Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Sangla – Chitkul – Kalpa – Nako – Tabo (10,760 Ft)

DAY 3 - SANGLA- CHITKUL- KALPA

Again at 5:00 am I woke up and peeped out of the window. I could not see anything. It was all white…. fog everywhere… I could just not see anything. As if the huge mountains which were there till last night are not there today morning. As I could not see anything outside the window I went back to bed. And after ten mins there was a knock on the door. Pramod was up and wanted some company. Gradually everyone got up and we spend some time doing absolutely nothing.

Today we could travel at leisure – there was no need to start early as we won’t be covering much distance today. After a breakfast of delicious aloo parathas and curd we headed to Chitkul which is the last village on the Indo – Tibet Border. The drive was picturesque and mesmerizing. On our way we stopped over at a waterfall and clicked some pictures.


Bridge En-route Chitkul
Bridge En-route Chitkul

En-route Chitkul
En-route Chitkul

Madness en-route Chitkul
Madness en-route Chitkul
If you thought Sangla was beautiful, wait till you see Chitkul; it will sweep you off your feet. It is a very small village with hardly 100 houses and is surrounded by the impressive Himalayas and River Baspa flowing nearby. There is absolutely nothing to do at this place except enjoying the scenic beauty. The only sound that you will hear in this place is that of the flowing Baspa and birds chirping.


Chitkul - The last village towards Tibet
Chitkul - The last village towards Tibet

River Baspa at Chitkul
River Baspa at Chitkul (freezing cold water)
We headed towards the River bed and enjoyed a walk near the flowing river. Did our ritual of clicking loads of pictures till it started drizzling and the valley turned into heaven.

Since it was drizzling we decided to have a hot cup of tea and piping hot maggi at “The Last Dhaba of Hindustan”.

Once the weather had cleared we headed to the beautiful temple located behind the main road of Chitkul. The architecture of this temple is exactly like the Berinag Temple at Sangla. Chitkul remains close in winters due to snow and is very famous for its potatoes.


Temple at Chitkul
Temple at Chitkul

Close up of the temple, Chitkul
Close up of the temple, Chitkul
We were not ready to leave this place, but we had to head to another beautiful place in Kinnaur Kalpa. After a lip licking maggi and tea we hit the road again. For going to Kalpa, we had to head back to Sangla, reach the bridge near Karchamm and then follow the road to Sangla.


View en-route Kalpa
View en-route Kalpa
We had earlier decided to visit Kamru Fort in Sangla on our way back from Chitkul but we gave it a miss as we wanted to reach Kalpa in day light.

We had our lunch at Reckong Peo which is the district head quarter. You can also indulge yourself in shopping of Kinnauri Caps and Shawl.


Reckong Peo Market
Reckong Peo Market
After lunch and a bit of shopping (Alas!) we were again charged up for the beautiful town Kalpa. Once you reach the main market of the Recong Peo, there is a road that goes left, further uphill. Take this road and you will reach Kalpa roughly after 10 kms from here.


Reckong Peo - Snapshots
Reckong Peo - Snapshots
Kalpa is again located at a height and offers breath taking views of the Himalayas. Kalpa is famous for apple orchards and scenic beauty. The town boasts of a temple (same architecture as in Sangla & Chitkul) and Lochawa-La-Khang (Samdub Choeling) monastery. We had booked Hotel Golden Apple in Kalpa which was a very comfortable stay. We had a Himalayan mountain view facing room and the size of the room was huge, bigger than any room we had stayed in this trip so far.

We barely had an evening in Kalpa and I was not too hopeful of accomplishing much. After a much needed tea and coffee break, we strolled towards the town. It was very cold and windy. And we all had our woolens and caps on. The Peaks of Kinner Kailash were in full glory in Kalpa. After a twenty mins walk we reached the Buddhist monastery. It was the first Monastery which we saw in our trip… (many more to follow). We decided to first head to the Kinnaur style Temple which was a little further away. The way to the temple is through the school’s compound. The temple was again made in wood and huge. Since we arrived around 7 pm it was already closed and thus we could see it only from outside.


Kalpa
Kalpa

View from Kalpa
View from Kalpa

Mesmerizing Himalayas, Kalpa
Mesmerizing Himalayas, Kalpa
On our way back we stopped over at the Monastery. You need to climb four five steps and you will see the white colored stupa. On the right side of the Stupa is the monastery, which is lined on all four sides with prayer wheels.


Monastery at Kalpa
Monastery at Kalpa

Stupa at Kalpa
Stupa at Kalpa

Temple at Kalpa
Temple at Kalpa
Like all the monasteries it was very colorful with lots of ghee lanterns. There was a huge prayer wheel just when you enter the monastery on the right side. You can feel your body relaxing once you are inside the monastery.


Ghee Lanterns at Kalpa Monastery
Ghee Lanterns at Kalpa Monastery
After spending some time at the monastery we walked back to our hotel where we had a warm soup and a scrumptious dinner.

Sangla and Kalpa are two places where we saw some breathtaking views of the Himalayas. These two towns are perfect places to find solace amidst Himalayas. I wish I could have spend more time here, doing nothing, just wandering here and there and taking in the view of the mountains which keep mesmerizing you every second.

