Kinnaur has its district headquarters at Reckong Peo, 234 kms from Shimla. Kinnaur district came in existence in the year 1960. Earlier it was a part of district Mahasu. The hill district, basically a mountainous region with a temperate climate, is the south eastern district of Himachal Pradesh at an altitude ranging between 2320 – 6816 m. It is situated in the north eastern part of Himachal Pradesh and runs along the River Satluj on the national highway no – 22 which is also known as the Hindustan – Tibet road. It is also surrounded by the three majestic mountain ranges of Zanskar, greater Himalayas and Dhauladhar and has got a tremendous appeal to the tourists from all over India. The people of Kinnaur earn their livelihood mainly from farming and handicrafts, apple being the main fruit.
Tourists coming to Kinnaur have a lot to see and do. There are beautiful natural surroundings to relax and refresh. Nearly every village of the district has a Gompa or a temple. Moreover, since Kinnaur is located on the Indo – Tibet border, their culture and lifestyle is a considerable mix of both. Kinnaur is also trekker’s paradise.
Note:* Foreign Nationals Require Permit To Travel In Kinnaur Between Akpa And Sumdo, Which Can Be Obtained From D.C. Office (District Collectorate) At Shimla Or Reckong Peo. Therefore, Foreign Nationals Who Wish To Visit Spiti From Kinnaur Or Visit Kinnaur From Spiti Must Obtain Permit.
Rampur is located on the banks of the river Satluj and commences its flow from the Mansarovar in Tibet. Towards the west, gorgeous wide terraces of this river extends upto Tattapani. Here, the most coveted hot springs are present. The place hosts the annual Lavi fair, which is an important event for the locals The festival becomes lively with cultural activities, sports and colourful markets graciously displaying shawls and handicrafts.
This is the last and highest village in the Baspa valley. It is situated on the right bank of the Baspa river. There is a road along the left bank from Karchham. There are three temples of local goddess Mathi, the main one said to have been constructed about 500 years ago by a resident of Garhwal. The square ark of the goddess, is made of walnut wood and is covered with clothes and surmounted by a tuft of yak tail. Two poles called bayanga are inserted into it by means of which it is carried. The goddess has a mouthpiece.
Kalpa is the foremost town of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh. Much of the excitement of visiting Kalpa lies in the exploratory journey. The scenery changes vividly from gorgeous valleys, green orchards and forests of cedar and chilgoza-pineto the starkness of the mountains, high altitude deserts and splendid valleys. The sutlej carves a deep chasm through the great Himalayas. This is the legendary winter home of lord SHIVA.
Chulling Village (3510m) where Diskit Gompa has quite an interesting legend attached to it. It is believed that a Mongol Demon once lived here & was considered to be sworn enemy of Buddhism. However, even after his death, his body kept coming back to the Monastery. It is said that even today the wrinkled head and hand of the demon lie inside a Temple of the Monastery.
Malling Village is a small village located in the district of Kinnaur. It has a population of about 289 persons living in around 68 households, the village has grown around snow fed streams & people use the short summer season from June-September to cultivate & gather the food grains, livestock for the long and strenuous winters. The population is scanty in this village because of such harsh conditions and the views during the short summer months are nothing short of spectacular & have given birth to new kind of income source, in form of village-eco tourism, where villagers share one or two rooms out of their own accommodation with tourists for some remuneration. Towns are ripe with guest houses and better food.
Sarahan is famous as the gateway to Kinnaur and is at a distance of 40 km from Rampur. The route to this place passes via Jeori on National Highway No. 22. This scintillating beauty is placed at a height of 1920 meters. Sarahan has numerous tourist attractions, among them, the Bhimakali Temple Complex, the Bird Park, and Bhaba Valley, are a few to mention. The Bhimakali Temple Complex is believed to be at least 800 years old. Great numbers of devotees visit this temple every year to pay obeisance to the presiding deity. The temple architecture is a unique blend of Indian and Buddhists architectural styles. This temple is also one of the most prominent ‘sakhtipeeth’ or ‘sacred sites’ of the country. Nearby lies Bushehar, a small exotic village sandwiched between apple orchards.
