Date: 25th Oct 2018 – 31st Oct 2018
Place: Himachal Pradesh
If your GPS ever thinks it’s a good idea to drive on this road, it might be just the right time to get a new one!!
Treacherous and the most terrifying 114 Kms high mountain trail, located in the eastern part of Kishtwar District of the Jammu region in Jammu and Kashmir, India is the Kishtwar-Killar road, also known as “The Cliffhanger“; a really narrow, winding road with numerous steep inclines, the only access into Pangi Valley of Himachal Pradesh. The road is full of rocks and loose soil; on one side is a 1000 feet free-fall into river Chandrabhaga and deadly mountain cliff hanging over on the other. This road is one of the world’s most dangerous roads that connects the district of Kishtwar (Jammu & Kashmir) and Killar (Himachal Pradesh)
The Cliffhanger was on my checklist for a while, but never got down to putting a plan to drive this treacherous road. There was always an “if and a but” on adding few locations to this long drive and it just did not make sense driving few continuous days just to go over a cliff ; to add to my logical thinking, were these insane videos that folks had posted all over the internet. Every time I watched them with a thought that I am going to do this for sure, I was like “screw it, this is atrociously insane” by the end of it
Given the priorities at work and not being able to stay away for long Rohit and I come up with the most appealing idea of driving to Kishtwar non stop; he would do that from Delhi and I, from Mumbai. It was logical; of course; to drive two cars between the two of us as we were starting our journey from two different locations. Not sure if I missed mentioning this before that I was to meet him in Delhi anyways. Aww 😀
I got company last minute; now, we were three of us who set sail from Mumbai. Having driven these roads so many times, the drive all the way up to Banikhet, Himachal was just ordinary. Nadar and Santosh were driving with me aimlessly not knowing where we are headed. All I told them is we are headed to “The Cliffhanger”. Aunt Google only lead them to the movie Cliffhanger and yet they seemed all charged for this trip.
Most exciting drive that it was; tar-less narrow stretch of roads with a great gorge on one side and an intimidating mountain on the other, a look over the edge is enough to give goosebumps to even the bravest. It’s a mind-boggling thousand feet drop is just one slight error away. There are no guard rails and the overhanging cliff obstructing the view of oncoming vehicles makes it even more challenging .
The three and half hours drive from Kishtwar to Ghangit was over in no time. The Clock had already struck 7 hours since we had left in the morning and there was no sign of tiredness hitting anyone of us.
It was still a long drive to to Paddar; this roads drives through the mighty Sach Pass. We were keeping an eye on the weather, knowing that it had been snowing for the last few days at Sach, there was a possibility that we may have to cross the Cliffhanger on the way back too.
Our worst nightmare came true. The security personals at Ghangit informed us that Sach had been closed for the season; the only way to get back to civilization was via Manali crossing the Rohtang La or going back the the Cliffhanger. Kishtwar and Manali, both were so far that we could not have reached to either without a drive that would take whole night. “I am suddenly very tired“. We all agreed to get to Killar, spend a night there and hit the roads really early in the morning towards Manali.
And so we conquered the Cliffhanger
The other option to do this route is by taking the Rohtang Pass from Manali to the Chenab Valley and then following the Darlang Valley. This drive is said to be even more exciting given the scarcity of oxygen. Many have named this track as the ‘Almost Killer’ road. The Killar-Kishtwar road starts in the Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, at an elevation of 2,524 m and terminates in Kishtwar in Jammu region at a height of 1,638 m above the sea level. The road gets even trickier during rains. It’s almost impossible to use this road in bad weather, even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. So They Say…..