Departing from Shimla
We arrived at Kinnaur Shimla in early morning hours and after having our breakfast we quickly went to fetch our bikes from the rental agencies. Arriving in Shimla in the months of September, we were energised to push our adrenaline for an epic bike trip, our Shimla to Kinnaur road trip.
We already knew Shimla would be a crowdy place due to its immense popularity as tourist destinations. So we decided to leave that day for Sarahan which is a somewhat a quieter hill station 165 kms from Shimla. Since it will be six long hectic days of muscle power of the Royal Enfield in the tough roads of most parts of Himachal Pradesh we did a pre servicing and complete checkup of all the three royal enfields.
The essential items we took were two carriers and elastic ropes for carrying the luggages,extra tubes in case of punctures, one hand pump, two cans for carrying petrol of capacity 5 litres each. We did a complete checkup of the battery and chokes,and finally servicing of the chains attached to the pulley. They charged a rent of Rs1300 per bike so paying in advance the full payment we started of for our journey. We intended to leave the city as fast as we could because we decided to avoid the crowds of the hill stations in the whole trip. We refuelled our petrol tanks before leaving the outskirts of Shimla at 12:00 p.m
On the way to Rampur
We arrived at Narkanda after an hour and the signs of apple farms began to show as we saw local people packing apples in boxes which will go down to plains. This was the introduction I planned for my travel blog. The apples were more like dark brown-red in colour.I was so happy and jumping ,as if like a kid won his medal for a treasure hunt. With the sweet taste of the apples, we drove down further along the Sutlej plains towards Rampur.
We decided to have our evening snacks and next refuel our bikes in Rampur which was 50 kms before our destination Sarahan. The roads turned into Avenues of Pine trees with the sun rays playing hide and seek in between the branches. There was hardly any traffic and we lazily drove down to the Sutlej Plains clicking as many snaps as we could. We arrived at a village where The Sutlej river was visible as a green snake.
From the viewpoint, we traced down the road and to our excitement the road was just along the length of the river running parallel. We couldn’t control our excitement to reach that place and so we drove down further in high gears. After an hour drive finally, we arrived our viewpoint destination and the place transformed into whole new earth. It was like a village of the fertile plains with a broader version of Sutlej replacing the fertile plains. The trees were shorter in height and mountains were rich in vegetation. We faced a different side of Himachal Pradesh on our way to Rampur. Such scenic highways definitely invoked in my writing skills for my travel blog.
We reached Rampur by sunset and had our evening snacks in a local dhaba by the roadside. Rampur is an important town in the kinnaur district so it gave us numerous food options. Rampur Dhabas has excellent viewpoints looking down over the free-flowing Sutlej river. So after refuelling the tanks we didn’t wasted time and proceeded our trip towards Sarahan. Next 2 hours of drive was chilling and adventurous as it was completely dark and with ghat roads all along the way. So a simple advice for travellers is to take your exit from the outskirts of Shimla by 10 o clock in the morning. We arrived at Sarahan at eight o clock in the night.
It was simply easy to find the hotels as Sarahan is a quiet hill station famous for Bheemkali Temple. The hotels are cheap and comfortable to live in. The hotels will charge you within Rs 1000 and provide you with delectable vegetarian dishes. We were tired after a 10-hour long bike ride. Therefore, we had our dinner and went to sleep with the mountain rides and river valleys in our dreams.
Next day our kinnaur story starts with the legendary Hindustan Tibet Highway which runs from Sarahan and ends in the last village of India to Tibet,Chitkul. My inspiration to engage more into road trips is highly motivated from this adventure in Himalayas in this beautiful valley of Himachal Pradesh. The hanging mountains over the roads, the green Himalayas,snow-capped peaks in the background, the snow melted fast flowing rivers, apple avenues, beautiful villages and the sweet hospitable people were always accompanying us in the mesmerising land of Himachal Pradesh.
As the road curved its way through the edges of the mountains, we crossed numerous suicide points. These were extended rock cliffs from the highways. The view of the world’s most treacherous highway astonished me The Border Road Organisation had established it in such a precarious way.We are grateful that such organisations take such heroic steps that help us to visit The Himalayas as humble tourists.
The mountains were rich in vegetation and fortunately, the terrific landforms welcomed us warmly. Sometimes there were wild asses grazing on the mountains carelessly. We passed through numerous power stations built over the Sutlej river basin.Due to the rapid flow of the river in this region, the state government has set up numerous hydropower plants in this valley. Karcham being a famous industrial town where the state has few important power stations.
On the way to Chitkul in Hindustan Tibet highway
This combination of the ruthless machine with the most beautiful mountains on this planet will surely be the most scintillating journey. The road to Kalpa as we go towards the upstream of Sutlej river made us spellbound as it unleashed its scenic painting.
Kinnaur offers some real breathtaking views one of which we found it in the Hindusthan Tibet Highway near Kalpa. Though the road was tough to ride on such breathtaking views motivated us for long exposures to nature and build our strength to fight the tough roads. Bike trip never becomes so significant in life until we venture to the Himalayas.
