We were confused about where to go for the long break during Diwali.
Several destinations popped up and we kept vetoing each one, until my husband – the Humsafar 🙂 finally zeroed in on visiting Chitkul, the last village of India before the Indo China border .
The route we had decided was Gurgaon – Narkanda – Rakcham – Chitkul – Kalpa – Chandigarh – Gurgaon.
Although on paper it seemed like a whole lot of road travel, the smooth roads ( 85 % of the joirney ) and the unbelievable views ensured that we had a lovely journey.
One particular signage in the very beginning of our road trip caught my eye – we cut mountains to join hearts. It is definitely the hardwork put in by millions of labourers to create these roads that gives us access to visit such magnificent places in India.
This blog is going to be dominated by pictures ! So sit back and enjoy the visuals with a warm cuppa!!
Day 1 – Pitstop at Narkhanda
We arrived on Choti Diwali, checked into a property – Aaramgah, amidst Apple orchards, called it a night and went to bed.
We woke up the next morning to clear and a beautiful view of snow capped mountains belonging to the Dhauladhar, Zanskar and Trans Himalayan ranges.
After a sumptuous breakfast, we resumed to Rakcham. Enroute we could even spot the Srikant Kailash range.
Post 5 hours on the road we reached our Day 2 destination – Zostel Homes @ Rakcham.
Situated in the middle of apple orchards, with the Kinnaur range visible from the rooms, the location and the people made our stay here pleasant and memorable.
Somehow by coincidence we happened to reach during the harvest season of apples.
Apples hung in bunches from each tree . Golden apples and red apples everywhere.
Day 3 – Rakcham to Chitkul
On the way to Chitkul, the Kinnaur range appears too near to be true. The snow capped mountains apparently reminded my daughter of large brownies dusted with sugar!
Chitkul is well known for 2 reasons – it being the last village of India before the India China border and it being known for the purest air in India!
Upon reaching Chitkul, we explored the village and visited the local temple there. The door of the same was adorned with intricate wood carvings.
We then walked down to the bank of the Baspa river. The mineral content in this river bed make it look turquoise. We dared to touch the ice cold water of this glacial fed river and literally froze!
After our Baspa River meeting, we headed for a little walk in the Rakcham meadows. Surrounded by snow capped mountains, fall colours visible in the valleys and fur friends to follow us around , the afternoon was well spent.
The temperature begins to drop post 3 pm and it is also an indicator for us to return to our hotel. Most of the homestays in Himachal have limited or no network , they don’t have television sets but they do have board games and an unending supply of Masala tea and Maggi!!
Day 4 – Sangla valley and the Batseri village
Awarded multiple times for being the cleanest village, Batseri is situated on the banks of Baspa and overlooks the grand Rakcham Valley.
The fall colours are so clear that it reminded me of an old Microsoft Wallpaper. Himachal is India’s answer to the fall colours in America and cherry blossom in Japan!
This village is also home to the beautiful Badri Vishal temple, a very secular one at that. It has Hindu gods, Jesus and Gurunanak carved on their doors.
We stopped at Sangla for lunch. We didn’t really mind how the food tasted because the view compensated for it and how.
To digest the food we ate, we trekked about a kilometer uphill to the Khabru fort. The fort is believed to house about 330 crore gods. However we were just happy with the view from the top.
We were not just delighted to have made it during the Apple harvesting season, we were lucky that we could go and visit an apple packing unit. We saw the way apples were brushed using an automated brush belt with thousands of bristles. They were then packed into boxes and exported to differen places.
Day 5 – It was time for us to leave Rakcham and head towards our final destination – Kalpa, where we would be able to see the Kinnaur Kailash range at its best.
The roads made the journey more memorable. Cutting through the mountains, cruising at a speed of 60 kmph at a height of 9700 ft on single lane roads was scary and thrilling.
We checked into our hotel and the view from the hotel room was nothing short of spectacular.
The hotel had a cozy attic which also doubled up as a game room cum library.
However, apart from being able to view the Kinnaur Kailash peak from very close proximity, the sunset is what makes the visit special.
Sunset and the twilight zone are special visually and hold a lot of significance spiritually. After a comfortable night’s sleep, we headed back to Narkanda.
Day 6 – Kalpa to Narkhanda
We had booked a beautiful place upon recommendations from our friends- Majestic himalayan Homestay.
We were welcomed by Casper – a friendly fur friend whose love was unconditional.
The property was beautiful. We could see the Kinnaur kailash and spiti ranges from our room. The pink hues in the evening made it even more beautiful.
The morning views were just as good!
The property, the people and of course Casper made it very hard for us to say ‘bye’.
With a vow to redo the circuit again sometime in life we headed back to Gurgaon.
12 hours later, after loads of laundry , here I am writing while reminiscing the week that just went by….