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A short trip to kalpa, raksham and chitkul in kinnaur
Kinnaur is one of 12 districts in himachal pradesh in northern India. A primarily mountainous district famous for its knife edge carved roads, the mountain ranges and valleys of kinnaur offer majestic views and timeless beauty with altitudes ranging from 2300m to 6800m. It is located about 240km from shimla on national highway 22(hindustan-tibet road).
Kinnaur has long winters from October to May and short summers from June to September. The upper regions of kinnaur fall in a rain shadow area and are mostly considered to be arid while the lower baspa and sutlej valleys receive monsoon rains. The winters are long and harsh with heavy snow and basic warm clothes may be required even in summers. It is quite possible to get "snowed in" when visiting in winters.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit the area is May-June and Sep-October. The area receives heavy rains during monsoons and some of the roads are prone to landslides. The winters are fairly harsh and the area suffers from road blockages and power outages in winter hence winter travels to the region are not recommended.
SUMMER AND POST MONSOON ARE BEST TIMES
How to get to Kinnaur
The best way is via road as there is no airport or rail service to the area. The nearest major city is Shimla, the state capital. There are buses plying on the Shimla -Reckongpeo/ Sangla route. One can also hire a taxi to visit the area. I chose to drive my own vehicle to kinnaur. It takes approximately 10-12 hours to reach Recokongpeo or Sangla from Shimla by road although buses may take a few more hours. There are very few buses to some areas and people on a strict timeline may face difficulty. The road bifurcates at karcham to Sangla valley and Raksham and Chitkul villages. The road offers views of several massive hydroelectric projects.
Delhi – Shimla (380 kms) – Narkanda (433 kms) – Karcham (570 kms) – Reckong Peo (590km) – Kalpa (598 km)
Road from Karcham bifurcates towards Sangla Valley and Chitkul as: Karcham -Sangla (12 KMs) – Rakcham (26KMs) – Chitkul (40 km)
Shimla to Kalpa
Kalpa to Chitkul
It is the district headquarters and the biggest city in the area. You will find cheaper accomodation here than in Kalpa 13 kms away. This area also has a fuel station and a big hospital which was helpful to me during my trip.
Kalpa is at 3000m so it gets really cold there even in May. Kalpa is known primarily for its apple orchards, apples being the main cash crop and the mesmerising view of the Kinner Kailash range that it offers. Choose a hotel in Kalpa that offers the best view. My amateur photography skills fail to do justice to the beauty of the place. The peaks look absolutely fabulous when sunlight falls on them in the morning. The Kalpa to Roghi road is a photographer's delight. One should watch atleast one sunrise and sunset here in Kalpa. A walk to suicide point and Roghi village is highly recommended.
The Sangla valley extends from Karcham to chitkul, which is where the road ends for tourists. Foreign nationals require a permit to visit the area.This area boasts of growing the world's best quality potatoes. Kamru Fort, Mata Devi Temple and Bearing Nag Temples are the main attractions of the Valley.
The Baspa/Sangla valley starting at Karcham and ending at Chitkul is the one of the most beautiful drives in HP. The forested slopes and the beautiful Baspa offer an enchanting experience. The Baspa valley is still not on the radar as a "popular tourist destination" and I come across hardly 20 to 25 vehicles and a couple of buses on the way from Sangla to Chitkul. The best place to stay in the village are the tenting accomodations available next to the river catering to variety of budgets from 1000 to 6000 INR. You can enjoy pleasant walks along the baspa as you wander into forests along the river. I walked for 5 hours in mild rain along the forest with my camera. This was the best part of the trip for me.
Tenting facilities offer exciting activities to tourists and are recommended
The end of the road? The weather's cold as it always is in Chitkul. Chitkul is the ideal destination for people like me who are weary of crowds and heavily crowded tourist spots this time of the year. You literally feel like you have reached the end of the road.There are wooden houses turned into hotels that can be found in Chitkul. The food that you get is quite basic here. The views though are breathtaking.
1) Be sure to spend atleast one day each at Raksham, Chhitkul and Kalpa.
2) On the way to Kinnaur, Hatu temple at Narkanda and Bhima kali temple at Sarahan are worth a visit.
3) Be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes even in the summer it gets really cold especially chitkul
- Summer sojourn to Kinnaur Valley - Team-BHP
Solo travel has several advantages, that's what a quick google search reveals. I find myself in Shimla at my parents house with several leaves at hand but unfortunately no travel partners for the