Spiti – Where Gods Reside: Day-2

 

Route: Bhaba Nagar – Wangtu – Tapri – Karchham – Sangla – Chitkul – Sangla – Reckong Peo – Kalpa

Total Distance Covered: About 150kms.

Time Taken: 7 hours

Highlights of the Day:

1. Watching the beautiful Kinner Kailash peak and other near-by snow clad mountains.

2. Taking 7 hours to complete 150 odd kilometers through some of the most treacherous route. The road in and around Sangla – Chitkul is in absolute peril, owing to the humongous hydro-electric project of Jaypee.

3. Feeling really bad for what this project has done to nature; it has really destroyed whatever beauty the area had.

4. Vodafone does not work in these areas. Aircel, Airtel and BSNL do. I really wondered why I use Vodafone.

Both of us knew that we had to reach Reckong Peo today where we were planning to stay for the night of Day-2. Another little plan that we had in our minds was to visit Chitkul which is arguably the last Indian village situated at the Indo-Tibetan border. It is the first village of Baspa valley and the last village on the old Hindustan-Tibet route. Also, our day-2 ride was through the Kinnaur Valley. For the uninitiated, Kinnaur is one of the twelve administrative districts of Himachal Pradesh. The district itself is divided into three administrative areas, namely, Pooh, Kalpa, and Nichar and has five tehsils. The administrative headquarter for Kinnaur district is at Reckong Peo, where we were supposed to camp for the night.

The ride through the Kinnaur valley can give you the jitters at times. It is in one way a good thing to be a little nervous as then you tend to concentrate more on the road ahead. ‘Road’ was a relative term after we left Bhaba Nagar. The potholes turned into rocks, bolders, sand, dust and everything else once we started the ride towards Sangla. Now, the Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Project by Jaypee is envisaged as run-of-the-river development on River Satluj. But, I really fail to see the significance of this whole project. Ofcourse, it might provide electricity to the power starved valley, but at what cost? The whole project has jeopardized the natural beauty of the land, and all one can see kilometers on end is dust, sand, broken or no roads, workers working at a feverish pace, state of the art Volvo trucks running like crazy from one end to the other and what not.

Amongst all this chaos, we two paved our way towards Sangla. The Jaypee project is spread out to about 20 odd kms. or so, but it seems much more than that. I was really disappointed in this stretch – both by the condition of the environment as well as the tarmac. Also, a fact to notice is the conditions in which the workers work. They inhale this dust and dirt day in and day out. The whole area gave me a sad look, really. Development as it turns out does not benefit everyone, really.

Anyway, we moved on towards our destination – Sangla and Chitkul. For going to Chitkul or Sangla, one has to take a diversion from the ‘main road’ that goes towards Reckong Peo/ Kalpa which was to be our destination for Day-2. 

As soon as we approached the wonderful Sangla valley, the views began to change dramatically from what we had encountered back at the Jaypee Hydroelectric project area. The Sangla valley is situated on the bank of Baspa river. The whole valley gives a stupendous view of the snow engulfed mountain ranges being covered by rolling steps of green and thick woods of pine and deodar. The Sangla valley is also commonly known as the Baspa valley after the name of the river. 

We rode all the way to Sangla where we took a break, had our breakfast and called friends and family to give them the latest update. Eventually, we moved on towards Chitkul. Now, the ride from Sangla to Chitkul is anything but boring. Not only the roads (or the lack of it!) are interesting, but the views are absolutely out of this world. There were a few water streams that we crossed enroute which were really fun, not to mention absolutely beautiful to look at too!

Slowly, but surely we reached Chitkul. The Baspa river, which is a tributary of the Sutlej flowing all through the wonderful ride, follows you close-by on the side. We spent a considerable amount of time in Chitkul taking in the views, and talking to the locals as well. We were amazed to see the number of Bengalis who had come there. Actually, this is another fact that is worth mentioning here. Bengalis are not really known to travel, but this view changed after our Spiti ride. Be it Chitkul, Sangla, Peo, Kalka, Tabo, Nako or Kaza, Bengalis were everywhere. We were really taken aback. I thought only a few of us (Bengalis) travel, but I was proved wrong this time, and how!

After spending quite some-time looking at the vistas, clicking pictures, having a little snack and ofcourse talking to the host of Bengalis present there, we decided it was time we moved on, as our destination was quite some distance away. We started downwards from Chitkul and the very thought of riding through the bad patch of roads near the Jaypee project disappointed me big time. However, we really had no choice, but to ride through. Rest of the ride uptil Reckong Peo was pretty uneventful, with a few butt and photography breaks in between, and informing people back home (friends and family) time-to-time about the latest developments.

We reached Reckong Peo late in the afternoon, at about 4pm or so. We had decided even before the start of this trip, that we would end our ride each day by 5pm max, as after that it is not really advisable to ride in these areas. Landslides occur on a daily basis and the BRO workers can always be seen hard at work, clearing away the rubbles, and the stones whenever and wherever there were ‘slides.

