Continued from the previous post: A Short Walk from Sangla to Chitkul
Arriving at Chitkul:
The bus did not take much time to reach Chitkul. It was around 1:30 pm. Finally after two days of travel I was on the edge of absolute desolation. Sangla was great but still it was too populated and too big a place to offer any real feel of desolation. Besides, I think the altitude also matters. At close to 3400 metres, Chitkul is tantalizingly close to the snowline. So the big trees are non-existent and the bald mountains look very close even to the myopic eyes, like those of mine.
The first thing I noticed as I left my bus was a signboard claiming to be the “The Last Dhaba of Hindustan” and I thought dining on the edge will give me bragging right afterwards. But the problem was that the eatery in question was nowhere to be seen. Of course there were plenty others inside the village but not where the board indicated. Probably it shifted but forgot to remove the board.
Flames of the Flags:
The bulk of the village is situated a bit higher up, overlooking the Baspa River which flows down through the valley. But you can descend down to the banks of the river too. While there is an easier way for that, I found that much later. So, I took the tougher, much steeper descent straight from the bus stand to the bridge over the river that was visible from the top. I came across some thorny shrubs with bright red berries. I tasted one but it was nothing to write home about.
Now the good part here is, the bridge was covered with Tibetan prayer flags and the wind was strong. So, the natural motion blur created by the fluttering flags was delightful. The photographs were not perfect. I have seen better images with this effect. But I think I will try it more in the future trips.
On the other side of the bridge there was dense forest, which is a bit surprising considering the high altitude. This was probably because this part was a couple of hundred metres lower than the village. Anyways, time was not on my side, so I came back to the top and started exploring the village.
The Village is now full of hotels and lodges. Most of the houses are wooden and consist of multiple storeys. There is a delightful, lush green wheat field on one side of the village, which contrasts splendidly with the barren splendour of the higher mountains on the horizon.
The Brazilians and the Temple:
I noticed some foreign tourists. One of them complimented my Brazil World Cup 2014 T Shirt. Later he disclosed that he is from Brazil and was glad that I supported Brazil. I did not tell him that I bought it at a discount sale after the WC was over and item had become obsolete. Anyways, along with them, I checked out the temple dedicated to a local deity. While the myths associated are ancient, the temple itself seemed to have been revamped very recently.
Finally I found the easier way down to the river and descended to the bank again, this time at a different point. The village ends here and you can see nothing but the looming mountains that protects Tibet beyond them. There are many trek routes hidden inside those mountains. I will have to come back for them… or probably I will arrive here following these routes next spring.
Back to Sangla:
I had to come back before dark, catching the last bus from Chitkul at around 4pm. I regretted booking a hotel in Sangla for the night. I should have spent a night at Chitkul.
Anyways, I tried some astrophotography with my limited resources and skill back at Sangla that night.
I’ll be back with the comprehensive Traveller FAQ in the next post.
Update: The Sangla Chitkul Traveller FAQs is up now.