Lahaul and Spiti- the marooned tibet

The district of Lahaul and Spiti in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh consists of the two formerly separate districts of Lahaul and Spiti. The present administrative centre is Keylong in Lahaul. Before the two districts were merged, Kardang was the capital of Lahaul, and Dhankar the capital of Spiti. The district was formed in 1960.

view of spiti

view of spiti ( LAHAUL AND SPITI)

Kunzum la or the Kunzum Pass (altitude 4,551 m; 14,931 ft) is the entrance pass to the Spiti Valley from Lahaul. It is 21 km from Chandra Tal. This district is connected to Manali through the Rohtang Pass. To the south, Spiti ends 24 km from Tabo, at the Sumdo where the road enters Kinnaur and joins with National Highway No. 22. The two valleys lahaul and spiti are quite different in character. Spiti is more barren and difficult to cross, with an average elevation of the valley floor of 4,270 m (14,009 ft). It is enclosed between lofty ranges, with the Spiti river rushing out of a gorge in the southeast to meet the Sutlej River. It is a typical mountain desert area with an average annual rainfall of only 170 mm (6.7 inches). It is the fourth least populous district in India (out of 640) The harsh conditions of Lahaul permit only scattered tufts of hardy grasses and shrubs to grow, even below 4,000 metres. Glacier lines are usually found at 5,000 metres. Animals such as yaks and dzos roam across the wild Lingti plains. However, over-hunting and a decrease in food supplies has led to a large decrease in the population of the Tibetan antelope, argali, kiangs, musk deer, and snow leopards in these regions, reducing them to the status of endangered species. However, in the Lahaul valley, one can see ibex, brown bears, foxes and snow leopards during winter.

kunzum-la ( lahaul and spiti)

kunzum-la ( lahaul and spiti)

The language, culture, and populations of Lahaul and Spiti are closely related. Generally the Lahaulis are of Tibetan and Indo-Aryan descent, while the Spiti Bhotia are more similar to the Tibetans, owing to their proximity to Tibet. Fairer skin and hazel-colored eyes are commonly seen among the Lahaulis. The languages of both the Lahauli and Spiti Bhutia belong to the Tibetan family. They are very similar to the Ladakhi and Tibetans culturally, as they had been placed under the rule of the Guge and Ladakh kingdoms at occasional intervals.The lahaul and spiti valleys are very common to leh and ladakh. Among the Lahaulis, the family acts as the basic unit of kinship. The extended family system is common, evolved from the polyandric system of the past. The family is headed by a senior male member, known as the Yunda, while his wife, known as the Yundamo, attains authority by being the oldest member in the generation. The clan system, also known as Rhus, plays another major role in the Lahauli society. The Spiti Bhutia community has an inheritance system that is otherwise unique to the Tibetans. Upon the death of both parents, only the eldest son will inherit the family property, while the eldest daughter inherits the mother’s jewellery, and the younger siblings inherit nothing. Men usually fall back on the social security system of the Trans-Himalayan Gompas. The lifestyles of the Lahauli and Spiti Bhotia are similar, owing to their proximity. Polyandry was widely practiced by the Lahaulis in the past, although this practice has been dying out. The Spiti Bhutia do not generally practice polyandry any more, although it is accepted in a few isolated regions.

entrance to spiti ( lahaul and spiti)

entrance to spiti ( lahaul and spiti)

Divorces are accomplished by a simple ceremony performed in the presence of village elders. Divorce can be sought by either partner. The husband has to pay compensation to his ex-wife if she does not remarry. However, this is uncommon among the Lahaulis. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood in lahaul and spiti. Potato farming is common. Occupations include animal husbandry, working in government programs, government services, and other businesses and crafts that include weaving. Houses are constructed in the Tibetan architectural style, as the land in Lahul and Spiti is mountainous and quite prone to earthquakes. Most of the people of lahaul and spiti follow a combination of Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism of the Drukpa Kagyu order, while the Spiti Bhotia follow Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelugpa order. Within Lahoul, the Todh/Gahr(upper region of lahaul towards Ladhakh) region had the strongest Buddhist influence, owing to its close proximity to Spiti. Lahoul has temples such as Trilokinath temple, where pilgrims worship a certain god in different manifestations, notably in the form of Shiva and Avalokiteshvara where Udaipur is a puritan temple. This bas-relief, of marble, depicts the Buddhist deity Avalokiteshvara (the embodiment of the Buddha’s compassion) in a stylized seated position; Hindu devotees take it to be Shiva Nataraj, Shiva dancing. This image appears to be of sixteenth century Chamba craftsmanship. It was created to replace the original black stone image of the deity, which became damaged by art looters. This original image is kept beneath the plinth of the shrine. It appears to be of 12th century Kashmiri provenance . Much of the art thieves are active in this remote belt because of neglected gompas and temples.Raja Ghepan, one of the major deities is greatly workshipped by almost all Lahauli.

off roading in lahaul and spiti

off roading in lahaul and spiti

Before the spread of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism, the people were adherents of the religion ‘Lung Pe Chhoi’, an animistic religion that had some affinities with the Bön religion of Tibet. While the religion flourished, animal and human sacrifices were regularly offered up to the ‘Iha’, a term that refers to evil spirits residing in the natural world, notably in the old pencil-cedar trees, rocks and caves. Vestiges of the Lung Pe Chhoi religion can be seen in the behaviour of the Lamas, who are believed to possess certain supernatural powers. The Losar festival (also known as Halda in Lahauli) is celebrated between the months of January and February in Lahaul and Spiti. The date of celebration is decided by the Lamas. It has the same significance as the Diwali festival of Hinduism, but is celebrated in a Tibetan fashion. At the start of the festival, two or three persons from every household will come holding burning incense. The burning sticks are then piled into a bonfire. The people will then pray to Shiskar Apa, the goddess of wealth (other name Vasudhara) in the Buddhist religion. In the Pattan belt of the valley in Lahaul most population follows Hinduism,but counts for 14 percent of the total and they are called swanglas. The fagli festival is celebrated between February and March all over the valley. This festival is a new year festival and closely precedes beginning of tibetian and Chinese calendar. Notable is the Pattan people are the late settlers in the valley around 1500 A.D. and have broad highlights and have distinct language on the likes the central Asians,chamba, pangi, pashtoons and uyghurs. This belt is known for the convergence for chandra and bhaga rivers to form Chenab. Lahaul has three major valley like kinnaur, which is Tinan Valley( Koksar-Dalang),Pattan Valley(Mooling-Uadaipur region),Punan or Todh/Gahr(Keylong-Zanskar). People of Pattan Valley are largely Hindu and each village has its presiding deity. The inhibitant of Tinan Valley is influenced by both Buddhism and Hindu. The people of Punan(Todh/Gahr) is mostly influenced by Buddhism.Lahaul and Spiti are famous among the tourists as well.

