This May we went on a tour to Kinnur, Spiti valley and Lahul, Himachal Pradesh starting from Simla... read more
This May we went on a tour to Kinnur, Spiti valley and Lahul, Himachal Pradesh starting from Simla... read more
“A very bad planning, I must say” said one of the well-known tour operators in Shimla whom we met in the evening prior to our departure for Kalpa. He wasn’t too wrong either. In the last 8 days we did quite an extensive traverse through Himachal – Pathankot-Dharamshala-McLeogunj-Manali-Shimla. Our circuit was yet to complete . And now, one more long road ahead. A journey to Kalpa from Shimla and then back. It meant doubling the travel distance, ONLY to go the Kalpa-Sangla Valley-Chitkul, as against the popular route of approaching from Kaza-Lahaul-Spiti-Kinnaur then down to Shimla, that gives a more efficient and practical time-and-coverage plan. Our lack of travel experience in the region and (more strongly) the penchant for exploring the terrain and towns on our own terms, landed us in this ‘less practical’ coverage route.
But we did not care much. The penchant was overpowering. And after completing the trip, we did not regret our decision either, thanks to the sheer magnificence of the view, the explorations on foot and above-average maneuvering of wheels by our efficient driver. The only thing we did was the pre-booking of our stay with all HPTDC hotels.
So when we left Hotel Holiday Home (Shimla) for another resort of the same HPTDC at Kalpa, it just looked like another point-to-point travel from the hotel/stay perspective. Well, the journey in between and the place changed the perspective itself.
The region that we headed for and over the next three days just got ourselves enthralled by is called Kinnaur Valley, one of the 12 districts of Himachal, known for some beautiful hamlets, meadows surrounded by woods, apple orchard, breathtaking sceneries and in between, some most challenging roads stretches in India en route Shimla-Kalpa-Sangla-Chitkul. But they rather add to the beauty of the journey than scaring the traveler off. The rugged terrain nurtures serenity, and the region is duly called ‘Devbhumi Kinnaur’ – the Land of God where (I felt) only the serious intenders (travelers) should only come to seek something that is beyond our everyday experience. We learnt that the places we planned to visit, i.e., Kalpa-Sangla Valley-Chitkul is actually called Lower Kinnaur and exploring the Upper Kinnaur Valley - Lahual-Spiti further would require some good no of days beyond our current schedule. We decided to stay happy and fulfilled with the ‘lower heights’ only, for this trip.
As per the common rule of mountain travel we started early in the day, from Shimla. NH 22 would take us to our destination, from Shimla. The road was pleasant till Narkanda (64 kms) and then Rampur (136 kms) and Sarahan, uphill with increasingly rocky terrain and good vegetation. The adrenaline pumps in after this, with steep upward drive, U bends and the barren, reddish brown rocks, narrow ledges, bottomless drops, overhanging boulders and carved tunnels. With the thinning vegetation, the sense of adventure-in-the-wilderness kicks in with every kilometer. Off Rampur/Sarahan, through Jeori (159 kms) the travel continued. There is a large valley being artificially modified for a powerful Hydro-electric station. The massive construction work and the consequent shifts in the shape and structure of the natural landmass make the surrounding more vulnerable to rockfalls and occasional landslides, about which the traveler needs to be extra careful and watchful, up to a small village called Wangtu (196 kms) and Karchham (216 kms). We had a short and refreshing tea break and then drove straight up to Rekong Peo (237 kms) and finally Kalpa (249 kms).
At Karcham, a right turn goes to Sangla valley and Chitkul, while we took a left towards Rekong Peo, for Kalpa. From Rekong Peo, there are two options to reach Kalpa - a longer 12 km route and a shorter steeper 7 km route, on narrow roads, between apple orchards, in silence and isolation.
Kinnaur Valley ranges in the altitude from 2320 m to 6186 m (7610 ft to 22362 ft). Kalpa is situated at an altitude of 2960 m (9710 ft), Sangla Valley at 2696 m ( 8900 ft) and Chitkul is at 3450 (11320 ft).
