Next in your itinerary for Spiti Valley and Kinnaur should be Sangla.
Prepare for a day that would largely see you on the road; on the road that is famously and lovingly known as the Hindustan-Tibet road (NH 22). This stretch has captured fancy of travellers from decades and continues to do so, mostly because it has been hailed as the ultimate adventure road trip in the world. A feat of sorts, it is half-tunneled from between the Himalayas for most part and I found it more thrilling than the destinations itself!
Shocking green, the road from Sarahan to Sangla is also famous for shooting stones (or tiny landslides) that might turn big when it rains. But again, I loved driving around here in rains, for every turn in the road would have a torrential waterfall thudding down my car.
Sangla to Chitkul
Sangla to Chitkul is a rather interesting drive. Infamous for its shooting stones trail, it cuts through the Himalayas for around 2 hours before reaching Chitkul. While not much has been written about Chitkul, I can aptly write that this village is as close as you can get to the fabled Bavarian forests in India. A road that is more rocks and gravel makes for a bumpy ride, but you would much solace if you look by the side for deep Himalayan forests surround you there. Complete with tiny waterfalls and river streams, and giant trees that are all covered in moss. No human interference in the forests has left the region stunning and one that you will not forget easily. For those, who like setting up records, know that this is right by the Indo-China border and is the last inhabited place before the border.
What to do in Chitkul?
If you have a slight nudge in your back from that bumpy ride, go all filmy and lie down on the carpet-like grass by River Baspa. A true mountain river, this one is as gregarious and wild as it can get. Not yet canalled, its sides make for the most perfect settings for a picnic. Once done, you can explore the main temple in Chitkul; dedicated to Goddess Mathi, it is built in the traditional Himachali style, made of wooden beams, stones and mud. Evening slumber spreads early over Chitkul; you can wander around its rather few lanes till the sunset and then spend hours watching the brilliantly clear night sky before the wind gets too nippy too get outside.
Where to stay in Chitkul?
When I visited Chitkul, it had just two places to stay; one of those still under construction! It has more options now, mostly homestays that are definitely better than staying a run of the mill hotel in Chitkul or elsewhere. A night’s stay with food comes to around INR 1000 here; no need to search for window-view rooms here as well. These are some of the world’s best views, whichever window you look out of.