buddhism in lahaul and spiti

buddhism in lahaul and spiti

The natural scenery and Buddhist monasteries, such as Ki, Dhankar, Shashur, Guru Ghantal, Khungri Monastery in Pin Valley, Tnagyud Gompa of the Sakya Sect in Komic, Sherkhang Gompa in Lahlung (believed to be older than Tabo Monastery), the only Buddhist Mummy of a Monk in Ghuen around 550 years old and Chandrataal Lake are the main tourist attractions of the region.The valleys of Lahaul and Spiti are a paradise for a person seeking peace in the lap of nature. One of the most interesting places is the Tabo Monastery, located 45 km from Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, the capital of the Spiti region. This monastery rose to prominence when it celebrated its thousandth year of existence in 1996. It houses a collection of Buddhist scriptures, Buddhist statues and Thangkas. The ancient gompa is finished with mud plaster, and contains several scriptures and documents. Lama Dzangpo heads the gompa here. There is a modern guest house with a dining hall and all facilities are available.Both lahaul and spiti are abundant in monastries reflecting thye rich buddhist culture. Another famous gompa, Kardang Monastery, is located at an elevation of 3,500 metres across the river, about 8 km from Keylong. Kardang is well connected by the road via the Tandi bridge which is about 14 km from Keylong. Built in the 12th century, this monastery houses a large library of Buddhist literature including the main Kangyur and Tangyur scriptures. The treacherous weather in Lahaul and Spiti permits visitors to tour only between the months of June to October, when the roads and villages are free of snow and the high passes (Rothang La and Kunzum La) are open. It is possible to access Spiti from Kinnaur (along the Sutlej) all through the year, although the road is sometimes temporarily closed by landslides or avalanches. Buddhist Monasteries in Spiti: Lahaul an Spiti is one of the important centers of Buddhism in Himachal Pradesh. It is popularly known as the ‘land of lamas’. The valley is dotted by numerous Buddhist Monasteries or Gompas that are famous throughout the world and are a favorite of Dalai Lama. Key Monastery: Key Monastery in Spiti is the main research center of the Buddhists in India. Near about 300 lamas are receiving their religious training from here. It is oldest and biggest monastery in Spiti. It houses the rare painting and beautiful scriptures of Buddha and other gods and goddess. You may also find rare ‘Thangka’ paintings and ancient musical instruments ‘trumpets, cymbals, and drums in the monastery. Tabo Monastery: Perched at an amazing altitude of 3050 meters, Tabo Monastery in the valley of Spiti is often referred to as the ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’. The 10th century Tabo Monastery was founded by the great scholar, Richen Zangpo, and has been declared as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The monastery houses more than 6 lamas and contains the rare collection of scriptures, pieces of art, wall paintings -Tankhas and Stucco. Flora and fauna of Spiti Valley: The Lahaul and Spiti valley is blessed with the good population of snow leopards, ibex, Himalayan Brown Bear, Musk Deer, Himalayan Blue Sheep etc. which serves as the boon for the wildlife lovers. There are two important protected areas in the region that are a home to snow leopard and its prey including the Pin Valley National Park and Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary. Surprisingly, due to ardent religious beliefs, people of Spiti do not hunt these wild animals. Apart from the exotic wildlife, the Valley of Lahaul nad Spiti  is also known for its amazing wealth of flora and the profusion of wild flowers. Some of the mot common species found here include Causinia thomsonii, Seseli trilobum, Crepis flexuosa, Caragana brevifolia and Krascheninikovia ceratoides. Then there are more than 62 species of medicinal plants found here. Adventure activities: To- do-Trails: For trekkers,  lahaul and Spiti Valley is a paradise, offering challenging treks to explore the new heights of the Himalayas. The treks takes you to the most remote areas including the rugged villages and old Gompas followed by the exotic wildlife trails. Some of the popular trekking routes in the area includes Kaza-Langza-Hikim-Komic-Kaza, Kaza-Ki-Kibber-Gete-Kaza, Kaza-Losar-Kunzum La and Kaza-Tabo-Sumdo-Nako. There are some very high altitude treks also where you have to cross passes- like Parangla Pass (connecting Ladakh with Spiti Valley), Pin Parvati Pass, Baba Pass, Hampta Pass treks are few to name. Please note that you carry all the necessary things before out for the trekking tour to Spiti. Tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, heavy wooolens, sunscreen and sunglasses are a must. Himalayan Frontiers, adventure tour operator based in manali is offering many treks in spiti valley, one such trek is Explore Spiti – Little Tibet Skiing: Skiing is the popular adventure sports in lahaul and Spiti and is popular in India from the past few years. The amazing snow clad mountains with the added advantage of inspiring heights are enough to allure the adventure spirits of the avid skier, providing all the thrill and fun attracted to the sport. People from all around the globe come to experience this enthralling adventure activity. Yak Safari: The most exciting of all adventure activities in Lahaul and  Spiti is the Yak safari. You can hire the Yak to see the flora and fauna of trans-Himalayan desert. It is, in fact, the lifetime opportunity that you won’t find anywhere else so easily. Apart from this, horse safaris are also conducted in this area.

Chitkul- An unseen paradise on earth

Chitkul (Chittkul) is a village in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. It is the last inhabited village near the Indo-China border. The Indian road ends here. During winters, the place mostly remains covered with the snow and the inhabitants move to lower regions of Himachal. Potatoes grown at Chitkul are one of the best in the world and are very costly.

baspa river hurtling through chitkul

baspa river hurtling through chitkul

 

Chitkul, on the banks of Baspa River, is the first village of the Baspa Valley and the last village on the old Hindustan-Tibet trade route. It is also the last point in India one can travel to without a permit.

enroute chitkul

enroute chitkul

 

Of particular interest at Chitkul are its houses with either slate or wooden plank roofs, a Buddhist temple and a small tower. However, there has been an increased use of tin-roofs, especially the high school and the army/ITBP barracks.

