Aug 022013
 

The moment we got out from the car and stepped in to the village of Chhitkul (or Chitkul), we were sort of awestruck. A spectacular sight of Chhitkul village and its surrounding left us speechless. 270 degrees of snowy, jagged panorama and 90 degrees of the arid boulder panorama, the Himalayas cover this village from all the sides and that view is breathtaking. Glaciers seem so close that we could easily reach out and touch them in the month of May, when back home Delhi is burning under the sun. At the edge of the village Baspa river meanders gently through the mountains of the Kinnaur Region. We were just thinking that where to go first, towards mountains, towards snow, towards houses or towards valley? That is what you can expect in Chhitkul, natural beauty at every step! Suddenly light drizzle started. It seemed that nature is giving us a grand welcome in the village of Chhitkul.

Its all white at Himalayas Peaks

Its all white at Himalayas Peaks near Chhitkul

How to Reach Chhitkul ? The best way to reach Chhitkul is by using a Tourist Cab from Reckong Peo. It is about 60 kms away from Reckong Peo and considered as the last inhabited village at the Old Indian-Tibetan Trade Route. Reckong Peo is connected to the major cities of Himachal Pradesh with the government public buses at frequent intervals in the day time. Please go through this post to know about the various ways to reach Reckong Peo: Road Journeys from Delhi to Spiti Valley.
After Reckong Peo, you can go to Chhitkul either by public buses or tourist cabs. We hired a tourist cab from Reckong Peo Taxi Stand. There are many taxis available and the drivers generally ask about INR 2500 to INR 3000 for a return trip from Reckong Peo to Chhitkul via Sangla Valley.

If you want to use a public bus, then only one government public bus goes from Reckong Peo to Chhitkul. It departs from Reckong Peo bus stand at 9.30 AM and reach Chhitkul about 12.30 PM. In the afternoon, another bus departs from Reckong Peo at 1.00 PM, but it goes up to Sangla only. So, if you are intended to use these buses, please be aware that you will not be able to return from Chhitkul or Sangla on the same day, as it really required sufficient time to enjoy both the places.

Road from Karcham to Sangla

Road from Karcham to Sangla

If you want to drive your own vehicle and coming from Shimla side, then there is no need to go upto Reckong Peo.  About 20 kms before Reckong Peo at Karcham, near JAYPEE Hydropower Dam site, a small paved road branched out from NH-22 and going towards Chhitkul. This narrow winding road is in relatively good condition, but you need a good driving skills, while driving on this road with a deep gorge of Baspa river at one side and the high mountains at the other side. Sangla is about 16 kms from Karcham and Chhitkul is further 22 kms away from Sangla.

Sangla Valley: Sangla is a small town located between Karcham and Chitkul from about 20 kms from Karcham. The town itself is a concrete town with small shops, some hotels and restaurants.

Sangla Market

Sangla Market

But the attraction of Sangla lies in the valley of Baspa River down below, not in the town itself. Sangla Valley is very beautiful, stretching many kilometers from east to west, and rimmed by snow-capped peaks out of your imagination and into the real world. The forested slopes below the snow are a mix between autumn-shaded leafy trees and big green pines.

Sangla Valley

Sangla Valley

Snow Covered Mountains in Sangla Valley

Snow Covered Mountains in Sangla Valley

View of Sangla Valley

View of Sangla Valley

There are several hotels around the town to stay at Sangla Valley. But, if you really wish to enjoy the beauty and charm of Sangla Valley, its better to stay into the wild, as there are several tent accommodation offered by many agencies in the heart of the valley. But, these tented accommodation generally cost much more than the hotel.

Tented Accommodation in Sangla Valley

Tented Accommodation in Sangla Valley

We did not want to go further from the beautiful valley. It needs some time, around 4-5 hours to walk around the valley and enjoy the landscape there. But, we were intended to go to Chhitkul and had no choice but to return back by evening from Chhitkul. So, we only stopped our car at many points in Sangla valley, clicked some pictures and moved on to Chhitkul Village.

The road to Chhitkul village is again narrow and bumpy, meandering through the mountain edges. There are some landslides area on the way, where stones can shoot down any time. On a bad stretch, water is also flowing on the road itself at a good speed and taxi driver had to exercise a high degree of caution while passing through that patch.

