Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Guest post by Lakshay Gumbher

Kinnaur - The Land of gods, The Land of Strong culture and beliefs, The land of fairy tales and fantasies.

Undecided to travel alone, finally I took a bus to Shimla and further cab to Rampur and again Bus to Kinnaur. It was the one of longest journey I have ever done. Multiple modes of transport including auto, around 12 buses, cabs and campers thats how I happened to visit various places in Kinnaur. This long journey was worth lifetime and if I had more time I would love to travel more.
As soon as I entered Kinnaur, backdrop started to change to a drier and extreme with Rocky Mountains, deep, narrow valleys and steep slopes.
First stop in Kinnaur was Babha Nagar from here I started to babha valley and Kafnoo with few local friends. Valley is located along the river Babha and has a splendid picturesque, reservoir lake and alpine meadows. Kafnoo is the Base Camp for Babha valley Pass and is the last road head. No wonder, its amazing beauty makes it an ideal place for the tourists and trekkers. Trekking route begins from kafnoo and leads to Muling, which is almost (5-6) hours walk including a steep climb through the forests of pine, birch and cedar. Enroute was covered with heavy snow. We just covered half the way to Muling and came back to Kafnoo. Night stay at little wooden kitchen can beat any luxurious stay. We cooked our food, did bonfire around traditional chullah and had a cozy sleep there.

In morning we started journey to Sangla and Chitkul. Sangla is a small town located between Karcham and Chitkul from about 20 kms from Karcham. The town itself is a concrete town with small shops, some hotels and restaurants. As I stepped out of the Bus I had amazing views of snow-capped peaks and took few pictures. Though I didn’t spend much time there but I am sure there would be lot more to explore down the valley of Baspa River. Next stop was Rackcham, beyond this point transport was hard to find but we were lucky enough to catch a Camper which was going to Chitkul.
Chitkul a small village with the little population surrounded by snow capped Himalayas on one side and Baspa River flowing on the other. It is last village on India - Tibet route and one can encounter Dhaba clamming 'Aakhri hindustani Dhaba'. It adjoins Tibet on one side and Uttrakhand on other.

The moment I reached Chitkul, I was sort of awestruck. A spectacular sight of Chitkul village and its surrounding left me speechless. The Himalayas cover this village from all the sides and that view is breathtaking. Glaciers were close that we could easily reach out and touch them in the month of April. In centre of the village was Mata devi temple, beautifully wooden crafted temple, you can’t get off your eyes from such beauty. Walked around the village, found another solo traveler and we moved a kilometer further to top where we sat and enjoyed the beauty. Suddenly it started snowing. It seemed that nature is giving us a grand welcome in the village of Chitkul. After spending hour in snow we walked towards the homestay. Abhishek homestay what a beautiful wooden house it was. From a room window I could see it was snowing heavily now, so I decided to go out and take a walk for while. I walked around the village talked few locals clicked pics and came back. Now it was time to warm ourselves. House owner gave us local liquor called MOORI made out of wheat. Just few pegs did it all and we were High.

Next morning when I woke up and looked outside window it was still snowing. As we have to reach Kalpa and there was no transport today so we decided to move early. It was a walk to remember lifetime. No words can describe the feeling of being there. All covered in snow we walked 13 Kms till Rackcham. After that Changing cabs and buses we reached Kapla at 6 in evening. Strong culture and beliefs of both Buddhism and Hinduism prevails concurrently here. The only point of visiting Kalpa was to have a look at Kinner Kailash peak, but that came true next morning only. Early morning as I walked around village I could easily spot Kailash peak. This was spectacular sight early in the morning as the rising sun touches the snowy peaks with crimson and golden light. Snow laden peak was brighten up and looked amazing with first sun rays hitting on it.

Now it was the time to head back and most difficult part of journey. Finally I took bus to Chandigarh from Recong peo. While on the way I saw boards saying 'Shooting Stones. Be careful'. It became reality on the way. A huge part of mountain slided down on the road and road was all blocked. No transport could move to the other side. Authorities came and tried to clear the way but rocks were too huge so they decided to do blasting. After waiting for 1.5 hours I crossed to other side and decided to take another bus from there.

This journey ended here but a new journey started there as well, a journey of Wanderlust to come back again.