The Kagyupa temple has a highly valued old image of the Shakyamuni Buddha, a Wheel of Life mandala and four Directional Kings on either side of the door. Chitkul is practically the last point of the famous Kinner Kailash Parikrama as one can hitch a hike from here onwards.

After one crosses over the 5,242 m high Charang Pass, it is a long and steep run down through slithery scree slopes to Chitkul(3,450m). The powerful goddess of Chitkul is the only non-Buddhist deity to which respect must be paid by the Parikrama pilgrims. It is believed that the local Deity is related to the Deity of Gangotri and till recently the locals would carry the Deity to Gangotri on foot over high mountain passes.[2] Chitkul is situated around 40 km from Karcham, the place where road bifurcates from Hindustan-Tibet Road (NH 22). The Sangla Valley is a delight for nature lovers; especially the stretch after Raksham and right up to Chitkul. The valley is extremely beautiful, on the left bank of the Baspa River are snow-clad mountains and on the right bank the whole terrain is full of apple orchids and wooden houses.

Mr Aman Ahuja, hon.Managing director of Hotel Apple Pie at Chitkul

Mr Aman Ahuja, hon.Managing director of Hotel Apple Pie at Chitkul

 

Chitkul is around 569 km from the National capital Delhi and 28 km from Sangla.[3] This is the last Indian village on border with China. The road doesn’t take you till the actual border, it closes around 90 km before it and then rest of the area is under the control of Indian Paramilitary force ITBP. There are wooden houses turned into hotels that can be found in Chhitkul, these hotels are a bit expensive and most of the tourist prefer to stay at Sangla and make a day trip to this place. Sangla is close to Chhitkul and hotels and camps provide very good arrangement for living and are comparatively cheaper. While in Chhitkul make sure you carry adequate cash and petrol or diesel for your car as there is no ATM facility or fuel stations in this hilly area. There is also neither a clinic nor any hospital in this area and one has to travel back to Sangla for emergencies. Chitkul is very cold and windy and the road normally closes down around November after the first snowfall.
There are HRTC buses from Sangla to Chitkul on regular interval. Those buses will back to Sangla after 30 Minutes halt at Chitkul. Last bus to Sangla is around 3:30 PM.

superb location of chitkul

superb location of chitkul

 

Kinner Kailash Trek-In the Lap of Lord shiva

The kinner kailash trek can prove quite a challenge and requires prior trekking experience. It involves crossing huge boulders and traversing thin pathways which makes retreating difficult. Added to this there are no signs or people anywhere after Charang Village and the thin air makes it difficult to breathe.

The most challenging part is that in one day you need to get from the base camp of the mountain pass, Charang La, to the top at the altitude of 17198 ft and then descend down to Chitkul Village 11352 ft. It’s a steep climb up to the pass through gravel and snow and the trail getting down is slippery and treacherous. Views throughout the trek are spectacular.

General Information

Kinnaur, the land between heaven and earth, is surrounded by Tibet on the east, Garhwal Himalaya on the south, Spiti Valley on the north and Kullu on the west. The Sutlej River, which rises from the southern slopes of Mt. Kailash near Mansarovar in Tibet, flows through the Kinnaur valley. The people, called Kinners, have lived in isolation since thousands of years and have a strong culture, heritage and religious beliefs. They mostly follow Hinduism or Buddhism, speak a Tibeto-Burman dialect known as Kinnauri and wear distinct green caps.

Mt. Kinnaur Kailash (19850 ft), locally known as Kinner Kailash, is regarded as the mythical home of Lord Shiva. Beside it is the 79 ft high rock formation that resembles ‘shivalinga’ that changes colors as the day progresses and is visible to the naked eye on a clear day. The ‘parikrama’ or circumbulation around the base of the mountain is a 5-7 day trek. It begins from Kalpa via Triung valley and back to Kalpa via Sangla valley. Also visible on the trek is the peak of Raldang (18041 ft) – where the spirits of the dead people of Kinnaur are considered to live.A circle around this circuit is known as the kinner kailash trek.

 

lalanti climb in kinner kailash trek

lalanti climb in kinner kailash trek

Day 1: Reckong Peo (7513 ft) to Shurting (11188 ft) via Thangi and Lumber (9501 ft)

3 hrs jeep drive from Peo to just before Lumber. 8 kms, 2 hrs trek from drop point to Shurting.

Reckong Peo is the last major village so after all arrangements for the trek is done drive to Lumber which is 60 kms drive from Peo. Lambar is a small village in Pooh Tehsil in Kinnaur District. This beautiful drive takes you into the heart of the Tirung Valley along the Tirung Nala offering a glimpse of the rural life along the way.The road trip for the kinner kailash trek starts from here.

The drive itself becomes an adventure once you reach Thangi. The jeep will drop you just 2-3 kms short of Lumber, which is the last motorable point. Get off here and walk down to Shurting, also known as Shruling. Keep to the left side of the river and follow the “kaccha-stone” road ahead. After 30 minutes into the hike the trails narrows and passes through loose soil and scree. After going around for another 15 minutes the trail now gradually starts to descend. You will find yourself going through a series of gradual ascents and descents for another 15 minutes till it descends to the river bed.

Kinner Kailash Trek

The trail continues by the river through a narrow valley with limited view. You pass by small boulders and after 20 minutes of easy walking you see a huge cave in the rock on the other side of the river at a height of above 75 – 100 ft from the ground. Colorful prayer flags are seen fluttering in the wind and are said to bring happiness, long life and prosperity to the flag planter and those in the vicinity.

