Visiting Kinnaur and spending some time with the locals was high on my bucket list for a long time. Finally, I got a chance to check out the Chitkul village in Sangla valley before our Lamkhaga Pass trek in May 2017, thanks to the impeccable planning of Gautam Baliga ji. On the 18th of May, Gautam, Aashish and I boarded the only Shimla to Sangla(altitude 2300m) direct bus to reach our destination for the day – the Sangla valley.
After an 8 to 9-hour journey on the HRTC bus, we reached Sangla at 5 pm. Tucked in the lower Himalayas in the district of Kinnaur, the Sangla valley is one of the most picturesque valleys in Himachal, located around 25 km away from the Indo-Tibet border. Sangla derives its names from a Tibetan word Sangala which means “passage of light”.
We checked into Baspa guest house in the valley and after a few minutes of break, we headed out to explore the Sangla valley. After 10-15 minutes of walk, we reached the Bairing Nag temple.
After reaching there, we came to know that outsiders are not allowed inside the temple. But it’s still worth a visit for the amazing exteriors of the temple and the peaceful surroundings.
A few hours into Sangla, I could feel that the best thing about this place is not just the beauty of it, but also the most friendly and amazing locals in this place. We had a great time in the Bairing Nag temple playing a game of volleyball with the kids and clicking pictures with the locals visiting the temple.
The next day, we visited the Sangla Buddha temple/monastery. One of the monks in the monastery had done a part of his monk studies in Bylakuppe, and he got immersed into a long chat with us after he came to know that Gautam and Aashish were from Bangalore. With our visit to Sangla happening just after the release of Baahubali-2, it was evident from our conversation with monks that the Sangla valley was no exception to the bahubali fever that had gripped the entire nation that time. The monks in Sangla told me how several locals in Sangla had traveled to Shimla to watch this movie as there were no theaters in Kinnaur.
If you are one of those traveling to Kinnaur. no matter how much packed your itinerary may be, you must take a day off to explore the beauty of Sangla and Kamru. Sangla is undoubtedly one of the most idyllic spots I have visited in Kinnaur, thanks to the natural beauty and the super amazing locals there.
Places to visit:
Bairing Nag Temple Sangla Buddhist Monastery Kamru
Reaching Sangla Valley
Sangla is 360 km from Chandigarh and the travel may take 15 to 16 hours. Delhi to Sangla is approx 580 km. Below is the approach route for Sangla: Shimla ⇒ Kufri ⇒ Fagu ⇒ Narkanda ⇒ Rampur ⇒ Jeori ⇒ Tapri ⇒ Karcham ⇒ Sangla Public transport: There is a Chandigarh-Shimla-Sangla daily direct bus that starts from Shimla at 6 am. 2-3 buses also start from Reckong Peo for commuting within Kinnaur that stops at Sangla.
After a long delay, finally posting pics of our winter trip to Kalpa, Charang Village & the Charang Rangrik Monastery. Charang village is the last village on the Indo-China Border. The last ITBP post is located in this village.
Winter in Kinnaur
For the city folks, the village offers a complete escape from the busy city life. No network coverage — bosses can’t call you. For a comfort trip seeker, I will recommend Charang only during summers. In winters, with the temperature plunging to about -15 ºC & heavy snowfall blocking all the roadways for weeks — the place is either for the brave hearts or for ignorants like us.
Hikes around Chini village of Kalpa valley
We reached Reckong Peo early in the morning and headed for a beautiful Chini village in Kalpa. We strolled there for an hour or two and visited Kalpa Buddhist monastery and newly built Narayanas temple. We spent the rest of the day at a friend’s place in Reckong Peo and took rest after 12 hrs enduring journey in the Chandigarh-Reckong Peo HRTC bus.
Unnamed peak on Kinner – Kailash mountain range
Newly renovated Kalpa Narayanas temple
View of the valley , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Roof of the Kalpa temple , Kinner Kailash peak (6050 m) in background
Chini village , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Chini temple , Kalpa , Kinnaur [Winter 2015]
Unnamed peak on Kinner Kailash mountain range
Snowy mountain tops above Barang village , Kinnaur
Jorkanden peak and adjoining peaks on Kinner Kailash Mountain range
Hiking to Kalpa football ground, Kinnaur
Snowball fighting on Kalpa football ground, Kinnaur
Chini village Kalpa, Kinner Kailash mountain range in background [Winter 2015]
Snowballing and Killing time, Kalpa football ground, Kinnaur
Reckong Peo to Akpa Check post bus ride & Long walks along the NH-05
Now coming to our next day’s experience I consider this as an achievement. Trekking on steep slopes for 20 km on snow for 8 hrs continuously. With no one to your rescue walking endlessly with those baby steps on snow…having no idea that we will be alive in the next 1 hr or not. We missed the early morning Reckong Peo – Thangi bus and had to take another bus which dropped us near Akpa check post around noon. We started walking along the highway, reached Moorang around 1 PM and took a taxi to Lambar ( the last motorable stop) in winters.
Walking the Himalayas , near Moorang bridge , Kinnaur
Moorang village, Tidong valley, Kinnaur [Winter 2015]
Slippery road near Moorang on National Highaway 05 [Winter 2015]
Moorang bridge, Tidong valley, Kinnaur
Moorang to Thangi village taxi ride & the long hike to Charang village
We started the trek from Lambar at around 3 PM and reached Charang at about 11 pm. In the 20 km stretch, there were only three of us walking continuously. Because in that extreme weather a comma means full stop. If you stop you will freeze within minutes. At about 5 pm there was complete darkness…and even a slight sound nearby will flash images of a snow leopard or wild bears in your mind. Trekking in the night without a torch..the only thing to our rescue was the moonlight and the marks of the steps of the ITBP jawans on the snow…which kept us hopeful that we are heading in the right direction. Each one of us was having plenty of dry fruits but none of us was having the energy to stop & take those out of the bag. We were three friends Pawan Ranta, Amandeep Dhiman & myself. There is one ITBP post on the way to Charang which served as a base camp to the post at Charang. Thereafter traveling for about 14 km we got some warm water to drink. That warm water was like ‘amrit‘ and we thought that “ab hum bach jayyenge“. We stayed there for 15 to 20 minutes & then about 8 pm we started our trek to Charang with new hope & determination…but then again after traveling for about 1 km, we were regretting that why we didn’t stop there & request those ITBP jawans to allow us to stay there till morning. Now again, we were at the mercy of the mountains. We were not able to even speak….we were just moving & moving. During the complete trek, I was reciting God’s name and was hurling abuses & curses at Pawan who gave the idea of that trek. After traveling for another 6 km, there in the dark near the entrance of the Charang Village, were Sonu bhai, our savior standing there in the dark waiting for us. Sonu bhai took our backpacks and gave us new hope. And again we said ” Ab to lagata hai bach gaye“. Sonu bhai offered us shelter in their house offered food & saved our lives. Raante credit goes to you also. We sat near the bukhara and ate food thanking God for keeping us alive. I started chanting my daily mantras thanking God.