Kinnaur, well known for it’s mouth watering crispy apples is a region of natural beauty and enchanting snow clad mountains. And when there is no snow, the mountain valley is covered with dense deodar forests and river side meadows.
People find it a daunting task to plan a trip to Kinnaur, but seriously it’s not dangerous. It’s a wonderful experience and you just need to plan properly and drive carefully. There is a dam construction happening, after Jeori, hence the damaged roads…
For Kinnaur Valley Travelling Guide and Itinerary Tips Click Here
Current Road Conditions: From Shimla to Sangla, the road conditions are good except for 2 points where you would need to negotiate a bit carefully on the broken patches. But from Sangla to Chitkul the road is narrow and you need to be prepared to drive on concrete steep roads along with some bumpy patches too. It would ideally take you 2 days to finally reach Spiti, so plan to break off in between.
From Chandigarh to Narkanda via Chail is 225 Kms: Narkanda has few good hotels to stay depending on your personal budget.Ideally people travelling from Delhi or Chandigarh opt to spend a night here to prepare for the long drive to Sangla and beyond.
Stay option: HPTDC Hatu Hotel is well maintained and offers a good view of the valley below and you can get a glimpse of the Kinner Kailash range. Special mention for the ample parking facilities too.
Route: Narkanda-Rekong Peo-Kalpa-Sangla-Chitkul
Narkanda to Sangla: 150 Kms
You are now travelling on NH22 also once known as Hindustan-Tibet road. The road has lots of twists and turns so drive safely and carefully. From Narkanda, you head to Rampur (fill up petrol) and then take a quick paratha break at a place called Jeori (90 Kms before Narkanda). After Jeori, the roads become a little messy and narrower.
Base of Sangla is Karchham, where River Sutlej receives water from its tributary River Baspa. The Drive from Karchham to Sangla is something you need to experience. Sangla is located along the banks of river Baspa, one of the most beautiful mountain rivers on North that later merges with the mighty Jhelum. Moving along crystal clear blue waters of Baspa with craggy rock, suddenly the nature changes and you without warning start seeing the wide and open Sangla Valley. Surrounded by mighty snow peaks and green dense forests make the view simply stunning.
Sangla is home to apples, so make sure to visit an apple orchard to pick a few yourself and feel the difference in taste. It is also recommended to visit the Trout Fish Farm and learn how the Trout are also being artificially breed here and are later introduced to its natural surroundings.
You may also like to visit the Tibetan Wood Carving Centre located near the Batseri Village. There are also 2 temples of Badrinarayan Ji and Vishnu Narayan Ji here. Buy wooden idols of gods and goddesses as souvenirs.
Rakcham: The village of Rakcham is located on the right to Baspa river and has houses made completely of wood. About 3 kms of Rakcham, there’s a beautiful picnic spot with a stream flowing and green meadows. During the Autumn season, the whole Rakcham area is covered in bright-reddish fields of ogla, a local grain. Before July, you can also cross the tail to 2 glaciers here and enjoy a day out in this beautiful place, devoid of tourists.
Shopping at Sangla: Besides Kinnauri shawls, dryfruits like Walnuts, Chilgoze (pine nuts), Almonds and Saffron can be bought and you can also ask around for local Tweed made n the villages nearby.
- Mount Kailash Guest House: Has 16 basic rooms and a restuarant.Tariff: 400-1000 INR
- Prakash Guest House: 9816283268, or 01786-242611, 01786-242218, 94182 75062
- PWD Rest House and HP Power Corporation Guest House. The PWD Resthouse is located just above the main bazaar. These can be booked via DC office Reckong Peo Contact: 01786-222252 Tariff: 250 and the caretaker can only cook dal-chawal depending on his mood!
- Kinner Camps: located 8 kms from Sangla at Kharogla has 20 tents and tariff includes meals and outdoor activities. Tariff: starting 3500 per person
- Banjara camps at Batseri: are quite popular among tourists and offers furnished tents and rooms and operated between April-October. Tariff: 6500-8100 INR Contact: 09816959904 Click here for an interesting blog on the camp.
- Baikunth Adventure Camp: Tariff: 6000 per person
Eat: At Sangla, try out Chilta, a dosa like dish made using buckwheat, grown in the Sangla Valley. It has high nutritional value and is staple to Kinnauris. The area is also popular for Tibetan food, but the taste may not be authentic.
Sangla to Reckong Peo 42 Kms
Situated at an altitude of 2,670 metres above sea level, Reckong-Peo is the administrative headquarters of Kinnaur District in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Local call it the ‘Land of Gods’ and is truly a treasure amidst the mighty mountains. The Shivling rock and the Kailash mountain are both visible from Reckong Peo. Known for its apple orchards, the stately deodars and the pine tree smell make Reckong Peo irresistible and an offbeat destination to visit.
Stay Options At Reckong Peo:
- Shambala Guest House: 01786-222852
- Hotel Shivling View(Bar&Restaurant): +919816282836,+919816737004
- Fairy land Guest House: 01786-222477
- Sairag Inn: 01786-223077Eating Options: Little Chef’s Restaurant offer good food and the kinnauri style rajma is worth a try.
Places To Visit in Reckong Peo
Chandika Temple at Kothi- Perched at a distance of nearly 3 kms away from Reckong Peo, Chandika Temple is dedicated to deity Chandika.
