Table of contents for The Great Himachal Circuit
- The Great Himachal Circuit Part 1: Reaching Shimla
- The Great Himachal Circuit – Part 2 : Shimla to Sangla via Sarahan
- The Great Himachal Circuit – Part 3 : Kalpa to Tabo
- The Great Himachal Circuit – Part 3 : Kalpa to Kaza
- The Great Himachal Circuit – Part 5 : Manali to Delhi Via Shimla
- The Great Himachal Circuit – Part 4 : Kaza to Manali
We reached Shimla from Delhi, the first day and had a good time there. Now, we were ready to move on to our dream circuit.
Day 2: Narkanda, Sarahan and Sarahan Local
It was a nice early morning in Shimla the next day, raining slightly. We got up on time and were ready by around 8AM to get into our cab. The cab was also there in time. We met the cab driver Lekhram, and over the next 6 days, we found that we have a new friend in our life. Lekhram was our guide, mentor and everything over the next few days. His services, not being just only a cab driver, were beyond our imagination.
Onboard our next destination was Narkanda with an on way view and finally reaching Sarahan. As we started for Narkanda, it was the drive on the other side of Shimla and the scenic beauty was even better. The route to Narkanda is towards Tara Devi Temple. A slight diversion from Taradevi and the route diverts to Narkanda. Another road from Narkanda diverts towards Thanedar which is at a slight height. It was off course not our destination, but one can still visit Thanedar also, because tourists keep Thanedar as their visiting spot too.
Green Himachal is the right word to describe Himachal as we see greenery throughout the route. Occasional places one sees Yaks on the way. One can have nice beautiful pictures standing by the side of the Yaks.
We went on to have a nice drive and with occasional tea breaks in between, we reached Narkanda by around 12 PM. The Kinnaur valley has a lovely green view all around. We again had a cup of tea. Our driver took us to a nice little place for lunch. After lunch, we went for a walk around Narkanda. Around 1:30 PM we left Narkanda and on our way to Sarahan.
Sarahan was the first of our places to visit which is at some height (around 7500 ft). A small diversion needs to be taken from Jeori for reaching Sarahan. As we moved towards Sarahan, we drove up the hills through the hilly roads. The roads are quite good, but not in the best of conditions for Sarahan. It took around 3 hours for us to reach Sarahan. Around 4 PM we were there in Sarahan. It has been a lovely drive since morning till now to the place.
Our driver only took us to a hotel (they have all sorts of connections in every place, so it’s really easy). And to our surprise there were lot of Bengali hotels there and our driver also took us to a nice Bengali hotel. So it was really good for us too. The hotel was nice, the room was nice and the best part was it was in the right location to visit the various places in Sarahan.
In Sarahan, there are 3 main destinations to visit:
b) Bird Sanctuary and
c) Bhimakali Temple at Sarahan
The bird sanctuary was closed and is at a height and requires trekking up. We did not cover that. After an hour of rest, we started to walk around Sarahan and visited the Rajbari and few other beautiful houses on way. Sarahan is a beautiful village at such a height. We were simply amazed to see the greenery, cleanliness and beauty of the place.
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.
We were almost done by 7:30 PM and we walked our way back through the round round to the hotel. In the morning the Sarahan Temple has a lovely view too both from the hotel as well from near the temple.
Very near to the temple is the Government owned Hotel Srikhand. And it is a beauty in its own. Lovely views to take photographs and one should not miss visiting it, especially in the morning. There are a lot of apple trees around. Small and beautiful.
We were back to the hotel by 8:00 PM and we ordered tea for the evening. We completed our dinner at around 9:30PM and then went for sound sleep.
Day 3: Narkanda, Sarahan and Sarahan Local and then on to Sangla, Chitkul and Kalpa
It was day 3 and we went up in the morning early to have a view of early morning Sarahan. Sarahan has wonderful morning view. A walk down the roads of Sarahan is simply awesome and the view of the valley from the Srikhand hotel is a photographer’s paradise. Me and my parents had a lovely walk around the street surrounding the temple. The flowers glooming in the temple garden is simply awesome. I did not waste my time taking few quick pics of the lovely flowers in the garden.
Came back to the hotel and had a lovely breakfast. The hotel staff also assisted us in where we can stay in our next destinations and what should be our plan. We cleared up all the bills and started for the day around 9:30 AM. Our destinations to cover for the day were specially Chitkul and back for Kalpa. The route normally is go to Chitkul, visit the small village, come back to Karcham Dam and then take the main road to Kalpa (via Recong Peo).
