Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Chitkul to Kalpa - 3

14.06.16 Day 5

i repeat, Chitkul is not a place you should leave in one day

Honestly, Chitkul is not a place one can and should leave in one day. But what they say, backpacking is like flirting with life, Its like saying I would stay and love you but I have to go. Its my station.
And my next station was Kalpa. To reach to Kalpa there is only one private bus runs from Chitkul to Reckon Peo early in morning at 6 am. and takes Rs. 120. From Reckon Peo, there are frequent maxis (small private buses) run to Kalpa and take Rs. 15.

roof of a temple

I was at Chitkul bus stop on the time. No need to tell, it was freezing cold temperature out there. It was four and half hour journey to Reckon Peo. I got a maxi in half hour from Peo bus stop to Kalpa.

I was missing Chitkul and started comparing it with Kalpa. And I found myself not liking Kalpa as much as liked Chitkul. Maybe I was still in love with Chitkul.

I inquired in few guest houses for accommodation. It was little expensive than my earlier stays. Finally settled down at Chini Bungalow Guest House. The room was really good with attached toilet bathroom and hot water and worth for paying Rs. 400, 100 rupees more than my budget. 

Chini Bungalow  
My guest house owner told me that  Himachal Pradesh State Transport employees are on strike and I have to stay in Kalpa for at least two more days because no private buses run from Kalpa to Nako. So I was in Kalpa, desperately wanted to leave it next day and head to Nako, which was my next station. But was helpless and had to stay here in Kalpa for two more days. This was first time in this trip, something happened which was not expected. I wont say, something happened against my plan. Because I really had no plans.
view of Kinnaur Kailash from the school
I was sitting on the steps of the school  from where you can get the best view of Kinnaur Kailash Peaks. I was enjoying the view and updating my whereabouts to Mom over phone.

Vidya and Ashok

There I saw one Indian couple trying to take a selfie. I asked them if they want any help in clicking their picture, after seeing their expressions of not getting a perfect picture.

This young couple happened to be from Pune. Ashok and Vidya. Ashok was an IITn and working for engineering firm where Vidya was a Data Scientist. What was the first thing I realized about this couple was, they were travelers not tourist. And the second thing was, never judge a person on their occupation. I was impressed to see this Indian, engineer couple on their road trip.  
Vidya and Ashok on Worlds most treacherous roads
Ashok offered me to travel with them upto Nako next day morning as they had hired a sumo for their road trip to Spiti Valley. When things don't happen as you wished that means something better is on the way to you. It was unexpected. I was happy. I was going to Nako next day morning. 

prayer bells in the middle of small roads in Kalpa
I explored the village after Ashok and Vidya's meeting. In evening we met again at Jyoti Restaurant, where I met few more fellow travelers, one group of Israeli travelers, and had amazing time talking with them. 
Israeli group of travelers with Vidya and Ashok
Nadav, the more friendlier than others in the group, whom I kept bumping into every next station of my journey told me why we see Israeli travelers everywhere in India or in east Asia for that matter. 
For them Military service is compulsory after their schooling for couple of years. And they get nice amount when they leave it. So before getting into into job or higher education they prefer traveling. And it has become a trend in Israel now a days. Interesting isnt it? 

happiness is when you make someone smile
Though she could not speak Hindi and I could not understand her language, we talked. When I say keep smiling and keep spreading happiness, I mean it. I live by this sentence. This is now my goal in life. Though it is a very small and unnoticeable thing. But it makes me happy to make people smile. And it does not need any extra efforts.

Jyoti Restaurant
I visited this place four times in 18 hours I spent in Kalpa. And it had a reason...



Saturday, 23 July 2016

Sangla to Chitkul-2

13.06.2016  Day 4
I was super excited to go to Chitkul. Actually one of the reasons I had taken this trip was the irresistible beauty of Chitkul. I had seen hundreds of  pictures of this last inhabited village on Hindustan Tibet Trade Road on internet. I had "liked" almost every picture with the hash tag "Chitkul". No doubt I liked Sangla but the urge to go to Chitkul was more. I couldn't wait for the only bus which runs from Sangla to Chitkul in afternoon time. 
on the way to Chitkul
My guest house manager suggested me to take a lift from other travelers. One group of six guys, three on bullet and three in Scorpio gave me a lift. The journey from Sangla to Chitkul was picturesque. A small road carved in the snow capped mountain and Baspa river flowing parallel to the road deep down in the valley. 
road to Chitkul from Sangla
Chitkul is 21 kms from Sangla. Journey took around 2 hrs. At 10.00am I reached Chitkul. I couldn't believe myself that I actually went there. It was only second day of my journey and I was already feeling accomplished to see the mesmerizing beauty of this small village. 
The Alpine View Guest House

