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
Tip of the day: Use river water for the drinks, no hangover whatsoever and the local wines deserve applaud and copious consumption.