I’m en route to Spiti and going through a “sometimes the journey is as beautiful as the destination” moment. The drive from Shimla to Kalpa can easily qualify the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh as the most beautiful state in India for a mountain lover.
I watch the mighty Himalayas blanket in Cedar trees for the first quarter of the journey and litter with Pine trees in the next, until they reveal their bare self. I catch a glimpse of the River Satluj flowing below in a stream of clear white water. It gradually reduces to a blue-green trickle in the mountains, until it meets the dam under construction in the Rampur district and changes to a disheartening brown.
The winding road from Rampur to Kinnaur has been dug from the base of the mountains, leaving their rocky protrusions untouched. I’m stunned as I drive under these protrusions; it’s as though the Himalayas are watching over me.
I’m overjoyed being surrounded by the grandeur of the Himalayas on all sides, and unprepared for the snowy guest appearance of Mount Kinnaur Kailash.
My driver friend from Spiti tells me that once every year, residents of all villages at the base of Mount Kailash undertake a 3-day camping expedition up to Mount Kailash; it’s one of the many facets of the Himalayas they worship.
I spend the evening at an often-dismissed transit town – Kalpa. It takes my breath away as I watch the sun go down on the peak of Mount Kailash. Kalpa reminds me of Chamonix, the French gateway to the Alps. With its own little market, a Buddhist monastery & a temple dedicated to the local Hindu gods, and the more developed town of Rekong Peo just a half hour drive away, I think it’s the perfect place to indulge in the Himalayan majesty without the crowds of Shimla & Mussoorie.