Friday 7 November 2014

Chapter --- (5), Hindustan-Tibet Road fantasy. (July-August) 2014

Continuation of previous chapter of my Blog . 
Chapter --- (5)

Our today’s journey would be From Sangla ---- Rakcham --- Mastrang Chowki (here there is an ITBP Check Post) --- Chitkul ---- Back to Rakcham ---- Back to Sangla ---- Back to Karcham ---- Powari (To go to Rekong Peo, here we have to take a detour) ---- Rekong Peo 

(Day-4) 19th July 2014:--- Today morning after refreshing ourselves with our natures morning chores, we packed our luggage and loaded it into our car boot. After vacating and settling the hotel room bill, we walked upto a near by road side Tea stall that was named as “Suresh Dhaba“ Here in this small shack we had plentiful hot and tasty breakfast.

 Suresh Dhaba
Early morning view at Sangla village

After the filling and generous breakfast, we left Sangla Village round about at 8.00 AM.and drove towards Chitkul (4550 mt ASL) that is about 14 kms away from Sangla. Chitkul Hamlet is at the Indo-Tibet-China border and is the last village of this Sangla Valley area. It had been raining torrentially and the whole area was completely engulfed with thick grey blanket of Fog.

Foggy Road to Chitkul
Foggy and deplorable Road to Chitkul
The Fog was so thick that we could hardly see the road beyond 5-feet distance. Even though we had kept our car’s “Head- Lights-ON”, but still the visibility was very, very poor. In this torrential rain, we were driving at a snail speed. Because of dilapidated road, our car was practically wobbling, hopping, tossing, stalling and practically crawling towards Rachcham and Chitkul.

Above Scenic pictures are around Rakcham and it's surroundings.
(Population of Rakcham village is approximately (850)
Somehow we managed to pass a village called Rakchham which is 10 Km from Sangla and is at an elevation of (10,000 ft) above MSL. This small village has a beautiful picturesque scenic view and has other than many private hotels,  a brick and cemented government guest houses for tourists to stay. It’s so scenic that lot of Bollywood movies had been shot here. The whole surroundings are so awesomely amazing that it looks something like as scene from a fantasy world.

Chitkul  Scenic view
After Rakchham, with lot of difficulties of crossings couple of unpredictive boulders filled, “Nalas” (Stream Crossings), some how we managed to reach at “Mastrang Chowki” which is situated at an altitude of (12,500 ft) above MSL. It is only 4 Km before Chitkul. It’s an (ITBP Check Post), which is always manned by the ITBP Army personals. One of the ITBP Jawan was guarding this post in freezing cold and torrential rain. I came out of my car and saluted that Army Jawan and loudly wished him “JAI HIND”  Because of the loneliness, he looked so frustrated,  damp and dull and bored. But suddenly there was a big smile on his face, when I wised him “Jai Hind”. He too proudly reciprocated by saying “JAI HINDH” After checking and entering into a register book, the details of  our personal identity documents as well as our car documents, he sincerely suggested us that since it had been raining nonstop.  There may be sudden flash floods. As per his personal past experiences, because of Nalas flash floods, there were very good chances of getting this road cut off and  blocked partially or completely, for a week or two. So he suggested us that since it had been raining nonstop heavly from last couple of days we wouldn’t be able to see anything around Chitku and it would be wise that we turn back and go back to Sangla. More over every inch of the Chitkul area would be completely engulfed and covered by the blanket of thick Fog and heavy clouds. Understanding the severity of the situation, we listened to ITBP Jawan’s sincere advice. We immediately drove back to Sangla. Later in the day we came to know that Chitkul road had been cut of due to heavy landslides. In our prayers we thanked that ITBP Jawan for his concerned advice. 

Old Temple at kamru 
We reached back at Sangla at about 10.30 AM. We decided to drive down straight  to “Reckong Pao”  town, which is about 62 Km away. To go to “Reckong Pao” we had to drive back first to Karcham village and  then drive on NH-22, towards Powar village, which is situated at an altitude of (8,736 ft) above MSL. To go to “Reckong Pao”, at Powari we had to take a detour on the right side of NH-22 which goes straight upwards towards “Reckong Pao” and Kalpa village

Chitkul Village

“Chitkul, is also known as the Crown of Kinnaur valley”

Chitkul is situated at an altitude of (11,320 ft) above MSL.
 Population of Chitkul village is approximately (583)

Until 1989 outsiders could not enter this valley without a special permit from the Government of India, due to its strategic location, on the Indo-Tibet-China border. Even today to enter Chitkul, every one has to show the details of His/Her ID documents at Mastrang Chowki ( ITBP check Post) and only after the verification, is allowed to proceed furthet  to Chitkul.   

