I am a proud mountain girl but there are things in Himachal that I have only heard, and never seen.Needless to say, I have a strong desire to explore the unexplored. Today, I am going to share my first venture in to Mountain tracks of Kinnaur along Sutlej river on Hindustan-Tibet Road.
Kinnaur: The Location
Kinnaur is one of the twelve districts of Himachal Pradesh. It is located on north-eastern side of the state sharing border with Tibet and Uttarakhand.
Kinnaur: When We Met (Journey included)
With excitement at its zenith, we started our voyage to Kinnaur from Shimla (Capital of north Indian state, Himachal Pradesh). Savoring the beauty of Cedars on the way and relishing the seasonal hill fruits we excitedly looked around in amazement. After Narkanda, we swiftly dived to the level of ‘Sutlej’ river flanked by a rough road running along the banks of this fiercely roaring river, sprinting at the base of sky-scraping mountains.
The greenery was bountiful to start with. Gradually, as we left the territory of Shimla and moved further into the heart of Himalayas, into Kinnaur, the vegetation became scarce and finally disappeared, leaving aside a few emerald spots (just like oasis in the desert). This is nothing but the indication of the strong-will and the courage of the natives. They have marveled the art of living in harmony with Nature, which is rarely soft on them.
Kinnaur: The Place
As such, there is no place with the name of Kinnaur; it’s actually the entire region. Kinnaur is well recognized for its Tribal status in the State, numerous Hydro Power Projects, beautiful Sangla Valley, Kinner Kailash mountain peak, as the doorway for river Sutlej into India, and for having one of the most treacherous roadways in the world.
The upright hilly terrain of Kinnaur makes it hard to imagine any life out there, but the density of villages at such unbelievable altitude is the evidence that nothing is impossible, once you have determination. The snow laden mountain peaks are a visual indulgence for the visitors. Myriad waterfalls adorning the naked rocks seem to be in a hurry to move downhill, and ultimately congregate with the ‘Sutlej’. You can never get enough of the soul touching vista.
There is also a flip side to this enchanting beauty. Lack of vegetation and perpetual melting of snow from the glaciers lead to regular and massive landslides which sometime block the road for days and sometime even the road has to be made afresh. We faced one such situation where a stretch of just 2 km was swapped to a link road of 22 km; first a spiral ascent followed by a similar descent. I guess it’s a normal thing for the inhabitants who seemed to make no fuss at all. However the BRO is taking great care of the road but it’s never an easy job to surmount Nature.
Despite all the intricacies, the natives have managed to live a peaceful, cheerful and prosperous life. You won’t see poverty. In fact, Kinnauris are one of the wealthiest people of the Himachal due to many cash crops. ‘Apple of Kinnaur’ is world-famous for its scrumptiousness and shelf-life. Dry fruits, Beans, Peas etc. enormously add to their prosperity. Kinnaur is also famous for the production of a highly cherished local grape wine ‘Angoori’.
Countless hydroelectric power projects have also contributed to the development of the area by carving roads to the toughest spots, and generating employment to the denizens as well as outsiders.
Kinnaur: Places to See
The Headquarter of the district, it is situated at 2670m above the sea level and is 260 km from Shimla. Earlier known as ‘Land of Gods’ and ‘Chini Tehsil’; it offers a panoramic view of ‘Kinner Kailash’, the abode of Lord Shiva with a 79 feet long Shivlinga. An annual pilgrimage is often done by religious as well as adventurous people from local as well as far-off places.
There is also a magnificent temple dedicated to Chandika devi in Kothi near Peo.
A small hamlet, located at a height of 2759m and 13 km from Peo. You can see the glorious tri-peaks from here; Jarkanden (6473m), Kinner Kailash (6050m) and Roldeng (5499m).
Ribba: On the way from Peo towards Nako. Famous for Vineyards.
Khab: Confluence point of Sutlej and Spiti river.
Small village in the Hangrang Valley with the backdrop of Reo Purgyal (6816m), the highest peak in Himachal Pradesh in eastern Kinnaur near Tibet border. Nako is the largest village at the elevation of 3662 m above the sea level. You can reach here after a 4 hour journey from Reckong Peo (103 km). It’s famous for a small and beautiful holy lake, and Nako Monastery which was built in 1025 AD.
On the way to Nako, many dangerous points force you to hold your breath but the adventure gives you an unparalleled adrenaline rush. The Road is in a dire need of fixing, upto Ribba beyond which you go zoom…. Summer is the best time to visit and the climate is all soothing. According to native, the rains are scanty in this part of the Earth. Either it’s totally pleasant (like right now) or it’s utterly harsh, once it snows. We met countless bikers moving on with firm determination. Most of them are going to ‘Leh’ to come back via ‘Manali’.
Eventually when we reached Nako, our long journey got rewarded, The lake is such a hidden gem.
This was our first time in Kinnaur. Second journey later took us to Chitkul.
HAVE YOU VISITED KINNAUR? IF YES HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE?
Do Share in the comment box.
Read the previous Oriental Afterglow Travel Tale here. Hot Wonders of Himachal.