Here I had to use my bargaining skills to get a room in Rs. 300 for a day. It was Alpine View Guest House which is just near to BSNL tower. It had a nice view. 
perfect place to have a lunch
After taking Maggie and tea in breakfast, I started walking towards the river. Every passing minute I was thanking myself to take this trip. I crossed the bridge. I followed trails. Walked through Pea fields. Met amazing people. Hiked on a hill behind government guest house.  I kept walking and walking.  
i was dragged to Chitkul to witness THIS view

In the evening when I was taking a round  of the village, just to understand the lifestyle and culture of people. I came across a person in his sixties sitting in front of his wooden house. He invited me for a cup of tea. I could not say no to his invite in chilling cold weather in Chitkul. His name was Mr. Negi, a retired government officer. (Later I learnt that every second person in Chitkul had same surname, Negi.)  
Negi Uncle and his wooden house in background

His daughter in law got us tea. He was happily surprised to know that I was traveling solo. We discussed on many things like difference in culture across the country, different types of travelers we met, Indian politics and many more over a cup of tea. He told me that the village is Hindu by religion but all of them follow Tibetian Budhisum too. They have temples of both religion in the village.

i could see prayer flags over all houses in the village.
He was constructing a guest house for tourists. I shared a concept of Homestays with him and how he can earn money in minimal investment. 

I was asked to stay back for local, traditional food in dinner.  I offered some help in kitchen. Negi uncle and his daughter in law both said No at the same time. And explained to me that in Kinnauri tradition, no one except for a woman in the house is allowed to cook or even enter in the kitchen.  
my host, Negi Uncle's daughter in law

So I sat outside of the kitchen while she was cooking Chilta (bread) made up of Fafra grains and Sag (curry) made up of Fafra leaves. She was telling me how her life was before marriage. She was born in the village near Bhavanagar which looks like Manali. She was studying in plus two (12th standard) when she got married and came to Chitkul. Half of the year Chitkul is under snow and how much she hates it. They have to stay inside the house when its snowing. There is 2-3 feet layer of snow on the roads. And how they have to make arrangements for winters, they have to make a stock of grocery and woods for fire. In my mind, I was imagining how exciting to be here in winters. 
Chilta (bread) made up of Fafra grains and Sag (curry) made up of Fafra leaves
Our food was ready withing 45 minutes. It was delicious and healthy for the temperature like this. And most important, It was cooked with love. I was experiencing Kinnauri Hospitality. They are best at it, I must admit. Negi Uncle walked me to my guest house after dinner. 
when you are welcomed with cutest smiles
Chitkul was more than the nature's beauty for me. I met most nicest and  humble people here. I met people who let me peek in their lives. I met people who equally respect two different religions. 
It was Chitkul where I learnt the word "Juley" ie. hello in English which made my next journey easy. 

thank you Chitkul

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Pune to Sangla - 1

view of Kinnaur Kailash from Sangla
This June, June 2016, I was desperately waiting for "Roads to open"...Roads of my dream, Roads to Spiti Valley...and Roads to my fifth solo trip.

I needed to plan things first, so first thing first. I booked my train tickets from Pune to Chandigarh one month in advance and a return ticket too.

I was thinking of to come up with the best reason to give in office for two weeks leave. But finally I told the truth. It worked and I got two weeks leave. I had to save some money for this long trip.

There were so many things I had to do in advance before I start my journey. Most difficult one was to tell my parents that I was again going on a solo trip. Believe me, for me that is the only difficult part of traveling. I called my father and told him, I am going to Himalayas. But this time for my surprise he didn't argue with me and said keep calling Everyday.

Shopping? No I didn't buy anything for this trip. And made sure I am traveling light and with ALL medicines and sweater and thermal wear.

