After a long delay, I’m finally posting pics of our winter trip to Kinnaur — i.e. Kalpa (Chini village), Charang Village & the Charang Rangrik Monastery of Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh. Charang village is the last village on the Indo-China Border. The last ITBP post is located in this village.
Wintertime in Kinnaur
For the city folks, Charang village offers a complete escape from the busy city life. There is no network coverage — bosses can’t call you. For comfort-seeking travelers, I would 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 the Kalpa Buddhist monastery and the newly renovated Narayanas temple. We spent the rest of the day at a friend’s place in Reckong Peo and took a rest after 12 hrs enduring journey in the Chandigarh-Reckong Peo HRTC bus.
Reckong Peo to Akpa Check post bus ride & Long walks along the NH-05 Highway
Now coming to our next day’s experience which I consider no less than an achievement. Trekking on steep icy slopes for 20 km for 8 hrs continuously. With no one to your rescue walking endlessly with those baby steps in the snow…having no idea if 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 village around 1 PM, and took a taxi to Lambar village (the last motorable stop) in winters.
Moorang to Thangi village taxi ride & the long hike to Charang village
We started the trek from Lambar village at around 3 PM and reached Charang at about 11 pm. In the 20 km long stretch, there were only three of us walking continuously. Because in that extremely cold 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 on the steps of the ITBP jawans in the snow…which kept us hopeful that we were heading in the right direction. Each one of us was having plenty of dry fruits but none of us was able to — due to the prevailing freezing cold — 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 for the last post at Charang village on the Indo-Tibet border.
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. 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 as well. We sat near a fireplace and ate food thanking God for keeping us alive. I started chanting my daily mantras thanking God.
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.
Oh! I have written such a long story…I know many of you won’t read it but I know that many more will read. The story is to keep my memories on record.
Blog by: Saurabh Tiwari