Scenic and serene, Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh is perhaps one of the most unexplored places in Himachal. Passing through serpentine roads, refreshing, lush greenery, the district is a delight to explore. Though travellers looking to enjoy a luxurious holiday may not have a great time here. Kalpa is the first village that greets you when you enter Kinnaur. Reckong Peo, Nako and Sangla Valley are some of the villages and valleys that make up Kinnaur district. A journey to Kinnaur is marked with adventure and also an unpredictability that comes from travelling so high up in the mountains. The people in all the villages are very warm and welcoming and are open to sharing their way of life with travellers. Do plan a long trip here, since Kinnaur district can easily take up to 2 weeks and it's best not to hurry your way through this spellbinding valley.
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Pin Valley National Park
This is a national park and that too the only one of Himachal Pradesh situated in the cold desert area. This whole region has the effect of Buddhism and thus there are built the gompas or monasteries here. The main animals found here are snow leopard, ibex, bharal, red fox, marten, weasel, pika, vulture, chukor, golden eagle and others. The main specirs of flora found here are shrubs, herbs, scrubs, juniper and birch in the form of forests.
After a day of tremulous bumpy ride we reached the base camp Dhaula. It’s a eye pleasing camp-site beside Rupin river amidst dense forest. All the weariness was forgotten and the only thing predominated was a sense of tranquillity which one always feels when in Himalayas.By now my subconscious had already kicked in drawing a comparison between KGL and Rupin pass. This part of Himalayas was so different yet alluring. Once the greetings were exchanged with the fellow trekkers, we slipped into our sleeping bags all gearing up for the next day.
It was to be a long day. We merrily sprang along, giggling and enjoying the fine day bestowed upon us. Still there was no sight of the pack. They were like miles ahead. Oh well, we hop alone, rejoicing to our songs that we sang along.We were walking to Sangla Kandi instead of Ronti Gad today. We had some cold-chilled lunch in the laps of the mountains. It became apparent that the campsite is far, faar away. From noon to dusk we were still walking, in search of that hallowed campsite. As frustrating it was we had no option. And then this happened.Soon it became dark and we were just dragging our tired bodies in search of the campsite. Out comes all our flashlights, and to our horror we almost lost our way, only for the Indiahikes team to find us. Sourabha was a little annoyed about such a long day. She crashed straight into her tent. Little exhausted soul. We realised it was 7:30pm when we reached.But, celebrations were far from over. Everyone assembled in the dining tent. There was hot Maggi ready with tea. Maggi? Yes, MAGGI! I devoured to my heart's content. Of course I was hungry! And then in comes the cake! Woohhooooo!The cake was to celebrate the completion of the trek by all participants and organizers alike. And not to forget the belated cake cutting celebrations of Mahendra's b'day. So it was Mahendra who did the honours. All thanks to Naina jee and his cooking staff. Dinner was served. And then its the last night that we spend amidst these splendid mountains before we depart to our respective destinations tomorrow morning.Day 8: And All Good Things Must Come to an End...We woke up to a sprightly fresh morning, with the view of the Dhauladhar mountains from the windows of our tents.Today's the last day of the trek. Its a simple descend to Sangla, where we re-enter civilization (and mobile network). Mixed emotions all around. While the happiness of going back home and be with our dear ones was naturally there, the sadness of leaving those beautiful mountains and fairy-tale valleys was equally there in the mind. Before we head out we had a small certificate distribution ceremony and also to offer a vote of thanks to all, especially the Indiahikes team of guides, porters, cooks etc.After few group pics we set off for one last time. The trail was through numerous villages apricot trees, cashew-nuts and Apples. Yes, more Apples! The juiciest apples you'll ever taste. Numerous apple orchards on both sides. You feel like just jumping over and plucking few. Add to that the dense pine trees on your right. I was in no mood to hurry up.I remember walking past by a man belonging to one of those villages. We just exchanged smiles and he gives me a juicy green apple. Such humbleness, generosity.Sangla was visible now. Nestled in the laps of Dhauladhar mountains Sangla is a small town with the