As a mountainous district of the Himalayas, the Kinnaur Valley has a temperate climate. Lower altitudes (Lower Kinnaur), are populated with good vegetation – forests and orchards with oak, chestnut, maple, alder, apricot, magnolia and apple forests and orchards With the upper regions the vegetation become sparse, like most other high altitude climatic regions.
We were fortunate enough to get a quality accommodation in HPTDC’s one of the finest hill-top resorts, Hotel Kinnaur Kailash , given it was Oct end and the tourist season was close, with all last minutes rushes. The hotel has an unobstructed, panoramic view of the Mighty Kinnaur Kailash range, the Sacred Kinnaur Kailash peak (elevation 6349 m/19,850 ft) and Jorkanden peak (elevation 6473 m/21,237 ft) and the Kinnaur Kailash Shivalingam (79 ft vertical) between the two peaks. On a clear day the Shivalingam is seen to change colours during the course of the day/sunlight.
The spacious room of the HKK with a wall-size glass window that opened on the stunning view of the range was the icing on the cake where one just needs to open eyes and roll over in the bed for a Good Morning blessing. The view continued unabated throughout the day till the amber glows of the evening. The entire layout of the hotel was done thoughtfully, to maximize the view of the Kinnaur Kailash Range from every possible angle, be it the walkway, garden or the dining room. The staff were cordial and actively helpful. The kitchen served piping hot food, and a few exotic Himachali dishes, in addition to the regular menu. Overall, a pleasant experience.
Kalpa is also an ideal place for retreat of the mind. It is a place where SILENCE rules over noises in the head, considerably reduces the speed of disturbing thoughts and emotions and balms the mind. In 1992, this place was chosen by His Holiness The Dalai Lama to hold the famous convention on Kalachakra Initiation, a master lesson for the ardent practitioners of Tantric Buddhism that drew followers from across continents. Since then, the place is highly revered by the Buddhists and alike. We visited the Stupas, a little uphill and then the monasteries. The places reverberated peace, and more importantly, instilled a sincere wish to seek peace and all its manifestations in the very lives we live.
A drive after taking the right turn from Karchham, of 16 kms further downhill would take the traveler to the famous Sangla valley (or Baspa Valley) where romancing a slice of the Himalayan surroundings - the meadows , the Baspa river and the not-so-far mountains becomes the first nature of man.
A night-over in the tents (a pre-arrangement is necessary because of the heavy demand during seasons) is highly recommended. Without staying back in the lap of the valley in the evening the essence of this trip will remain somewhat amiss. Unfortunately we could not do the night-over and had to be content with the moments of the brief halt, en route Chitkul.
Chitkul, another 28 kms from Sangla Valley is the last village on Indian side of the Indo-Tibet border. A pristine land comprising mainly farmers and a few shops and guest houses, Chitkul is the ideal resting place for trekkers. Situated on the banks of Baspa river it often serves as the gateway for venturing into the deeper sections of the mountain range.
We had reserved one day for Sangla and Chitkul. This proved to be less than sufficient. From Kalpa we de-toured to Karcham and then on the right turn. The road was challenging, hence with a constant limitation on speed and extra control was necessary. On reaching Chitkul late in the morning, however, we forgot the road behind. It was October-end and the climate was on its height, a picturesque landscape revealed before us, with the azure blue sky, the jagged peaks and mountains, gentle flow of cool (or cold?) Baspa river and riot of colours in the valley bursting with high altitude flora. We couldn’t have expected a better reward for the journey. Till afternoon we remain entranced, with sips of local black coffee in between and some clicks to the best of our abilities to realise that it is futile to try capturing the moments that held us captive. It was a complete surrender game!
Back to Kalpa, and the next morning started the travel back to Shimla. Same road, same rigour, same care. Many a times, the road itself teaches great lessons and this too was no exception. The lesson was cool for me – one needs to go through all sorts of uncertainty, perceived danger and efforts, to realise that he has ‘arrived’. A traveler, always arrives. With each new journey that he starts his life afresh with the intent to find a richer meaning to living.
Reached Shimla by early evening. It all made sense.
Now what did we get by following the less-popular, less-practical route? We got the most important travel-currency - the TIME.The time that we needed at these places, to travel OUR WAY and get amply soaked in nature’s best element – serenity.
