'Dil Mere', by The Local Train is an indie song with great acclaim. The song opens with two shades—snow-clad white mountains and sprinkled black scenery of pine trees and random bushes. In the background, the sun's charisma shines on the hills and makes them look golden. The sky is covered in shades of topaz blue - a cheerful colour. Out of all, the music is a cherry on the cake - chilling as cold but warm as home.
As I get stuck to the screen, another scene with wooden houses appears in the panorama, and this time, the place is on one side green, and the other, black and white, again. There is a place where both worlds meet in the magical sublimity.
One after the other, the song takes us to different landscapes, local faces, tools, rising sun, a house peeking from behind a tree, and a river. I transcend to the place immediately, find myself in the soul of nature—amidst apple orchards and deodar trees—and wonder: where is this place?
In Himachal. There is a small hamlet in the Kinnaur district: Chitkul. It is also known as the last village of India because it is the last village located on the old Hindustan-Tibetan trade route. It's also one with the cleanest air in India. It is surrounded by Garhwal on the south, Tibet on the east, Spiti Valley on the North and Kullu on the West side.
It's not easy to enter the village with barren roads and slithery scree slopes. But if one has the patience and enough will, then running down to this place on a vehicle is not an impossible task after all.
The songs of 'The Local Train' are always on a lookout for the meaning of life. Similarly, one must, once in a while, go on such journeys. Chitkul is the destination for you. There are homestays and BnBs in the village, and you can easily find necessities, along with "India's Akhiri Dhaba".
Here is a brief guide for you to explore Chitkul at ease:
What is the best month to go to Chitkul?
Before winter, Chitkul is basking in all colours of nature, voices of people, bone piercing wind, quivering branches of alpine trees, and babbling Baspa river. During winters, the place is wholly submerged under ice, and so inhabitants move to lower regions of Himachal. Then, the site stands still, and only time roams on locked streets.
You can visit Chitkul in March-April or September-October. The summers are not that summer-y, and the temperature ranges from 5° C to 20° C; so, carry adequate warm clothes. This is when the entire Kinnaur Valley comes to life, with colourful blossom, and brown and green patches on the slopes of the hills.
How to reach Chitkul?
By Air: The nearest airport, Shimla Airport, is located about 245 km away from Chitkul. The airport is well connected to the major Northern cities of India. Otherwise, Chandigarh airport is the nearest major airport connecting different cities and countries.
By Train: Shimla is the nearest train station. The closest central railway station to Chitkul is in Chandigarh.
By Road: The only way to arrive at Chitkul Village via Shimla or Manali is via road. You can find many bus services to Chitkul from both Shimla and Manali. There are many buses and private cabs running from the two locations to Chitkul. The entire journey is completed in approximately 10 hours.
What are the tourist attractions in Chitkul?
Mathi Temple - Dedicated to the local goddess Shri Mathi, the temple is said to be made in the 16th century. The statue of the goddess is carved out of walnut wood. The temple is known for spiritual healing and architectural marvel.
Chitkul fort - The high tower offers an overview of the village and the valley. The fort’s origin is ambiguous, but you can visit the fort to admire the wooden carvings that are eminent in pahadi art.
Can we trek in Chitkul?
Trekking is a prominent sport here. These are the following treks for adrenaline enthusiasts:
1. Nagasti ITBP
Difficulty - Easy;
Distance/Height - 4 km
2. Rani Kanda Meadows
Difficulty - Moderate;
Distance/Height - 10 km
3. Borasu Pass Trek
Difficulty - Difficult;
Distance/Height - 17,880 ft
4. Lamkhaga Pass Trek
Difficulty Level - Difficult;
Distance/Height - 17,320 ft
Where to stay in Chitkul?
You can stay in hotels and homestays available at affordable rates.