Chitkul

Kinnaur-The land of apples (Part 2)

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After about two and a half hours we reached Reckong Peo,or Peo, as it is popularly known. Peo is situated at an altitude of around 2200 metres above sea level and is at the base of the Kinner Kailash massif. From here, Kalpa was a short 20 minute drive and by lunch time we reached Kalpa. Our plan was to halt at the PWD rest house, which turned out to be a cottage with an excellent view of the mountains. Staying in Kalpa can be compared to living in the lap of nature. Overlooking the Kinner Kailash range, this is one of the most picturesque  hill stations one can ever visit. This quaint town was once the headquarters of Kinnaur district before it was replaced  by Reckong Peo. The collector’s office has now been taken over by the HP Irrigation Department while the old SP office is now a small police outpost. The old building of the District Hospital is visible behind the new building of a recently constructed Primary Health Centre.  From Kalpa, one can spot the famous Shiva Linga, nestled in the middle of the Kinner Kailash massif. It is a 2 day trek from Kalpa for the strong and sturdy.

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Blue sky country

Kinnaur-The land of apples (Part 1)

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On day 3, before starting off for Sangla, we were in a dilemma on whether to make the short trip to Hatu peak or not. As we had to reach Sangla before it was dark, we decided to skip Hatu peak, which is about 8 KMs from Narkanda. Thus, we hit the NH22 directly and road conditions being good, we reached the town of Rampur in about 2 hours. We refuelled the Ertiga here and noted a mileage of 15-16 KM/Litre in hilly road conditions.  After, Rampur, the highway, which was once known to the British as the Hindustan-Tibet road, leads you further on to Jeori before entering the district of Kinnaur at Chaura. After entering Kinnaur, the road, cut into sheer rock, rises steeply above the Satluj River. It follows the Satluj and is one of the most vertiginous roads in the whole country offering a spectacular view of rugged mountains.

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A trip to Narkanda – Sangla – Chitkul – Kalpa – Jalori Pass

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After crossing the dam towards Sangla, condition of road was not very good and it was narrow too, however it was fun driving through this chilling route along with green Baspa. My wife and son were also lost in this beautiful valley but my 13 yr daughter was alert enough to remind me to blow the horn at every blind turn which I think is advisable while driving on hills. Before reaching Sangla my kids were excited enough to peep the scenic beauty through the sunroof.

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In the last & the highest village of the Baspa Valley – Chitkul…..

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Look closely and you can see the trails of the stars that form the Orion Constellation. No, Just look above the snow capped peak, a bit on the right from the center of the pic and you will see the trails of the three stars that are in the middle of the Orion Constellation. And you can also see a pink colored streak just a little bit on the right of the peak. That is Orion’s Nebula. Didn’t i tell you, i also spotted as much as 9 shooting stars and 1 satellite while capturing the star trails.

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To the last & the highest village in the Baspa Valley – Chitkul…..

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The condition of the road was getting worse by each passing kilometer. The tar road made way to the grainy, rocky road covered by dust. At some of the stretches the water tankers were moving on the road to keep down the dust. Suddenly the roads became never ending and driving getting difficult especially for a lone bike rider all along the way. I kept on driving slowly and crossed Wangtoo, Chooling and reached the Karcham Dam. A right from here would take me off the NH – 22 and put me on the Sangla- Chitkul road. The winds were also picking up and it was getting difficult to stand near the dam. So, i started the bike again to cover the final stretch of the day. The road condition was bad and the way to Sangla was steep and narrow. One slip here and i would have to pay for it with my life. So, with all the concentration on the road and a speed of 10-15 kmph i began the ascent on the hair raising Sangla – Chitkul road.

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Himachal – Shimla, Sarahan, Sangla Valley

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Sangla is also famous for Kamru Fort. This fort is like a tower dedicated to Kamakshi Temple. The Goddess idol was brought from Guwahati (Assam). We braced ourselves and took to steep climb of stairs. The climb took us through houses of Kamru village and get a peek into their life. First there is a temple which has couple of shrines in the small courtyard in hill architecture. Their sloping roofs are lined with flat chipped stones tiles and the distinctive cone as the top. The main Kamru fort was still some climb away. Thankfully, it was quite sunny and pleasant for the climb. After some time, the Kamru fort came into view perched right at the top of the village. One has to tie a cloth around waist and wear a cap which is available in the fort to enter the precincts and go around.

