During my solo bike trip to Spiti Valley, I ended up in a town called Chitkul. It was more than 40 kilometres off the route. One side. But I could not stop myself from bifurcating. After all, it was “The Must See Camping Place, in Himalayas” as many people, whom I’d met on the journey, recommended. “Don’t forget to go to Chitkul man, Sangla Valley is so beautiful you won’t believe your eyes,” said a guy from Bangalore, as he threw another mug of water on his over-pampered Bullet 350. “Classic”, as he always pointed out, with a pause.
Situated around 40 km from Karcham, Chitkul comes under Sangla Valley, which is spread over a tiny land of 20 kms. And when it comes to Himalayas, 20 kms seem even tinier. But if you speak about its beauty, each sight is a magnificent sight to behold. Snow clad mountains surround you and welcome you with a spectacular view of The Kinner Kailash.
On the left lies the Sangla Valley, and on the right, the Baspa Valley. A rickety river bridge connects the two. In the middle – the gushing Baspa River.
Sangla valley had an impeccable road connecting Chitkul to Sangla. Its picture perfect river crossings, tall pine trees and dramatic skies, all mark a place which is quite unnatural.
The authoritative clouds here always seem busy giving unreal shows over the dusty, dark mountain peaks.
Of particular interest at Chitkul are its houses with either slate or wooden plank roofs, a stair and a digital TV dish.
I particularly loved how each house was designed differently, from each other. Their windows looked different, roof looked different, their entire structure looked different. One can’t stop himself from walking around Chitkul’s tiny uphill and downhill alleys as he differentiates their beauty.
And when you’re done exploring the residences, you can always visit the Kamru Fort – an 800 years old establishment, which houses the famous Kamakshi Devi Temple. Local people told me that pilgrims to Kinner Kailash, only conclude their Parikrama in Chitkul. “The powerful goddess of Chitkul is the only non-Buddhist deity to which respect must be paid by the Parikrama pilgrims,” they said.
Where the natural setting of Chitkul, and of Sangla Valley speak of an unordinary space, the life in the town was rather slow and usual. People were busy sorting out their lives. Men were found working outside, and women, looking after the house.
The kids, as usual, played on the streets.
The last Indian town of Chitkul, as it appeared to me, was beautiful in every way. And it had something for everyone. There was a trout farm, a Saffron farm in the city. I tried the apples that were grown here. I watched the clouds playing their tricks, or young people sharing their smiles. Indeed, there were many reasons to visit Chitkul.
From campsites to guest houses, Chitkul has every option to stay. The food has a Tibetan influence. But finding yourself a something Punjabi, or Gujrati should not be a problem. Chitkul, and the businesses that cater to the tourist, won’t let you go unimpressed.
Have you been to Chitkul? How did you find it? Let me know in comments below.
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