Now, Reckong Peo or simply ‘Peo’ as the locals call it is the capital of Kinnaur district, one of the twelve administrative districts of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located at a height of 2,670 metres, and is about 260 kms. from Shimla and 7 odd kilometers from from Powari. Earlier Kalpa was the headquarters which was later changed to Reckong Peo. Peo is named after the group of people who used to own this place in ancient times.

It is a proper town, with tourists, shops and a whole lot of hotels and guest houses that have sprung up in every corner of Peo. A little disappointed, we consulted the map and decided to move upwards by 7 kms. to reach a place known as Kalpa.

Kalpa is located about 7 odd kilometres from Reckong Peo, but it seems like it is located in a different world altogether. This small village is abuzz with friendly people who are really helpful and even invite you for a cup of tea and a chat to their home! The ride/ drive towards Kalpa is really beatiful. The scenery changes dramaticaly from the gorgeous valleys, green orchards of the mountains to some of the stunning gorges that you could experience. The Sutlej carves a deep chasm in the Great Himalayan range as it rages through Kinnaur, to meet the Baspa river, which is one of it’s tributaries, at Karchham.

From Kalpa, one can easily get the view of the mighty Kinner-Kailash range. The Kinner Kailash seems to watch over the small, quaint town of Kalpa. We were absolutely mesmerized by the atmosphere, by the fresh air, by the lack of tourist and by the wonderfully chilly atmosphere. There is a strange nip in the air; it makes you feel really good. If any of you ever decide to visit the Kinnaur valley, do not forget to go all the way upto Kalpa and stay there. It is really an experience in itself.

The guest house were we stayed was wonderful, yet so cheap. We paid about Rs.300/- for a night’s stay, which included a geyser, attached bathroom and even a television set. Now, this is what I call budget! The staff was friendly too. Actually, people of Himachal Pradesh are really innocent and very friendly. For us urban dwellers they might even seem like dumbs but seriously speaking they are a really wonderful lot. People are one of the reasons I find Himachal so good and attractive a place.

We were relatively less tired at the end of day-2 than day-1 but we were nevertheless tired. On top of that the dinner was served a little late because of some problems in the hotel kitchen. As a result we went to bed late at night, which would end up affecting our day-3 journey…

 

Kinnaur Dwar - the entrance to the Kinnaur valley

Kinnaur Dwar - the entrance to the Kinnaur valley

 

The Baspa river keeps you company all through the Kinnaur Valley.

The Baspa river keeps you company all through the Kinnaur Valley.

 

Enroute Chitkul

Enroute Chitkul

 

Near Sangla valley.

Near Sangla valley.

Sangla Valley.

Sangla Valley.

Sangla Valley.

Sangla Valley.

The Pulsar-200 dwarfed by the huge and utterly beautiful snow-clad mountains.

The Pulsar-200 dwarfed by the huge and utterly beautiful snow-clad mountains.

Chitkul - the last Indian village on the India-Tibet border.

Chitkul - the last Indian village on the India-Tibet border.

The Prayer flags...

The Prayer flags...

Chitkul

Chitkul

Macro, at Chitkul!

Macro, at Chitkul!

Towards Reckong Peo and Kalpa

Towards Reckong Peo and Kalpa

The cracket yet colorful walls.

The cracket yet colorful walls.

Kalpa village.

Kalpa village.

Melodramatically Dramatic!

Melodramatically Dramatic!

 The Contrast

The Contrast

 

Looming Large - Clouds hang overhead at Kalpa Village.

Looming Large - Clouds hang overhead at Kalpa Village.

The White Giants...

The White Giants...

The roads that lead to Heaven...

The roads that lead to Heaven...

 

Chitkul - the last Indian village.

Chitkul - the last Indian village.

Comments

  • ashish  On September 11, 2009 at 7:25 PM

    Hi…. “nature’s bst shots”…. m just in love with these pics…can u tel me which camera u used?

    Like

    • Bobby Roy  On September 11, 2009 at 7:39 PM

      Thank you so much Ashish. 🙂 I am glad you liked the picture. I use a Digital SLR (D-SLR) – the Canon EOS 400D with a few lenses.

      Thanks for visiting my travel blog, and taking time out to comment on it. I really appreciate it.

      Like

  • Himanshu  On November 28, 2009 at 12:24 PM

    Aryan sir, can a newbie biker ride on these roads? I meant is it too much dangerous for a new biker

    Like

    • Bobby Roy  On November 28, 2009 at 12:35 PM

      Hey Himanshu, I believe any one who knows how to ride a bike can ride. It’s just that he/ she needs to be extra cautious because of the road conditions. There are NO roads; only rocks, boulders and the likes!

      Like

  • Ashutosh  On May 14, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    Bobby, I am leaving there with my family on the 14th June from Delhi halting at Narkanda for 1 night, 2 nights at Kalpa and then on way back 1 night at Fagu. I must say the decision I took to go there was after reading your blog!! One thing i want to know is how is the route from Narkanda to Reckong Peo? Is the Kaypee DAM on this road or on one of the diversions?
    Secondly, I am with my two 5 year old kids so are there medical facilities in and around Kalpa just in case someone needs it?

