Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul

Tripoto
27th Sep 2018
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

I like to utilise my weekends well to balance out my love for exploring new places with my work life. Gandhi Jayanti (2nd Oct - a Public holiday in India) was on Tuesday, hence a perfect opportunity for an extended weekend getaway.

I have been wanting to explore Kinnaur and Spiti valleys for quite some time now. But, since it takes a lot of time in transport, I couldn't visit these earlier. This particular instance, however, I realised that I had enough time to explore at least a couple of villages from Kinnaur.

The above mentioned trip cost is per person. I was accompanied by my mother on this trip and hence some of my choices were based on comfort over money (unlike my most backpacking trips). So, there is enough scope for tightening the budget.

Tip:

If you have more time available with you, do combine your Kinnaur trip with a trip to Spiti Valley.

Places of Interest in Kinnaur Valley: Kalpa, Sangla, Chitkul, Rakchham, Karcham, Sarahan

Places of Interest in Spiti Valley: Nako, Tabo, Kaza, Ki, Kibber, Hikkim, Langza (and many more small villages)

Day 1

We boarded an overnight HRTC bus from Kashmere Gate for Shimla. The bus departed from Delhi at 9 PM (expected duration: 9-10 hours). You can book the same from this link (There is discount for women travellers in HRTC buses). The bus journey costed around 1,000 INR per head (AC semi-sleeper Volvo). There are other cheaper options available as well with HRTC.

The bus stopped at a Punjabi Dhaba - Jassons SheeshMahal (near Murthal) for dinner. We had Dal Makhani and Tandoori Rotis which were decently priced (~150 INR) and tasty. The washrooms were also well maintained.

Jassons Sheesh Mahal - A Punjabi Dhaba near Murthal

Photo of Delhi, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

Dal Makhani and Tandoori Roti

Photo of Delhi, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

HRTC Bus stopped for Dinner at Jassons Sheesh Mahal near Murthal

Photo of Delhi, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

Tips:

1. The Route can be broken down into any possible logical combination to complete the journey:

Delhi - Chandigarh - Shimla - Narkanda - Rampur - Karcham - Reckong Peo - Kalpa

or,

Delhi - Chandigarh - Shimla - Narkanda - Rampur - Karcham - Sangla - Rakchham - Chitkul

2. You can undertake the journey by a car as well if you do not want to be dependent on the bus timings. Booking a cab can however turn out to be more expensive. Shared cabs are also available in some parts. Driving during night time is not recommended in the mountains. Also the roads are quite tricky and dangerous, hence only experienced drivers should be there.

3. Instead of changing bus at Shimla, you can also try booking a direct bus till Rampur (H.P.). There is an HRTC AC bus (not a Volvo though).

4. You can also book a direct bus from Chandigarh till Sangla/Chitkul or Reckong Peo/Kalpa.

Day 2

I woke up to a beautiful dawn - almost 20 mins before reaching the Shimla bus stop (New Bus Stand - ISBT, Tutikondi).

Colourful Dawn in Shimla

Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

Tip: To get a better view of the Sunrise from the bus, take a right side window seat.

The bus reached the bus stop at 6 AM.

I inquired about the bus till Reckong Peo from the HRTC counter and boarded the one scheduled to leave at 6:15 AM. This is a regular HRTC bus, hence carrying more luggage can be a pain. The ticket costed me 270 INR (there has been a hike recently in the prices).

The HRTC bus from Shimla till Reckong Peo

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

Inside the Bus

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

The route was quite beautiful with breaks at Narkanda, Rampur and Karcham.

Tip: Take a left side window seat for better views.

The View from the bus window

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

The Morning Sun

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

View of Shimla in the Morning time

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

View from Narkanda

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

Satluj River

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

Satluj River near Rampur Bushahr

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

We got down at Reckong Peo 4:30 PM and boarded a bus for Kalpa. The bus for Kalpa was a smaller one and left at 5 PM. It costed 20 INR.