A portion of road between Sangla and Chhitkul

A portion of road between Sangla and Chhitkul

Chhitkul: It is a small village with the population of about 600 people and surrounded by snow capped Himalayas on one side and Baspa River on the other. It is considered as the last village on Old India-Tibet trade route, whether we can go without any permit. Beyond this village to the India-Tibet Border, there is no permanent settlement and tourist generally require prior permission to move beyond 2-3 kms from the village towards the border. We walked beyond Chhitkul in the fields up to one and half kilometer to feel the natural beauty which is lying all around us.

Beauty of Nature at Chhitkul

Beauty of Nature at Chhitkul

Chhitkul Village

Chhitkul Village

The most number of houses in Chhitkul are built with wooden walls and wooden roofs, though some used tin roofs to encounter the snow falls. Now a days concrete structures are also mushrooming.

Houses of Chhitkul Viilage

Houses of Chhitkul Viilage

Snow covered Peaks

Snow covered Peaks

View from Chhitkul Village

View from Chhitkul Village

We also visited an old temple in the village, a primary school and a so-called “Hindustan ka Aakhiri Dhaba (Last Indian Food Joint)”. The very few shops are there in the village mainly for the purpose of food catering.  Mobile networks are not working there, but you can find a PCO shop located in a hotel. ATM is not available here.

View of Mountains from Sangla-Chhitkul Road

View of Mountains from Sangla-Chhitkul Road

We were wondering there for three hours. Then, it was the time to go back. We left Chhitkul, paased along the Baspa River valley and headed back along the mighty Sutlej River once again. Still amazing mountain views – I knew that we would have similar views then for the rest of the trip. We moved along the river bank, through some very high mountains and above some very high gorges. Up and down all evening, once again passing dam construction sites and roadworks,we returned to Reckong Peo by the evening. This was the end of our trip to the land of fairytales.

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  86 Responses to “Sangla Valley and Chhitkul: Enjoying a Day in The Lap of Nature”

  1. myself age 71 mrs 59 would like to reach sangla from chandigarh early morning by hired car in middle of march 2017. By evening leave for chitkul next morning, back and stay. Off for kalpa next day ,possible?

    • Hi Sir, it’s possible, but hectic. Leave Chandigarh and reach Sangla by evening. Stay there. Walk around on the next day. In the evening, go to Chhitkul. Stay there. Next day, walk around till afternoon and then go to Kalpa in the evening. Enjoy Kalpa and nearby villages for two days. You will have a memorable trip. Hope you will get this much of time. Happy Travels. 🙂

  2. Is it feasible to travel in month of February? If not, how early can I visit the whole area.

  3. hiii backpacker
    i am planning to visit kalpa (kinner kailash trek solo) near about 1 augut to 6. is this safe to trek alone for kinner kailash. and i wanted to travell with the local transportaion. and is this necessary to book the hotel in reckon peo befor reaching. plz tell me in detail.

  4. hi,
    i’m planning a road trip to chitkul from chandigarh in the second week of oct. 2016. i have only 3 days but i can push myself. my only worry is ice on roads. will i encounter any snow at that time…i know its early winters but one can’t be sure about the mountains.
    waiting for your response.
    thanks 🙂

  5. Thanks for the one-stop post to travelling Kinnaur!

    We are planning to travel to Kinnaur in the second week of October and your post sure helps us 🙂

  6. Hi,

    I am planning a trip from Delhi to Sangla on 10th Sep’16. Is it safe to visit the place in this period?

    Also, can you please advise whether we should stay at Sangla or Chitkul?

  7. Hello …is Sangla chitkul and kalpa safe places for female travellers to travel alone pl reply … Thanks

  8. Dear Sir

    Thank you for all the tips and trip details that you have shared with me.I am planning for a trip to Sangla Valley a solo road trip from Chandigarh for 3 days from 10 September to 12 September. Please recommend this is good time to travel sangla valley or not.

