"This is one journey that
must be undertaken at least once in a lifetime by any discerning
traveler" words of many widely traveled people who have experienced
these awe - inspiring parts of the Indian Himalayas.
Closed to all till 1993 Kinnaur and Spiti
still are the most guarded secret of the Indian Himalayas.
With barely 77 villages nd no urban. centres, Kinnaur
is a sparsely populated area and has barely 10 persons per square
kilometre. The old Hindustan-Tibet Road passed
through Kinnaur along the high ridges. Then lower
down the valley, came the ,national highway'in the 1960s -and
this is Kinnaur's lifeline. An undoubted engineering feat, it
has long stretches chiselled out of a sheer rock face quite like
a tunnel with one wall missing. The drive is an adventure in itself
and slogans painted at various p oints remind you to 'Remember
God' - or more tongue in cheek, 'Be Gentle on my curves'.
With turbulent torrents, two large rivers race through Kinnaur-the
Sutlej and the Spiti. Their presence along the highway is constant
and domineering. The valleys are breathtakingly beautiful.
of Gods and Demons, legends and mythology, peace and harmony,
where every village has a Hindu Temple and a Buddhist Gompa, where
every temple has its own unique deity and all sects of Buddhism
are represented through its many monasteries,
where prayers in these ageless temples are being performed uninterrupted
by any outside invasion or disturbance for over a thousand years.
There is no better place like the Himalayas for
Meditation and Yoga and it is
here in the Greater and the Trans Himalayas that
where one can surely experience the supernatural powers and proximity
to the almighty.
are covered with thick forests while the basins hold orchards,
fields and picturesque hamlets. Kinnaur holds
three of the world's grand mountain ranges - the Zanskar,
the Greater Himalaya and the Dhauladhar and the famous 4,573 meters
high Kinner Kailash mountain by whose side is
the seventy-nine foot vertical rock formation that resembles a
Shivalinga and changes colour as the day passes. This is one of
the mythical abodes of Lord Shiva. As one advances through the
district and cuts past the Greater Himalaya,
the arid landscape - the hallmark of the Trans Himalaya-also arrives.
The monsoon rains and their largesse remain south of this impassable
barrier. Needless to add, the winters are long and the summers
is home to some of lndia's oldest traditions and legends.
The Pandava brothers are said to have spent several years of their
exile in these tracts - an episode from the epic Mahabharata.
Ancient texts have gone to the extent of placing the peopl e of
Kinnaur - the Kinners - as halfway between men
and gods. The religion is an interesting mix of Hinduism and Buddhism
and practically every village has its own special deity.
all of Kinnaur's travel destinations lie along the valleys. Along
the highway from Shimla with a suggested overnight
stop at Rampur or Sarahan the first of Kinnaur's attractions is
Nichar that lies on a side road 16 kilometers off the highway
from Sholdang Khad. Here is a thick forest, a variety of wildlife
and some interesting architecture.
It is the
valley of the Baspa river also called the
Sangla valley after the main village - that is perhaps
the most beautiful. From the turn off at Karcham to the lofty
Chung Sakhago Pass, it is about 95 kiiometers long. And in season,
this is an excell ent area for trout fishing.
village has a couple of hotel and rest houses. Deeper
in the valley, near Batseri and at Chitkul, there is excellent
tented accommodation through summer and autunm.
or so above Sangla village stands the tower like fort of Kamru
- silent sentinei that through long centuries has stood guard
over all this beauty. Till they moved to Sarahan
and later, Rampur, this was the original seat of the rulers of
Bushair. The main gate of Kamru village has an image of the Buddha
whose blessings are sought before entering the village.
With all the
majesty of the Kinner Kailash in direct vision,
Recong Peo is Kinnaur's new district headquarters.
It has a,couple of hotels with limited facilities. A few hundred
meters higher and 12 kilometers by road is Kalpa,
the old headquarters. The rest houses are here as is a seasonal
camp. And, for the local flavour, this is a far better place.
