Chandra: official mascot

chandra one fine morning

Cara thinks I’m getting broody for a pooch.

This summer, we befriended Chandra, a mountain mongrel. Well, we fed him and sensibly, he hung around for more. We found him at Chandra Tal (after which he’s named), a high altitude lake on the edge of the Spiti Valley. A tough little fellow, he slept outside at 4200m curled up in a tight ball like a furry woodlice. He was an instant success with all the dog lovers on the tour, and even Cara relunctantly agreed there was something rather special about him. So it was with sorrow that we said our goodbyes when it was time to ride on.

But our paths were to cross once more. As luck would have it, we found Chandra lounging in the sun at an Indian dhaba – a truckstop – in the windswept settlement of Battal, a couple of weeks later on round 2 of our Spiti Epic trip. Perhaps lured by promise of more home cooked leftovers, he followed us back to the campsite, some 15km away. Everyone took to him, and over the next couple of days he trotted alongside us as we rode (cunningly shortcutting the switchbacks) or hopped in the jeep (and generally vomited en route) to meet us at the campsite.

At night, Chandra slept in the porch of our tent, out of the wind. Relative luxury. I’m a bit of a soft touch with dogs so I had to make the boundaries very clear, I was told. Tent Porch: Ok. Inner Tent: Bad. Apparently, dogs don’t understand ‘special occasions’, like Christmas and Birthdays, so *no* meant *no*. Or at least, all except for the one night, when he drove us insane by barking for hours on end in the middle of nowhere (protecting us, he would have us believe). On this one occasion I was allowed (or rather, instructed) to invite him inside, where he soon fell fast asleep; allowing us to too.

His origins were something of an enigma. Someone said he was a shepard’s dog, but that the shepard had gone home for the winter and left him. It wasn’t long before I was contemplating the logistics of bringing him back to the UK. We inspected his teeth and admired the sheen of his coat. He was as fit as a fiddle, and at 20kg, he’d fit nicely into the wicker basket in my two wheeled bike trailer. Although there were a few ‘lookalikes’ in the area (he was a mongrel after all), none of the others had his gentle demeanour, his characterful scar across the nose or unusual half-docked tail. But as it turned out our driver, Phuntchok, offered to take him to his family home for the winter in Tabo, where he could live like a king in an orchard.

He was a good pooch, and we’ll miss him. Hopefully we’ll catch up next year. Who knows, maybe he’ll have sired some pups we can smuggle back in our Camelbaks…

cheeky chandra

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2 Responses to “Chandra: official mascot”


  1. 1 Simon G October 22, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    Loving Chandra’s nose peaking through the porch…how can Cara be so hard hearted?


  1. 1 Two down…one to go! « out there biking: the blog Trackback on September 20, 2007 at 4:42 pm

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