How to Plan your Visit to Kalpa, Himachal?

by Vargis.Khan

There are numerous places all over Himachal that are blessed with mesmerizing natural beauty. Some of these places are quite famous like Shimla and Manali; but then there are a few others that are not so well known , but no less in beauty still. In fact considering the kind of crowd that Shimla and Manali receive, visiting some of these unknown and offbeat destinations can prove to be a much better trip. One such place that I recently went on a trip to and would like to talk about in this article is Kalpa; a small town located in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh.

The name Kalpa would probably be known only to people who have traveled around a lot in the hills; or who have been on the Spiti circuit at least once. Kalpa and the nearby town of Reckong Peo is mostly used as the center point of the journey from Shimla to Kaza. It is not completely an unknown destination because tourism is a major part of the livelihood of the people around here. You will definitely find tourists here during summer and the place is also very well connected. It however is still not known to many people and it never gets crowded around here. So if you were planning a trip in near future; wanted to travel to a less crowded place that offers peace and tranquility as well as stunning vistas all around; then Kalpa could prove to be an ideal destination.

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How to Plan a Trip to Kalpa

There are two ways that you can get to Kalpa. You can either reach here from Shimla or take the longer route via Manali. Which of these will be the best route; what to see in Kalpa; and how you can plan your journey is what I will be providing details on in this post; along with some other details like accommodation and mobile network etc. If, after reading the article, you have any other questions then you may ask those in comments towards the bottom of this page.

Below is an index of information that we will be discussing in this post.

Why you should visit Kalpa?

I have been to Kalpa more than once but it was always part of my Spiti trip really. The first time I reached here was several years ago and since then, I have always made sure that I stay at Kalpa for at least one day whenever I traveled towards Kinnaur valley. The best thing I like about this tiny hamlet its location. From the Shimla Kaza highway, you climb up approximately 16 kilometers on a steep and narrow road; getting a sharp incline in altitude. When you finally make it to Kalpa, you are greeted with a majestic view of imposing Kinner Kailash peaks; also known as Kinnaur Kailash peaks.

It is rare that you would have witnessed a sight like this unless you have been to a lot of hill stations. It is a view that makes the entire journey to Kalpa totally worth it and will remain with you for months to come. Sitting in the balcony of your hotel, doing nothing and sipping down some hot tea, while staring at the peaks in front, is a perfect example of some time away from our regular city lives. While planning a trip to Kalpa, you can either just visit Kalpa if you were short on time; or incorporate with a trip covering the entire Kinnaur valley; or keep Kalpa a part of your journey on Spiti circuit.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Chitkul?

Where is Kalpa Located?

Kalpa is located in Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh.

How to reach Kalpa

The first question that comes to mind is on how to reach Kalpa. As I mentioned previously in the article, Kalpa is very well connected by road and you can actually get here for all 12 months of the year. The nearest major town is Shimla, located about 220 kilometers that can be covered in 7-8 hours depending upon your speed. From Shimla, you will climb uphill all the way till Narkanda and then you will drive down to the banks of Sutlej River. You will then continue towards Reckong Peo while crossing Rampur, Jeori and Powari on the way. A few kilometers after Powari, a road climbing up on your left is the one that you will need to take. You will first reach Reckong Peo and then finally to Kalpa.

Airport Near Kalpa

The nearest airport to Kalpa is the Shimla airport located in Jubbarhatti. After Shimla, the next nearest airport is the Bhuntar airport between Chandigarh and Manali. These are however small airports and flights to both these places are limited. The nearest major airport is at Chandigarh which is connected with several flights from all over the country.

Train Station Near Kalpa

The nearest train station also is at Shimla but like the airfield, this train station also is a small one; connected to Kalka by the famous Kalka – Shimla toy train. The nearest major railway station is at Chandigarh; trains to which are available from all major cities in the country.

Kalpa By Road

If you were driving on your own, then you can follow the route that I mentioned above via Shimla, Rampur, Jeori and Powari. If you however were traveling by public transport then you will first have to reach Shimla. By Air or train, you can first reach Chandigarh and then catch a daily Bus to Shimla from Chandigarh bus stand. From Shimla, there is a daily bus that starts early in the morning and reaches Reckong Peo by later afternoon.

If you missed the bus, then you can also catch a shared cab that ply on this route in ample amounts. Once you reach Reckong Peo, finding a mode of transport to Kalpa in form of another shared cab or tempo traveler will not be that tough. Another way for this journey of would be to hire a private cab to get you to Kalpa directly from either Chandigarh or Shimla.