Continue for another 5 mins and you will cross a bridge over the Tirung nala which takes you on the trail to Shurting. The serene hike suddenly becomes lively with the gushing sound of the Triung nala under the bridge. Keep yourself on the right of the river and follow the trail.The trail passes through bushes and shrubs covered with pink flowers. Wild Himalayan roses are clusters of silvery pink flowers that darken as they age.

lalanti top -kinner kailash parikrama

lalanti top -kinner kailash trek or parikrama

Kinner Kailash Trek

Within 10 minutes you will reach the open grounds of the “Shurting” (11188 ft). Just before “Shurting” are empty settlements usually used by the horse/ khacchar owners or shepherds. For Kunu you need to continue on the right bank before the bridge. Just past Shurting, the stream coming from the Shimdong pass to Tibet joins the main river on the right. Kunu (11155 ft) can be seen amidst gently sloping fields. The traditional Parikrama route requires one to visit Kunu. The stretch which is around 8 kms from Lumber to Shurting is relatively easy and takes around 2 hours. Shurting is an ITBP checkpost as you are very close to the ITBP border. The border is less than 30 kms away. Beyond this point begins the restricted area and it is not possible for foreigners (Non-Indians) to visit Khimokul la, giving access to Tibet. You can camp next to the ITBP campsite or proceed to Charang Village which is 6 kms from here.

Kinner Kailash Trek

Day 2: Shurting(11188 ft) to to Camp-I (before Lalanti) (13780 ft) via Charang (11483 ft)
shurting to Charang, 6 km,1.5 hrs. Charang to Camp-I (before Lalanti) (13780 ft), 10 km, 7hrs.

There are two trails that go from Shurting. The one that goes ahead follows the Tirung Nala passing Charang village. The other trail goes right from the ITBP checkpost. The trail that goes to right up in the hills is unstable – with landslides, steep piles of scree and deep streams of water flowing down the hillside. Stay on the right side of the river and follow the Triung Nala. The old trail will lead you from Shurting to the Charang village. You will also see a trail on the other side of the stream that goes to the Kunu village. Carry on the trail for 10 minutes passing through the riverbed as the river widens and divides into many small streams.

kinner kailash trek - enroute

kinner kailash trek – enroute

Kinner Kailash Trek

After 30 minutes into the hike, you will see that the trail now gradually starts to ascend. The trail rises above the river as the valley widens and you see some excellent views of the Racho group of peaks, including the highest peak in the Kinaaur area, Rangrik Rang (21500 ft). You need to continue on the trail that moves along the right of the valley towards Charang Village. It takes about 1hour before you see the beautiful white stupa of the Rangrik Monastery on the left. Rangrik Monastery is one of the most sacred monasteries in Kinnaur. You will see the trail passes through the Charang guest house. Here you can have quick snacks and fill your water bottles as you may not find water for another 4-5 hours. This is also the last village on the trail and the trek from here on will be in complete isolation.You can purchase some last moment supplies here but do not expect much.

 

Kinner Kailash Trek

Keeping the Charang Guest house to your right follow the trail that moves upwards bypassing the Charang Village. The climb continues for 10 minutes till you reach a point from where the trail takes a U turn and you see the guest house on to your right now. The trail now gradually starts to ascend. After 30 minutes you come across a couple of incomplete stone shelters that look like the 4 walls of a hut. This is used by the shepherds. Keeping the stone shelter to your left continue on the trail that moves to top of the ridge for another 45 minutes till you see a vast expanse of the valley. Look out for the magnificent snow clad peaks. The peak on the left is Rangrik Rang peak. You will come across a stone structure that stands 2 feet tall. Stones stacked one over the other indicate the way. The trail passes through a series of small boulders that appear like a flat table along with a few bushes here and there. Continue on the trail for another 30 minutes till you see Lalanti pass in front of you.

enroute kinner kailash trek or the parikrama

enroute kinner kailash trek or the parikrama

Kinner Kailash Trek

Lalanti La is visible from a long distance as you see huge stone structures along with the multi coloured Buddhist prayer flags that indicate the pass.The trail up to the Lalanti pass is gradual but long (2-3 kms). It takes around 2.5 – 3 hours to reach the pass.

Kinner Kailash Trek

Lalanti pass lies in the upper Shurting valley at about 14764 ft. From the pass follow the trail which curves towards your left. The trail zigzags down to the valley and follows the stream thereafter. This is the tributary of Tirung Nala that comes from Shurting. Proceed down towards the stream as the trail gradually descends. After 15 minutes into the hike the trail becomes very thin and narrow. Watch your steps as it can get slippery with all the mud. You will see that the trail disappears many times because of landslides in between. After hiking on the trail for another 15 minutes you will cross a thin stream coming from the top.The trail down the hill is unstable – with landslides, steep piles of scree and streams of water flowing down the hillside.

Kinner Kailash Trek

After 1 hr into the hike the trail gradually ascends for a few minutes and then descends steeply through a gully formed by rocks on either side. Proceed down for another 30 minutes till you are just a few meters above the riverbed. The trail gradually ascends and passes through green pastures. Wade through the green pastures for 30 minutes till you come across a narrow stream coming from the top. You will also see stone structures used by shepherds for temporary shelter. You can camp here or proceed to Lalanti which is 1 hour, 2-3 kms from here. It takes 3-4 hours to reach Camp-I from Lalanti pass and around 6 hours from Charang Village.

 

Day 3 : Camp-I (before Lalanti, 13780 ft) to Camp-II
8 kms, 4 hrs.

The relatively easy gradient today coupled with manageable overall distance gives you ample opportunity to explore the area around and soak in every nuance of this extraordinary trail. Keep yourself to the left side of the river and follow the trail ahead. The trail passes through a grass patch and shrubs covered with red stem and yellow flowers. If lucky you could see colorful butterflies and some exotic Himalayan birds on the way. After 30 minutes you will come across a small stream that comes from the hill top and merges with the river below.As you cross over, you will see a small pasture land full of knee high bushes and boulders. Continue on the trail that gradually starts to ascend. You will find yourself going through a series of gradual ascents and descents for another 30 minutes till you see a vast expanse of the valley. The trail passes through small boulders and bushes. Look out for the magnificent snow clad peaks on either side. The peak on the right is Saro 19997 ft and another unnamed peak 20500 ft.

campsite near the charang la in kinner kailash trek

campsite near the charang la in kinner kailash trek

Proceed down on the trail that goes to the river bed hopping over a lot of small boulders. In the distance you see a stone structure that stands 2 ft tall on the other side of the river which you will pass after 20 minutes into the hike. This indicates that the Lalanti campsite is near. Do not cross the stream as it is very deep. Look for the Lalanti campsite which is on the other side of the stream.

