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Old 6th May 2011, 13:07   #1
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Default Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

"I've want to break free,
God knows, God knows I want to break free"


These famous words from Queen had been ringing in my head for a span of time I don't really wanna think about. My companion's hectic work schedule had kept me away from my second love, beauty of nature amongst tall mountains, for so very long. But as they say, all bad things come to an end. Wifey decided to switch jobs and the first thing we did, after she left her previous organization, was to plan a long trip to the mighty mountains of Himachal. Unfortunately, we only had four days with us.

It was time to start pondering on the destination. Now with our strict policy of not revisiting a place (unless it's Ladakh/Spiti/Goa) things always become a bit interesting. Also on the agenda was to find a place where we can have some fun in the snow. This was gonna be a hard task and I knew it. Why hard? Mainly because of the first destination prerequisite. So the mind went exploring, the neurons were exploding and the memory cells were being shaken vigorously. Surprisingly, it worked and I recollected the bridge at Wangtu. Wangtu falls en route Kharcham and I remembered that there was something, some place that I'd made a note of. Searched my photo archive and saw the click that I'd taken of that bridge. Saw a place named Kafnu, on a signboard near the bridge and decided to look up info on it. Got digging and was pleased with what was underneath; the bliss and the beauty of nature. Only problem was that I was finding no options for accommodation in there, other than packages of some trekking operators. After searching/querying on forums, I got in touch with a couple of locals who ran a home stay and provided various adventure activities. They turned out to be very simple and pretty helpful guys and made our stay in Kafnu something to remember and cherish forever.

Kafnu turned out to be a quaint & so very tranquil village in the Bhabha valley of Kinnaur and it lies along a road less traveled. No it's not because of the condition of the road, just that the place is still a hidden gem. And I hope it stays that way. The road from Wangtu ends at Kafnu and after that you're in nature's lap. The valley is narrow, surrounded by snow clad peaks and the Bhabha river gushing down its steep slope. The charm of the scenic views of Kinner & Spiti peaks is simply enchanting.

Here are some vistas from the refreshing & scenic sojourn we had.


Satluj flowing in the valley @ Chaba


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-dsc08461.jpg


A waterfall just as we entered Kinnaur.


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The Majestic mountains of Kinnaur/Spiti.


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-dsc08486.jpg


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-dsc08490.jpg


A click while we trekked.


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-glacier_big4.jpg


Yours truly!



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Our home stay.


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View from Narkanda, BEA... UTIFUL!



Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-narkanda1.jpg


The Bhabha river.


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-river_downhill.jpg


The enticing peaks!


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-snowed_peak1.jpg


The trek continues and we're poofed!


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-valley_view_from_glacier.jpg


A gushing stream with cascading waterfalls.


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-waterfall_gushing.jpg
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Old 6th May 2011, 13:50   #2
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
"I've want to break free,
God knows, God knows I want to break free"

I know that feeling!
Man, lovely picture and a great break!
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Old 6th May 2011, 15:17   #3
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Kafnu turned out to be a quaint & so very tranquil village in the Bhabha valley of Kinnaur and it lies along a road less traveled. No it's not because of the condition of the road, just that the place is still a hidden gem.
Thank you for unearthing this gem and presenting to us. Brilliant pix capturing the atmosphere vividly. Some more details wiil be helpful - like the itinerary, dates, enroute halts, type of vehicle etc.
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Old 6th May 2011, 16:30   #4
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
I know that feeling!
Man, lovely picture and a great break!
Thanks mate and its always good to have empathizing fellas!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajcs View Post
Thank you for unearthing this gem and presenting to us. Brilliant pix capturing the atmosphere vividly. Some more details wiil be helpful - like the itinerary, dates, enroute halts, type of vehicle etc.
You're most welcome. More details coming soon.
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Old 6th May 2011, 16:39   #5
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

Really amazing this TL section on T-BHP. There are constant surprises in terms of places visited. This seems to be a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing.

