Banjara Sangla Camp, Sangla, Himachal Pradesh – Review

Sangla, the quaint Himalayan village/town/valley is an over-deserving candidate for the travelogue that I was yet to write. But then between the ‘no-travelogue-at-all’ or a ‘hotel-review-quickie’, I am choosing to force down the latter. Procrastination is overwhelming and a hotel-review-quickie must be done within the expiry-date of your memory for the objective details, so let me do that; and I would try my best to throw in some good pictures to display what Sangla has in the offing. The second stop for our ‘Chalo Kaza’ run was to be in Sangla. We were advised by the internet that we should spend at least 3 nights there so we decided to increase our stay from one night to 2 nights at Sangla. It looked like a stop good enough, a provision to rejuvenate the calf muscles from active driving and to get us some worldly pleasures, before we reach Kaza and take the great Kaza-Manali drive head-on (almost literally!).

banjara-sangla

Location and Accessibility
Access to the camp is via NH22 that connects Shimla to Kaza. The route to the same goes like this : Shimla-Rampur-Wangtu-Karchham-Rakchham-Sangla. It is about 200+ KM from Shimla and would take you 6 odd hours. Till Karchham you are on NH-22 and it is a fairly wide road. You pass through the lovely views of Kinnaur and for more than once you would get tempted to stop and take a quick halt. Beyond Karchham, it’s a narrow single lane high-altitude road and a very tough drive.

Once you get closer to Sangla, you get to see villages and some habitation. The country side is really beautiful. If you need a more detailed route map, you can read here.

Here’s a interactive google map, you can zoom-in/out.

View Banjara – Sangla in a larger map

You leave the main road at Batesari village and take a kachcha road and take a small walk to reach the tents.

batesari-village-arch

With a full fledged river along the tangent, and mountains on the circumference, the location looks heavenly and unbelievably picturesque.

river-at-the-back

Infrastructure

There are two kinds of stay options. One can choose to stay in tents which are in the main campus or go a little off and be in brick-n-mortar comfort. It is a Swiss tent with a small verandah to spend your afternoons and an attached loo with running hot water. The brick-n-mortar is a new thing and is called ‘Banjara Retreat’. We stayed in Tents and it was pretty good. There is a top-covered side-ways open tea-coffee area where you get to socialize and Banjara gets its own share of high heeled customers.

parachute-tea-coffee-break

The dining hall is a wooden structure with large tables in a restaurant format, a mini library and it also doubles up as an indoor gaming joint during off-eat hours. We did steal some time to have a couple of rounds of Scrabble.

swing-at-banjara

There are swings for kids and overall it is quite a child safe area. The river almost makes a semi circle and on the other end, there is a big open space along with the river which is used for evening bon-fire. The good thing is that there is a barbecue as well and one can get fish, chicken and other usual stuff. There is a bar counter for the spirited and they do not mind if you carry your own stuff and take soda pop from them. It’s a very casual and light atmosphere.

slide-at-banjara

When we were there, we could see small groups playing Dumb Charade, enjoyed the warmth of the bonfire and kids running everywhere.

Tariff
I do not exactly remember but I believe it was around 5.5k per night (in the peak season). I do not remember exact amount but it was definitely on the expensive side and without making it too much apparent, the crowd which we found there seemed well grounded to shell that kind of money.

Hospitality
When we were there, we found Mr. Ojha (the hands-on founder of Banjara Camps) amid the thick and that greatly lifts everything. He was in super company of Sonu (hope I am getting the name right) and between two of them, they had everything under control. Mr. Ojha himself finds time to interact with guests and is a far cry from the usual blazer toting managers. It is fun to listen to him and engage in a conversation. Its greatly enhances the complete experience and makes your stay much more enriching.

What to do
Drive down to Chitkul. The last motorable point in that direction, can take a 7 odd KM trek to reach Indo-China border. Chitkul is difficut to explain in words. It is in the heavens, but quite close to the camp. I would try to put a Photo essay on Chitkul.

towards-chitkul-border

The local village temple is close-by. The camp manager will advise you on the various options ranging from light walks to day-long treks. They also organize porters and lunch. Yes, packed lunch. That is the best part. If you’re not going to be around, just let them know and they will give you the picnic ration – complete with dry-fruits to juice to the dessert.

batesari-village

One can spend endless afternoons, just lazing around. Evenings are best to be around the bon-fire nursing your favorite drink.

Final Score
The place is a little remote and you would need to take a break if you are coming from Delhi. So accessibility is a little challenging but once you are there, the ride would be totally worth it. You should plan at least a 2 night (3 night is better) stay there. There are a lot of activities for Kids. Camp is brilliantly run by Mr. Ojha and it is a fabulous place to unwind from the urban stress.

