Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sangla Valley - Rush of River Baspa

The very idea of spending couple of carefree days by the river in a deep green valley brought us to Sangla Valley in Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh this summer. Sangla valley is part of Kinnaur region. Located on the right bank of river Baspa which flows through the valley. The river valley with its flat and rocky bed, green fields, apple orchards and small villages with traditional houses provide ample opportunity for relaxation and rejuvenation to the weary city soul. The gurgling river Baspa creates quite a ruckus here which echoes from the surrounding snow clad mountains.


Our quest took us to Rakcham village about 10 kms up the Baspa stream. The river flows barely 200 mtrs from the model village which makes the scene picture perfect! However, the journey to Rakcham is one of the scariest one that I have undertaken. The narrow road past Karcham is prone to landslides and frequent blockages. The road winds up the mountain and at places it seems to balance itself just barely. One wrong step and you are bound to plunge down deep in the river. At places the portion of mountain hangs over the road. Scary indeed!


We decided to stay at Hotel Rupin River View for its location. A small hotel with 12 rooms across three floors. The rooms are simple and in need of sprucing up, but the view from hotel and its location is what makes the place special. Located right on the road to Chitkul at the entrance of the village overlooking the deep gorge on one side and the gushing Baspa river and mountains on the other. One could spend hours watching the river rush from the balcony. 

This place brings you closer to nature and makes you commune with it. Walk down to the river bed by crossing the steel bridge, feel the rush of gushing water, pick pebbles, fold your trousers and put your feet in the cold river water and let the cold wind brush your cheek and experience the nature in the purest form.

And when the evening descends, army of white clouds descend in the valley and fill every nook of it, the tall trees and the village across the river seem to float in the clouds and feels like a dream. 














        



























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Saturday, 13 July 2013

Sarahan - The Gateway to Kinnaur


Sarahan, the hilly village in the district of Shimla is more famous for its old Bhimakali temple and usually the travellers stop over for a night and after paying a visit to the temple leave for the next destination. 



                                         The sun plays Hide & Seek here
However, what Sarahan offers in terms of natural sight is not to be easily forgotten. The view from hotel balcony overlooking the deep green valley filled with apple orchards and the Shrikhand Mahadev Mountain range standing tall in not too far a distance.
 
                              The summer palace is a fine example of Kinnauri architecture
                                         Another view of Sarahan village







                     The view of Sarahan village with Bhimakali temple in the front 
The sunset, sunrise, play fullness of clouds, the sun playing hide and seek. It is there a moment and not there the next. The play of light and shade on the green hills with traditional wooden and stone houses glistening in sun is some sight that one could savour for hours without even remotely getting bored.


The town is known as the gateway of Kinnaur. The mighty river Sutlej flows merely 7 kms below Sarahan and one could see the river valley from the top. The village gets mention as Sonitpur in the Puranas.
Sarahan is at an elevation of 2,313 metres (7,589 feet) and about 180 kms from Shimla. The road to Sarahan from Shimla is smooth as the surrounding hills are covered with verdant greenery and numerous apple and cherry orchards. 
The crisp and fresh air of the hills, bright sunshine and song in the heart and your near and dear ones is what you require to enjoy the trip to this land of natural beauty, languid hours spent in doing nothing. The fun is, one never realises how and when several hours have gone by.
The crimson hue that the setting sun paints on the blue firmament with snow clad white mountain below and white cotton-fluffy clouds caressing its peaks is sight that one would want to preserve in the mind forever. The sight leaps out of the paintings of the Russian painter Nichols Roerich.

The blue morning before the sun could rise from slumber and spread sunshine in the verdant valley and the mountains. 
Patterns created by the clouds on the blue firmament.
Sarahan is packed with natural beauty. One can go for nature walks, climb up the easy hills and visit villages, see the simple village folks with bright smiles go through their daily chores. Lie down under the shade of apple tree and hear the song of Blue magpie. Or walk to the nearby old palace building and curl up with one's favorite book on the large wooden bench at the sunny palace of the Raja. With the green mountains in the distant and green valley and bhimakali temple in the foreground one may just spend reading a book at one of the most amazing place.











While here one can also visit Shantikunj, the beautiful palace of the Raja of Bushahar. The current Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, is the descendant of the erstwhile king of Bushahar and popularly known as 'Rajasaheb' here. 
The palace is a fine example of Kinnauri architecture where wood and stones have been extensively used. One can stroll through the inner courtyard of the palace and can not resist to admire the intricate pattern created with woodwork here. 
The palace remains vacant most of the time since Rajasaheb's visit are far and few as active politic keeps him away busy somewhere else. Shanti Kunj and the other palace certainly needs more attention and possible use of the property would be to convert these into a Heritage Hotel and spa. Both properties are located in one large palace complex surrounded by gardens. This would certainly make a fine summer retreat.


     Doorway to Shanti Kunj Palace, Sarahan
Sarahan currently lacks in quality hotel and restaurants. The HPTDC run Shrikhand Hotel is the bets bet here. Built in traditional architectural medium of the region, it seems and extension of the famous temple. Rooms and food are good, so is the view from rooms. The other option is Green Valley Resort run by enterprising Naresh Jishtu. Do not get carried away by the name, this is actually a newly built hotel in a simple building structure offering clean rooms, hot and cold water, good food and fantastic view of the surroundings. It is in walking distance of the temple (300 mtrs) and accessed through a small lane.
Eating out options include small eateries near the temple complex where one could get basic Rice, lintels and vegetables. Some shops also serve Momo and Thukpas. My suggestion would be to restrict to your hotels for food.
Stay Options:
Shrikhand (HPTDC)  - 01782 274 234,  E-mail: rampur@hptdc.in 
Tariff Regular Room -Rs.1600 to Suits - Rs 2800
Green Valley Resort -Village - Sarahan, Near - State Bank of India.
Mobile - 098161-85518 / 098166-86789 - email - jishtu71@gmail.com, greenvalleyresort@gmail.com
Tariff Rs.1200 to Rs.1600
However, if you are willing to drive few kms further up a fine homestay Anushuman Resorts and the gracious hosts Dr K Raj Thakur awaits you. Traditional Himachali home surrounded by apple and peach orchards is truly a peaceful abode. email - anshumanresorts@live.com, Mobile - 9418034833, Phone - 01782274297.
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