Tip: Get down at the stop close to Post Office in Reckong Peo as the bus for Kalpa starts from there. It is convenient to get a place to sit from here than when boarding the bus from Reckong Peo Bus Stand. The Post Office bus stop can easily be identified by spotting a huge Indian flag near it.

Reckong Peo Bus Stop near Post Office

Photo of Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

Indian Flag near the Reckon Peo Post Office bus stop

Photo of Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

We reached Kalpa within 20 minutes. I had booked our stay for 3 nights (28/29/30) with Hotel Kinnaur Kailash (HPTDC hotel) for 2 people. This costed me ~9,ooo INR. There are cheaper rooms available with HPTDC. There are 2 other cheaper HPTDC hotels located close to Hotel Kinnaur Kailash. I booked this one as the others were already booked out.

One can also opt for other hotels (like The Monk Kalpa, Hotel Apple View, Hotel Kalpa Deshang etc.) or go for Homestays (you can find details of the same on google maps). Homestays would be the cheapest option out of all.

Tip: Go for an accommodation overlooking the Kinnaur Kailash ranges.

Hotel Kinnaur Kailash was quite nice and our room had a beautiful view of the snow capped mountains as well. The hotel also has geysers for hot water in the rooms. But to reach this, one needs to take stairs from the Kalpa Market (where the bus stop is) which can get a bit inconvenient and tiring for some.

Hotel Kinnaur Kailash (HPTDC)

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

The Room

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

Enjoying the evening view of the Kinnaur valley

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

The cellular networks worked fine for me. I was getting 4G on both Airtel and Jio sims.

We had dinner in the hotel itself which was hygienic, delicious and decently priced.

I wanted to do stargazing and astro-photography, but could not do the same as the moon was too bright.

Moon

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Day 3

We woke up early for the sunrise at 5:30 AM.

Tip: Google out the expected time of Sunrise a day beforehand.

The sunrise was expected to happen at 6 AM. It was quite cold. I had setup my tripod and DSLR to capture the sunrise within the hotel premises only.

But it took much longer than that (~7 AM) for the sun to get visible because of the high mountains. And once the sun is out, it gets too bright and sunny. Till the sun has risen over the mountains, the golden glow of the sun on the adjacent snow capped peaks is interesting to watch. Also the sun rays can be seen very distinctly. Do not forget to spot the Kinnaur Kailash peak among the other peaks. Its peak looks like a rock resembling the Shiv Ling.

The Golden glow of the Sun on the snow capped mountain ranges

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

The Kinnaur Kailash peak can be seen on the left

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

The forests waking up to the Sun

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

The Rising Sun

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant which offered a beautiful view of the mountains.

The Restaurant at Hotel Kinnaur Kailash

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

Enjoying breakfast with a view

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

The View from the Restaurant

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

We set out on foot to explore the road till Roghi village which is almost 6-7 km from Kalpa. The route is highly scenic with apple trees laden with multitude of apples surrounding all around.

View of the valley along the route

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

On my way to Roghi

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

View along the route to the Roghi village

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

View along the route to the Roghi village

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

View along the route to the Roghi village

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

View along the route to the Roghi village

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

The famous Suicide Point is along the way. Be careful while taking pictures. It would be a very steep fall.

Suicide Point

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

Suicide Point

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

Tip: Combine visiting Roghi village and Suicide point together.

On entering Roghi, we could spot men picking apples and storing in the crates for export.

Apples

Photo of Roghi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

Apple trees

Photo of Roghi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

We took a walk in the village and interacted with the playful kids. We went to have lunch at a local's place who had cooked Rice, Dal and Bhindi. The quantity was more than enough. It was not a fancy meal, but definitely a homely one filled with love. We interacted with the hostess and her daughter. They were simple people who told me about their village lives.

Lunch

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

We went to the village temple which had intricate wooden carvings all over it. I was mesmerised by its beauty. However, it was closed. A local informed us that due to some reason, all the temples over the region are closed for the next 12 days.

Temple Shrine

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

Wooden Work at the temple

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

On my way back, I asked one of the locals if I could buy some apples for eating on our walk back to Kalpa. They offered us a couple of apples and refused to take any money in return. The apples were freshly plucked from the tree and very delicious.

