Other than a couple of passes in Ladakh; one pass that has always been considered extremely tough is Sach Up until a few years ago; only a handful of people had traveled across it and its treacherous terrain was a legend. Such was its status that the term “Grand Daddy of All Passes” was long awarded to Sach Pass. With time, more and more people now have been that way and while the pass may now have lost the legend status a bit; there is no changing the fact that it is still one place that can make your heart jump in to your mouth over and over again. In this article, I will provide details on how you can plan your trip to Sach Pass including details like how many days you would need, road condition, accommodation, followed by a suggested itinerary.
A trip to Sach Pass means that you will be driving on a narrow badly broken dirt road, with a steep ascent; through numerous water streams; some of which so deep that you might as well just swim across. Add to it the fact that there are several waterfalls on the way; falling right on the road. Landslides and slush is way too common a thing. Lose rocks are spread all across the way. If you are traveling early in the season; then 20 to 30 ft of snow walls will be on both sides of the road. Yes, this is Sach Pass. A dream journey for anyone who has interest in either adventure or off-roading. What are some of the things that you should prepare for before going that way? Below is a list.
For a brief introduction, Sach Pass (also referred to as Saach Pass) is a high altitude pass in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. At a height of 4,420 meters, it connects the Chamba Valley with Pangi Valley. The Pass opens after snow is cleared sometime by late June each year and closes by early or Mid-October. Running at a total length of 170 kilometers, the route across Sach is the shortest and toughest from Chamba to Killar. It is usually the last pass to open for traffic and the first one to receive snow.
Sach Pass Weather
Cold is the word that describes the weather at Sach Pass the best throughout the year. It remains buried in snow for about 8 months a year and even during the remaining 4 months, snow still remains around the top.
During monsoon, rain plays havoc on the entire route causing landslides and a lot of slush. Winds are extremely cold and fierce at the top of the pass. From January till June, it is closed so you cannot even go that way. In late June there is still a high chance of snowfall at Sach top. From Mid July till August it is all monsoon and it can rain anytime of the day, even for hours at stretch. With September cold starts to settle in and pass closes by Mid-October after it starts to snow again.
Sach Pass Temperature
Between June and October; temperature will be moderate until you start getting close to top of the pass. Around Bairagarh and Killar, it will be cold but not way too much. At top of the pass however, cold winds keep the temperature low. Nights in the entire region are cold and temperature at Sach top can dip to zero degrees even during summer.
Sach Pass Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Sach Pass will either be between 1st and 15th July or in September. As I mentioned previously in the article; pass gets declared open sometime after 15th June. Travelling immediately after will mean that you will come across numerous furious water streams caused by melting snow. Roads at this time will be in worst ever state. If you travelled after July 15th and in August, you will encounter rain throughout your trip. There is going to be a lot of slush and possible landslides on the road; due to which may even get closed.
Distance between Sach Pass and nearby towns
Mentioned below are distances between Sach Pass and some of the known nearby towns that you will be crossing during your journey.
- Dalhousie to Sach Pass Distance: 150 Kilometers
- Chamba to Sach pass distance: 120 Kilometers
- Manali to Sach pass distance: 270 Kilometers
- Bairagarh to Sach pass distance: 60 Kilometers
- Killar to Sach pass distance: 40 Kilometers
- Udaipur to Sach pass distance: 110 Kilometers
- Keylong to Sach Pass distance: 155 Kilometers
- Kishtwar to Sach pass distance: 150 Kilometers
- Delhi to Sach Pass Distance: 710 Kilometers
How to reach Sach Pass
There are two routes that you can take to reach Sach. The journey to Sach Pass is usually done in form of circuit; of which either Dalhousie or Chamba become the starting point and Manali as exit point; or vice versa. A lot of people however travel via Dalhousie and return the same way as well. Starting from Dalhousie, you will reach Bairagarh and then continue towards Satrundi. At Satrundi; you will have to register yourself at the check post before continuing to Sach top which is about 30 kilometers from here. From the top, you will then begin your descent towards Killar, continue to Udaipur from there and exit on Manali Leh highway at Keylong.
If you are starting from Manali then you will follow the same route vice versa. You will cross Rohtang Pass and then reach Keylong; from where you will take the diversion towards Udaipur and continue to Sach via Killar. On the other side, you will descend towards Bairagarh and continue to Dalhousie.
