A Day In Chitkul, Sangla Valley, Kinnaur District, Himachal Pradesh

chitkul view
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chitkul view

Brief Overview

  • Distance from Sangla - 24 km
  • Altitude -  11320 ft.
  • Village population - 1000
  • Network available -  Bsnl only. (2g)
  • Distance from Shimla - 245 km

About Chitkul

  • Chitkul, a village located on the right bank of Baspa river, is the last village of the Baspa Valley and the last village on the old Hindustan-Tibet trade route. It is also the last point in India one can travel to without a permit.
  • The architecture and design of the houses here, food habits of locals, and the general lifestyle emit the spirit of an ancient cultural diaspora.
  • It is a must-visit destination for adventure and nature enthusiasts. 
  • The organic and unadulterated atmosphere of Chitkul makes it a popular site for backpackers, campers, hikers, and explorers.
  • According to a recent study, Chitkul (Kinnaur district) has the cleanest air in India.
chitkul valley view
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chitkul valley view

  • The journey to the village is an experience in itself. The usual access points to Chitkul are Shimla and Manali.
    • Airport: The nearest airport, Shimla Airport, is located about 300 km away in Jubbarhatti. The airport is well connected to the major Northern cities of India. The nearest major airport is in Chandigarh which is about 400 km away. 
    • Railhead: Shimla is the nearest train station. The closest major railway station to Chitkul is in Chandigarh. Chandigarh station sees many major passenger trains and connects all major cities in India. 
    • By Road: The only way to arrive at Chitkul Village via Shimla or Manali is via road. The journey from Shimla is approximately 10 hours via road. You can also hire cabs from Shimla and Manali directly to Chitkul.
    • Public Transport: There are multiple buses from Shimla to Reckong Peo in the morning , the first bus leaves at 5.15 am. There is no direct bus from Shimla to Chitkul, So take a ticket upto Karcham and then take another bus from Karcham to enter into Sangla Valley. Leave early so that you can catch the 2nd bus from Karcham.

Best time to Visit and Weather - May to September

  • The best time to visit is the summer months especially from April to June and September – October. The thrilling roads of Hindustan – Tibet Highway leading up to Chitkul and the clear blue skies make for the perfect adventure, with enough safety mixed in.
  • During the winter season, the entire valley is decorated with white color. It is extremely cold and hardly any hotels or homestays are operating during this time around. Further, river Baspa is also frozen, like Chadar in Ladakh.
  • Avoid travelling During peak Monsoon - 15th July to 31st August - There are high chances of landslides in this region.

Things to do in Chitkul (Sangla Valley)

  • Peace and calmness - The best thing to do here is to sit and relax the natural beauty all around you; to savor on the mesmerizing vistas and listen to the silence.
  • Treks from Chitkul - If you are into trekking then there are a few trails that you could venture out on.
    • It is the start point for Lamkhaga pass trek (90 km trek which ends at Gangotri, Uttrakhand) and Borasu pass trek (64 km and 6 days trek which passes through the famous Har ki doon valley and ends at Taluka, Uttrakhand).
    • For a single day trekking, Nagasti ITBP post is 4 kilometers and is an easy to moderate walk.
    • Further ahead is Ranikanda meadows, about 10 kilometers from Chitkul. This same trek then takes you up to the Lamkhaga Pass and ends at Gangotri.
  • Baspa River - Sit and walk along the river and enjoy the rapid current of the river. Enjoy one of the best scenic views of the whole Kinnaur district.
  • Mathi Devi Temple - Mathi is the Goddess of the local people of Kinnaur. There are three temples in the same complex among which the oldest one is believed to have been constructed by a resident of Garhwal around five hundred years ago.
  • Eat at Hindustan ka Aakhri Dhaba - While having food, enjoy Baspa river view from the dhaba from height.
  • Chitkul Fort - Enjoy the ancient kinnauri architecture.
  • Hydro Flour Mill - Villagers take pride in this. Must see while in Chitkul.
  • Photography - The valley is photo friendly with every element present like river, green and snow capped mountains and pahadi architecture.
  • Enjoy the Night Skies - Witness the billions of stars. Lifetime experience of the extraordinary night sky full of stars and clear view of the Milky Way.
  • Camping in Chitkul - You can pitch your own tent, or do camping with already present camps on the riverside.
  • Night sky Photography - When you can see the great Milky Way with naked eyes, a giant of a Moon and millions of stars against the clearest of the sky, what more can you possibly ask for to give you the clicks of your lifetime?
Night view chitkul
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Night view chitkul

