A sucker for a good view!

Trip Start Jun 28, 2010
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of India  , Himachal Pradesh,
Friday, October 14, 2011

Our next journey was to head north in Himachel Pradesh to soak in the stunning scenery of the Indian Himalayas. We met a lovely Israeli couple who rode in our jeep for the first few days with our personal driver, Raz!

From Shimla, we headed east around sharp bends, passing yaks along the way until we finally got to our first village in the Kinnaur Valley, Sarahan. We were pleased to get there after a long and bumpy drive – I even had motion sickness but luckily felt fine later on.

Sarahan was a beautiful village and although there wasn't lots to do, the main attraction was beautiful and peaceful…the ornately carved and decorated timber and stone Bhimakali Temple. This stood as a centerpiece of the village and the streets encircling it were lined with cute little stalls selling knitted goods made by Tibetan ladies. The family that ran our guesthouse prepared us a home-cooked meal in the evening and wanted to do everything for us! Very sweet.

After an omlette and chai breakfast, Raz drove us on an incredible journey on roads carved out of the mountains with sheer drops into the valley on one side and jagged rock faces jutting over the road on the other. The views this drive provided us with were stunning! Mountain after mountain, waterfall after waterfall – this scene was mesmerizing! To me, I didn’t expect India to have such natural beauty but I certainly have been proved wrong!

Once we survived the treacherous tracks we settled into the next valley village of Sangla. What a dreamy setting! The backdrop for this village actually looked fake, almost like a painted set for a film. We took a stroll downhill to where all the old wooden houses with slate roofs still stand. It was so cute down here. All the local kids playing, donkeys relaxing and Tibetan ladies gossiping whilst collecting wood! The Sutlej River gushed through the village too, fringed with a rainbow of prayer flags. Later on in the evening we decided to go to the only 'bar’ in town where the owner convinced us to have a Godfather beer – super strong! Due to the high altitude we were at at, they went to our head very quickly – ooops.

Later that night, we could hear some kind of musical parade coming from lower down in the village. In our merry state we thought we’d investigate this event. We grabbed the torch and ventured towards the wild music and fireworks to find out it was a Hindu wedding! A local teenager who could speak good English told us we were very welcome to join in the festivities! We followed the joyful crowd into the courtyard of the bride’s house, being fired with uncooked rice and having a spot painted on our forehead on the way in! It was the most spectacular wedding ever! There was celebration, colour, music, tradition, dance, decoration, feasts, warmth and love all blended together to create a super spectacle to be a part of! We both agreed it had to be one of the highlights of our trip! We’ve never felt such a warm welcome anywhere!

After Sangla, we had a short stop at Rekong Po to get a permit to allow us to complete the remaining part of our adventure through the valleys. This was mainly because we were going to be passing very close to the Chinese border. Just up the winding woodland road was Kalpa – our home for the next two nights…again the scenery that greeted us was so gorgeous – it was also an important apple-growing area. We got given apples all the time by a local living at our guesthouse.

There wasn’t a great deal to do here but it was a pleasant and tiny community just to stroll round admiring the snowy peaks and watching the locals collecting and packing apples. This was the last village of the Kinnaur Valley – our journey now continues to Spiti Valley, further north.
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