Kinner Kailash Trek

Lalanti campsite has a tin shed that is used by the pilgrims that come on the parikrama. The campsite is situated on a flat meadow ground a little above the river. You can see the yaks grazing on the slope a little above the Lalanti meadows. Proceed on the trail for another 30 minutes till you see the Lalanti campsite across the stream. Here the stream is broken down into several small streams, so choose the stream that is small and shallow to cross over. Keep yourself to the right side of the river and follow the trail ahead bypassing the Lalanti campsite. After 20 minutes into the hike the trail gradually starts to ascend.You will come across a stone structure indicating the way. Proceed down on the trail that gradually descends to the meadow.

Kinner Kailash Trek

After 30 minutes of re-ghati-trelatively easy hike the trail passes through grass meadows covered with little yellow flowers along the stream. Follow the trail through loose stones. You will find yourself again climbing up for another 30 minutes followed with a level-walk of 30 minutes. After a series of gradual ascents and descents you come across a meadow with stone markings that stand 5 feet tall. You will see huge flat boulders covered with colorful flowers. You can camp here tonight. The panoramic view from the campsite is commanding as you see snow clad peaks on either side of the valley. To acclimatize yourself it is a good idea to explore the valley. Bird lovers can see a variety of Himalayan birds while exploring the campsite. If you are lucky you can encounter wildlife as well.

 

Day 4 : Camp-II (13780 ft) to Charang La Base (15748 ft)– 7kms – 4hrs

Today is a relatively easy day for trekking.Proceed ahead with a nice level walk along the stream. Keep yourself to the right of the stream. After 30 minutes into the hike the stream broadens. You will encounter a shallow section where you will have to cross the ice cold river barefoot. The trail gradually ascends and changes from plain meadows to rocky terrains. After around 15 minutes you come across two structures indicating the way. You will find yourself going through a series of gradual ascents and descents on loose rocks. It is very easy to miss the trail here. Keep walking towards the left side of the valley. After another 20 minutes you will come across loose rocks and huge scattered boulders making the ascent difficult.

the famous pass that is one of the last stages of the kinner kailash trek

the famous pass that is one of the last stages of the kinner kailash trek

Kinner Kailash Trek

After 1 hour into the hike you can see the Charang la pass at a distance. Charang La is a muddy patch with a slight depression with snow ridge on one side and rock ridge on the other. Proceed on the trail for around 20 minutes and you can see the rocky terrain now changes to glacier moraine. After 30 minutes of level walk, you will again be required to ascend the moraine ridge. Look for the stone structures at the end of the moraine ridge. You can see the trail now descends down. After 15 minutes of hike you come across a small pond. You will find yourself going through a series of gradual ascents and descents for another 30 minutes till you see a vast expanse of the valley.

Breath taking views of clear sky and snow clad peaks welcome you. In the midst of grey and brown terrain occasionally you all come across small green bushes with yellow flowers. You can get lucky and get to encounter colorful butterflies and some exotic Himalayan birds at this height as well. As it is going to be a short walk today you can enjoy the luxury to click as many photos and videos as required. Proceed on the glacier moraine for another 30 minutes till you see huge boulders and a pond formed by the glacial water. You will see the trail passes through huge boulders. The trail has stone markings all throughout to guide the way. After walking around 30 minutes on the boulder trail look out for a 25 ft huge boulder that has stone marking and a red flag indicating you are very near the Charang la base.

Kinner Kailash Trek

You can see the flag from a distance as it sits atop a huge boulder.You can also see a commanding view of mountain ranges covered with snow on either side. On the left ridge you can see an overhanging edge of snow also called cornice. On the right ridge you can see a peak that looks as sharp as a needle. Continue on the trail for another 30 minutes till you reach a huge glacial lake. Look for two huge boulders of around 30 feet near the lake. In front of the boulders you see a small stone temple that has a few trishuls. Trishul or trident is the primary weapon of Lord Shiva. It depicts the power of Lord Shiva. Many pilgrims who come for Kinnaur Kailash parikrama worship Lord Shiva, offer prayers and seek His blessings. You can camp near the boulder besides the glacial lake. To acclimatize you can go around the glacial lake and check the peaks visible from here.

Kinner Kailash Trek

Day 5 : Charang La base 15750 ft to Charang La 17198 ft to Chitkul 11352 ft , 7kms – 9 hrs

Today’s trek is more challenging as you climb up the Charang La pass .The top muddy patch visible the previous day is Charang La. This is the most difficult day of the trek due to a lot of altitude gain and a steep descent. The trail goes through glacier moraine, snow bridges (thin layer), rocky terrain and huge boulders so be very careful and follow the guide. Proceed ahead on the left side of the valley as the trail goes parallel to the snow ridge. The trail is covered with snow in patches.

Kinner Kailash Trek

Proceed on the rocky terrain for 15 minutes until you reach the snow bridge. You will encounter a tricky section where you will have to cross the snow bridge which is extremely thin at some places. Look for a stone structure just after the snow bridge indicating the position from where it can be best crossed. You can fill in your bottles here as this is the last place that you will find water. There is no water on the trail for next 5-6 hours. You can see the trail continues in the direction of Charang Pass.The trail passes through huge boulders and some hard snow patches. After 45 minutes of boulder hopping you reach the snow slope just below the muddy patch.

 

the top of charang la- kinner kailash trek

the top of charang la- kinner kailash trek

Kinner Kailash Trek

You can see the snow slope has a steep gradient of around 60-70 degrees. This section can be tackled without use of ropes / ice axe, however it is recommended that you carry them especially if you are an inexperienced trekker. You need to continue zigzagon the snow slope for around 1 hour till you reach the muddy patch.The bird’s-eye view of the valley below is amazing from here. The slope is challenging so you have to be very careful where you stop. A fall will take you directly to the glacial stream below so avoid any risks.

You can see the final trail of around 150 mtr after the snow patch is made up of loose rocks and plenty of scree. You will need to keep some distance between two people on this trail. After 30 minutes of hike you reach the pass. The view from the pass is breathtaking and memorable. Have quick snacks, chocolates, dry fruits here as it is still a long way ahead.

Kinner Kailash Trek

The trek down to Chitkul is long and you need to cover around 5578 ft of steep descent. It is around 6-7 kms and takes around 6 hrs.The route towards Chitkul curves towards the right side of the valley. Proceed down for 45 minutes as the trail passes through rocky terrain and loose boulders. You can see stone structures at regular intervals on the route indicating the way down. Keep yourself to the right of the valley and proceed down for another 45 minutes till you reach the plains. You can see the plain is covered with hard snow. Cross the snow patch and keep moving right.

