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Join Date: Mar 2010
Kinnaur & Spiti May 2010
Kinnaur and Spiti –
a journey to a land so very pretty
8th to 16thMay 2010
The enchanting lands of Kinnaur and Spiti, lying in the south eastern corner of Himachal Pradesh have been objects of desire - for their lofty mountains, unique culture and salubrious weather - for long. An aborted trip in 2006 only increased our determination to make it this time in any cost. The region bordering Tibet in east, is located at the end of the Hindustan-Tiber road that was once a busy trade route between India and Tibet. The region contributes high quality apples which substantially support the local economy.
We decided to do this trip in May (usual advice to travelers is to do it between June-August since it matches with ripening of apples), as in south, the schools reopen in 2nd week of June. We were lucky since we were blessed both with wonderful weather (for most part) and less crowds.
8th May 2010: Delhi to Sarahan
Approach to Shimla has always been a problem. The rail route ends at Kalka, which is a good 2 and ˝ hours drive away from Shimla. Driving from Delhi to Shimla is a overnight/whole day affair. Since we wanted to arrive fresh in Shimla for the onward drive to Sarahan, we decided to fly to Shimla by the Kingfisher flight.
Kingfisher is the only airline that operates to Shimla with a 42-seater ATR aircraft. The only thing big about the flight is the price! Each ticket was more than Rs.7,500, nearly twice the price of travel between Hyderabad and Delhi! I suppose it is the monopoly in action!!The flight took off at 7.45 a.m. and arrived before the scheduled 9 a.m. The Jabbarhatti airport is located on a small flat stretch land on a hill…the runway beginning on a precipice! The pretty airport is located 20 Kms away from Shimla. When we come out we realize that we actually landed on a hill! The distance to Shimla is covered in about 40 minutes.
We did not want to look at Shimla - the dirty, crowded, jam-packed town - liberally dotted with impossible traffic jams and slums hanging from hills - can put off even an eternal optimist. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to bear with it as the road to Sarahan has to pass through Shimla. We crossed the city as quickly as we could, only to find that the CD player in our Innova is not functioning. Endowed with compulsive music freaks in the vehicle, we were forced to retrace steps back to Shimla for a quick repair of the CD, a mission that could not be accomplished. In the human jungle that Shimla is, we found no mechanic to repair the CD player! All that we got was a rich advice from Mr Bansal the Head of the taxi owners association that it is better to go without music on hills, since there is so much to see outside!!! We had enough of it and drove, losing 3 hours in the process, reconciling to the fact that there is a non-functional music system in the vehicle in which we would spend more than 30 hours in the next 7 days.
Don’t trust the Google driving instructions: Shimla to Sarahan takes 5 ˝ hours
The 185 Kms journey from Shimla to Sarahan began at 11.45 a.m. Guided by the google maps, we thought that we could reach by late lunch. But the reality was that the progress was much slower not because the road was bad, but because you cannot zip in hilly roads (You should not also). We realized that the drive time from Shimla to Sarahan is not less than 5 hours.
The mad crowd of Shimla left behind, the peace prevailed as we drive to Narkhanda. The air crisper and the path dotted on both sides with pines & deodars - which competed with each others for touching the sky. It took 3 hours to reach Narkhanda which is a major tourist draw for the hike to Hatu Peak. Passing the Sports Authority of India’s high altitude training centre, we moved on to reach Rampur, capital of the Bushehr kingdom that ruled Kinnaur in 17th Century.
The Hindustan – Tibet road was in excellent condition. It is quite wide too and with little traffic, one can drive very well. Just before Rampur, look for the fruit vendors who sell fresh fruits straight from gardens. We saw cherries and Albukharas available all the way. The road toRapur climbs down from 2,400 mts to nearly 1300 mts to meet the sutlej river. At Rampur and the villages before it, the scene has changed from mighty Deodars to highly populous, prosperous villages. How water attracts people! The life is still idyllic, possibly combing the best of both worlds. On the other side of the road, the JP Hydro electric plant is under construction, which destroyed the road for a distance.
After crossing Rampur, we are all waiting for the Sarahan.. which finally emerged after taking a right turn at Jeori (pronounced as ‘Jury’). The road from Jeori to Sarahan is narrow, but very pretty. Soon we could see the Srikhand range of Snow Mountains. We reached the HPTDC’s Hotel Srikhand which is perched on a hill overlooking the Srikhand range at 5.30 p.m.
