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Smitten by Sangla village of Kinnaur

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Smitten by Sangla

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.

Mesmerizing views on the way to Sangla
Mesmerizing views on the way to Sangla

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”.

Sangla village temple campus
Sangla – A blend of culture and natural beauty

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.

Sangla Bairing Nag Temple
Sangla 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.

Some mind-blowing wooden work in Bairing Nag temple
Some mind-blowing wooden work in Bairing Nag temple
Amazing exteriors in the monastery in Bairing Nag temple complex
Amazing exteriors in the Buddhist monastery in Bairing Nag temple complex. Architecture of the temples in Kinnaur is a beautiful blend of Tibetan architecture and local Kath-Kuni architecture

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.

Meet the volleyball gang of Sangla Bairing Nag. Group photo clicked by Gautam Baliga
Meet the volleyball gang of Sangla Bairing Nag. Group photo clicked by Gautam Baliga
Gala time with kids in Sangla
Gala time with kids in Sangla
Local ladies of Sangla valley , Kinnaur
These young ladies in Sangla happily posed to our camera and selfies
The game of volleyball with kids in Sangla
The game of volleyball with kids in Sangla

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.

Sangla Buddhist Monastery gate
Sangla Buddhist Monastery gate
Inside Sangla Buddha Monastery.
Inside Sangla Buddha Monastery. Group photo clicked by Gautam Baliga

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.

Best time to visit Sangla:

Best months to visit Sangla village is from mid of May to early October.

Blog by Sandhya Sourirajan itravelnet.com – Travel directory.

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Lamkhaga Pass Trek Blog – May 2018 Expedition

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Chitkul to Harsil/Gangotri trek

Lamkhaga Pass (5282m) (Chitkul to Harsil), May 2018

The trek starts from the last village of Kinnaur, Himachal and ends at Harsil in the Gangotri valley of Uttrakhand. That is why, the Lamkhaga pass trek is also known as Chitkul to Gangotri trek or vice versa. 

This Himalayan high pass divides Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh from Uttarakhand in India.

Trek Route: The itinerary 

We followed the following route:

  • Day #1 : Chitkul to Rani Kanda
  • Day #2: Rani Kanda to Dumti
  • Day #3: Dumti to Gundar
  • Day #4: Gundar to Lamkhaga advance base camp (Kinnaur side) (One may break this climb till base camp 1 and next day to advance base camp…….we skipped)
  • Day #5: Advance base camp to Upper Kyarkoti after crossing Lamkhaga pass (Again, you may camp at Lamkhaga pass base camp of Gangotri side followed by trek till Kyarkoti…….we decided to continue beyond base camp and camp at upper Kyarkoti)
  • Day #7: Upper Kyarkoti to Kyarkoti
  • Day #8: Kyarkoti to Gangnani
  • Day #9: Gangnani to Harsil

This is a remote pass and very few groups have finished this. Thus it could be a good option for all those who love to visit the under-explored!

camping on Ranikanda meadows
First day camping at Ranikanda near Chitkul
Baspa Glacier. Chotakhaga pass is visible in the background.
Baspa Glacier. Chotakhaga pass is visible in the background.[Lamkhaga pass 2018]
Huge icicles near Baspa glacier ice cave
Huge icicles near Baspa glacier ice cave

Baspa glacier ice cave
Baspa glacier ice cave
Baspa glacier ice cave [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Baspa glacier ice cave
Climbing up to the Lamkhaga pass base camp
Climbing up to the Lamkhaga pass base camp
Water pumped out off the glacier beneath the tent
Water pumped out off the glacier beneath the tent……trying to reset the tents
Trying to dig out some water from beneath the glacier at advance base camp[Lamkhaga pass 2018]
Trying to dig out some water from beneath the glacier at advance base camp
View from Lamkhaga pass base camp
View from base camp
Baspa Glacier. Chotakhaga pass is visible in the background
Baspa Glacier. Chotakhaga pass is visible in the background.[Lamkhaga pass 2018]
Lamkhaga pass base camp [Lamkhaga 2018]
Lamkhaga pass base camp
View from the pass base camp [Lamkhaga pass May 2018]
View from the pass base camp
The almost vertical pass.........look at the tiny dots......they are trying to climb up
The almost vertical pass………look at the tiny dots……they are trying to climb up
Lamkhaga pass summit
Lamkhaga pass summit
View of Uttrakhand side glacier
View of Uttrakhand side glacier
Jalandhari Gad glacier
Jalandhari Gad amphitheater
Descending into the Jalandhari Gad
Descending into the Jalandhari Gad valley
Origin of Jalandri gad stream.
Origin of Jalandri gad stream. Jalandri Gad is a right bank tributary of Bhagirathi river

Meadows of Kyarkoti. Harsil valley Uttrakhand[Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Meadows of Kyarkoti. Harsil valley Uttrakhand
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Lamkhaga photostory: The Chitkul-Harsil Trek

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Lamkhaga photoblog

Lamkhaga Pass (5284m) is one of the most beautiful and challenging treks I’ve done so far. This 8-day trek connects the beautiful village of Chitkul in Sangla or Baspa valley of Kinnaur, Himachal to Harshil (Gangotri region, Uttarakhand) through some of the remote regions, usually not accessible for the civilians.

The amount of fresh, deep snow made hiking at higher altitudes extremely difficult. Spending two complete days navigating through knee level snow (& sometimes till the waist) was a gruesome process, but it’s the stunning mountain views that were truly the highlight of the trek!

