Between last week of April and first week of May this year(2014) a visit through Kinnaur, Spiti and Pin valley in Himachal Pradesh was unique in a sense that the weather – a very important element in Himalayas, remained sunny and there were no obstacles anywhere on road. However, we missed out on few destinations as snow was not cleared for the vehicular traffic to resume. Following frames have been selected based on visual appeal and photographic clarity and a few lines in form of Photo Essay.
Frame 1 Apple Blossom
A drive of 342 km from Chandigarh with a night halt at Narkanda took us to Kalpa - the finest destination in Kinnaur valley. Apart from great Himalayan vista, it is famous for its luscious apples. In early summer the profuse flowering of apple trees everywhere across the habitat makes the surroundings lively.
Frame 2 Kinnaur Kailash at Sunset
Most sought after visual at Kalpa is Mt. Kinnaur Kailash (20,000’). At sunset the golden glow on its peak mesmerizes the tourists.
Frame 3 Cherry Blossom
Kothi – a small village at a distance of 5 km from Kalpa is famous for Chandrika Devi Temple. By the side of temple, soothing green paddy cultivation plot is interspaced with blooming apple trees. More conspicuous are a couple of blooming Cherry trees adding color to landscape with a backdrop of snow-capped hills.
Frame 4 Nako lake
A drive of 100 km from Kalpa took us to Nako village. At 12,000’ it would rank as highest altitude destination in Kinnaur valley. Tourists savor the beauty of lake and experience the village life by taking a small walk. The Gompas located at the extreme end of village is worth while exploring. Famous are potato fields of Nako, where each fully grown jumbo potato weighs more than 500 grams.
Frame 5 Confluence
Leaving Nako behind and driving along for 115 km we came to the fringes of Spiti valley. At 3 km mark from Dhankar (12,774‘), one gets the best visual – very shallow Pin and Spiti rivers merge and flow downstream in unison as Spiti river.
Frame 6 Dhankar Gompa
It is not surprising to hear from fellow tourist of seeing too many Gompas for comfort in the higher altitude of Himachal. The Gompas, apart from serving the religious interests of Buddhists, seen from a photographer’s point of view, ‘break the monotony of the vegetation-less rugged hills.’ The red and white colored Dhankar Gompa clutching the hill slope add an element of balance to the landscape.
Frame 7 Pin Valley Drive
The Pin valley journey from Dhankar to Sagnam via Kungri has a combination of good and not so good roads. The scenario changes every minute and we were in full of anticipation as to what the next stretch of valley would reveal!
Frame 8 Glacial Lake
We had a bumpy ride on a mud-stone track along the Pin valley and came across a glacial lake formed due to mud slide from adjoining hills, blocking partially the Pin river flow.
Frame 9 Pin Valley View from Kungri
While traversing through Pin valley a halt at Kungri village gave us a bird’s eye view of Pin river, with accumulated snow on both sides and backdrop of snow-splattered hills.
Frame 10 Pin Structure
Departing from Kungri, it was a sheer chance to have given lift to a villager from Khar village, who drew our attention to Pin structure near his village. There is a possibility of Pin river and Pin valley acquiring their name from it.
Frame 11 Mute Spectators
Beyond Kungri, the near vegetation-less tract of Pin valley for a change reveals the leafless trees, bearing the brunt of harsh winter and still surviving.
Frame 12 Bridge to Sagnam
We reached Sagnam - our final destination in Pin valley by crossing a bridge over oasis of snow.
Frame 13 Field work
With the advent of summer, the snow cover getting lifted off the cultivation plots, tilling is a priority among the villagers of Sagnam growing green pea, barley and buck wheat.
Frame 14 In the lap of Himalayas
Sagnam is a village with picture post card beauty comprising, the cottages, the snow melt forming rivulets, the backdrop of snow-clad hills and villagers cultivating the agricultural plots.
Frame 15 Temple & Gompa
From Sagnam we have a 32 km drive to Kaza - the subdivisional headquarters of Spiti valley. Here Buddhisma and Hinduism eo-exist. From balcony of hotel we see Hindu temple at a short trek up the hill and Buddhist monastery at the base.
Frame 16 Road discovered
Most of roads at Kaza village and market are narrow mud tracks. By sheer chance, we discovered a broad road lined with trees, leading our eyes to distant snow-covered hills.
Frame 17 Kaza landscape
At outskirts of Kaza, the vegetation-less landscape of Spiti valley comprise of snow-melt forming rivulets leading our eye to few cottages doting the landscape completing the scenario.
Frame 18 Dream House
Some distance from Kaza, a beautiful looking cottage located in a near perfect pentagonal plot, creates an identity of its own.
Frame 19 Poetry in Sand
The river bed at the outskirts of Kaza is a picture of random pattern on sand created by snow-melt flowing downstream and changing its course at random throughout summer till snowfall in winter. The distant settlement is that of Rangrik village.
Frame 20 Langza Village
Driving from Kaza for higher elevation destinations, Langza village located on a clearing with scattered cottages below the Buddha statue standing like sentinel and backdrop of snow peaks looks gorgeous.
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