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Kinnaur - The land of fairy Tales and Fantasies
A mountainous area, ranging in altitude from 2,320 to 6,816 meters, Kinnaur is one of the smallest districts in India by population. It is famous for the Kinner Kailash, a mountain sacred to Hindus, close to the Tibetan border. Most of Kinnaur enjoys a temperate climate due to its high elevation, with long winters from October to May, and short summers from June to September. The lower parts of the Sutlej Valley and the Baspa Valley receive monsoon rains. The upper areas of the valleys fall mainly in the rain-shadow area. These areas are considered to be arid regions, similar to the climate of Tibet. Kinnaur has a spectacular terrain of lush green valley, orchards, and vineyards, snow clad peaks and cold desert mountains. It is a border district of Himachal Pradesh. Kinnaur is also rich in flora & fauna. The culture and language is different from other parts of the state. Kinnaur, the tribal district of Himachal Pradesh, lies 250 km away from Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh and is situated on the NH – 22 (Hindustan Tibet Road). The landscape of the area varies from lush green orchards of the scenic Sangla Valley to the stark magnificence of the Hangrang Valley. The massive snow clad ranges that provide a regal dignity to the scene are dominated by the peak of Kinner Kailash. Kalpa is one of the biggest and beautiful villages of Kinnaur
Kalpa is situated at an altitude of 2759 m from the sea level, on the old Hindustan Tibet Road at a distance of 260 km from Shimla. It is 14 kms. and half an hour’s drive from District Headquarter Reckong Peo. It has all the characteristics of a heritage village.
Reckong Peo is the District Head quarter having a panoramic view of Kinner Kailash. Kinner Kailash mountain is regarded as one of the mythical homes of Lord Shiva, here is a 79 feet high rock formation that resembles Sivalinga. This Sivalinga changes the colour as the day passes.
Sangla, a populous village, situated on the right bank of the Baspa river, is famous for its high fertile soil, at an elevation of 2621 m above the sea level and falls at a distance of 17 km from Karcham.
This is the last and highest village in the Baspa valley. It is situated on the right bank of the Baspa river. There is a road along the left bank from Karchham.
Rakchham is situated on the right bank of the river Baspa. Its name is derived from “Rak” a stone and “Cham” a bridge. It is said that in the earlier time there was a natural stone bridge over the Baspa river hence the name of the village.
Situated above 3 kms above the Hangrang valley road and is 119 kms from Kalpa on the western direction of the huge mountains of Pargial. This is the highest village in the valley and the existence of lake formed out of the masses of the ice and snow above adds beauty to the village.The lake is fringed with willows and populars. Yaks, kine, horses and asses are reared here in abundance.
Bhabha valle, kafnu village, kinnaurBhabha Valley. From Wangtu, a road turns off to Kafnu. And here begins one the most beautiful trek routes in Himachal. To the east, the Bhaba Valley leads to the Pin Valley in Spiti and to the west, the routes moves to Kullu through the Parbati valley. Bhaba valley (31.54 N and 77.95 E to 31.78 N and 78.05 E and 1483 m to 5500 m above msl), situated in the east of the river Sutlej in the district Kinnaur of Himachal Pradesh, presents an extensive heterogeneity of habitats and thus harbours a rich plant species diversity, owing to the elevation gradient it provides. communities across the diversified landscape in the Bhabha valley. It is a mesmerizing destination situated along the Bhaba River. Bhabha Valley affords scenic splendors with stunning landscapes and picturesque exquisiteness. Bhabha Valley is trekker’s delight, a writer’s imagination, a poets thought and heaven for nature lovers. Bhabha Valley, Kinnaur, HImachalThe Bhabha valley is well known for its picturesque and magnificent surroundings-dense forests and lush green flower strewn meadows. The path of this trek climbs through single crop fields of Mastrang and passes through a mixed forest of conifers. The track brings us through little clearings of potato and buckwheat till it reaches the meadows of Mulling (3350 meters). Over the pass one is awe struck on entering Spiti. The mountain scape has an exotic appearance. Barren, rugged Rocky Mountains rise from the valley floor to heights of several thousand feet. All around is a panorama of rugged crags and slopes that change hues from pale pink to bright scarlet, alternating with the soft blues and greens of the glaciers.
