google-site-verification: googlee1556601ef56efc4.html The Charming Himalayas: September 2015

Friday, 25 September 2015


Pelling is about 105 km from Darjeeling. The journey took us about 2 hours, as we travelled through farms on both sides of the road, followed by mountains throughout most of the journey and occasional plateaus. We reached Geyzing (also called Gyalshing) which is a district headquarter at a height of about 6500 feet, after which we climbed up further on a mountain top to reach Pelling situated at a height of 7200 feet.

There is an Upper, Middle and Lower Pelling, depending on the height at which you stay on top of the mountain. I found Upper Pelling more comfortable for staying as it seemed less congested and gave a better look of Kanchenjunga mountain, the main attraction in Pelling.

View of Kanchenjunga from Upper Pelling.
View of Lower Pelling from mountain top.
It is Kanchenjunga and its ranges which give Pelling its importance. Pelling is closest to Kanchenjunga for offering decent hotel stay to tourists. It is also a base for many trekking events in Sikkim.The entire range of mountains look beautiful early in the morning. One should see it from the helipad erected at the mountain top to enjoy the magnificent view.

The next morning we took a trip for sightseeing around Pelling. We saw a beautiful, tall waterfall called Rimbi waterfalls. The view was mesmerizing. The water was chilling cold. Simply dipping your legs in the small lake at the bottom of the fall makes you feel fresh. Rimbi waterfalls further down lead to Rimbi rock garden, a place full of rocks with a stream of water from Rimbi falls passing through.

Rimbi water falls.
Next, we took a road to a place called Khecheopalri Lake. This lake located about 35km from Pelling is a sacred place for Buddhists as well as Hindus. The lake has a serene atmosphere. You shall not find a single leaf on the surface of the lake, although the lake is surrounded by trees. It is believed the birds living in those trees keep the lake clean and tidy by immediately picking them up. One has to cross a foot bridge to reach the lake.The shape of the lake is said to be in the form of a human foot, believed to be that of  Gautam Buddha.

Khecheopalri Lake.
We left the sacred lake of Khecheopalri to reach our hotel in Upper Pelling. On the way, we saw a small town called Yuksom, which used to be capital of Sikkim in the 17th century.

The next day,we visited Pelling monastery and enjoyed watching Kanchenjunga from the helipad on top of the mountain. We walked through the narrow but clean roads of Upper Pelling. It was drizzling that day and we were enjoying the wind chill.

Pelling Monastery
Pelling is a very small place. All the three viz. Upper, Middle and Lower Pelling are at walkable distances on the mountain. Food of our choice was a problem here, but I would like to mention a restaurant called Melting Point in Middle Pelling which serves excellent North Indian as well as Chinese food. One can enjoy the mountain views from this hotel as well.

Overall, Pelling is a great place to be in. Highly recommended for tourists visiting Darjeeling and Gangtok.


Kullu Valley.
Evening view of Kullu valley on the way to Manali. The clouds made the valley look even more beautiful.
Naggar Castle, part of it is a heritage hotel run by HPTDC.
Naggar Castle built with wood and stones. It is a blend of Himalayan and European architecture.
Gayatri temple at Jagatsukh. Watch the beautiful wooden work of the temple. The temple is said to have Shikhara style of architecture. Shikhara is a Sanskrit word for mountain peak. Jagatsukh used to be capital of  Manali.

Shiva temple at Jagatsukh. The temple is believed to be 5000 years old.


About half an hour drive from the tourist spot Manali, lies this beautiful place called Naggar. This was once a capital of Kullu.It stands away from the hustle and bustle of Manali, which these days is full of tourists especially in the summer season. I preferred going to Naggar rather than spending half a night on the way to Rohtang, waiting for the roads to open at dawn.