The weather had started to get cloudy. A couple from Delhi who were travelling in their car offered us lift till my hotel, which we gladly accepted because of the changing weather.

Tip: People willing to spend more time in Roghi, can find homestays.

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

On reaching the hotel, I was just walking around the hotel when I spotted a well defined rainbow in the mountains. The day could not have gone any better.

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

It was again too cloudy and bright in the night for star gazing.

Day 4

After having morning breakfast, we met a group of painters from Pune who were travelling through the Kinnaur and capturing its beauty in their paintings. It was amazing for me to see how the same place satisfies different needs of different people.

Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

After this, we visited the Kalpa Monastery (close to the Kalpa market). It had a peaceful and calm air to it. However, the Monastery was closed.

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

Within 200 m from the Monastery, there is a Hindu temple which also featured intricate wooden works. Photography and Videography is not allowed inside the temple. The main temple premise was again closed.

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

After this, we took a bus from Kalpa till Kothi village (along the same route as Reckong Peo - costs 15 INR per head).

Tip: For Kothi village, one needs to get down at the Hospital mod stop. It is barely 800-900 m walk from there.

Photo of Kothi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

Kothi village has a Chandika Mata Temple which is a famous Durga temple in the area. Inside the premises, photography and videography are not allowed. One needs to take off their shoes and wear the traditional Himachali caps (available at the entrance for borrowing for free - one needs to return back the same while leaving), before entering the temple. This temple was also closed.

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

There was a Bhairav temple close to this temple, which was closed as well.

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

As we were walking back from Kothi village, we met two girls - Lata and Urmila. They told us a lot about Kinnaur, the temples in the region and also tried teaching us their language. The only word that I still remember is Juley (it is the same in Ladakhi) which is the equivalent of the English Hello or Hindi Namastey.

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

We had lunch near the Hospital mod bus stop and walked all the way till Reckong Peo post office (~3 km) for catching the bus back to Kalpa (One can also catch the bus from Hospital mod itself).

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

On getting back to Kalpa, we had an early dinner and packed all our stuff to leave for Chitkul early the next morning.

If you have more time in Kalpa, you can go for Chakka trek (do check the weather conditions before going), Kamru Fort and Sapni Fort.

Day 5

We woke up early and caught the bus for Reckong Peo from Kalpa Main Market at 8:30 AM.

Some locals told us that an HRTC bus from Roghi leaves directly for Chitkul at somewhere in between 8 AM - 8:30 AM. This bus can be boarded from The Primary Health Centre (close to HPTDC hotels). But since, we were not sure of the information, we did not wait for this one.

We got down at Reckong Peo Main Bus Stand (cost 15 INR). From here, we waited for the bus till Chitkul.

Tip: Information of other buses running to/from Reckong Peo bus stand:

Photo of Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

Our bus was scheduled to depart at 9:30 AM, but got delayed and left at 10:00 AM. This is again a regular-no-frills HRTC bus and Reckong Peo is the starting point. The ticket costs 90 INR per person.

Tip: Take the right side window seat.

The bus takes the route : Reckong Peo - Karcham - Sangla - Rakchham - Chitkul.

Karcham is where Baspa river meets Satluj river. After Karcham, one can only see the Baspa river, which has clear pristine water.

The bus stopped at Sangla for a short break.

The route between Rakchham and Chitkul was very beautiful. Due to road construction and a wrongly parked car, our bus got delayed further.

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

Tips:

1. The mountains are highly unpredictable. Hence, always factor in some buffer time into your planning.

2. If you are travelling in a car, make sure to park your vehicle properly so that it does not hinder other people from accessing a road or taking a turn.

The bus reached Chitkul at 3:30 PM. It generally reaches Chitkul by 1 PM - 2 PM. Next to the bus stop is Hindustan's Akhri Dhaba (as Chitkul is the last village before the Indo-Tibetan border in Himachal).

Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

It was drizzling lightly. We checked into Zostel (450-500 INR for a bed in a dorm/ 1,800-2,000 INR for private rooms), left our bags and went near the river bank. We spent some time in silence appreciating the natural beauty around us, before heading for Akhri Dhaba for some evening snacks.

