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Friday, July 26, 2013

Touching the Sky!

The unexplored mountains have always lured me and their magnetic pull is difficult to resist. Thanks to Ambipur who allowed me to day dream and go on a virtual holiday to my dream destination Kinnaur with my family in my favorite SUV Renault Duster. The sporty and masculine metallic woodland brown vehicle was perfectly suited for the rough terrain that could provide the ultimate comfort while driving. The Ambipur Vanilla Bouquet Air freshener would keep the environment fresh and vibrant to match the fragrance of air from the surrounding mountains!
The itinerary was planned in advance as follows:
1.     Day 1- Leave Delhi at 0700 hrs and arrive in Chandigarh by 12 AM. Stopover for lunch and continue till Shimla to arrive by 5PM. Stay overnight at Shimla( Distance 370 km from Delhi)
2.     Day2- Leave Shimla at 0700 hrs and via Kufri, Theog, Rampur,Nichar, Barang reach Reckong Peo. A distance of 226 km from Shimla
3.     Day 3- Stay at Reckong Peo and explore the local area.
4.     Day 4- Visit, Sangla Valley via Karcham at a distance of  38 km and back
5.     Day 5- Leave Reckong Peo at 0700 hrs and arrive at Kalka
6.     Day 6- Depart from Kalka in morning to reach Delhi by evening



The route map of Kinnaur Valley

It was a chilly morning and we left Delhi for Shimla rather early. The traffic on the road was not too heavy and the drive till Chandigarh was comfortable with a brief stopover for tea at Panipat. After reaching Chandigarh we stopped over for a lunch of aloo paratha( pancakes) and lassi. It was a sheer bliss to taste the golden brown parathas after a long drive and a filling creamy lassi! All of us lazed around for an hour before starting for the next leg of journey to Shimla. The cold mountain breeze greeted us as we climbed up and passed by Solan to reach Shimla. After parking the vehicle we checked into the hotel which was very close to the Mall Road! 
The journey begins in the woodland brown Duster!
The Mall is ever busy where tourists flock and all eateries are crammed with people. Lakkad Bazar,closeby is famous for wooden articles. We had a fresh pear juice and then went to the state Khadi Bhandar( A cooperative store where hand woven/stitched clothes , shawls, cardigans are sold). I got a woolen jacket at a good bargain. We then treated ourselves to pastries at a popular shop called Fascination. While going around, we enjoyed 'chaat' and ‘gulab jamuns’ a local favorite. Around 7 PM as it was getting dark we returned back to our room and after early dinner went to bed.
We woke up early to leave for Kinnaur. The day was breaking and the journey by car continued to provide unending thrills as the landscape changed. We climbed through the hills on the narrow track of road. The road till Naldera passed through lush green forests with snow clad peaks in the backdrop. The journey continued through the small villages of Fagu and Kufri . We got down to stretch our legs and had steaming hot tea from a tea stall which was refreshing. The Central Potato Research Institute was in the vicinity so we decided to visit it as well. The director took us around and explained details of about 500 varieties which were grown there to test which would yield best crop in a particular region in India! The potato plantation on the slopes of hills was an interesting sight. It turned out to be a fun filled educational visit! We passed by hamlets of Theog, Matiana,and  Jeori. After reaching Naldera, we stopped for a short break, and took a stroll in the picturesque surroundings. The journey continued on the winding roads till we reached Rampur Bushair and we passed by Jhakri where there is a big Hydel project.

The River Sutlej flowed alongside the road with strong current and crystal clear water. We crossed Wangto and reached Tapri. A hot cup of tea worked wonders in the cold weather. We had barely gone some distance when the traffic came to a halt due to a traffic jam. It was not difficult to find the reason. A huge truck coming from the other side had broken down in the middle of the road and no traffic could move in either direction. I felt a little jittery as it was getting dark and there was no habitation or hotels in sight except very small tea stalls at a distance.  As I was going around I came across an army soldier in uniform. On enquiry he told me that he was in a vehicle behind us. He was posted in a unit at Karchaam, about 2 km away from where we were. I introduced myself and asked him if he could help. After two hours of wait the traffic cleared we landed at the nearby army camp. This was located at Karchaam near a gushing stream called Cholling Nala. The camp commander arranged for an overnight stay on coming to know that I had served in the Navy before! Soon a comfortable room and hot water to take bath and a hot meal were organized. What more could we ask for?

