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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Majesty of Kinnaur - Kinner Kailash range from Kalpa

Enchanting Himachal – back to Kinnaur
(Kalpa & around)
The majestic Kinner Kailash range as seen from Kalpa

We started back from Kaza at 6.00 A.M. in the morning as it was a long drive ahead to Kalpa, we had to cover about 210 Kms. distance over mountainous roads. The roads are forlorn and as we were basically retracing our steps, I committed the mistake of placing my good camera in covers to save it from dust. However, just as we passed by LariVillage I suddenly spotted a Himalayan brown woolly Hare scampering towards the hill side. It was bemused as no human activity takes place this early in the region, I quickly took my Son’s digital camera and took a shot. This sudden encounter lifted our spirits and we kept out eyes peeled out for such sightings. After having traversed half of the distance, we reached Nako at about 10.00 A.M. and stopped for Breakfast. After this short break, with a sigh or relief! Having re-crossed the Malling Nullah region without any ado, we proceeded further. Just as we were about to reach Khab, a massive traffic jam greeted us. Intrigued, I got out of the car and walked ahead and found out that a truck had a break-down and being a very narrow road, the Bus ahead of us was having difficulty negotiating it. As the Bust scraped past the truck, I too jumped back into the Car and got past the jam without much of a delay. Thereafter, we retraced back our steps upto Powari to get the tank filled up and then headed back to the junction on the NH-22 from where the road bifurcates towards Reckong Peo & Kalpa.
The Himalayan Brown hare suddenly appeared on the road near Lari
Bifurcating from the Hindustan Tibet Road i.e. NH-22, Recong Peo (2670 meters) is situated at a distance of about 7 Kms. from the road head and it is the district headquarters of the Kinnaur district. It faces the majesty of Jorkanden (6473 meters) and the reverend Kinner Kailash Mountain (6050 meters). The latter is regarded as one of the mythical homes of Lord Shiva and by its side is a 79 foot high rock formation that resembles a ‘Shivalinga’ that changes color as the day passes and is visible to the bare eye on a clear day. The ‘Parikarma’, circulation around the base of the mountain is a seven to eight day trek and starts from Thangi and ends at Chitkul. Also visible on the stretch is thepeak of Raiding (5,499 m), the locals here believe that the spirits of the dead people of Kinnaur reside on this mountain. The Drug-pa, Nyingma-pa and Geluk-pa sects are well established while in 1992, Dalai Lama held a 'Kalachakra' ceremony in a newly built Gompha in Reckong Peo. The whole township has a backdrop of pristine snow capped mountains and hillsides are dense with woods, fruit orchards, picturesque villages and hamlets.
Passing through Reckong Peo

Half an hour’s drive from Recong Peo, takes you to the Kalpa (2960 meters), which was once known as Chini. Kalpa is one of the biggest and spectacularly beautiful villages of Kinnaur and lies 13 Kms. ahead of Reckong Peo. The massive snow clad scene dominated by the peak of Kinner Kailashranges towering over it, provides Kalpa with a regal dignity. Situated at an altitude of 2758 m above the sea level, Kalpa is a nature’s splendor and also one of the main villages of Kinnaur. Across the Sutlej River, rise the majestic mountains of the Kinner Kailash range. These mountains are the grand theater for display of spectacular sights early in the morning as the rising sun touches the snowy peaks with crimson and golden light, as well as equally mesmerizing evenings.
Close-up of the famous Shivling

The majestic Kinner Kailash range - early morning

Kalpa still holds a traditional ambience and retains much of the old architecture style of buildings. The Narayan-Nagini temple is an exemplary example of local craftsmanship and a copy of painting by British painter in 1864 establishes its antiquity. There are couple of Buddhist monasteries at Kalpa – including the Hu – Bu – Lan - Kar gompa said to have been founded by Rinchensang-po (950-1055 A.D.). Blessed with some of the most spectacular and beautiful landscapes anywhere, it is a travelers paradise - lofty snow peaks, deep gorges, lush green valleys, fast flowing rivers, enchanting mountain lakes, flower bedecked meadows, beautiful temples and monasteries steeped in time, coupled with fruit laden orchards of pristine Apples, Pears, Apricots et al.
View of the Nag Nagin temple in Kalpa - aerial view
The front facade of the Nag Nagin temple

Close-up of the temple architecture - typical Kinnauri style wood carvings
A painting of the temple by William Simpson in 1864 - very little has changed
Tne monastery in Kalpa
Ladies engaged in making some ceremonial items in the Monastery
Kothi, another small village just 3 km from Recong Peo, has a temple dedicated to the goddess Chandika Devi. Set against a backdrop of mountains and grove of the deodars, the temple has an unusual architectural style and fine sculpture. An exquisite gold image of goddess is enshrined in sanctum. The Goddess is worshipped with great reverence amongst the locals. It is believed that she was the daughter of demon God Banasur who presided over Kinnaur. The temple has been in existence over the eons.
Kalpa & around

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