Baspa river flowing through & a big Tibetan presence Sangla is where our trek ends.We checked into a hotel room, took a nice-hot shower (imagine the feel after 7 days), gorged on some nice Tibetan food before heading out to Kalka. We all bid goodbye to each other, promising to stay in touch.We took a HP road transport bus to Kalka. This journey was itself nothing short of an adventure with rickety, edge-of-the-seat turns and roads, a you-don't-take-me-for-granted bus conductor, and a even-I-don't-budge-in-front-of-anyone fauji (ITBP). But not before we take some souvenir. We bought these beautiful Himachali hats for ourselves as a reward for our efforts. Aren't we looking like Kinnauri now????At around 10pm we bid goodbye to Arvind, Rick, Raj and Rick. They got down at Rampur. I'll always remember them for the support they provided us and the efforts they took to keep us laughing, especially Rick with his crazy stories. Maybe it was the last time I ever saw them.Back in Bengaluru, and it still took me a month to 'acclimatize' to a city life. Or Maybe I should have stayed back in Jakha and grow apples and barley? That didn't happen but life is uncertain.Rupin Pass, you stunner. It was by far one of the most beautiful treks I've done. The sky blue rivulets, the hanging villages, those enchanting snowy peaks, the joy of reaching the summit, and some colorful, breath-taking landscapes is all I took back as memoirs with me. I was exposed to the most beautiful works of nature. More than 2 months after the trek got over and I still have memories etched in my head that pops up now and then, telling me that my next Himalayan adventure is not far away and I should be gearing up for it. Indeed, Himalayas does cast a spell on you...This blog was originally published on 'hrishikesh baruah'This blog was originally published on 'hrishikesh baruah A travel monkey's travelogue'
03/06/2016 06:30 - The bus stops at Reckong Peo for couple of hours to freshen up from 04:30 to 06:30 next morning after overnight journey and continues journey to Kaza and this is the only bus in the day from Peo to Kaza. Most of the seats are booked by people coming from Shimla and I was given seat only till Kaza as special bus stops here and will not go to Kaza.I managed to stand in bus as many others did. I had no proper sleep yesterday night and was travelling non-stop for more than 24 hours from Bangalore till Peo and continuing till Tabo which will take 8 more hours from Peo.My physical and mental stress are relieved from the time I met an Israeli girl at Peo bus-stand. I helped her get seat in bus. After some time in bus journey , we became temporary friends.I got an idea to travel with her for couple of days and so got down at Nako where she got down though I planned to go till Tabo skipping Nako. I told her that I was very tired and I cannot travel any further when she asked why I got down(She might have understood why I actually got down).We walked into Nako village from the outskirts where we got down. We checked a budget room in local home stay , I asked her if both of us can share a room or she needs a separate room. She was okay to share and my wish came true finally(I had a wish to experience travel with a female partner).Though it was new and surprising to me , it was common for her.After little rest and freshing up , we went out for lunch. We had discussed a lot on our personal and culture issues of both India and Israel having Israeli special food at a famous local hotel.I was lucky to stop at Nako as it turned out to be memorable day as Nako is the type of village I wanted to visit in this trip. Friendly local people in small numbers , farmers and cattle , their small old brick houses. Also the small lake for a leisure and peaceful walk.She met many of Israelites in the evening at Tea time , many of them she had already met earlier in Kinnaur Valley. One thing I understood is that more than 50% of Spiti tourists are foreigners and 90% of them are Israelites. I see very few South Indians are travelling here.Most of the Israelites are either travelling alone or as a group of 2-4 most of India for few months. Few of them are drug addicted and are travelling just for complete fun and entertainment as they had finished serving in Army there. These people are actually corrupting the local youth.
Camping at Odi Thach 07 july 2016 The Black Clouds Were Very Scary which stopped Us Moving Forward To Mantalai Lake. The Target Was To Reach Mantalai But Weather Conditions Were Not In Our Favour and Made Us To Rest In this beautiful Flower Valley . The Clouds Were Playing and after some times it covered us completly . Camping with The Wild Freezing wind. The parvati valley shows the Completely DIfferent Side than Seen in kasol and Kheerganga.
