DELHI – SHIMLA – NARKANDA – RAMPUR – SARAHAN – KINNAUR – KALPA
Hindustan Tibet road (NH – 22)
It was way back in April 2009. After a hectic March, we started off from Delhi on a rainy evening towards the Himalayas. It was our first trip beyond Simla and for the first time I was carrying a DSLR, the then new Canon 450D with almost zero experience on photography.
The weather was bad and the road between Dharampur and Solan was extremely foggy. It was around 11pm then and without fog lamps, I was barely able to see the road ahead of me. After halting for few minutes, we saw two trucks approaching us going towards Shimla. Taking the opportunity at hand, I put my car between both the trucks. The trick worked and we reached Solan safely and decided to stay the night at a road side hotel.
A light snowfall surprised us at Narkanda where we stayed the second night. By the evening a light carpet of snow had covered the small town. The weather was clear the next day and the Hatu Peak which was covered under thick snow was shining bright. Due to overnight snowfall, roads towards the peak was closed for vehicles. So we decided to go there while returning. After a light breakfast we started driving towards Sarahan.
We drove through the apple orchards, visited the picturesque Indo – Tibetan Styled Shri Bhimakali Temple and a breeding center for the Himalayan Monal – the state bird of Himachal Pradesh, watched the evening light glowing on the distant snow clad mountains, walked around the village with its slate roofed houses, washed our feet in a tiny fast flowing stream – we had a great time in Sarahan.
We reached our final destination –Kalpa, the third day. In between, we halted for some time at Kinnaur looking at the Jaypee’s hydroelectric power project. Mercedes and Volvo trucks were seen carrying loads of earth from the tunnels, under construction, which once completed will be used to flow waters from the dam built on the river Sutlej. The force of the water flowing through this tunnels will be used to run the turbines, we were told.
The road from Sarahan to Kapla is considered as one the deadliest road and the History Channel aired one episode of Ice Road Truckers(“IRT: Deadliest Roads” Crumbling Roads -2010) which was filmed on this road. However, we reached Kalpa safely and as we started climbing towards the HTDC run hotel ‘The Kalpa’ situated on top of a hill, we witnessed a 360 degree view of snow clad mountains, with the highest and most revered peak in the area the holy Kinner Kailash.
Kalpa, a small hill town in the Sutlej river valley is a sleepy hamlet not often flooded by visitors. It is above the town Reckong peo, the district headquarters of Kinnaur. Inner line permits to Spiti valley can be obtained from Reckong Peo. Kalpa is also famous for producing high quality apples.
The Sutlej river originates from Rakas Lake near Mansarovar Lake in Tibet where it is known as Longcheen. It enters Himachal Pradesh at Shipki and flows through Kinnaur, Shimla, Solan, Kullu, Mandi and Bilaspur district. The Sutlej is joined by the Beas River in Punjab and continues southwest into Pakistan to unite with the Chenab River, forming the Panjnad River. The Panjnad joins the Indus River and then flows through the fertile plains region of Sindh, forming a large delta region between the border of Gujarat, India and Pakistan, and finally terminates in the Arabian Sea near Karachi.
We drove back the same day from Kalpa and spent an another night in Sarahan and the fifth and last night of our journey at Shimla. We visited the Hatu Peak while returning and spent almost a day visiting nearby places around Shimla.
At 3300m, Hatu peak offers spectacular view of the Great Himalayan mountain ranges at eye level and beautiful lush green pine valleys below. The weather was clear and the peak was full of tourists as well as devotees visiting the ancient Hatu Mata Temple.
Institute of Advance Studies – Shimla. The building that houses the Institute was originally built as a home for Lord Dufferin, Viceroy of India from 1884–1888 and was called the Viceregal Lodge.
On our way back from Shimla we had chased the Shimla-Kalka Himalaya Queen train for almost an hour. It was a pleasure to see the train going through various tunnels and curves. It was a wonderful trip that we had but we definitely wanted to spend more times in the lap of the Himalayas.