  9. Hii, can you please tell is it safe to travel on bikes near to 15 august in chikool and sangla valley. And what are the precautions i should take during the trip.if any one interested between 11 august to 15 august .we can make a group we are two in number from chandigarh

    • Better to wait for few more days. Lot of negative news about the rain and the mountains. The road is really tough towards Chhitkul. You can go with some basic precautions, but if you can wait, better to wait till the mid of the September.

  10. Hi, Its wonderful to see such a valuable inputs provided to the visitors by ur good team. I too want to visit Sangla valley in a day or two. kindly advice is it the right time to visit this valley by own vehicle Terrano XL.
    Thanks

  11. Hi!
    We’re planning a trip to Sangla and Chitkul in the month of August. I have certain queries:
    1. If we reach Narkanda early in the morning from Delhi, will there be buses available till Sangla from Narkanda?
    2. Do we have to prebook hotels or are they available on arrival as well?
    3. We have 4 days and 4 nights in our hand (Evening 11th August to Morning 15th August). Will that be sufficient to cover Sangla and Chitkul?

    Waiting for your response. Thanks in advance! 🙂

    • Hi, There is no direct buses between Narkanda and Sangla. You can go upto Karcham by frequent buses, thereafter only 2-3 bus to Sangla in a day. However, cabs and sometimes shared jeeps are available. You can get the hotels on arrival. Duration is sufficient for a nice trip. You can cover that easily. 🙂 .Have a nice trip.

  12. Outstandingly well enumerated write up…gives a clear idea. What are your recommendations for the best time to visit chitkul, sangla etc…considering the rains. Are the next months advisable?

    • Yup..That’s good time to go there. You have a chance to see lot of greenery all over the way. Heavy Rain may trigger some landslides, but the probability is very less in this area. Have a nice trip. 🙂

  13. Hello,

    We’re a group of 3 and plan to visit Chitkul and lahaul spiti in first week of July 2016. We will start our Journey from Delhi. Could you please let us know about the budget and time required ?

    PS: We will be on a Shoestring budget 🙂

  14. how i can reach wia bus from chandigarh and tell me about the price range of hotels. for two night and three days stay with spouse and kid.

    • Catch a bus to Shimla or Reckong Peo from Chandigarh. From Reckong Peo to Sangla, two buses in a day available. Hired cabs are also available. You can get a decent hotel in the range of Rs. 800-1200 per night.

  15. Hi Backpackers, glad to read the blog and all the info provided. V r a family of 5 with a senior citizen(Mom) and two teenage boys. Planning to visit Sangla by mid june, by road, in our own Mahindra Scorpio. Kindly guide us for the route and condition of the roads.

    • Hi, from Delhi, Follow Chandigarh-Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur-Karcham-Sangla Route (570 kms approx). Road conditions are very good. From Karcham to Sangla, road is good with some bad patches. You can stop at Narkanda for the first night. It’s a beautiful place. Also if time permits, visit Chhitkul Village, Reckong Peo, Kalpa and Roghi Village in Kinnaur Valley and while returning back, take a detour to Sarhan Village from Rampur. Have a nice journey. 🙂

  16. Very explicitly described and informative post.

  17. Is there any H.P. Tourism Hotel/ Accomodation available in Sangla valley? Pl. inform

    • There are many hotels available in Sangla Valley, but not from HPTDC. A HPTDC property is available at Kalpa. High-end camping sites are also available at Sangla Valley.

  18. This is really good information about new place from shimla.
    Keep informing us like these unexplored places in near future too.

  19. Is it possible to reach Kalpa from Chandigarh in one day of we start early in the morning? Is the road safe to drive?

    • Hi, It’s possible. It’s nearly 6 hours drive from Shimla at comfortable pace. Roads are tricky with a deep river valley on one side and windy also, but in good condition. Prior experience of driving in the mountains is highly recommended. 🙂

    • It will be better if you stay at Narkanda en-route for a day and then plan further.The road after Rampur particularly between Tapri-Chooling diversion via Urni Village,Check out this link for road conditions-
      ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6zsKPgqBcw ) will test your driving skills for sure.

  20. Great work Amazing description I really loved reading
    Can u please guide me for chitkul trip from Delhi(self drive with family)
    1)I have 5 days is that ok duration And where should I take intermediate stops.
    2)can u plan rough iteniary with some hotel suggestions.
    3)Is it good time and also safe to visit next week(21)st May.

