / 0:30 hrs
Turn at Karcham – Sangla Town: 17 kms / 0:50 hrs
Sangla Town – Banjara Camps: 10 kms / 0:30 hrs
Total Distance / Time: 207 kms / 7:08 hrs

Leg 5: Sangla – Thanedar
Sangla (Banjara Camps) – Sangla Town: 10 kms / 0:30 hrs
Sangla Town – Karcham Bridge: 17 kms / 0:50 hrs
Karcham Bridge – Tapri: 11 kms / 0:20 hrs
There is a fuel station for diesel here but don’t be sure it will always be working.

Tapri – Wangtu: 8 kms / 0:15 mins
Wangtu – Jai Taranda Maa Temple: 18 kms / 0:45 mins
There is a relatively clean public restroom here – best bet to take a pitstop for a long time.

Jai Taranda Maa Temple – Jeori: 20 kms / 0:40 hrs
Turn left for Sarahan from here or straight to Thanedar / Simla.

Distances marked from here in kms: Sarahan 17, Simla 153, Rampur 23

Jeori – Jhakri: 11 kms / 0:25 hrs

Jhakri – Rampur Bushehr: 13 kms / 0:30 hrs
Rampur – Turn for Thanedar: 29 kms / 0:35 hrs
Don’t miss this turn: You will see a big factory on your left – there is a U-turn to the left soon after. Thanedar is marked 22 kms from here.

Turn for Thanedar – Thanedar Town: 22 kms / 0:45 hrs
Total Distance / Time: 159 kms / 5:35 hrs

Leg 6: Thanedar – Delhi
Thanedar – Narkanda: 18 kms / 0:35 hrs

Narkanda – Theog: 33 kms / 1:05 hrs
Theog – Kufri: 15 kms / 0:40 hrs
Kufri – Dhalli: 7 kms / 0:15 hrs
Dhalli – End of bypass after Simla: 26 kms / 1:00 hrs
From Dhalli, you can take a bypass and avoid Simla town but it is a longer distance. I took the bypass which ends a few kms after Hotel Cecil (Oberoi chain) in Simla.

End of Simla bypass – Shoghi: 10 kms / 0:15 hrs
Shoghi – Kandaghat: 18 kms / 0:25 hrs
There is an alternate route when coming from Thanedar: turn for Chail at Kufri and exit at Kandaghat. I don’t know the state of this road but might have been a quicker route. Not sure how far Kufri – Chail is, but a sign at Kandaghat shows Chail – Kandaghat 29 kms.

Kandaghat – Solan: 16 kms  / 0:25 hrs
Solan – Kumarhatti: 15 kms / 0:30 hrs
Nahan is marked 76 kms if one wants to take an alternate route – not recommended though.

Kumarhatti – Dharampur: 5 kms/ 0:07 hrs
Turn right for Kasauli from here. There is a Café Coffee Day here in case you are caffeine starved.

Dharampur – Kalka: 25 kms / 0:45 hrs
Pray you don’t get stuck here – Kalka is a bottleneck and it will be years before anything will change.

Kalka – Dera Bassi: 36 kms / 0:45 hrs
You are supposed to go via Zirakpur but due to road construction work, traffic is diverted. Follow the signs and ask for directions.

Dera Bassi – Ambala: 32 kms / 0:30 hrs
Ambala – Pipli / Kurukshetra: 43 kms / 0:40 hrs
Pipli – Karna Lake / Savoy Greens Food Court in Karnal: 28 kms / 0:25 hrs
Karna Lake – Barista Coffee (Pitstop): 13 kms / 0:20 hrs
Barista Coffee – Panipat Toll (just before town): 26 kms / 0:30 hrs
Panipat Toll – Haveli Restaurant (on opposite side of highway): 43 kms / 0:35 hrs
Haveli – Delhi Border: 25 kms / 0:20 hrs
Delhi Border – Rajghat: 32 kms / 0:40 hrs
Total Distance / Time: 466 kms / 10:50 hrs

Notes:
* I have not included the time where I took stops. In other words, you are only reading actual driving times above except where mentioned.
* The actual distance readings can vary in different cars. Treat these as approximations only.
* Time taken can vary with traffic – always a good idea to leave early morning to beat at least some of the rush.
* One rule when driving in India: Keep asking for directions even when you know you are going correctly. With highways constantly being upgraded, you may be directed to some more efficient routes including bypassing towns, or being told about new roads. And locals always know when a road or a bridge has gone under, and may suggest alternate routes.
* The best people to ask for directions are drivers of taxis, buses and trucks. They ply the roads all the time.
* Milestones give distances to centres of town – and the above may not necessarily be measured at that point by me.
* SH: State Highway; NH: National Highway

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Ajay, I can’t help but admire your wanterlust. The details you gave here is just one of the proofs – I know what it takes to capture such detail in the first place. What an adventurous spirit you have. Kudos!

  2. Hi.. Ajay…
    We r planing to go kunzum via… Thanadar…Kalpa nako kaza… spiti …
    Could u pls suggest.. Night stay.. On these placess… fr bikers.. Please..

    Tushar bhattacharya

  3. Hi Ajai…u hvnt mentioned vill Kibber in route which is highest motorable vill.pl also guide do n dont enroute

  4. Sir, please suggest which car we should use, as we are planning to go by i20 petrol car from Delhi to lahaul smiti … Total duration 4 days

  5. hi,
    i want to go kinnur & laul spiti, valley.
    please tell me 1.is there any other route from kalpa to kaza avoiding nako.2. from kaza to manali is seems to be long time hence any night stay accommodation in between ?please suggest.
    regards
    s p banerjee

  6. Hi Ajay
    We are planning to go to Sangla (from Delhi) in early June by car. I have heard that many time the roads get blocked due to landslide and we may be stuck for more days than planned at Sangla. Is that a possibility in early June.
    Rajesh

    • You can drive upto a point from Kunzum Pass to ChandraTal but not sure upto how far. I would think it keeps changing every year depending how the winter had been.

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