    Like

    • vulpineshooter  On May 14, 2010 at 8:29 PM

      Hey Ashutosh, first up, I am glad that you took a decision to visit Kalpa/ Spiti region. That is hands-down one of the BEST places to visit in the whole of India, and I am sure you would agree to it, after you are back from the trip. Narkanda to Reckong Peo is a long route with beautiful views and stretches and with not so beautiful and good stretches as well. So, essentially, it is a mix of both.

      The JayPee Dam construction is bang in the middle, just before you take the diversion ‘up’ for Reckong Peo. It is a horrible piece of road (20 odd kms. or so), but nonetheless, it’s all worth it after you reach Reckong Peo and subsequently to Kalpa. 🙂 As for medical facilities, Kalpa won’t have much as it is a very small (and extremely BEAUTIFUL village), but Reckong Peo, just about 7-9 kms. down Kalpa is a major town which has everything available. So, availability of medical facility, telephones, internet connection, etc. isn’t going to be a problem. 🙂

      You enjoy your travel, and I also sincierly hope that your family and kids love the chilled weather and the beautiful vistas too. Once you are back, do share the experience. 🙂

      Like

      • Ashutosh  On July 22, 2010 at 8:01 PM

        Bobby,

        Went up there and as you say, it did turned out to be the best ride i ever had in the hills!!
        I did not take my kids (they insisted they stay with their grandparents in Chandigarh) but went with my wife. I also noted that going so high up Kids will not understand or appreciate the beauty much.
        Jaypee Dam route is now a little better with Wangtu to Karchham track though not laid with tarmac, is what you call a village track and Jaypee water tankers keep plying to spray water on the mud to keep it settled and not fly. Went to Chitkul as well and people were very nice and honest, no cheating or bad feelings. We stayed in Narkanda for a night, 2 in Kalpa (Kinner Kailash by HP tourism) and Fagu on way back. One thing though, for those of you who like to enjoy alcohol, Kalpa HP tourism hotel does not have a Bar license (very very strange) hence you need to carry your own lliquor. I learnt it hard way the first day and next day picked it up from Peo (not much variety though).
        Also the roads till Wangtu are fine now hence the stretch from Bhabha Nagar to Wangtu is also OK.
        But overall very very nice trip. Love to go to Kaza and dunno this place KAURIK which I kept seeing all the way on NH 22 milestones but could not search on net or find the significance of why it is written on these milestones

        . Perhaps it is Kibber as you mentioned which you went on day 5 of your trip.

        Like

      • vulpineshooter  On September 12, 2010 at 8:48 PM

        Great! Good to learn that you did this trip in such a wonderful way, Ashutosh. 🙂 Do share a few photographs with me, if you can. 🙂 I would love to have a look at them. All the best.

        Like

  • Vishal  On June 13, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    Hi , I have an optra diesel, can i use it for going to Kalpa or would you recommend some hired vehicle like a Innova

    Like

    • vulpineshooter  On June 13, 2010 at 11:17 AM

      Hi Vishal,
      Yes, you can ofcourse take your Optra Diesel to Kalpa. Roads till Kalpa are more or less very much accessible. 🙂 Have fun, and do let me know about your experience of that heavenly place once you are back.

      Like

  • Vikas Gurnani  On January 25, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    Dear Sir
    I am Planning to go to Kalpa on 22nd of March 2011. Can you tell me what would be the weather conditions at that time & if the roads are open to go there to Kalpa & Spiti Valley.

    Sir Can you also tell me that how much time it takes to reach from Kalpa to Spiti Valley by road.

    & is it possible for me to take my 2.5 year old child with me.

    Like

    • vulpineshooter  On January 25, 2011 at 11:11 AM

      Hi Vikas,
      Thanks for looking at the blog and commenting. Spiti is very much reachable during the month of March, but please be very cautious as it’ll be snowy conditions past Nako, I feel. Also, it is very much possible to take your 2 and a half year old kid with you. I don’t see any issues if precautions are taken. Kalpa and Spiti are two of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, and I am sure you would love that place too. 🙂 Enjoy, and please revert back if you need any further assistance. Thanks.

      Like

  • Vikas Gurnani  On January 25, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Sir can u tell me that how much time it takes by road from chandigarh to kalpa & from kalpa to spiti valley

    Like

  • Nilesh Malu  On July 14, 2015 at 8:06 PM

    Great Blog
    Can you help me with budget stay options with some contact details
    Sangla, kalpa, nako , kabo,

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheCanonFanboy  On July 14, 2015 at 11:32 PM

      Hi Nilesh, thanks for writing in. Although, I do not have specifics of any such hotel, but there are a LOT of hotels and guest houses for every budget. I did not pre book, just went ahead and inquired at a couple of guest houses and took the one which was cheaper and better value for money, overall. 🙂

      Like

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