A day in Hikkim - World's Highest Post Office near Kaza, Spiti Valley (Himachal pradesh)
- Distance from Kaza - 16 km
- Altitude - 4400 m
- Village population - 212
- Network available - BSNL
- The postal index number (PIN) is 172114.
- Distance from Shimla - 435 km
About Hikkim, Spiti Valley
- Renowned for having the world’s highest permanently structured post office situated at a height of 4400m (14436 ft), Hikkim is a small and alluring village of Spiti valley.
- A hamlet with a population of 212 has a living millennium old Himalyan civilization till today, is fascinating and charming. It is one of the most beautious villages of Spiti valley with the green farmland of villagers, brown cold deserted mountains guarded by snow capped mountains and has its own independent way of life.
- The mud and stone houses painted in white will take you back in time.
- Hikkim village was also the World's highest polling station. Currently the record is held by Tashigang, a tiny village in the same district (Lahaul and Spiti).
How to reach Hikkim from Kaza
- The 40 minute uphill drive has mesmerizing views after every turn. You can take a taxi or rent a bike from Kaza as there is no public transport system available.
- If you love to trek or are on a tight budget the 2 hour trek from Kaza has its own fun.
- Renting a bike is a cheaper and adventurous option but you will only get a bike after you get a permission from the Kaza Taxi Union office (opposite Kaza bus stand). They usually don’t allow but polite persuasion might get you permission for one day. (Taxi stand contact number- 07876498248, 0941819003.)
Best time to Visit and Weather - May to October
- Best weather for visiting Spiti valley depends on the kind of experience one is seeking. It is cold and dry throughout the year. Panoramic views and the clear blue sky are very inviting.
- Winters (October to March) are extremely cold as the temperature drops to -15 degrees and the whole area is covered with snow which makes reaching Hikkim very vigorous. Roads get shut usually during heavy snowfall making your journey unpredictable and tough.
- Snow in winters beautifies everything it covers, providing mesmerising views of the valley.
- Summer months (March to June) are pleasant with very bright and warm sunshine, nights are cold even in summer though. Average temperature in summer ranges between 15 degrees in the day and 6 degrees in the night. Summers are an unchallenging and trouble free time to visit with the best of views.
- As it is called cold desert it receives very little or no rainfall even during the monsoon season (July to September). Monsoon is mostly the same as summer in the valley.
Things to do in Hikkim
- The gratification feeling that you get while writing a postcard to your loved ones from the highest post office is experiential.
- There is a cafe on the road itself where you can buy postcards and enjoy quick snacks.
- Visit the monastery located at the very end of the village.
- You can understand the village by walking around, observing and interacting with the locals who are happy to talk.
- If you are lucky enough you can spot an Himalyan Ibex, during winters the chances are higher of spotting them as well as the Snow Leopard.
- After 3 km from the village the road ends at the highest motorable village (Komic) of the world and you should complete the Langza, Hikkim, Komic, the most picturesque circuit in Spiti valley and witness the landscapes like no other.
- Distance from Hikkim to Langza is just 8 km.
- Lifetime experience of the extraordinary night sky full of stars and clear view of the Milky Way.
Cafe near Post Office, Hikkim
Where to stay in Hikkim
- An excellent way of exploring any place is by at least spending a night here. There are 3 homestays in the village where one can stay and experience the deep rooted culture and truly organic lifestyle. They will serve you proper 3 meals. Breakfast and dinner are mostly included in the package (1 night stay, 2 meals) of homestay. Cost of the package is usually around 1000 rupees per person, and please bargain only when necessary.
- There is a common room in every homestay which has a tandoor of its own which keeps the room warm and welcoming. A major cultural exchange happens in this room. They have dry toilets as there is a lack of water in the valley.
- You can not book homestay online as of now.
- There are things about locales you would never be able to find in guides and brochures which you will get by staying locally. As no separate quarters are there in the Hikkim village homestays you stay in the same house there is a sense of togetherness with the family members that are hosting you. Guests are treated as family and thus are invited to various family functions and local ceremonies of the village.