Kinnaur Kalachakra Celestial Palace: A steep 25 minutes walk uphill from the radio mast in the town takes you to Kinnaur Kalachakra Celestial Palace, a Mahabodhi Gompa of a height at 10m offers stunning views of Sakyamuni and the Kinner Kailash along with Jorkanden.
Excursions from Reckong Peo
- 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.
- Khab – It is at a height of 2831 m and 76 Kms from Reckong Peo. Here River Spiti confluences with River Sutlej. A little bent from here takes one to Tashigang Gompa.
- Chango – 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 its vineyards, orchards and the local wine ‘Angoori’.
- Pooh – The main attraction of Pooh is a Buddhist temple dedicated to Sakyamuni or LordBuddha
- Nako – It is well-known for Nako Lake and Monastery.
Sangla to Kalpa: 40 Kms
Reckong Peo – Kalpa (7 Kms)
This route is on NH22 and will have some difficult terrains after you cross Karchham but the roads are being regularly repaired.
Once you reach Kalpa, the stunning views of the Kinner kailash range will leave you speechless, to say the least. It’s after reaching Kalpa, that your journey till now will be worth every moment.
At Kalpa visit the Old Narayan Temple and the Buddhist Temple. It is also recommended to visit Roghi (just a 6 kms drive), a small village popular for its traditional Himachali styled wooden homes. Made using deodar wood and stone slabs, these homes are sturdy for the harsh winters.
The sacred Kailash Shivling rock that changes shades with the different times of the day can be beheld from here.
At a distance of 11 km from Kalpa a temple devoted mainly to goddess Chandika is situated. The finery and uniqueness of the architecture of the temple makes it a must visit spot when here. It is unlike that of any other temple in the city and the goddess’ idol, placed in the central shrine is instilled in gold which makes it magnificent as is.
Kalpa is surrounded with Pine trees and is a place to relax and enjoy the majestic scenery it offers. The mountains are truly something out of a postcard and every where you look, you will be forced to stare a little more.
Kinner Kailash hotel, maintained by the HPTDC at Kalpa is decent and offers the following accommodations and also offers camping facilities between April-November: Connect with Baabhe at 09805628801 for best stay options.
- Hotel Kinner Kailash: has 13 rooms and offers good food options too unlike the rest of the valley. Contact: 01786-226159 Tariff:2200-6000 INR
- Kinner Kailash Cottages: 6 cottages Tariff:1500-2400
- Kinner Villa: was formerly the Chini Forest Bungalow and offer spectacular views from its rooms. Tariff:1400-1800 INR Contact: +91-9418036006/9805495656
- Hotel Rakpa Regency: Ph: 01786226587
- Blue Lotus: Contact Mr. Khokon Roy (09816188658) for booking.
Eat: Siddhu and Gobi Palda are authentic Himachali dishes to try out.
Shopping: Buy Kinnauri Shawls made out of yak or rabbit wool. Tibetan Cutlery can be bought from Reckong Peo and stock up on locally made preserves and jams made using fresh fruits and a variety of pickles made at village homes can also be bought from markets.
Sangla to Chitkul: 24 kms
Chitkul is the last Indian village on the Indo-Tibetan border and is perched high on Dhoula Mountain at a height of 3300 metres above seas level. The drive to Chitkul is quite breathtaking offering good views of the valley around, Baspa river flowing along the road and abundant in greenery with willow, popular and deodar trees.
Chitful has 3 temples dedicated to Goddess Mathi, said to be constructed over 500 years ago and an archaic tower. Pleasant walks lead up the hillside behind town for great views or you may head upriver for 3 kms to Nagasti, the Indo-Tibet Border Road (foreigners not allowed) to get a full view of Rani Khanda Peak.
Kids too will enjoy the trek offering beautiful scenery all around and the mighty mountains just across you. Stop by an abandoned bunker and do remember those who live to safeguard us.
From Chitkul, the adventurous could opt to trek to Yamnotri or Harsil.
- Chitkul PWD Guest House: is the only bed & breakfast option but the best place to stay) Contact: Raj Singh – 09459039727)
- Thakur Guest House: Basic but clean rooms Contact: +91-8988209604 , +91-8894464604
Bus Timings from Chitkul: Buses leave Chitkul for Reckong Peo (80 Kms and takes 3.5 hrs): 6.45 am and 1.30 pm
Another Bus to Rampur (150 Kms) goes Via Sangla (35 Kms and takes 1 hour)
Chitkul to Kalpa: 71 Kms
Chitkul to Rakchham: 10 kms from Chitkul
Chitkul to Karchham: 42 kms: mostly visited for the Dam, people travel on this route to also travel towards Kaza (224 Kms via Powari). And please keep in mind that Powari also is the last stop for fuelling your petrol/diesel tanks till you reach Kaza (approx. 170 Kms from Powari)!
Kalpa to Spiti Valley: 180 Kms: Many travel towards the Spiti Valley via Tabo (Spello), Khab, Malling and Sumdo. But the route may not be clear so do check with the local taxiwalas for latest road updates at kalpa. The State Highway 48 connects the Spiti Valley with the rest of India and you can easily join the Leh – Manali National Highway at Yari – Khoksar.