Naggar is situated in Kullu valley, about 22 km from Manali. The roads to Naggar are present a picturesque view of the surroundings. One can see beautiful snowy mountain tops as well as greenery all around. About 5 minutes after we started our journey, we came across a religious procession of a local goddess. It was a pleasure to see the rituals carried out in Himachali tradition and we felt very close to the culture. The procession did block our road for about 10 minutes, but we really didn't mind the delay as we got to see something quite unexpected and unique.
Procession of a goddess on our way to Naggar.
We first decided to take the route to Nicholas Roerich art gallery. Nicholas Roerich was a great Russian artist, painter, philosopher,archaeologist as well as a writer, who was born in St.Petersburg in Russia but spent most of his life in various parts of the world and a good amount of time at Naggar, a place he loved and where he died in 1947. He had a passion for mountains, which is seen in many of his paintings at his home, which itself is an art gallery. He founded the Himalayan Research Institute to study the Himalayan culture and history.

It was a short climb to a mountain top which took us to the art gallery. The place is very serene and one comes across many Russian as well as European tourists having interest in Roerich's work. Roerich's car is parked in the museum. One gets to enjoy a celestial view of Kullu valley from this place.

Road to Roerich Art Gallery.
View of Kullu valley from Roerich Art Gallery.
Roerich Art Gallery.
After spending about a couple of hours at the art gallery, we climbed down the mountain to reach an architectural marvel called Naggar Castle.

Naggar Castle is a beautiful palace made of wood and stones. It used to be the residence of Kullu's maharaja. A part of it has been converted into a heritage hotel by HPTDC. There are three small shrines inside and within the premises. One of the temples, the Jagati Pat temple has a slab inside it, which is believed to have been carried here by bees from a nearby mountain. Roerich's paintings are also displayed in the castle.The castle has river Beas flowing nearby. The castle overlooks view of Kullu mountains from its gallery.

Jagati Pat temple inside Naggar Castle.
Naggar Castle.
Beautiful view of Kullu mountains from Naggar Castle.
These two places at Naggar are definitely worth visiting when you plan your stay at Manali. One can even stay for a couple of nights at Naggar Castle. Just a walk around Kullu valley, the breath of fresh air and the view of  tall snow capped mountains make a refreshing change from one's daily life.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


View of Kinner Kailash from our hotel.

Snow fall over Kinner Kailash.
Tourist vehicles parked at Reckong Peo market. Kinner Kailash mountain is seen in the background.
View from a monastery at Kalpa village.

Buddha statue at a Reckong Peo monastery.
Watch my short clip on Kinner Kailash mountain. Click Here.


We moved away from Sangla valley to reach Kalpa. The road follows Baspa river to climb down the mountains to reach Karcham. After crossing a bridge across a reservoir at  Karcham, we moved to the right to travel on the national highway which seemed a much better road than we had anticipated, going by our previous experience. We followed Sutlej river for sometime. After taking a left turn at a place called Powari and climbing up a mountain, we reached a place called Reckong Peo.

Road towards Reckong Peo. Beautiful snowy mountains seen.
Reckong Peo. The major market closest to Kalpa.
Reckong Peo is the headquarters of Kinnaur district. It is situated at a height of about 7500 feet. It has a fairly developed market which sells woolen clothes, shawls, dry fruits and other necessities. We purchased red beans(Rajma) and almonds here. The place is famous for red beans which are available in a variety of sizes. The same is true for almonds as well. Reckong Peo presents a beautiful view of Kinner Kailash mountains in the background. After some shopping and visiting a tall Buddha statue and a monastery, we left for Kalpa.

Kinner Kailash mountain and Hotel Kinner Kailash.

 Hotel Kinner Kailash belonging to HPTDC.
Kalpa is located at a height of 9700 feet.Kinner Kailash or Kinnaur Kailash is the main attraction in Kalpa. Lord Shiva is believed to have stayed here and so the name Kailash, a mountain inhabited by the god. There are two religious spots on top of this mountain-a natural rock made Shivalingam and Parvati kund, a lake near the top.Both, Buddhists as well as Hindus worship this mountain.

We stayed at Hotel Kinner Kailash, a government(HPTDC) owned hotel which presents a great view of Kinner Kailash mountain. The hotel has a multi cuisine restaurtant which serves veg as well as non-veg food.