Brief Introduction of Chitkul valley
Due to its steep and difficult mountainous terrain and very cold climatic conditions, this region is quite remote, underdeveloped and thereby not much visited by tourists? In fact Kinnaur district comes under the tribal zone of [HP] and the rural inhabitants are given special attention and special privileges by the government of [HP], for the upliftment of their living standards. The remoteness of the region probably is a boon in disguise as the spectacular beauty of the nature, it by and large possesses, is still virgin and not yet spoilt by the influx of hordes of flocking tourists.

 "Chitkul " is the last in-habituated village on old Hindustan - Tibet Road. It is situated at an altitude of 3450 Mtr. [11,345 ft.], which makes it the highest village of Baspa Valley of Himachal Pradesh. The River Baspa originates from the snow-mountains of Chitkul and flows through Chitkul towards next village "Rakchem" The latest census indicates, that the population of Chitkul is 583.  Its location is marvellous from point of view of Nature's Beauty. Snow covered mountains from all round, with lush green forests and River Baspa flowing through the Village. The wonderful charm of nature, at its peak, is around mid-March, when snow is not troublesome for approach to this remote point and simultaneously you get snow everywhere around you to enjoy. The nature's charm of " Chitkul" like any other outstanding place] has to be seen to appreciate it. Both " Chitkul " & " Rakcham " are nice places for trekking and fishing in river Baspa. During summer time one can enjoy " Igloo Nature Camps " near Sangl. There are 3 temples of local Goddess " Mathi" here. The main temple is said to have been made 500 years ago. Great Pagoda " Kagyupa Temple " has old image of " Sankyamuni Buddha" Sangla-- Rakcham is 10 Kms pleasant drive and Rakcham-- Chitkul is 14 Kms highly picturesque drive, along the mountain-river Baspa. This drive is one of most memorable drive. I have never seen a stretch, scenically more beautiful than this 14 Kms. It cannot be described in words. It has to be seen with one's own eyes to believe it. Mind you anyone and everyone would love this serine, calm, peaceful and meditating mountainous small hill retreat.

Few places of tourist interests are

Kamru Fort:-- About 2-3 KMs away from Sangla Valley, there is a famous 1000 year old Kamru Fort considered to be one of the oldest forts in Himachal Pradesh. Do check out when you are in Sangla Valley.

Kamru Fort on the way to Chitkul
Kamru Temple on the way to Chitkul
Misc. Trails & Meadows around Sangla:--- There are loads of trails in these apple orchards which can be hiked around while your stay in Sangla Valley. There are some lovely meadows too (one near Rakcham village as I remember) as well which can be visited or spent time to bask in the lap of pristine mother nature. 

Batseri village to Sangla Village  :---- 

Distant View of Batseri village. 
Sun set @ Batseri. 
Old Temple @ Batseri

Devta Shri Badri Narayan ji and Devta Shri Vishnu Narayan ji at Batseri village,Sangla.
walk of about 12 KMs through dense Cedar forests is also quite famous among people who love being midst nature and actually feel it. There is a Trout Fishery Farm on the other side of Baspa River near Sangla Village too which is nice to visit and can be covered in this walk itself. What better having a trout for yourself and later barbecue it over camp fire in the evening.

Now showing a series of pictures regarding the deplorable road conditon (through which we drove) of NH-22, from Rakcham to Powari village.

Deplorable condition of road from Karcham to Powari village

Powari is situated at an altitude of (8,500 feet) above MSL.
Aproximate Population of Powari village is (1,000)

 From Sangla we reched “Powari Village” via Karcham. Powari is about 45 Km from sangla. At Powari there is a "Y" junction at Nh-22, where one leads to Poo and Kaza  and the other leads to Rekong Peo and Kalpa.