Hotel Srikhand, Sarahan
Hotel Srikhand is a great place to stay in Sarahan. All rooms open to the views of Srikhand range. The hotel is perched on a hillock; and there is nothing between you and the snow peaks. The rooms are very well maintained. But the best were rooms 303 and 304; which are combined together with a small balcony opening to the scenery of the snow peaks (that was where we stayed). The food in the Hotel is excellent.
Fantastic view of Srikhand range
We were fortunate to have a great weather with bright sun with the Srikhand range live in front. One \can have a 180 degrees view of Srikhand range lying on the bed in your room! But from the balcony, we can actually converse with the snow peaks!!
Images of Srikhand range are here:
Picasa Web Albums - subbu - Sarahan 1
Apart from the idyllic location, snow peaks, Sarahan is known for the Bhimkali temple which is one of the shakti peethas in the country. The temple boasts of a long lineage and has a typical architectural style. The temple is made of wood and stone. All wooden panels are intricately carved. The deity is on the third floor of the temple connected by series of wooden steps. The temple is shaped like a rectangular barrel, decorated by ornate interiors. The temple was renovated by Padam Singh, the king of Rampur Bushahr. The temple has a resthouse within. The main temple is accessed through three courtyards with decorated wooden panels. Cameras are permitted till the last court yard, but after that, no cameras, no leather products or cell phones. The entire premises is kept extremely clean. The deity is decorated in grandeur.
The priest told that she is called Bhimkali because she is shown in an angry posture like that of Bhima to vanquish the demons. For us the diety appeared really pleasant. The lights from the inside of the temple shine through the decorated apertures of the temple mesmerizing the passers by. The Darshan of temple in the night at the time of the aarti should not be missed.
9th May 2010: Splendors of Sarahan
We woke up to the birds chirping happily. Why won’t they? After all Sarahan is like a divine summit between the Gods and living beings arranged in a picturesque setting. They provided music for this great meeting.
The Srikhand range has many mountains like ‘Kartik Mahadev’ all having heights over 20,000 ft. The Srikhand Mahadev was standing in grand style. The peak was having a rock that resembled a shivling, although even with our zoom we could not capture on camera. We were told that in month of August we can trek to the summit of Srikhand Mahadev. The trek is for 4 days and could be done with some difficulty. I understand that basic mountaineering training is needed for that.
Just down these hills is profuse greenery primarily of deodars and pines which provided that perfect contrast to the snow peaks. Nestled peacefully in this setting is the village which was extremely clean and well arranged, dotted with occasional temples that dished out devotional music.
Trek to the view point
We trekked up to the view point through the Raja Padam Singh’s palace. The palace is a sheer beauty, laid in spacious natural lawns with Srikhand range in the front. Many types of roses bloomed in great numbers enjoying this divine spectacle. There is no entry into the palace although it was empty as the descendents of the Raja are living in Shimla. May be, it should be opened to public; or better still, could be made into a resort.
The trek up took us through the cricket ground where cricket was being played with gusto with running commentary! The pathway is dotted with thick foliage of great deodars. The Himalayan Pheasantry was unfortunately closed (it remains closed from 15th April to 31stJuly for the breeding season). The view point itself was no special thing as it gave the same scenery on which we feasted all the way up.
The majestic snow peaks, pleasant demeanor of people, divine vibrations form Bhimkali, salubrious climate and thick Himalayan forests – all made the children scream in unison that ‘Sarahan is where we are going to stay’ and I could not have agreed more with them.
Picasa Web Albums - subbu - Sarahan 1
9th May 2010:to Sangla (Dep: 12 30 hours Arr: 16 00)
All the celebration about the beauty of Sarahan was short-lived and it soon evaporated in the dirty track (called NH 22) that led us to Sangla. After getting down at Jeori on the Hindustan-Tibet road (NH 22), we have seen what havoc the Hydro power projects have caused to the nature. More than 2,000 MW of power plants at various locations are under construction. Mining of hill sides, butchering of the greenery at will, numerous land slides, ramshackle roads groaning under the constant movement of heavy machinery – the entire road presented the look of a war ravaged country. War against environment, war against tourism, the people and the future of humanity. Soumya was very insistent that Supreme Court should be moved to stall this ‘rape of hills’. Having taken all the dust raised by the near non-existent road on ourselves, we reached wearily to Sangla. The 55 Kms have taken nearly 4 hours. It can’t be done faster.