I hope the snaps are only a sneak preview of things to come. The waterfall and river snaps have really come out well. In fact in the first picture of the waterfall it appears like milk flowing down.

Keep it coming.
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Old 6th May 2011, 16:45   #6
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

Day 1

We reached Kafnu via Delhi - Ambala - Kalka - Shimla - Nadlehra - Chaba - Luhri - Rampur - Wangtu. The Chaba - Luhri stretch was a scenic one but not a good one if you wanna traverse it in comfort. The whole road was broken, filled with potholes and dirt tracks. But the drive was overall a pleasant one with nice views keeping us company.

Beauty shot of my machine.


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-chaba1.jpg


The Queen of the mountains!


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A waterfall around Luhri.

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Clicking!

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After Luhri and a long drive on narrow, winding and broken roads, our stomachs were complaining badly and soon we stopped at the HPTDC Satluj Cafe, Rampur. Stomachs satiated, we marched ahead and soon entered the heavenly lands of Kinnaur.


THE Kinnaur Dwar!


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Waterfall soon after we entered Kinnaur.


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At Wangtu, we took a left on to the bridge and then the climb began on a steep and broken road. After a few Km, we felt as if we've entered a mystic land with snowy mountains & lush, green, aromatic pine forests all around. Add to that the many streams flowing down the slopes, it was Amazing!


The road less traveled!


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Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-mountains.jpg


The misty mountains!


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Habitat shot of my machine!


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-beauty-shot.jpg


On the 20 Km road from Wangtu to Kafnu, we're the only travelers. The other villages we passed through appeared to be sleepy, even though it wasn't even 5 PM. After a real leisurely drive the road ended at the bus stand of Kafnu. It was more like a town square, with the market, parking area and the bus boarding spot. There was also a one year old hotel but it was completely empty and kind of uninviting.

Our contact, Jai Negi, was waiting for us in there and after exchanging pleasantries he took us to his office in a wooden cabin. We're served "pahadi" chai, loaded with sugar, which I gulped down in a jiffy. Sunset was approaching and it was getting chilly. Being a narrow valley, the wind flows pretty strong in there. The three of us got into the car and drove down a narrow village track to an opening close by the house of his elder brother, which was (initially) to be our stay for the next three days.


Views of the home stay.


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Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-homestay_2.jpg


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EDIT: We stared, on 22nd April, from Noida at 4:20 AM and reached Kafnu around 5:30 PM. Total distance traveled was 607 Km. Only halt, other than loo breaks, re-fueling, procuring refreshing beverages & photo breaks was at Satluj Cafe, Rampur.

Last edited by lordofgondor : 6th May 2011 at 16:57.
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Old 6th May 2011, 16:58   #7
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

lordofgondor!!
Amazing pics. Pic 8475 and the Kafnu river pic are poster stuff.
And my man!! where all do you take your humble Esteem to .
And are these places are the regular tourist circuits? where do you find these places from.
The start has been so good, I wonder what's all in the store to come.
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Old 6th May 2011, 17:10   #8
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitwlele View Post
Really amazing this TL section on T-BHP. There are constant surprises in terms of places visited. This seems to be a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing.

I hope the snaps are only a sneak preview of things to come. The waterfall and river snaps have really come out well. In fact in the first picture of the waterfall it appears like milk flowing down.

Keep it coming.
You're most welcome mate. Yeah, loads of snaps on my PC but too much work to continue at a pace I desire. Updates coming ASAP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordmanchau View Post
lordofgondor!!
Amazing pics. Pic 8475 and the Kafnu river pic are poster stuff.
And my man!! where all do you take your humble Esteem to .
And are these places are the regular tourist circuits? where do you find these places from.
The start has been so good, I wonder what's all in the store to come.
Thanks for the appreciation mate! Well, I take my machine whichever place I believe I & she (speaking out of love for my machine) can handle. Mutual respect it is.

