Long weekend at Kinnaur Valley (Kalpa, Sangla, Chitkul)

Discussion in 'Travelogues from North India' started by Sayantan.geo, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Sayantan.geo

    Sayantan.geo TRAVELER BABA

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    For the last three years, we are going to the Kinnaur valley during Holi (the Indian festival of color). We exactly don’t know why, because neither we have any relative(s) there nor we go there to celebrate holi! So why do we go there? – Let us keep this aside for now, as I’ll try to answer this question through this travelogue. But more importantly, this small write-up will also provide some basic guideline on how you can plan your trip to the Kinnur valley, especially if you are interested in experiencing Kalpa, Sangla and Chitkul. These are great long weekend (4-5 days) destinations (starting from Delhi/ Chandigarh) and one thing is for sure, you can do it, on your vehicle (any type of vehicle), with your family (and of course with friends) and enjoy!

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    #at Kalpa

    Kalpa, Sangla and Chitkul need no introduction to the seasoned travelers. However, if you are thinking of exploring these places for the first time, on your car, or in a rented vehicle, and/or with family, or with little kids or older people, then it is better to get an overview of the places. There are plethora of sites which will provide you some information on the places, including tour packages, hotel information and so on. Read them if you wish to, but do not get scared about the information about the road conditions, bad weather or the remoteness. Yes, the road is bad at times, the weather can get worst in some months and the remoteness can be subjective to, well- your idea of ‘remoteness’. Here are my take on the trip.

    (a) Time of travel- Kalpa and Sangla remain accessible throughout the year (mostly), whereas Chitkul remains close due to snow cover in the winter months. So if you want to enjoy snow, but do not want to get stuck, go there before or after the harsh winter. Want more adventure? Full winter has plenty to offer- just keep some buffer days, as the roads might get blocked for few days due to weather adversities. Not an issue I guess, as it adds up to your adventure buffet.

    (b) Road condition- varies. Winter has snow, monsoon has rains. Rest of the time – they are a mix of good to little less good roads. Not something scary, but you may encounter mild off roads in places depending on the local weather, landslides and so on. Rest assured that your car will go, as most of the locals has Alto, Santro or similar small capacity low ground clearance cars. A good way to know if roads are accessible or not- is to call any local hotel number. Google them! J

    (c) Places to stay – Many! Especially in Sangla and Kalpa. But Chitkul has limited options, with some budget and some little premium properties. The basic ones are about Rs.500 (can go up to Rs.800 in season). The facilities are also basic, but this is not so much of a ‘resort destination’ as of now. The other ones are better in terms of comfort, and come with little extra cost. More hotels are coming up in all the places, so you can expect a ‘touristy makeover’ in the years to come.

    (d) Remoteness- Well, as you already know (I’m sure you do) Chitkul is the last village of India. So it is remote. But again- there are more remote places in India. Moreover, Chitkul is one of the closet last village of India, so not so far in my opinion. So, do not get bogged down by the ‘tag line’.


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    #Chitkul
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    #drive towards Narkanda (March 2017)

    So with the little bit of rather technical intro, let me start the journey. It’s not a regular travelogue in a way, as I am going to compile my memories from the last three trips. So here we go…
     
  2. Sayantan.geo

    Sayantan.geo TRAVELER BABA

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    Day 1: Always at Narkanda

    For the last three years, we end the first day of our journey at Narkanda. It is reasonably drivable from Delhi and importantly, not so crowded like Shimla. Moreover, by the time we reach, there is still some amount of daytime left to see walk around. The key is to start early, let’s say by 4-5 am so that you can reach there around 3-4pm.
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    #view from Fagu (2018)

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    #view from the homestay (March 2017)

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    #view from the homestay (2018)

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    #On Hatu Mt. (2018)

    There are couple of stay options, but we stayed at the ‘Hatu Home Stay’ run by Mr. Sukh Dev ji and his family. It is little isolated with amazing views of the valley. The home made food will add on to the home-stay feel for sure. Take some time to come to the balcony at night, switch off the room lights and enjoy the night sky, floating clouds and twinkling starts. The dimming lights from the far off villages will dance slowly as they pass through the wind to reach you. Some night owls or wild animals occasionally tell you that you are in their territory. Take a deep breath of fresh cold air, before you say good night!

