Chandigarh – Thanedar – Sangla – Kalpa – Kaza – Manali – Sojha – Chandigarh ( 12 Nights / 13 Days)
Just 190 kms from Chandigarh, lies Thanedar, a small orchard town tucked away 10kms from Narkanda. This was the birthplace of apples in India and affords a serene and calm experience. For the activity oriented there are some lovely walks as also a trek to a peak nearby. From here we reach the beautiful valley of Kinnaur, which is also the land that produces some of the best apples in the region. Left untouched for thousands of years it emerges only for six months before being submerged in snow. Situated at a height of 2700m surrounded by massive towering mountains on all sides the valley also boasts the gurgling Baspa river, famous for trout fishing possibilities.
A must see little village with a small population is Batseri – a typical Kinnauri village, with a lovely local Devta temple. Moving from Sangla to another spectacular journey is a Sarahan, famous for its more than 800 years old Bhimakali Temple, one of the best examples of hill architecture. The place provides awesome views of Shirkhand range, reminding us of the greatness of the Himalayas.
The valley of Spiti is unlike any other. We move from lush green valley of Sangla into Barren moonscape of Spiti valley with few signs of vegetation. Yet this land renders visitors speechless with it’s harsh raw beauty of the landscape.
Shoja, on the other hand is an angler’s paradise, due to its proximity to the Tirthan River where Trout fishing is a definite possibility. Shoja at just 5 kms from Jalori Pass at 3223m provides breathtaking sceneries and walks to nearby lakes and forts.
Kilometers covered: 2200 kms
Maximum altitude: Kunzum La (4533M)
Best time to visit: June- September
Fly into Chandigarh from Delhi or reach Chandigarh by Kalka Shatabdi express train around 1200 hrs. Met by our representative and drive to Thanedar. Check into Banjara Orchard Retreat.
Visit Bhimakali Temple in Sarahan en route
For six months every year, the Himalayan valleys of Kinnaur and Spiti emerge from a thick cloak of snow to reveal a different, secret world to man. Your discovery of the lesser-known Himalayas can begin at the Banjara Camp in the Sangla Valley. At a height of 2,700 Mts the Banjara Camp is surrounded by towering mountains on all sides and is set on the banks of the Baspa River that surges through the valley. Long walks to discover the amazing fauna and flora of the valley, treks to view snow covered Himalayan peaks, angling for trout, experiencing some of the local culture and traditions, rock climbing, rappelling are only some of the delights that are on offer.
Visit Chitkul and hike up to Nagasthi, the last village on the old Indo-Tibetan trade route.
Hike to Rakcham village. This is the signature walk of the valley. Drive back from Rakcham.
After breakfast, leave for Kalpa famous for its apple and chilgoza plantations. Kalpa offers the best panoramic view of the 6,000m high Kinner-Kailash range. Night stay in Kalpa.
After an early breakfast, we depart for Kaza, leaving behind verdant, forest clad mountains as we go over the tree line towards the Spiti region. En route you may take a short detour to visit the picturesque Nako Lake. The terrain will leave you breathless and speechless. Rock-hard Desert Mountains, torrential rivers and icy cold winds account for the sparsely populated villages. Reach Kaza, check into the Banjara Retreat and spend rest of the day at leisure.
After an early breakfast, drive down to Tabo and visit Tabo Gompa, reputed to be the oldest (an inscription on a wall here indicates, it was founded in AD 996) continuously functioning Buddhist monastery in India and the Himalayas, with its original decoration and iconographic program intact. We then move on to see Dhankar monastery. Dhankar, the traditional capital of Spiti, sits pretty on a hilltop. The fort here overlooks the Spiti valley and it was used as a jail in olden days. Today, more than 160 lamas reside here. A statue of Dhyan Budha where four complete figures of Budha sit back to back is the main attraction of this more than seven-century old monastery.
About an hour’s walk (about 3 kms) from here on a slightly uphill track is a small lake that sits languidly is a bowl. The size of the lake in the summer varies every year depending on how much snow the catchment area had in the previous winter. Your lunch hamper beckons on reaching the lake. After an al fresco lunch, we take a 30 minute walk to the car and drive back to reach the retreat by evening.
Declared a national park in 1987, Pin Valley is located in the cold desert region of the Spiti valley, Himachal Pradesh. With its snow laden unexplored higher reaches and slopes, the Park forms a natural habitat for a number of endangered animals including the Snow Leopard and Siberian Ibex. The elevation of the Park ranges from about 3,500 M near Ka Dogri to over 6,000 M at its highest point. Because of its high altitude and extreme temperatures, the vegetation in the area is scant and mostly dominated by alpine trees, patches of Himalayan cedar and smatterings of several medicinal plants. In summer, flowers decorate the valley with startling hues. Along with animals, rare birds like the Himalayan Snow Cock, Chukor, Snow Partridge and the Tibet Snow Finch also flourish in the area.
After breakfast visit Ki monastery and Kibber village. Ki gompais a Gelugpa sect monastery. Its hilltop position points to a post-thirteenth century construction. The three storied structure consists largely of storage rooms at the bottom level, while the middle floor houses the Dukhang- the assembly hall- and the uppermost floor has another temple and the head Lama’s quarters, on one side of an open terrace. The greatest wealth of Ki Gompa lies in its collection of ‘Thangkas’ salvaged with difficulty from the devastating raids of the Dogars and the Sikhs in the 19th century.
From here a scenic drive takes you into the pasture country of Kibber. The pastures are spread over hundreds of square kilometers. Kibber is small village and is the take off point for the popular trek to Tso Moriri in Ladakh. Further up six kilometers from Kibber, we drive up to a still smaller village of Gete. Consisting of just six houses, it boasts of being the highest village in Asia connected by road. Drive back to the retreat for lunch and spend rest of the day at leisure – preferably resting.
Drive over Kunzum La (4553m) to reach Manali. Manali is one of the most popular hill stations in India. Overnight stay in hotel.
Drive to Sojha visiting Naggar castle and Roerich art gallery en route. Check into Banjara retreat on arrival. Evening at leisure around bon fire.
Day at leisure/ Hike to Raghupur Fort or Serolser lake. Overnight stay at Banjara Retreat.
Drive from Manali to Bhuntar airport (2 hrs) and fly back to Delhi else drive to Chandigarh to board evening Shatabdi express train departing at 1800 hrs to Delhi.