Table of contents for kinnaur in mar 2010 (kalpa/sangla/chitkul)
Recap – This is the last leg of our 08 days trip Delhi – Kalpa – Sangla – Chitkul- Shimla – Delhi. Though Sangla was the intended halt, we ended up at Rakcham, about 12 kms beyond Sangla by the evening of Day-5.
Rakcham boasts of a PWD Guest House (2 rooms) and 2 private guest houses (or hotels, if terminology matters).
Rakcham. Rakcham (2900 mtrs ASL) is a relatively unknown place, located midway between two lesser unknown places, viz. Sangla and Chitkul. The beauty of this small village with a population of 800 defies words – so I have tried using more of snaps than words.
The village lies on left of the main road (when facing towards Chitkul) and on the right gloriously flows the Baspa river. The river is almost at level with the village and thanks to wide expanse, the force of water is not as menacing. At places, we could easily walk across to the other side. Add to that very clean, walkable banks interspersed with loads of snow – and you get the perfect post card location. Snaps 1, 2.
Since it was a spontaneous decision to halt at Rakcham, we approached the first logical shelter – a PWD Guest House, located at Chitkul end of the main road.
The scene however was not very encouraging. A 2-3 feet layer of hardened snow surrounded this small building. After much shouting around, the caretaker appeared, only to inform that since the snow is not yet cleared, the Guest House does not have water supply nor the drains have been functional – thus the wash rooms can not be used.
We remembered the hotel we had crossed while entering Rakcham. That is how we reached Rupin View Hotel, a nice, comfy set-up.
Rupin View is a misnomer (of sorts), because Rupin is a distant river further down in Sangla or Kumaon valleys. Rupin View, however, offers view of Baspa. The hotel comprises of two buildings – older one is a wooden structure with colonial air, the newer one is standard format 3-storied building, but offers a better view of Baspa river and Himalayan slopes beyond that. We settled for better view.
A good part of traveling these areas in this period is that you are one of the first arrivals of the season, which means:-
1. Almost empty hotels with chances of discounted rates
2. Well prepared rooms with laundry fresh linen and other trappings.
3. Not to mention undivided attention of the owner/caretaker, who have all the time in the world for you.
Mr Naresh [09418092894/ 09218685518/ Himalayan Discovery/
([email protected])] , who also conducts trekking and other adventure stuff in the area, runs the hotel. We were the sole occupants (the first in the season), so the tariff was something like 700/- bucks for a room. This, I was told, goes up to 1500/- during the season. We also had a great dinner, perhaps because we had ordered the same stuff which the cook was preparing for himself, i.e. local mutton preparation (we had already spied on the fact that the cook, hailing from Rampur was already ensconced in the galley for the oncoming season).
Next day, the first agenda on our schedule was to visit the village, which was just across the road from the hotel.
The wooden structures seen below are sort of godowns, where grains are stored for winters; sealed from any leakages.
There are two temples, Kali and Shiva temples. The Kali temple, renovated after a devastating fire in the village few years back which had destroyed the original temple, is a marvellous structure depicting dragons on the façade (typical blend of Hindu and Buddhist ideology, found throughout Kinnaur).
Villagers were extremely friendly and helping. We met three school going girls (VII – VIII standards), who just walked up to us (like stalking) and started chatting with Sharmi. They were insistent that we go to their house nearby for a cup of tea. On observing our reluctance, they gave an open invitation for us to visit their school so that they could introduce us to their friends. They also made us click a number of snaps (them, singly, in group, with us, with another passerby; all sort of possible combinations). They were excited watching the instant snaps on digital camera. I would have loved to upload a few of them, but I am not sure if that would be correct in terms of propriety. Watching these guileless, benevolent folks; it certainly fosters our faith in the world around us.
Chitkul. We started for Chitkul (3100 mtrs ASL), at a drive time of about 45 min, at noon. Since my car’s tyre was flattened and I did not want to exert the Stepney, a maxi cab was hired for the visit. Drive to Chitkul was a real great experience, moving across streams crossing the road, the jungles of Bhojpatra and pine. Chitkul was very enjoyable and had abundant snow; Debosh and Sharmi indulged in mad monkey acts with thick layers of snow. Some snaps of Chitkul are here-
The much bandied ‘Hindustan ka Aaakhiri Dhaba’ is actually not so. The last dhaba in Chitkul turns out to be ‘The Great Hinduatan Dhaba’, which is 200 mtrs down the road beyond the first (Aakhiri) one. Thakur Guest, as seen in the pic, was yet to open to visitors, like all other accommodations in Chitkul.
After enjoying Chitkul for more than two hours, we started back towards Rakcham. Next day we started for Shimla.
I will cover Shimla subsequently, as an independent topic.
Synopsis of essentials in Kalpa – Chitkul stretch:-
(a) Mobile – Works till Rakcham, erratic thereafter till Chitkul
(b) Petrol pump – Only petrol pump in the area is in Peo. The maxi cabs plying in Sangla, Chitkul sector get their fill in Peo.
(c) Vehicle mechanic – Abundant in Peo. None after Sangla till Chitkul.
(d) ATM – Yes in Peo. Unsure about it in Sangla.
(e) Stay – Abundant in Kalpa and Peo. Reasonable options in Sangla. Very limited in Rakcham and Chitkul.
Happy travelling guys. SUMMER CHHUTTIES ARE HERE AGAIN BOSS!