Autumn in the Himalaya | Lamkhaga pass trek
Witnessing the onset of autumn in the Himalayas! Lovely contrast of fall colors against the snowy summits with clear blue skies, something I didn’t expect before the trek.
Lamkhaga climb | Lamkhaga pass trek
Lamkhaga climb | Lamkhaga pass trek
Day of crossing the pass | Lamkhaga pass trek
Day of crossing the pass: Probably the photo where you will find the least number of colors. You look around and everything is white. The sun rays above us were a sign of good weather but gave us a decent amount of Burns (coupled with the reflection of snow) which made us look like we just stepped out of a chimney!
The vista | Lamkhaga pass trek
When choosing to do at least one high altitude trek in the Himalayas per year, the main deciding factor for me, obviously, is the number of peaks in the trail. Next, wot I look for is different landscapes and terrains. It helps if we have more variety like this one: from lush Meadows, glaciers, large snowfields to high altitude deserts (devoid of vegetation)! This gives more options for landscape photography, even though this particular one is less perfect in terms of visual balance. But then that’s the challenge: you need to capture wot is out there!
Postcard perfect scenery | Chitkul | Lamkhaga pass trek
Postcard perfect scenery of Chitkul, Baspa valley Kinnaur.
The unnamed peak | Lamkhaga pass trek
With due respect to all religions, isn’t it easier to worship these natural wonders instead? Nature is the only thing we’ve got and gives you the reasons how we exist. There’s something God-like about the way these mountains stand out. I get the feeling that sometimes we are missing out on the obvious!
Crossing layers of snow | Lamkhaga pass trek
Crossing layers of snow.
The landscape | Lamkhaga pass trek
My personal favorite from the trek. It’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to capture the wide mountain vistas that you would think the best option is to put on a wide angle lens and cover everything. So often, a snippet is enough where the viewer can stitch the rest of the scene with the help of their imagination. Diffused lighting falling on dried grass, thanks to the optimum cloud cover, help bring life to the scenery.
Contours, textures and shadows of a mountain. | Lamkhaga pass trek
Contours, textures, and shadows of a mountain.
The baspa valley | Lamkhaga pass trek
This photo is a fine example of the impact political tension, between countries along international borders in the Himalayas, have on us. Just a few kilometers away from one of the last Indian villages along the border lies this beautiful valley. And it’s off limit to civilians. There’s a major chunk of the Himalayas which we will never be able to explore in our lifetime due to the same reasons. I’m concerned that my wish to see Nanga Parbat and travel Gilgit Baltistan will forever remain a dream.
And as I say this, there’s a small lump of cloud eager to get in the frame on a clear sky!
The mountain vista | Lamkhaga pass trek
Of all the things that give me a high, I would prefer one of the mountains’!
Boulder strewn trail | Lamkhaga pass trek
Moraine, glacier, snow, peaks, clouds and the sun factor: components of every high altitude Himalayan trek which make it otherworldly!
Bhagirathi river | Lamkhaga pass trek
30-second long exposure of River Bhagirathi, one of the main tributaries of Ganga. Even though it’s not my first time in the region of the Ganges, it’s the first time I had the gear to take a long exposure shot of this legendary River. If you want to see this River in it’s greatest and ferocious form, head to the mountains. Head to the point of origin where it flows out from a glacier snout in the surroundings of some giant peaks which would leave you speechless. And observe how nicely all the small streams and rivers flowing from every other mountain connects to this River to form the larger sum.
The snowscape | Lamkhaga pass trek
You can spot the human for a reference scale!
Unnamed peaks | Lamkhaga pass trek
Unnamed peaks
Perfect mountain vista | Lamkhaga pass trek
Perfect mountain vista
Lower Kyarkoti. Harsil Valley | Lamkhaga pass trek
Lower Kyarkoti. Harsil Valley
Unnamed peak on Kinnaur Garhwal range | Lamkhaga pass trek
Unnamed peak on Kinnaur Garhwal range

Blog by: Shyamal Bhat

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Blog Chitkul village Kinnaur Sangla valley Trekking

Kinnaur Kailash Trek Blog

Home » Kinnaur » Sangla valley

Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama Trek

Otherwise called Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama, this trek is circumambulation(parikrama) around holy Kinnaur Kailash Range.
Kinnaur Kailash is one of the 5 Kailash a Shiv Bhakt must-visit (others being Shrikhand Mahadev, Manimahesh Kailash, Adi Kailash, and Kailash Mansarovar).

Kinnaur Kailash itself has two important routes from the pilgrimage perspective.
1) Kinnaur Kailash Shivling – Which is around 4500M ASL, approachable
in a 10 day period only in August. This is a state-sponsored Yatra.

2) Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama aka Charang-La pass which is around 5200 Meters, which this album is all about. This is a very difficult pass crossing in June snow and scree conditions.

It is said the spirits of the dead walk amidst Rangrik peak in the vicinity of Kinnaur Kailash peak. Kinnaur Kailash itself is winter abode to Lord Shiva who conducts darbar for a class of mythological people called Kinnaurs (one who is proficient in music in Hindu Mythology

And apart from the importance of Hinduism, this trek also provides an opportunity to visit the Charang Monastery one of the oldest Buddhist Monasteries in the Himalayas. Unlike the Male Lamas of Ladakh, this particular monastery is inhabited by Buddha Bikshinis (Female Buddha monks)

Kailash Circuit: Charang-La pass trek (Altitude 5270m)

June 2014 expedition blog


Charang La is probably tougher than any other treks and yatra‘s including Kailash itself. The reason being the remoteness of this trek, steepness of Charang-La pass and streams (Nala) to cross are at least 3. In the early season (June/July), snow will ease out boulder hopping, but pass itself will be under thick snow. I would easily reckon the day of CharangLa pass traverse (in June) is difficult than the day of Lamkagha pass traverse.

Since this expedition comes very close to the international border with Tibet, a written permit from SDM Reckong poo is a must and will be verified by Shurting and Charang ITBP. So plan this without fail.
This is a unique trek that starts from a rocky desert-like environment and ends up in the absolute beauty of greenery at Chitkul. So in 5 days’ time, we can experience the change every day. And tents/provisions are a must for at least 3 days after Charang.

To do this trek, one has to take a Jeep Safari (I am not sure about the availability of Bus) from Reckong Peo to Thangi/Lumbar which will cost anywhere from Rs.2500 to 3000 and henceforth trek the next 5 days. This Jeep safari is along Reckong Poo-Pooh-Nako-Kaza (Spiti) highway which is in full grandeur on an ancient mountain system to the Himalayas. Geologists claim this to be the confluence of Himalayas, Dhauladar, and Zanskar mountain systems. Very rugged mountains and the moon-like landscape
(read cold dry rocky dusty).

The trek itself was done as below:

Kinnaur Kailash Circuit Trek Itinerary

  • Day #1 June 16th: Reckong Poo to Thangi by Jeep (along Spiti Highway) and
    further trek to Shurthing (ITBP camp)
  • Day #2 June 17th: Shurthing to Charang Buddhist Monastery and back
    (Views of Rangrik Rang AKA Raacho peak)
  • Day #3 June 18th: Shurthing to Lalanti (Dilapidated ITBP shed is there)
    June 19th: Lalanti to Charang La Base Camp (4800M)
  • Day #4 June 20th: Charang Base Camp to the last village of Kinnaur, Chitkul via incredible and nearly vertical, Snow Clad CharangLa pass @ 5200 Meters ASL.

