Chitkul is popularly known as the last inhabited village on the old Indo-Tibetan road within Indian boundaries. Rakcham is a village that falls on the way from Sangla and is better known as the model village of the region. Visiting the place is almost like a pilgrimage for those who dare to take this historic road. Reaching it 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.
Drive to Chitkul
We started our drive towards Chitkul after a leisurely breakfast at Banjara Camps in Sangla where we were staying. We intended to go beyond the village as some adventurous people do manage to go, so we made no other plans for the rest of the day. As soon as we got out of Sangla the landscape started changing. We were driving with the Baspa River flowing to our right. Every now and then we started meeting streams that were enthusiastically running towards the Baspa as if full of joy for the anticipated union. There were big and small bridges that we crossed.
Each of these bridges was enchanting enough to stop and admire. To stand on top of the bridge and watch the river flow below you is like being a part of the river and yet not being. The sound of water against the rocks is like pure music.
What we found amazing was that each bridge had all the vital details mentioned on a board on either side of it. You know exactly what the water body is called if it is a Nallah, a River, or a Rivulet along with the technical details of the bridge.
The colorful Buddhist flag not only added a flavor of devotion to the environment but also added a bit of vibrancy with its cheerful colors.
Once we crossed Rakcham, we started seeing lots of big and small rocks all around. It almost looked like we have reached the city of Stones, all we could see were stones and stones. Here and there hanging glaciers glistened in the sunshine.
As I said, we wanted to go ahead of the village, but the village had no intention of letting us go ahead. On the turn just outside the village, our car got stuck in what looked like a small drain. Thanks to the local hotel and restaurant owners we could get the car moving. But abandoned our plans to go ahead as everyone said the road ahead is not so good and technically you can’t go beyond a checkpoint. We parked the car and started exploring the little village.
We came across the small wood and stone hut that is almost as famous as the village itself. We saw houses with open storage that have doors but not necessarily walls.
Bengal in Himachal
As we walked past the row of hotels that were garishly painted in bright colors we could read boards in Bengali. We did not have to wait too long to hear Bengali. When we chatted with our guide, we were told that Bengalis travel a lot on this route and hence there is a market for Bengali hotels and restaurants in the village. Now I know Bengalis and Gujaratis are two communities that travel a lot. But I did not expect them to create a mini Bengal in the remote Himalayan village. Call it the drive of a free market or call it the nature of India where every community has a stake in the other.
Walk along River Baspa in Chitkul
We took a long walk along the river that seems to descend from the snow-capped Himalayan peaks. People of the village could be seen wearing their ubiquitous green Kinnauri caps. Be it the woman tending the field or the man taking the donkeys for a walk.
I walked through the sandy path to reach the edge of Baspa – that was flowing like a girl in her adolescent years – not yet aware of the ways of the world and full of hope and optimism. The edges of the Baspa River had some smooth stones in various colors. I remember I counted the colors and there were more than 7 colors not counting the various shades and patterns they had on them.
I sat by the river listening to its roar, its joy, its flow, and watching it maneuver itself around the big rocks. It was such a peaceful experience even with noisy tourists all around me. I still get a little peaceful moment when I close my eyes and think of those few moments of sitting by the River Baspa.
I was there in July and we could see quite a few colorful flowers in the village.
Rakcham – the model village
On our way back we stopped at Rakcham or Rakchham to admire the neat and clean modern village. Rakcham is at a height, a good 100 meters or so above Baspa and you get a good top-down view of the River. Bridges from here looked like small sticks across the river that looked like a much smaller version of itself.
Near Rakcham, we found the pine trees that give the Pine Nuts – a product that you only find in Sangla Valley or Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh.
Watch the video of the roaring Baspa River
Watch the video clip of the roaring Baspa River.
I was back in Sangla in my tent next to Baspa, with lovely memories from the trip.
- It is roughly 25 km from Sangla – the main hub of Baspa Valley in Himachal Pradesh.
- There are only budget hotels available for stay. So plan your trip accordingly.
- Food available is also basic so if you are finicky about your food, carry it with you.