10.06.16    Day 1
I started my journey on 10th June from Pune. I took early morning Sinhgad Express to reach Mumbai. From there I got in Paschim Express, at 11.35am. It was crazy hot and humid in Mumbai. I hardly have slept one hour the early night. So without wasting time and getting irritated by the weather I crashed. I actually didn't do anything than eating and sleeping in this train journey. Train tickets cost me Rs.800 from Pune to Chandigarh.

11.06.16   Day 2
When I got up, my train had reached near Delhi. Around 4 pm, I got down in Chandigarh. Chandigarh was as hot as Mumbai. I took local bus to reach to sector 43. And seriously I had no plans for today. I just went on to the inquiry office in the bus stop and asked for the bus to Sangla. It was around 5 pm. I was told that there is no direct bus to Sangla. I had to take Reckon Peo bus till Karcham and then another bus to Sangla from there. The bus will be at 6 pm. I thought why to waste a night in Chandigarh lets take the bus. I pre booked the ticket and luckily got the window sit. It cost me Rs. 520. Bus started sharp at 6 pm. Soon my bus left Chandigarh. After one hour of journey I could see so many hotels and restaurants on both sides of the road and lighting everywhere and heavy traffic. It was like Diwali celebration. After some time I slept and didnt know when Shimla passed.

12.06.16    Day 3
this is what I saw from the window when I got up
I was in half sleep when I heard some noise. I had no idea where I was. I was tired because of long train journey and had totally forgotten that I was traveling in a bus towards Himalayas. I woke up to the noise and looked out of the window. It was about to dawn. There was a flock of sheep in the road and my bus could not go further. I was enjoying watching those sheep running. Few of them started walking on the mountain. My gaze followed those sheep and suddenly realized that those sheep were climbing on Himalayas. I jumped on my sit with joy and extremely happy to realize that I was actually seeing Himalayas. It was Bhavanagar. Where I first saw Himalaya. I could not stop myself smiling and stare at those mountain peaks continuously. After few minutes flock went on one side of road and my bus got some space to move.

after getting down at Karcham. This road leads to Sangla
I was traveling with Himalayas in one side and the river and valley in other side. I got down at Karcham early in morning around 6 am.
road to Sangla
I waited for couple of hours for next bus which took me to Sangla. Finding place to stay was not difficult. I checked in the Baspa Guest House which is at the entry of the village. They charged me Rs. 300 for a day for basic but cozy room without attached toilet bathroom. 
Baspa Guest House, my stay in Sangla
It was more than 48 hours I was traveling but there was no hint of tiredness on my face when I reached Sangla. I was feeling super energetic to see Baspa valley. Every minute I was thanking myself for taking this trip.

I freshen up within no time. My guest house had a nice restaurant where I had tea and Aloo Paratha. 
you just need some food and sunlight sometime
I was on Kamru fort within next one hour. It was 20 minutes walk and 15 minutes hiking from my guest house. I was taking as many pictures as I could. I wanted to capture every inch of Himalaya in my camera. I had a feeling that my camera is not justifying the view of Himalaya. Himalaya is something you have to witness with your own eyes and feel it. No camera justifies the beauty and hugeness of Himalaya.
Inside the entry gate
an ancient wooden Kamru Fort

On the way to the fort, I saw this lady busy in spinning wool. I had an urge to talk to her. I smiled and she replied with a smile. I started talking to her and asked her randomly, "Are you happy in your life?" She smiles again said, "I dont know. But I keep myself busy in spinning wool all the time. I earn some money by selling it in market." I think she was happy.
she knew how to be Happy :)
Kamru fort is a piece of old wooden architecture. I loved the view of Sangla valley and Kinnaur Kailas from there. 
Kinnaur-Kailash in the backdrops
You have to wear a kinnauri cap before you enter in the fort. There is a temple inside the fort. 

After spending an hour in the fort I walked down the valley. I was always amazed to see the pictures of colorful prayer flags. 
flying prayer flags on the bridge on Baspa river
I had always wished to see them flying with the wind in real. They look beautiful. Everything around the Himalayas is beautiful and tempting. I was falling more and more in love with mountains within only few hours.
behind Satsang Bhavan
Sangla was cold in evening. I spent my evening in talking with local people and trying to know more about their culture and enjoy a cup of tea. A big mug of tea actually.
she is writing her address in diary so that I can post this picture to her