One of the biggest commercial centers of Shimla, Rampur town is located at a distance of around 135 kilometers from Shimla. It is one of the most important market and business centers of Shimla.
The beautiful Sarahan city is located on the Shimla – Kinnaur border. It is situated at an altitude of 2165 meters. One of the most beautiful places to visit in India, Sarahan valley near Simla is the work of a perfectionist.
Some Other Valleys in Kinnaur
Gyanthang or Nesang Valley
Pejur or Leppa Valley
Chandika Temple Kothi
A handsome temple dedicated to goddess Chandika, more especially designated as Shuwang Chandika has spread the fame of village Kothi in greater part of the district.The local people hold the goddess in great reverence and consider her to be one of the most powerful goddess. For want of social contact by the local people with their more advanced and brahmin ridden brethren they have evolved their own peculiar procedure of ritual and worship to this presiding deity. There is an image of gold, seated in an ark. It is danced up and down by four persons at the time of worship.
Mathi Temple at Chhitkul
Mathi is the local goddess of the people of chhitkul having three temples the main one said to have been constructed about five hundred years ago by a resident of Garhwal. The square ark of the goddess is made of walnut wood and is covered with clothes and surmounted by a tuft of yak tail. Two poles called bayanga are inserted into it by means of which it is carried.
Maheshwar Temple at Sungra
The portals of Maheshwar temple of Sungra have superb wood panels on either side. deeply cut images of prominent Hindu deities are a treat for the art historian. On the eastern wall are panels depicting the Vishnu Avatars and the symbol of the Hindu zodiac. The friezes on the eaves are beautiful and the buildings arround the temple courtyard are similarly embellished . A small stone shrine of eighth century stands a short distance from the temple doorway, evidence of the site’s antiquity.
Chango Temples at Chango
Chango has three temples. In lower Chango, the red walls of Rinchen Zangpo temple stand out atop a little promontory but contain little of note. Nearby, the village temple, in more regular use as a place of worship, has a large prayer wheel, clay idols and contemporary wall paintings. A large image of Avalokiteshwara, crudely carved in stone, lies on the path between these two shrines.
Rarang Monastery at Rarang
Just outside Rarang, on the Thopan side is the newly built Monastery of Tashi Choeling. This new monastery has come in the wake of post-1960 Tibetan influences from the Drugpa sect. Close to the monastery are older dwellings and temples, merging into the rugged surface of a rocky mountain side. These older units are traced to Nyingmapa adherents.
Brelengi Gompa at Brelengi near Peo
Near Reckong Peo in Brelengi there is a Buddhist Monastery also known as the Brelengi gompa.This is an impressive modern Buddhist edifice. The monastery of Mahabodhi society was constructed specially for the Dalai Lama to perform the Kalachakra ceremony in 1992. Next to the monastery is a 10 meter statue of the standing Buddha, which is visible from a considerable distance.
This festival is observed in the month of January. On this day the people take their bath in the natural springs and few even go to Satluj river for bathing if they happen to live near the river. Poltus, rice, pulses, vegetables, meat, halva, chilta and pug are the principal dishes prepared on this occasion. In the morning the family god is worshiped with the food except meat. The hearth is also worshiped near Noon time, the deity is brought out and worshiped with wine and halwa A fold dance is held. Thereafter the deity is believed to have gone to Kinner Kailash.
