Visiting Kinnaur and spending some time with the locals was high on my bucket list for a long time. Finally, I got a chance to check out the Chitkul village in Sangla valley before our Lamkhaga Pass trek in May 2017, thanks to the impeccable planning of Gautam Baliga ji. On the 18th of May, Gautam, Aashish and I boarded the only Shimla to Sangla(altitude 2300m) direct bus to reach our destination for the day – the Sangla valley.
After an 8 to 9-hour journey on the HRTC bus, we reached Sangla at 5 pm. Tucked in the lower Himalayas in the district of Kinnaur, the Sangla valley is one of the most picturesque valleys in Himachal, located around 25 km away from the Indo-Tibet border. Sangla derives its names from a Tibetan word Sangala which means “passage of light”.
We checked into Baspa guest house in the valley and after a few minutes of break, we headed out to explore the Sangla valley. After 10-15 minutes of walk, we reached the Bairing Nag temple.
After reaching there, we came to know that outsiders are not allowed inside the temple. But it’s still worth a visit for the amazing exteriors of the temple and the peaceful surroundings.
A few hours into Sangla, I could feel that the best thing about this place is not just the beauty of it, but also the most friendly and amazing locals in this place. We had a great time in the Bairing Nag temple playing a game of volleyball with the kids and clicking pictures with the locals visiting the temple.
The next day, we visited the Sangla Buddha temple/monastery. One of the monks in the monastery had done a part of his monk studies in Bylakuppe, and he got immersed into a long chat with us after he came to know that Gautam and Aashish were from Bangalore. With our visit to Sangla happening just after the release of Baahubali-2, it was evident from our conversation with monks that the Sangla valley was no exception to the bahubali fever that had gripped the entire nation that time. The monks in Sangla told me how several locals in Sangla had traveled to Shimla to watch this movie as there were no theaters in Kinnaur.
If you are one of those traveling to Kinnaur. no matter how much packed your itinerary may be, you must take a day off to explore the beauty of Sangla and Kamru. Sangla is undoubtedly one of the most idyllic spots I have visited in Kinnaur, thanks to the natural beauty and the super amazing locals there.
Places to visit:
Bairing Nag Temple Sangla Buddhist Monastery Kamru
Reaching Sangla Valley
Sangla is 360 km from Chandigarh and the travel may take 15 to 16 hours. Delhi to Sangla is approx 580 km. Below is the approach route for Sangla: Shimla ⇒ Kufri ⇒ Fagu ⇒ Narkanda ⇒ Rampur ⇒ Jeori ⇒ Tapri ⇒ Karcham ⇒ Sangla Public transport: There is a Chandigarh-Shimla-Sangla daily direct bus that starts from Shimla at 6 am. 2-3 buses also start from Reckong Peo for commuting within Kinnaur that stops at Sangla.
Lamkhaga Pass (5282m) (Chitkul to Harsil), May 2018 This Himalayan high pass divides Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh from Uttarakhand in India. We followed the following route: –Chitkul to Rani Kanda -Rani Kanda to Dhumti -Dhumti to Gundar -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) -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) -Upper Kyarkoti to Kyarkoti -Kyarkoti to Gangnani -Gangnani to Harsilsn This is a remote pass and very few groups have finished this. Thus it could be a good option for all those who loves to visit the under-explored! Raacho Trekkers team did the first recce of the route from Kinnaur side in 2014.
Bordering along western Himalaya with Tibet and Garhwal, the Baspa valley of Kinnaur has been open to visitors since the early nineties. 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.
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.
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
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 MorindaTaal 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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)
Altitude: Altitude of Sangla Valley, Kinnaur District, Himachal Pradesh comes to around 3000 Mtr.
Bucketlist Places To See Around Sangla 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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!!!