Also Read: Top Offbeat Destinations in Himachal

How to reach Kalpa from Delhi by Bus

Kalpa is very well connected by public transport and getting here by Bus is not difficult at all. From Delhi and Chandigarh, there are HRTC Buses available for Reckong Peo. In Delhi, you can board this Bus from ISBT. Reckong Peo is about 10 kilometers from Kalpa and once you get there, you can board another local Bus to get to Kalpa which will cost you about Rs. 15 and is available every one hour. The travel time from Delhi to Reckong Peo via Shimla is about 18-19 hours (sometimes even more). From Peo to Kalpa, it is a journey of 20-25 minutes at most.

The HRTC Bus is an ordinary one and can be a bit uncomfortable for a long journey. If you do not want to travel by it, then another option would be to board the HRTC AC Bus. It leaves ISBT Delhi at 7:30 PM and reaches Reckong Peo the next day at 9 AM. The total fare is about Rs. 1000 per person.

Another way to do the journey will be to board a Bus from Delhi for Rampur. From Rampur, you can then board another Bus for Reckong Peo which will about Rs. 200 per person.

How to reach Kalpa from Shimla

The most comfortable way to travel by Bus, however, would be to find one from Delhi to Shimla and then Shimla to Peo. There are numerous Volvos/Scania buses available between Delhi/Chandigarh and Shimla. Fare is about Rs. 1000 per person for Delhi to Shimla by a Volvo and Rs. 800 for an AC Bus.

Once you are in Shimla, you can then board an ordinary Bus for either Rampur or Reckong Peo from Tutikandi bus stand. Shimla to Rampur ordinary bus ticket is about Rs. 300 per person. There are several buses plying between Shimla to Rampur and finding one will not be a problem in the morning. From Rampur, you will then take a bus for Reckong Peo for Rs. 200 and then another Bus from Peo to Kalpa.

Bus fare from Shimla to Reckong Peo is Rs. 500 per person. You can even book your ticket online for this. There is one bus that leaves at 9 AM and another one at 9.30 AM.

You can book HRTC buses online at https://www.hrtchp.com

Weather in Kalpa

No matter which time off the year you visit here, Kalpa will always be cold. During summer, it will be the pleasant kind of cold; when the temperature during day will be between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius. At nights however, temperature will drop down to close to 5 to 10 degrees. In winter season, it starts to snow here and temperature remains below 0 degrees Celsius. Chances of a snowfall remain from January until the month of March. In April, it may not snow but will still remain very cold. May onward, weather will start go get warm and pleasant until July.

Monsoon arrives towards late July and remains until late August during which, it can rain here anytime. Rainfall can be from moderate to so intense that it can even cause landslides. From September, the temperature will again start to dip and will continue to do so as winter arrives. From December and then again until March next year, the area gets covered under a sheet of snow.

Clothes to Pack for Kalpa Trip

What kind of clothes to bring for Kalpa will really depend on the time of the year you are arriving here. A warm, thick and windproof jacket however is must irrespective of the month. If you were planning a winter trip, then ensure that you are carrying all heavy woolens, waterproof gloves and waterproof shoes. Also make sure that your jacket has a hood to protect your head, neck and face. During summer however, carry your regular cottons with some light woolens and a heavy jacket and that will be sufficient. While visiting in the months of July and August, ensure that you are bringing clothes that can dry fast; polyester for example. Proper rain gear inclusive of a good quality waterproof jacket along with a good umbrella will be a must for visiting Kalpa in monsoon.

Best time to Visit Kalpa

During winter season,  the temperatures in Kalpa dip considerably; because of which, the months of summer from May onward can be considered as best time to visit Kalpa. This time, the weather remains moderately cold and rather pleasant.

It will however also depend on what exactly are you looking for. If lush green mountains and blossoming valleys is what interests you, then the months of monsoon or September is also a good enough time to go to Kalpa. Monsoon months of July and August however also bring copious rains to the region and landslides become common. If a snow covered white Kalpa is on your mind than the months of January and February will be best to go. Both these months bring fresh snow to Kalpa, and can see temperatures dipping well below freezing point.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Prashar Lake?