Kinner Kailash Trek

The trail alternates between snow patches and rocky terrain. Proceed ahead by following the laid out trail on the right side of the valley for another 1 hour till you reach the end of the plains and the trail descends down. Another 1 hour of of steep descent on the rocky terrain will take you to a stream that comes from the top. You will see the trail gradually moves down towards the right.The trail passes through grass patches and shrubs. Wade through the trail for 30 minutes as it broadens. You will see Chitkul village on the left.

Kinner Kailash Trek

The trail now is well defined and it takes around 45 minutes to reach the plains from here. You can see the view gets greener and better as one comes across colorful flowers and shrubs along the way. After a tiring walk on the monotonous snow patch and boulders for 3-4 hours this is a refreshing change. Another 30 minute of hike ahead on the plains will take you to Chitkul village. The trail crosses the fields and the beautiful village temple.

a beautiful view of the chitkul village-kinner kailash trek

a beautiful view of the chitkul village-kinner kailash trek

Reckong Peo

Reckong Peo or Peo as it is called by the locals was commonly known as the Land of the Gods. This place is a wonderful showcase of the beauty that the Himalayas have to offer to us. This is a place that the Gods will definitely inhabit. The headquarters of Kinnaur district, Peo is a treasure in the midst of the Himalayas. Reckong Peo is a sleepy town in the midst of the great Himalayas which is famous for its apple orchards. Inhabited by the Kinnauri people, this is also a land of a very different culture which survives in today’s date of modernisation. Of course the apple orchards, the pine tree smell and the stately deodars make it a place which is mighty difficult to actually resist. Reckong Peo was very rarely known till a few years back and it is still a place very rare people visit. Thus the nature here is untouched and undiminished in its glory. It should definitely be experienced. Also visible from Reckong Peo are two of the greatest wonders of the Himalayas. The Shivling rock and the Kailash mountain visible from this little place and the importance of these places do not need to be highlighted. This place was a part of old Tibet and you need a special licence to get there which is easily available. But the point is get to this place, so unexplored and so new yet a land existing for so long. Lipa-Asrang Sanctuary, Rupi-Bhaba Sanctuary and Rakchham-Chhitkul Sanctuary are some of the places that showcase the unique biodiversity of this place in the Himalayas. This is the other treasure that you can find in these lands and make you truly believe in beauty.

market place reckong peo

market place reckong peo

 

Reckong Peo or Peo which is known as the Land of the Gods is an amazing showcase of the splendor which Himalayas present. This is a place that the Gods will certainly dwell in. The headquarters of Kinnaur district, Peo is a hoard in the middle of the Himalayas.  It is a serene town in the center of the great Himalayas which is well-known for its apple orchards.

Populated by the Kinnauri people, this is also a land of a very diverse culture which exists in today’s date of urbanization. Of course the apple orchards, the stately deodars and the pine tree smell make it a place which is strongly difficult to resist. Reckong Peo was hardly ever known till a few years back and it is still a place very rare people visit.

Also palpable from Reckong Peo are two of the greatest wonders of the Himalayas: The Kailash Mountain and The Shivling rock which are visible from this small place and the significance of these places do not need to be highlighted.

another still of market place rekong peo

another still of market place rekong peo

 

Reckong Peo came into existence on 1st May 1960. In accordance with history, it is believed that it was earlier known as Kinnaura. There are many legends and myths attached to the history of the district. In between, the 9th and 12th century the district was under the rule of the Guge Kingdom of Tibet. After that, it was divided into seven parts, which jointly came to be known as Sat Khund

The district was later conquered by Akbar, which resulted in the insertion of this district into the Mughal Empire. After the fall of the Mughal Empire, this district was then known as Chini Tehsil which played a vital role in the progress of the region.

Reckong Peo is the capital of Kinnaur District. It is one of the twelve administrative districts of Himachal Pradesh in India. It is at an altitude of 2,290 meters above mean sea level.

Summers in the town of  are very moderate, and this is the finest time to visit the town . However, the winters are too cold.  The maximum temperature in this time will range nearly 25°C and the minimum temperature remains nearly 6°C. The best time to visit Reckong Peo is from March to June and from September to December.

hotel Apple pie kalpa located 8 kms from reckong peo

hotel Apple pie kalpa located 8 kms from reckong peo

Rupin Pass Trek

Rupin pas trek is one of the most fantastic treks in this region. The trek begins from the lovely valley of Sangla in Himachal Pradesh and moves onto Uttarakhand via Rupin pass. In terms of landscape, gradient and altitude, it offers a wide range. Not a very well known trek, it certainly is one of the most beautiful being full of streams, waterfall, river, mountain views, snows, beautiful meadows full of flowers etc

 

climb of rupin pass trek

climb of rupin pass trek

 

a trail of rupin pass trek

a trail of rupin pass trek

 

lush green meadows in the due course of rupin pass trek

lush green meadows in the due course of rupin pass trek

 

rupin pass trek during summers

rupin pass trek during summers

 

Rupin pass trek can also be started  from the village of Naitwar in the Tons river valley region of Uttarakhand. From Naitwar the trail goes along the Rupin river valley to the villages of Dhola(reachable by Jeep now) and Sewa. After Sewa the trail crosses into Himachal Pradesh (always following the course of the Rupin river), first to Gosangu (its not a village but a central spot in the valley where the roads connecting the villages of Dodra, Kwar and Jiskun coverage) and then on to the hanging villages of Jiskun and Jakha on slopes above the Rupin. After Jakha the wilderness starts, taking you along the river through dense pine forests, across and over multiple snow bridges and meadows to the imposing 3-tired Rupin waterfall. Above the waterfall the trail finally leaves the river and veers left climbing steeply over a ridge and then over gentle undulating snowfields/meadows (depending on the reason) to finally reach the Rupin pass. An unmistakable half tube cut straight across the dip in the ridge line of the Dhauladhar range. The most easy itinerary of the Rupin Pass Trek can be located hereunder.

