EP 2 - Sarahan to Sangla Valley ( Rakchham) | Kinnaur Valley | Spiti Tour
Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. Right now, we are 170 km from Shimla, in Sarahan. We reached here last night. We've booked accommodation at Hotel Shrikhand, a property of Himachal Tourism. We paid Rs. 1950 as room tariff on double occupancy basis. This tariff is after the discount we got for our online booking.
The morning view of this place is magnificent. I am standing outside the hotel right now. The mountains that you see in the distance from here... ....remain snow-capped throughout the year. Among the clouds atop the mountain top is the temple of Shrikhand Mahadev situated. Since the view isn't clear right now, we cannot have darshan of the place. If you want to visit the Shrikhand Mahadev, you will have to do a 5-day trek...
The whole trek begins from Nirmand. This place is very impressive. We have started our day quite late, it is almost 10.30 am now... ...because we slept late last night. The primary purpose of tourists visiting here is to... ...visit the historic Bheema Kali Temple. Rest, there are a few sightseeing opportunities too around here.
After spending some time, we will travel to Chitkul. Our night stay would be either in Chitkul or Rakchham. Before leaving for the temple, I thought I'll show you the view from my balcony here. Isn't this view beautiful? This is where we spent the night. This morning, I had tea in this small balcony and it felt wonderful.
I spent about 45 minutes having my morning tea today,.... ...in the company of snow-capped mountains and clouds above. Beautiful view! Now let us go to the temple, which is at a walking distance of hardly 250 m from the hotel. I am standing outside the main gate of the temple, which hasn't yet opened after COVID-19. It will reopen now on July 1st.
Whenever you will visit this temple, you will be able to have two darshans. One is of the deity placed at the ground level and another one is on the upper level. The darshan on the lower level are possible only on a special occasion or festival. Darshan on the upper level are routine and open throughout the year. This temple is dedicated to Ma Kali and devotees come here from far and wide...
...because of their belief that Ma Kali will fulfill all their wishes. This temple is a renovated form of an ancient one, which was built... ...along with the palace of the erstwhile ruler of this region. With the passage of time, the temple expanded its boundaries and shifted... ...away from the palace. We will spend some more time in Sarahan. Let us walk away from here.
While walking, I reached the bus stand and saw two buses standing here. There are only two buses in a day that take you to Shimla from here. One bus leaves at 11 or 11.30 am and the other one leaves at 5 pm.
However, a better option is to take a bus to Rampur. A bus leaves for Rampur every two hours from here. From Rampur, you will find multiple bus services to Shimla. Then, for traveling upto Kalpa or Reckong Peo, you can go to Jeori... ...which is 18 km from here. Go to the main highway in Jeori and you can catch any bus coming from behind... ...and going in direction of Kalpa or Reckong Peo.
Now we've come to the Sarahan PHeasantry, about half a km from the temple. Here we came to know that this place remains closed for tourists during summer season. This board has information about the routine day timings and weekly off. Though it is written right here that this place is...
...Western Tragopan Conservation Breeding Centre.... ...Western Tragopan, known as "Jujurana" is the State bird. This place is a breeding centre for Western Tragopan as well as other bird species around here. Though we cannot go inside but if we could, we would've reached the breeding centre... ...after a short 400 m walk in from this gate. As we walked down this road, we met Mr Anil, who is a honey-bee farmer. I can see a lot of boxes here. How many boxes do you have? Right now, I have 102 boxes with me.
You have 102 boxes. How many honey bees would be there in each box? About 5000! Just imagine, 5000 bees in each one of these 102 boxes! So, tell us more about your work here, how much does it take to extract honey... ...and how long have you been doing it? Well, I've been doing this work since 1994 and it depends upon the season... ...when the beehive would be ripe with honey. Usually, a beehive is filled with honey within a day or two and... ...sometimes, it takes longer. Can we take a look inside one of these boxes? Yes, of course! Let me show you. Do we need to wear this? Yes, you can wear it too.
There are 9-10 bee hives in each box. Okay. Do you have the queen bee in there? No, there are other bees, but not the queen bee. So, it is not necessary that each hive will have a queen bee? Yes, that is not necessary.
Though, one box has only one queen bee. Alright. You mean one queen bee for every 5000 bees! Yes, one queen bee to control 5000 bees.
Can you tell us about the life span of a honey-bee? The life span of a honey-bee is about a month during season and... ....during off-season, it is 3-5 months. And what about the queen bee? The life span of queen bee is 1-3 years. So, the queen bee lives longer? Yes, she lives longer. We want to buy honey. So, what are your charges? We sell honey at Rs. 300 per kilo.
Rs. 300 per kilo. Original honey! Is it available right now? Yes, it is available. I will purchase a kilo of honey from him and we will join you back in a short while.