    I will be highly thankful to you if you can answer above points.
    Thanks

    • Hi, It’s perfectly safe and 5 days are good. On the first day, try to stop at Narkanda, nearly 60 kms ahead of Shimla. Second day, you can stop at Sangla or Chhitkul. Next Day to Kalpa. If you wish, you can spend a night at Sarhan also, while returning back to Delhi. It’s good time to visit Kinnaur and Sangla Valley. Have a nice trip. 🙂

  21. Nice blog. Love to get updates.

  22. Enjoyed your journal.

  23. Well right now m in reckong peo ,,,can you guide me as m alone ,,,,

    • I don’t leave in Peo, so can not guide you. Try to interact with a local person, who can provide you the relevant details. Unless you are trekking in the area, a guide is not required to roam around in the villages.

  24. Hi, I am planing to visit Kinnaur at the end of March 2017. That time can we expect snow?

  25. Hi, I would like to know whether we can move beyond the restricted part of Chitkul on any circumstances ? If so, whose permission do we have to take. Further I would ask you, whether the roads are closed at this time of the year or not ?

    • Hi, The restricted areas are basically belong to security forces, here ITBP. So, you need an approval from ITBP to venture in the restricted zone. Before, getting their permission, you should also get an approval from DM office in Reckong Peo. Roads are open all year round, but prone to the rains and landslides during rainy seasons.

  26. Hi, nice and informative blog. Would there be any problem if we pitch our own tent in sangla valley for few days…? Any permission required….?

  27. We 4 from Bangalore are planning to reach Shimla and then visit Chitkul from Shimla. Please answer the following queries:
    1. Are there regular 1 day/2days tours (by bus) from Shimla ?
    2. What are the places to visit between Shimla and Chitkul ?
    3. Can you please provide contact phone Nos. to book our tour from Shimla in advance ?
    4. Whether during October we could see snow in Shimla/Chitkul ?

    • Hi, Sorry for the late reply. I was too busy to answer your questions. However, if you are still in the planning phase of your trip, then here are the answers of your questions:
      1. Are there regular 1 day/2days tours (by bus) from Shimla ? No, however plenty of public buses available from Shimla to Reckong Peo. From Peo, you can get many buses to Kalpa. But, there is only two buses available for Chitkul. If you left those buses, then only option will be a separate house.
      2. What are the places to visit between Shimla and Chitkul ?

      Try to visit Narkanda and Sarhan, while travelling from Shimla to Reckong Peo.

      3. Can you please provide contact phone Nos. to book our tour from Shimla in advance ?..I don’t have any contact info. I usually don’t book any tour and preferred to plan on my own.
      4. Whether during October we could see snow in Shimla/Chitkul ? No snow in Shimla..you can see snow on the mountains around Chitkul, but from the distance only.

      Have a nice trip 🙂

  28. Hello!! Thanks for the wonderful and informative blog. I’m planning a backpacking trip with my wife on the Shimla – Spiti-Manali route in September. Inspired by your blog, I would like to try making this trip by public transport. I will have about 12 days from chandigarh to chandigarh. Can you please advise me on the following:-
    (a) I intend to cover kalpa, sangla, chitkul, tabo, dhankar, kye, kaza and chandratal on this route primarily. Will these places be possible in 12 days on a leisurely pace using public transport?
    (b) What are the options for travelling from kaza to manali with a night halt at chandratal? is public transport on this route feasible with chandratal stopver?
    (c) From your blogs, considering that few of the places are more convenient/ advisable if visited with local taxis, will the taxi fares for such short/ day trips add up to the cost of sharing a cab for the entire route with someone else?
    (d) Can you kindly provide a suggested itinerary for the above mentioned places of interest for a leisurely paced 12 day trip in public transport.

    In case, any of the above questions have already been asked/ answered elsewhere in this forum, i request you to pardon my ignorance and send me a link of the same.

    Regards and keep the good work on this blog on!!