9th May 2010: Disappointed at Sangla
We arrived at the PWD Guest House and the care taker Mr Pritam told us that there was no message about our arrival. However a talk with the Assistant Commissioner has settled the issue. The building was pretty, with 7 rooms – reasonably equipped/maintained and positioned to face the snow peaks.
We arrived without lunch and there was nothing to fix in short time.One should take a lunch pack because you get nothing between Jeori and Sangla except dust and dirt.
The first look of Sangla did not generate any positive feelings. The problem is that the village is too far away from the Baspa river, which flows at least 1 km away. For reaching the river, you need to trek down on a steep slope through the village.
Picasa Web Albums - subbu - Sangla chitkul
Don’t visit the Trout fish farm
We were told that the trout fish farm is a thing to see. We decided to make a quick visit to the farm as everyone wanted to see how trout look like. Trout need fresh water without mud. The fish avoid dirty water. The farm was set up to breed the trout fish and charge the Baspa waters. You need to walk through the village and cross Baspa to reach the Farm. For reaching the place by vehicle, we need to take a detour. Better to walk, it is only 15 minutes, said Pritam the care taker. Although it was getting dark, we decided to have something to eat before going there; and it turned out to be a good decision.
We started with our local help leading the way down the dirty village lanes with the path going down 50 degrees. We passed the nagadevata temple located along with a Buddhist temple - a perfect coexistence of Hinduism and Buddhism. The path took us to the BaspaRiver, flowing at rapid pace. The bridge on the river got washed away in the floods in 2005, so no vehicle can pass the river. Sad that no one thought of reconstructing the same. We crossed the Baspa, walked a reasonable distance through the deodar forest and reached the Trout fish farm.
The farm did not appear to be in good condition. We saw the fish seed being reared in giant basins. For the grown up fish, there are about 20 ponds into which water from Baspa is being pumped. The water was not being treated and appeared very dirty. We could see no fish. The fisherman in the Farm used the net to catch a few fish which were being sold at high price.
On the whole, the trout fish farm had nothing much to offer, although the vigorous walk we enjoyed.
10th May 2010: Chitkul: Better than Switzerland
(26 Kms – 1 hour)
The day opened with Sun shining really bright. The Snow Mountainrange sparkled, lit by the morning sun. Left for Chitkul at 09:30 hours after a good breakfast in the PWD Guest house. We had to apply sun screen lotion in liberal quantities as the sun rays were really sharp.
The moment you leave Sangla, a wonderful scene unfolded…the view of the snow ranges became more extensive till it covered almost 300 degrees around us. A surreal feeling of being in a heavenly place with rich greenery, gurgling streams, presided over by lofty snow peaks enveloped us.
Picasa Web Albums - subbu - Sangla valley
We crossed Batseri village where the Banjara camp is situated. The location of the camps is on the banks of the Baspa River. But the place as a whole did not appeal. I understand that the original location which got washed away in floods was better with more greenery. The village of Batseri was a pretty picture.
As we crossed the Batseri village the road was getting narrower, but fortunately there is not much traffic. We stopped at a bridge on a flowing stream coming from glaciers. The rocks eroded by constant flow of water were rounded in all shapes and sizes. We perched ourselves on huge rocks and immersed ourselves in the music of the flowing rivulet. We need to move on.
Don’t stay at Sangla: Stay at Rackcham village
Rackcham is 16 Kms from Sangla on the way to Chitkul. The village is standing right on the Baspa River and the view of the snow ranges is just awesome. You see whole snow mountains…not just peaks from here. The village appeared really clean. There is a HP PWD guest house here. We did not know, otherwise we would have stayed here. Originally we planned to do home stay here but gave up the idea unsure of how clean the place be. But I think one should stay here and not at Sangla, which is more crowded!
Chitkul: dreams come true
If you close our eyes and imagine a fairy tale Himalayan village with stunning views of green meadows, snow peaks and undisturbed peace, you have it here at Chitkul. Located on Tibet border at a height of more than 11,000 ft, it is a picture-post-card village. The whole village is surrounded by snow ranges rather close. Baspa flows close to the village and a tributary of the river actually flows through the village! Velvety grass meadows, snow peaks talking to you, Baspa playing the music, peace all around…one cannot describe the beauty of the village in words or even pictures. It has to be experienced. Having seen both alpine valleys and Chitkul, I have no hesitation is holding the latter better.
