The car takes a sharp turn after another, the family sitting next to me is very much comfortable with the driver’s speed. Me, on the other hand, I am terrified looking at the high mountains and the deep valley right next to the road with a raging Baspa River running side by side. Although, I am feeling terrified in a very positive way but still fear of death is the most imminent fear in the world. The driver is experienced, he is 27 year old and has been driving for last 8 years. He says that if you go any slower, you may get hit by the vehicle coming from the other side.
I am on my way to Chitkul, India’s last village before Indo-Tibet border. I missed the morning bus that travels from Sangla to Chitkul everyday and instead I had to take a lift with a local family. You never know when a stupid decision turns into a blessing. After-all my entire journey to Kinnaur is a saga of stupid decisions and a fair share of adventures that they later turned into.
Chitkul is the last village of India located at Indo-Tibet border. There are a few other last villages located in different states of India which serve as last villages, such as Dhanushkodi at Indo-Sri Lanka border and Mana at Indo-Tibet border. Chitkul is a tiny village located at a height of 3400 meters, in Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh.
I had read about Chitkul and its iconic ‘last dhaba of India’ signboard. Little did I know about the serenity of this place and how it will get me into trouble.
Jumping in poodles is fun, getting out of it is not
Kinnaur region is bestowed with natural beauty. The locals do not exploit the nature and make sure that everything runs in order as it was meant to. Only problem is that it is not as fun for a traveller coming from the other side of the country where we learn to interfere in everything natural. If streams running in middle of the road is not scary, imagine someone, high on nature decides to jump into it and wet the only pair of shoes on socks he is carrying. Yes, I am talking about myself.
Running around with my camera on the roads of Chitkul, randomly clicking whatever I could and meeting other travellers brought me right next to what seemed like a tiny puddle. I am very fond of these small waterbodies and out of nowhere I simply decided to step into the stream. Next thing I remember is that I was knee deep in water and locals were laughing at me. Yeah, I am a funny guy. Although, shivering an entire night without any socks didn’t feel funny.
When I became the manager of Thakur Jee’s Guesthouse
Thakur Jee’s guest house is located among tiny houses of Chitkul. Basic necessities included a common toilet and double blanket in the room. Thakur jee would provide an extra blanket for 50 bucks. Not a bad deal eh!
Soon after I checked in, Thakur jee and his brother (or nephew, I do not remember) informed me and the other backpacker that they would be going to Sangla for a few hours. They asked us to look after the guesthouse for the time being.
I swear, managing guest houses is fun. I checked in two backpackers and prepared maggi and burnt tea for them. In return Thakur jee, prepared specialty hot chocolate for us, for free!
Almost getting detained by Indo-Tibet border police
On the second day of my stay in Chitkul, I decided to visit the unexplored territories. Little did I know that these uncharted regions exist because of a reason. They are protected by the fierce and ever vigilant Indo Tibet border police. Although, there are signs informing that these are restricted area and trespassers will be shot dead without questions, but when you are me, you tend of ignore the signboards. My tripod served as icing on the cake, because it almost looked like some sort of weapon inside a hug black bag. I walked into one such area and these armed guys caught me. Looking at my appearance, I almost looked like a drug addict. They asked a zillion questions and finally told me to go and take a bath. They made sure that I don’t stay around and gave me lift on an army truck. Truck was really uncomfortable, but I was happy that no one shot me dead.
Chitkul is a lovely place to spend some days. This tiny village is protected by the mighty Kinnar Kailash peak overlooking from a distance. The nature’s bounty is all over the place. The greenery is simply impeccable and so are the number of waterfalls all around the place.
Traveling to Kinnaur region is a big adventure in itself. The climax of Highway was shot in this region, so if you are one of those people who is extremely in love with this place then you’ll seriously fall in love with this place.
I’ll stumble, I’ll fall
Still, I’ll cross the mountains
Big and small
My world is more imaginary
Than it is real
And I don’t know where I am going
But I’ll arrive somewhere is what I am hoping