The crown of India, the Himalayas, have enchanted many travelers. There are so many hill stations that have mesmerized tourists for centuries. However, most of these are now flocked with tourists and have turned into commercial centers, which have adversely affected the ecology and spoilt the charm of the majestic beauty characteristic to the lofty mountains. Thankfully, the great ranges have in their ambit, some relatively untouched scenic locales that retain the natural charisma. Of these, Kinnaur and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh are regarded as rare gems that lend unrelenting views and an unforgettable experience for those who dare to challenge themselves to be inspired by the glory of the great Himalayas.
- A brief background
Kinnaur, aptly termed as the Land of Gods, prides itself as the unparalleled viewpoint of Kailash, legendary abode of Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology. Kinnaur district encompasses Reckong Po, its administrative headquarters, along with Pooh, Kalpa and Nichar. It is about 235 km from Shimla. The National Highway -22 is the most convenient communication network to Kinnaur. The district has three mountain ranges – Greater Himalayas, Zanskar and Dhauladar, encompassing the beautiful valleys of Sutlej, Spiti and Baspa rivers. Flanked by Tibet to the east, Kinnaur can be reached via the old Hindustan-Tibet Road, along the banks of Sutlej. Kinnaur was a favorite resting spot along the trade route between Tibet and India in ancient times.
- Heritage galore
The place is famous not only for its natural and gorgeous landscapes, but also the rustic and old-world charm of its unique lifestyle and religious history. It is believed that the Pandavas lived here during their famous exile. The inhabitants are a mix of Hindus and Buddhists, living in peaceful brotherhood and the traditions and cultures here are a seamless amalgamation of the two faiths. People are honest and deep-rooted in their culture and take pride in their heritage, protecting the ecological wonders with their simple living. Travelers can enjoy the monasteries here that exist since thousands of years along with experiencing the holy Hindu ‘Parikrama of Kailash’.
- Lushness as far as you can see!
Expanses of greens include undulating meadows and lush green pastures, along with dense forests of chir, deodar, blue pine, rhododendrons and junipers.A bird-watchers paradise, since the area is home to many colorful and tiny birds as well!
Home to the shimmering Nano lake and wildlife sanctuaries, Kinnaur is a rare wonder where man and God’s marvels reside in harmony.
The lovely orchards here bear exotic fruits that have a pure and nectar-like taste. From apples, apricots, peaches to pine nuts, you are sure to savor the delight of God’s own fruits!
- Challenge yourself!
Great adventure sports await those with a high adrenaline rush, as well as beautiful trekking routes. Ski slopes are there aplenty, and one can also enjoy the daring rock climbing here to test one’s physical mettle. At an altitude ranging from 2,320 to 6,816 meters, it is one of the highest points that is reachable by motorable transport on the Himalayas. In fact, the destination is a favourite with adventure bike enthusiasts since it offers an exhilarating experience!
- When to visit?
The best time to visit is from April to October, when the snow has melted in some of the lower areas.
- A short introduction
Fondly called as ‘a world within a world’, this quaint valley is tucked away in the high-reaching folds of Himalayas, at altitudes of 3600 m with Tibet to the east and Ladakh to the north. This region is completely Buddhist, and is dwelled upon by only 10,000 humans, who are pure-at-heart and spiritual in their daily undertakings. Flourishing in this valley isa vibrant heritage which comes alive in festive celebrations, full of vigor and conducted with gaiety, marked with respect for nature. Traditional song and dances reveal the enthusiasm that flow in the veins of the Spiti residents.
Essentially a cold desert, Spiti lies on the leeward side of the mountains. Yet the grey-ribbon of the Spiti River runs along its midriff, carving out a picturesque view, along with the rugged crags. The area is dotted with monasteries, barley fields and whitewashed mud-brick homes.
- Paradise for visitors
Trips to Spiti can be as varied as the spiritual sojourns, cuisine trails, culture revelations, adventure sports and simple nature pleasures, each characterized with dynamism and rustic experiences.
The Spiti-Kinnaur road is one of the most challenging roads in India, and finds favor with bikers, and rally drivers, amongst others, who like to combat nature.
- How/ when to reach?
One can take the bus from Manali to Kumzum La between June and October, and the road from Kinnaur is open all year round, with the exception of heavy snow days in winters.
Best time to travel to Spiti is September to October to soak in the autumn colors of orange leaves, complemented by the pure azure blue of the river water. Although technically, Spiti is open from May to October.
The exotic trips to Kinnaur and Spiti are not for the faint hearted, so one should plan to visit these well-aware of the challenges that you may face due to scarcity of resources. If you are one who does not mind leaving the luxuries of modern comfort, to experience one of God’s best creations, have a flair for living in minimalistic surroundings and love the bounties of nature, this could be a life-altering trip for you!