Pin Bhaba Pass is classified as a moderate-difficult trek. Day 5 is a gruelling experience because of the challenges posed during the pass-crossing. It is a strenuous hike up and down two starkly different mountain valleys. It requires high-levels of fitness, endurance and skill to accomplish this task.
Situated at the height of 2758 m above the sea level and 110 km from Sarahan, Kalpa is a beautiful and main village of Kinnaur. Across the river faces the majestic mountains of the Kinner Kailash range. These are spectacular sights early in the morning as the rising sun touches the snowy peaks with crimson and golden light.
Karcham Wangtoo Dam
Karcham is an important place in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh.It is a 1000 MW Hydro-electric plant on the Sutlej river where the power station is located in Wangtoo.The dam is a delight to watch as there are mountains surrounding this dam and the entire landscape is mesmerizing..One will get hypnotised by the natural view there.
There was no road to Chanshal or Larot until a few years ago. Trekking was the only possibility. Now there is a rest house at Larot and a road that goes past the Chanshal Pass 4600mts into the tribal regions of Dodra and Kwar, twin villages which live and breathe in a time of their own. The only option is to camp out or stay in the few home stays that come up in the recent years. The grand vistas are breathtaking (thats an understatement) and the meadows and slopes of the Chanshal valley are great for skiing, through when does that happen here, we cant say. Trails lead up to Sangla valley and Netwar in the Jaunsar Bawa region of Uttarakhand. I would recommend biking it up, though no matter how you reach, this would remain your into the wild trip for times to come. Larot is 48 kms from Rohru and further up is Chanshal pass.
Swargarohini comprises of 4 mountain peaks in the Bandarpunch Range of the Garhwal Himalayas. It derives its name from the legend that this is forms the path to heavens, which was taken up by the Pandavas, Draupadi and their dog, itis also said ti be the only place that can take the human body and the soul to the heavens.
Situated in the sangla Valley, this place is famous for the ancient fort built here in pagoda style. The fort houses beautiful idols of Lord Buddha and Kamakshi Devi, a form of Goddess Sati or Dhakti. The idols are placed in the thrid floor of the fort and this has made the place a famous pilgrimage spot too. The idol of Kamakshi Devi is said to have been brought down from Gwahati. There is also a temple of Badrinath here which dates back to the 15th century. A fair is held every three years in honor of the goddess who is taken to the gangotri to get washed.
Day 2: Leh to Tilat Sumdo(Private jeeps) Depart from Leh early in the morning & arrive at Tilat Sumdo. From here the temperatures start dropping further in the night. Here we start our first walk on the Chadar. There will be a briefing session on how to walk on the chadar along with how to identify the right surface to walk. There are various risk factors associated with the way you walk on the chadar, hence it is important to take things slowely. Here we will setup our campsites & stay for the night. Camp at Tilat Sumdo
Jhaka is also known as the hanging village as it looks like its hanging on the valleys from far. Reaching Jhaka brought some mighty relief. We entered one home where I got to see Apple trees. Apple trees, with apples on them! I have never seen a tree bearing apples before.We were offered some juicy freshly plucked apples. Good lord, they tasted awesome! After spending some quality time, refilling our bottles we set out. More apples were offered on the way, which I gracefully accepted.Straight out of Jhaka and the landscape changed. We were greeted with lovely pine forests and green meadows. This day was turning out to be the best.We found an empty hut filled with thatch on our way. The view from the hut and the feeling of resting inside it was pure bliss. Just sit there, lay back, and absorb all the views while you can.The trail enters a pine forest, and it gets chilly once inside. Quickly out of the shadows of the trees and we can see our lunch spot below right next to the roaring Rupin river.It was a breathtaking place to be in. Most of the people had already reached the spot and started with their lunch. We opened our lunch box to ice-cold roti and aloo sabji. But more than anything it was the landscape around us with loud colourful hue all around. A view you always dreamt of maybe? I was living a dream.
Day 3: Tapri to Chitkul
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.
Rakcham Bus Stop
Before entering the Sangla valley one passes the village of Rakcham . Situated on the confluence of Baspa river and the Mighty Sutlej , this place is relatively unknown to many and is covered with mesmerising landscapes . After a short tea break here , We were good to go for the final 2 hours of our journey.