Sometimes, a bad plan makes a great escape for the traveler, only to come back with a set of new eyes.
Points to note:
1. Driving after Rampur especially Jeori-Wangtu-Karchham requires special care as the collateral damage due the construction in this region is high. Beware of small to medium-scale landslides and rockfalls, although not very frequent. On narrow ledges and driveways like this a small-sized rock fall, if not watched out for, can be hazardous.
2. Avoid Monsoon for worse road conditions, unpredictability of the land form.
Avoid Winter (Nov end – till mid March). The area where we stayed (Hotel Kinnaur Kailash) is under snow during winter and the Hotel is closed during this period
3. Recommended place to stay: Where we stayed. Hotel Kinnaur Kailash (HPTDC chain of hotels). Safe and good quality accomodation. Booking can be done through HPTDC office network across key cities. We did this, went to Mumbai HPTDC office and discussed with the booking desk, about the availability and possible modes of reaching there, can be done over phone as well. It is better if the accommodation is pre-arranged from place to place through HPTDC, then the rest can be worked out ‘on-the-go’. Good fun, this way.
4. Lastly, Kalpa is traveler-friendly and welcoming. Nice and helpful people. It is a good option to soak in the experience by asking local people about places and paths that do not show up on the maps. Some things are best left unplanned.
Kinnaur is so good place for visit ,it's my childhood place.I spend my chilhood years in kinnaur and few days ago i got chance to visit this place one more time and it was great experience to visit this place one more time with my brother.we were so happy bcse this place rewind our childhood time.This place is so peacefull ,huge mountains always coverd wth snow and some big and old tamples in kalpa and sangla valley.If any one want to see amazing view must visit this place.
Nice place to visit, if you are travelling to Chitkul/Recokng Peo from Shimla. You can witness road under small tunnel and different types of Mountain cutting off the road.
I was very Confused for my honeymoon Tour place and package but after I was contact Colors of India tours team member of Miss. Radhika Sharma and it was nice taking with her and discussing for finalize my honeymoon tour package after she was given good package in my budget place of Shimla, Manali for 5 nigh and 6 days. Me and My wife and other 01 Couple travel with Colors of india tours.com date of 08/12/2014 to 13/012/2014 and it was a great honeymoon tour experience. It was a memorable journey to Delhi to Himalaya’s place of Shimla, kullu, kufri Manali and rohtang and other Various place in private car of Inova It was an escorted tour package from Delhi railway station to Shimla, kullu, kufri manali and rohtang. Last day they drop us at Delhi railway station.
If somebody is trvelling from shimla to Leh they have to via rampur & kalpa on NH-22. between these two places we have to off from NH-22 for Saraha Valley. Its fully adventures road and the place is full of apple orchid. Again we have to be on NH-22 for Chhitkul. We stoped Sangla one night and next day we went to Chhitkul. It is the last villege of india.it is towards china border. It is controlled by ITBP and one can reach base camp which is the last point we can reach. if we have to go further we need to have an army permission. In may you have cary full woolen clothes and jackets. These places are not explored much but are beatiful vallies. Adventure & Nature lover must visti this place. It has difficult roads to reach, remote forest, river, snow caped mountains, trekking to last point can visit near camp has amzing experiene. You will find small hotels and home stay in these valley.
this is one of the undiscovered mysteries in india, tucked away in the remote zanskar mountain ranges in himachal pradesh. he district is approached through the nh 22, which at one time was also known as nh 5 or the old hindustan tibet road and used to run till a place called kaurik. kinnaur is around 250 km from shimla and takes a day to reach. the area experiences heavy snowfall in winters and parts of this district especially in the upper reaches remain cut off due to snowfall and landslides. the loacl population is ethnically close to tibet and this area borders TAR , the ship ki la pass has barter type border trade conducted in the summer months.. indian tourists are yet to discover this place though a lot of western tourists come in summers especially those on enfield bikes who drive through kinnaur going up north to kaza which is the district headquarters of spiti district before crossing the rohtang and kunzum la pass and reaching manali. this area produces the best apples in india and the apple fruit here gas brought a great deal of prosperity to the local population..the only mobile network which works here is bsnl which visitors need to be careful about. best time to visit is from may to september..