All posts filed under: Himachal Pradesh

Unearthing Kinnaur’s Secrets in Rakcham Village and Chitkul.

Travelling to Kinnaur? A glimpse of my adventure in Rakcham village and Chitkul – the last village of India before Tibet. For centuries, the valley remained cut off from the rest of India. Legend has it that when a road was finally built and the first car drove up, the locals weren’t sure what to feed it. The driver playfully declared that the car likes chicken and whisky. The locals innocently obliged, and the driver had a feast. They also say that when an elderly woman boarded a bus for the first time, she left her shoes on the road as a sign of respect to the bus. Getting off at her destination, she was shocked that her shoes were gone, no longer outside the bus where she had taken them off. Such are the legends of Kinnaur, whose wild beauty I was lucky enough to witness in monsoon. Also read: A Visual Journey Through Sangla Valley The Happy Baba of Kinnaur Winding along the Himalayas several hours from Shimla, our car screeches to a halt beside the jagged mountain rocks. The steep bend ahead …

monsoon

6 Long Weekend Getaways From Delhi to Rejuvenate You.

I think I’ve finally come to love the monsoon season in India. I’m mesmerized by the way the rains paint the mountains an emerald green, and provide relief to the parched desert. The way the clouds playfully flirt with the moon at night. The way the monsoon mist descends on lakes and waterfalls. The cool breeze, the raindrops on my skin, the smell of the earth, they are all subtle reminders of how travelling makes me feel – liberated. Shivya NathI’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star. In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life. Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.

A Visual Journey in Sangla Valley, Kinnaur.

One of my most stunning journeys in the lower Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh was through the Sangla Valley of Kinnaur. All along gushes the mighty Baspa River. Home to postcard mountain villages with wooden huts. Sparse population, incredible landscapes, a feeling that you’ve arrived at the end of the world. In the Sangla Valley lie Rakcham and Chitkul – the last village of India before Tibet. I’ll let these photos, taken during my trip to Kinnaur, speak their thousand words. THE DRAMATIC LANDSCAPE OF RAKCHAM VILLAGE through which gushes the Baspa River. On the left lies the Sangla Valley, and on the right, the Baspa Valley. A rickety river bridge connects the two. LIFE IN THE HIMALAYAN VILLAGES OF SANGLA VALLEY is slow and beautiful. Rakcham village mostly consists of mountain shepherds and farmers. Rakcham is known for the highest quality potatoes and vegetables in India. THE WOODEN HUTS OF RAKCHAM complement the village’s idyllic landscape. Surrounded by potato fields, pine forests and the dramatic rise and fall of the peaks of the Himalayas. ON THE …

How Volunteering in Spiti Led Me to an Unexpected Friendship.

Curious about what volunteering in Spiti Valley is like? My stint with Spiti Ecosphere led me to some pretty unexpected friendships. My summer of volunteering in Spiti Valley leads me to a nunnery in Morang village. In the backdrop of snow-hooded Himalayas and on the shore of the Spiti River. To conceptualize a new volunteer program for Spiti Ecosphere, the organization I’m volunteering with, I’m spending an evening with a nun to learn about her life. I’m a little anxious. The closest I’ve been to a nunnery is in the wanderings of my curious mind. The last thing I want to do is cross the thin line into insensitivity. The head of the nunnery asks a young nun to be the victim of my questions and she heartily abides. Dressed in a traditional red and orange robe, with a pretty blue headscarf, I guess her age almost accurately as 22. We walk to the kitchen, making small talk about the weather, and warm up over tea. She tells me she came to the nunnery 6 years …

Raison: Kullu Manali’s Well-Kept Secret.

Away from the hill station crowds, Raison Kullu (or Raison Manali) is a secret Bollywood haunt waiting to be discovered! As the bus jerks to a stop on the Manali highway and the driver yells Raison Kullu, I pick up my sleepy self and alight. On my left, a pebbly path winds uphill, away from the paved highway. The absence of a road is a sign that there won’t be many visitors here.  I climb past small village clusters, with red, purple and blue flowers intermittently dotting the edge of the path. The River Beas babbles harmoniously in the silence of the mountains. On a plateau in the middle of this wilderness in Raison Kullu, I am welcomed into an 83-year-old bungalow built during the British era. Surrounding me are apple orchards and kiwi plantations. The trees have shed all their leaves in the cold December weather, but their bare branches lend a rustic charm. The apple barons of the region have opened up this precious inheritance to travellers seeking a taste of royalty without …

spiti travel

An Unexpected Introduction to Spiti Travel.

