Kinnaur Valley in Himachal Pradesh is a thrilling destination and one of the 12 districts of the state. Snuggled in the midst Zanskar, Himalayas and Dhauladhar mountains ranges, Kinnaur is blessed with majestic snow-capped mountains, green valleys, meandering rivers, orchards and vineyards. Sharing its border with Tibet, strong traces of the influence of Tibetan culture is seen in the valley. Snow-clad for six months, Kinnaur is one of the most beautiful places in the mountains state.
The unexplored beauty is not for the faint-hearted, the toughest of adventure lovers are drawn to Kinnaur. The deadly roads, the extremities in climate and breathtaking beauty greets the travelers. Worth experiencing rather than viewing, Kinnaur inspires travelers rather than tourists.
Kinnaur has not much recorded history. Local myths and legends are the earliest source of historical accounts of the valley. The valley has shared roots with ancient Tibet. Numerous kingdoms in India have ruled the valley. The last acquisition was by the Mughal Empire. The important trade route from India to Tibet was not given much importance in the British Colonial rule. Visitors from all over the world visit Kinnaur, for Kinner Kailash for pilgrimage. The revered site is known as the holy abode of Lord Shiva.
Tourist attractions in Kinnaur
Kinnaur is an important district in Himachal Pradesh. There are numerous tourist attractions to check out.
Kalpa settled at altitude of 2759 m from the sea level, on the old Hindustan Tibet Road is a heritage site. In the event of British Governor General Lord Dalhousie's visit in the 19th century, the town shot into limelight. There are many places to check out here including the Narayan-Nagani temple, an exemplary of local craftsmanship and couple of Buddhist monasteries including the Hu-Bu-Ian-Car Gompa, said to be founded it by Rinchensang-Po.
Reckong Peo situated at an altitude of 2670 m offers a breathtaking view of Kinner Kailash. Kinnaur Valley’s most famous allure, the Kinner Kailash Mountain is regarded as one of the abode of Lord Shiva. The mountain has a 79 feet high rock formation that bears resemblance to a Shivalinga. This formation changes color as the day passes depending on the angle of the sun.
Sangla is a populous village, situated on the bank of the Baspa River. It is famous for its high fertile soil, at an elevation of 2621 m in the Kinnaur Valley. Overlooking the massive Raldang peaks covered in perpetual snow in the background, the lush landscape is soothing and definitely worth visiting.
Chhitkul at 3450m is the last and highest village in the Kinnaur district. Located on the right bank of the Baspa River, the village is amazing to explore. The temples of local goddess Mathi are worth visiting. The main temple is said to have been constructed about 500 years ago by a resident of Garhwal. The square ark of the goddess, is made of walnut wood and is covered with clothes and surmounted by a tuft of yak tail.
Kothi is settled in middle of fields, fruit orchards and vineyards. The Kinner Kailash peak forms a magnificent backdrop. The attractive temple, tanks and willows creates a lovely landscape. The goddess Shuwang Chandika temple is held in great reverence and must be visited.
Situated near Taiti stream, Lippa at2 438m grass said to produce nourishing grass to cattle and horses. The nearby game sanctuary is reputed and Ibex can be spotted. Visit the three Buddhist temples dedicated to Galdang Chhoikar, Dunguir and Kangyur and the sanctuary dedicated to Tangtashu, a local deity.
This picturesque village is located at the height of 3591m. Surrounded by lofty mountains with a way through apricot orchard, the site is breathtaking. Pay a visit to the old fort believed to be built by Pandavas. The revered local deity Urming has three structures in Thwaring, Garmang and Shilling. Explore the 18 'mukh' of the ark, made of silver, gold and brass, representing the 18 days of the great epic Mahabharat.
Nichar is a scenic village in Kinnaur Valley. The blissful climate lures visitors from all over. The thick forests and rocky terrain is inhabited by goral and Thar antelopes. The village deity, goddess Ukha has a revered temple with a marvelous view at 3150m in the lap of mountains.
Settled at 3663m, Nako is the highest village in the Kinnaur valley. The lake of the village was formed out of the masses of the ice and snow. Yaks, kine, horses and asses are reared here in abundance. Stop for a visit to the village deity Deodum’s temple. Buddhist temples and a rock is regarded to have the imprints of the saint Padmasambhava are also worth visiting. Tourist facilities are easily available here. It is also the base for the trek to Pargial peak, en-route Thashigang monastery, where an image is said to grow hair.
Namgya, settled at the confluence of the Spiti River with the Satluj at the height of 3048m. The village is surrounded by barrenness but a unique beauty. Pay a visit to the Buddhist temple named Lagang and four local goddess namely Chola, Bushahru, Dabla and Kuldeo Narain.
The beautiful village of Rakchham is situated on the bank of the river Baspa. The village is settled at the western extremity of a glen, at the base a huge mass of bare rock, which rises abruptly in numerous black spires above the village. Get enchanted by the rugged beauty.
Pooh has all modern amenities as well as the beauty of green fields, vineyards, apricots, almond and grape orchards. The local god is called Dabla. Contrary to the other villages, the only manifestation of the deity is a pole with a small idol set on its upper portion and adorned with yak tail hair and long pieces of colored cloth.
Ribba is another large populous village in Kinnaur Valley. This village serves as a base to the lofty Kinner Kailash range. The famous grapes orchards of the villages produces the famous grape wine. Make a stop for few days and indulge in the delicious wines.
Things to do in Kinnaur
Trekking and other adventure activities are the thrilling excitements of Kinnaur. ‘Parikarma (revolution) of Kinnaur Kailash, abode of Shiva, is among the popular trails. Bhaba Valley and Sangla Valley treks are other popular trails.
How to reach
The nearest airport to Kinnaur is in Jubbar Hatti. The domestic airhead is around 244 km. the nearest international airport is in Delhi. From the airport buses, private vehicles and cabs ply on the route to the valley.
The nearest railhead to reach Kinnaur is in Shimla. The broad gauge rail has its last stop in Kalka. From the railway station one can travel to the valley by buses, cabs or other vehicles.
Almost each and every part of the state is linked by roads in Kinnaur. The Himachal Road Transport Corporation runs its buses. There is huge network of HRTC to cater the needs of the people. There are state owned buses, luxury Volvo and other modes of transport.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Kinnaur is from April to October. These months enjoy pleasant weather. The cold has made way for summers. The lush beauty is at its peak. Kinnaur has long winter from October to May. Snowfall is the norm and life comes to a standstill. Summer falls in between the months from June to September. The monsoon season is not the best time to visit. The rains make the roads quite dangerous. Avoid travel plans for the months of July and August.