Though separated from other villages like Batseri and Chitkul by just a few kilometres, Rakcham has its own unique dialect, not understood anywhere else in the region. The village houses are made entirely of wood. The bright-reddish orange fields of ogla, the locally-grown grain, look incredible, especially in autumn. About 3 km from Rakcham is a lovely picnic spot by the stream and under the shade of the trees. Before July, you can also cross the tails of two glaciers, where the kids can play snow-games. The walk to Rakcham village is a must while in Sangla. Situated on the right bank of the Baspa, here the valley broadens to take the shape of a bowl which enjoys some wondrous views of the Great Himalayas.
Situated above the left bank of Satluj at some distance from the confluence of the Tirang and 39 kms away from the Kalpa. The location is very beautiful and approach to this picturesque village is through apricot orchard. The dell is encircled by the lofty mountains on every side, except westward open to the Satluj, on the bank of which there is an old fort believed to be built by Pandavas. The fort has a square structure situated on a knoll overlooking the Satluj. Its main gate is approachable by a detached ladder. It has a flat roof. The local deity is Urming and there are three structures dedicated to the deity each existing in Thwaring, Garmang and Shilling. Generally these are empty as the ark of the deity remains in the fort. On a sacred day the ark is taken to the above named places. The ark has got 18 ‘Mukh’, made of silver, gold and brass. The 18th Mukh represents the 18 days of the great epic Mahabharat.
Hango Village (3268m) is situated at a distance of 20 km from NH 21 & 15 km from village Leo. The land scape of the village shows a drastic change with steep barren rocks of its southwest and terrace like green field spread over an area of nearly 1000 bighas. The green field of village is drained by 3 streams, which divide the village into two small villages namely Hangmat & Hangtot, the population of the village is nearly 1000 of 10% Buddhism followers.
If a landscape had the powers of casting spells, then Sangla valley would be a magician extraordinary. Once seen, it is a place that can never be forgotten. Even the rushing waters of the Baspa river, that flow through its 95 km length, seem to absorb some of the magic and slow down to savour its snow-frame beauty. 2 km from Sangla is the fort of Kamru its tower like architecture resembles that of the Bhima Kali complex and this was the origin of rulers of Bushehar. Chitkul is the last village of the valley and beyond lies Tibet.
Reckong Peo is situated at an altitude of 2670 m from the sea level, located 235 km from Shimla. It is the District Headquarter having a panoramic view of Kinner Kailash. Kinner Kailash mountain is regarded as one of the mythical homes of Lord Shiva; here is a 79 feet high rock formation that resembles Shivalinga. This Shivalinga changes the colour as the day passes. Also visible on the stretch is the peak of Raldang (5499 m). Reckong Peo has many hotels and rest houses. There is a Buddhist Monasteries in the Reckong Peo worth visit.
Leo Village (2438m) is a small village with an old temple dedicated to the local deity, Tangtashu about 105 kms from Reckong Peo perched on small rocky eminence, on the right bank of Spiti River, and at the confluence of the Lipak torrent flowing from the west is the hqrs. of sub-tehsil Hangrang in pooh sub-division. Located on the right bank of the Spiti River there is Temple of ‘Jamato’ worth visiting. Also know for the apples, Leo has some spectacular views , to reach Leo one has to take diversion from national highway 22,4 km from Ka Dogari Village. Walk around the small village absorbing the traditional atmosphere and architecture it looks like it hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.
Nako Village (3662m) is one of Kinnaur’s most picturesque hamlets. Nako is slated to be declared a ‘Heritage Village’ gates in the village streets built from stone & wood & painted in the inside with colorful Buddhist religious paintings. This is built around a small lake and has an important Buddhist monastery & a couple of small temples. A footprint-like impression on a rock is ascribed to the Saint Padamasambhava. Nako is also the base to reach the Tashigang Monastery; the area is known for its lake, Nako Lake which forms part of the border of the village. Nako Monastery is located in the village as well as several other Buddhist temples. Nako Monastery allegedly founded by Ringchen Zangpo in 996 ad. A small old temples with old sculptures and frescoes, sadly some of them neglected. There’s also a new Temple built in recent years. Nako Lake is a small & beautiful holy lake. Early in morning is the most scenic if water is still you get beautiful reflection of the village.
