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.
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.