This was turning out to be a blockbuster day. The landscape just kept on throwing more bouts of colors and surprises on us, and we happily embraced it. Happily hopping and making our way over small rivulets we reached Udaknal, our campsite with Rupin river on the right and a blossoming forest overlooking a valley on the left.It was cold here. Colder than the previous camps. Touching water was a nightmare; fingers were getting numb. While Anoop and Seran went to check out the broken snow bridge that was not very far on the Rupin river we collected dry woods & put up a campfire. The fire kept us warm, we also decided to have some by fun. Bring on Antakshari! I got the ball rolling, and soon everyone were in their musical best! One after another chartbusters were sung out to everyone's smiles, before we broke for dinner. Nothing like some steaming hot roti, chawal, dal and sabji in freezing conditions. And some soan papdi to finish things up???? Time to run back to our sleeping bags for a well deserved sleep.Day 5: A Walk through Colourful Meadows, and Finally the Rupin WaterfallI woke up by 5:30 am to an absolute cold surrounding. It was bloody freezing. Someone told that it was almost 0 degree at night.As we all struggled to brush and do our plates with icy cold water we also managed to un-pitch and pack our tents.Today we trek to Dhanderas thatch, or more commonly known as the Lower Waterfall camp. That picture that you see when you google Rupin Pass, that pic on Indiahikes' coverpage, that pic that instantly made you sign up for this trek. Yes, we trek to that place today. Let's go let's go!Rick promissed us that this will be yet another beautiful day with amazing meadows albeit trees or forests. We were dying to feel sun's rays falling on us but that will not be till we reach Buras Kandi.Realised couple of horses ran away at night! Yeah even they didn't appreciate the cold maybe. The horses were to carry the offloaded backpacks. This lead to some delays and the porters and the guides decided to take the extra bags.Also, there was one more tricky situation. We were to walk over the snow bridge to the other side. But since it was broken we had to find our steps through the river.Ascending our way we soon met flock of sheep. "Meh! Meh!! Meh!!!", is all you can hear around you. Fantastic sight! There would be 1000-1500 sheep in a flock and 4 shepherd dogs to man them. The dogs will make sure all the sheep are following the line, and if any strays away the dogs would bark or push them back in line. Sheer brilliance! The shepherd would just follow the entire flock at the back, not bothered much. Great start to the day.We were badly gasping for some sunshine to fall on us as it was chilly. Few steps up, few down and we were out in the middle of the valley with the Rupin river navigating its own path on rocky trails. Brrrrr! We were still reeling under cold breeze. As has always been the case we were at the back of the pack and we could see the other trekkers already halted at an elevation. And as Harsha said, "Stay Calm, and Walk Slow"!That's Buras Kandi, from where you start getting the magnificent views of the snow peaked mountains.This was to be the most chillaxed day of the trek, yet extremely rewarding with the meadows and views.Tall, lush trees now started making way for red-rusty meadows. All the pics that I saw of Rupin before zeroing down on it was completely different. Green meadows in pics now turned to rusty-red and yellowish in front of our naked eyes. An incredible sight wherever you see. The colours all around are so vibrant and loud."Hrishi, udhar dekh (Look there)" out came a scream from Anoop. "Whoa! That's one huge piece of ice!!! Lemme have a closer look!" I exclaimed.We all just dumped our bags on the trail started running up on our right to have a closer view of the ice. It was massive. And one heck of a spectacle. So big that you could feel your voice echoing standing underneath it. Not to mention it was slippery and dangerous."Chalooooooo, wapis aao (Come back)". There's the voice of Arvind calling us back. Also the sun was straight up on our head so some catching up to do here with the rest of the pack. Gathering some momentum we reached our lunching point. With the serene Rupin river flowing discreetly and the Rupin waterfall in the backdrop this was arguably the most befitting lunch spot ever. I'll let the pics do the talking here...The only consolation for eating cold rice and sabzi was the spot that we chose to eat. Some took a power-nap, some decided to chit-chat under the basking sun.Moving on we had to cross this massive snow bridge. Prahlad, Rick, and Arvind told us to be extremely cautious since 1 wrong step (on thin