Kafnu per se is not on a regular tourist circuit, unless you're an avid trekker/mountain climber. We (wifey & I) are none of those but I keep looking for real off beat places and in my wanderlust, sometimes find gems like Kafnu. To be more precise, I've maps of HP & UK and scrutinize them carefully to find places to explore. Other than that, I usually make a mental note of places for future travel in any trip of mine.
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Old 6th May 2011, 17:39   #9
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

This seems like an interesting place!
Looks like tourism is not much developed there.
And driving time of 13 hours seems very fast!
How much time does it take to drive to kafnu from Wangtu?
I guess when going from Narkanda to Chitkul, one could make a small detour on the way?
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Old 6th May 2011, 17:49   #10
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

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This seems like an interesting place!...
Yup it sure is something to explore and tourism is almost non-existent there. The whole market consists of 2 provision stores (where you don't even get bottled water/soft drinks), 2 small, very basic dhabas and surprisingly a jewellery shop and a liquor shop! The panchayat of Kafnu is totally resisting the development of the village and JayPee folks are after this valley as the Bhabha river has a lot of untapped energy.

Wantu to Kafnu took about an hour. One can always make a detour but it won't be really fruitful unless you spend at least a day in there. The real fun starts when the road ends at Kafnu and you walk beyond.

About the traveling time, consider this; I'd taken the Sanjauli bypass before 10 AM. If the Chaba-Luhri stretch had been better, I'd reached Kafnu by 4 PM.
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Old 7th May 2011, 07:27   #11
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

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Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
surprisingly a jewellery shop and a liquor shop!
I am not surprised that it has a liquor shop. I guess they need it to beat the cold

I am interested to know more about your home stay. Where did you get the details of this and how much did they charge?
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Old 10th May 2011, 14:41   #12
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Default Day 2, running off the home stay and a trek!

Spending a night in that home stay was simply too inconvenient. Major reason being that the loo was down the stairs and a ten step walk. And the last time I'd visited it, a large, very large spider was in there just waiting to devour me (me has a big time arachnophobia). No way we were going there in the dark, so the night was spent practicing the Jedi powers of concentration and self control. The fact that we had an ever so disappointing dinner helped us a bit. The food was basic, bland and uninviting. The only thing I had was roti & pickles with some Rajma (in boiled water and some salt). Needless to say, as soon as we woke up, I called up Ramu bhai and asked him to book a room in the hotel for us. In the meantime, wifey got busy with morning chores and I went strolling in the open grounds and took some clicks of the mighty peaks around us.

Morning chores.


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Mighty peaks surrounding us!


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-homestay_view3.jpg


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-homestay_view4.jpg


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-peak_tree.jpg


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-homestay_view2.jpg


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-dsc08496.jpg


Ramu came over shortly and asked us to accompany him to the hotel to check out the rooms. The time was around 9 AM and the hotel looked deserted. Ramu went running around and soon came back with Raman, who told me that he's the manager (allegedly) of the hotel.

The hotel.


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-hotel.jpg


Anyway, I asked him to show us 2-3 good rooms. After checking & disapproving a couple, we found just the kinda room we're looking for. It had a huge balcony, the river was flowing next to us and also we had a nice view of the snowy peaks. Price was settled at INR 600/day, food not included. The room was pretty basic but roomy, clean with an acceptable bathroom. Ramu also cautioned the manager to take good care of us. Then we got down to business and wifey was after Ramu on what all activities can be arranged for us.

We're told that Kafnu works as a base for various treks including treks to; Spiti Valley, Pin Valley & even Baralach La and beyond. Ramu told us that there's a place called Mulling, about a five hours trek from Kafnu. We saw some photos of this place in his office and were highly impressed with what we saw. It looked like such a great place to spend a few days. It was like a meadow surrounded by lofty, snow covered peaks with a few streams running along. Furthermore, the trek to Mulling takes one through lush pine forests wherein streams and waterfalls are abundant. Unfortunately for us, Mulling was covered with snow at that time so he told us to do a smaller trek to the glaciers and have a chilling time. We instantly agreed to this proposition and within no time were all set. The stuff we're carrying were a backpack with empty water bottles and our packed lunch. We drove down to a bridge where the village track ended and our trek began.