Please give me half a spoon of honey. How much honey is in this jar? About 700-800 gms. 800 gms of honey in a jar! By god! What a taste! Absolutely original! Yes, it is totally original and organic.
The best thing about honey is that it keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. We must have honey mixed into warm milk during winter season? Yes, that is right. And during summer season, we must have it with water! Yes, mixed with cold water. That is great! I have bought this bottle of honey for myself and...
...I am also going to ask for your phone number. If the need arises, I would love to get more of this honey... ..and you will have to find a way to courier it to us. We will courier it to you. Will you? Yes, of course! Okay, alright! Thank you! We walked a little bit more to reach the gate to "Hawa=Ghar". This is where we have to walk in for 50-100 m. Let us go and see what kind of a place is Hawa-Ghar.
It doesn't look like to be any different place The reason for that is that ever since I've come to Sarahan,... ...I've been feeling a good breeze wherever I go. Same is the case here too. This place is surrounded by so many trees and, obviously, there are mountains too. Despite a bright sunlight, there is cool breeze blowing.
I told you this already a short while ago. So, this is the place! If you come here in a group, you can spend some quality time under this roof. We are leaving for Sangla Valley now.
We will try to stop on our way for lunch as well because... ...it is already 2 pm. We've reached Jeori after travelling 18 km from Sarahan. I have already told you that Jeori is a place located on the highway... ...that connects Narkanda and Reckong Peo. This is from where we had to travel 18 km inside towards Sarahan and... ...right now, we are back on the highway.
Now, this is from where we will go to Sangla Valley. So far, we have had a smooth ride, with good road surface and no potholes. We are enjoying this mountain journey! We've travelled a few km from Jeori to stop at a place called Badaal.
I have with me Mr. Karam, who will guide us on our whole Spiti journey. He told us that this eatery is a very famous and old join around here... ...and they sell dishes like Rajma-Chawal and Kadhi-Chawal Shall we go inside?... ...Yes, of course!
Let us go in. We've ordered Kadhi-Chawal for ourselves. They sell each plate for Rs. 80, whether it is rajma or kadhi. You can even order dal with rice. As for timings, this dhaba remains open between 8 am and 10 pm.
Alright, so let us taste Kadhi-Chawal first. The local Kadhi here comes without pakoras (fritters) in it. The Kadhi that you make has a very thin consistency? Yes, it is a thin gravy! Hmmm! Nice! The Kadhi is sour and thin in consistency! It has a subtle flavor of spices in it, overall good taste and it is light on stomach too. This food is tasty and Kadhi is quite different in taste too. I have to say, this Rajma is a blast of flavors, which come from each bean.
It is heavy on spices. While Kadhi is light on masala (spices), Rajma are high on masala. Though both tastes are unique in themselves, I liked the Kadhi more, somehow. Though we left Shimla city yesterday morning, it is next day afternoon and...
...we are still traveling within Shimla district. And after so long, we are seeing a board here, on which is written... ...Welcome to Kinnaur. This is from where the Kinnaur district begins. We will spend today and tomorrow in Kinnaur and... ...the day after, we will enter Spiti. Kinnaur is most famous for its apples. You can understand the popularity of apples of this district from... ...the fact that hawkers near my house in Delhi shout.... ...the name of "Kinnauri Apples" while selling these during season. One difference that I've been noticing ever since we began this journey of ours...
...is that the mountains are becoming more and more steep as we progress. We also began to see the Sutlej river. I just cannot help but stop wherever I see a waterfall. So, we've stopped here for 10 minutes. Watching this waterfall from close distance is a joy. You can see the water falling from a great height.
You can also see people enjoying in the waterfall,... ...which is absolutely clean. You can see right to the bottom of the waterfall. Beautiful! Two km from the waterfall, we've stopped again.
This time to see this rock-tunnel. We are standing 40 m from this tunnel, which has been... ...cut out of a large rock. So beautiful! Let us walk to this tunnel. This road must've been carved through this large rock... ...I don't know how many years ago. For the past 15 minutes, I've been admiring the amount of work... ....that has gone into building this tunnel into this rock. We have travelled about 7 km from the rock tunnel.
We've stopped to pay obeisance at the Taranda Mata Temple. Our driver told us the locals believe that one should have darshan... ...here before leaving for Spiti. So, I am going to visit the temple and then tell you more about this place. He told me that this temple was built in 1962 by the BRO. The ancient temple of Taranda Mata was situated on top of the mountain. During those years, a lot of difficulties were faced in building this road.
So, the villagers appealed to the BRO to get this temple made here... ...so that the Goddess could take care of all the problems. This is the story that he told us. Great! Let us move on now. We have stopped about a km from the temple, to appreciate this view. You can see how a path was carved out of the mountain side... ...and then a road was built through it. This mountain side is absolutely steep and I can only marvel at...
