Travelogues

Chitkul: Scenes from the Edge

Jitaditya Narzary

Is a traveller disillusioned by the familiar and fascinated with the unknown... and of course the founder of this blog.

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.

Chitkul (1)

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.

Chitkul (2)

Chitkul (3)

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.

Chitkul (4)

Chitkul (5)

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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.

Chitkul (7)

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.

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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.

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The River:

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.

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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.

Chitkul (30)

Anyways, I tried some astrophotography with my limited resources and skill back at Sangla that night.

Sangla (1)

I’ll be back with the comprehensive Traveller FAQ in the next post.
Update: The Sangla Chitkul Traveller FAQs is up now.

19 Comments

  • Pingback: A short walk from Sangla to Rakcham | The Travelling Slacker

  • 2014/09/25 - 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Very nice picture buddy, I am planning to travel there. Any tips ?

  • 2014/09/26 - 10:23 am | Permalink

    Such lovely pictures buddy…loved them! I even forgot to read any words as your pictures say it all…

  • Pingback: Sangla and Chitkul: Traveller FAQs | The Travelling Slacker

  • Pingback: 2014 Roundup | The Travelling Slacker

  • 2015/02/25 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    So beautiful chitkul is… The Last Dhaba thing is funny.

  • Pingback: Nako: Prayer Flags, Mani Stones, Prayer Wheels | The Travelling Slacker

  • johnthewanderer
    2017/06/08 - 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Did you end up staying in any of those small hotels or rest houses? Sometimes some of those experiences can be amazing because you meet locals and learn more about the area than you otherwise would. It looks like that temple was pretty amazing. Did it have a somber feeling inside? Or could you feel a lot of energy?

  • gingeybiteseats
    2017/06/08 - 7:42 pm | Permalink

    This place looks incredibly peaceful and completely off the beaten track! I think your flag pictures look great too.

  • 2017/06/08 - 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Wow, it looks absolutely beautiful. The mountains are stunning. I actually think your photos of the tibetan prayer flags are stunning, don’t be so harsh on yourself!

  • onlybyland
    2017/06/08 - 9:22 pm | Permalink

    You passed some truly wonderful sites on this hike and it looks like you had great weather too. Interesting meeting a Brazilian all the way up there! I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded if you had told him you bought the shirt after they lost 7-1 to Germany! You took some beautiful images, especially of the river, such unique colored water!

  • 2017/06/08 - 10:19 pm | Permalink

    The last two pictures take my breath way, especially the one with a bus travelling on the road surrounded by the mountains. It looks like a fairy tale and only happens in the movies. It is also great to arrive in such a high altitude and immerse yourself in the contrast of the green fields and the sheer beauty of the mountain range, and feel the power of the natre. I wish you will return to Chitkul and trek the routes next spring.

  • 2017/06/08 - 11:03 pm | Permalink

    At the edge of absolute desolation??? Wow! That just sounds so incredible!
    Too bad that Hindustan ka Aakhri Dhaba had vanished!!!
    Jitaditya, be careful while tasting such wild berries!!! You sure, they’re safe?
    Interesting to know that in such a location you met Brazilian tourists!

  • 2017/06/08 - 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Wow. This place is a dream! Plus you’ve captured such amazing photos! This makes me want to visit the place!

  • 2017/06/09 - 12:17 am | Permalink

    Your photographs of mountains are visual treat for me. The picture of furling flags feel like wind is blowing so realistic. Baspa river view is incredible and really I would like to go down there.

  • 2017/06/09 - 10:54 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful place to go hiking in the mountains. I have not heard of Chitkul before but I definitely adding it to my list. Baspa river looks incredible too and I would love to wonder around in the temple.

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