    • Hi, Sorry for the late reply. I really couldn’t still time to answer your questions. If you are already on this trip, I hope it’s going great. However, if you are still having to embark on this journey, then here is the answers to your queries:
      (a) I intend to cover kalpa, sangla, chitkul, tabo, dhankar, kye, kaza and chandratal on this route primarily. Will these places be possible in 12 days on a leisurely pace using public transport?

      You have good time, but still stretching it a bit. Since you are intended to use public transport… For a rough calculation…
      Delhi-Kalpa…1 day
      Kalpa local… 1 day
      Kalpa-Sangla-Chitkul…1 day
      Kalpa-Tabo…1 Day
      Tabo-Dhankar…1 Day
      Kaza…1 Day
      Kaza-Kye-Kibber… 1 Day
      Kaza-Chandartal…1 Day
      Chandartal-Manali…1 Day
      Manali-Delhi..1Day

      Now, you can arrange the days according to your travel pace and convenience.

      (b) What are the options for travelling from kaza to manali with a night halt at chandratal? is public transport on this route feasible with chandratal stopver?

      You can go to Batal or Losar by public buses/ shared jeeps from Kaza. Then expect to trek to and fro from Chandartal. Again, a public bus/jeep to Manali on the next day. You can hitchhike from Losar/Batal to 1 km before Chandartal.

      (c) From your blogs, considering that few of the places are more convenient/ advisable if visited with local taxis, will the taxi fares for such short/ day trips add up to the cost of sharing a cab for the entire route with someone else?

      If you can always get shared cabs, but timing is a crucial thing. In Spiti Valley, most of the shared jeeps available either in the morning or in evening, when local people, either go to the market or return from the market.

      (d) Can you kindly provide a suggested itinerary for the above mentioned places of interest for a leisurely paced 12 day trip in public transport.

      Already suggested.

      Again, thank you for visiting my blog. Have a great trip.

  29. Very useful information. Keep it up!!!

  30. Is there any accommodation in chitkul village?

  31. Hi, i am from Indonesia and plan to visit this area from Mid July to start August (my route is Shimla-Kinnaur-Spiti-Manali-Dharamsala-Delhi)
    1. Will rain affect my journey so bad (landslide, rain 24 hours non stop, roadblock/washed) ?
    2. Is there any direct bus from Simla to Chitkul ?

    Thanks,

    Rio

    • It depends. We can’t predict weather as of now. But, if you are intended to travel by public transport, you should not get any major problem. If something worse happen, then you may expect to stuck somewhere for 1-2 days. Problem mostly arises when people travel with their own bikes/vehicles, and due to rain and road-blockage, they trapped somewhere in the middle. With public transport, if there is any blockage, you can walk towards the other side to get another transport from that side. They usually have this type of arrangement for such situations. There is no direct bus from Shimla to Chitkul. You have to go to Reckong Peo and then from Peo, catch another bus to Chitkul.

      • Another question :

        1. I will need to go via Kunzum Pass from Kaza, will it open already during that period?

        2. Do i need to book accomodation ahead during this period ?

        3. What is the most convenient to reach Chandertal Lake ? is it possible to get shared taxi in Kaza (probably like share taxi we get in Ladakh to get to Pangong Tso)

        Thanks again,

        Rio

  32. Hi,
    I am planning to visit Spiti from Aug 6 to Aug 12.Will that be a good time?

  33. from where can we hire cars for the trip from reckong peo to chuttkul

  34. Hi backpacker, loved the pictures and the lovely descriptions you provided with each of them. Brilliant job!
    I will be visiting himachal in the month of june. Around 21st. Please let me know about the kind of weather we should expect. Sunny and pleasant is the best for absorbing the natural beauty and take some really good shots as you did.
    Our trip includes Shimla, Sarahan, Sangla, Kalpa, Chitkul, Tabo, Kaza and Manali.
    Thank you!

    • In the June End, things are bit uncertain in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Rain may be there, may not be there. If its not raining, then except Shimla (very hot in summer), you should expect pleasant weather at other places. But, if its raining ( and it may rain heavily like 2 years ago), expect major landslides and road blockage (will surely spoil the mood) beyond Narkanda and Rampur. But, as of now, stay optimistic. Hope you will have a great trip.

