Chitkul,the peripheral village halting before the indo-tibetan border in kinnaur district of himachal sits on the banks of Baspa river at an elevation of 3,450 mtrs. With the blissful snow capped peaks and mellow river breeze,it is the most scenic element in and around sangla valley. Claimed upon being one of the deadliest roads,add to it the never ending adventure.ROUTE: (via NH-22)Chitkul is 610kms from the capital territory,Delhi and it takes upto 20-22hrs to outreach the destination.The course is as follows:Delhi-Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur-karcham-Sangla-Rakchham-Chitkul.The NH-22 for Chitkul ends at karcham,where the road bifurcates–one towards Chitkul itself(Indo-Tibetan road) and the other towards Recong Peo.THOROUGHFARE AND GLANCES(Sangla-Rakchham-Chitkul)Surrounded by both sierran and  streaming beauty,Sangla(22kms before chitkul) is a major town in the valley with all basic amenities-petroling, ATMs,hotels. Halfway hitching Sangla and Chitkul is the awed wonder village of Rakchham(10kms before chitkul).Other than its meadows,grasslands and apple orchids, hike and strolling to lower rustic parts,Rakchham-chitkul wild life sanctuary,kumru fort,the river down below and bridges are a must.Though the narrow winding roads have fair conditions,but needs good driving skills.CLIMATE –  The continuum cold climate in the valley is a sure fire for a 4day trip specially to winter lovers.1. Valley remains closed in winters and other than a few landslides in monsoons, it is easily accessible.2.In summers,the daylight hours are pleasantly cold requiring light woolens and at night the temperature drops to 3-5 degrees.ACCOMMODATIONS – There are several hotels and tent accommodations in the valley.Sangla hotels-mount kailash (07186- 242527),prakash hotel(01786-242218)Rakchham hotels-rupin river view hotel-highly recommended (01786-244225, 09816686789).,Igloo nature camp (08420285900)Chitkul hotels- Panchali hotel   (9903154295),Alpine hotel(09805977268)TRAVEL HACKS1. Hotels in Chitkul are a bit expensive,so it is advisable to stay at sangla or rakchham and start an early day halt to chitkul returning back by evening.2.Tented accommodations are expensive too so you may look up to homestays.3.woolen clothes are a must,strolling and trying tukkpas are suggestible.4.Use airtel or bsnl sim cards.DECODING THE TRIP(Choose the stop-bys as preferable)Day 1-Delhi to shimla(7hrs)/delhi to narkanda(10hrs) night stay.Day 2-Shimla to sangla valley(13hrs)arkanda to sangla valley(10hrs) night stay.Day 3-Explore rakchham and chitkul and hike down to river beds and meadows.Day 4-Sangla valley to delhi(20-21hrs)ORDay4-you may head off to kalpa for a view of  kinner kailash;) by taking up the bifurcated road to recong peo and stay in kalpa at night or return back to Delhi the same day if you want.(Chitkul-kalpa-delhi:23hrs)
Today was going to be a relaxed day, or so we thought. Woke up well rested and without the after effects of last night’s merry making, all thanks to the local river water. We had to drive around 50 kms to Chitkul (3450m) which would serve as our halt for the night. We drove through the Sangla valley and it looked like we had driven into a shoot of Game of Thrones. The caressing breeze and the fragile sunlight coupled with peaks towering over us, it was all so serene and quiet. We stopped for breakfast at Sangla and had some great momos and Thukpa. Chitkul is the last village on the Indo Tibet Border. The road to Chitkul is narrow and relatively empty. We crossed only 2 cars on the entire stretch. There were a few a blockages and fresh landslides so we had to wait for the dozer to pave a path for us.There are quite a few hotels in Chitkul, but we had other plans and headed straight to the riverbed and started setting up our own camp. The place we chose was surreal, right next to the river. After setting up camp and chilling some beers in the icy waters of the Baspa we headed to Nagasthi which is the last checkpost before Tibet. Once again not paying attention to the signs we drove on to a restricted road only to be flagged down by the army vehicles. The road was going to Tibet and was meant for only Army use. After a small lecture on responsible driving and a couple of handshakes we were back at the checkpost. We went for a stroll and just lay around trying to take in all the beauty that surrounded us. If heaven was ever to be picturised, I think this would be it. It was time well spent. Soon we were back in Chitkul at Hotel Rani where we arranged for a Bonfire and bonded with other travellers, over some brew and wine, on a full moon night under a sky laden with stars. Kinnaur is a tribal district and locals are permitted to make wine and local brews for consumption. They vary in taste and potency, but are savoury. Cherry, strawberry, apple, peach, plum.You name it and they make it. At Hotel Rani we had cherry wine and boy was it good! A lot of merry in that Cherry. The whole bottle was for Rs. 150 and came in a plastic mineral water bottle. Would totally recommend it! We bid adieu to the other travellers and headed back to camp guided by only the moonlight. We settled in to our sleeping bags and dozed off with the comforting sound of the Baspa flowing beside us. Accommodation for the night: Camping by the Baspa Cost: Priceless Tip of the day: Use river water for the drinks, no hangover whatsoever and the local wines deserve applaud and copious consumption.
Waking up on time is really easy when you are parked on a national highway.With trucks serving as our alarm’s we were up by 6.Waking up to clean and crisp mountain air was a worthy treat.We had parked in front of a tea stall the previous night and the guy was eager for us to move and vacate his spot.Our tea was ready even before we got off the car. With a warm cuppa in our tummy’s we were ready to leave much to the chaiwallah’s delight. Next stop was Shimla for some breakfast and clean toilets. We were in Shimla in no time, and stopped at the Holiday Home hotel which is a flagship hotel of Himachal tourism. The food was really good and the toilets were clean. With our tummies tight and eyes bright we started towards Narkanda. The drive to Narkanda from Shimla was splendid, the roads were smooth and the view was remarkable. The route took us through the blissful towns of Kufri and Fagu. With the clouds hanging low over the cliffs, the temperature was dropping. Lush green mountains and the clean grey roads added to the magnificence, thanks to the much anticipated drizzle. Narkanda is a small town and serves as base for a lot of people traveling to Kinnaur and Spiti. The town was bustling and people were tanking up and gathering supplies. We met a group of people from Denmark who were doing the same circuit as us on Enfields. After discussing the route and munching on some snacks we were off again. The road towards Sangla was less road and more stones, with tunnelling work in progress we were soon back on the Indian roads we are so used to. We managed to reach Wangdu dam by 9.30pm and made our way through complete darkness and muddy roads to a small town by the Sutlej called Tapri (2100m). Tapri has a few hotels and one big forest guest house. The guest house was booked and we settled for small place by the name of hotel pagmarang bar. The ‘BAR’ part played a vital role in the selection process. Rooms were basic and clean and the management was friendly. We headed to the bar and got down to business. The food was good specially the Chinese and the helpings plentiful. Snug, tipsy and well fed we finally called it a night. Accommodation for the night: Hotel Pagramang Bar. Room rent per night ~700 INR Distance covered: 200km Tip of the day: Try not to drive after sundown unless you are Batman