Ropa valley of Kinnaur during Autumn month of November

Unexplored Kinnaur – Rusklang village of Ropa Valley

Kinnaur in northeast Himachal, surrounded by Tibet in the east, is the least explored and the second least populous district, after Lahaul & Spiti, in Himachal Pradesh, India.

The old Hindustan-Tibet road, the ancient Silk Route, passes through Kinnaur along the banks of Sutlej River. Kinnaur Kailash is a peak (6500 meters) in Kinnaur, considered the abode of Lord Shiva, and sacred to Hindus & Buddhists. The Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama trek is one of the toughest in the Himachal Himalayas.

Ropa stream. A right bank tributary of Satluj river
Rushkalang, Giabong and Sunnam villages of Ropa valley. Giabong village is located at lower elevation by the Ropa stream.
Hand woven shawl & hand-made jewellery
Apple orchard in Ropa valley

Rusklang village of Ropa valley, Kinnaur 

Most of Kinnaur is inaccessible mountainous area cut-off from the rest of the world. The valleys of Sutlej, Bispa, Spiti rivers and their tributaries are some of the most gorgeous ones I’ve seen! Ropa valley near Puh/ Pooh is famous for shawl-weavers, apple orchards, and the finest metal artisans.

Kinnaur is the most tribal part of Himachal, and the people, called Kinners, have lived in isolation since thousands of years and have a strong culture, heritage & religious beliefs. They mostly follow Hinduism or Buddhism and speak a dialect of the Tibeto-Burman family known as Kinnauri and wear distinct green caps.

Old ladies of Ropa valley, Kinnaur
Portrait of Rushkalang village lady

On the banks of Ropa river is the tiny beautiful village of Rusklang. Houses, streets and almost everything made of wood and stone, apple orchards and a bunch of warm & friendly people 🙂

Streets of Rushkalang village
Village entrance

How To Wear Kinnauri Ethnic Dress: A first timers guide 😅

Walking around in the village we met a family who invited us over for tea and generously served walnuts & almonds from their crop. They even brought out the traditional Kinnauri costume they wear during festivals, for us to see! Excited to see such exotic hand-made textiles and jewelry, we asked if one of them would dress up for us, and they obliged with much more! They dressed up one of us and we all had a good laugh 🙂

Traditional Kinnauri attire & jewellery
Wearing Thepang, the famed Kinnauri topi(hat), native to Kinnaur region
Wearing dhoru, the traditional Kinnauri dress
Wearing Dohru – A Kinnauri ethnic dress

A Kinnauri traditional dress is a handwoven woolen shawl with a bright colored border, wrapped around the body with pleats at the back. A hand-stitched green jacket worn over it with the green cap and finished with traditional hand-made intricate gold and silver jewelry.

Having a chat with the village ladies

Rusklang was my first experience of a village in Kinnaur. And the untouched natural scenic beauty & the heartwarming experience with the people made it a memorable one!

My first Kinnauri experience at Rusklang – A blog by Ritu Saini


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