We had been excited like anything from the moment we had read about the Kinnaur village Chitkul last winter. As our trip to Kinnaur shaped out during this year’s summer vacation, we could hardly hide our elation and excitement about this amazing place.
Our journey from Kalpa to Chitkul
We had already booked a SUV from our resort Kinnaur Kailash Hotel, Kalpa. Our car crossed the Karcham Dam, left the NH 22 to our right, entwined itself dangerously with the rugged tracks lying beside the gorge of the Baspa river and climbed safely towards the Sangla town. The 21 Km drive from Karcham Dam to Sangla was breathtaking, the annals of which are definitely on cards but on another diary on mytravelnama.com.
Reaching Chitkul from Sangla
Chitkul was another one hour – 28 Km climb from Sangla. We first crossed the amazing Rakchham village. The green valleys of Sangla, were slowly disappearing, and the alpine slopes of the mountains around us slowly gave way to a much rugged, rocky walls guarding the gorge of the Baspa river.
The memorable HPPWD Billboard welcoming us at Chitkul
A Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department Billboard lying ahead of a small village indicated that we had reached our long cherished destination Chitkul.
Chitkul..crafted by Mother nature..
When we got our of our SUV, Chitkul, looked like just like a picture post card, an amazing valley guarded by snowy peaks, rugged slopes of the rocky mountains guarding the gorge of Baspa river. We were thrilled by the fact that Chitkul was the last inhabited village on the Indo-China border. The village view was equally amazing. We could hardly believe that this pretty village was located a height of 3,450 meters i.e. 11,320 ft.
An amazing view of village Chitkul from the riverside trail
Finding a Bengali Hotel in Chitkul
As it was going to be 1.45 pm, our guide cum tour driver Mr. Mukesh suggested us to have our lunch at hotel Shahenshah Resort before exploring the rest of Chitkul. The hotel was quite decent, although we hardly explored its rooms. Food was fine, yet bit costly compared to what we had at Kinnaur Kailash Hotel, Kalpa.
Hotel Shahenshah Resort Chitkul
The most amazing fact we came to know was that the hotel was managed by a person by the name Mr. Sandip Karar a Bengali right from our native place Kolkata. He had been at Chitkul managing this Hotel business for more than 11 years. Finding a Bengali businessman and that too in a desolate, hard to reach tourist spot was quite amazing.
Exploring the village
Exploring the small village of Chitkul was an amazing experience. Every house, hut in the village bore the symbol of the typical Kinnauri tradition that we had already observed at the Rakchham village.
The view of the temple & the fort (tower) at the centre of Chitkul Village
There was a small Buddhist temple and a long fort like wooden tower at the centre of the village compound. The temple’s attraction was the image of the Shakyamuni Buddha and the “Wheel of Life”.
A traditional wooden hut
Admixture of traditional and modern architecture in village houses at Chitkul
The village hardly had any substantial population. Most of the houses were made of wood, stone bricks with roofs thatched by flat slate rocks or tins. We were surprised to observe the admixture of both traditional and modern architecture in many houses located in the village. The presence of Satellite TV antennas on the rooftops were ample proofs of the growing influence of urban life in the remote villages (like Chitkul) of our country.
The entire village was very neat and clean. Solar panels were erected at every corner to ensure emergency electricity supply considering the harsh winter season, when the entire Sangla-Chitkul valley is engulfed by incessant snow cover.
Picturesque Chitkul Village
Lovely view of Chitkul village
The centre of the village has two or three small shops which sold almost everything that are required by tourists and the local villagers.
The Thrill Factor
There were no banks, ATMs, post offices, health centres or petrol pumps in the vicinity. However there was a small cafeteria on the top of a provision store, which also claimed that they had STD/ISD facilities for communicating with the rest of the world.
A local provision store and cafeteria..Chitkul village…
It was at this moment our attention turned to our mobiles. We had to signals at all. Even our Airtel post paid connection was beyond connectivity.
Village life in Chitkul
We immediately realized the aura of reaching a place, which claims itself to be the last inhabited village of India. The gushing murmurs of the Baspa river and the rising shrieks of the icy breeze took over our senses reminding us that beyond this place we were about to enter into a kingdom forbidden for mankind.
The amazing shades of the mountains and the Baspa river..Chitkul
Although we had no plans for trekking around, but Chitkul is an amazing place for adventurers, mountain explorers and trek lovers. Chitkul is the gateway to several trek tours – the most famous of them being the end point of the “Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama Tour”. This trekking tour completely circles the Kinnaur Kailash peak, crosses over the 5,242 m high Charang Pass and leads the trekkers through a dangerous long and steep descent to the Chitkul village.
Watch our video on http://www.youtube.com
The Baspa River Side Trail
A narrow road beside the hotel Shahenshah Resort led us down to the Baspa river trail. Once we left the hotel to our back we were suddenly surrounded by the vast expanse of the nature.
