The very idea of spending a week in the middle of mountains away from buzzing crowd of the city brings happiness in us, isn’t it? Sangla Valley in Himachal Pradesh is the perfect destination to live the carefree days; along the riverside amidst the thick green forest. It is one of the most under rated tourist destinations of India which in turn makes it the best possible option for you.
Roughly eight hours drive from Shimla leads you to another world within world known as Sangla Valley. This valley is located at the distance of 30 km from the Tibetan border and stretches from Karcham where the Baspa River in the east joins Satluj to the chitkul which is the last town in the territory of India near Indo – China border. The valley has surreal contrast view on the either side of the river having snow covered sharp mountain peaks on one side and gentle thick green pine forest on the other side.
Known as Baspa Valley sometimes, the whole region is rich in apple orchards, apricot, walnut and cedar trees. Due to its strategic location on Indo – China border, Outsiders were not allowed to visit this place until 1989. Little known hamlets scattered along the river are the main attractions for offbeat travelers. Here is the list of top places to visit.
1) Kamru Fort
Amidst the natural allure of the valley is kamru fort now converted into a temple dedicated to kamakhya Devi. Located at the short walking distance from Sangla, Kamru fort built in the 15th century is considered as one of the oldest forts in Himachal. The fort is made out of wood portraying perfect bonds of a mixture of Indian and Tibetan architecture. It is the best place to feel the sacred beauty of the terrain.
2) Tibetan Wood Carving Center
A short trip to the outskirts of Sangla leads you to the well- known wood carving center. Visit this place to meet last surviving masters of this dying traditions. Chat with them to get an insight of their glorious past and take a little souvenir from them before you leave.
3) Baspa River
The scintillating river flows just near the hamlet. Celebrated for fishing, one can spend the whole day sitting by the river enjoying breath taking view of the valley, reading favorite authors or just listening to the soothing sound of rippling river. It is an ideal place for camping.
Rakchham is a compound Sangla word formed of rak meaning rock and chham, a bridge, i.e. Rock Bridge. Located around 12km away from Sangla at an altitude of 10,000 feet this picturesque hamlet is sandwiched between Sangla and Chitkul. The road from Sangla to Rakchham is extremely narrow and gives one of the best thrilling experience. Still carrying pristine beauty this village is lost somewhere in time with barely any networks or markets. There are two temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali each located in the center of the town. With less to do, this place offers best quality time one can spend alone introspecting about life or with other family members.
Located 28 km uphill from Sangla at an elevation of 11300 feet, Chitkul is last inhabited village of our country near a national border. Surrounded by thick forest and apple orchards, this heavenly town grows world famous potatoes. Although a bit costly; the taste of potatoes is worth every penny. The Goddess of chitkul is believed to be very powerful and is the only non-Buddhist deity of the region. The main attraction in Chitkul is wooded houses and the temple complex. Streets of this hamlet are perfect in all aspects for a street photographer. Spending a lazy evening with local people listening to their adventurous stories of harsh life over the cup of tea is the best thing to do in the hidden gem.
Just 8 km away from Sangla Basteri is located on the other side of baspa river. This is the village you read about in Ruskind bond’s version of Himalaya. Small wooden and stone house, the slow pace of life, birds chirping, a river flowing just 50m down the village. Now stop imaging and pack your bag to visit this fairy tale town. Local people sell handicrafts and shawls that you can buy as sweet memories before you leave.
Best time to visit
March to September is peak season. Avoid rainy season as this place faces cloudburst and heavy rains sometimes.
25 – 30 degree during summer and -5 to -10 degrees during winter. Snowfalls start in the month of November. If you’re looking for snowfall you must visit this heavenly place in the month of December.
Places to Stay
Few good resorts located on the banks of Baspa River. Homestays are also available in all the villages.
How to reach?
Route: Delhi/Chandigarh – Shimla – Rampur – Jeori – Karchham – Sangla.
From Shimla either book a taxi or use state transport buses. A taxi ride takes 7 – 8 hours to reach while buses may take more than ten hours.