The most astonishing scenic place that I have ever been was this unnamed village which was few kms before Chitkul in the Kinnaur valley. So many apple trees on both sides of the roads stunned me. It seemed like greeting the tourists with the symbols of Kinnaur.
We felt lucky that we arrived on the month of September as the apples were full-grown by that time. We were behaving like kids , jumping over the fences and climbing walls to pluck those delicious apples. It was a memorable moment of my life when I could pluck those wild apples directly from the tree. These are otherwise so costly down into the plains. I will always crave more for such road trips in bikes. It provides an ideal platform to explore our beautiful country in a more detailed way.
After crossing the huge Apple farmlands we proceeded towards Chitkul. The road became worse with symbols of the landslide . We arrived at small river crossings made by narrow bridges. These were made pit stops for photo sessions due to the waterfalls in the background. The water was coming down from melted snow that formed a gushing river in the downstream. (shimla to kinnaur road trip)
What arrived 5 kms beore the village made us spellbound. There were a series of colourful farmlands of red and yellow plantations equally garlanded with pine trees. The mountains were like transforming into a wall of collage with colours of green and grey. The rocks were shining its grey dust while the green vegetation were soothing our vision. There is a military checkpoint before entering the village since Chitkul being a border village to Tibet.
After the checkpoint the road unleashed itself into a whole new paradise world. It was like a painting done by God ,being recently coloured for the new passionate travellers like us. The view became panoramic with a wide angle vision. We were at a height of more than 3500 metres above sea level. We visioned it as a distant village surrounded by the mighty Himalayas in its most colourful form.
After a 9-hour bike ride through the toughest terrain in the Himalayas, we arrived in a paradise village of the Himalayas. The village is situated on the banks of one of the tributaries of Sutlej river, The Baspa river. Earlier we had planned to come down to Kalpa and stay in a camp. But after watching the entrance view of this heavenly village, we decided to have our night stop in this village. We wanted to have a surreal experience in the lapse of nature. Indeed the splendid scenery of Chitkul will trap a traveller’s mind for at least a whole day in this most beautiful village.
The village is the last village to Tibet. Therefore, the people living here have culture and living styles similar to Buddhism. The Kinnaur Kailash peak is clearly visible from this beautiful village which makes it more important for hindu pilgrims. We witnessed a memorable sunset on the banks of the Baspa river with the snow-capped peak of the Kinnaur kailash glazing like a fireball in the last rays of the sun. The memory of Chitkul will remain in my blood deep enough for a lifelong impact whenever I will visit Kinnaur Shimla.
Chitkul to Pooh: The Best Part of our Shimla to Kinnaur road trip
The hotel Alpine view, situated just at the starting of the village was amidst stunning scenery surrounded by lofty colourful mountains. The Bengalis run this hotel to provide the tourists with delectable vegetarian dishes. The caretaker even surprised us with a local Apple drink for just rs 250 for half a bottle. He told us that it will keep us warm under the shivering cold at night.Indeed it was. It acted like super Rum.
The rooms are cheap but the power is out for most of the time. However, it is actually a pleasure to experience the wilderness of the surroundings. The location turns even more heavenly at night when the galactic sky gets lightened up with the stars . The sound of the flowing Baspa river in the vicinity of the hotel. Due to less pollution and free air, the visibility of the sky at such high altitudes is totally mesmerising. I experienced my best view of Planetarium on that day.
Having an early morning breakfast we bid goodbye to this dreamland. Finally, we proceeded for Spiti valley. In this trip, I missed many small towns of Kinnaur valley like Kalpa,Rakhcham and Rekong peo. We can explore them in another two days. We were short of time so we proceeded towards the tougher and drier part of our country.
Spiti is a cold desert lying on the leeward side of the mountains. The scenery changes from green fertile landscape to a tougher. Additionally it was a rusty atmosphere as we approach to Spiti valley from the Kinnaur valley, Himachal Pradesh. Now the roads were turning into dust.
The Hindustan Tibet highway transformed itself to the most treacherous highway. The reasons are the increasing number of hairpin bends and numerous potholes and shooting stones on the roads. The roads now become even worse and mountain colour changed to shining gold. There were mostly long wooden bridges with prayer flags with settlements of Indian army base camps. (shimla to kinnaur road trip)
Sutlej river turned into grey colour as it dried down accumulating the eroded mountain rocks from the surface. Our journey slowed down at this point as after few kms from Chitkul the roads were in terrible condition. As we moved on to Pooh which is the last village in Kinnaur Shimla,Himachal Pradesh ,the terrain changes drastically. The Sutlej river changes to a muddy form into Spiti river. It then guides us to explore the greater remote part of Himachal Pradesh.
We had our lunch in one of the few highway dhabas in Pooh. The dhabas provide excellent homemade potato stuffed parathas with curd made from local cow milk. The temperature is high enough in the morning so a curd provided us with a healthy diet. Now our journey was headed to the least populated region of our country: The Spiti valley; the introduction of which we felt in the change in geography. The natural scenery , adventurous roads and pollution-free air of Himachal Pradesh always fascinated me. That is why this travel blog on our Shimla to Kinnaur road trip is one of my favourites among all my articles so far.