Winter in Kinnaur | Kalpa-Charang winter walks by Saurabh Tiwari
After a long delay, finally posting pics of our winter trip to Kalpa, Charang & the Rangrik Monastery. Charang is the last village on the Indo-China Border. The last ITBP post is located in this village. For the city folks, the village offers a complete escape from the busy city life. No network coverage — bosses can’t call you. For 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.
We reached Reckong Peo early in the morning and headed for a beautiful Kalpa/ Chini village. 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.
Chini village Kalpa , Raldang peak (5425 m) visible in background
Snowballing and Killing time, Kalpa football ground, Kinnaur
Now coming to our next day 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 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.
Moorang fort , Tidong valley , Kinnaur
Moorang bridge, Tidong valley, Kinnaur
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.
View of last ITBP check post and Rangrik Tungma monastery , Kinnaur [Winter 2015]
Halting place, en route Rangrik Tungma monastery, Charang Kinnaur [Winter 2015]
Prayer flags in Rangrik Tungma monastery , Charang , Kinnaur [Winter 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 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.