Sangla Valley, around 225 Km from Shimla, is also called Baspa Valley as it runs along Baspa River. The valley starts from Karcham village and ends at Chitkul (Last Village of India). Why should you visit Sangla? Because this valley produces world’s best apples and hosts Kailash Parvat. Till 1989, it was restricted for outsiders to enter into Sangla valley without a special permit from the Government of India, due to its strategic position on the Indo-Tibet/China border. But now, we can definitely explore Sangla!
Remember I started from Shimla and took a bus to Rampur? When I got off at Rampur at 11 am I enquired about the bus to Sangla. To my relief, the next bus to Sangla, was to arrive within an hour but to my disappointment, there was a chance that the bus may not come as there was a land slide at a place called Tapri. The bus arrived sharp at 12 noon to amaze everyone. More amazing was the driver who knew an alternate route that could avoid the said landslide but added extra 25 km’s to the journey which meant 3 more hours on the road. While others were upset, I smiled at the opportunity. Every single frame from the bus window was breathtaking. One of the frames is this!
The 95 km’s from Rampur to Sangala happened in 7 hours, instead of the usual 4; thanks to the land slide. 7 PM – I was at Sangala. It was a cloudy evening but you just can’t afford to miss the Kailash Parvat and its immensity. The first thing to do, just like the previous day, is looking for a place to sleep. I was lucky to find a PWD guest house, right next to the bus stand. Government officials are given preference for a stay in this guest house and it is hard to get a room for a civilian. But some are just born lucky! 😉
And if this wasn’t enough, I was given the room at a mere 500 bucks! I thought it would be exactly like that one room in Shimla, but looked like the Himalayan Gods were happy with me! This room was bigger than my apartment! No kidding. It had all the facilities, especially hot water and WIFI 🙂 As it was too dark I couldn’t explore the city at night. Going by my thumb-rule, I decided to again wake up at 5 AM, and catch the sunrise. Ready within half an hour, I grabbed my Camera & Tripod and this is the first picture I took. A 100 years old British guest house located just below the Kailash, all to myself!
15 mins walk from the city market is Bering Nag Temple of Sangla. This is the place where all Kinnuari traditional ceremonies happen. It is well known for its Nag Dance and Kinnure Dusshera Festival. Perfect place for photo meditation!
Bering Nag Temple is a live example of the exemplary Kinnauri craftsmanship. 50% of work has been done with wooden frames. I was amazed by the detailing of its friezes and pillars with exquisite carvings etched in wood. Angels, Nagas, deities, creepers, flowers, the sun and the moon and everything heavenly!
The idea of my Solo Trip was to meet local people and get to know their culture, lifestyle, behaviors and everyday routines. What more can you ask for if you get to know about all of this from the Head of the Village? Warm and polite, he suggested that I should visit again for “Fulaich fair”, which takes place every year between August and September. I was told that this beautiful temple is dedicated to Lord Jagas (Lord Shiva) whom the local people worship for the well-being of the village and its inhabitants. During heavy snow fall, people continue to stay here for more than 2 months as they believe the temperature in this temple always stays higher than the main city.
One walk inside the village and you will find a beautifully built old home.
“Om Mani Padme Hum” – a mantra that Tibetan Buddhists believe in. Visit any place in this region, you can easily spot this “Spinning Mani” with mantra written on it. It is said that all the teachings of the Buddha are contained in this mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum cannot really be translated into a simple phrase or sentence.
Head of the Village offered to take me to the school in that village. A short quick tour to the school and I was overwhelmed with the efforts that elders put for education and the excitement that the kids have! For them, I was the loveliest person around at that time. Thanks to the candies in my bag!
Sangala villagers make a living with Apple Orchard Farming and tourism. You will find a lot of Shepherds here busy in their daily chores!
Here is my Itinerary for Backpacking to Spiti Valley