 

        • DAY 1:  CHANDIGARH- THANEDAR- 6 HRS
        • Reach Chandigarh at 0350 hrs by Kalka mail. Get off and drive to Thanedar. Stop en route at Shimla for breakfast and freshen up. Carry onto Thanedar. Check into hotel. After lunch, hike to Hatu peak. Evening around a bonfire. Night stay in hotel.

        • DAY 2:  THANEDAR- SANGLA- 6 HRS
        • Wake up early in the morning. After breakfast, drive to Sangla. Reach Sangla early n the evening. Check in and hike up to Batseri village after freshening up. Evening around a bonfire. Night stay in hotel/camp.

        • DAY 3:  SANGLA- ACCLIMATIZATION HIKE TO RAKCHAM VALLEY- 6 KMS
        • Today, we go on a upward hike to Rakcham valley. This is the signature walk of the valley. The gradient is moderately upward. Reach Rakcham village by afternoon. Drive back to camp/hotel. Rest of the day at leisure as we prepare and check gear for the trek the next day. Evening around a bonfire.

        • DAY 4:  SANGLA (2700M) – SANGLA MEADOWS (3600M) – 4-5 HRS
        • Sangla meadow is a perfect place to see the Kinner Kailash massif in its full glory. The locals have their fields in the Sangla meadows (or Sangla Kanda as they call it). As going up and down every day is inconvenient, so lot of people have made their temporary huts here called ‘Dogri’. When it starts to get cold in the valley, the shepherds often take their sheep and goat herds across Rupin Pass (visible in the distance) to the meadows near Dehra Dun. Night stay in tents.

        • DAY 5:  SANGLA MEADOWS- BASE OF RUPIN PASS (ABOUT 3500M) – 4-5 HRS
        • DAY 6:  BASE OF RUPIN PASS- RUPIN PASS (4750M) DANDRASH (3450M) 6 HRS
        • This is a tough day on the trek with steep uphill and downhill climbs. There would be snow at the pass.

        • DAY 7:  DANDRASH- JISKOOL (2320M)- 5-6 HRS
        • This is a lovely hike through meadows and then we hit the valley. We walk past a waterfall and cross a cross a river.

        • DAY 8:  JISKOOL- SEWA (2040M)- 4-5 HRS
        • From here on, it is a gradual downhill walk most of the way.

        • DAY 9:  SEWA- DHULA (1560M)- MUSSOORIE- 3 HRS WALK AND 6 HRS DRIVE
        • Last day on the trek, we reach Dhula where vehicles will be waiting to carry us on to Mussoorie. Settle into your rooms in Mussoorie. Rest of the evening at leisure.

        • DAY 10:  MORNING JAN SHATABDI FROM DEHRADUN BACK TO DELHI AND CONNECTING FLIGHTS/ TRAINS OUT.
        • Leave early in the morning from Mussoorie and drive to Dehradun to catch Jan Shatabdi back to Delhi.

          The Rupin pass trek can be started either way from Himachal or Uttarakhand and the itinerary can be tailored according to the customers need.

 

     

      Tribal festival kinnaur

      Tribal Festival kinnaur is being celebrated since 1994 from 30 October to 2nd November every year at District Headquarter Reckong Peo and this festival has been declared as State Level festival and has been celebrated since 1987 under different names like Janjatiya Utsav, Phulaich Utsav and also as Tribal Festival kinnaur. This festival  depicts the panorama of rich culture heritage of district .It also provides an opportunity to the local people to sell/exhibit their horticulture/agriculture produce, handicraft and artifacts. Besides the Kinnauri culture groups, participants from other districts/states also present and perform culture programmes symbolising national integration and brotherhood.

      a glimpse of tribal festival kinnaur

      a glimpse of tribal festival kinnaur 

       

      The tribal festival kinnaur is held in the month of October or November every at Rampur Bushahr. In ancient, Tibet and Kinnaur had good trade relations and Lavi fair is the outcome of business interest of both sides. People from other areas in general and tribal belt in particular participate in this fair with horses, mules, pashminas, colts, yaks, chilgoza, namdas, pattis, woollens, raw semi-finished wool and other dry fruits produced in the state are brought for selling. Tribal festival kinnaur is  three hundred years old fair and also a state fair.4 During day time, hectic trade activities are witnessed all over the town. At night, folks dances and music around small bonfires are organised. It continues for three days.

      another glimpse of tribal festival kinnaur

      another glimpse of tribal festival kinnaur

       

      tribal festival kinnaur

      tribal festival kinnaur

       

       

      Rakcham-A paradise on earth

      While traveling from Sangla to Chitkul you will sure come across this breathtaking valley on the banks of River Baspa comfortably hidden away from the modern world . Nestled between mighty snow covered peaks and a lush green landscape,Rakcham   is heaven on earth.

      a mesmerising view of rakcham from hotel apple pie

      a mesmerising view of rakcham from hotel apple pie

       

       Rakcham is at an altitude of 2900 meters approx 10,000 ft above sea level. It is a relatively unknown place, located midway between Sangla and Chitkul – the last Indian village before the Tibet Border. The beauty of this small village with a population of 800 is heavenly – please check the gallery pages to get some understanding.

      The people of  Rakcham are mostly nomadic and known as Kinnaurs. The men normally tend to the herd of cows and sheep while the women do the farming as also house work. The women known as Kinnauri’s are slim, tall with very sharp features. The people of Rakcham migrate every six months during winter to lower levels and again return during April to sow seeds and tend to crops.

      snow cla mountains cover the village view from hotel apple pie

      snow cla mountains cover the village view from hotel apple pie

       

      At first glance Rakcham will seem to be a place out from the past – no newspapers, no post office, no internet, no police station, no wine shop, no market – just a couple of shop selling very basic necessities. The place however is blessed with crops, abundant water, and natural beauty. The place is absolutely free of any form of crime.

      Winter sets around mid-November and snowfall is about 2-5 feet across the valley. A few villagers , normally who do not possess any herds stay in the valley under extreme hardship.

