I was born in the late ’80s in a beautiful town of Kerala. Unlike the current kids, I never had to spend time on smartphones and laptops, browsing social networks. Instead, I spend my childhood reading books and climbing trees. Mountain stories of Ruskin Bond and other Indian writers made me fall in love with the Himalayas and the dream of visiting the mountains was not more than a fairytale for a boy who lived his entire childhood in a small town in far south. I moved to Delhi in 2016 and my Himalayan adventures started. In this post, I would like to share my recent escapade to the charming Chitkul Village.
Delhi to Rampur Bushahr
Like all the people who live in Delhi, I booked an overnight sleeper bus from ISBT Kashmiri Gate. My first plan was to book a ticket to Shimla and then to Reckong Peo. However then I changed it to Rampur, which is a small town on the way to Reckong Peo from Shimla. I prefer to book HRTC buses as they tend to reach the destination earlier than the expected time.
After we boarded the bus from Delhi, tired with the packing, chaotic rush to take the metro and wondering how the escalators of Kashmere Gate metro station can handle this much people; I slept immediately after we cross the mountain of garbages in Gazipur, which was not a pleasant sight. I woke up the next morning and we were crossing a beautiful mountain near Narkanda. White patches of snow were still seen in the shades of trees and hiding from the sun.
My travel companion was my younger brother and we reached Rampur in the morning at about 9: 30.
Rampur bus stand was very small, yet elegant. River Sutlej flows right behind the bus stand through the white marble rocks.
We freshened up at the bus stand and had a cup of tea and samosa. Everything tastes better in the mountains.
Buses from Rampur to Chitkul
If you are going to Chitkul, you have a few options. You can catch a bus directly to Chitkul, which will be rare to find from Rampur. Or you can board a bus for Sangla and from there, you can find a bus to Chitkul. Or you can first go to Reckong Peo, explore the beautiful small town and the Kalpa village; and take a morning bus to Chitkul. There is another option that you can take a bus to Reckong Peo and change the bus at Karchham. I would not recommend this as Karchham is just a bus stop and it is not advisable to get down and wait for another bus after you had a long journey from Delhi.
Rampur to Reckong Peo
I took the bus that was going to Reckong Peo as Kalpa was in my Itinerary. I heard about the famous Kinnaur route and its breathtaking view and trust me it was worth a ride. It was beautiful in its own way. It was the most dangerous road I have ever traveled in my life; but only until I saw the road to Chitkul from Sangla.
Roads are well maintained and in some parts, are made on groves carved on mountains; a sight which I think you will see only in this part of India. If you are taking a bus, sit in the front right side near the driver to get a better 180 degrees view of the place. The conductor sometimes allows you to sit in the front seat reserved for them. That’s the perfect spot and don’t forget to record the entire journey. Once you pass the grooved mountain roads, you will enter into a different topography of crumbled mountains and definitely, you will start to get the feeling of a hard journey you are going to witness.
River Sutlej accompanied us all along the way; and at Karchham, river Baspa joined the river Sutlej. From there it’s about an hour to reach Reckong Peo. Reckong Peo is a small town on the way to Spiti. The bus took a sudden turn and started climbing the mountains, uncovering the hidden gem of a town and the snow-capped mountains beyond. The evening sun had already given its golden kiss to this small town and in its glow; the mountains were already blushing in gold.
I spent two days in this beautiful town and the Kalpa village. But that is a story for another time.
Reckong Peo to Chitkul
The day we decided to go to Chitkul, we started early morning from the Kalpa Village and took a shortcut to walk downhill to Reckong Peo bus stand. The bus to Chitkul, via Sangla, was already there and was almost full with passengers. We got seats in the backside, but still, we didn’t miss the scenery much.
If you are a true traveler, please don’t use any cars or other commercial vehicles to travel to this place. Use the HRTC buses. The drivers of these buses are extremely skilled to drive through these roads and they will take you to the destinations safely. The roads are too narrow with dangerous curves without any barriers on the edge. It is very important to keep the traffic of this place minimal for the safety of the passengers and to sustain the natural beauty of this place.
The road to Chitkul from Karchham was the scariest road I have ever traveled on so far. It was narrow, destroyed with frequent landslides and steep slopes that brings a chill down your spine. Sounds scary? Well, that why we came here for, huh? “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to heaven, and only a few find it,” says the Bible and it is true here.
The Heaven of Sangla Valley
There are many villages on the way and the passenger are mostly villagers returning from work or came after visiting their relatives. Friendly, innocent souls with their own small stories to share. They greet you with a warm smile and love to talk about their stories. Smaller the villages, more heartily the stories they share; and bigger the cities, no stories to share.
Beautiful villages of Bastari and Rakcham were on the way and were entirely covered in snow. Baspa River accompanies you throughout the journey, sometimes near to you and sometimes far way deep down as a black snake winding in the snowy mountain beds. Villages were on both sides with apple trees and cherry blossoms. It’s the season of apple and apricot blooming. Apples bloom right after the snow starts melting and apricot blooms a little later. At some point in your travel, the river disappears and the road takes you to the meadows covered in snow and at that point, you become a poet.
We reached Chitkul by 4:30 in the evening and people were already waiting at the stand for the bus for its return journey. I asked the bus driver for the bus timings and went out for looking rooms before it got dark. I asked a few people for rooms and they said it costs Rs. 1000 per night and it will be the same everywhere. Chitkul is a microscopic village at the end of the old Tibetan route and hence called the last village of India on this route.
The village was completely covered in snow and only the roads were cleared. You could see the winding Baspa River and the snow-capped mountains beyond. Tourists were considerably less in this time of the year. We walked a little further and were able to find a hotel for Rs. 500 per night. If you are traveling to offbeat locations like this, never expect any cozy stay. Even the water is scarce at this time and the only option is the water from melting snow.
An Evening in Chitkul
After keeping our bags in the hotel, we went out to explore the village. We walked down to the riverside and some visitors were already on the other side of the river and trying hard to walk on the snow. Villagers told us to walk on the snow in the morning as it freezes at night and gets solid enough to walk. In the evening it gets soften by the Sun. We walked through the road cleared of snow down to the river bank. There is a small school on the bank of the river.
We walked around the school, excited to see the snowy landscape, clicked pictures. Late in the evening, we had our humble dinner and went to the room for sleep.
Next day when I woke up, the sun was already up and the reflected light from the snow lit my entire room. I looked outside and it was hard to see outside due to the brightness of reflected snow light. That was a view I could never forget.
Chitkul Village – Conclusion
I spent the entire day wandering in this little heaven of a village and let for Reckong Peo in the evening. I hope the information and the travelogue about traveling to Chitkul Village was of help. If you have any questions; or need any other details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.