The best places to visit in Kinnaur Valley:
The old Hindustan–Tibet Hwy – built by the British as a sneaky invasion route into Tibet – runs northeast from Shimla through the Kinnaur Valley, providing access to mountain villages with slate-roofed temples, the vast apple orchards, and some of Eastern Himachal’s grandest views. The Kinnauris, or Kinners, are proud Aryan people who mainly survive from farming and apple growing. You can recognize Kinners all over India by their green felt basheri hats. To truly appreciate Kinnaur, you have to leave the main road, much of which currently feels like an endless construction zone due to the multiple dam projects that are turning the powerful Sutlej River into a massive generator. With an easy-to-obtain inner line permit, you can travel onwards to the mountain deserts of the Spiti Valley. For much of the year, Kinnaur is a relaxing rural retreat, but that all changes in September October when Bengali holidaymakers flood into Kinnaur from the plains. Simultaneously, the annual apple harvest lures hundreds of fruit wholesalers from right across India. At this time it can be impossible to find a room anywhere in Kinnaur, especially in popular spots such as Kalpa and the Sangla Valley.
The Sangla, or Baspa, Valley is a deeply carved cleft between burly mountain slopes, where evergreen forests rise to alpine meadows crowned by snowy summits. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Himachal Pradesh. Down below churns the frothy Sangla River. Villages here, especially further up the valley, feature houses and temples built in traditional Kinnauri wood-and-stone-style. The area is best avoided during the busy Dussehra (Durga Puja) season when it’s overrun by Indian vacationers. The hair-raising road to the valley begins at Karcham on the Rekong Peo–Shimla Hwy, passing the gushing outflow pipes from a big hydroelectric plant. The largest village in the valley, Sangla was once a fairy-tale village of low wooden houses and slate-roofed temples looking out over a pristine valley, but the so-called benefits of hydroelectricity are changing all that.
Wooden houses are being rebuilt in concrete and new hotels are springing up on every corner. You’ll have to head into the hills to find the serenity that the valley was once famous for, though there are neck-craning views of Kinner Kailash from here and a few guesthouses set in blissfully peaceful gardens. Walk down to the lower village to admire the old stone houses and Hindu and Buddhist temples.
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AROUND THE SANGLA VALLEY:-
Clinging to a rocky spur 2km above Sangla, the village of Kamru was the former capital of the kingdom of Bushahr. The village is modernizing rapidly but there are some impressive slate and stone houses and temples. The village is dominated by the tower-style Kamakhya Devi Fort, the former home of the Thakurs of Bushahr (shoes and leather items should be removed and heads must be covered). Kamru is reached by a sealed road through apple and walnut orchards, starting just west of the bridge into Sangla. Further up the valley from Sangla are the smaller villages of Rakcham (3050m), 14km from Sangla and Chitkul (3450m) another 10km up the road. The last stop on the old trade route to Tibet – and an increasingly popular stop for backpackers – Chitkul is easily the most scenic settlement along the Sangla. A tiny wooden hamlet, it sits in a meadow above the treeline with full-on views of Rani Khanda Mountain up the valley. There are easy walks along the river and strenuous scrambles into the hills; this is where the trail circumambulating Kinner Kailash descends into the Sangla Valley. A handful of basic guesthouses in Chitkul have rooms are available here, for booking of any hotel please write to us. Buses leave Chitkul at 6 am and 2 pm, going through Sangla (₹30, one hour) all the way to Rekong Peo (₹60, 3½ hours).
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Rekong Peo is the main administrative center for Kinnaur and an important transport hub, but the main reason to visit is as a stepping stone to the pretty village of Kalpa, or to obtain a permit for onward travel to Tabo in Spiti. A steep walk above the town near the radio mast is the Kinnaur Kalachakra Celestial Palace (Mahabodhi Gompa), with a 10m-high statue of Sakyamuni and great views across to Kinner Kailash (6050m). Known to locals as ‘Peo’, the town is spread out along a looping road about 10km above the Hindustan–Tibet Hwy. Most hotels are around the main bazaar at the bottom of town or uphill from the bus stand. A set of concrete steps connects the bus stand and bazaar. There is nowhere to change money, but the State Bank of India ATM in the main bazaar accepts international cards.
This is an important junction, please visit our FAQ section to know how the route is planned for a visit to Spiti Valley.
Getting There & Away:-
The bus stand is 2km from the main bazaar by road or 500m by the steps that start by the police compound at the top of ITBP Rd. Buses run roughly hourly to Shimla (₹265, 10 hours) from 4 am to 7 pm, via Jeori (for Sarahan; ₹90, four hours) and Rampur (₹120, five hours). To Sangla, there are direct buses at 9.30 am, 1 pm and 4 pm (₹50, 2½ hours) or you can take any bus heading south and change at Karcham (₹25, one hour). For Spiti, there’s a 7 am a bus to Kaza (₹250, 11 hours) via Nako (₹125, five hours) and Tabo (₹200, nine hours). A second bus leaves for Tabo at 4 pm, and another head only as far as Nako at noon. You need an inner line permit to travel this route – see left. Local buses run hourly from the main bazaar to Kalpa (₹10, 30 minutes), or you can take a chartered taxi (₹700) or shared taxi (₹300). Taxis charge ₹3000 to Sangla and ₹8000 to Shimla or Kaza.
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Reached by a winding road above Rekong Peo, Kalpa is a little gem. Majestic views of the Kinner Kailash massif grab your eyeballs and don’t let go. The surrounding orchards and forest provide easy walks, or you can just wander the narrow cobbled streets. There are several simple guesthouses here, plus a growing number of modern hotels on the ridge above town. According to legend, this was the winter home of Shiva, and there are some impressive Kinnauri-style temples in the Narayan Nagini temple complex, plus a colorful Buddhist temple at the top of the village. In September/October, villagers pile wildflowers in the center of the village as part of the annual Phulech Festival.
For a Kinner Kailash Yatra, please call us or visit our FAQ section for complete details for Yatra. Also, you can extend your trip to the Spiti valley and trance valley till Ladakh. Please refer to our blog Spiti blog or tour page to know the cost.
Feel free to call us for booking or arranging an unforgettable trip at 9910656940 or Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.