The bridge with a security detail for my Esteem!



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The river flowing below us.


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-bridge_river.jpg


I say a prayer and the trek commences!



Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-prayer.jpg


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-bridge_view2.jpg
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Last edited by lordofgondor : 10th May 2011 at 14:58.
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Old 10th May 2011, 14:56   #13
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

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Originally Posted by amitwlele View Post
I am not surprised that it has a liquor shop. I guess they need it to beat the cold

I am interested to know more about your home stay. Where did you get the details of this and how much did they charge?
Yeah, definitely a requirement in the mountains!

I got the contact details of the locals (Ramu Negi & Jai Negi) from a friend at IndiaMike. They charged us INR 500 and food was extra. It wasn't a great one in IMHO but a cozy place to crash. The hotel was a better option but it had its own issues. Those fellas are in the process of setting up deluxe camps and what not at a nice camping site that Ramu showed to us. If you want the contact details, I can PM them to you.
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Old 10th May 2011, 16:54   #14
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Default Re: Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu

After reading your earlier post about your experience of the home stay i don't think i would need the details now. Let me first practice the art of self control and improve my concentration

Anyway i am subscribed to this thread and would PM you whenever i have some concrete plans of going up north.
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Old 11th May 2011, 15:56   #15
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Default Day 2: The trek continues

From the start, the trek seemed to be over a steep incline and the track was a rocky one. The Bhabha river was keeping us company with its sights and sounds. After a few minutes, we heard this terrible roar coming from the right. Few more steps ahead, we saw this gushing stream flowing downhill and merging into the river below. Ramu quickly asked us if we wanna climb up a steep, boulder strewn incline and get close to a waterfall. Promptly we expressed our affirmation and started climbing boulder/rocks.

To go or not to go!


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Hey come on, enough contemplation!


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We kept gulping the ever so pure & refreshing water of the stream whenever we got a chance and in about 15 minutes we're close to the falls.


The stream, cascading falls merging into the river below.


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Finding a footing amongst rocks and tree stumps

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One mission completed, we started the downhill climb and soon rejoined the trek route towards Mulling. The vistas were beautiful as usual.


River shots!


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Sunlight streaks.


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Ramu started telling us stories of how the people from Spiti come over to Bhabha valley when the pass opens to let their cattle loose so that they can graze on the green pastures. An interesting thing I learnt from him was about Yaks. Apparently, folks from Spiti rely on Yaks while they are venturing on tricky high altitude passes. Yaks are able to figure out if there are any gaps/crevices below the snow/ice and therefore, help people in avoiding such spots. Another interesting thing was how the people from Spiti fell/collect very high priced wood from this valley. They bring in a couple of tourists and 4-5 yaks with them when the pass opens. The tourists are there to justify their presence and the yaks are there to be loaded with the illegally felled timber. Ramu told me about one particular tree (it was Chullu I think) whose oil sells for like INR 18K per 100 ml! He also told us about the Spiti folks stealing the cattle of Kafnu folks for consumption in winter months. I was also surprised when he told me that people in Kafnu understand when you say Jullay to them!


We're so engrossed in his tales and the views around that we never felt tired and didn't take any break. Looking at the physical shape we are in, even he was kinda surprised that we weren't asking for halts. Soon we saw a small glacier, which Ramu told was a temporary glacier. As per him there are two types of temporary glaciers; one which comes along an avalanche and the other which comes along a storm. Both of those are very destructive and mow down the mountains as they rush down. For evidence, he pointed towards the mountain which was full of broken trees. We're told that glaciers like these melt down by monsoons.


The small "temporary" glacier with the river flowing below it.


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Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-small_glacier_after.jpg


Blissful, beautiful Bhabha Valley @ Kafnu-small_glacier_river.jpg

Last edited by lordofgondor : 11th May 2011 at 16:03.
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