is one of the most scenic but less known districts of
Himachal Pradesh. Located on the Indo-Tibetan border, it is
surrounded by Tibet to the east, Garhwal Himalayas to the south, Spiti
valley to the north and Kullu to the west. The Satluj River, which rises
on the southern slopes of Kailash Parbat near Mansarover in Tibet, flows
through the Kinnaur valley.
Because the valley is situated at a high altitude, the summers are short and the winters are long. In winter some of the inhabitants migrate to the lower areas, taking with them their goats and sheeps. Most of the land consists of rugged barren mountains; it receives little rainfall and the desolate countryside can be compared to that of the Ladakh region.
Due to the proximity of Kinnaur to Tibet, the lifestyle and religion of its inhabitants have been influenced by Buddhism, thought the majority of the people practice Hinduism. Buddhism is prevalent in the northern and central regions of Kinnaur.
Almost every village has a gompa or a temple. There are imposing monasteries at Mornag (31036'N, 78027'E) and contain beautiful sculptures and woodcarvings. The people are god-fearing and honest. The custom of polyandry helps in keeping the population within limits.
Kinnaur is a land of legends and mythology. The most ancient inhabitants of this land were Kinneer and legendary Kinners, as a distinct race, some where between human beings and birds or with a human body and the head of a horse or vice versa.
The epics describe them as heavenly musicians or celestial choristers. Such creatures are supposed to inhabit a semi-celestial region high in the Hiamlayas where earthly saints who have attained perfection consort with super-human beings.
They are great singers and dancers and they depict sorrows of their hard life in singing and dancing. More than a hundred festivals are celebrated in a year. These tribes are also referred to as "Gandharvas" in Vedic literature. About 2000 B.C. a branch of Aryans, called "Khashas", penetrated the Himalayas from Central Asia through 'Kashgar' and Kashmir and dominated their whole area. Later, in 13th and 14th centuries, the "Bhotias" came from Tibet to this region. It is believed that the Pandavas spent some time during exile in Kinnaur and from here they moved towards "Kailash Parvat".
Kinnaur is an enchanting land about which travelers have left valuable accounts. Notable among them were Captain Alexander Gerard, Andrew Wilson, James Baillie Fraser and the great Indian scholar, Rahul Sankritayan. Nature's work here is awe-inspiring.
From the movement the Satluj River enters India from Tibet near Shipki La (5,669m), above Namgia, it cuts its way through the Great Himalayan Range and passes through scared by its strong currents. The Spiti river, flowing down from the north, joins the Satluj at Khab and the Baspa river, coming from the east joins it at Karchham (31029'N, 78011'E).
The old Hindustan-Tibet road, which was the main trade route remains of this road, is fascinating. After passing through the ancient villages of Sarahan Sungra, Wangtu, Pangi, Sangnam and Puh, situated along the bank of the Sutlej, the road finally enters Tibet at Shipki-La.
The main peaks of this region include: Leo Pargial - 6,791m (31054'N 78044'E) Kinner Kailash-6,050m (31031'N, 78032'E) with Jorkaden-6,473m to the immediate south, and Raldang, 5,499m (31028'N, 78018'E) and Phawarang, 6,3 49m. The twin peaks of Gushu-5,607m and Pishu, 5,672m (31042'N, 77045'E) are situated between Sarahan and the Pin-Parbati Pass (31048'N, 77051'E).
Recong Peo (2290 mts, 38 Km from Sangla village): Recong peo is Kunnaur's district headquarters and has recently built a gompa, where His Holiness the Dalai Lama conducted a 'Kalchakra' ceremony in 1992. The ancient settlement of Kalpa with spectacular views, lies just above Recong Peo.Here is the Hu-Bu-Lan-Kar gompa said to have been founded by Rinchensang-po in 950-1055 A.D.
Kalpa (2759m): Beyond Recong Peo, 14-kms from Powari, on the link road, is the main village of the District-Kalpa. Across the river, facing Kalpa is the majesty of the Kinner Kailash range. This is a spectacluar sight early in the morning as the rising sun touches the snowy peaks with crimson and gold light. more...
Chitkul (3450m): This is the last and highest village in the Baspa valley. Situated on the right bank of Baspa river and there is a road along the left bank from Karcham. There are 3 temples of local goddess Mathi, the main ones are said to have been constructed about 500 years ago. more...
Nichar (2150m): This village is situated between Taranda & Wangtu on the left bank of Satluj about 5-kms above Wangtu. The scenery is enchanting and Ghoral, antelopes, black & red bears are seen sometimes in higher ranges.
Kothi: Kothi is also called Koshtampi. It is little below Kalpa, and is overshadowed by the Kinner Kailash peak. The village with its attractive temple, gracious willows green fields, fruit trees makes an altogether lovely landscape. Goddess Shuwang Chandika temple is also located in the village.