We visited Kalpa village in the evening. Its a beautiful village with sparse population and few shops which have basic necessities to serve the villagers. The village is very clean. It has a Hindu temple as well as a monastery. The walk from our hotel to Kalpa village was quite tiring as the roads are small and steep. It was worth the efforts however.

Kalpa village with Kinner Kailash mountain in background.

The clean and neat Kalpa village.

The next day morning we drove towards village Roghi, about 8 kms away.The roads are pretty steep over here. There is a point known as suicide point on this road. This part of the mountain has a steep vertical fall.

Roghi is a small village having apple and apricot trees. One can see Kinner Kailash mountain behind the village. The village has a few temples and monasteries.

We returned to the hotel to spend the rest of the day at the hotel and watch the beautiful sunset over Kinner Kailash.

Its a beautiful sight to see Kinner Kailash mountain early in the morning. The mountain appears crimson colored. The air is very fresh to breathe. There was snowfall in the mountains last night and so the atmosphere was pretty chilly. We went for a drive to Reckong Peo for purchasing a few shawls and articles of wood carvings, we returned to the hotel to spend rest of the day relaxing at the hotel. A short stay for three nights at Kalpa was very refreshing. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I ever had!!

Early morning view of Kinner Kailash mountain from our hotel: Click Here.


View of Chitkul village. The houses are wooden. Besides a lot of activities involving wood cutting and storing them in large numbers were seen all over the village.

Watch the heap of wooden logs lining the road. Tourist cars are not allowed beyond Chitkul.

Watch my short clip on Chitkul. Click here.


Waves in Pangong Tso. The lake is surrounded by not so tall mountains on the other side.
It was cloudy the day we reached there making the place look more beautiful.

This beautiful landscape on our way to Pangong lake, shows a mountain deer running towards a lake.
 The camel brown coloured soil gives a distinct appearance to the region.

This click was taken during our visit to Nubra Valley desert. One can see tall rocky as well as snowy mountains in the background.

Glacier at Khardung La. Many such snow laden mountain tops are seen throughout  Khardung La journey.

Diskit Monastery.
Diskit Monastery or Diskit Gompa at Diskit in Nubra valley is located at a height.
It is the oldest monastery in the region. The monastery presents you a picturesque vision of  Nubra valley,
 having a large statue of  Maitreya Buddha and Shyok river seen flowing across.

Saturday, 12 September 2015


Sangla or Sangla valley as most of the people call it lies in  Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh in India.Chitkul is the last village in this valley before China(Tibet). Sangla is more developed with a petrol pump, ATM machine, medical stores, bars etc. to fulfill demands of  tourists and so a more comfortable place to stay for tourists coming to this part of the world. Even accommodation wise, Sangla has far better staying facilities among the two. Chitkul has very few hotels, not the kind one would really enjoy on a vacation.

Sangla valley, at a height of about 8800 feet, used to be an old Indo-Tibetan route for trade long back and was actually a prohibited area till 1989 due to its location which is close to China border. The valley is connected to National Highway 22 at Karcham. The roads from Karcham were the only sad part of our journey as they were in bad shape, partly due to construction of the dam and hydro power project in the area and partly due to occurrence of landslides.

Sangla Valley

 A right turn at Karcham across a bridge, took us to a beautiful valley lined up with Deodhar trees, apple orchards and occasional waterfalls. Here too the roads were a bit bumpy but we were really too busy watching the scenic beauty around us. The Baspa river was showing us the way as it followed us most of the time. As we approached Sangla, we could see tall snow capped mountains further enhancing the magnificent beauty around us.

We stayed at Hotel Prakash Regency. It was a very clean and comfortable hotel, offering us multi cuisine restaurant. The owner of the hotel Mr. Mohan Prakash, who in fact arranged our trip to Kinnaur district personally took interest to make our trip comfortable.

Chitkul village.

Baspa river in Chitkul valley.

The next morning we left for Chitkul.The road to Chitkul was lined with a series of snowy mountains. We reached Chitkul in about an hour or so.