There are just 80 houses in the village, with a temple of Kaali (under renovation) and a Palace of King of Bushehr (not in use; and no access to tourists). However from the ground of the Palace, we can have great views of the snow capped mountains, Baspa River and a thick forest of pines. The people are friendly and helpful. The peace of the area is extremely overwhelming. There are primary and high schools in the village. We saw the children sitting in the open and studying enjoying the sun shine. Amazing that there is a high school in this remote village.
There is a misconception that Chitkul does not have good accommodation for a night stay. On the contrary, there are several places to stay. The Thakur’s guest house is one of the oldest, but many new constructions have come up. But the HP PWD guest house was easily the best. With two well furnished rooms and great views, and the care taker (Rai Singh) who makes simple delicious food, it is well worth a stay.
We went down to the Baspa River which is a short distance away. The river is flowing in full fed adequately by the melting snow from the mountains. The soft white sand, the enchanting snow clad valley and the clear blue water were all too tempting. But just then, the skies closed up with dark clouds and threatening winds; and we had to beat a hasty retreat to the PWD guest house. The weather really turned bad and we could see fresh snow falling on the mountains all around. Nestled in the cosy rooms of the guest house, with captivating ghazals giving company we waited for the lunch to be served. Wah, how delicious the dhal, sabzi and the khichidi seemed! Children felt it is best meal they ever had in their life.
With heart full of the beauty of Chitkul, we drove back to Sangla, feeling that we could have stayed a night there.
Reaching Sangla at 16 00 hours, we watched the foul weather from the window of our room and soon fell asleep. It rained for a long time and the upper reaches have got fair amount of snow. May be missed out on some fun and games in the night, but what we gained in the day more than compensated for it.
11th My 2010: Sangla to Tabo
(180 Kms; 9 ˝ hours)
Looking out of the window at 06 00 hours really depressed us. The clouds were hanging low and there was rain. Caretaker Pritam was wondering whether we can go to Tabo at all, since there is snow on the way.
Fortunately the weather cleared and Sun showed up. We were looking forward to the journey ahead.
We left at 09 30 hours for Tabo which is more than 180 Kms. The rain has done a lot of good as the dust on the road settled, and the sky very clear. We made rapid progress to Kharcham (24 kms) and on the NH 22. We saw how efforts are being made to control Sutlejby stone revetment on both the banks. It is doubtful if one can conquer nature. Anyway, we were happy to leave behind the near non-existent roads mostly caused by the power projects and the road widening works.
Picasa Web Albums - subbu - sangla to tabo
After traveling for 3 ˝ hours we reached Spillo, a dirty spot with a few tea shops. We met few army officers proceeding to Puh. We tried having some Tibetan food, but it was very bad. One problem on the way is absence of toilet for women. We traveled further up toPuh, the road becoming somewhat better. Puh is a pretty village facing snow peaks with a lot of army presence. We proceeded further to Khab where we saw the confluence of Spiti with Sutlej. The road branching off to Kaza was a great sight, carved as it was under a mountain. As we entered this road, a spectacular sight was unfolded. The nature of mountains has undergone a total change.
The greenery gave way for a bald, parched, brown mountains. The road wound up to meet the tall mountains peculiarly shaped as though the creator was at his best creativity. The scenery on the way justified an arduous drive. As we traveled along Spiti river sometimes along side, sometime much above it, we saw pretty villages with thick greenery standing out on a stark terrain.
Nako – the lake and the village
Through this desert landscape we reached Nako, the village known for its famed lake. We entered the village crossing the Gompa being built on the road. We had to walk through the village for reaching the lake. And what a spectacle the village has offered!
The lake, the folklore is that no one knows the depth of the lake; and it is not a man made lake dating back to pre-historical times. The water is supposed to be divine. We saw much work going on the banks of the river.
The life style of the people is very interesting. The women are all enthusiastic about the trees that they grow in the village. One old woman told us that they grow two types of trees – Chang with white bark Maal with dark bark. Both are used for wood and fodder purpose. All the 200 houses have land on which they grow apples and other food crops. The village is a queer combination of Hinduism and Buddhism. Whereas the majority appears to be Buddhist, there are Hindu temples in the middle of the village. There is a high school for the children.
From Nako, we crossed the much feared Malling Nala which is known for its land slides. The BRO is constantly engaged in keeping this road in good condition. Although the road alignment is now changed to a higher contour, still one fears when this road closes for traffic.