ice) and you're straight down. As exciting it may seem it's treacherous to walk on snow, specially when you've not put on your spikes. You see, I fell down hard twice on my bums!Few climbs up and the view of the Rupin waterfall is crisp and next campsite visible. The very thought of camping with the Rupin waterfall in the backdrop can take away all the feeling of exhaustion right away. We kept walking towards it and the views got more prominent and majestic. I'm in heaven...I just dumped my bag in the tent and simply rejoiced by seeing the sheer grandeur and beauty all around me. No phone signal, a scene straight out of a fairy-tale, and some noisy trekkers revelling in some high altitude cricket. When was the last time I was so happy? Time, please tick slow.The campsite is a massive valley with big-small waterfalls cascading from all sides to form the Rupin river. Wherever you see its all postcard-ish landscapes around.As it started getting dark it started getting cold as well. Out comes all our layers, gloves, mufflers, woollen hats. Darn, its frighteningly cold out here now! And then Arvind with a sly grin, " Upar toh aur bhi zyada thand hogi " (It will be even more colder up there)! We had gulab jamuns for sweet in dinner. I had 5 (or 6 ? Never mind)! Makes me wonder, the higher we go the tastier and exotic the food gets.Everyone is summoned for next day's briefing. Its clear; tomorrow's gonna be the toughest day of the trek. And by far the toughest actually. So what awaits next day? You see that Rupin waterfall that I've been writing so much about, that has like become my inspiration for my travelogue, whose views are simply knocking me off my senses every time I gaze at it? We climb it tomorrow!Day 6: The Day of Reckoning"Shite! How am I suppose to climb THAT waterfall? Raasta kidhar se hai chadhne ke liye bhi (Where's the trail to climb)?" was my feeling. All hell in the world's gonna break loose!We woke up to a bone rattling cold morning greeted by near-ice water in the bucket to wash up. My pale fingers should have just snapped and fallen off!All these 4 days of trekking and acclimatization will be put to test today. Today's trek was to only ascend. Its simple; we climb up the waterfall and reach Rata Pheri, and summit to Rupin Pass is just a cake walk after that. We'll find out...You can see ice formation all around; plants, drinking water. The guides did all they could to pump us up. We did start enthusiastically. The climb to the waterfall is to the right; a trail set on loose rocks, with small stream of water gushing only to make it slippery.The Rupin waterfall is a 3-stage waterfall. On one side you see the icy-cold water just gushing all the way down, and on the other you can see the trail that you have traversed till now from the top. Here as well one has to walk over a ice-bridge over the waterfall. Yikes!After crossing the snow bridge while the rest of the brigade marched up Anoop me and Rick decided to do a bit of exploring. We went a bit closer to get some better view of the mouth of the waterfall. One can notice the icicle formation all right below the waterfall. Few minutes clicking here and there and we are back on the hike.We reached the Upper Waterfall campsite after some pain-staking climb. Had it been Summer we would have camped here. But not today. Sourabha was completely exhausted, but she pushed herself. We were walking at a snail's pace, completely tired and also relishing the grand views. Rupin, we ain't quitting today!Arvind was there all the time with us even when the rest of the pack were way ahead of us. Salute to his patience. Such a humble guy he is, he was very supportive of our efforts and would encourage us with his words even when we though we would falter.This was turning out to be a never ending ascend. But efforts comes with rewards. For the first time one can see majestic snow capped mountains all around. Indeed a sight to behold.After some back-breaking climb we finally saw some tents, only to realise that's not ours. Arvind told that we now have to camp a little ahead. So finally we reached Rata Pheri, and this is how it looked...Seeing the campsite not only had a mesmerizing effect on the mind thanks to the serene spot but also brought a mighty relief to the body. My shoulders were now in agony thanks to the 9kg rucksack. But ain't no time to waste, coz exploring your campsite is important.It gets so bloody cold that by the time tea reaches our tents from the kitchen it gets cold. Sourabha was feeling a little dizzy so she restricted herself inside the tent to get some rest. It was a pretty little campsite with mountains flanking you from all sides. Absolute delight! And when sun started setting