Kamru fort, Himachal Pradesh
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Kamru fort, Himachal Pradesh

  • You can either stay in Zostel or opt for any homestay. (Rs. 500 per person)
  • A PWD Rest House is available at Chitkul. This place has basic amenities and even if you’re visiting for a day-trip, you can easily use the facilities. (Rs. 700 for a room)
  • Wanderer’s Nest is a highly recommended place for good stay and better food. (Rs. 700 per person)
  • A lot of the old-school Himachali wooden houses are converted into hotels and provide exceptional views. However, due to isolation, these places tend to be slightly more expensive. (Rs. 2000 for a room)
  • There are a few camping spots near the village, and you can easily spot some locals to help you out. So, do not hesitate to take your camping gear and spend a night beside the Baspa river under a billion-star night sky. 
  • Campside is also there on the riverside but they are on an expensive side. (Rs. 1000 to 1500 per person including 2 meals). Recommandation - Yogi bro’s Camp and Adventure (contact no. of Yogi bro’s Camp and adventure = 94594- 40889, 89882- 01936)

Explore more hotels in Chitkul

chitkul camping, himachal pradeesh
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chitkul camping, himachal pradeesh

Food to explore in Chitkul (Sangla Valley)

  • In the Chitkul Valley, you will get to relish authentic Pahadi culture through the vistas, the people, the traditions, but especially through the food. 
  • Grains such as Ogla(Buck wheat), fafda are staple diets of locals. Chiltas are made from these, a must if you are in Kinnaur.
  • Kinnauri special rajma are very famous and are on a sweeter side than the typical rajma. Potatoes are a cash crop of this region, So do taste Potatoes here in form of some dish.
  • The staple street food in Chitkul is hot steamy momos stuffed with aromatic meat or mashed vegetables. 
  • Another commonly found dish is Thukpa. Thukpa is a Tibetan noodle soup with meat and veggies.
  • The famous picture doing the rounds on the internet when you look up Chitkul is – Hindustan ka aakhri dhaba (“Last Dhaba of India”) is always on the list of must-do things of visitors.
  • Wanderer’s nest, Avika homestay, Baabe da Dhaba are some good places to eat in Chitkul.

History and culture

  • The villagers are either Hindus or Buddhists, speak a Tibeto-Burman dialect known as Kinnauri and wear distinct green pahadi caps. 
  • In ancient mythology, the people of Kinnaur were known as Kinnaras, the halfway between gods and humans. This further lends to the belief that Kinnaur is the land between heaven and earth.  
  • Chitkul also boasts of abundant orchards, catering to the world some of the finest’ Golden Delicious’ apples. 
  • The village dwellers are humble and welcoming people that host numerous tourists throughout the year.
Kinner kailash, Himachal Pradesh
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Kinner kailash, Himachal Pradesh

  • No Petrol pump is present in Chitkul. You can get the Petrol Pump in Reckong Peo or near Tapri.
  • No ATM available – carry enough cash.
  • BSNL works intermittently, no other connections will connect. Enjoy the isolation as mobile connectivity is not that great in Chitkul barring BSNL which works intermittently.
  • No clinic/hospital is in Chitkul. The nearest hospital is in Sangla or Reckong Peo. However, the Army is especially helpful in case of any issues – don’t hesitate to ask for help.
  • Given that you’d be covering remarkable elevation, do ensure you’re hydrated and don’t over exert yourself!
  • August to September is harvest season for the apples. Kinnauri apples are the most premium variety of apples grown in India. You can take apples from here for your home.