What to see in Kalpa

There is not much to see in Kalpa really. It is not a major town with a long list of must visit places. What is does offer in plenty however is peace and tranquility. Come to Kalpa if you want to spend some time away from the crowd and city life. The view of Kinner Kailash peaks remains to be the primary attraction of Kalpa. The town is also famous for its Apple orchards. Apple farming is a major part of the livelihood of people here. Taking a walk through the town and its apple orchards is a very pleasant experience.

Another tourist spot is the suicide point which is about 4 kilometers out of Kalpa towards Roghi village. If you wish to, you can continue another 5 kilometers on the same road to reach Roghi village, popular for its apple orchards and ethnic village life, which includes temples, monasteries, Kinnauri style buildings.

Kothi village which is located about 5 kilometers from Kalpa is also visited by many tourists. An ancient shrine here is dedicated to Goddess Chandika, a manifestation of Goddess Kali. The architectural style of the temple and the gold image of the deity makes this village worth a visit.

How to Move around in Kalpa

Kalpa is a small town and you can actually cover all of it on foot in less than an hour. Visiting nearby places like Roghi, Kothi and suicide point however can be a bit of a hassle if you were not visiting by your own vehicle. In that case, you will either have to hire a local taxi or a motorbike from Reckong Peo.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Sarahan?

Where to Stay in Kalpa

There are a lot of hotels in this entire area including both Reckong Peo and Kalpa so you will have no trouble finding a place to stay. Whether or not to book your stay in advance will entire depend upon you. I am more of a person who would rather arrive at the destination; find a hotel per liking and negotiate an on the spot deal. If however booking your stay in advance gives you the peace of mind than you can do that as well.

To find a good hotel however, continue driving up all the way up and cross the town of Kalpa as well. The views get better as you go further up. Do not check into any of the hotels between Reckong Peo and Kalpa. Once you arrive at Kalpa, cross it through the narrow roads and head towards HPTDC Hotel Kinner Kailash. If this hotel fits your budget, then it is a stunning place to stay. If not, then there are several other hotels around it where you can check for vacancy.

Where / What to eat at Kalpa

All the hotels here in Kalpa serve all north-Indian dishes so you can easily order at the same hotel that you were staying at. If not, then there are a few restaurants at the main Kalpa chowk. You can walk till here from your hotel and enjoy some Himachali / Kinnauri dishes at these eateries. You will also be in fact surprised by the number of Bengali people living here. There are a lot of them here running hotels and restaurants. So if you wanted to enjoy some fish curry rice, you can walk up to a Bengali restaurant and try some.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Chanshal Pass?

Shopping in Kalpa

Kinnaur is famous for its Handloom and Handicraft items like shawls, caps, mufflers, article of wood carving, metal work and silver & gold ornaments that you can consider buying . Apples of Kinnaur are considered to be among the best in the world so that can definitely be something to buy. Some other eatables that you can look for are almonds, chilgoza, ogla, apricots and grapes.

ATM / Banks in Kalpa

The nearby town of Reckong Peo is actually the headquarters of Kinnaur valley and a major town. Because of this, there are banking facilities in this area and you will have no problem finding a bank as well as an ATM.

Things to do in Kalpa

There is not much to do in Kalpa except to savor the natural beauty around. If you are into trekking then you can take a hike to Kinner Kailash peaks. If not, then just relax at your hotel and enjoy your stay. Short walks towards suicide point and Roghi Village can be a pleasant activity.

Petrol Pumps near Kalpa

There are two petrol pumps at Reckong Peo and one at Powari. As you move towards Shimla from here, you will continue coming across gas stations at regular intervals. If you however went towards Manali, then the next petrol pump after Peo is at Kaza and then at Manali.

Medical Facilities in Kalpa

There are a couple of dispensaries in Kalpa but If you need a Doctor or a hospital, you may have to drive down to Reckong Peo. The hospital in Peo is a well-equipped one. In case of a serious medical emergency, the patient would then have to be shifted to either Shimla or Chandigarh.

Mobile Network / Data Connectivity in Kalpa

No matter which network you are on, your cell phone will remain connected while visiting Kalpa. Voice clarity will be good and you will have good reception throughout the region. Even in terms of internet, you will have 3G or 4G data connectivity.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Sangla Valley?

Kalpa Itinerary

Now to the most important part, how to plan a trip to Kalpa. For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are starting from Delhi. A journey to Kalpa will then take two days. On Day 1, you will reach either Shimla or Narkanda. I personally prefer staying at Narkanda better than the crowded Shimla city. On Day 2, you will travel for 6 to 7 hours and arrive at Kalpa. Depending on the number of days in hand, you can stay at Kalpa for a day or two and then travel back to Delhi the same road.