We came down sharply in to valley meeting Spiti river. The Tabo never appeared on the milestones and we were getting anxious. We have finally crossed Samdu known more for the location of the BRO offices and confluence of Spiti and Parchu rivers (remember this rivelt that comes from Tibet which caused the floods in Sutlej in 2005?); and then Hurling, a non-descript village. We have waited impatiently for Tabo. Finally we reached at 18 30 hours.
We reached the PWD guest house at Tabu situated next to the famous Gompa. Mrs Indira Gandhi stayed in this guest house. By the time we settled in our rooms, unfortunately the Gompa is closed. We were also told that there is no power in the gompa.
12th May: Study of Tabo Monastery (Gompa)
Tabo monastery is at once the oldest and the most impressive draw of the Spiti region. We have visited the Gompa at 09 30 hours and for the next 1 ˝ hour, got transported into the medieval period that saw the construction of the Gompa. The Gompa has two parts – the ancient one with the main temple constructed in 996 AD with 8 other temples; and the modern one with stupa, prayer hall and a hostel to house 90 student Lamas. We need to see only the wonder that was – the old Gompa constructed 1,024 years back with mud and hay which stood the test of rigorous climate for 1000 years. The construction has to be an engineering marvel to stand the test of time for so long.
Picasa Web Albums - subbu - Tabo
What make the Gompa so different are the extensive paintings on the walls and ceilings of the temples drawn 1000 years back. The colors used were made of vegetable dyes and hundreds of painters have participated in the work. The school of art is Indo-Tibetan and captures the culture & history of the area 1000 years back.
First we met the highest Lama of the monastery Geshe Sonam Wangdu, only by chance. He called out the Archeological Survey of India staff to take us through the Gompa. ASI staff have shown us with patience every temple in the complex.
The Gompa has been constructed by the King of Purang-Guge kingdom Yashesdo with the help of his Chief translator and spiritual guru Rinchen Zangpo in 996 AD. It is fabled that the temple has been constructed in one single night by the Devtas. Whether or not it is true, it was certainly constructed in great haste and with great taste. The Gompa for the next 1024 years has stood the test of time to become the highest set of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. There are 9 temples in the Gompa:
1. The main temple – 996 AD consiting of:
a. Entry Hall (Sgo-Khang)
b. Assembly (Do-khang)
2. Large Brom-stone temple
3. Mandala temple – under renovation
4. Golden Temple
5. Maitreya Temple
6. Small Brom-stone temple
The paintings on the walls and the ceiling of the temples were remarkable in Indo-Tibetan style of art and date back to nearly 1,000 years and still well preserved.
The monastery is made of stones, mud and hay; but stood for more than 10 centuries!
There is a treasure of ancient Buddhist scriptures wrapped in silk cloth in the Golden temple.
The mandala temple has ‘mandalas’ which are tantrik part of Buddhism.
The golden temple has used real gold for painting. The cloth folds are even glow in gold.
In order to preserve the paintings from decay, no electricity is used in the temples.
ASI is restoring the temples trying to maintain the original structures undisturbed.
It is a National Heritage site.
Tabo to Kaza
We left for Kaza at 10 45 hours and the 43 Kms route was covered in 2 hours. On the way we passed through Poh which was one of the main trading places in the ancient Tabo region, now a quaint little village. As the Spiti River gets widened, lofty snow peaks dominate the landscape.
The ornate monastery at the entrance of the village is rather conspicuous by its bright colours. The Indian Oil outlet proudly displays that it is the highest retail diesel outlet of the world at 3,450 Mts! The village was sleepy and there has been no power for the past few days. Even the diesel had to be filled by manually pumping oil up. The remoteness is complete. No internet, no phone, no power, no TV and newspapers…it is amazing how remote a village can be. Kaza is also the headquarters of a revenue division. We found the SDM going for a meeting in Shimla for 7 days!
But all that is compensated by the snow range that rises above the Spiti river which flows rather wide. These are not snow peaks, they are snow mountains – meaning the WHOLE mountain is covered with snow.
The HPTDC guest house in which we booked was just getting opened and the Manager was apologetic that there is no water or power in the guest house. We decided not to stay and move on to Kyi & Kibber.
Picasa Web Albums - subbu - Tabo and Kyi
Kyi is located about 12 kms from Kaza. The drive to Kyi is as dramatic as one can imagine. The terrain grows more rugged, and the snow ranges rise in height and magnificence. As we approach Kyi village, we can see the Gompa hanging from a hillock.
