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Kalpa & Charang Snow Hikes | Winter in Kinnaur

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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.

View of Snow covered Pangi village from Kalpa village of Kinnaur
View of Snow covered Pangi village from Kalpa
Unnamed peak on Kinner - Kailash mountain range[Winter in Kinnaur]
Unnamed peak on Kinner – Kailash mountain range
Newly renovated Kalpa Narayanas temple
Newly renovated Kalpa Narayanas temple
View of the valley , Kalpa , Kinnaur
View of the Kalpa valley Kinnaur
Roof of the Kalpa temple & Kinnaur Kailash peak (6050 m) in background
Roof of the Kalpa temple & Kinner Kailash peak (6050 m) in background
Snow covered Chini village of Kalpa in Kinnaur
Chini village of Kalpa, Kinnaur
Chini temple of Kalpa in Kinnaur
Chini temple Of Kalpa, Kinnaur
Unnamed peak on Kinner Kailash mountain range
Unnamed peak on Kinner Kailash mountain range
Snowy mountain tops above Barang village in Kinnaur
Snowy mountain tops above Barang village of Kinnaur
Jorkanden peak & adjoining peaks on Kinner Kailash Mountain range
Jorkanden peak and adjoining peaks on Kinner Kailash Mountain range
Hiking in deep snow near Kalpa football ground in Kinnaur
Hiking to Kalpa football ground, Kinnaur
Snowball fighting on Kalpa football ground in Kinnaur
Snowball fighting in Kalpa football ground of Kinnaur
Winter landscape of Chini village of Kalpa in Kinnaur
Magnificent Chini village of Kalpa, Kinnaur
Raldang peak overlooking Chini village of Kalpa.
Chini village Kalpa , Raldang peak (5425 m) visible in background
Snow covered fields of locals from Chini village of Kalpa
Snow covered fields of locals from Chini village of Kalpa
Hiking on snow near Kalpa football ground in Kinnaur
Snow hikes near Kalpa football ground of Kinnaur
Snowy Raldang peak of Kinner - Kailash mountain range in Kinnaur
Raldang peak (5425 m ) of Kinner – Kailash mountain range, Kinnaur
Icy road en route Kalpa village of  Kinnaur
Road to Kalpa valley of Kinnaur
Strolling in snow in Kalpa football ground
Strolling around Kalpa
Snowballing in Kalpa football ground of Kinnaur
Snowballing and Killing time in Kalpa valley of 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.  

National Higway 5 en route Moorang village of Kinnaur
World’s most treacherous road, National Higway 05, en route Moorang, Kinnaur
Walking on NH 5 near Moorang village of Kinnaur
Walking the Himalayas , near Moorang bridge , Kinnaur
Moorang village of Kinnaur
Village with a buddhist monastery & many chorten – Moorang
Slippery road near Moorang village of Kinnaur on NH 05
Slippery road near Moorang on National Highaway 05
A bridge on Satluj river connecting
Moorang bridge , Tidong valley , Kinnaur

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.

The trails to Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]
The trails to Charang, Kinnaur [Winter 2015]
In Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

In Charang, Kinnaur [Winter 2015]View of last ITBP check post and Rangrik Tungma monastery , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

View of last ITBP check post and Rangrik Tungma monastery , Kinnaur [Winter 2015]Halting place , en route Rangrik Tungma monastery , Charang Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Halting place, en route Rangrik Tungma monastery, Charang Kinnaur [Winter 2015]Waiting for the sunshine , Charang Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Waiting for the sunshine, Charang Kinnaur [Winter 2015]Trail to Rangrik Tungma monastery , Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

The trail to Rangrik Tungma monastery, Charang, Kinnaur [Winter 2015]Charang village , Tidong valley , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Charang village , Tidong valley , KinnaurHiking to Rangrik Tungma Monastery , Charang [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Hiking to Rangrik Tungma Monastery , Charang [Winter 2015]Dogs in Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Dogs in Charang , KinnaurPrayer flags in Rangrik Tungma monastery , Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Prayer flags in Rangrik Tungma monastery , Charang , Kinnaur [Winter 2015]Chorten , a Buddhist stupa , Charang Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Chorten , a Buddhist stupa , Charang Kinnaur [Winter 2015]Charang snowscape , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Charang snowscape , Kinnaur [Winter 2015]Prayer flags , Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Prayer flags , Charang , Kinnaur [Winter 2015]Searching for network in Charang , Kinnaur[Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Searching for network in Charang , Kinnaur

The next dawn gave us a new hope & we visited the Rangrik Monastery and offered prayers and visited the last ITBP post on the Indo China border.