Sach Pass Route
Route of the journey is as mentioned below.
Dalhousie/Chamba – Tissa – Bairagarh – Kalaban – Satrundi – Sach Pass – Killar – Udaipur – Keylong – Khoksar – Rohtang Pass – Marhi – Manali
This however is the longer route and should be taken only if you are interested in visiting Dalhousie or Chamba. If only Sach Pass is on your mind then you should avoid both Dalhousie and Chamba. Route from Pathankot then would be,
Pathankot – Banikhet – Chamera Lake/Dam – Koti – Tissa – Bairagarh – Satrundi – Sach Pass
The climb from Dalhousie towards Sach Pass is relatively easier than the climb from Udaipur and Killar. This is also one of the reasons why people chose to start from Dalhousie and end their journey at Manali.
Sach Pass Road Conditions
No matter which month you travel in, road conditions at and around Sach Pass are always terrible. As soon as the pass is declared open, there are numerous rivulets caused by melting snow. At several stretches, you will find a waterfall falling down right in middle of a road which is barely wide enough for one car. Come July; the monsoon arrives and the situations worsens. Rain not only adds to all the water streams and waterfalls but also creates a serious risk of landslides all across the route. Slush is way too common during this time. After Monsoon, September is probably the only time when the road conditions get a little better. And by better I only mean lesser water streams to cross because it is still just a dirt track you will travel on. Road between Bairagarh and Killar is the worst stretch of all.
Road from Dalhousie until Tissa will be a mix of good and bad. Real fun starts after Tissa when the road turns in to a narrow dirt trail and Tar disappears. As you get closer to Bairagarh, you will start coming across water streams, waterfalls and landslide prone areas. After Bairagarh, fun turns in to a nightmare as the difference between “Road” and “No Road” vanishes. Furious water streams, slush, lose rocks, landslide points, steep ascent and very tricky turns and stretches will become the very thing you will be driving on. You will breath a sigh of relief once you reach Sach Top thinking it is over but the truth is that you haven’t yet seen the worse of it.
The moment you start descending towards Killar, you will come across Bagotu Nallah which (if fully flooded) will send a shiver down your spine. If you are in a hatchback or Sedan, your car will hate you forever for bringing it here. The road condition until Killar is extremely nightmarish and possibly the worst you ever been on. After Killar, it improves a bit but still remains a dirt trail until Udaipur. There will still be slush, a few violent water crossings including the Madgran Nallah which again will have you thinking for a minute about how to cross. From Udaipur however, until Manali via Keylong & Tandi, it will mostly be good with an exception of road around Rohtang top which will again be extremely bad.
Preferred Vehicle for Sach Pass Trip
Sach Pass by Car: Trust me I have seen locals driving a Maruti Alto here but that is something best left for the locals only. If you own a hatchback or a Sedan, I would advise against taking it to Sach unless you are extremely good at the wheel and can manage it through without the belly of your car hitting the ground. The best vehicle for the terrain would an SUV with good ground clearance. It doesn’t have to be a 4×4 really but if it is, then it’s cherry on the top. If traveling by a 4×4 or any other SUV, you can go in any of the 4 months that the pass is open. If however you are planning by a Sedan or Hatchback, best wait for the monsoon to leave and plan your journey sometime in September.
Sach Pass by Motorcycle: If traveling by motorcycle however, the only thing you need to ensure is that it is well serviced before starting on the trip. You do not necessarily need a Royal Enfield 500 CC; I have a friend who went to Sach Pass on 150 CC Pulsar. Just get your motorcycle checked thoroughly and whatever seems dicey, replace it. After Bairagarh and until Udaipur, there are several places where you can get stranded and something as simple as a flat Tyre can be catastrophic. If you can then carry a foot pump, spare tube and learn how to replace it; especially if you are riding solo.
Clothes to pack for Sach Pass trip
Even though it will be cold, you do not really need to carry all heavy woolens for the journey. If traveling by car; plenty of cottons, few woolens and a heavy wind proof jacket will do the trick. Gloves and a monkey cap or any other cap for that matter that can cover your head and ears is must. Carry a muffler if your jacket is not covering your neck.
Problem occurs when you are traveling by a motorcycle. The first and most important thing you need to do is waterproof everything; no matter which month you are traveling in. If it’s not the rain then the water streams will get you wet at one point or another. Buy a thick water proof jacket & gloves if you do not already have them. Carry at least two pair of shoes and plenty of socks. If traveling in late July or August, get a rain gear that can take the beating for hours if required.