Trek Guide and Organizer: www.raachotrekkers.com
(Proprietor and Guide: Sohan Negi from Charang Village/Chitkul)

Wild White Roses - Reckong Peo | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Wild White Roses – Reckong Peo
Apple Orchids - Reckong Peo
Apple Orchids – Reckong Peo
Apple Orchids - Reckong Peo
Apple Orchids – Reckong Pe
Kinnaur Kailash Range - Burning in the morning sun | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Kinnaur Kailash Range – Burning in the morning sun
Rocky Extensions - A common occurance on Kinnaur highways . The unique geological formations
Rocky Extensions – A common occurrence on Kinnaur highways. The unique geological formations
LandSlips (Enroute Thangi). Had to wait for 2.5 hours to clear. Effects of Hydro Power projects on fragile environment. A daily occurance in Kinnaur. | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
LandSlips (Enroute Thangi). I had to wait for 2.5 hours to clear. Effects of Hydro Power projects on a fragile environment. A daily occurrence in Kinnaur.
Enroute Thangi (Waterfalls like these are commonplace)
Enroute Thangi (Waterfalls like these are commonplace)
Tricky bends. Enroute Thangi
Tricky bends. Enroute Thangi
Enroute Lumbar..me enjoying the rough ride. Guide Sohan Negi in the front. You know i am an adventurer, i cant take the front seat!!!
Enroute Lumbar..me enjoying the rough ride. Guide Sohan Negi in the front. You know i am an adventurer, I cant take the front seat!!!
Enroute Shurting, Fantastic bridge over river Tidong
Enroute Shurting, Fantastic bridge over river Tidong. Tidong is a tributary of the river Satluj.
Enroute Shurthing. About to start the Parikrama and enter the narrow channel over river Tidong
Enroute Shurthing. About to start the Parikrama and enter the narrow channel over river Tidong
Shurting to Charang - Scenaries enroute (River Tidong flowing down) | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Shurting to Charang – Scenaries en route (River Tidong flowing down)
Shurting to Charang - Vistas enroute (River Tidong flowing down)
Shurting to Charang – Vistas enroute (River Tidong flowing down)
Shurting to Charang - Vistas enroute | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Shurting to Charang – Vistas enroute
Tidong valley - Charang landscape
Tidong valley – Charang landscape
Looking back toward Shurting
Looking back toward Shurting
Standing before Rangrik Rang Peak and Charang Village is at the background
Standing before Rangrik Rang Peak and Charang Village is at the background
Green landscape of Charang village | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Green landscape of Charang village
Rangrik Tungma monastery gate , Charang | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Rangrik Tungma monastery gate , Charang
Rangrik Tungma monastery Charang. The monastery is believed to be one of the earliest monastery established in Kinnaur.
Rangrik Tungma monastery Charang. The monastery is believed to be one of the earliest monasteries established in Kinnaur.
Rangrik Tungma monastery | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Rangrik Tungma monastery
Inside Rangrik Tungma monastery
Inside Rangrik Tungma monastery
Bronze sculpture of a Buddist deity inside Rangrik Tungma monastery
Bronze sculpture of a Buddist deity inside Rangrik Tungma monastery
Inside a local house in Charang Village
Inside a local house in Charang Village
Wooden roof of the house in Charang
Wooden roof of the house in Charang
Wild Flowers out of rocks - Where there is a will there is a way
Wild Flowers out of rocks – Where there is a will there is a way
Wild Flowers out of rocks - Where there is a will there is a way
Wild Flowers out of rocks – Where there is a will there is a way
Unwinding on the boulder bed..
Unwinding on the boulder bed..
Scenary enroute Lalanti meadows
Scenary enroute Lalanti meadows.
Scenary enroute Shurting to Lalanti
Scenary enroute Shurting to Lalanti
Scenary enroute Shurting to Lalanti
Scenary enroute Shurting to Lalanti
Scenary on Shurting to Lalanti route
Scenery on Shurting to Lalanti route
Before reaching LalanTi
Before reaching LalanTi
Approaching LalanTi meadows | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Approaching LalanTi meadows
River crossing enroute LalanTi
River crossing enroute LalanTi
Just below Lalanti meadows campsite
Just below Lalanti meadows campsite
Relaxing on the Lalanti meadows
Relaxing on the Lalanti meadows
Lalanti medows Campsite | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Lalanti medows Campsite
Porters raising campfire @ Lalanti (Tashi and Omkar)
Porters raising campfire @ Lalanti (Tashi and Omkar)
At Lalanti meadows campsite | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
At Lalanti meadows campsite
Pitstop before Charang la pass basecamp | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Pitstop before Charang la pass basecamp
Scenary @ Lalanti to CharangLa Base Camp route
Scenery @ Lalanti to CharangLa Base Camp route
Charang - La base camp
Charang – La base camp
Views from Charang - La base camp | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Views from Charang – La base camp
Imposing sight of Charang-La from the base camp | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
The imposing sight of Charang-La from the base camp
Looking backwards at Glacial Lake while climbing the Charang- La pass | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Looking backward at Glacial Lake while climbing the Charang- La pass
Charang-La climb
Charang-La climb
Can you spot the climber near the base?
Can you spot the climber near the base?
Looking backwards at Glacial Lake - enroute Charang-La
Looking backwards at Glacial Lake – enroute Charang-La
Taking a breather - CharangLa ascent
Taking a breather – CharangLa ascent
Looking backwards at Glacial Lake - en route CharangLa | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Looking backwards at Glacial Lake – en route CharangLa
The slope - Charang-La pass | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
The slope – Charang-La pass
The snowscape - vista of the mountain range | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
The snowscape – vista of the mountain range
Cook Prakash Rathi. He helped me a lot to ascend CharangLa. He is the real hero. | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Cook Prakash Rathi. He helped me a lot to ascend CharangLa. He is the real hero.
Charang La - Scenary from the top (notice the scree) | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Charang La – Scenary from the top (notice the scree)
Steep scree slope.. the descent was slippery and taxing | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
Steep scree slope.. the descent was slippery and taxing
finally Chitkul is in sight... Chitkul is last village on Indo - Tibet border located in the Baspa/Sangla valley
finally Chitkul is in sight... Chitkul is last village on Indo – Tibet border located in the Baspa/Sangla valley
The Sangla valley , Chitkul | Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek blog
The Sangla valley, Kinnaur.  Chitkul village can be seen at the base of the Baspa river valley.
Chitkul village - The gem of Sangla valley
Chitkul village – The gem of Sangla valley

Blog by Shyam Sundar Ramachandran

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Baspa Valley Kinnaur: Valley Of Brimming Beauty

Home » Kinnaur » Sangla valley

In the western Himalayas, bordering along with Tibet and Garhwal, the Baspa valleyalso called Sangla valley—of Kinnaur has been open to visitors since the early 90s. The valley got its name from the Baspa river which originates from Chung Sakhago pass and meanders for around 30 km before meeting Satluj on its left bank near Karcham.

Baspa valley, Kinnaur:

Unlike the Spiti valley and Hangrang region of Kinnaur, the Baspa valley is green paradise in largely barren mountains. Baspa valley or Sangla valley is known for fruit-laden orchards, cedar covered slopes and flower crusted meadows. Bhojpatra tree is abundantly found in the Chitkul region.