DAY 4 - KALPA- POOH- KHAB- NAKO- SUMDO- TABO

As usual I got up early morning and peeked out of my window and what I saw outside left me speechless. I was out of my room with my camera in a jiffy and heading to the terrace. Once up there it took me a while to switch on the camera because I didn’t want to stop looking at the beautiful landscape in front of me. It seemed so surreal I didn’t want to blink even once… 


Early morning view from Hotel at Kalpa
Early morning view from Hotel at Kalpa

Kalpa
Isn't it breathtaking beautiful??

Kalpa
I wish I could stay here forever
Finally after a while I switched on the camera (when I could not bear the cold any further) and took some pictures. I went on clicking to get the perfect picture but moments like these can never be captured in images, they can just be experienced. 

After taking some pictures I headed down to wake Nikhil and Nikki.. to see the beautiful gift nature has given us early morning.

Today, we had a long distance to cover, therefore we started early. Once again we had to travel back on the same road to the point where we took the turn at Reckong Peo. Once back on the highway, we headed towards Pooh (no connection whatsoever with Winnie the Pooh). The roads were a disaster. They were typical mountain roads, with lot of wear and tear due to continuous landslides.


Confluence of Sutlej and Spiti
Confluence of Sutlej and Spiti
On our way we crossed the point of confluence of River Sutlej (from China) and River Spiti. 


Hair Pin bends
Hair Pin bends

View En route to Nako
View En route to Nako
After Pooh, the roads were again smooth. Pretty soon we found our self amidst rock mountains and hair pin bends.


En-route Tabo
What a view

En route Tabo
Clear Blue Sky
It was after Khab that we had a tire puncture. We reached Nako around lunch time.. Nako has nothing much to offer other than Nako Lake. It is a very small and silent village. The Lake is actually a pond with emerald color water.

Nako Village
Nako Village

Nako Lake
Nako Lake
We were all a little disappointed after the Nako Lake. Very near Nako we stopped over for a simple lunch of rajma and chawal. Since we had used our spare tire, our driver asked another tourist Innova (our driver knew that car’s driver) to accompany us as they were also heading to Tabo. On our way to Tabo we got our spare tire rectified and we were now good to go.

Near Nako
Near Nako

Lunch near Nako - Rajma Chawal and Onion..
Lunch near Nako - Rajma Chawal and Onion..
A few kms before Tabo, we came across a cemented gate on our right which heads to Gue Village. Gue is famous for a 650 year old mummy and is worth a visit. From the gate it is an 8 kms drive and the mummy is placed on a hill top and is hard to miss. After visiting the mummy and taking few pictures we drove back 8 kms till the cemented gate and headed to Tabo.

Gue - Mummy & Monastery
Gue - Mummy & Monastery

Gue Village
Gue Village
Primary attraction of Tabo is a 1000 year old monastery and it is because of this monastery that Spiti came on the Travel World Map. There are many guesthouses to stay at Tabo including a guest house of the monastery. Tabo is located in the middle of the sand mountains and it had more foreigners than Indians.

We all were tired after a long day on road, so we decided to relax and visit the monastery tomorrow morning. We had tea and snacks in the guesthouse and then headed to our every evening ritual of transferring pictures and videos on Pramod’s laptop and seeing the same.

After seeing all the pictures of the day we again headed downstairs for dinner. Tonight was the first night when Nikhil faced problem sleeping because of the altitude. He tried sleeping with his head raised by putting extra pillows under his head; he tried sleeping in a sitting position. It was a bad night for him.

Points to Note:


  • Book an Innova or a Xylo for a comfortable travel. As the roads are bad travel in Sumo or Maxx can be cumbersome.
  • Although the distance between places (at times) is not far because of the rough terrain it takes a considerable time to go from one place to another. So plan accordingly.
  • It is advised to start your day early and reach your destination while it is daylight. Please avoid driving once the sun sets. Driving in dark can be very dangerous.
  • Please carry warm clothes including sweater, jacket, cap, mufflers, socks and gloves. Wear shoes and not sandals or chappals.
  • Be easy on steps and while walking. Avoid brisk walk or running at high altitudes as the oxygen level is low.
  • If you are feeling mountain sickness have chocolate or popcorn. It helps. Make it a point of sipping in water regularly.
  • Please don’t litter and maintain the beauty of nature.
  • In Kalpa we stayed at Hotel Golden Apple and in Tabo at Hotel Tiger Den. The rooms are huge in Hotel Golden Apple with beautiful view from rooms and terrace. The monastery and the temple at Kalpa are ten mins walk from the hotel. The rooms in Hotel Tiger Den are small but it is very close to Tabo Monastery. Tabo, as such, is a very small village.
  • Don't miss taking the extra drive to Chitkul from Sangla. Its worth the drive. The views are beautiful.
  • You can stop at Nako for lunch and can see the lake. Also, before Tabo take a turn and drive extra 8 kms to see the mummy at Gue. 
  • Don't forget to stop over and appreciate the views. After all the journey is as important as the destination.