While packing your bag, get as many plastic bags as you can. First put your clothes and belongings in a plastic bag and then put it in your waterproof bag. Before you rope it around the motorcycle, get one of those black polythene sheets from any of the nearby hardware stores. Wrap the bag in it and then mount it on the motorcycle. It will not only protect it from the water but also from dust. Use both bungee cords and a nylon rope to secure your luggage on your motorcycle. Due to the continuous movement on bad roads, bungee cords may not be able to firmly hold your luggage in one place so get a nylon rope as well.
Remember, even if there is no rain, you will still have to cross a few water streams and your bag will get wet and dirty if you did not pack it well as I mentioned above. Carry a few extra plastic bags to put in your phone an wallets if required.
Guest Houses & Hotels Near Sach Pass
Both the Chamba Valley and Pangi Valley are well populated areas and there is accommodation available in form of guest houses and hotels at almost every town / village. Below is a list of places where you can find accommodation on the route.
Dalhousie: Being one of the most famous hill stations of our country, there are ample amount of hotels here within any budget.
Bairagarh: There is a PWD rest house here which in my option is the best place to stay. The only drawback however is that there are no meal arrangements at this rest house. Even for a cup of tea you will have to walk a couple of kilometers to Bairagarh village because the rest house is a bit on the outskirts.
There are also a couple of basic but good hotels in Bairagarh. Hotel Mannat (Phone: 098577 93744)and Hotel Chamunda (Phone: 098161 99189) are both equally good.
Killar: There is a PWD rest house near Killar where you can stay. If not, Chamunda Hotel (Phone: 9418497910 / 94184 72356) is in Killar as well where you can stay.
Udaipur: There are a few guest houses and hotels in Udaipur of which Amandeep Guest House (Phone 094598 28460) is a decent enough stay.
Keylong: A major halt point on Manali Leh highway; has a lot of hotels that will fit in any budget.
Apart from the hotels, below is a list of PWD Rest houses around Sach Pass.
- PWD Rest House, Shour (54 kilometers from Udaipur), Phone: 01897 -222247
- Forest Rest House, Purthi (58 kilometers from Udaipur)
- Inspection Hut, Sach Khas (40 kilometers from Killar)
- Forest Rest House, Mindhal (12 kilometers from Killar)
- Inspection Hut, Sural (25 kilometers from Killar)
- PWD Rest House, Killar, Phone: 01897-222223
- HPPWD Rest House, Sach (13 kilometers from Killar)
- PWD Rest House, Cherry (14 kilometers from Killar)
- HPPWD Rest House, Dharwas (9 kilometers from Killar)
- IPH Rest House, Sural (25 kilometers from Killar )
Mobile Connectivity at and around Sach Pass
Until Bairagarh, no matter which network you are on, your phone will work fine. As you start moving towards Sach Pass, you will go off the network. Only exception is BSNL which has the largest connectivity here. If you have a BSNL connection, you may still remain connected but the connection will be inconsistent and voice clarity will be bad. For all other service providers, you will be off the network after leaving Bairagarh and will not be back on it until you get closer to Manali.
Petrol Station and ATMs around Sach Pass
Withdraw cash at any ATM that you come across before Bairagarh and carry enought that could last a few days. Do not even wait until you get closer to Bairagarh, just withdraw it either at home or when you are around Koti / Dalhousie / Chamba. There is one ATM at Killar but the last time I was there, it was not functional. The last petrol pump en route is Batt Filling Station, about 20 kilometers before Bairagarh. After this, there is no other gas station until Tandi on Manali Leh highway. There are a couple of Dhabas on the way, one near Satrundi and another near Bagotu where you can eat but it will mostly just be Maggie or tea.
Minimum Time Needed for Sach Pass Trip
A minimum of 4 days is required for a trip to Sach Pass from Delhi, even though it can be done in 3 days as well if you are up for 15-16 hours of rides on first and third day. A travel plan and Itinerary is explained in next part of this article.
Sach Pass Itinerary
Please click HERE to take you to next part of this article, Sach Itinerary – A detailed travel plan for 3, 4, 5 and 6 days. I have explained how you can plan your itinerary in this article.
I hope this information regarding planning a trip to Sach Pass was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum and I will be glad to answer.