Powari Village on NH-22 
At Powarin we took a detour on the right side of NH-22, that leads steep upwards to Rekong Peo town. Rekong Peo town is about 6 Km from Powari junction. 

It is situated at a height of (7,513 ft) above MSL.
It’s, 260 Km from Shimla. It’s population is about (7,500) people

As soon as we reached Reckong Peo town we visited the Tourism Dept information center, which is at the entrance of the town itself and we collected Himachal tourism brochures from Himachal Touriism office and more over inquired and collected information regarding our further onwards journey.

Reckong Peo is a very hustling and bustling town with full of activities of daily chores. The locals from this town as well as nearby villages were busy buying required house hold stuffs, medicines, clothes and other required grocery stuff for storing for the rainy days as well as for winter season. The government officials were buys with their day to day official work. In this town there are district administrations offices such as DC office, SP of police’s office, Degree College, full fledges Hospital and the town is full of Hotels who cater to the needs of the tourists. The whole town is swarming, crowded, busy and noisy.

Reckong Peo, is simply known as Peo by the local inhabitants. It is headquarters of Kinnaur district. Reckong Peo is named after a community of people who used to own this place in ancient times.

Earlier Kalpa was the headquarters, but later it was changed to Reckong Peo. 

From Powari, entrance to Rekong Peo Town. 

Main street of Rekong Peo.
One of the government Official Buldings
 Main taxi satnd  area at Rekong Peo
Brief History
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 Kund.

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. It is at an altitude of 2,290 meters above mean sea level.

Summers in the town of Reckong Peo are very moderate, and this is the finest time to visit the town of Reckong Peo. However, the winters are too cold.  The maximum temperature in this time will range nearly (25°C) and the minimum temperature remains nearly (-10 °C). The best time to visit Reckong Peo is from March to June and from September to December.

A brief introduction of places to visit in Reckong Peo

(Chandika Temple)

Chandika Temple

Chandika temple is perched at a distance of nearly 3 kms away from Reckong Peo, Chandika Temple is dedicated to deity Chandika.

“Khab” –

 Road to Khab. 

 Khab Village
It is 2831 m from Reckong Peo. Here River Spiti confluences with River Sutlej. A little bent from here takes one to Tashigang Gompa. 


Pictures of Kalpa Village

Kalpa is a small hamlet at an elevation of 2960metres in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. This place is at a distance of 13 kms from Reckong-Peo. From Kalpa we can get views of three peaks: Jarkanden (6473m), the Kinner Kailash (6050 m) and Roldang (5499m).

Places to Visit Around Reckong Peo district

Bhaba Valley - Bhaba valley is known for its thick forests and lush green flower scattered meadows. It serves as a perfect base for trekking to the various regions situated close to the valley. 

Kinner Kailash - 

Majestic Panoramic view of Kinner Kailash from main Hindu temple and adjusant Buddhist Monastery at Kalpa

Kinner Kailash mountain Peak is (21,386 ft) above MSL.
 Kinner Kailash is a mountain range in Himachal Pradesh, at an elevation if 6500 mts above sea level and is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists. It's very difficult to reach Mount Kinner Kailash. 

Chango – 

Distant view of Chango Village. 

Main entrance gate to Chango village
It is 123 kms from Reckong Peo. Chango is famous for the quality of its apples that grow in its dryness and low temperature.

Leo – 
Leo is a small village with an old temple dedicated to the local deity, Tangtashu. It is 105 kms from Reckong Peo.

Kanam – This village is famous for its beauty, Buddhist Monastery, local deity Dabla-shu etc. 

Moorang –It is 33 kms from Reckong Peo. It is an attractive village with apricot orchards all around. There is an archaic fort in Moorang which is believed to be built by Pandavas.

Ribba – It is 23 kms from Reckong Peo. It is famous for it's vineyards, orchards and the local wine ‘Angoori’. 

Pooh - 

Distant view of Poo village
The main attraction of Pooh is a Buddhist temple dedicated to Sakyamuni or Lord Buddha

Nako – 

Aerial view of Nako Lake.  

Panoramic view of Nako village
It is well-known for Nako Lake and Monastery.

My this Blog to be continued in the next chapter

Blog Link of my previous chapter--(4)

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