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  3. Black Pearl vkd

    Black Pearl vkd Don't Stop, You are just a step away.

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    wow...
    all the pictures are amazing

    you completed this trip with renault Kwid?
    how did kwid performed in hilly and snow area?
     
  4. Sayantan.geo

    Sayantan.geo TRAVELER BABA

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    Hi, Thanks for the complements! Yes, I did complete with Kwid- not once, but all three times. So I guess, that will tell you about its performance. No issues at all. Planing to go there again.
     
    adsatinder and Black Pearl vkd like this.
  5. sat kmr

    sat kmr Active Member

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    Amazing pics. Waiting for more

    Sent from my Micromax AQ5001 using Tapatalk
     
  6. gkapoor

    gkapoor Well-Known Member

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    Super! Been there twice, cannot wait for another chance.
     
  7. asheshr

    asheshr Super User

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    Amazing pics and log...waiting...
     
  8. Sayantan.geo

    Sayantan.geo TRAVELER BABA

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    Day 2: Sangla and Chitkul

    Good morning! It’s a new day, but there is a long travel ahead, so no time to relax. Of course you should, if you have an extra day in disposal. I’d recommend you to go to the Hatu top, to get an amazing 360 view of the place. In case you cannot afford an extra day, start early.

    We started from Delhi a day before Holi to avoid the mad rush of crazy people on the roads. That means today is holi and that means two things for you. One, the roads will be comparatively empty as it’s a holiday for all. Second, the roads won’t be empty forever, as everybody will come out, let’s say from 10am onwards to play holi. So we started early and here I’d recommend one thing. Take the Thanedar route, instead of the main conventional way towards Rampur. The road via Thanedar meets with the main road few kms before Rampur. Why? – because its more scenic and the narrow windy roads through the villages are full of cherry blossoms.

    Enjoy the morning drive along Sutlej and soon you’ll cross Rampur. I’d suggest drive a little more, up-to Jeori, which is another 24kms. It is a perfect stop for breakfast. Last two times, we started form Narkanda around 6 in the morning and reached Jeori around 9. There is a Lama Dhaba at Jeori, just on the main road and we enjoy their paranthas, momos and simple nature of the owner. If you think you need to fresh up, there is a pay and use toilet opposite to the dhaba. Interestingly, there is a chicken shop on the first floor (top of the toilet). Buy some, as Chitkul has limited supply of them. Please ignore the last sentence, if you are a ‘vegan’ :p
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  9. GHASGHASE SANTOSH SHRIPAL

    GHASGHASE SANTOSH SHRIPAL Active Member

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    Hi
    Amazing pics and Narration.Kwid near waterfall is really awesome.
     
  10. Sayantan.geo

    Sayantan.geo TRAVELER BABA

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    Continued..

    Sometime after Jeori, you’ll encounter the famous gateway to Spiti- the rock arch! Take pics and move on, as the road is narrow and the oncoming traffic can come fast through the corners. There will be some more interesting sections soon after that, where you may stop to take pictures. The vertical rocks and the curved out road is my favorite place to stop for the while.

    Cross Wangtoo, drive down another 10kms or so and you’ll come to a small village named Tapri. Refill your tank and move head. Another 6-7kms on the beautifully laid tarmac, you’ll see the Karcham dam. This is the bifurcating point where the main road goes towards Spiti (as well as Kalpa, our next day destination) and the road on the right – towards Sangla and Chitkul. Cross the dam, drive 500mts and there is a bridge on the left, Cross that and the accent towards Sangla starts. Let others enjoy the view, but concentrate on the road, if you are driving. The road is narrow and steep. Don’t get scared thought. Let me tell you why!

    On our first trip to Sangla, back in 2014- we gave lift to a local lady. After a while, she told us that whosoever drives on this road (the non local cars) gets scared of the height and steepness of the road. But she way little amazed- why we are not scared! I smiled and replied- look, it doesn’t matter if we fall off now or little later (when the slope is somewhat gentle), the results will be same- we’ll all go down, and then go up straight! So let us all enjoy the journey as long as we are alive! – No wonder, she was speechless for quite some time from then on and spoke only before she had to get off ! We were not sure whether she was enjoying the road or thinking that I am overconfident! But it worked- every time I go there, I smile now and move ahead. You should too as there is an amazing valley waiting for you on the other side!
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