Walking in the park with my Junkie friend Sanjoo in 2006, he mentioned a non stop state roadways that goes from Delhi to Rekong Peo (in Kinnaur, located on the Old Hindustan Tibet trade road/route). I had to go there. Tried mentally a couple of times, something or the other came up.Finally, I and Sandeep Gupta walked into the sunset all set for a 20 hours, 800 kms and Rs465/ journey.
We left Delhi in the HPSR (Himachal Pradesh State Roadways) bus on Wednesday October 01, 2008 evening at 8.10 pm . Reached Rekong Peo with 5 halts (including nature breaks, meals, tea and temple halts) and two punctures at 5.15 pm on Thursday 02, 2008.Not satisfied with journey so far and the PWD rest house at Rekong Peo went further 13 kms and a few hundred metres above sea level to live at the beautiful village Kalpa and the very nice Circuit House. Offering perhaps one of the best views of theKinner Kailash range and the legendary Shivling, Parvati Kund, Jorkandan peak and the adjoining Raldang snow clad mountains.
We made the trip of 4 nights, 1800 kms and 12 meals and entertainment of IMFL and other miscellaneous within Rs 3000/0 a person. This sounds unbelievable for the price of a night out at a pub we explored within ourselves and the world outside for US$ 65 (at current conversion rates) and enjoyed the whole experience. Though we ate well, lived well and drankwell, seems amazing. We did not start with a budget, somewhere half way in the trip we decided to beat the inflation and do it under Rs 3000/- and live to tell the tale.
Reekong peo is the District HQ of Kinnaur and Kalpa is the erst while District HQ and now declared aUnesco heritage village. It has athousnd year old buddhist monastery which was burnt and then again rebuilt in the 50s. Kalpa was an outpost on the Old Hindustan Tibet trade road and route and strong junction on the Silk route.
Ghanti comes in two formats, light and strong the legendary stuff comes fro a village called Ribba. To test the potency, you dip your finger and then light the fire, the liquid burns and your finger is intact, thats strong and that retails at Rs 100/0 a bottle and the light which is like apotent wine and does not light up retails at Rs 50/- Personally we hated it and gifted the only bottle we bought to the Circuit house staff Joban Dass the housekeeper and Narendar the cook at Kalpa.
The main occupation in Kinnaur which also has the gems of Sangla valley is apple farming. The variety is the Royal Red and Delicious which red and very juicy and very crunchy the sell at wholesale ranging from Rs 800 to Rs 1200 for a cardboard box of 20 kg. This year the apple farmers were worried, as the size of apples is very small and they were red and ripe even at the size of a plum. Most attributed it to ecological imbalance and change in climatic conditions.
The ecological imbalance can be attributed to the creation or devastation (depends on how you look at it) of the several hydro electric power plants of HPEC (Himachal Pradesh Electricity Corporation) Jaypee Group who are collectively producing 3000 MW through several plants at Nathpa Jhakri, Baspa, Karcham, Wangtu and so on. Basically they are trying to harness the wild apaloosa of a 1500km long Satluj river. Block it , divert ity, tunnel it. As a result the constant blasting has led to the place looking like a war torn territory and shaken the foundations of the mighty mountains. Resulting in landslides and silting of the river. It looks like a serious catastrophe in waiting.
We got to do a day climb, to a peak called Chaka above Kalpa at about 15000ft. It had a water source called Chaka and a small lake. It was like a very pasture land for the summers. Truly Lord Shiva chose an ideal place to relax through winter.
The highlight of the trip are the economic commercials, my companian Sandeep will be deeply disappointed (for all the hardship I caused), If the details are not shared.Transport 1215.00,Stay Rest Houses for three nights 450.00, Food, booze, guide and all other trivia, mineral water, choclates, ghanti etc 1665.00 in all Rs 3000.00 with some loose change to spare. Long live Bhola and Ghanti.