      There are two temples in the village of Rakcham, Kali and Shiva as also a Buddhist shrine. The Kali temple was renovated after a devastating fire in the village few years back which had destroyed the original temple. Throughout Kinnaur you will find a typical blend of Hindu and Buddhist ideology and as such the temples also depict dragons and many fusion characters.

      apple pie hotel in rakcham

      apple pie hotel in rakcham

       

      Altitude : varies from 3200 meters to 5486 meters.
      Annual Snowfall : mean annual rainfall is 1130 mm.
      Annual Rainfall : mean annual rainfall is 463.9 mm.
      Temperature : temprature varies from -10 to 15°C.
      Area : 3,411 hectares ( 34.11 sq. km. ).
      Location : nearest town is Kalpa.
      Approaches : Kinnaur to Kalpa to inside sanctuary.
      FestivalsFulaich during first week September

      Rakcham was first notified as a sanctuary in 1962 and re-notified on 27th March 1974. This sanctuary is located at high altitude and is a good habitat for the endangered Musk deer. Govind Pashu Vihar sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh falls adjacent to its southern boundary, and little beyond the eastern boundary of the sanctuary lies the Tibetan Plateau of China.

      Flora: Forest types include lower western Himalayan temperate forest, upper western Himalayan temperate forest, dry broad leaved coniferous, dry temperate coniferous and dry alpine scrub.

      Fauna ( Mammals ): Himalayan Black Bear, Brown Bear, Musk deer, Goral, Leopard and blue Sheep

      Fauna ( Fish )
      Brown Trout.

      a view of rakcham village in winters

      a view of rakcham village in winters

      Remote Destinations

      India is a land with great tourism potential.There are many remote destinations located in our country that attract the tourists from all over the world It’s a land with dazzling beaches, dramatic temples, exotic rain forests, colossal mountains, eternal deserts, lively cities, and the Indian peninsula creates an ultimate allure for the travelers across the globe.These remote destinations are for those who wish to travel in the natures lap Vivid and diverse in culture, heritage and language, India is bestowed with rich natural beauty that adds to its tranquility.

      one of the remote destinations in North India -Rakcham Village

      one of the remote destinations in North India -Rakcham Village

       

       

      The picturesque hill stations, the pristine beaches, the unique and halcyon pilgrim destinations, the vast deserts, historical buildings to contemporary structures and from snow capped mountains to boat rides on the serene backwater yards; India is a land of endless opportunities for explorers who want to explore best of India.The remote destinations are a major attraction for the people of India now a days.

      another remote destinations in North India-Kalpa

      another remote destinations in North India-Kalpa

       

      Haughty mountains, plunging valleys, gushing rivers and jittery wildlife make for enough action to put the northern part of India on top of your priority list for offbeat places in India. While historical monuments, desert life and royalty add to the charm of Rajasthan, the Indo-Gangetic Plains and the Himalayas segregate the country from Tibet and Central Asia.The adventure lovers seek for remote destinations in North India where as pleasure seekers look for them in the central India.

      Remote destinations in North India are usually under snow cover

      Remote destinations in North India are usually under snow cover

       

      North India also host amount of remote destinations for adventurous activities to add thrill to your life. Mountain biking, mountaineering, paragliding, rafting, skiing, trekking are few amongst the various activities you can undertake.

      Hotels in Kinnaur – Season’s delight

      A mountainous area, ranging in altitude from 2,320 to 6,816 meters, Kinnaur is one of the smallest districts in India by population. It is famous for the Kinner Kailash, a mountain sacred to Hindus, close to the Tibetan border.Most of the hotels in Kinnaur are closed in winters due to heavy snowfall.The period of snowfall is from december to february.

      view from one of the hotels in kinnaur during winters

      view from one of the hotels in kinnaur, during winters

       

      Most of Kinnaur enjoys a temperate climate due to its high elevation, with long winters from October to May, and short summers from June to September. The lower parts of the Sutlej Valley and the Baspa Valley receive monsoon rains. The upper areas of the valleys fall mainly in the rain-shadow area. These areas are considered to be arid regions, similar to the climate of Tibet.The hotels in kinnaur remain closed from december to february following the lack of water and irregular electric supply.Kinnaur has three main torist attractions namely Kalpa,Sangla valley and Nako.All these destinations are located at great heights so they recieve a snowfall of even more than 80 ft throughout the season.That is the reason of the 8 month short season of the hotels in Kinnaur.

      another view of one of the hotels in kinnaur,kalpa

      another view of one of the hotels in kinnaur,kalpa

       

      Due to the Geographical conditions Kinnaur has long winter from October to May (the snowy season) and Summer from June to September. From April to May is Spring and September to October is Autumn.The best hotels in kinnaur can be located in the Kalpa region . Only the Baspa valley, lower region of the Satluj valley and the area south of the Great Himalaya receives monsoon rains, while in the upper areas monsoon showers progressively decreases.Almost all the hotels in kinnaur are now closed due to heavy snowfalland shall reopen in mid march.

      IMG-20141220-WA0003

      Kalpa -A Hidden Paradise

      Kalpa is a small town in the Sutlej river valley, above Recong Peo in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, in the Indian Himalaya. Kalpa is Inhabited by Kinnauri people and famous for its apple orchards. Apples are a major cash-crop for the region. The local inhabitants follow a syncretism of Hinduism and Buddhism, and many temples in Kalpa are dedicated to both Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses. The average literacy rate of  is around 83.75%.One of the famous music director of Himachal Pradesh,Surender Negi, is from Kalpa.

       

      a view from Hotel Apple Pie Kalpa of the snow clad Kinner Kailash ranges

      a view from Hotel Apple Pie Kalpa of the snow clad Kinner Kailash ranges

       

      Kalpa  has an average elevation of 2,960 metres (9,711 feet). It is located 265 kilometres (165 mi) beyond Shimla on the NH-22 in Kinnaur District. It is located at the base of the Kinnaur Kailash snow-capped ranges. The Shivling peaks rise up to 20,000 feet (6,000 m). Kalpa is among apple orchards, pine-nut forests and the stately deodhars. It is above the town of Recong Peo, the district headquarters of Kinnaur, which has a hundred-year-old Buddhist monastery.

      another colour of kalpa,from hotel apple pie

      another colour of kalpa,from hotel apple pie

       

      There are many options available to stay in Kalpa amongst which Hotel Apple Pie is one of the best accomodation which a traveller can get.A new property consisting of 12 rooms all of which face the mighty kinner kailash.Hotel Apple Pie  is the cleanest and cosiest property available for stay for the travellers.

      hotel apple pie kalpa

      hotel apple pie kalpa