the mountains shone up...We tried playing Mafia inside the dinner tent but quickly gave way to piping hot food. Without much adieu all of us jumped into our respective tents for an early night off. And man it was cold out there.Day 7: Day of ReckoningMorning couldn't have come any sooner. Today's the day when we shall summit. Till now no one has dropped out of the group, and we were hopeful everyone would make it to that hallowed top.Today was also going to be the longest day of the trek. Approximately 10-11 hours. Dreaded already I was. We started by around 8:30 am for the summit. Shouldn't take more than 1 hour to reach the top.Started off by 8:30 am the trail was a 60 degree climb to the summit. Add to that loose rocks and gravel till the top only made it more perplexed. We had to check our grip each time before making the next step. While the rest reached the top much early and carried on as well we took our own sweet time.As we inched closer we could hear cheers and celebrations of trekkers who reached the top. This only charged us up to go even faster. We gained momentum and here we are.At 15,250 ft. we are at the highest point of Rupin Pass. We did it. A jubilant mood all around. We hugged, congratulated each other, and danced around on the accomplishment.The view on the other side of the Rupin Pass just blew me away. It was windy and fresh snow lie all around. Mt. Kinnaur-Kailash and Dhauladhar mountain ranges were all glittering out afar. This day would provide some astonishing and jaw dropping views all around. An awesome feeling????That fresh snow was so tempting. That we decided to have some fun. We did some Juguza, our trademark ' Happy Feet' dance, and a lot of fun sliding around. Rick and Arvind were asking us to be back on the trail, but we were behaving like kids who saw snow for the first time!????I was a having a wonderful day. I was ecstatic, in 7th heaven. I will do less of talking here and instead let the pics below give you and idea of things that unravelled.
The beauty of the campsite was beyond our comprehension. Everything was so calm and beautiful. Time suddenly slowed down. I wanted it to slow down more.Mahendra, Vishwa, Hrishikesh (Yes, there was 1 more Hrishi in the group. And I thought I had a unique name. We also had 2 Sourabha in the group BTW), and Jaggi had already reached, on their own. I felt it was a bit cold for a 1st day. Quickly we got introduced to our trek lead Rick, as well as trek guides Prahlad and Arvind. We introduced ourselves to all the fellow trekkers, and sleeping bag liners (which I lost later) and micro-spikes were given to us (just in case we had to traverse snow bridges). Also to note there will not be any phone signal for the next 7 days; just us and the mountains. Yayy!!!Of all Ramesh sir, Sanjyot ji, and Piyush sir had the most experience trekking in the Himalayas. Dinner was served; we all crawled back to our respective tents for a well deserved sleep. For tomorrow was going to be the start of a great journey...Day 2: Let the Trek CommenceWe woke up by 6 am, and tea was served by 7. It was exactly the morning you'll crave for; lush green surrounding, a fiery Rupin river with sparkling emerald green water flowing, and our fluttering orange tents. By 8 am packed lunch was ready, our bags packed and we all lined up for our destination was Sewa. We marched on, crossed a bridge and our long hike started.The 1st day of a trek in the Himalayas is always exciting and trekkers are eager to explore to find out what's in store. Its also the most tiring (mostly) day of the trek normally since people just started out and need some time to acclimatize to the new topography. Concrete jungles were suddenly replaced with green mountains with small waterfalls jotted everywhere, rushing people were replaced with smiling villagers, and honking cars were replaced with horses, mules, and sheep flock. The changes were unprecedented but necessary.The trails were quite steep initially, plus we were walking on a hot day. The trail was through hamlets, step farming, pine forests and some intricately designed wooden houses. Around 5 hours in the trail and we stopped for lunch.Lunch was ice cold by now. Sewa was not far now (well, that's what they said and we thought). Carrying your own backpack can be a painful decision, let me assure you. We also met a lot of beautiful kids who'll run to you asking for candies. Bhai, bhai bhai... Namaste! Mithai hai? Now if someone comes to you like this then who wouldn't budge. There you go, take all these that I have now. In fact ye bhi le le!
Day 2: Solan to Chitkul
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
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)