A peek into heaven - Kinnaur

23rd Apr 2014
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 1/12 by Deepti Asthana
Lady of wood
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 2/12 by Deepti Asthana
Prasad for the Local Godess
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 3/12 by Deepti Asthana
Charming Kinet boy!
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 4/12 by Deepti Asthana
Under the roof of Kinnar Kailash
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 5/12 by Deepti Asthana
White wagtail
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 6/12 by Deepti Asthana
Snow on tree, snow on mountains
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 7/12 by Deepti Asthana
The welcoming house
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 8/12 by Deepti Asthana
As the sunrises from Kailash
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 9/12 by Deepti Asthana
Walk this way..
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 10/12 by Deepti Asthana
The beautiful lines
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 11/12 by Deepti Asthana
Post Card from Himachal
Photo of A peek into heaven - Kinnaur 12/12 by Deepti Asthana
Camps at Batseri Village
  • Everlasting Memories

The memories of this trip are deeply engraved in my heart. Whether taking a selfie under the hoarding that said ‘Hindustan Ka akhiri Dhaba’ or tasting the purest water from the glaciers of Kinnar Kialash. Hugging the most beautiful black shining stray dog during my morning walks, or chasing a white wagtail bird in a jungle trail; having a cup of tea in the warm wooden house with a kinnauri family listening to their family stories or meeting a lama predicting the future of a lady. Visiting the Buddhist forts during the morning prayers or tasting the homemade apple alcohol distributed after evening worship of Gupt devi  in a temple. And I swear, I can continue about these lovely memories which are still fresh in my mind. I guess I would write another blog to share those stories, but for now let me give you the overall description of trip and places covered and I wish you could also share your interesting stories after making a visit there.

  • The Roads

NH22- featured in History channel as the deadliest road to travel, but I would call it a divine way which can take you to heaven.  The highway Delhi- Chandigarh- Solan-Shimla- Kalpa- Sangla is a journey of a life time; it takes you from the urban life of Delhi to the land of Gods-Himachal.   My journey started from Shimla in a hired vehicle and the driver was from Mandi.  The best way to reach Kinnaur is to rent a vehicle or hire a driver for your personal vehicle. The roads are drivable but narrow with many hairpin turns. We drove continuously except taking a few stops for photographs and meals. We crossed the important milestones of Theog, Narkanda, Kumarsain, Rampur, SarahanTapri, Karcham, Wangtoo before reaching Reckong Peo, district headquarter of Kinnaur Region.

There are many buses run by HPTDC from Chandigrah/Shimla to Reckong Peo, but not private or ‘Volvo’ buses, try this only if you are determined to sit tight in the long route.

The narrow stream of Satluj flows down all along the road to Reckong Peo. The view is simply amazing. One side of the road is occupied with a deep gorge made by the river and another side is surrounded by hilly slopes. Whenever the bus passes through a narrow section of road, the view of Satluj below can shiver your bones with thrill and excitement

  • Landscapes and Photography

Most of the Kinnaru region has beautiful architecture, where we see amazing wooden houses which last for hundreds of years and a very good option for the folks who have to spend most of the year in snow or chilly weather.  Their temples and monasteries have beautiful work of art made from devdar wood carvings. While traveling from Sangla to Chitkul you will surely come across this breathtaking valley on the banks of River Baspa comfortably hidden away from the modern world. Nestled between mighty snow covered peaks and a lush green landscape, it seems like heaven on earth. Villages- Chitkul, Rakcham, Batseri are very photogenic and I enjoyed taking pictures around Kamru fort, a public atta chakki in Chitkul, etc

  • The people

I was keen to know the lives of Kanuri people- understand their culture and feel their hardships in this inhabited village.  I found the feeling was mutual to know about each other’s life to live the life for a few moments which is different from us. I have never met such cheerful and warm people. I got invitations from the villagers as I smiled and nodded to say hello.  Sitting in their small wooden houses they talked about social and cultural values of Kinnaur. They are big hearted people who love to drink and celebrate.  In the weddings they would consume as much as 600 liters of homemade apple alcohol, that would be quite a wedding to attend I guess. The ladies do all the hard work of making the drink and storing it however they don’t consume it except the one which is being served for the Puja of Goddess- Durga. Hinduism and Buddhism are the major religions here. I had the chance to meet a Lama in the village and was curious to know how he actually predicts the future. It felt like a game of ludo where he would roll the dices and match the number in his holy book.  He looked at me if I wanted to ask something about my future and there was absolutely nothing which I wanted to know, I was living the happy present.