It takes around 2 hours to reach Karcham from Sarahan. Throughout the route to Karcham, one can see the heavy constructions and maintenance of Dams by Jaypee constructions. The view of Sutlej throughout the entire stretch is awesome.The travel with occasional tea breaks, snacks break is a treat in itself. We reached Karcham around 11:30 AM. From Karcham to Chitkul, BASPA river accompanies us. This river meets up Satluj in Karcham. While at Karcham, the Dam maintained by Jaypee is beautiful, and although photography is strictly prohibited, you can take photographs while on drive. And we did the same thing.
Then on, throughout from Karcham to Sangla, the Road of Death starts. Typical narrow roads, through which vehicles drives on both ways. While on three sides one sees heaven, on one side, the BASPA river flowing around 2000 ft below, with full sound and flow, makes it the road of death.
The road conditions are pathetic but fun to move. Type roads between turned U-shaped mountain ranges, makes the travel even more dangerous. There is a beautiful temple enroute, and location of the temple at such a height on the road side, makes it simply marvelous.
Enjoying the drive with my parents and gossiping with our driver Lekhram, throughout the drive, we crossed the lovaly valley of Sangla. Sangla Valley is no less than heaven. The greenery throughout on all the sides and across the mountains, simply proves that.
Another hour or so and we reached Rakcham, where it was time to have some lovely lunch. Rakcham was also a nice place to have, and I immediately did not miss out my time on taking some snaps.
The view of the BASPA river from Rakcham gives an entire impression of the total green valley of Sangla. Rakcham comes in Sangla region of Himachal in Kinnaur district 14 KM from Sangla. As one moves ahead from Rakcham, it’s another 10 KM to Chitkul. It took another 1 hour and we reached Chitkul by around 2 PM in the afternoon. One of the most beautiful villages on the Tibet border, visitors are not allowed after a certain point. It was raining a bit too, but it was worth taking a walk through the Chitkul village by side of the river, deep inside.
As I already mentioned, the small small villages and towns of Himachal are very well educated with the limited population. And every person is a privilege to meet. The way they talk to you, their small small gestures. We even took few photographs will local people in there.
After spending an hour or so there, it was time to move back and reach Kalpa before evening. As evening appears, the road from Chitkul towards Rakcham and then on to Sangla, Karcham looks more deadly. But for us, including my mother and father, it was the journey of a life time, and as a surprise to me, they were enjoying fully. In the midst of the road, in a small fall, Lekhram, washed the car and we enjoyed the cold, pure water of the fall.
With occasional tea breaks in between and in between evening snacks, took us around 2 and half hours to reach back Karcham Dam. Around 5:30 PM we were at Karcham Dam. And again we left the BASPA river and caught hold of Satluj river. From Karcham Dam, we took the route towards Recong Peo and Kalpa. The road towards Peo and Kalpa starts giving small small impressions of moving out of the Kinnaur District and entering into the Spiti District, although Spiti is still 2 days away.
From, Karcham to Recong Peo mountain ranges are occasionally green and occasionally dry with small small green patches. Our driver showed an huge landslide area, where few years back an entire army convoy was buried, and no trace was found.
Occassional landslides can stuck your drive for some time. We were stuck in such a landslide clearance for around an hour on the side of the Satluj River. These stucks in landslides are also great experiences, where you get time to go near to the River and walk along the road.
Around 6:45 PM, the landslide was cleared and we were still around 2 hours from Kalpa. It was really getting dark now, and Kalpa was at a considerable height of around 10000 ft. Road to reach Kalpa in dark was really dangerous, but then our driver Lekhram told us, in evening it’s easier to drive in the mountains, because one can see the light of vehicles coming from opposite direction from far off. But that is not possible during the day. On the way, there is a place called Powari, where one road takes you on to Khab and the other one to Recong Peo. So, we took the road to Recong Peo.
By around 8:30 PM, we reached Recong Peo. Recong Peo is a mini town and well populated. Buses ply from Recong Peo connecting to some important points in Himachal. Our driver showed us Recong Peo on way. From Peo it was another 4KM to Kalpa, almost another 45 minutes.
We were pre-decided, we were not going to visit any temples or Monastries in Kalpa, but only see the Kinnaur Kailash in the morning from Kalpa. Our driver took us to the hotel (the Kinnaur Kailash Resort) with the best view of Kinnaur Kailash in Kalpa. The resorts are very reasonable in offseason, around 500 Rs for a room. We were in the Hotel by around 9:00 PM. It was time for some tea first up and good dinner. The hotel was nice, the view from the balcony even in the evening was awesome, we could easily see the Kinnaur Kailash range. We were targeting to see the Kinnaur Kailash Shiv ling the next morning which is around 69 ft height, and is visible from the hotel.After some gossip, we went for a sound sleep, to get up early in the morning to view the Shiv Ling