I woke up the next day and opened the door. Wow! What a view!!! Snow clad towering Mount Kinner Kailash (more than 6000m high) stood before me with all its glory and sunlight scattering from the peak.
The majestic Kinner Kailash!
On the side turbulent River Sutlej flowed majestically and was equally awesome. It was a soul stirring sight and a visual delight. Steaming hot tea and a nice breakfast followed. We thanked the Army Major who was the camp commandant for all the help and started for Reckong Peo. It was a memorable journey alongside the cascading River Sutlej by one side and snow clad mountains in distance and apple and chilgoza ( dry fruit) orchards in plains alongside.

Since the month of October is an apple season, the air was filled with aroma of the fruit and the ripe, juicy red apples were a temptation difficult to resist. We reached Reckong Peo in more than an hour due to steep climb towards the end of the journey. The place had a small market and a few government offices. The view of Mount Kinner Kailash was splendid from this point. We checked into the hotel and explored the place for about an hourl. We wanted to retire early but our host at hotel had a different idea. He had a group of visitors who had set up a camp a short distance away and had planned for a musical evening and bonfire in the apple orchard. We were invited to the camp to attend the bonfire and join them in merry making, song and dance. After an hour we returned back where a sumptuous dinner awaited us. By the time we went to bed, it was almost midnight. It had been a very satisfying and eventful day!

We planned to explore Sangla valley the next day, which was 60 km away. The sky was azure blue and the sun was shining! After a quick wash and breakfast we collected packed lunch and hopped into the car. The road was very narrow and precarious, and the climb was very steep beyond Powari. There was virtually no traffic in the region except for an occasional taxi. The silence is so complete that one can hear the roar of the river as the car maneuvered the hair pin bends.
Hair pin bends in Sangla valley
 It took almost four hours to cover this distance and on arrival we could see there were many apple and walnut plantations. In the silhouette we could see the Kinnaur fort which is the abode of the deity, Lord Badrinath. After disembarking the car we trekked to the fort. The locals were very friendly and offered us black grapes and apples which were freshly plucked from the orchards. The cheeks of the small children were rose red and innocence spoke many an unwritten words through the eyes!
The innocence and purity of hills
The fort in Kinnaur was built in 13th century, and is a towering edifice carved out of wood and adorns the place majestically. After visiting the place we rested in the lush green lawns of the PWD Rest house and enjoyed the packed lunch. In the afternoon we headed for Powari. We explored the beautiful gardens besides the River Sutlej and the towering mountains in the vicinity. The water in the river was freezing cold. Before sunset, we headed back to Reckong Peo !

It was the final day of departure! The weather had changed dramatically overnight and it started snowing. It had snowed heavily in the upper reaches of the mountain, the previous night. We had a taste of onset of winter as strong cold wind blew. The breakfast of hot poori bhaji and tea was extremely enjoyable. Our return journey back to Kalka had commenced. We stopped over at Karcham to thank the Army Major who had given us shelter in the mess on our first day of arrival. An army soldier who was very friendly plucked the pears from the garden and gifted us. These were one of the most delicious fruit we had tasted. There was very little traffic as we headed towards Shimla.

It was a chilly but a clear day. We reached Kingal and stopped over for a cup of tea.The next halt was at Matiana for lunch. We had a tea break at Solan. As we were now descending to plains the weather had become hot. We reached Kalka at 4.30 PM and rested here. We chatted for a while and then slept off. The next morning we started early and after a brief halt at Chandigarh reached Delhi in late afternoon bringing the curtains down to a dreamy nice adventure filled holiday!
 
PS: 1. This post is my entry for ‘The Perfect Road Trip’ sponsored by Ambipur facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia

       2. Pictures Kind courtesy Google

51 comments:

  1. Yes.it seems to have been a perfect holiday.
    I have special attachment with Shimla.That is where I was born

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    1. Shimla has the old world charm and nothing can beat it , Mr Chowla! Thank You!

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  2. Wow! I have been reading about some amazing trips through this contest! And who is a better person to talk about a trip than you!

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    1. I am lucky to have readers and a writer par excellence like you, Rachna! Thanks a lot!

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  3. Rahul journeying to the mountains is sheer bliss--only interspersed with quite a many missed heart beats--when you look down at the valleys.

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    1. Very true Indu that a trip without missed heart beats especially around hair pin bends is just half done!

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  4. An interesting car journey by road.Best of luck for the contest.

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  5. Wow! interesting trip indeed. All the best for the contest.

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    1. So happy you liked Rama and thanks for your kind wishes!