- There is a Himachal Transport Bus that connects it to Rekong Peo and passes via Sangla. Check the latest timings if you intend to take the bus. I would recommend taking a cab so that you can stop by whenever nature beckons you.
- It is at a height of 3450 meters so the air does get thin. Do not overexert yourself.
- It is colder than Sangla, keep an extra layer of woolen.
Recommend you to read the following Places to visit in Himachal Pradesh.
Things to do in Narkanda, Thanedar, Himachal Pradesh
Dhankar – Monastery, Fort & a village in Spiti Valley
Eternity stops to see Kinner Kailash at Kalpa
Bhimakali – Unique Temple of Himachal
Nice information written.
I started planning to visit this place….
Thanks Dhiraj and happy to know that you are planning a trip to Sangla valley. Do share your experience when you come back.
Yes of cours…
Lovely pictures and write up. I am just back from Himachal and craving for more. Maybe this should be my next destination.
Thanks Abhinav. Himalayas, once you have visited them, will keep calling you back.
Interesting information Anuradha!! I will refer this when I plan my next trip to Himachal 🙂
Thanks Sneh. Happy that you would be able to use the information on Chitkul to plan your next trip. Do check out other Himachal destinations on IndiTales.
Thanks for Featuring this place with us (which I have never Heard of Before!).Loved the way you have portraited this place with your writings along with the Pics.Felt like I was there on the journey with you.I’m surely Going to add Chitkul in My Wishlist 🙂
Thank you Preethi. I wish you get to go to Chitkul soon enough.
Hi Anuradha 🙂
First, i would like to thank you for maintaining this wonderful blog, beautifully crafted, each details of place and location.
I was unaware of this place (Valley of Sangla) i traveled Unna, Chamba, Bhimakali in Sarahan but Sangla i never visited. After reading your story i think i should visit this place. And Rakcham the neat and clean modern village, it is not surprising that a remote village is clean but im amaze how they preserve their village from tourists littering. Anyway i am quite disappointed over less pictures. overall you are amazing. And im going to Subscribe your blog.
Thank you Mastana Ji. I will try and put more pictures in upcoming travel blogs. Please do subscribe to IndiTales.
i already did that. Thank you for your reply Anuradha Ji 🙂
Thank you once again 🙂
Very beautiful. Impressed by the presence of a Bengali market! And thanks for the important details.
A picture is worth a thousand words,and I fell in love with Chitkul!Thanks a lot for showcasing these Pictures.And I feel like Chitkul is a Place which brings back to us all the Peace and Tranquility in the world 🙂
Right Aaravi. Most places in Himalayas, including Chitkul are tranquil.
Nice piece of photos and information.
Chitkul is beautiful, hope I make it soon 🙂
Hope you make it soon to Chitkul….
I am planning to visit Chitkul in 1st week of July.
Just wanted to know if its the ideal time as I have read about sporadic landslides happening.
July is a good time to visit Chitkul. Landslides are a part of life in Himalayas – you can not time them. Just pray that you do not meet one.
Just so beautiful and fresh !
You were featured in 10 Road Trips To Tempt Every Roadie on 4th August, 2016.
Keep travelling and writing such amazing posts!
Thanks, Team BlogAdda. Sure, will keep travelling as much as I can.
This was an interesting read! Shall keep in mind whenever I travel to this part of Himachal Pradesh.
Thank you Hitasha. Wish you all the best for the Himachal Trip.
Very informative, have you already completed your trip, what was your route
Srikanth – I did Shimla – Thanedar – Sangla – Kalpa – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Chandratal – Manali. This trip was done in 2015.
As usual Anuradha ji going through your write up give us a feeling of actually present amidst the scenic beauty of Himachal. Although never been there but now making plan visit this place. Thanks once again for your vivid description of the place
Thank you, Samir Ji. Have a great trip to Chitkul and Sangla Valley.
very beautiful place. I liked the photos that you shared And you have a great discovery about the place. keep writing such blogs.
Riveting writeup. Thank you.
Wonderful post and a great guide to the tourists. I will surely help many. And a great way of writing a post. You are such a great inspiration.
hey after reading this blog I just want to go to this place you have beautifully explained this place.