A land of blue skies, buzzing Baspa river, soaring peaks, deep valleys, apple orchards, and syncretic culture — Baspa valley a place for people who are seeking genuine peace and soul-calming solitude far, far from the madding crowd.

The fort of Kamru is another landmark in Baspa valley. As Gandhi once remarked that ‘the soul of India lies in its villages’— villages like Chitkul, Rackcham, Sangla, Kamru and Chansu are the soul of Baspa valley.

Rackcham village , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Rendezvous with Rackcham
Monsoon in Baspa valley Kinnaur
Rain clouds brewing — Monsoon in Baspa valley
Baspa valley Kinnaur — Monsoon in Kinnaur
Wandering clouds descending over the valley
Snowy mountain tops of Baspa valley Kinnaur
Early spring in Baspa valley…Snowy mountain tops
Snowy mountain tops of Baspa valley Kinnaur
Snowy mountain tops of Baspa valley Kinnaur, clicked in early spring season
Rackcham , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Rendezvous with Rackcham
Rackcham region - Baspa valley Kinnaur
Rakcham region – Baspa valley Kinnaur. Early spring in Baspa valley
Shallow waters of Baspa river and Snowscapes of Chitkul. Clicked in later March.
Chitkul Snow landscapes , Spring 2017 [Winter - Early spring season ]
Snowscapes of Chitkul. Clicked in later March ( Upper Baspa Valley)
Spring in Kinnaur , Baspa valley , Sangla
Snowscapes of Sangla. Clicked in late March [ Spring in Kinnaur ]
Dried apple chips , Sangla , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Apple chips. Apples are cut into pieces and spread over the slate roof or any sunny place. They get crispy after some time and eaten during wintertime. They are as nutritious as a fresh apple.
Folk music percussion instrument Baspa valley, Kinnaur. They are called a variety of names depending upon their sizes like Dhol, Dholku, Dolki, and Nagara. The skin of goat or sheep is used to make these instruments.
Kamru fort , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Kamru fort, Baspa valley
Slate roof house built in Kath khuni architecture , Kamru , Baspa valley, Kinnaur
Slate roof house built in Kath khuni architecture, Kamru, Baspa valley.
Carvings on wooden window , en route Kamru , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Carvings on a wooden window, en route Kamru
Beautiful Carvings on a metal door , Kamru fort compound , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Beautiful Carvings on a metal door, Kamru fort compound
Brass door handle of Kamru fort entrance , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Brass door handle of Kamru fort entrance
Inside Kamru fort complex , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Inside Kamru fort complex
Intricate design on wooden door , Kamru fort complex , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Intricate design on a wooden door, Kamru fort complex
Brass sculpture , Kamru fort complex , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Brass sculpture, Kamru fort complex
Old house , en route Kamru fort , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Old house, en route Kamru fort
getting up early was worth it , Sunrise from Thola peak Chitkul , Baspa Valley
Getting up early was worth it. Sunrise from Thola peak at Chitkul, Baspa Valley
Livestock feed ( dried grass ) hanged on tree to dry and later stored for use during winter season. Chitkul , Baspa valley
Livestock feed ( dried grass ) hanged on a tree to dry and later stored for use during the winter season.
Azure waters of Baspa river , Chitkul , Kinnaur
Azure waters of Baspa river, Chitkul [Autumn season: Clicked in October
Nagasti ITBP camp , Chitkul , Baspa valley
Nagasti ITBP camp, Chitkul[Autumn season: Clicked in October
Ruminating by the river , Chitkul , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Ruminating by the river, Chitkul[Autumn season: Clicked in October.
Strolling around Chitkul , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Strolling around Chitkul in Autumn season

The lush green valley, snow-capped mountains of Kinnaur-Garhwal region and melodically flowing Baspa river are the hallmark of Baspa valley. There are many trekking routes that lead to or end up in the Baspa Valley. Some of the prominent ones are the following.

Treks in Baspa valley

1. Lamkhaga pass trek.

It is a fairly remote trek and is now regarded as the classic route from Gangotri to Kinnaur, which was first crossed by Marco Pallis in 1933. The trek is also known as  Chitkul to Gangotri trek or Harsil to Chitkul trek. It trek can be done from either side. The beautiful route takes you through some of the most remote areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, like the Jalandhari valley that is covered with flowers post monsoon. The snow in the early season could impede your progress. Harsil is famous for Wilson’s Cottage built in 1864. Gangotri is a short drive from Harsil, while Chitkul is the last village in the Baspa valley

2. Borasu pass trek

Borasu Pass at a height of 5450 meters (17880 feet) above sea level is a high mountain pass connecting the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and is located at the border of the two states. This trek goes through the famous Har-ki-Dun valley and we witness the beautiful glacial lakes of Morinda Taal and Zhupkia Glacier. The trail for this trek passes through a glacier, narrow ridges, vertical show slopes, meadows, and boulders. Overall a very adventurous experience not to mention the unforgettable views of the mountains.

3. Buran Ghati trek

It is an old Sheppard route that connects Brua village of Baspa valley to Janglikh village of Pabbar valley, Rohru.

4. Kinner Kailash Parikrama ( Charang – La )

Mount Kinner Kailash is located in Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh. The trail provides a panoramic view of the whole range of Kinner Kailash mountain peaks. This region is located on the Indo-Tibet border and gives a wonderful introduction to the confluence of Hinduism and Buddhism. The landscape of the area varies from the lush green scenic valley of Sangla Valley to the snow-clad mountains of the Kinner ranges. This trek is packed not only with some of the best views of the mountains but also provides an insight into the rich history of trade, religion, and diverse ethnic groups, the experience of which leaves one enchanted.

5. Khimloga pass trek

It is a trade route mostly frequented by Sheppard from either side of Baspa of Supin valley of Uttrakhand.

6. Rupin pass trek

Rupin Pass is a high altitude pass across the Himalaya mountain range in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It lies on a traditional shepherd and hiking route which starts from Dhaula in Uttarakhand and ends in Sangla in Himachal Pradesh. The path itself is located across mostly uninhabited areas in the Himalayan ranges at an elevation of 15,250 ft (4,650M) above sea level

7. Yamrang la pass (5570 m) & Gugairang La

These two passes connect Baspa valley to Tibet.

Easy to moderate trails in Baspa valley:

1. Karcham to Barua

Karcham is a small town on National Highway 5 at the confluence of the Satluj and Baspa river. The trail passes through Sapni village (Visit to snake god temple is recommended) and ends up a Brua Village.

2.Brua to Chansu trail

After a gradual descend one needs to negotiate Brua Nallah and then Climb up to Chansu village.

