Monday, July 18, 2022

The Abode of Gods- (Part 3) Kinner Kailash


The Majestic Mount Kinner Kailash

The mountains have a way of rewarding the climbers even if they are novices, in their own ways. A bus trip from Shimla to Kinnaur valley undertaken way back in October 1994, was also no less enchanting. 

Route map from Shimla to Reckong Peo
We had boarded a bus in the wee hours of the morning from Shimla headed for Reckong Peo, almost 200 km away through the mountainous terrain. The drive to Kufri was full of scenic beauty. 
At the Central Potato Research Institute, Kufri(plantation in the background)

We halted briefly to explore the Central Potato Research Institute. We were awe-struck to see the cultivation of over 500 varieties of potatoes on the slopes of the hills.  The journey continued and the climb became more treacherous through winding narrow roads which would at one moment drive almost on the edge of narrow cliffs and at another moment take us to jaw-dropping heights where the heart would miss a beat, the moment you looked out below. The stream of thundering River Sutlej was our companion along with pine trees till the terrain changed to barren lands and cacti from Rampur Bushair onwards. 

At the Cholling Nala, Karcham

We passed by the small township of Bhabha Nagar known for the Hydel project and Tapri. As we neared Cholling Nala at Karcham it was almost sunset, and our bus came to a grinding halt. The driver pointed at a truck laden with goods that had broken down at the mouth of the narrow road blocking the incoming and outgoing traffic. We waited for some time watching huge lizards crawling on the rocks, but soon anxiety took over. How, will we pass the night in the middle of nowhere with our little daughter without food. Then I sighted a soldier and an Army Captain a little distance away. On enquiry, I learnt that he was headed to his unit a little distance away on the other side of the road. I introduced myself and he was happy to assist us and took us with our belongings in his jeep. The camp commandant was a Major and was delighted to meet my family. He arranged a small log cabin for us with hot water to refresh ourselves. Soon a hot dinner was arranged, and we returned to our cabin and fell on the bed. 

At the Reckong Peo Market- notice Mt Kinner Kailash in the backdrop

The next morning as I lifted the curtain, I saw the majestic Mount Kinner Kailash covered with snow staring back at me. The beauty of nature was at its best. It was an unforgettable sight, and I could not resist waking my wife and daughter to soak in the beauty. A short distance away was a small stream and on the other side, River Sutlej flowing with a roar despite being narrow. At breakfast, the Major told us that we could stay for as long as we wanted at the place. An offer so irresistible, that we decided to stay on. 

The locals at Sangla

For the next two days, we explored the beauty of places like Paori, Sangla, Kigli and Reckong Peo. We also trekked to Kamru’s  Fort situated at a height of 2600m  in Sangla, a majestic place in the midst of solitude. 

Kamru Fort in Sangla

The remarkable wooden structure has an idol of Kamakhya Devi( Kamakshi Devi). It was worth seeing and it is believed that the idol was brought from Kamakya Temple in Guwhati, one of the Shaktipeeth! There is also a Badrinath temple situated inside the Kamru Fort, where a fair is held once in three years to honour the deity. The ultimate reward on the return trip from the trek were miles of apple orchards and  the locals gifted us a bagful of these ! Equally, juicy mammoth pears grow in the area. On return from Sangla, we had a company of a flock of sheep that also entered the bus, a truly cattle class experience!

With the Army Bravehearts in Matiana

We stayed for two nights at the Army Mess in Paori which was a short distance away from Karcham. It had some amazing untouched scenic views. We also went for a day trip to Reckong Peo about 20 km away. The local market was interesting and the towering peaks of Kinner provided a staggering view.

How the time flew and it was time to pack the bags and plan for the return trip. We halted at an Army unit at Matiana and were treated to Poori and Aloo with piping hot tea, an unforgettable treat.

I will recount some more of such stunning experiences that I consider rare gifts I am  bestowed with

PS- 1.All pictures are mine and digitally recreated

2. Route map kind courtesy Google