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  6. Interesting tour by good itinerary. definitely, all these destinations are super romantic and sheer beautiful wheres nature 24 hours sounds fresh and delightful.
    Great post, Rahul ! written well.

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    1. Dreams coming true are best things to happen! Thank you

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  7. What an interesting trip Rahul. I have heard of the Mall road of Shimla. Aloo parathas and Lassi, I was drooling. I would have loved this trip, mountains and I have a great love for each other.

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    1. Who does not love Aloo paratha or a call from mountains! A high five Rachna:)Mall Road in Shimla is adorable!

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  8. Kinner Kailash picture looks like an icecream! Enjoyed reading your experience. Sending the link to son so that it is included in our list of 'places to visit'. The detailed information will be very useful. Thank you, Rahulji.

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    1. Not enough words to thank you Sandhaya ! Hope you travel to these places which have by far remained untouched by the scores of tourists!!

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  9. Ah, this is indeed a dreamy and adventure filled trip to the core. The lil kid is so cute and nothing beats the temptation of the juicy apples of the mountains and a cup of hot tea in biting cold weather. Enjoyed it, good luck. :)

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    1. Thank you Arti for liking the adventure dream! The juicy fruits and child like innocence are a boon of the hills:)

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  10. This became my favourite post the moment I read Renault Duster and hilly terrain..
    :)

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    1. How nice Jyoti! Lucky me to have such nice readers and writers likes you:)

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  11. And, I miss India so much more now :( That is the kind of effect this post had on me. Surely,a winning entry! Good Luck :)

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    1. And you too are being missed equally on the blog scene and your bubbling presence here, Akanksha:)Not enough words to thank you!

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  12. Lovely post Rahul. Interesting trip. You have now reminded me of steaming aloo parathas and the image refuses to get out of my head :)

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    1. Thanks a lot Jayashree! So did you have steaming aloo paratha as yet or not:)

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  13. When I had gone to Kashmir last year, I made sure I stopped on the highway eateries to taste aloo paranthas with pickle and their awesome masala tea in that cold climate. They form an integral part of any road trip. Was able to relate to it when you mentioned the parathas :-)

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    1. Absolute fun it is, to enjoy the local food for a change , Ashwini:)

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  14. Hi Rahul, I truly enjoy these types of road trips and yours sounds ever so exciting, the landscapes and scenery must have been amazing. I always here of the beauty of Shimla, would love to make a trip of my own someday.

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    1. Thanks Sam! I too hope you travel to the lush green valley around Shimla in the state of Himachal Pradesh sometime! Will be happy to assist when you plan:)

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  15. Your post made me hungry and homesick and nostalgic :/

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    1. Thanks a lot Purba! Am sure sometimes thinking about home(India) may bring some pleasant thoughts:)

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  16. Nice article for the contest! Good Luck :)

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    1. Thanks a lot, Kusum for your kind wishes!

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  17. OMG now this shows how proficient a blogger you are!!! you attempted to a contest with so much details wonderful :D post a contest post can be so informative :D I loved it :D
    Thanks and all the best :D you are a winner always :D

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    1. A big...g thanks for so many superlatives, Ramya! You made my day:)

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  18. What a wonderful experience narrated beautifully! really, you have a amazing account. like it.
    Great post, friend.

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    1. Welcome to my blog! Thanks a lot for your kind words!

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  19. WOW! I will take this itinerary. Few of the places you talked about in this post are heaven. I don't like Shimla, it's very crowded but beyond that, it's amazing. Good luck for the contest, Sir. When it comes to traveling, nobody can beat you and that reminds me of your Melbourne entry, which was awesome. :)

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    1. Saru, I am grateful for all those nice words and comments from someone who reigns on the blog world and is yet so humble reminds me of a tree laden with fruit!!I am fortunate to have readers like you who remember my earlier posts too:)Kinnaur is a place out of the world and is well worth an experience!

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  20. You had a wonderful experience. Your trip is big scale as I was surprised. Climbing so steep mountain by a car or 6000meters mountain's sparkle like a big diamond or army's help etc. I enjoyed your story.Thank you.
    Have a nice day!

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    1. Thanks a lot Sarah! The roads on these mountains are pretty treacherous! The reward of going there is some awesome sights!!

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  21. Lovely images, hmm.. so you made me add another place to visit in my places-to-visit list. ;) Good one.

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    1. Thanks Shreya! Hope you start scoring off items from the list soon:)

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