3. Sangla to Kamru fort trail

Kamru village was the capital of the erstwhile principality of Bushahr. The Kamru Fort, a 15-minute walk from the Sangla town, houses quintessential wood-and-stone buildings with curved, peaked roofs. On the way up is the Badrinath Temple, a classic example of Kinnauri religious syncretism with both Hindu and Buddhist shrines. There are several folklores associated with it and according to one legend, there are crores of devi- devta residing inside the fort.  Entry inside the fort is restricted – only into the courtyard in front of it – but the views of the surrounding mountains are good, anyway.

Sangla Village

Sangla serves as a base to hike to nearby villages like  Kamru, Batseri, Rackham, and Chitkul.  It offers an uninhibited rendezvous with nature — walks, treks and strolling in narrow alleys of Himalayan hamlets, lively bonfires by the river. If you’re an angling enthusiast, the swirling current of the Baspa is home to both the Rainbow and Brown Trout.

Blog by Pawan Ranta

Categories
Blog Kinnaur Sangla valley Trekking

Sangla – A Buddhist Town in the lap of Himalayas!

Home » Kinnaur » Sangla valley

Sangla village of Kinnaur is a scenic & heavenly Himalayan village revered by travelers and backpackers alike. It is the largest village of the Sangla valley aka Baspa valley and one of the largest in Kinnaur. Located at the middle of the valley and about 18km from the nearest highway i.e NH 05,  it has found a place in an itinerary of every traveller or backpacker for its spellbinding attractions like Kamru, Basteri, Rackham, Chitkul village and Rankanda meadows.   

Sangla Valley

The valley is acclaimed for the Sangla Bering Nag Temple, Kamru Village Fort, Sangla Buddhist Monastery, Beautiful Baspa Valley along & Baspa riverside, India’s last village from Tibet side – Chitkul. Sangla village is the gateway to many high altitude Himalayan treks like Lamkhaga Pass, Rupin Pass & Borasu Pass Trek.  

Best time to visit?

The weather remains cold to bitterly cold from November to March. May to September are pleasant days  So better to visit Sangla is in the months of April to October.  If you want to experience the snow, then December to early March is the best time.

Sangla average rainfall | Sangla weather
Sangla average rainfall
Sangla average temperature | Sangla weather
Sangla average temperature

The Weather of Sangla village:

Sangla is located in the temperate zone. The average yearly temperature of Sangla hovers around 17°C. It peaks in the months of May and June when it reaches 30°C but the weather remains pleasant.

In July, August and September the average rainfall reach its apex point. It crosses the 300mm mark in the month of July. After July it starts decreasing and the average rainfall plummets to less than 100 mm in September month. In October it barely rains. With dwindling rains temperature graph also takes a nose dive and it crosses below 5°C mark in December month.

How to reach Sangla?

It is well connected from Shimla – The Capital of Himachal Pradesh. Once you reach Shimla, There are HRTC Buses available from the Shimla ISBT Tutikandi bus stand, Chandigarh and Delhi.

Mostly the buses leave from Chandigarh in the night, then reach Shimla in the morning. An HRTC bus will leave for Sangla or Rakchham in the morning around 7:00 AM from the Shimla Bus stand.  The long 12-hour bus ride is an adventurous one!

There is a Bus with number HP 25 A 3043 which runs every alternate day from Shimla around 7:00 – 7:15 AM from Shimla Bus stand to Sangla. One can call Shimla Bus Depo Control Room for details on Bus timings, they will help you. For us, Shimla to Sangla HRTC Bus road journey cost just Rs. 354

Note: There is a 25% concession for Women in HRTC Bus ticket fares. Please check with the conductor once you board the bus if you are a woman or a lady traveler.

The helpline number of Shimla Bus Depo Control Room is 01772656326.

If you are visiting Sangla with friends or family, try to take or book Innova, XUV, Tata Sumo or Tempo Traveler from Shimla. This will help you to stop & spend enough time en-route Sangla. The journey from Shimla to Sangla is Epic & Deadly dangerous one with Breathtaking views of Sutlej River, High Mountains, Mountain Villages, Lovely Bridges, Some Beautiful Towns of Kinnaur Valley.

Distance from different cities:

If you are traveling from the different States of India, it is better to reach Delhi or Chandigarh by Flight, Train or other transport options then plan accordingly in advance. This will help to reach Sangla without any transport issues.

From Delhi: Around 590 Kms. via NH44 and NH5 (Delhi to Sangla)

From Chandigarh: Around 354 Kms. via NH5 (Chandigarh to Sangla)

From Shimla: 240 Kms. via NH5 (Shimla to Sangla)

How to reach Sangla from Shimla: From Shimla, Take following route to Sangla: Shimla –> Kufri –> Fagu –> Rampur –> Tapri –> Karcham –> Sangla

Altitude: Altitude of Sangla Valley, Kinnaur District, Himachal Pradesh comes to around 3000 Mtr.

Bucketlist Places To See Around Sangla Village  

Kamru village 

Kamru village is around a 2-kilometer easy hike from the Sangla Town. It is famous for its Kamru Fort & Temple. Please don’t miss to explore these Ancient Buddhist architectures while exploring Sangla. It is must visit when you are in Sangla!

Kamru Temple: Kamru Temple is situated just below Kamru Fort. This temple is called Shree Badri Vishal Ji Temple of Kamru Village which is also a 15th Century shrine of Lord Badrinath, which hosts a light every three years.

Kamru village, Baspa valley,Kinnaur
Kamru village
Kamru temple , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Beautiful Kamru Temple in the lap of Himalayas!
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Buddhist Temple in Kamru village

Kamru Fort

Kamru Fort is one of the Oldest Fort’s located in Sangla valley of Kinnaur District, Himachal Pradesh. Kamru Fort is the main historical place of the Valley. After 2 Kms. walk from Sangla Town, there lies the tower-like fort of Kamru at an altitude of 2600 Mtrs above sea level.

An exotic Image of Lord Buddha on the Fort’s Main Gate and an Image of Kamkhya Devi are the unique features of this fort. The image of Kamkhya Devi supposed to have been brought from Assam is installed on the third floor.

The fort seems like being placed overpacking of dressed stone that acts as a pedestal for an exalted piece of art. The tower possesses an elegant wooden balcony. There are a number of interesting myths attached to this fort. This fort is ruled by 100 plus dynasties of Himachal. Other parts of the fort are restricted for general public viewing including local Kinnaur’s except Kamkhya Devi Idol which is situated near tower-like Fort.

Only ancestors of Himachal Royal families get to go further inside the fort. Virbhadra Singh, CM of Himachal Pradesh belongs to one of the royal families of Himachal visited recently to this fort for family function as informed to us by Watch-woman of Kamru Fort Chandru Negi during our visit on 19th May 2017 mornings.

Kamru fort , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Kamru fort

Sangla Buddhist Monastery

There is a Buddhist Monastery situated in the heart of Sangla Town.  As per the monks of Monastery, this monastery is recently built and it is a very good place to meditate & relax. Don’t miss to explore this monastery of Sangla!