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

We had Maggi which was perfect for satisfying our monsoon mood. We also got to know that there are many homestays in Chitkul. The information/ contact details for most of these can be found on Google Maps.

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

At night, the weather cleared. After finding a secluded spot near Zostel, I indulged in some astro-photography as this was the perfect sky for the same (moon was not yet out, very little light pollution, clear sky). The milky way was clearly visible with the naked eyes.

Photo of Detailed Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley - Kalpa / Chitkul by Asmita Bhattacharya

Tip: Additional things to do in Chitkul:

1. Trek to the Indian flag.

2. Walk till the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) check post ~3 km away.

3. Visit the Durga Temple in Chitkul.

At night the temperature was close to zero. We had ordered Sarso ka Saag, Yellow Dal and Tawa Rotis for dinner at the Zostel Cafe. The food was very tasty and cheap.

Tip: Only BSNL sims work in Chitkul.

Day 6

I woke up in time for the sunrise. There was a layer of frozen ice on the furniture outside, which vanished quickly once the sun was out.

Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya
Photo of Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

After having breakfast, we had to leave for getting back to Delhi.

Tip: There are 2 buses in the morning for getting out of Chitkul.

1. 6 AM Bus from Chitkul till Karcham (You need to catch another bus from there till Shimla/ Chandigarh)

2. 9:30 AM Bus from Chitkul till Mandi (You can get down at Rampur)

There is also a bus from Sangla till Shimla at 7 AM in the morning.

You can call the Sangla bus depot at +91- 9459732471 to inquire more about the bus timings.

We went for the second option. The ticket from Chitkul to Rampur costed 190 INR per head.

Tip: After reaching Rampur, one can get an HRTC AC Deluxe Bus (not a Volvo) from Rampur till Delhi (leaves Rampur at 5 PM and reaches Delhi at 7 AM).

We reached Rampur at 4 PM. We went for a regular HRTC bus from Rampur which left at 4 PM itself (Cost - 186 INR) and reached Shimla ISBT, Tutikondi by 9:15 PM.

We had the booked an HRTC AC Semi-sleeper Volvo bus from Shimla till Delhi which left at 11 PM (scheduled to leave at 10:30 PM). The ticket can be booked online in advance from the HRTC website & costs ~1,000 INR.

Day 7

The bus stopped before getting into Delhi for early morning tea & snacks, which most of us skipped. We reached the Kashmere Gate bus stop at 6:45 AM.

With this, the journey to Kinnaur Valley comes to an end for now. I recommend this trip to anyone who is looking to relax in nature's lap surrounded by snow capped mountains. The place does amazing things to any soul in need of peace, healing, relaxation and/or rest.

Photo of Delhi, India by Asmita Bhattacharya

If you liked my travelogue, please like and share this post. You can follow me on Instagram @the.travel.freak and get in touch with me. Please let me know if this post was helpful and if there are any feedback for improvement.

3 Comment(s)
Sort by:
Very helpful blog for those seeking a trip in kinnaur district...Each and every detail including the stays how to reach and everything is covered also making you feel the place with the write up ...very very helpful
Sun 11 18 18, 15:08 · Reply · Report
It's nice to read the wonderful write up. It's good you started to write, that takes us through the beautiful Himalayan trails. I also think of putting my trekking experience on paper before start of trek, but somehow it end up in dustbin. Anyway hope to listen more from you in your next as adventure.
Sun 10 07 18, 00:36 · Reply (1) · Report
Thanks Balaram sir. Appreciate your kind words. Do share your experiences as well. Would help a lot many.
Sun 10 07 18, 10:07 · Report
Its a Fantastic experience Ashmitha. Wonderful write up, last 15 mins literally I am in the Himalayan trails through your words. you added one more in my bucket list. Good Job. Keep it up.
Sat 10 06 18, 23:19 · Reply (1) · Report
I'm glad Ganesh that you liked it. Do visit Kinnaur. You'll like it.
Sat 10 06 18, 23:34 · Report