Kyi monastery is one of the most revered places of Buddhism in the area. It holds the same Indo-Tibetan Buddhist tradition and is also built by Rinchen Dzongpa. This is founded about 800 years back. There is a new block constructed in 2000 AD which was inaugurated by HH Dalai lama. The priest in the Monastery took us around the monastery after serving exquisite tea from his personal kitchen. The Lama is educated in the same monastery for at least 20 years before becoming the priest.
In the local Buddhist tradition the first son in the family takes care of the property/land. The 2nd son has to become a monk and is given to the monastery. This system ensures that there is regular inflow of students into the monastery. Now they are preparing the students for the CBSE examination; study English and other subjects too. The priest tells that students have to get up at 6 a.m. and study till 10 p.m. With no diversions anywhere, there is total concentration on the studies of the religious texts and the studies. No wonder, the priest says that the pass percentage is 100 in their monastery. We asked him whether the small monks want to do something other than staying as Lamas throughout their life. He says, may be some have other dreams, but once you are in this tradition, you cannot go out. Many, like him, come on their own volition.
Kyi Gompa has two clear parts. The old one which houses the main temple, the temple of goddess (no one is allowed inside this), the temple for Rinchen Dzang po, prayer wheel and the priest quarter. The new construction has the new prayer hall, the students hostel etc. HH Dalai Lama visited the Kyi Gompa many times and the room where he stayed has been preserved in reverence.
The Gompa runs on donations collected from 16 villages located around the monastery. The Lamas go seeking donations for maintaining the hostel and the Gompa.
Kibber claims to be the highest village in the world at 14,000 ft. We were warned that there is nothing much to see in the village. But we decided to see it anyway since it is only 5 kms from Kyi. After climbing relentlessly, we met the snow on the road-side. The Kibber village is seen from a distance perching on high mountains overlooking great Himalayan ranges. We entered the silent and sleepy village which has about 60 houses. We saw the women washing clothes in the stream coming down from the hills. The water surprising is very very muddy. We went around the village looking for food, as it was lunch time. No luck; as all the restaurants were closed. The tourist inflow has not begun yet!
We returned to the Kaza and decided to drive back to Tabo, as Kaza is not yet ready to receive visitors. As we drive back to Kaza, we bid a final farewell to the lofty mountains which protect this area from outsider influx.
It may not be necessary to stay for a night at Kaza since all that Kaza offers can be covered from Tabo which has better facilities and the famous monastery.
13th May: Retracing the steps:
Back from Tabo to Kalpa
(150 Kms – 6 hours)
The return from Tabo was an emotional experience. For the past few days, we have lived alongside the desolate mountains, weathering extreme temperatures. The loosely packed mountains that raise a storm of mud with every gale that lashes them, the Snow Mountainsthat stand guard over the whole spectacle..leave a lasting imprint on the visitors.
We stopped for tea at Nako village and had tea at the helipad site.
Bye bye to the high mountains!
Just before Powari, the road bifurcates, with the road to Kalpa going up. As we started the climb the weather was getting spoilt. Ricong Peo, the District headquarters is sitting pretty with the Kinner Kailash range just in front.
The road wound itself up to the HPTDC estate, where we stayed at the Hotel Kinner Kailash. The hotel has two parts – Kinner Kailash cottage, which is the older one,; the Hotel Kinner Kailash is newer construction as a premier property. The rooms are made of wood and the architecture is supposed to be local. However, the peace and simplicity that we found in Kinnauri village is possibly missing.
As we reached Kalpa, even with the cloud cover, we got a great views of the Kinner Kailash range just outside the Hotel.
Picasa Web Albums - subbu - Kalpa and nar...
The hotel Kinner Kailash of HPTDC is one of the best hotels they have; and certainly the best in Kalpa. It is perched on the highest portion of Kalpa directly in the front of Kinner Kailash range. We had a great room at a great (high) price – a two roomed duplex apartment – made totally of wood. The room had glass windows all around facilitating great views of the snow peaks from the comfort of the room. The food in the hotel however was not so great. Not value for the price.
The great views of Kinner Kailash range from very very close quarters is the main attraction in Kalpa. The villages of Kothi and Roghi can offer a good trek in good weather. Unfortunately, the weather turned bad and it started to rain. We had to confine ourselves to the room and entertain ourselves by plying Poker.
