The Cliffhanger Road
Killar – Kitshwar Road, aka the Cliffhanger Road. Is it really that dangerous? Does it live up to its reputation as ‘The most dangerous road ‘in the world’? While I haven’t rode all the bad road in the world to verify that claim. I was indeed persuaded by it to make the trip and ride it.
The road was part of the Himachal Pradesh State Highway 26 (HP SG26) named Tandi (टांडी) – Kitshwar (किठेश्वर) Road. The road link, as the name implies, the town of Kitshwar in the region of Jammu & Kashmir (जामू और काश्मीर , Union Territory of India) to the town Tandi in the state of Himachal Pradesh (हिमाचल प्रदेश). Most most traveler will refer it as Killar – Kitshwar Road as the road that gives it the deadly reputation are located between these two village town.
“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.”Chuck Thompson
Map showing the estimate location of the cliffhanger road.
The ‘cliffhanging’ part was merely 3-4km (maybe more or little less) of the whole stretch of the highway, being nearer to the town of Killar. While it is not the only treacherous road in the Himalaya region, it does offer a spectacular panoramic view of the precarious stretch built with the most basic civil engineering technique hindered by the test of Mother Nature – drilling and blasting. Chiselling a path across the face of the mountain like a skilled carpenter – credit to the BRO and their builders (Border Road Organisation – one will get familiar with them when you are up there long enough). It is a valuable infrastructure to connect the local settlement, albeit a rough product with an unfinished look. The route that is likely scratching the feet of Mount Agyasol (to be verified by geologist).
Respect Mother Nature
Unlike the superficial façade of the man-made urban concrete jungle. The mountain are alive, they grow! Feel it when you are surround by them when your are there and comparatively examine your own impermanent significance. Nonetheless one can indulge in Shinrin-yoku, with less green but rock face and boulders with similarly enchanting vibe.
The millimetric pace of the Himalayan mountain, ostensibly with the stillness of a meditating monk, awoken at any moment without observance. Maintenance of the road are a continual work, interrupted only by the harshness of winter. Road blocks due to blast work, shooting rock and land/rock slide are the hazard for all travelers here. It is not an obstacles, but part of life of the mountainous population. Serving as a reticent reminder that Mother Nature is always ready to take it back, eminently of what is abused of Her.
Judge for yourself
So is it really dangerous ?
Tucked within my storage drive are video of the ride I did back in 2018. Instead of letting it obscure into oblivion. Let me leave it here for those who are still doubtful whether they can make the trip.
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”David Mitchell
And here’s the video clip. An hour long and with no editing, no overly dramatic narration and definitely no EDM music. Just pure ride and reliving being there at the moment in time (within the video at least!).
For direct link to chapters (timestamp), watch on YouTube (click ‘SHOW MORE’ in YouTube description), otherwise scroll through timeline on video and view from current page.
Timestamp / Description
00:16 Leaving Killar
02:19 Overtaking truck
04:59 Checkpoint – No camera!
05:26 Sansari Bridge
08:03 Salute to the road builder
08:46 Water channel burst by rock slide
09:49 Salute to the road builder
10:06 Start of Cliff ride!
15:11 Water – Nature’s source and gift for life
18:26 Annoying tourist parking the road
29:23 Road block for blasting work
29:56 Proceed with speed and beware of shooting rock
33:53 Nature spring water
37:56 Chilling at water fall
39:56 New paved road towards Sohal
42:23 Return to Killar from Sohal
45:56 Down slope sand skidding!
47:09 Start of Cliff ride!
51:09 Road block for blasting work
53:36 The infamous Cliffhanger road
1:05:21 Burst water channel patched
So is it dangerous ?
Decide for yourself and go ride your own story…
One more mention…
In Kinnaur (किन्नौर), near Kalpa, there is a very accessible cliff face route that is nicknamed the Suicide Point, a rather atrocious name for a strategic location with a marvelous view of the Mount Jorkanden, the highest peak of the Kinnaur Kailash range (or Kinner Kailash as known locally). The picture might be somewhat familiar to you as it is making rounds across the social media. As a non-Indian national, you will likely required to be in Reckong Pro to apply for your Inner Line Permit. Take your ride, or walk like the local villager, for a prelude to what is awaiting for you within the inner line.