The Baspa River Trail…Chitkul…
The Baspa River Basin..Chitkul
The towering mountains, the gorgeous snow caps, the distant green slopes marking the origin of the Baspa river valley were too heavenly to digest. The beauty of this nameless trail leading to the banks of the Baspa river flowing way down below us was meticulously enhanced by the tiny step cultivation made by the villagers. Most of these step cultivated lands had apple orchards or grew potato.
Exploring the Chitkul Dumti Road
The most exciting part of our Chitkul trip was that our guide Mr. Mukesh took us way beyond Chitkul (another 8KM) towards the Nagasthi checkpost under the control of the Indian Paramilitary force ITBP.
En-route towards the Nagasthi Checkpost (Chitkul-Dumti Road)
The Baspa River beside the Chitkul-Dumti road
The extremely rugged road was entirely desolated until we reached the Nagasthi checkpost. We had to turn back as no tourists were further allowed to go beyond this restricted point leading to the Indo-Tiber border that lay 90km away from this place.
The heavenly looks of the Chitkul Dumti Road
Glaciers feeding the Baspa River in the form of waterfalls and wild brooks
We hardly noticed during our onward journey that the Baspa river had an amazing look in the backdrop of the barren, rugged mountains. This point is a treat for snap lovers. The distant picturesque view of the Chitkul village resembles like an amazing fairyland.
Journey back to Chitkul…
Chitkul and the point where we were standing on the Chitkul Dumti road was far beyond the beauty of any known hill station. It gives you the spark of loneliness, being left all alone with mother Nature. The simplicity of the lifestyle of the villagers enchants your spirits.
The paradise…Chitkul Dumti Road Unplugged
The floating clouds created a mystique shade on the mountains…A snap never to foget…
The rugged roads, brown mountains and the deep gorges of the Baspa river remind you the beauty of the Ladak valley. The snow capped peaks, the glaciers and the snow white water falls haunt you now and then with the magnificence and sheer divinity that surrounds the aura of the Mount Kinnaur Kailash. Chitkul is truly a gift of the Gods, a paradise hidden and unexplored in the lap of nature.
Watch our video on http://www.youtube.com
Script, Photography & Videography (C) Indranil Mutsuddi
ESSENTIAL GUIDELINES FOR TOURISTS
When to visit: The ideal season for touring Kalpa Kinnaur Sangla is during the months of June, July and August. Tourists are advised to avoid the rainy days of Septemeber as the roads are frequently disconnected by heavy landslides. After October most of the roads of the Kinnaur District become un-navigable. During summer it is advised to pack light woolens for Kalpa, Sangla and Chitkul tours. However anybody having plans to move further up to tour Nako, Kaza and Kunzum Pass (Spiti Valley) may take heavy woolens.
How to travel: The only way to travel Kinnaur is through Shimla. The Shimla-Narkanda road leads you to Rampur where the NH 5 takes you to Karcham where the road bifurcates to Sangla and Reckong Peo. Tourists may book cars (SUVs are highly recommended on Kinnaur roads) from Shimla itself or may travel upto Reckong Peo by HRTC Delux bus (originating from Chandigarh) or ordinary bus from Shimla Tutikandi ISBT. However journey by ordinary buses are quite often tiresome and uncomfortable. Considering the challenging road conditions of Kinnaur, HRTC bus service is the most reliable form of communication. However local taxi service could be availed from Kalpa or Reckong Peo which are reliable, as most of the drivers are aware of the tricky road conditions in Kinnaur, Reckong Peo and Sangla. HRTC bus service is only available upto Sangla from Shimla or Rampur. Very few HRTC buses travel upto Chitkul.
Where to stay: A fair number of hotels are available at Kalpa and Reckong Peo. At Kalpa, the Kinner Kailash Hotel of HPTDC provides a luxurious stay and spectacular view of the Holy “Shivalinga” on Mount Kinnaur Kailash. At Sangla a good number of Hotels and camps are available for staying. Banjara Camps of Sangla are one of the most reputed among the few.
Mobile Connectivity & Civic Facilities: Tourists may note that mobile connections are often very poor in Kinnaur. At Chitkul except BSNL no mobile connection is available. The same issue arises when one moves beyond Reckong Peo towards Kaza. Banks, ATMs, Petrol Pumps, Medical centres and other civic facilities are only available in plenty at Reckong Peo and partially at the Sangla town.
WHY YOU NEED TO CONTACT http://www.mytravelnama.com?
- Hotel & Resorts, Kalpa, Sangla, Chitkul
- Local travel (SUVs) Booking from Kalpa/Reckong Peo: Mr. Mukesh Kumar Negi, Kalpa (09418340009, 09857340009)
- Trekking Adventure Tours, Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama, Shivalinga Darshan: Mr. Nav Negi, Kalpa (09805582595)
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