14th May 2010: Change of Plan and proceeding to Narkhanda
When we woke up at 5 a.m. the view of the snow peaks was good, though not great. We found that Kinner Kailash is NOT what appears in the front of the guest house, but is actually, the peak with a 73 feet high monolithic rock resembling shivling. We got good views of the shivling mountain.
But only briefly;. as the clouds started coming over with greater ferocity covering up the hills. It started to rain and snowing on the upper reaches. We were looking at the prospect of another confined day if we were to stay at Kalpa.
Besides, the prospect of driving through from Kalpa to Shimla on a single day; and catching the night Volvo toDelhi – was actually appearing to be a foolish idea. We had therefore taken a decision to cut short our stay at Kalpa and move on to Narkhanda – thereby covering some distance today, leaving the rest to day after.
We found that every one clears out after breakfast in these hotels.. and even the courteous hotel manager did not express any surprise at our decision to cut short stay here.
We moved on leaving Kalpa at 12 00 noon and stopped at Ricong Peo the district head quarters for shopping for nick-knacks. The best place seemed to be the Indira bazaar where many Tibetan shops sell merchandise at reasonable rates. Kinnauri shawls and Tibetan artifacts are the main things.
The drive to Narkhanda took 7 ˝ hours. We were relieved after passing through the terrible roads between Powari & Bhavanagar, caused by the widening of the roads and the JP hydro plant works. I am sure, this process will continue for at least another 3 to 4 years.
After passing Rampur, the road became much better and we drove with reasonable speed reaching Narkhanda at 19 30 hours.
The weather at Narkhanda was fair but it was too late for going to Mt Hatu as we originally planned. The food in the restaurant was okay. The hotel was full with a group which came from Bangalore.
We gathered that we could loiter in Shimla mall tomorrow if we go early, before proceeding to Kalka for taking Shtabdi express back to Delhi.
15th May 2010: End of a great holiday: Travel to Delhi via Shimla .
There was much commotion early in the morning as theBangalore group was leaving at 6 a.m. We got up too and got ready in time to leave at 08 00 hours to Shimla. The thick vegetation on the route to Shimla was bidding farewell to the group. The sun was blazing hot so early in the morning and we were wondering what would be the state of Shimla, which has been reeling under an intense heat wave. However, Shimla was pleasant and the lift to Mall was a great help.
The way the administration geared up to handle the mess on the Mall is worth appreciation. The whole mall is made vehicle free and kept exceptionally clean. Fortunately since it is early morning, the place was not very crowded. We shopped around for 3 hours in leisure; and after lunch started for Kalka. Kalka is 3 hour drive from Shimla. The shatabdi is a wonderful train to take one to Delhi in 4 hours.
As the holiday ended, we thanked God for the safe journey and exceptionally good weather for most part of the trip. The small changes that we made in the travel plans have enhanced the comfort. The highlights of the trip have been the close encounters with mighty Himalayan ranges, the Tabo/Kyi monasteries and the great temple at Sarahan. The Kinnaur region with the green valleys, mighty snow mountains, sutlej river – all made this region the best we have so far seen. The desert in desolation, the Spiti valley - mesmerized us with the great monasteries that withstood the unkind weather for centuries.
|The following BHPian Thanks subrahyd for this useful post:|
|24th May 2010, 17:01||#2|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jul 2007
Thanked: 785 Times
Good write up but would ahve been better if you had posted some of the pictures here itself rather than an external link. And it comes at just the write time with a number of fellow bhpians planning to do this trip. Could you also add to the weather conditions and the temperatures prevalent?
|24th May 2010, 17:41||#3|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Nov 2006
Thanked: 3,354 Times
Looks like the roads (except around Karchcham and Wangtoo) were generally OK, the Sumdo-Tabo road was in bad shape 2 months ago.
How did you manage the PWD guest houses? I thought they are let out to non-govt officials only if you have some connections?
|24th May 2010, 18:32||#5|
Join Date: Mar 2010
Weather is very fine, very sunny. In fact, you should have lot of sun screen of at least 30 SPF. In Kinnaur (Sarahan, Sangla, Kalpa) you will NOT need even a sweater in day time. Nights are a bit chilly. In Tabo (and above) the breeze could be a bit chilly. Pl carry a jacket in the event of rainfall. have fun!
|24th May 2010, 18:37||#6|
Join Date: Mar 2010
Being in Govt, I had no issue with PWD Guest houses; but they are available for private persons too subject to availability. If anyone is going, I can give the contact details for sending advance booking.
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