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Chhitkul… The emerald green Valley!

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There are flowers blooming everywhere. There are huge swathes of beautiful yellow blooms, more captivating as they seem to be haphazardly flourishing without the predictability of a manicured garden. These are Evening Primrose I am told. They have a lovely mild fragrance… also known for their therapeutic properties. There are profusely flowering wild rose bowers and daisies and many other flowers I know not the names for!

The camp is surrounded by orchards of apples, pears and apricots. In fact, the entire valley seems to be one big orchard. In these idyllic surroundings I wander down to the river to find most of the group already there taking delight in the splendorous sights!

A delicious breakfast complete with a variety of homemade preserves and relishes later, we are all off to Chhitkul, the last village in this valley towards China border.

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Delhi – Sangla … journey through the verdant valleys of Himachal

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As we go further, this road climbs higher till it reaches sheer cliffs of stark, unadorned rock where the road is but a scooped out C-shaped tunnel embedded in the vertical cliff side. While we enjoy the drive along the banks of the Sutlej in all its moods, I am almost willing the road to start climbing to this, one of the most celebrated and recognised sections of this route. And when we do hit that stretch, we are all spellbound! Such is the precarious nature of the road that there are precipitous drops on the only open side and encased in solid rock on the other three sides.

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Bike Ride to Chitkul in HP from Delhi

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The day! We had plans to move to Chitkul – About 250 KMs from Shimla and 3450 meters above the sea level. This is the last town in India and is near Sangla. The population of Sangla is about 650-700 and the nearest river is Baspa. Coming back to our travel, we started in the morning at around 8 AM after having a decent breakfast and drove on the Sutlej river-side for not less than 150 KMs before hitting the tough terrain. We reached Chitkul at about 6 PM in the evening and no points for guessing, the town was already asleep. We decided to knock some doors and ask for an accommodation or hotel but just before we took a step ahead the wanabe models in us instructed us to click a few pictures and we had to obey. An old pahadi man came to us and asked if we had a place to stay. Trust me, in the given circumstances, he was nothing less than a god’s gift to us, especially when he offered us to stay in the PWD guest house in Chitkul.

The guest house however had its own share of problems to offer to us. There was extremely low voltage (hence really dim lights), the water pipelines were frozen – did I mention the temperature was -3 degree celcius? If this wasn’t all, there was no key to lock the rooms and we were expected to get our on own water for bath (and other important things) from the river Baspa (flowing right across). Last but not the least, we were the only people staying in the property – quite a situation to watch this horror movie, Amityville huh?

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View of mountain range from Himachal Tourism hotel

To the beautiful Kinnaur district in Himachal

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The scenes were becoming increasingly breathtaking and that made me even more eager to reach Chitkul. And boy, is it something! The amazing view of the mountains, waterfalls and the river going along. Twice we came to a point where there was no road, and I had to drive my new Indica vista, 1300 cc engine, through water. What an amazing experience! Beautiful valley, river flowing, and an absolutely divine view of the mountains. The view is imprinted in my mind’s eye forever. That’s how mesmerising it was.

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The Great Himachal Circuit – Part 2 : Shimla to Sangla via Sarahan

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A very important thing about Himachal, is that people are very cooperative and they are very happy with what they are and have. I am writing this because I tour as well as I interact with people over various places, trying to find the differences in the cultures, way of living etc. This is what travelling is all about. I found Himachal people in the remote of the areas to be very well educated (better than what we are in cities) and well behaved. They are clean by heart and they educate their child to be as clean as them.

Soon it was getting dark and we entered the temple which normally opens up after 7PM. Not everywhere inside the temple are cameras and accessories allowed, but there are lockers where they can be kept. So we put our accessories in the lockers and entered the temple. The Bhimakali Temple at Sarahan is quite big and unique in its own way and own beauty. It looks more like a monastery rather than a temple.

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