Spiti travel on your mind? A quick introduction to what awaits in this incredible part of the world. My first tryst with Spiti, Ladakh’s lesser-known cousin, was an act of online serendipity. I stumbled upon Spiti Ecosphere, a social enterprise pioneering sustainable tourism in the Trans-Himalayan region of India. As it called out to me, I impulsively decided to take a sabbatical from work to volunteer travel in this cold mountain desert. Nothing I read online could have prepared me for the 20-hour breathtaking, back-breaking journey from Shimla. We winded up along roads dug from the base of the mountains, with rocks hanging above our four-wheel drive, creating the illusion that the Himalayas were watching over us. Also read: I Love Spiti: A Campaign to Save Spiti Valley from Single Use Plastic First impressions of Spiti I’m fascinated as Tenzing describes a mystery mountain close to his hometown in Spiti. It changes color every time you go back, he says, convincingly. He’s my first local friend, and the expert driver who we’ve entrusted with our lives, …

Discovering a ‘Little Tibet’ in India.

Tibet might be off limit for most of us. In search of a little Tibet in India, I landed up in Dharamsala / Mcleodganj, in the lap of the mountains. Dharamsala feels so unlike India. I feel I’ve skipped legalities, missed stamps on my passport and entered a world I was taught is forbidden. I see a foreign face around every corner. Interspersed with men and women robed in red and orange. A tranquil vibe flows through the chaos of Mcleodganj on the narrow streets. I am fascinated by the small stalls and shops selling colorful bric-a-brac. Little memorabilia from the “Little Tibet” in India that has been produced elsewhere in India or Nepal. The side walls are covered with graffiti about Tibet, a reminder of the refugee lives of the people in Dharamsala. This has to be the only hill station in India where no shop-owners are shouting to sell their goods, nor touting foreign travelers. I can feel a spirit of acceptance among the people, or maybe a disguised form of dejection. Also …

Hitchhiking on my First Solo Trip to Spiti Valley.

My first solo trip to Spiti Valley was filled with many firsts, including hitchhiking in India for the first time! Come along? As I walk along the green fields of Pin Valley, I smile in delight at the pink, purple and yellow flowers in bloom. I haven’t seen greenery for the last 3 weeks in the mountain desert terrain of Spiti. I carefully walk across the fragile bridge across the Spiti River, to the village of Gulling. The goal is to hitchhike my way back to Kaza, Spiti’s capital, instead of waiting for a bus that may / may not show up the next morning. Also read: I Love Spiti – A Campaign to Save Spiti Valley from Single Use Plastic I have never hitch-hiked in India before. It would be a parent’s worst nightmare for their 23-year-old daughter in the northern cities of India. But my time in Spiti has convinced me that there isn’t a safer alternative to travel the region. The mountain people welcome you with big hearts, space or no space. …

Spiti photos

10 Offbeat Things to do in Spiti Valley.

Dreaming of the high Himalayas? Take my list of incredible experiences and lesser known things to do in Spiti Valley. Climb with me to the mountains on the roof of the world. I’ll walk you by gushing rivers. I’ll show you curious summits staring starry skies. I’ll float you to the depths of ancient seas. I’ll take you to the world’s highest inhabited villages. I’ll enchant you with blue streams in deep gorges. I spent a month volunteer travelling across Spiti Valley with social enterprise Spiti Ecosphere. Behold some unique experiences I discovered along the way: Try the mountain ropeway at Chichum (among the most unique things to do in Spiti Valley) This is literally breath-taking. As an alternative to the long uphill walk from the village of Kibber to Chichum, the locals built an ingenious ropeway between two mountain peaks, over a deep gorge. The small open box on the pulley is used to transport men, cattle and raw materials, has no weight limits, and can’t be kind to your shoulders, though if you’re …