  35. Dear friend …
    Really impressed by your writing .. who provide all information a traveler need… I found your website is the best informative web site among all … without any motive behind earning money you have launch the website … I salute you….
    Regards…
    Rajeev Kakoty
    Guwahati,Assam

  36. Awesome post
    It must be so Adventurous

  37. very soul lifting photoes.but t am planning to visit there in early march. can i get to see such scenery?

  38. Can I get to know a good hotels in Sangla & Chitkul ??

  39. Hi,

    Thanks for the very informative blog….. I do have certain queries on Kinaur – Spiti holidaying, ex Shimla/Manali….

    I am planning to reach Shimla with family 4 members (constituting of two 6 yr kids) on 6th Oct morning, rest therein or go local sight seeing in the afternoon on the same. Planning also to return to Delhi (ex Shimla/Manali) on 12th Oct night. Starting 7th morning, I plan to move around in HP majorly planned in Manali, Rohtang pass, Kunzum pass, Kalpa, Kaza, Sarahan, Chitkul, Nako etc, can you please suggest a probable itienary and night stay points, within the day range 7-11 Oct.

    1. What all places in above that should be considered, if all above places are not accomodotable in comfort travel
    2. Please suggest mode of transport between points, in case private car hiring, probable charges (daily basis/point 2 point)
    3. Will Manali – Rohtang – Kunzum road be open and is it safe to travel with kids?
    4. What will be weather like that time in above places?
    5. Pls suggest Hotels in night stay points in moderate budget.

    Regards,
    Sujoy

  40. Tx for the detailed blog.
    I’m planning to visit the valley in mid july for about 10 days.
    Is the timing good? What all should I cover?

    • The timing is good. However, last year there was heavy rain in this area from Mid June to Mid July as in the Uttarakhand. But, normally its a good time. Frequent Rain/Drizzle is a normal thing here after 0300 PM. You have more than enough time to visit this valley. I advise you to start from Narkanda, about 60 kms after Shimla. Spend a day in Narkanda, then go to Sarhan for 1/2 days. Thereafterl, go to Reckong Peo/Kalpa for 2 days. From there, come to Sangla Valley and spend a night at Chitkul Village. At last, spend 2 days in Sangla. If you are interested in trekking activities, then check out some local treks in the area. Have a nice trip.

  41. Hi. Loved the pictures. I am planning to visit sangla valley. Could you plz tell me how many min days are required for site-seeing there?

    • Hi, You need only 2 days to visit Sangla. For a day, you can go to nearby Chitkul village and another day to Kalpa village near Reckong Peo. In 5 days, you can easily cover all these places comfortably. A week is a very good duration to enjoy the nature as well as the village life.

  42. Amazing pictures and post! I am planning to visit this April. Hoping to get some great landscapes from the lap of nature.

    Please visit my blog and give your valuable feedbacks 🙂
    http://datravelography.wordpress.com/

  43. Sangla is the best place to visit during your Kinnaur tour. The place offers natural wonders as well as delicious apples to its visitor. Snow studded mountain peaks sorrounds this place all over…This is one of the best place for visiting…

  44. Lovely landscape shots!

  45. Amazing post and I am sure it must have been an amazing trip 🙂

    • Hi Solo backpacker

      we are four friends travelling to Shimla to Kalpa – Roghi Village-Kinnaur- Spiti Velly – key Monestry – shimla on Dec 26th to 31st.

      Please Advise Can we get cab from Shimla.??

      Is ther any permitt is neded for Monestry ??

      5 days are enough for this trip??

      How about the accomodation and Food??

      we should travel or not in Dec month but my friends wants to See Snow Falls thats why we planned this trip.

      what all are important thing we have to keep for this trip.

      Please advise waiting for your response

      • Hi, 5 days are not good for Spiti Valley, that too in December. It’s possible, but very hectic. You can get the cab from Shimla. No permit is required for Monastery visit. Accommodation and food shouldn’t be a problem, since it’s not a peak season. However, my suggestion is to enjoy the Kinnaur valley only (Kalpa, Roghi, Sangla, Chhitkul) including Sarhan and Narkanda. 🙂

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