Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Kinnaur

Attention Globetrotters: I had never done it in the past, I am not sure whether I’ll ever do it again but I am sure by the time, as a true travel aficionado, you are done reading this two part series (click here for Part II, Lahual and Spiti) and looking at the pics; you would have done more Google ‘research’, started making some ‘travel plans’ of your own, and hope to ‘be there’ one day.

it’s Different… 

Here the scenery is not always green and often black; roads can be dangerous and frequently blocked, accommodation at times sparse and just about OK, mobile and internet connectivity mostly only on public carrier and scrubby, even then I can bet that you would die to be at Kaza town, Spiti river, Nako lake, Sangla valley, Kalpa town, Spiti valley, Reckong Peo town, and so many more of similar absolutely awesome places at least once in your life time and possibly many times. What’s intriguing, till not very long ago in the past, outsiders needed special Government of India permits to visit many of these places considering the nearby Indo-Tibet border. We are now lucky that way…

What did I never do in the past?

Let me first set the context. I write my first hand experiences of places I visit, but this time it’s borrowed or a better word could be ‘vicarious’. My parents went on their umpteenth travelling trip at the start of this May and as they started sharing their experiences from day 1, my desire to be with them and be part of their trip started multiplying with each new place they would visit and describe. And looking at the pictures, I already started planning my own possible trip in the nearest possible future.

Interesting but not really surprising, in fact fairly obvious is the fact that my parents, especially dad, are the primary reason I fell in love with travelling and visiting new, different, distant and not just popular places. Thanks to them, by the time I passed out of college, I had been to at least one place in Assam, West Bengal, Orissa (Odhisha), Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra and Telangana), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra and UP, and all this even at the cost of exams at times. Since I am from Himachal Pradesh, I am not including that in the list (just did).

Not just a trip – a 1000+km 15+day circumnavigation

Coming to the current point, one fine evening I got a whatsapp message from my dad mentioning they were planning a trip. And it was an audacious plan of “completing a 1000+km 15+day 12000+feet/3650+m altitude circumnavigation through route Bilaspur – Shimla – Rampur – Reckong Peo – Kaza – Keylong – Manali – Kullu – Bilaspur (click here to see and appreciate it)”. I have myself been to Shimla, Rampur, Kullu and Manali. But rest of the places are in Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh, places not sought for by the usual travellers, some due to lack of knowledge perhaps and also due to its distance, but places which have so much to offer. I said, go for it and there started an amazing journey, full of loads of excitement.

Rampur Bushahr or just Rampur, the popular new town and the old principality 

With everything else in place, my parents started their journey one Saturday morning. After over 220km day long state road transport bus travel from Bilaspur to Rampur, which is in and about 130km from Shimla, my parents made their first night halt. It was dark, raining and a little cold. But they had started enjoying their trip. However, rain and cold in the month of May can be a little worrying too when you are about to make your trip to places which are not easy to approach due to possible landslides and could get really cold due to snow – and all that was waiting to happen and happened over the next 10 days.

In Rampur (click for location and how to reach Rampur), my parents visited the small but impressive palace of the erstwhile rulers, appreciated the mighty Sutlej River and moved on to their next possible stop. Considering the weather they set aside their audacious circumnavigation trip for a while and decided to take it one day at a time. It was an important moment in what was bound to be once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it did turn out to be same albeit they had to return half way from Kaza but with no regrets.

Sangla, Reckong Peo, Nako lake: the unexplored Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh

My parents who had decided to see how far they could reach – a wise decision that stemmed from their vast travelling experience, understanding of the region and my dad’s past trips to some of these places, were now ready to leave Shimla and enter Kinnaur.

Sangla Valley (click for location and how to reach Sangal Valley) located about 100km and 5-6hours away became their next destination. A very important tourist destination with river Baspa flowing through it, this is one place that must be on your travel itinerary. Places like Jhakhri, Nichar, Wangtu fall on the way and are beautiful and important in their own ways.

From there they moved on to Reckong Peo (click for location and how to reach Reckong Peo), more famous for being headquarters of Kinnaur district and known for tourist destination Kalpa. Located at the height of about 2,290 m/7,500+ft, this is important from commercial point of view as well. What is also interesting to mention here is, though the district is called Kinnaur, there is no place by that name.