17 Comments

  • Mahesh semwal says:

    Dear Nandan,

    Very detailed , very informative write-up supportted with beautiful pictures , specially 2nd last.

  • nandanjha says:

    Thanks Mahesh. That photo is the way to Chitkul border. for a lot of my logs, there would be a pic of my wife and daughter walking together :-)

  • yours is one of the best review on the subject. thanks for all the pains you take . aapko hamaree kafi saaree duwayen !!!!!!!!!!. keep writing , its a pleasure.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thank you very much Shrirang. I checked your blog, write your travel stories at Ghumakkar as well. Best wishes.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    We just got back after spending a 3 day weekend in Banff, a mountain resort in Alberta, Canada, about 480kms from home. Due to the high altitude, it was snowing in Banff at the time and the roads were icy. But our stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel was most enjoyable, and the winter scenes there were breathtaking. Expensive? yes, but when the mountains beckons you, whether it is the western Ghats or the Himalayas in India, or the Rocky Mountains in North America, you are tempted to be there to breath the fresh air and to be away from the crowds.

    Your writing always inspires me, and wanting to pack again for the next trip.
    with best wishes,
    Jerry

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thanks Jerry. Encouragement like this goes a long way for young log writers :-)

    Its really amazing to get close to these mountains and find yourself into something which nothing in the urban life can replace. Its bliss.

  • Mini says:

    Looks like a great place!! Where do you find all these new places from?
    Very nice review and amazing pics indeed.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Actually the plan was to go to Lahaul and Spiti and to reach there we needed to make a few halts. Since we had stayed at Banjara (Dharamshala) 5 odd years back and were impressed, we decided to stay with them :-)

    now you know about the place, go and visit. Thanks for liking the review and the pics.

  • Deep says:

    Hi Nandan,

    First of all really nice pictures and I really liked reading ur review. Me and two friends of mine are planning a similar trip which covers manali, kullu, shoja, sangla and Chitkool. Since its just three girls i was looking for some opinions on travelling there. We were thinking tht we will hire a car to go to these plcs from manali and back. I needed some suggestion on car hire, since we are from the south I have little idea about the rates up there in north, do u know of any car agency that had good drivers and is safe enough. We have done such trips here in south but this is the fist time we going to north as a girls only group.Any suggestions and opinions would be really helpful.
    Dipika

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Deepika – thanks for liking the review. I am sorry I do not have any first-hand contacts for Manali, but I can find someone who is in this trade and can help you out.

    How far you are in the planning, if you have booked or decided upon the hotels then best is to get these through them. As far as rates are concerned, typically in Delhi we get a Indica for Rs 6 a KM with Rs 100 as night charges, and a daily run of at least 200 odd KMs. All negotiable though.

    If you have just started to plan then I can connect to a friend who is in this business and can help you plan the entire thing. Let me know and all the very best.

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Nandan,

    I liked Pihu’s picture looking at the sky, probably thinking that sky is the limit :-)

  • Nisha says:

    Nandan,

    Your description is very detailed and informative. Also inspiring to tempt us go there. Don’t know when that’s gonna happen but I look forward to it. :)

  • nandanjha says:

    Manish – I do not know. I stay with three women (my wife, my daughter and my niece) and add to that my cook and household help (all women). I am pretty sure that its impossible to figure out what they are thinking.

    Nisha – Thanks. Go. You would love it.

  • Dipika says:

    Nandan,

    Sorry for writing back to you this late, no excuses.:) Well I have almost done with my trip itinerary ( April 2nd to April 12th ). well here’s a rough outline – I plan to reach manali by 3rd morning by volvo. Stay there for three days. Then 4th day I leave early morning and take the Jalori pass route tht joins the NH22 towards Sangla and Kalpa. (From what i have researched so far on the net.. this pass is something u cannot miss) I plan to break my journey at Sarahan.Then move towards Sangla valley. Stay one day at Sangla and do chitkul, then one day at Kalpa. 8th Day i move back to Shimla and take a bus back to Delhi. So my only problem is getting a cab for hire for the 4 days to do the Manali- Sarahan-Kalpa- Sangla – Kalpa. This will be around a 600 km journey. Any suggestions from u will be really helpful coz this is not the final itinerary. Thanks so much
    Dipika

  • Roji Jacob says:

    Good one. We plan to spend 3 days in April 1st week in Sangla Banjaara camp…. Looking forward to the stay…

  • Nandan says:

    Dipika – No problems.

    the plan looks good. If I can suggest, probably one day is very less for Sangla-Chitkul. There are no tourist-points in Sangla, except Chitkul but the place warrants more time.

    Probably you can cut Manali by 1 day or if you are already booked there, probably you can give a skip to Kalpa.

    I do not have a handy contact but why not go through the hotel guys.

    Roji – Thanks. All the best.

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