View of Kinner Kailash from Sangla

The back-side view of Kinner Kailash is clearly visible from Kamru Village & surroundings of Sangla where the front-side can be seen from Kalpa or Reckong Peo. This is how I captured the back-side of Kinner Kailash from the Sangla Buddhist Monastery. A classic view indeed!

Sangla Buddhist Monastery, Baspa valley, Kinnaur
Sangla Buddhist Monastery
View of Kinner Kailash from Sangla , Baspa valley , Kinnaur
View of Kinner Kailash from Sangla

Beautiful Baspa Valley

Baspa Valley belongs to the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh. It lies at Indo-Tibet Border. This valley is famous for Baspa River, Rani Kanda Meadows, Dumti Meadows, Karu Devta Temple at Dumti, ITBP Camps & Check-posts, Nagdum River, Mighty Baspa Glacier, Moraine Stretches, Snowfields & Snow-slopes of Upper Baspa Valley, Gateway to many High Altitude Himalayan Treks like Lamkhaga Pass, Borasu Pass & Many more…

India’s last village – Chitkul

Chitkul is India ‘s last village from Tibet side which can be reached via Road. The distance from Sangla to Chitkul is 22 Kilometer and people throng into this place to experience the beauty of mother nature which is famous for the Snow-capped Mountains, Baspa River & Many more. Potatoes grown at Chitkul are one of the best in the world and are very costly.

Chitkul, Baspa valley , Kinnaur
Chitkul, Baspa valley , Kinnaur

Treks around Sangla 

Sangla Valley of Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh is Gateway to many High Altitude Himalayan Treks like Lamkhaga Pass, Rupin Pass, Borasu Pass & Many more. These treks can either start or end from Himachal Pradesh or Uttrakhand.

  • Lamkhaga Pass: Either Start from or end at Chitkul.
  • Sangla Kanda hike: A high mountain pasture near Sangla village
  • Rupin Pass trek: Either Start from or end at Sangla Town.
  • Borasu pass trek: Either Start from or end at Chitkul.

Final Words: Sangla Valley is a must-visit place for Adventure Seekers, Tourists & Travelers across the world. I will rate this valley 8 out of 10. Please don’t miss to explore this place if you plan an Adventure Trip around Kinnaur & Spiti. Must visit the region of Himachal Pradesh indeed!!!

Blog by  Gautham Baliga

Categories
Blog Chitkul village Kinnaur Sangla valley Trekking Winter in Kinnaur

Kinner Kailash Parikrama Trek in Winter

Home » Kinnaur » Sangla valley

Kinnaur-Kailash Parikrama Trek

Blog by Micah Hanson

“How will you know the way, the weather is bad, there is a lot of snow,” the senior officer said. “I’ve hiked all over the Himalayas, I hiked the Pin-Paravati pass in a snowstorm,” I retorted.  “Ok, I’ll give you permission if you write a statement that you take responsibility for your safety.”   And that’s how I got the permission to hike the Kinnaur Kailash Parikarma on my own.

Although, Kinner Kailash circuit route is a traditional pilgrimage route around the sacred mountain of Kinnaur Kailash, technically foreigners are either supposed to have a group of four or be guided.

I got off to a bit of a slow start jumping on a bus to Lambar where I would start the trek with a bus driver who loved taking his time, stopping the bus and shaking hands with everyone he knew.  Then he decided he really didn’t want to finish is route so he turned around about 4 km before Thangi and 10 km before Lambar under the pretext that there was a landslide blocking the road ahead. 

There was no landslide, so much for my theory that bus drivers in India are the only government employees who do their jobs the way they are supposed to be done.  Maybe this guy had previously been a postal worker, for whatever reason he dumped me and the other passengers alongside the road.  I walked for about 15 minutes before managing to get a ride in a jeep to Lambar with some of the other locals from the bus.  After a lunch of rice and dhal in Lambar, I headed off a bit later than I would have liked. 

But not before a local advised me that not to go over the Charang La, “too much snow” he said.  “So I keep hearing,” I replied as I walk off towards the Charang La.

My map showed Charang village (my attempted destination for the day) on the north side of the river so when a bridge went to the south side of the river I stayed on the north bank about a half-hour later I passed the Indo-Tibetan Border Police checkpoint which was on the opposite side of the river. 

The men at the check post told me I had to cross the knee-deep ice-cold river to sign in.   I said they could bring the book to me but I didn’t want to walk through the icy river.  I showed my permission across the river.  After a semi audible discussion across the rushing river, one of the officers crossed to my side, a man from Meru who spoke the best English of the lot.  It turned out I was on the wrong side of the river heading to a village I wasn’t supposed to go to. 

I reluctantly crossed the river to the side of the camp.  By the time I finished tea with the officers and signed in it was about a half-hour away from darkness.  I decided I didn’t have enough time to make it to Charang.  They invited me to stay at camp for the night, an accommodation that included a nice hot meal and several glasses of whiskey and water.

Charang , Kinnaur
Charang , Kinnaur
Charang , Kinnaur
Charang , Kinnaur
Charang , Kinnaur
Mud & Stone houses of Charang , Kinnaur
Charang , Kinnaur
Sonu’s mother and daughter Archu

The following day I visited the friendly and picturesque village of Charang.  After an hour of looking around and some tea with the locals, I headed over the ridge above town up the steep-sided valley towards the Charang La.   The valley widened as I approached the snow line.  It was mid-afternoon and I decided to camp just before the snow line knowing the snowfields would be difficult to cross in the heat of the afternoon.  I found a small patch of grass and a nearby spring suitable for the purpose and pitched my tent.

Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Trail leading up towards the Charang La
The trail leading up towards the Charang La
View up the valley towards the Charang La
View up the valley towards the Charang La
Lalanti stream , enroute Charang - La
Lalanti stream, en route Charang – La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Upper Lalanti traverse , Enroute Charang - La
Upper Lalanti traverse, Enroute Charang – La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La

Early the next morning I headed out across the snow towards the pass.  I got my first view of the “pass” known as the Charang La.  I had heard the pass was difficult but this wasn’t a pass it was a cliff.  A steep snow-covered slope leads up to a notch between the mountains. 

I reached the base of the pass before noon.  Any path that had existed was completely obscured by the snow.   I decided it would be best to attempt the pass the following morning, but hiking up the steep snow-covered slope with my full pack would be extremely difficult.  I set up camp on the snow beneath the pass. I figured if I carved out a path in the afternoon it would firm up overnight making the climb much easier the following morning.  It took me two hours to climb the pass making footholds along the way.