A better way of the journey will be to cover the entire Kinnaur valley. You will then travel from Narkanda to Kalpa and stay here for a day. From Kalpa, you can then travel to Chitkul and spend some time in Sangla valley. The next day, from Chitkul, you will arrive and stay at Sarahan; and then continue back to Delhi via Shimla.

An even better way of the journey will be to complete the entire Spiti circuit. You will then arrive at Narkanda on Day 1, at Kalpa on Day 2, at Kaza on Day 3, Manali on Day 4 and return to Delhi on Day 5. This is just the bare minimum time. Depending on the number of days you have, you can add destinations to this plan like Chitkul and Sarahan.

Kalpa Road Conditions

The road from Shimla to Kalpa is smooth all the way. It always remains in good conditions except for a few bad patches in between. There is some road widening work going on between Chandigarh and Shimla so you may face some slow traffic here; but once you cross Shimla, it is good tarmac all the way.

If you were however coming from Manali side, then the roads will mostly be bad with the stretch between Manali and Kaza a total nightmare. There will be water crossings, nalllahs, broken roads, boulders, lose stones, high altitude passes, slush, narrow sections and everything that you can imagine on a terrible road.

Conclusion

I hope the information above on visiting Kalpa was of help. If you have any further 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.

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33 comments

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Prem Lata Nigam March 1, 2020 - 6:26 pm

Hi vargiskhan
Excellent in detail blog and thank you so much for information i asked you last time,i did solo spiti trip
Delhi to Chandigarh to Narkanda to nako to Chicham to manali and back to delhi
Now in April i am planning a trip to kalpa chitkul and sangla valley or sarhan
Please suggest the best way to do it.
Will be highly obliged.
I will be reaching shimla on 20th april by early morning flight
Please also suggest how to proceed from airport.
Thanks in anticipation
Regards

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Priya Ravi December 14, 2019 - 7:07 am

Hey Vargis, we are planning to visit Kalpa in Feb end (hopefully it would be a good time to visit?), and we would be coming from Delhi / Chandigarh airport.

We have set aside 7 days for the visit. Saturday to Saturday. Can you please recommend, in your expert wisdom, how many days we should spend in kalpa and if there is any other place(s) we can stay/ cover along the way to kalpa that’s offbeat ?

Usually what i see mentioned is we halt at shimla and then proceed to kalps. But i wanted to get your opinion on this!

Thanks!

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Vargis.Khan December 15, 2019 - 9:52 am

Hi Priya – One day is enough in Kalpa really. I will recommend spending some time in Sarahan and Sangla as well.

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Aditi December 8, 2019 - 7:15 am

What a wonderful article. It answers every possible question. One of the very few sites which remains true to the term ‘travel guide’.

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Sonu Negi June 26, 2019 - 11:02 am

Hi Vargis. You can add trek to Chaka meadows in things to do section. Thanks
https://raachotrekkers.com/chaka-meadows-hike/

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Vargis.Khan June 27, 2019 - 12:00 am

Thanks Sonu

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Sangeeta ketkar June 6, 2019 - 6:10 am

Vargis..
Nice article. Good detailing. Still i would like to know..
1. How much time it takes from shimla to kalpa excluding any halt in between? Also the tine to travel from kalpa to Chandigarh railway station. Probably vehicle would be innova.
2. Secondly would like to know which is better season to see snow covered mountains as well as flowers blooming along with clear road.. In short best period.. October or april?
3. Best property to stay at kalpa with good aminities and good tasty food.?

-sangeeta ketkar

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Vargis.Khan June 6, 2019 - 5:20 pm

1. Shimla to Kalpa – 6-7 hours … Chandigarh to Kalpa , 11-12 hours
2. April would be better
3. The HPTDC prperty is a good place to stay.

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Sangeeta ketkar June 7, 2019 - 3:08 am

Thanx a lot..

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Vargis.Khan June 7, 2019 - 3:23 am

You are welcome !!!

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Prem Lata Nigam July 26, 2019 - 7:08 pm

Hi
I am planning a solo trip to kalpa and from there to kibber
I have been to kalpa almost thirty years ago and just fell in love with it
I want to break my jouney in between delhi to narkanda
Which is the best place to do the same
A very informative interesting blog on kalpa

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Vargis.Khan July 26, 2019 - 8:59 pm

Thank you. Chail would be a good place to break your journey. Delhi to Chail, then Chail to Narkanda and then to Kalpa.