Puh: Locally pronounced Spuwa, is the tehsil headquaters, 71-kms from Recong Peo. It is situated above the National Highway No.22, having all modern amenities as well as green fields, vineyards, apricot, almond and grape orchards enhance its beauty. The local god is called Dabla, who neither has any dwelling nor possesses an ark. The only manifestation of the deity is a pole with a small idol set on its upper portion and adorned with Yak tail hair and long pieces of colored cloth. The whole being called Fobrang, it is occasion brought to the Santhang.
Rakchham (2900m): Rakchham is situated on the right bank of river Baspa. Its name has been derived from "Rak" a stone and "Chham" a bridge. The location of the village is striking.
Ribba (2745m): Ribba or Rirang is another largely populous village at a distance of 14-kms from Morang, the tehsil headquaters. Ribba is situated between the villages of Purbani & Rispa. In the local dialect 'Ri' stands for chilgoza and 'rang' means a peak of a mountain. Another village Rispa is known for its grapes.
Leo: About 105-kms from Recong Peo perched on a small rocky eminence, on the right bank of the Spiti river, is the headquaters of sub-tehsil Hangrang in Puh subdivision. The temple of Jamato is worth visiting.
Lippa (2438m): Situated near the left bank of Taiti stream, this village can be approached from Kalpa by the old Hindustan-Tibet road to Jangi-Lippa-14-kms. Ibex are said to be found near the forest. The three Budhist monasteries over here are dedicated to Galdang, Chhoiker Dunguir and Kangyar.
Morang (2591): This village is situated 39-kms away from Kalpa on the left bank of river Satluj. The location is very beautiful and approach to this picturesque village is through apricot orchards. The local deity is Urmig and there are three structures dedicated to the deity each existing in Thwaring, Garmang and Shilling. Generally these are empty as the ark of the deity remains in the fort. On a sacred day the ark is taken to the above named places. The ark has got 18 'mukh', made of silver, gold and brass and they represent the 18 days of the great epic Mahabharat.
Chango (3058m): At a distance of 122-kms from Kalpa, is a collection of 4 hamlets in Pargna Shuwa, sub-tehsil of Hangrang on the left bank of river Spiti. It is encircled on every side by high hills, which is a witness to the presence of a former lake. Buddhism is generally practised here but there are some local Hindu deities too namely Gyalbo, Dabla and Yalsa.
Nako (2950 mts, 107 km from Recong Peo): 7-km on a side-road from bifurcating near Yangthang, the village is built around an emerald-like lake. On its northern side are four Buddhist temples with stucco images and murals. Within the village, two temples house large prayer wheels. Near Nako is a rock where a footprint-like impression is ascribed to Padmasambhava. Situated about 2-kms above the Hangrang valley road and is 103-kms from Kalpa on the western direction of the huge mountain of Pargial. This is the highest village in the valley and the existence of lake formed out of the masses of the ice and snow above adds beauty to the village. Local village deity is Deodum and another Lagang temple with several idols exists over here.
Sumdo/Kaurik: On the border of Spiti at a distance of 104-kms and 124-kms respectively from Kalpa, are the entry points to Spiti valley. There is a Police Check Post to assist and help the visitors.
Kinner Kailash Circuit (Parikrama): One can undertake this holy Parikrama from Morang and return to Kalpa / Karcham in 7-8 days.
Kanum: This is a complete monastic village and dates back to the time of Rinchensang-po. 'Kanum' means 'A place of sacred books'. It has seven large and small temples and several reliquaries.
Baspa/Sangla Valley: This valley starts 57-kms short of Kalpa, which has been named after a beautiful & populous village Sangla. Sangla is situated on the right bank of Baspa river 17-kms from Karcham. Journey from Karcham onwards is enjoyable and adventurous throughout the valley. The natural scenery all around and the eternal snow view are picturesque and charming. It is also known as Baspa Valley since Baspa river flows through this area. This is the most charming valley in the entire District of Kinnaur. more...
1. Pin Valley Trek- 10 days, 5 days by bus and 5
days by trekking.
2. Kinner Kailash Trek- 8 days, 4 days by bus and 4 days by trekking.
3. Pubber valley Trek- 6 days, 2 days by bus and 6 days by trekking.
Air: Nearest airport is at Jubberhatti, 30-km from
Rail: Nearest railway point is at Shimla .
Road: Regular buses run daily from Shimla .
Accommodation options are pretty good at Sangla and Kalpa, but do make your reservations in advance if you are planning to visit the upper Kinnaur region. Among the govt accommodations there is a tourist complex at Kalpa.
Recong Peo: 38-km