Small lake beneath the Charang La
A small lake beneath the Charang La
Small lake beneath the Charang La
A small lake beneath the Charang La
Small lake beneath the Charang La
Small lake beneath the Charang La
Small lake beneath the Charang La
Small lake beneath the Charang La
The Charang La traverse
The Charang La traverse
My campsite on the snow beneath the Charang La
My campsite on the snow beneath the Charang La
The steep snow slope leading beneath the Charang La
The steep snow slope leading beneath the Charang La
The Charang - La Climb
The Charang – La Climb
The steep snow slope leading beneath the Charang La
The steep snow slope leading beneath the Charang La
5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
The Baspa valley view from Charang - La
The Baspa valley view from Charang – La

While the view was great, my campsite was less than ideal, it was a cold night sleeping on snow at around 5,000 m.  Furthermore, there was no water at my campsite, but lots of snow which take a surprisingly long time to melt even in the bright sun. What water I had managed to melt was frozen by the morning.  A bigger problem was that it had entered in my shoes.  They were frozen solid and I couldn’t get my feet into them.  I had to delay my start until they had thawed out enough from the morning sun so that I could at least put them on. 

The footholds that I had made the previous day made the hike over the pass much easier.  I reached the top in about an hour loaded down with all of my gear.  I couldn’t have asked for clearer weather to enjoy the view atop the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La over the snow-covered landscape.  I spent a good hour enjoying the fruits of my effort before descending the steep slope down to the pleasant village of Chitkul four hours away.

Chitkul village fort
Chitkul fort
Ornate spout at Chitkul village
Ornate spout, Chitkul
Old fort at Chitkul
Old fort, Chitkul
Wooden grain store of people of Chitkul.
‘Urch’ – A wooden grain storage container. Almost every family has one in Chitkul and rest of the Kinnaur.
A wooden house in Chitkul village
A wooden charming house in Chitkul
A wooden temple wind chimes in Chitkul
Wooden wind chimes adorning a temple in Chitkul
View from above Chitkul
View from above Chitkul
A man from Chitkul village carrying sack of grass.
A man from Chitkul carrying a sack of grass.
A lady from Chitkul village working in her Olga fields.
A lady from Chitkul working in the Ogla(a kind of grain) fields.
People of Chitkul village
People of Chitkul
Chitkul lady carrying a child on her back
Chitkul lady carrying a child on her back
An old man from Chitkul village
An old man from Chitkul
Mountains at the head of the Baspa Valley
Mountains at the head of the Baspa Valley
Thola peak overlooking Chitkul village
Thola peak overlooking Chitkul village of Baspa Valley, Kinnaur
View from above Chitkul village
View from above Chitkul

The village of Chitkul is an idyllic place at the end of the road that winds its way up the Baspa Valley.  I would have stayed longer than the two days I spent there had I not left most of my things back in Kalpa.  In the interest of reducing weight for the trek, I had only one set of clothes with me, a set of clothes that I was anxious to change out of after 4 days of trekking.  But as it was I had time to explore the village a bit and hike up above the village before catching a bus back to Kalpa.

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Baspa River Crossings:Nithal Campsite to Baspa glacier

Home » Kinnaur » Sangla valley

Baspa River originates near the Indo-Tibetan and Himachal-Uttarakhand border. The valley of Baspa is named after this river. It is also known as the Sangla Valley – one of the most scenic valleys in the Himachal Pradesh. The Chung Sakhago Pass lies at the head of the valley. Baspa river is fed by the perennial Chung Sakhago glacier and shares the catchment area with a tributary of the Bhagirathi river, Uttarakhand.

Baspa River Crossings

From Nithal Thach to Baspa glacier

After a cakewalk on the first two days, we geared up for adventurous things lying ahead for us. With extreme cold conditions leading to dry skin, some wheatish faces in our group had started changing to white faces coated with layers of sunscreens by the start of day 3.

Baspa river | Lamkhaga pass trek
Coated with the layers of sunscreen

After a 2km walk from our campsite, we arrived at the Karu Devta temple. Karu Devta is the presiding deity of Dumti. A small Shivling and Karu devta is present in this temple.

Karu devta temple – The presiding diety of Dumti| Lamkhaga pass trek
Karu devta temple – The presiding diety of Dumti

Happy ji was telling us that even ITBP had been following the traditions and practices of locals to offer a prasad in this temple every morning before starting to cook for that day. He added that if any villager is taking his goat or sheep beyond this point, the villager would sacrifice one of his goats/sheep here before proceeding further.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Offering prayers at the Karu Devta temple

The trail beyond Dumti had given us some wallpaper views, however, the reality hit me as we stepped into the rocky trails. A mild pain had started in my ankle after we crossed the flat surfaces and started walking into the rock patches. However, it was very mild pain and I was confident of finishing off the day’s walk and was hoping for late-night magic for much steeper ascents waiting for us near the Lamkhaga pass trek.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Stepping into the rocky trails

We came across herds of thick-skinned cows chilling out and grazing in the valleys of snow-capped peaks. The cows that had been left near Nagasthi had traveled to this point.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Time to relax after a long walk

Happy ji was telling us that the thick-skinned cows cannot survive the slightly hot weather after winters, hence it’s left to graze on its own in the high hills for 3 to 4 months.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Thick skinned cows chilling out in the valleys of snow capped peaks

He added that the villagers manage their living with one cow for a few months till the winter and would go on search of the herd during the beginning of winter. It was interesting to hear from him that no wild animals roamed in this part of Kinnaur and the herd of cows left to graze here would usually be found in its full count by the villagers.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Some serious discussion about the village life & cattle while waiting for the team to regroup

We were also joined in the trail by ITBP jawans who had to camp at Nithal tach. The ITBP jawans were reminding us every now and then to hydrate ourselves, protect ourselves with the monkeys’ caps instead of exposing our ears to the heavy winds of these hills in our yet another long walk along the river. And, there started the second round of conversations with ITBP jawans.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Juice, conversations, and selfies with ITBP Jawans

From current affairs to experience in the Indian army, we had talked about almost everything that had flashed into our minds then. Then the conversation drifted to Gundar Nala crossing that lay ahead of Nithal Tach. ITBP jawans passed us some energy drinks to us and we had stopped for a short break. The commander of Dumti started describing how the ITBP personnel crosses the Gundar Nala if the situation demands them to do so. He said every time when someone in ITBP needed to reach Gundar, they would apply mustard oil all over their body, walk through the super cold waters and then cross it as the water level may sometimes even reach their shoulders.

Porters of Lamkhaga team(Raacho Trekkers) marching towards Nithal
Porters of Lamkhaga team(Raacho Trekkers) marching towards Nithal

With our trek happening in the last week of May, he added that we might just get a little lucky as water levels may not be that high in May. Having had a long break here, it was time to move ahead.