Phagul or Suskar
It is celebrated in the month of February/March. In this festival the sprit of Kanda (Peaks) called Kali is mainly worshiped, the festivals lasts about a fornight and is celebrated all over Kinnaur. Each day of the festival is called by different names and several peculiar functions are held each day. On the last day a feast is prepared and people worship kali on the roof of the houses and then partake of the food. It is believed that after the function and festival are celebrated with full zeal Kali the spirit feels happy and blesses the villagers with prosperity and plenty in the coming years.
Baisakhi or Beesh
It is celebrated in the month of April. The villagers prepare food like Poltu, Halwa and Keyshid. The image of the goddess is brought out of the temple and a fair is held in the Santang. It is an occasion to get together and to dance and drink. This festival marks the end of winter season also. New woolen clothes are worn from the wool spun during the winter.
This festival is celebrated in the month of the July. On this day a feast is served. The deity is brought out and the villagers dance before her. Zongor and loskar flowers are brought from the kand peak and their garlands are offered to the goddess. After this these flowers are distributed among the villagers. One or two members from the family where death might have occurred before this festival go to the peak of the hill and ofter some food and fruits to shepherd in memory of the departed soul. A white flag on which some Buddhist mantras are written is fixes there as a sort of prayer for the peace of departed soul.
It is a festival of flowers celebrated in the month of September. This festival is celebrated through the Kinnaur District on different dates. Generally people celebrate it on the hill peaks near their villages. The village deity led by band is carried to the place of in procession. One he-goat is sacrificed. A fair is held throughout the day. Flowers of shuloo which have been brought from peaks for this purpose are woven into garlands. At the end of the fair these garlands are offered to the deity. Immediately after that the people accompany the goddess to the village adorned with flowers. The people sing and dance on the return journey.
Loser is celebrated in the month of December to welcome the new year. On this day in the morning a special preparation of parched barley mixed with butter milk is taken by all the family members and they put on garlands of chilgoza visits to the neighbours and friends are reciprocated and greetings of losuma tashi meaning happy new year are exchanged. While the elderly person betow their losuma shalkid or blessings. Two or three days before the losar festival khepa is observed. On this day it is customary to fetch small branches of a throny bush and place it on the doors. It is meant to ward off evil spirits. On the next day these throny twigs are removed and thrown far away from the village and a feast follows in the night.
Tribal Festival is being celebrated since 1994 from 30 October to 2nd November every year at District Headquarter Reckong Peo and this festival has been declared as State Level festival and has been celebrated since 1987 under different names like Janjatiya Utsav, Phulaich Utsav and also as Tribal Festival. This festival not only depicts the panorama of rich culture heritage of district but also provides an opportunity to the local people to sell/exhibit their horticulture/agriculture produce, handicraft and artifacts. Besides the Kinnauri culture groups, participants from other districts/states also present and perform culture programmes symbolising national integration and brotherhood
Area : 6401 sq. km.
Population : 83950 (M:45353 – F:38597)
Literacy Percentage : 74(M:about83-F: about 61)
Languages spoken : Hindi, Kinnauri dialects like Homskad and Jangiam and also a smattering of English. Most of the population is literate.
Headquarters : Recong Peo
Recong Peo’s altitude : 2670 m (Between 2350 m to 6816 m above the sea level)
Recong Peo’s Temperature : Below 0° C in winters and 10° C in summers.
Recong Peo’s best season – Kinnaur is best between April and October.
Telecommunications : Worldwide links by the net, telephones and fax. Code 01786
Food available : From Tibetan and Chinese to Indian available here in Hotels and Restaurants.
Location – Kinnaur is in the western Himalaya and lies in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
Rail : Nearest Railhead is Kalka in Haryana, Then Narrow Gauge train upto Shimla.
Bus : Well Connected by road to Shimla, The National HIghway no. 22 runs through district. Buses, Taxis and Jeeps are available from Shimla and Rampur.
Air : Nearest Airport is at Shimla, which is approx. 235 km from here.
Reaching Recong Peo
Road : Connected to all major cities in India through Chandigarh and Shimla.
Air : . By air upto Shimla and then rest 235 km by car or taxi.