The Spiti Valley is a desert mountain valley located high in the Himalaya Mountains in the north-eastern part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India.
It possesses a distinctive Buddhist culture similar to that found in the nearby Tibet Autonomous Region and the Ladakh region of India. The valley and surrounding region is one of the least populated regions in India and is the gateway to the northernmost reaches of the nation. Along the northern route from Manali, Himachal Pradesh or Keylong via the Rohtang Pass or Kunzum Pass respectively, the valley lies in the North East of the Indian hill state of Himachal Pradesh, and forms part of the Lahaul and Spiti district.
Lahaul and Spiti is surrounded by high mountain ranges. The Rohtang Pass, at 13,054 feet (3,979 m), separates Lahul and Spiti from the Kullu Valley. Lahul and Spiti are cut off from each other by the higher Kunzum Pass, at 15,059 feet (4,590 m). A road connects the two divisions, but is cut off frequently in winter and spring due to heavy snow. The valley is likewise cut off from the north up to eight months of the year by heavy snowfalls and thick icing conditions. A southern route to India proper is periodically closed for brief periods in the winter storms of November through June, but road access is usually restored a few days after storms end via Shimla and the Sutlej in the Kinnaur district.
163 km from Kalpa and 27 km from Sando, Tabo is situated on the left bank of river Spiti. Flanked on either side by hills, it is one of the most important Buddhist Monasteries regarded by many as only next to the Tholing Gompa. It is also known as the Ajanta of the Himalayas. Tabo is the largest Monastic complex of Spiti which has been declared a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.
Located in the cold desert of Spiti Valley, this village looks like a bowl-shaped structure in the hills. This ancient village is home to monks, cattle herders and agriculturalists. It is tucked a bit away from the highway connecting Shimla to Kaza and hence remains fairly untouched by mainstream tourists. There is no public transport to Dhankar. Either you take your own vehicle, hitchhike on a tractor or walk to Dhankar.
The picturesque Lahaul and Spiti Valley embraces several treasures in its vicinity and Komik is one such place, which is set beautifully amid the stunning mountains in the state of Himachal Pradesh in North India. Komik Village is the highest village in Asia and is located at a height of 18,000 feet above sea level. The beauty of this place cannot be described in words; it can only be felt and experienced with naked eyes. Surrounded by snowbound mountains and majestic valleys, Komik Village attracts countless tourists who simply want to get drenched in its breathtaking beauty and charming festivity. All you need to do is come and explore the delightful vistas of this scenic valley.
Komik Village is famous for Lundup Tsemo Gompa Buddhist Monastery. It is believed that the monastery has ‘Matrey Buddha,’ or ‘the future Buddha,’ who looks after the well-being of the people of Komik Village. It is also famous for being the highest motorable Buddhist Monastery in the world, visited by bikers and travel enthusiast from all over the world. The 14th century Monastery has a fortified castle made of slanted mud walls, representing the murals, scriptures, and arts belonging to the bygone era.
It is said that even before the Monastery was being made, it was already told in Tibet that a Monastery in the shape of the eye of snow cock would be built in a mountainous region in Spiti. Thus, the place was called Komik or Koumik, where ‘Ko’ stands for snow cock and ‘Mik’ means eye.
The capital of Spiti, Kaza sits on the eroded flood plain of the Spiti River and is the biggest settlement you’ll encounter in this empty corner of the planet. It can be accessed from Kinnaur and Lahaul. Though the Kinnaur Valley route remains open throughout the year, the Lahaul route remains open only during summers as the Kunzam Pass closes during winters. Winters in Kaza are severe with the temperature plunging to – zero levels.
Kibber is one of the most beautiful villages that you can see in Spiti and is located around 16 km away from Kaza. Located at a height of 4270 m, the village till recent claimed the status of being the highest village in the world connected by motorable road. The road to Kibber crosses one of the most popular Monasteries in the region—Key Monastery. A number of boards welcome you at the entrance of the village, which has around 60-70 houses on multiple levels. Each house is painted in white with blue and black outline on doors and windows. Like every village, Kibber also has its own Monastery, but unlike others, it has a wildlife sanctuary that is inhabited by many animals.