Yamrang peaks – The beginning of the Indo-Tibet border | Lamkhaga pass trek
Yamrang peaks – The beginning of the Indo-Tibet border

After a walk of a few minutes, the Yamrang peaks were just in front of us. After an uneven patch, we had finally come down to the valley and the flat river beds greeted us. Time just flew away as we walked along the river bed hearing out the adventures of few ITBP jawans.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Soaking up the sight and enjoying every moment in the valley
Snow time near Nithal Thach
Snow time near Nithal Thach

It started to snow as we were just a few minutes behind Nithal. Few of us moving in the mountain trail with ITBP could see the dwarfed figures of the rest of our trek group crossing the Dumti meadows from a slightly higher inclination. Nature keeps reminding us that humans and their problems are so tiny in front of Mother Nature. However, despite our tiny size, we, humans continue to use too many of our natural resources at an alarming pace ignoring the warning signs from every other natural disaster.

Team Lamkhaga of Raacho Trekkers walking along the Nithal nadi
Team Lamkhaga of Raacho Trekkers walking along the Nithal nadi

Cheerfully schlepping our groceries, tents and sleeping bags, few porters got past us in the mild snow as they had to rush through and set up the campsite before the weather becomes worse.

Lamkhaga pass trek expedition
Porters, the overlooked guardian angels of a mountain expedition

Camping in high hills, far far away from the human habitation and yet experiencing the luxury of tasty cooked food and some good sleep in thick sleeping bags/tents is an inevitable dream without the support of the porters, who carry heavy loads of groceries and other items just for a few hundred rupees a day. The physical support provided by the porters to fulfill the dreams of a few trekkers despite the challenging weather conditions is often overlooked. They are the indisputable guardian angels of a mountain expedition.

Moderate snow showers in Nithal ITBP campsite [Lamkhaga pass trek]]
Moderate snow showers in Nithal ITBP campsite
Our trek group had our lunch amidst the mild snow in Nithal, while Sonu Negi ji was helping the porters cross the river beyond Nithal. It was the same sight that the commander of Dumti had described us. From the top, we could see the porters removing their layers and crossing the river with the luggage on top of their heads.

Heading towards the Gundar nala[Lamkhaga pass trek]
Heading towards the Gundar nala
Just after the snow intensified, the commander of Dumti came to us and announced that they have worked out a jugaad for us to cross the river. As he had to immediately head back to Dumti, we bid him goodbye with some final handshakes and wondered what was in store at the river crossing.

Baspa river trek
The river crossings from Nithal to Gundar
Baspa river chitkul
Crossing bridge over Gundar stream ( Tributary of Baspa river )

Luckily, the water levels in the spot chosen for us to cross the Gundar nala wasn’t that high as we had imagined. After hopping through a stretch of rocks and crossing a proper bridge, we were standing in front of the two more water crossing points.

Baspa river trek
Our time to cross the gundar nala with ITBP ladders

Water was flowing in its full force. Happy ji and some more support staff brought a ladder and positioned it for us to cross the river. We realized this was the jugaad that the commander of Dumti had mentioned to us back in Nithal.

With the ladder in its position, it was time for an initial load test. Happy ji and a support staff hopped and jumped crazily over the ladder to check if it could withstand our weight. Chetan Phalke from our group captured a small part of Happy ji’s crazy hoping to reach the other side.

Then, it was our time to cross the river with the ladders. With the first one done with ease, we had one more water crossing lying ahead.

There hasn’t been a day that has passed without me lamenting to people on my inability to put on weight despite my hearty appetite. However, my less weight proves to be a great blessing when it comes to climbing or jumping over boulders and rocks. This time a river crossing with a ladder was done and dusted with ease :)

Gundar Campsite - Lamkhaga pass
Campsite at Gundar

After the river crossing and some slow walk along with the uneven patches, we finally arrived at the Gundar campsite. The ankle pain had intensified on the third day and reduced my pace. After campfire and a tasty dinner, it was time to hit the bed.

Gundar - Lamkhaga pass
Clear skies in Gundar on day 4

In every walk of nature, we receive far more than what we seek. We have blessed with some mesmerizing views of snow-peaked mountains as we hopped over some more rocks to cross the rivers.

Baspa river Chitkul
More and more river crossings beyond Gundar

The trails had turned uneven after Nithal and we came to a screeching halt near the Baspa river crossing, about 2 km from Gundar. We had to cross the river to get to the other side and about 3 feet of water was flowing in its full force. A walk in the super cold water was on the cards.

Baspa river trek- Baspa glacier
Group near the Baspa glacier
Baspa river trek
The majestic Baspa glacier snout. Baspa river that flows through Sangla valley originates from here. Baspa is a left-side tributary of the Satluj river.

First Gautham ji and Kohinoor removed off some of their layers and went to the other side. Then, Happy and Rajeev along with three of us held each other’s hands and we formed a chain and crossed the river. Thanks to the lovely capture by Gautham ji (view video in above FB post), this memory (me, Chetan and Hiren crossing Baspa river) is as fresh as it just happened yesterday.

Towards basecamp of Lamkhaga pass
Inching closer to the lower basecamp of Lamkhaga pass
Rajeev giving us demo on how to slide down in snow in Lamkhaga lower basecamp
Rajeev giving us demostration on how to slide down in the snow in Lamkhaga lower base camp

After some hiking beyond the Baspa glacier, we had finally reached the lower basecamp of Lamkhaga pass by 12 noon.

After a long halt of lunch and some tutorials from Happy and Rajeev on snow sliding, we moved further ahead. With a major part of the day still left, it was indeed a sensible decision to skip camping in the lower basecamp and go further ahead. The path beyond Baspa glacier has been steep and the path ahead wasn’t going to be an easy hike.

The trails beyond the Lamkhaga lower basecamp
The trails beyond the Lamkhaga lower basecamp

With the legs washing off my pain killers, my legs literally went on a toss walking over the rocks and uneven surface. The treacherous uphill climb was like adding fuel to fire to an exhausted and injured ankle.

Lamkhaga base camp
The zombie walk beyond lower base camp

But I wasn’t the only one doing the zombie walk. Almost the entire group had become tired few meters up. It was like a never-ending hike.

Climb to Lamkhaga lower base camp
The never-ending hike beyond Lamkhaga lower base camp. Image credits: Aditya Prabakarn

All of us in the group had become completely exhausted. We were counting our steps and taking a break after every 30 to 50 steps. We had been walking, and walking.. and walking.. but the campsite was nowhere near sight. The thought of hiking up with an injured ankle is always easier said than done. With ankle pain turning deadly with every step, I was unsure if I could even make it to the campsite and just hoped I don’t crash or faint somewhere in the snow.

Know the altitudes:

Chitkul Village 3450m  Gundar 4050m
Lamkhaga lower basecamp 4400m

Blog by Sandhya Sourirajan