Chitkul – popularly known as the last inhabited village on the old Indo-Tibetan road within Indian boundaries. Rakcham is a village that falls between Sangla and Chitkul and is better known as the model village of the region. Chitkul is almost like a pilgrimage for those who dare to take this historic road. Reaching Chitkul is like reaching the pinnacle of a journey and why not. It is such a scenic little village that has managed to carve such a unique identity for itself.
Chitkul is only 24 km from Sangla, one of the prominent towns of the Kinnaur district. The road to Chitkul is also quite picturesque. It is quite different from the dangerous roads of the Kinnaur region. As one moves from Sangla, the river Baspa gives company throughout on one side. At some places, the Baspa is like the demure damsel, while at other places we can see its force. The zigzag roads are surrounded by tall deodar trees, giving the place a serene look. The entire valley is surrounded by the mountain ranges of various hues.
Verdantly forested with deodar and the stately Chilgoza, all one can see is a belt of glorious green stretching before them. Orchards, primarily Apple are abundant here. In fact, the best ‘Golden Delicious’ apples come from this area. The Sangla Valley is a delight for nature lovers; especially the stretch after Raksham and right up to Chitkul. The valley is gorgeous, on the left bank of the Baspa River are snow-clad mountains, and on the right bank, the whole terrain is full of apple orchards and wooden houses.
The Himalayan beauty that Chitkul Village is blessed with is incomparable with all the other destinations. With the backdrop of the Kinnar Kailash range, the entire Sangla valley offers amazing 360-degree views. One can go around for long walks, short as well as long treks, and overnight camps in and around the area. The Baspa River ambles along a wooded valley past picture-perfect villages surrounded by forests of deodar, pine, and birch. Pretty fields are flanked by snowy mountain peaks in the Sangla Valley. The road is quite adventurous and has been carved from a mountain and clings to a cliff for most of the journey.
Smooth peaks shone brightly in the sun at the end of a non-existent road. The most beautiful stretch of the Sangla to Chitkul road came between Rakcham to Chitkul where a waterfall flows on the road itself, surrounded by a gorgeous green forest and boulders spread intermittently. The houses in Chitkul are all made out of wood and all seem to have notable carvings. There are influences of both Hinduism and Buddhism in the village.
Instagramers refer to it as India’s most picturesque village and I second that. It is a village that conceives nature in the most magical state- Valley with green and sky with blue hues, white waters, stones & pebbles, trees, and unadulterated air. The mountains look unrealistically beautiful and some peaks are covered with snow. It’s a place where all drawing book fantasies turn true.
Visiting Chitkul in itself is a cherished experience. On one side, the serenity and simplicity of the place have their own charm while the magnificence of the mountains simply makes one bow down in reverence. The summer also is very colorful and lively with the blooming orchards and trees, but the winters portray a stark contrast. It snows heavily here and it is completely cut off with the roads blocked due to snow. Both facets of nature are so brilliantly displayed at Chitkul. No wonder it is called the “Crown of Kinnaur”.
Chitkul being a remote area and away from civilization is satisfied with what it has. Internet is flooded with myriad travel stories and images about this tribal village. But the deeper we dive into the infinite world of the internet in order to know more about the village, the lesser aware we feel.
Till then- KEEP TRAVELLING. KEEP WANDERING.