The villages of Kothi and Chini form a contiguous boundary with
are fascinating and the Narayan-Nagini temple is an exemplary
piece of Kinnauri workmanship. At hand is a monastery
built a few years back where His Holiness the Dalai Lama conducted
a kalchakra ceremony.
and Recong Peo can form another stopover, or
the base for the region's several treks including the Kinner
Kailash parikrama which takes about a week. If driving,
it is also wise to fill your tank here, or at Powari on the national
highway. There i s no petrol pump after this till Kaza.
Ribba and Nako are not on the main road, but even the car-glued
traveller should make a diversion. These are two of Kinnaur's
most captivating villages. Surrounded by orchards and vineyards,
Ribba also has the distinction of brewing the best local liquo
rs - ghantt, angurior chuli. With a lake in its middle, Nako's
houses seem half buried in the ground and the lake waters often
seep in. They are also said to be responsible for washing away
a large stretch of highway below Yanghthang. Nako is the base
for the trek to the peak of Purjul and the monastery of
Tashigang, where the image is said to grow hair!
highway, Chango is the last village of the district and in its
monsoon-free aridity, grows the finest apples of the area.
side valleys, like the Ropa, the Wangpo or the Nesang, offer a
variety of adventurous excursions or treks along paths that sometimes
resemble E.C.G. graphs. The track of the old Hindustan-Tibet
road makes an easy and interesting trek.
for everyday of the year, Kinnaurhasa festival-
there are all of 360! Perhaps the most appropriate one is Fuliaich
when, towards the end of autumn,the villagers go out to gather
the last wild flowers and pile them in through summer and autumn.
the village square before offering them to the local deity.
communication, the steady break-down of geographical isolation
and a spate of hydel projects, Kinnaur is steadily
changing. But for the moment-if kinners were taken to be halfway
between men and gods the tracts they inhabit may well be ca lled
half way between earth and heaven.
D ay 01 : Arrive Delhi and transfer
to the transfer to hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 02 : Delhi-Chandigarh- Shimla-
Morning train Shatabdi Express to Chandigarh Dep: 07:30 Arr: 10:30.
Drive to Simlma. Overnight at hotel.
D ay 03 : Simla-Sarahan (174
Day 04 : Sarahan- Kalpa-Early
morning visit to the famous Bhimakali Temple. After breakfast,
drive through the breath-taking gorges of the Greater Himalayas
to Kalpa (290 km).
Day 05 : Recong Peo - Thangi 2,966m (50 km).
Day 06 : Thangi- Lambhar- A slightly descending
trek of 12 kms takes you to Lambar (2896 Mt). Overnight Camp.
Day 07 : Lambhar - Kunnu.
Day 08 : Kunnu Charang la Chitkul- The final
day of your Parikrama is a hard climb to Charang Pass (5242 Mt)
Day 09 : Full day for visiting the ancient and
exquisite villages of Chitkul, Rakcham and Kamru. Overnight at
Timberline Trekking Camp Chitkul,
Day 10 : Rekong Peo - Sonam (2'650m) - Ropa
Day 11 : Ropa Meadow camp (3'250m), 6/7 hrs trek,
D ay 12 : Meadow camp - Sousing Thech (3'600m),
6 / 7 hrs trek,
Day 13 : Susing Thach- Nomad camp (3'760m). 6
Day 14 : Nomad camp base camp (4'310m). 6 / 7
Day 15 : Base camp Gunsarang la (5'230 m) Mane
7 hrs trek,
Day 16 : Mane Tabo Dankhar Pin valley Lahlung
gompa Kaza (3'360 m) drive,
Day 17 : Kaza Kee Kibber Losar (4'100 m) drive,
Day 18 : Losar Manali (1'940 m) drive enroute
visit Chandratal lake (4'270 m)
Day 19 : Manali- Delhi , evening drive to Delhi
by H.P. tourism luxury coach.
Day 20 : Fly back to home town.