Kalpa is one of those many beautiful places in Himachal Pradesh, where I wish to visit again and again. This small town, Kalpa, is very close (just 5-6 kms away) to the district headquarter Reckong Peo, also known as Kinnaur. The entire valley of Satluj River in Reckong Peo district is regarded as Kinnaur Valley. Kalpa is famous for its apple orchards, peaceful environment and scenic beauty spread all around in the area. Kinnaur always remains a center of attraction for me because of its fairytales and stories of Kinnauri People, I read in the composition of Hindi poets.
How To Reach Kalpa? Reckong Peo is situated about 230 kms from Shimla on National Highway-22 going via Rampur, Reckong Peo towards Kaza. Kalpa is 5-6 kms ahead on a hilly slope, above the small city of Reckong Peo. There are no rail or air connectivity to Reckong Peo. The only option to reach there is either by the public buses or the private vehicles. It takes about 7-8 hours to reach Reackong Peo from Shimla. I have written a comprehensive post on the road journeys between Delhi and Kinnaur Valley and further to Spiti Valley. This post Road Journeys from Delhi to Spiti Valley provides a detailed transport options from Delhi to Reckong Peo.
The paved tarmac of the National Highway (NH-22) is in very good condition, except some bad patches due to the landslides, that may occur anytime. Along the highway is the natural beauty of Satluj River, its valley and towering hills. The narrow stream of Satluj is a constant companion along the road all the way upto Reckong Peo. The view is simply amazing. One side of the road is occupied with a deep gorge made by the river and another side is surrounded by the hilly slopes. Sometimes, the vehicle passes through a narrow section of the road and if you look below, down to hundreds of feet, the fierce flow of Satluj can shiver your spine with thrill and excitement.
Reckong Peo: Reckong Peo is the last major city before Spiti Valley and has a bus stand with government public buses connecting to the main cities like Shimla, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haridwar, Hamirpur, Mandi, Manali, Kaza etc.
From a tourist point of view, there is nothing exciting to visit in Reckong Peo. It only has a Big Buddha Statue in a remote corner of the city. There is a HPTDC guest house near the bus stand. Some more hotels are there around the bus stand. Few restaurants are there in the city, offered food is very basic and don’t expect good quality. If you want to enjoy this region, its better to move to Kalpa, upwards on the hilly slope.
Kalpa: Kalpa is a small town (rather village) surrounded by Apple orchards and beautiful landscapes. It was the district headquarter of Kinnaur District, that later moved to Reckong Peo. There are very few good hotels (about five) in the Kalpa along the paved road going onwards to Roghi Village. Since, it’s not a very famous destination in the conventional tourist circuit, the shortage of the rooms are not a problem in Kalpa.
The houses in Kalpa are constructed at the various levels of the hill slope. Two main paved roads cover the upper and lower part of this town. The major portion of this town is situated along the lower road. But all the good hotels are situated on the upper road. A series of paved steps connects the lower portion to the upper portion. The lower road further extends beyond the small market and passes through the apple gardens to merge with the upper road at the far end of the village.
There is no particular sightseeing spots in Kalpa. You have to just walk along the upper road or on the lower road passing through the middle of apple orchards to enjoy the beauty of nature and solace of Kalpa. The people in Kalpa is influenced by both the Hindu as well as the Buddhist Religion. A small but very nice Buddist temple is there in a corner of the village, near the Post Office, where you can spend some quiet moments. Just behind the temple, a school compound provides a really good view to capture some of the best pictures of surrounding Himalayan Peaks.
Kalpa has a small market supplying all the basic essentials. For more options, people tend to shop in Reckong Peo. After visiting the market and Buddhist Temple, just move ahead from the market towards the apple orchards. Shortly after passing the small Tahsil building along the lower road, you reach in the middle of beautiful apple orchards, and that is the best part to enjoy in Kalpa, especially in the month of September, when Red Apple are hanging on the trees.
Roghi Village: It is another beautiful small village full of Apple Orchards and other fruits like apricots, wallnuts, chilghoza etc. It is about 4 kms beyond the Kalpa, on the edge of a mountain.
There are two ways to reach Roghi Village: Either, Use a public bus (they do not run frequently, but except one at every hour, only 2-3 government buses, rest are private) from Kalpa to Roghi. Or, walk in the lap of nature, to cover the distance of about 4 kms on the foot. I prefer to reach there by the bus and after walking around in the village, I keep walking towards Kalpa also. Again, there is no particular tourist spot to visit in Roghi. Just walk around the small village, see the apple orchards and rice/wheat terraced fields. At the far end of the village, you can click the pictures of the beautiful mountain peaks.
Walking in the Roghi Village and indulging with locals is really a pleasant experience and you can spend hours there, however two hours is sufficient to explore the village and enjoy the scenic beauty.
The road from Kalpa to Roghi is a narrow one, but in good condition. You can enjoy the beautiful views of Kinner Kailash, while walking on this road. At the first visit, we were unable to identify the Shivalinga of Kinner Kailash, but later on, we met a group of local Kinner Women, who helped us to identify the right peak.
The scenic beauty along the road between Kalpa and Roghi is breathtaking. Situated across a valley and up the opposite, hills from the Himalayan range, this road had a view down to the river 1500m below and up to the peaks 2500m above. That’s a 4000m vertical view with a so-called suicide point, no joke. Over 13,000 feet from bottom to top, a constant sharp rising mountain, and on top, a crest of a number of dramatic jagged snow-peaks, stretching around 90 degrees left to right.
Passing through the forest of Devdar Trees and so called suicide point, you again come closure to Kalpa, a village of the old wooden houses, piled stone fences around the apple orchards, lots of wild pink roses everywhere and many people greeting with a cheerful smile.. There are certain moments a traveler never forgets and exploring Kalpa and Roghi is one of them.
Kalpa is the first place, where I really feel my bonding with the snow-peaks of The Himalayas. Prior to that trip, I never saw so many white peaks in the life, even not in Gulmarg. In Kalpa, I was truly blessed by the Mighty Himalayas and fully enjoyed the everlasting attractions. Time is always less to feel the Himalayas, but I know that my tryst with the Himalayas will continue forever. Beautiful memories of that first exploration in Kalpa always encourage me to explore more and more parts of the Himalayas spread across the northern border of India as well as in the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, Arunanchal Pradesh and all. I may live in Delhi, but this heart always wonder in those valleys and peaks of the Himalyas.