Chitkul is that one place where I wish to settle down or take a sabbatical and live for years. So clean, green and beautiful, and beyond to be compared with any other place. Instagramers refer to it as India’s most picturesque village and I second that. It is a village that conceives nature in the most magical state. Valley with green and sky with blue hues, white waters, stones & pebbles, trees and unadulterated air. The mountains look unrealistically beautiful and some peaks are covered with snow. It’s a place where my drawing book fantasies turn true.
Chitkul – The crown of Kinnaur, is the last inhabited village of India near the Indo-China border just before the no-mans-land. We came to Kinnaur from Spiti via Nako. There was a dramatic change in the landscape. Spiti is dry and beautiful but Kinnaur is virgin, green and magical. The roads were narrow and scary. The Rampur – Shimla route is preferred and the roads are good but the stretch is long.
We started for Chitkul from Reckong Peo at 9.00 AM. Vishu (our driver) had given us heads-up about the Chitkul. The scenery after Karcham (Baspa meets Sutlej) kept getting better with every passing milestone. We crossed Sangla, another picturesque village, 22 km from Chitkul. We continued for Chitkul. When we crossed the ITBP check post, the beauty displayed in front of my eyes exceeded my expectations. Chitkul is deep within the Kinnaur Valley. After taking multiple halts for clicking pictures, we reached Chitkul around 12 noon.
This place is the real beauty of Himachal. I was awestruck. I wanted to sit there doing nothing but to gaze the mountains and the Baspa river. A small stream of this river flows through the village. The water is clear, cold and fit to drink. The village has around 600 people and is said to be blessed by goddess Mathi.
Mathi Temple was the first place we visited in this village. The temple is made of woods and is dedicated to Goddess Mathi, the wife of Lord Badrinath. The work of wood carvings on the doors, top part of the shrine and pillars installed at temple makes it unique and a place to must pay homage. The roof of the temple was covered with slate and the doors are carved with flowers and amazing beautiful patterns. The temple is surrounded by majestic green mountains and said to be more than 500 years old.
After paying our tribute to the Mathi deity, we went straight to the valleys of Chitkul. I enjoy places like these where very few tourists visit. Beautiful, uncrowded and uncontaminated. Still untouched by civilization. The people of this small settlement are warm and loving. We had Rajma Chawal at a nearby dhaba and then through a narrow unpaved road, we went closer to the ITBP camp near Baspa river. Trees, Baspa river, covered with mountains on all sides. It was a retreat for eyes. Isha and I spent hours literally walking and sitting near the river. The water was ice-cold and bright turquoise. We even had a who-can-stand-for-longer-in-cold-water contest and obviously, I won.
Vishu told us how beautiful this place looks in Winter. He showed us few pics on his cell phone. After spending couple of hours near the river, we started back for Reckong Peo. The true beauty and serenity of Chitkul cannot be described in words. If you love travelling to offbeat and unexplored places, Chitkul is the place.