Walking with the wind , returning from Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]
Walking with the wind, returning from Charang, Kinnaur [Winter 2015]
Singing stream , Tidong [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Singing stream, Tidong [Winter Kinnaur 2015]Walking along Tidong stream while returning back from Charang , Kinnaur [winter 2015]

Walking along Tidong stream while returning from Charang, Kinnaur [winter 2015]

Oh! I have written such a long story…I know many of you won’t read but I know that many more will read. The story is to keep my memories on records.

Blog by: Saurabh Tiwari

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Blog Kalpa Winter in Kinnaur

Chaka Meadows Hike – The Kalpa Trek

Home » Kinnaur » Winter in Kinnaur

Chaka meadows are mountain meadows high above Kalpa village of Kinnaur. It is a hike recommended for the ones in tireless twenties who have just started their trekking journey or for the people ones in late forties a time when knees begin to protest against the gradient and you start appreciating the least challenging of the mountain trails.

Wild himalayan flowers. Enroute Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Hidden deep beneath the winter snow, mountain flowers begin to grow. Who will wake when lilies bloom? Who will appear when spring is finally here? Wild Himalayan flowers. Enroute Chaka meadows

Kalpa To Chaka Trek

The Chaka(also spelled as Chakka) is the quintessential Himalayan mountain meadow — some people call it Chaka peak but there is no peak as such — located at an altitude of around 3800m above sea level.

The route

The trails start from a point on Kalpa Roghi road near charming Kalpa (Chini village) which is around 10 km from district headquarter, Reckong Peo.  One doesn’t need any prior trekking experience but a sound pair of lungs. I would say it’s a modest trek with great returns. The hike is steep though. We started hiking from a trail near the hotel Rakpa Regency which leads to Chaka Meadows. Early morning start is advised because it gets quite arduous when the sun starts hitting on the face and suddenly you start feeling the backpack load.

Wild flower enroute Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Wildflower en route Chaka meadows

A good trek is not measured just by the physical coordinates of cool heights attained and scenic ridges traversed. Perhaps more crucial is the inner satisfaction that derives from walking with companions who stay agreeable under testing conditions and whose sympathies remain as a warm afterglow. The marvelous sunrise from the Kinner Kailash mountain, breathtaking views of the mountain range and beautiful views of Kalpa village are major highlights of the hike.

Sitting by the stream , en route Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Sitting by the stream, en route Chaka meadows
Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Chaka meadows, Kalpa
Wild flower enroute Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur,
Wild flower enroute Chaka meadows
Traditional house , enroute Chaka meadows , Kalpa , kinnaur
The vintage home. It is a storehouse used in summers only during the sowing season. In winter people descend to their homes in Chini village.

Distance from Kalpa

The trail is around 3 kilometers long and it runs along a stream. It passes through fields of Chini villagers and Cedar forest below the meadows.  It’s a day hike and one can comfortably descend back to the Kalpa – Roghi road in the evening.

Small foot bridge , En route Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur
A small footbridge , En route Chaka meadows

Chaka-Kalpa Trek During Winter

Winter offers some of the prettiest, most serene trail adventures you can ever hope to have. Cleary sky, little or no crowd and snow-laden peaks are some of the perks that come with a winter hike.  Unlike in summers when you need to start early in the morning, one can start to hike in late morning in winters.  Hiking in winters has its inherent dangers. So one is advised to carry good gear and dress in layers.

Views from Chaka meadwos , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Views from Chaka meadows
Raldang peak framed! Enroute Chaka meadows trek , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Framing Raldang peak
Hiking along the stream, Chaka meadows trek, Kalpa , Kinnaur
Hiking along the stream
Frozen stream , en route Chaka meadows trek
Frozen in time and space
Chaka meadows Kalpa | Kinnaur in winters
Snow covered fields of Chaka meadows. These fields remain under the snow for 4-5 months. In summers people of Chini and surrounding villages of Kalpa climb up to their fields in Chaka Kanda and live here for 2-3 months. Imagine working in these fields in such beautiful surroundings.
Ice covered stream | Chaka meadows Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
Ice-covered stream
Walking besides the singing stream | Chaka meadows Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
Walking beside the singing stream
Winter snowscape , en route Chaka medows Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
Winter snowscape, en route Chaka meadows Kalpa
Chaka meadows trail , Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
There is no other trail that has such amazing views of the Kinnaur Kailash mountain range.
Chaka meadows trail, Kalpa
Chaka meadows hike, Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted
Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life
Her majesty , Mt Raldang (5499m) | Chaka meadows hike Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
Her majesty , Mt Raldang (5499m)
Singing stream. Chaka meadows hike Kalpa. | Winter in Kinnaur
“Sometimes you have to turn back and follow your own footprints to find the right path!”

Blog by Pawan Ranta

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Blog Chitkul village Kinnaur Sangla valley Trekking Winter in Kinnaur

Kinner Kailash Parikrama Trek in Winter

Home » Kinnaur » Winter in Kinnaur

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.