We were on our trip to Spiti valley via Kinnaur. Travellers generally take night halts at either Sangla or Chitkul in Kinnaur before setting out for Spiti. The obvious reason for taking pitstops and a couple of night halts at Kinnaur is to acclimatise with the ascent. We commenced our trip from Shimla and were to stay the night at Rakcham. Rakcham is a small quaint village sandwiched between Sangla and Chitkul. The reason we chose Rakcham was to spend the first night at a place which would be completely cut out from the rest of the districts, a place which would have breathtaking natural beauty at the same time would give us some zen moments with ourselves.
While Sangla and Chitkul are now more populated and commercialised Rakcham on the other hand still enjoys a rustic flavour. What sets Rakcham apart is the quintessential Kinnauri lifestyle of the village folks, the simple daily chores, the untouched banks of Baspa, a spiritual nip in the air, the beautiful snow capped mountains overseeing the river and the innocence of the locals. So I highly recommend spending the night at Rakcham instead of Sangla or Chitkul to have a completely different experience altogether.
Reaching Rakcham from Shimla
We were on a pre-organised trip with a fixed itinerary. Hence we had our own Innova for the entire journey. But those who do not have a private car can also reach Rakcham via bus from Shimla. There is a local HRTC bus that leaves from Shimla at about 7.30am to Sangla/Chitkul. The cost per head could be somewhere between Rs 250-300. We started from Shimla at 8am and reached Rakcham at 7pm. However, without traffic the distance can be covered within 7-8 hours. On the way to Rakcham we crossed Rampur, Taranda Mata temple and the famous rock tunnel roads of Kinnaur.
There are just a handful of homestays at Rakcham. We arrived late in the evening. Being exhausted with the entire day's journey we were greeted with a sumptuous dinner by our homestay hosts - the traditional Kinnauri rajma chawal, mixed vegetables, papad and their local delicacy Mithadi. The food was delicious. We spent the evening having long conversations with our fellow guests and homestay hosts about the local culture, food, places to explore etc. Being early October, the weather was cold and we had to layer ourselves with warm clothes throughout the night.
Mornings in Rakcham have a different charm altogether. What we couldn't figure out at night was the spectacular beauty that surrounded our homestay. The snow clad mountains, pine trees, green meadows, the chirping of birds and the sweet smell of unknown flowers and apples. We were in Kinnaur at the peak of the apple season. Wherever we looked there were apple orchards with ripe red apples hanging from every nook and corner of the trees. We were quite tempted to pluck a few but plucking apples from the trees is considered an offence there. It was 6am in the morning and we were served with some tea before we set out to explore the village. The village of Rakcham was unlike any other Himachali village I had seen. Very few locals, logs and twigs scattered on the roadside, flock of sheep and cattle being tended to by villagers, and smiling faces adorned by almost every villager whom we came across. The sound of the gushing waters of Baspa filled our ears and we couldn't wait to go to the river bank.
A walk along the brick and mud huts of Rakcham would take you down to the river bank. The clear blue waters and the rocky banks mesmerized us. We sat there for almost an hour without having any sense of time. The peace and tranquility that filled our hearts is inexplicable. There was something in that atmosphere - that sense of purity and freshness was something that our souls longed for. We explored the beautiful meadows across the river through the agricultural land. We were occasionally greeted with sheep, goats and cows grazing on the lush green meadows. The picturesque setting of this location would soothe the eyes of anyone who would travel there. Sometimes I feel how lucky these mountain dwellers are to witness such beauty everyday. We stayed back for another hour clicking photographs and soaking in the charm and elegance of Rakcham.
We were to then leave for our next destination which was Chitkul, only 13 Km away from Rakcham. Chitkul, as compared to Rakcham, was a little more populated. The tranquil and calm that Rakcham possessed was missing in Chitkul. And we really thanked our stars for having the opportunity to halt at Rakcham for the night.
To know more about this location:
(The Breathtaking Tales)