With rain and cold playing hide and seek they now contemplated starting their return journey. But then the weather report for next couple of days turned out to be favourable and my parents decided to stick around and move forward, a decision they didn’t regret one bit.

Poo or Puh (click for location and how to reach Poo or Puh), a place located at an altitude of about 2,660m/8,700+ft and about 70 km and 3-4 hour drive away became the next stop. From there they went to the beautiful high altitude Nako lake (click for location and how to reach Nako lake), which is located at more than 3,660m/12,000+ft above sea level. My parents told me this was a sight to behold amidst the mighty cold, I couldn’t help but wish I were there.

Alas!.. Hopefully, may be sometime soon…

Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Lahaul and Spiti

The story doesn’t here. Go on and continue with the journey, click here for Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Lahaul and Spiti.

Worthless movies: Some folks making money, Some presuming savings, Most feeling just plain trauma

Yes, I am talking about the 70-80 rupees a ticket for movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays that is making lives miserable for so many of us. And I know there could be so many reasons why this is happening, in fact for both – cheap tickets and traumatic experiences. And I have my reasons for saying what I am saying. I recently watched two movies under this particular sway – ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’ and ‘Highway’ and couldn’t help but…

Hasee Toh Phasee was first nail

Hasee Toh Phasee – movie is a drag at so many places, it has a couple of good supporting actors but wasted all together, story is worth no mention, rest is all bad and led me to one question I could not find answer to – why is the movie called ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’. But I have got used to watching movies with ridiculously no relation between title and story. When the ‘Interval’ sign flashed, I was thrown off my chair wondering its only half way through yet. And I had liked one of the songs from ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’ but it came at the end when the only wish was to get out of the theatre, Alas!

Highway made real inroads

About ‘Highway’, I felt like they were trying to impose- it’s our way or the Highway and unfortunately both led to same, their way was ‘Highway’ too. A crappy movie – to put it mildy. I found solace in only one thing, a very selfish one. Towards the end the movie moves to Himachal Pradesh, my home state and goes to places like Kalpa, Reckong Peo and Pooh – places in Kinnaur district, places I have not been to but have heard a lot about their beauty from my family especially dad who has been there and massi who worked there for 3 years. And the beauty was said to be breathless and was captured really amazingly too in the movie. To me that was the only saving grace, only breath of fresh air on the entire ‘Highway’.

Money invested must reap profits for some, even though causing a straight loss for most

I don’t know the exact revenue sharing model – that is a trade secret and I am sure even trade pundits and enforcers would be clueless – but producers of movies, the distributors and finally the cinema hall owners all want returns on their investment (RoI, as it is called) – it’s stupid of me to say the obvious. Anyhow. So you make tickets cheaper and people think they will save money by paying 70-80 rupees for a ticket which would otherwise cost 150, 250 or maybe more. Even parking in a mall costs less if you watch movies on weekdays.

Overall you are saving money, makes sense you think, but do you really? Forget about trauma (we even lie to ourselves to say we like the movie even when we don’t  -ask the psychologists and they will tell you about cognitive dissonance and 1$ experiments and lies and stuff), it doesn’t even make financial sense. Even a satisfier like me thinks its waste of money, for an optimizer it should be more obvious. Spending a single penny on a movie you won’t watch in the first place is a loss, irreparable even.

Moreover, what I find traumatic is – in addition to money spent irrespective of the amount; drive on the crazy roads of Gurgaon to and from the cinema hall, spend money on parking too, wait for elevator after movie finishes – this is the worst, my head is screwed after watching the movie and then everyone is pushing everyone else to get into the elevator –is this the usual behaviour by everyone or everyone is pissed at the movie that each has been tricked into watching, and then have dinner at odd hours and finally go to bed with severe headache and fear of nightmares triggered by the bad movie.

This is a sad, really sad story, worth a movie maybe that people would pay to watch on weekends.

It will be back, still

And it doesn’t end. I mean the trauma will return. New movies releasing this weekend, some next and many later. Cheap tickets on weekdays is the perfect marketing ploy and good source of revenue ensuring profits where could have been none. And a whole lot of us will go back and watch these movies on weekdays on cheap tickets for various reasons of our own – some simply because tickets are cheap, some because they have hope that movie could be good and some like me because they are married. Anyhow.