The Route of Death
Chamba - Sach Pass - Killar (Himachal Pradesh)- GulabGarh- Kishtwar (Jammu and Kashmir)The Cliffhanger is located across two state borders running from Killar, in Lahaul and Spiti district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. At an elevation of 2.524 m (8,280 ft) above sea level to Kishtwar, in Jammu’s Kishtwar District, which is, a town at an altitude of 1,638 m (5,374 ft) above the sea level. The name itself suggests how daunting the trail would be.
To undertake the Cliffhanger, you need to head from Chamba to Sach Pass (a high altitude pass in the Chamba district) where you encounter two diversions, one leading to Keylong while the other to Killar. You would have to undertake the route leading to Killar. Along the way, you would cross GulabGarh- a quaint little uninhabited village. You need to keep moving ahead to reach Kishtwar finally! The Shyari Ishtyari Road along the way is the 2nd most dangerous road in the world so brace yourself for an exhilarating experience!.
What Makes it So Deadly?Riding through the region can be spine chilling as no guard rails are flanking the edge of these corny roads. There lie many steep curves on this particular stretch that are slushy due to the waterfalls along the route. Only those who are ready to escape death by the skin of their teeth can gather the courage to ride across the cliffhanger. Due to the narrow passages, four-wheelers rarely take the route. If you're riding along the cliffhanger, there is certainly no room for trial and error, or else you fall with a deadly vertical drop into the Chenab river.
When to Avoid the CliffhangerThe post-monsoon phase of the zone is deadliest as it lays down slippery roads post the rains. Driving post-sunset can add to further discomfort, and it is recommended to avoid evenings along the routes.
Security Measures Along the RouteThere are numerous army and BCP (Border Control Police) check posts along the Killar-Kishtwar route. The region where you enter Kishtwar is the most sensitive zone of Jammu and Kashmir. For security reasons, your luggage will be scrutinised, and you may have to share quite a lot of your details with the police officer regarding your purpose of visit and identity checks.
However, the police here are said to be very cooperative. Given the risks that one may undertake in the area, the officials aren't severely stern with the citizens until they sense something fishy. Else, if in need, you are more than welcome to ask for help.
Safety Measures, Precautions & Tips
- You should know that you're about to undertake one of the toughest roads of India so keep yourself calm and confident to face the adventure.
- It is advised not to stop too much along the way due to the sensitivity of the zone.
- Four wheelers are not recommended to hit the route as it bears narrow roads without any fencing.
- Keep along some water and food essentials as the Cliffhanger route lacks any population.
- Fuel tanks should be full. Take fuel backup just in case you don't want to get stranded here.
- Get your vehicle thoroughly checked before taking to Killar as there aren't any mechanic shops along the way.
- People with motion sickness and fear of heights should avoid the trail as they might just scare the fellow passengers, and the unrest may keep the driver from remaining calm.
- Make sure your driving skills are top-notch as you may require some experience along this disoriented route.
- The route does incur a certain level of difficulty and danger upon the travellers so stay alert and look for signs to guide you through. If you are unsure, simply don't undertake the trail.
Have you ever conquered the cliffhanger? Do you wish to embark on this heart-in-mouth experience? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!