 Knowing about the cultural and social aspects of these tribals from their own words was exhilarating. There are two major casts here- Rajputs and Kinets and they are particular about getting married in the same caste. Inter caste marriages would make you an outcast and you would also not get a share of paternal property. Polyandry is still a debated topic in the society which could have been influenced by the story of Draupadi and Pandavas. This practice of polyandry was introduced in older times to balance survival as cultivated land was less and family planning was unheard of. But with change of time and impact of education, now it is found it traces. There were good schools in the most scenic location and I found “Sarva siksha Abhyan” and “Angan-badi schools” in all the villages I visited.

  • The weather Condition

It is recommended to visit this area in April to see the apple trees covered with clusters of delicate blossoms – white flowers tinged with pink. The apple blossoms offer a visual treat and lend a subtle but heady fragrance to the air.  You must again visit this place in September or early October, when the trees are laden heavily with red apples just waiting to be plucked. In monsoon it could be risky to ride on the roads due to landslide. Also the 4 months of winter the place is totally hibernated except the people who are looking for skiing, wild life- snow leopard etc.

You may find more of my travel stories and pictures on my blog datravelography.com

I started my journey from Mumbai, so Chandigrah was just a halt to re-energies myself. Had some delcious food in sector-17 started for Shimla after few hours.
Photo of Chandigarh, India by Deepti Asthana
Photo of Chandigarh, India by Deepti Asthana
Thoroughly enjoyed famous Mall road in Shimla and stayed overnight in the hotel to start the long journey to Reckong Peo. We started early to avoid the Shimla traffic and drove to Lands of God.
Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Deepti Asthana
I reached late night to Reckong Peo which is the headquarter of Kinnaur District, tired from the one day long journey from Shimla. The hotel was at the highest altitude in Reckong Peo and the curves got so steep that my car gave up and I had to walk up in the chilly night to reach the hotel. The oxygen level felt low, and with heavy breathing I checked into a warm and cozy room and had no energy left to even have a look around the place. Next morning I woke up and pulled the curtains unaware of the fact that it is going to be the best ever view from my room and I felt as if I am living in a fairy land. I ran to the top floor on the roof top to capture as much as I could in my eyes and of course my camera. The snow-capped mountains which were so far from me and I have been looking at them all the way from Theog . They kept hiding here and there behind the chocolate brown mountains as we rode on the curvy roads of Kinnaur, but now those snow-white mountains were right here in front of me. As close that I felt I could touch them, jump on them, hide myself under the quilt of snow. I was as happy as a kid that had found mountains of vanilla ice cream. The hotel - Golden apple servered us the delicious food and their hospitality is unfogrttable
Photo of Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Deepti Asthana
The Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant is another beautiful stopover. It’s a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power station on the Sutlej River in Kinnaur district. While highway takes you straight to Reckong , there is bridge at Karcham which bifurcates the way to Kalpa and Sangla
Photo of Karcham, Himachal Pradesh, India by Deepti Asthana
My stay in Kinner Camps was an enchanting experience. The luxurious camps were well equipped, well managed and serving the finger licking food; inspite of the difficulties they face arranging the raw material in the valley. The camps are in midst of nature; I spent mornings chasing the birds in different nature trails and nights gazing the snow capped Kinnar-Kailash in the star light. The gardens are full of apple and orchids trees filling the pink and white colours in the green valley and Baspa river flows down the hill just few meters away, dividing the fairy-tale villages Batseri and Sangla. It is indeed Dev-bhoomi else so much beauty can not reside at one place.The place is highly recommendable.
Photo of Sangla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Deepti Asthana
A beautiful rustic village on the way to Chitkul. Make a visit in the village for it's architecture people and culture.
Photo of Rakchham, Himachal Pradesh, India by Deepti Asthana
Chitkul is the last inhabited village near the Indo-Tibet border. The Indian road ends here. During winters, the place mostly remains covered with the snow and the inhabitants move to lower regions of Himachal. Potatoes grown at Chittkul are one of the best in the world and are very costly. Chitkul, on the banks of Baspa River, is the first village of the Baspa Valley and the last village on the old Hindustan-Tibet trade oute. It is also the last point in India one can travel to without a permit.
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Deepti Asthana
There is a very famous temple called Bhima-kali temple in Saharan from where you need to go 18 kms above taking the road bifurcating at Jurie. There is also a palace just behind the temple. With its two multi-tiered sanctuary towers, elegantly sloping slate-tiled roofs, and gleaming golden spires, Bhimkali Temple is the most majestic of the few early timber temples left in the Sutlej Valley - an area renowned for its unusual tradition of housing holy shrines on raised wooden platforms. It is the last temple in the Sutlej Valley to be served by Brahmin priests
Photo of Sarahan, Himachal Pradesh, India by Deepti Asthana
Photo of Chandigarh, India by Deepti Asthana
Photo of Chandigarh, India by Deepti Asthana
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