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Jayant June 3, 2019 - 11:57 am

Hello vargis….your article is indeed good.
I m planning to visit a peaceful and tranquil place like chitkul and kalpa and have 4 to 5 days for my complete journey..which I’ll start from Delhi. So please suggest me to must visit and stay to places..also I would like to know about bike service facility..where I could get.

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Durgesh May 30, 2019 - 7:04 am

Hello Vargis, how will be the road conditions in end of December to visit Kalpa.

can we reach there by bullets in december?

We have already done Shimla- spiti- manali in oct end 17. Your blogs helped us a lot at that time as well.
Kindly assist if we can visit kalpa in december end.
Thanks

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Vargis.Khan May 30, 2019 - 9:41 am

Just check the weather to ensure it is hasn’t snowed anywhere in between causing any roadblocks Durgesh. The road is smooth all the way otherwise.

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Nitish May 18, 2019 - 10:31 am

Can you suggest the following :
1)Would mountains be covered in snow or in greenery incase I try to visit it during non peak season like November ?

2)If we plan to go in Jan/Feb, is there a possibility of road being cut off by snow ?

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Vargis.Khan May 18, 2019 - 4:42 pm

1. November is a very dull and dry time to go Nitish, probably the worst month.
2. Plan in Feb, it will be all open. It may be blocked temporarily for a a couple of days in January.

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Nitish May 21, 2019 - 6:05 am

Thank you Vargis ! We would look for Feb then based on your suggestion

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Nitish May 18, 2019 - 10:26 am

This is a brilliant article ! Thanks for being so detailed… All my questions were answered one by one. You have a good thought process.I think MMT should take a leaf out of your article segmentation 🙂
It has given me enough confidence now to travel to Kalpa.

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Vargis.Khan May 18, 2019 - 4:42 pm

Thank you so much for taking the time to drop a note and your kind words Nitish

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Aritra Mondal April 16, 2019 - 2:39 am

Thanks for the information.
Is it advisable to take my parents of 82yrs age.

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Vargis.Khan April 16, 2019 - 6:34 am

That really is a question for a Doctor who can advise according to your parents health.

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Deepak March 16, 2019 - 9:49 am

Hi. Can u pls suggest if it is a good idea to visit kalpa and sangla in next weekend i.e. around 23rd march. Will it be too cold for the kids (5 yrs and 10 yrs). What about availability of hotels and taxi there? Pls help.

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Vargis.Khan March 16, 2019 - 6:03 pm

Yes it is too cold there right now, specially at nights so please ensure that you pack and prepare well.

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Kuriakose M.K. March 13, 2019 - 11:31 am

Vargiskhan, your write ups about spiti valley are fascinating. Hope to do the spiti circuit this Sept for 10 days.

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Vargis.Khan March 13, 2019 - 12:32 pm

Thank you for your kind words !!!

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jitender January 19, 2019 - 2:46 am

hello , i want to visit kalpa in January end ! m planning to go there by bus from Chandigarh ! are road conditions gonna be ok ???

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Vargis.Khan January 19, 2019 - 3:33 am

It depends on the snow. There may not even be a Bus available if it snowed too much anywhere. If the road was clear then you should be able to get a Bus.

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manisha August 11, 2018 - 6:50 pm

Hi Vargis,
Any suggestion on (preferably budget) hotel having the mountain view at Kalpa? Did not get much from google.

Thanks.

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Vargis.Khan August 11, 2018 - 9:24 pm

Hi Manisha – Budget hotels could be a bit of a problem at Kalpa. The ones with good view towards top of Kalpa won’t cost any less than Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2000. If you want to go for lesser than you would have to look near Reckong Peo. In all my visits to Kalpa, lowest I paid was Rs. 1200 and that was 6 years ago. This year I couldn’t find a hotel agreeing for lending any less than Rs. 2000 and that is what I finally paid.

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Manisha August 12, 2018 - 4:30 am

Understood. In fact, I am seeing similar price listing in google.
So basically i will have to go towards top for the hotels with better view.

Thanks.

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Amit Banerjee August 7, 2018 - 9:34 am

What a wonderful detailed writeup. So helpfull for us who are even dreaming about a visit to these places.
Thanks a lot

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Vargis.Khan August 7, 2018 - 9:41 am

Thanks a lot Amit Bhai

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