Chitkul, at a height of about 11300 feet, presents a picturesque view of tall snowy mountains, Baspa river flowing through it and tall Deodhar trees stretching across the mountain slopes. The pale green Baspa river flows at amazing speed through the valley. Its a pleasurable experience sitting on one of the flat stones lining the side of the river and enjoying the flow.

The village Chitkul looked very clean and sparsely populated. There's a temple of a local goddess called Chitkul Maathi. The temple is called Mata Devi Mandir. A couple of small hotels facing the river where few snacks and tea were available are some of the things we came across here. We can walk up further to reach a base camp where permission for tourist ends as the border approaches.

Mata Devi mandir.
After a couple of hours at Chitkul, we came back to Sangla. We were lucky to get good weather, as Chitkul is said to be notorious for sudden change to snowfall and bad weather. The journey to Chitkul and back took about four hours but it was a refreshing one, for sure.
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Thursday, 10 September 2015


Heaven on Earth. That's just what Ladakh is. Situated in Jammu and Kashmir state of India, one of the most beautiful places in India. June to September is the best time to visit this place, as the snow recedes and the roads become clear. Leh, the capital of Ladakh is at a height of about 9000 feet.

 Pangong Tso is a salt water lake which adds up to the beauty created by the snow capped mountains. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful part of Ladakh. The lake changes its color during the day. The waves in the lake makes it look more like sea. The lake is completely frozen in winter. The weather is very cold and windy most of the times and you have to make yourself comfortable staying in one of the tents on the lake as that is the only accommodation available here. Pangong Tso is partly in India and partly in China thus forming a part of Indo China border.

Pangong Tso.

Khardung La.
At a height of a little above 18,000 feet is the highest motorable road in Ladakh called Khardung La. This is a mountainous road and a bit rough due to landslides occuring frequently with snowing. The beauty of the place is in watching glaciers all around you. You should be wearing goggles and woolen clothes while you are here, as the glare is too much and the cold is quite severe,especially when there is snowfall. Altitude sickness can be a problem here in case you are not properly acclimatized. Khardung La has a military canteen to satiate your hunger,that offers  Kawa(local tea) and few ready to eat snacks. It is imperative to carry food along with you while you travel through this way as there are no other proper restaurants on the way. Khardung La connects Leh to Nubra Valley and Siachen further down.
Khardung La top.
Another beautiful pass on the way to Pangong Tso is Chang La. At a height of about 17800 feet, this motorable road offers a breathtaking view of the snow mountain ranges. Chang La too has a military canteen on top which serves Kawa and ready to eat snacks. The roads here are very steep and have frequent landslides. The road leads to Changthang plateau and to Tangtse village further down. There is a guest house called Dothguling guest house which serves food to tourists on the way to Pangong Tso.

Chang La
Nubra Valley
Nubra Valley has everything one can ask for. Sand dunes in a cold desert, snowy mountains and a beautiful river flowing through. Camel rides on double humped Mongolian camels are an attraction here. Diskit is the capital of Nubra. There is a famous monastery, a tall statue of  Maitreya Buddha(future Buddha to be born) and a beautiful river called Shyok river which separates the Ladakh range of mountains from Karakorum range at Diskit.
The weather in Nubra is generally pleasant. It is at a lower altitude(about 10,000 feet) compared to most other places in Ladakh. Hunder is a small and beautiful village in Nubra valley.

View of Maitreya Buddha from Diskit monastery.
One can certainly not afford to miss the confluence of Indus river and Zanskar river near Leh once you are in Ladakh. The rivers are completely frozen in winter season making it a venue for Chadar Trek, a walk over the frozen Zanskar river to reach Zanskar Valley, which is otherwise cut off from the country for several months. In summer, Zanskar river is a great location for river rafting.
The beautiful Shanti Stupa, Leh palace, ancient monasteries and the fine taste of apricots which linger on for a long time all contribute immensely to the beauty of this place.

Click Here to watch the beautiful Pangong Lake.

Click Here to watch my Ladakh video on Youtube.

Watch beautiful Ladakh landscapes on Flickr. Click Here.

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