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29 November 2023 5 mins read

Chitkul: The Enchanting Last Village in the Himalayas

29 November 2023 5 mins read
Chitkul: The Enchanting Last Village in the Himalayas

Chitkul is a charming remote village in Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur district. It is situated near the Indo-Tibetan border. Recognized as the "last inhabited village" on the Indian side, it holds this distinction due to its proximity to the border and serves as the terminus of the Indian road network. It is perched at an altitude of around 3,450 meters (11,318 feet) in the Himalayas. Its remote location and closeness to the Tibetan border give it a distinct aura of isolation and tranquility.

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Best Time to Visit

The village faces severe winters marked by heavy snowfall, which makes it inaccessible for several months. Therefore the best time to visit here is during the summer months spanning from May to October when the weather is more agreeable, and the roads are accessible for travel.

How to Reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport to Chitkul is Shimla Airport (also known as Jubbarhatti Airport), located approximately 250 kilometers away. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or use local buses to travel to Chitkul.

By Train:

The nearest railway station is Kalka Railway Station, which is well-connected to major cities like Delhi and Chandigarh. From Kalka, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to Shimla and then proceed to Chitkul by road.

By Road:

From Shimla: Chitkul lies roughly 250 kilometers away from Shimla. The journey from Shimla to Chitkul entails driving along NH5 and NH505, passing through towns like Rampur, Sarahan, and Sangla, and eventually arriving at Chitkul.

From Chandigarh/Delhi: Travelers from Chandigarh or Delhi can embark on a road trip to Chitkul. The route includes passing through Shimla or Rampur, then proceeding towards Kinnaur and Sangla Valley to reach Chitkul.

Local Buses and Taxis: Scheduled buses operate routinely between Shimla and Reckong Peo within the Kinnaur district. Upon reaching Reckong Peo, travelers can access local buses or opt for hired taxis to journey onwards to Chitkul. Additionally, shared taxis or private cab services are accessible from Sangla for transportation to Chitkul.

Why Visit Chitkul?

1. Pristine Natural Beauty:

  • Scenic Landscapes: Chitkul boasts breathtaking views of the Himalayan ranges, snow-capped peaks, lush green valleys, and the pristine Baspa River, creating an awe-inspiring natural setting.
  • Serene Environment: Amidst the tranquility far removed from the urban rush, Chitkul offers a peaceful atmosphere, ideal for unwinding and finding solace in nature’s embrace.

2. Unique Cultural Experience:

  • Kinnauri Culture: Delve into the vibrant culture and traditions of the Kinnauri community. Discover their unique architecture, experience local festivals, savor their cuisine, and engage with the friendly and hospitable villagers.
  • Traditional Lifestyle: Experience the captivating lifestyle of villagers as they tend to agriculture, nurture apple orchards, and diligently uphold their timeless customs.
  • Hospitality and Accommodation: Accommodation choices in Chitkul are limited, encompassing guesthouses, homestays, and campsites. Travelers looking for an unconventional and rustic experience can opt for these lodgings, often run by local families, to immerse themselves in the authentic essence of the region.

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3. Adventure and Exploration:

  • Trekking Hub: Chitkul is a starting point for various trekking routes, presenting adventure enthusiasts with chances for trekking, hiking, and discovering challenging terrains and high-altitude panoramas.
  • Offbeat Destination: Being a lesser-known destination, Chitkul offers an authentic and off-the-beaten-path travel experience. Away from commercialization, it allows travelers to deeply connect with nature and the local way of life.

4. Stargazing and Nature’s Splendor:

  • Baspa River and Scenic Walks: You can enjoy walks by the Baspa River, relishing the picturesque views and peaceful ambiance.
  • Apple Orchards: Explore the apple orchards and witness the process of apple cultivation, known for producing some of the finest apples in Himachal Pradesh.
  • Starry Nights: Indulge in mesmerizing stargazing sessions due to the minimal light pollution, offering a chance to witness the beauty of clear night skies.
  • The calmness of the Himalayas: Chitkul provides a tranquil retreat nestled in the embrace of the Himalayas, enabling visitors to disconnect from the chaos of everyday life and reconnect deeply with nature.

 

5. Chitkul Monastery (Mathi Temple): The Chitkul Monastery, also known as Mathi Temple, is a respected site. This ancient temple is dedicated to the local goddess, Mathi Devi who is revered as the goddess who safeguards the village and its inhabitants. 

Chitkul serves as the epicenter for numerous festivals and religious ceremonies. Events like ‘Fulaich’ and ‘Saazo’ witness elaborate rituals and cultural performances, drawing both locals and visitors to partake in these vibrant celebrations.

 

Chitkul

Here are some famous places and attractions near Chitkul:

a) Sangla Valley: Sangla Valley, located around 20 kilometers from Chitkul is known for its scenic beauty, apple orchards, and the Baspa River. 

b) Rakcham: A village close to Chitkul, Rakcham is known for its natural beauty, offering serene landscapes, lush green meadows, and trekking opportunities.

c) Kamru Fort: Kamru Fort is an ancient fort with unique architectural features. It has a temple devoted to Kamakshi Devi, which presents breathtaking panoramic vistas of the surrounding valleys.

d) Batseri Village: Close to Sangla, the small village of Batseri is renowned for its traditional dwellings, indigenous handicrafts, and an opportunity to observe the authentic lifestyle of its inhabitants.

e) Raksham Village: Raksham is a charming quaint village renowned for its apple orchards and acts as the commencement point for several trekking paths.

f) Nagtibba Village: This village offers splendid views of the Kinnaur Kailash range and is an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

g) Hike to Baspa River: One should go on the trek from Chitkul to the Baspa River offers scenic views and a chance to explore the natural beauty of the region.

Important Considerations:

  • Accessing Chitkul involves navigating steep inclines, narrow pathways, and several hairpin bends, necessitating drivers with experience in handling mountainous terrain. Before your trip, it is recommended to verify road conditions and review weather forecasts, especially in winter when substantial snowfall could render the route inaccessible.
  • Adhere to the local culture, customs, and environment, playing a part in conserving the purity of this destination.

Conclusion

Exploring Chitkul presents a chance to discover an unspoiled treasure within the Himalayas, showcasing a harmonious mix of natural allure, cultural vibrancy, and an unconventional travel encounter. This unique experience leaves an indelible mark on travelers looking for authenticity and tranquility in their destinations.

With its pristine natural beauty, serene ambiance, and unique cultural charm, attracts nature enthusiasts, and travelers looking to explore remote and less-trodden destinations in the Himalayas.

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