...the effort it must have taken to get this road built here. I can see at least a 500 m long stretch of road in front of me. We can see two mountains in front of each other. One is facing the sun, the other is facing away from the sun. There is Sutlej river flowing between both and I can hear the sound of water. Watching this view from this height is a beautiful experience. This would be the best view among the views that we've seen since morning.
We've reached Wangtu. I am showing you a view of the Sutlej river from the roadside. We aren't that far from the river, just a little higher than it. The river also seems to be wider here. The bridge that you see in the distance, we will cross it... ...to go left on this road towards Baba Valley.
Baba Valley is 20-22 km from this point. A lot of trekkers opt to drive till Kafnu, which is 18 km from here. They park their vehicles there and start the 4-5 day trek to Pin Valley. This trek is full of excitement for the trekkers. Though, earlier, I had planned to take this turn to Baba Valley from Wangtu ...but our time management went haywire.
We could have done that if we had reached here in the afternoon. Now let us go towards Rakchhem. We will reach Sangla first, then Rakchhem and after that will come Chitkul. It is 7 pm and we've reached Karcham.
We can go straight to reach Reckong Peo or Kalpa. Distances are written on the board here. But we've to take right turn from here towards Sangla and Chitkul.
Today's our nightstay will be somewhere between Sangla and Chitkul. The weather has turned so beautiful towards evening that... ..I feel in another 15-20 minutes, I will have to wear a sweater. It has started getting colder too. Though we've been seeing mountains for quite long but here,... ...the dynamics include dark clouds as well. Since it is last week of June month, it can rain anytime now. We are lucky that we didn't face rain so far.
Rainfall increases the risk of landslide in the mountain areas. Beautiful! I am enjoying this whole journey. Let me tell you something interesting. Till the time we were travelling in Shimla district, there were a few good view here and there, which we enjoyed while travelling on the road. But ever since we've entered the Kinnaur district...
....there is no dearth of scenic views along our journey path. That means you don't have to wait to reach a scenic viewpoint. Every viewpoint is scenic in its own way. I really wanted to spend some time here, walking around and enjoying the weather.
But there is no scope to spend any time here because... ...we need to reach in time to book ourselves a hotel. One more thing, the bridge that we are going to cross has two rivers flowing underneath. One is Sutlej river, which we've been watching for past some time. The other river is Baspa. Now we are going to cross this bridge and will join you back once we reach the hotel. Just enjoy the view while we cross the dam.
We've crossed the bridge and now we are looking at these huge mountains of Kinnaur. We are standing in the Sangla Valley area. We've stopped our car here because we wanted to see the sangam (confluence)... ...of two rivers - Sutlej and Baspa. The brownish water in the distance is the Sutlej and... ...the greenish water is the Baspa river.
This dam has been built right on top of the Sangam of these rivers. We crossed the bridge to reach here. I do not see any tourists here even though we've been standing here for the past 15 minutes. This was the first car I've seen passing through in the past 15 minutes. Otherwise, this whole area is absolutely quiet.
It is 7.20 pm and we shouldn't be here any longer. Otherwise, it will be too late to reach the hotel. Sangla is 18 km from here and then our hotel is another 5-10 km further. Let us carry on now.
Finally, we've reached Rakchham at 8.30 pm. In Karcham, I assumed that the road will continue to be wide till here. But that was not the case. As we progressed on the road, it became narrower. You will have mountain on one side and valley on the other side. The road is so narrow that if another vehicle comes from the opposite direction...
...you will have to stop on the side to let it pass. But the surface of road is quite good. We've booked ourselves a double room in Hotel Apple Pie. The tariff of this room is Rs. 2800. This is where we will be staying tonight.
This place is a lot colder at night. Though I was wearing sweater a while ago, I have taken it off inside the room. Our programme for tomorrow is to go to Chitkul first. After doing some sightseeing in Chitkul and Sangla, we will go to Kalpa. Tomorrow we will spend the night in Kalpa. This is how we are going to proceed towards Spiti.
Right now, we are in the Sangla Valley. Kalpa is in Kinnaur Valley. Tell us your views about today's episode. As always, I shall be waiting for your comments.
We had an interesting day today. And with our entry into Kinnaur district, we have grown more excited about this journey. We will meet again soon.
Bye-bye! Thanks for your time! We've reached the Chitkul village and we can also see the last dhaba in India. It is written here that we are looking at the last dhaba in the country. Let me show you. Some people are eating food sitting outside the dhaba. It feels so good being here. Sitting at the dhaba, and looking towards the river flowing by,... ...is an experience in itself.