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 HIKE FROM RAKCHAM TO BATSERI
rolling meadows with colorful wild flowers, small streams and pine forests lie against the imposing backdrop of the mighty Himalayas. Making Sangla Valley home to one of the most picturesque hikes in Himachal Pradesh.
THE SURREAL LANDSCAPES OF SANGLA VALLEY
keep you company through the villages of Rakcham, Batseri and Chitkul. Convincing you that Himachal Pradesh is home to the country’s most gorgeous countryside.
THE BASPA RIVER, A TRIBUTARY OF THE SUTLEJ
gushes through the Sangla Valley. With such force as you might never have seen a river before. As though protecting with all its might, the most precious secrets of the Himalayas.
CHITKUL, THE LAST VILLAGE OF INDIA BEFORE TIBET
is surrounded by almost bare mountain slopes in stark contrast to the lush vegetation within the village, including fields of wild yellow plants.
SHEPHERDS TAKE THEIR CATTLE
deep into the mountain to graze. One face of the mountain lies in India and the other in Tibet. They also carry produce and other necessities for the army settlements close to the border, which was peaceful (and open) before China’s atrocities on Tibet began.
LIFE IN CHITKUL VILLAGE
is slow and scenic, like the rest of Sangla Valley. The locals herd their cattle and tend to their farms all day. There is a sense of acceptance that their daily life could be disrupted at any point, given Chitkul’s proximity to the border.
THE ROAD TO TIBET
unfortunately ends at the army checkpost of Chitkul, which is how far civilians are allowed to go. Imagine if we could still trek all the way into the forbidden land from this border!
What are your impressions of Sangla Valley in Kinnaur?
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I’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.