- The hospitality of these generous and soft spoken people and the experience of living inside a cozy kutcha house make it worth staying at a homestay. As winters are hard in the region they have to stock food and other necessary things well in advance.
- Villagers usually spend time doing their daily household and field chores, they watch television for entertainment. They understand now that educating their children is important in the modern age. They take pride in their culture and the ancestors they had back in the time.
- More peace and quiet away from the noise and clutter of cities, this is a good choice.The experience that one gets in a homestay adds to your travel stories and you leave with lifetime memories.
What to eat
- You can experience a mix of Tibetan and Spitian food at the homestays.
- Tibetan food consists of different varieties of Thukpa, Noodles and Momos .
- Tsampa (glutinous meal made from roasted barley), Churpe (local cheese), Buckwheat Chiltas (baked flat cake, chapati like, and slightly bitter) are some Spitian food items ,majorly grown locally in an organic way .
- You will easily get the typical North Indian food too which constitutes Rice, roti, vegetables and dal at your homestay itself.
- You can also get quick snacks from roadside cafe.
- Do taste some of their flavoured and aromatic tea at village and herbal tea served free at monasteries of the valley.
- If you drink alcohol you can taste locally made beer called Chhang and Arkah, locally made whiskey of the Spiti region made from barley. (Avoid alcohol if you have mild symptoms of AMS or feeling lack of oxygen)
Starry Night at Village
- Night sky is truly magical at Hikkim which fulfils all the stargazing requirements - a high altitude, no light pollution, and clear sky.
- One of the best places in India from which to stargaze and to catch great glimpses of the majestic Milky Way is truly a paradise for the people interested in astrophotography and for star gazers the enchanting night sky will have the memories of a lifetime.
- Words will fall short to describe the beauty of a sky packed with millions of stars, you have to experience it yourself.
Post office timings and details
- The post office began its services in 1983 and since then has been maintained by post master Rinchen Chhering.
- The services provided by the post office includes mail services, money remittance, life insurance, banking services, retail services etc. Through mail service, now people can send and get letters and parcels.
- Working hours of post offices are 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
- Sundays are off.
- Lunch Time hours are 1:30 pm to 2.30 pm/2.30 pm to 3.30 pm.
- We are suggesting travellers, please don’t go to the post office during lunchtime, at this time no work happens in the post office.
Hikkim Post Office
Culture of People
- Most of the people are Buddhists and have a reflection of Tibetan culture. Remote location of the village has helped in preserving the purity of Spitian culture. By visiting the monastery you get a better understanding of the people and their faith.
- Dancing Buddhists prayer flags diffuse the holy words through the air spreading calmness and easiness to the environment.
- The village has a middle school after which students have to go to high school at Kaza. You get an overall nice peek inside the Buddhist culture. Spiti has an introversive culture where life is majorly focused around its monasteries.
- The name Spiti means ‘The Middle Land’, i.e The land between Tibet and India. Spiti has been a part of Ladakh region for centuries and has very much the same culture.
- As most people are Buddhists they are extremely kind and non violent people living in the harshest climatic conditions.
Livelihood of Villagers
- Barley is the only cereal grown by the villagers for self consumption and as a cash crop.
- Other than Barley, potato is also majorly grown which is of very good quality as the climate suits it and is also exported outside of India.
- Spinach which has very small leaves compared to larger ones of the plains is also grown for self consumption only. Yak, blue sheep and goat milk giving animals found in the whole valley through which they get an extra income selling Ghee which is super organic.
- People living in mud houses also earn income by handcrafted carpets and shawls.
Fields of Hikkim
Tips for a trip to Hikkim
- Only BSNL sim will work in the village.
- Always wear sunscreen and stay hydrated, drink water on a regular basis even if you don’t feel thirsty as the sun gets extremely harsh in summers.
- You will feel a lack of oxygen especially at night. Avoid sleeping on your back.
- It is not advisable consuming any kind of tobacco, smoking and alcohol or other depressant drugs as it decreases the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in worsening the AMS(Acute Mountain Sickness) symptoms.