[metaslider id=1941]Kalpa is an ancient village in the Sutlej River valley situated at an altitude of 2960 m in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Famous for its apple orchards and pinenut (chilgoza) plantations, Kalpa is located at the base of the majestic Kinner Kailash range. As per Hindu mythology and belief the Kinner Kailash is the winter home of Lord Shiva. The entire village of Kalpa offers a panoramic view of the Kinner Kailash (6050m) crowned with the sacred Shivling, Jorkandan peaks and Raldang (5499m). The Kinner Kailash and the 70m high Shivling is considered sacred and holds a deep religious significance for both Hindus and Buddhists. The Shivling changes colours as the day passes. Sunrise is a spectacular sight when the golden and orange rays of the rising sun set the snow clad peaks ablaze with its brilliant light.
Kalpa set amidst scenic orchards of apple, apricot and dense forests of pine and deodar, was earlier the District Headquarters of Kinnaur. Due to inaccessibility and extreme weather conditions during the winter months, the District Headquarters was then shifted to Reckong Peo. During winters, the road to Kalpa is blocked with 5-7 feet of heavy snow. The village is equipped with a post office, hospital, shops, small guest houses and restaurants.
The influence of both the Hindu and Buddhist religions reflect in the culture and traditions of the Kinnauris. Temples were built with timber during the rule of the Kushanas in the 2nd and Mauryas in the 3rd century Ad. This was later merged with stone under the rule of the Gupta Dynasty in the 8th century AD. Subsequently the Mughal Emperor Akbar brought the region under the Mughal Empire. It also came under the rule of King Ranjit Singh of Punjab and the British Empire. Kalpa became a favourite haunt of the British Governor General Lord Dalhousie in the 19th century who used to visit often to recover from his illness. During the British era, the valley had to be accessed by travelling along the Sutlej River on horses and mules. Lord Dalhousie’s lovely summer house is a Government run property now.
What to see in Kalpa
A minimum 2 night stay is required to experience the beauty of the majestic Kinner Kailash and explore the region.
- Kinner Kailash: The majestic peak and mountain range is undeniably the prime attraction of Kalpa. The Shivling (70 m) on top of the Kinner Kailash peak is considered sacred and attracts a large number of devotees all through the year. The Kinner Kailash is one of the 5 sacred Kailash, the other four being Srikhand Kailash, Aadi Kailash, Kailash Man Sarovar and Mani Mahesh Sarovar.
- Narayan-Nagani temple: The temple displays exquisite local craftsmanship of the Kinnaur region. The temple has Shrines of Hindu and Buddhist deities. Narrow lanes and steps bordered by apple orchards lead down through the quaint Himachali village upto the beautiful temple. The spectacular Kinner Kailash range forms a continuous backdrop at a close range in the entire region.
- Hu-Bu-Lan-Kar Monastery: This was founded by the prolific translator Rinchen Zangpo between the 10th & 11th centuries AD.
- Suicide Point (2 kms) is located at a delightful 10 minutes drive from Kalpa village through picturesque apple orchards. The vertical slope and dangers ditch at the Suicide point are interesting to see.
- Roghi Village (5kms): A short 5 minute drive ahead of Suicide Point will take you to Roghi village. The village has a temple and is dotted with apple orchards. The adventurous can enjoy a lovely trek to this village with great views of the Kinner Kailash and the scenic orchards. Do carry water, snacks, cap and sunscreen.
- Chanadika Devi Temple, Kothi: 3 kms from Reckong Peo. The local temple has a beautiful golden image of goddess Chanadika Devi. The temple displays the unique local style of architecture with extensive use of stone, wood and slated roofs. The temple has beautiful carvings in wood and a silver plated doors. It is based in a breathtaking setting amongst apple orchards and with the Himalayas as a backdrop.
- Kamru Fort: This famous fort is at an altitude of 2600 m and located 2 kms from Sangla. It is famous for its 5 storied unique stone and wood architecture. During the rule of the Bushahar dynasty, Kamru was the capital but was later shifted to Sarahan.
- Maheshwara Temple, Sungra: This temple built in the 8th century is a 3 storied and pagoda style structure. Carvings in the temple depict the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
- Vishnu temple, Chini Village: The Vishnu temple is a beautiful example of wooden style of architecture. Both buildings in the complex display a beautiful mix of wood and slated roofs. The village is renowned for its rich cultural heritage.
- Reckong Peo (2290m): This is the District Headquarters of Kinnaur and situated at an elevation of 2290 m. The small city offers a panoramic view of the Kinner Kailash Mountain range and has a market selling handicrafts (famous Kinnauri shawls) and local produce (dry fruits, kidney beans, millet etc). It also has a hundred-year-old monastery.
- Vineyards of Ribba: Located at a distance of 18 kms from Powari, Ribba is popular for its vineyards and the locally brewed ‘Angoori’ which is a local wine made from grapes.
- Sangla (2680): Located at a distance of 49 kms from Kalpa, it takes 2 hours to reach. Based at an elevation of 8900 ft on the banks of the Baspa River, it is a breathtakingly beautiful valley. To explore the Sangla valley, a minimum 2 night stay in Sangla or Rakcham is recommended. Discover More.
- Rakcham: Located on the banks of the River Baspa, this scenic valley sits in the lap of the snow-covered Himalayan ranges surrounded by beautiful meadows and dense forests of Pine and Deodhar. One can trek up to the glaciers in the region. Discover More.
- Chitkul (3460m): This is the last village before the Indo-Tibetan border. Experience the magic of the fresh mountain air, sprawling meadows and spectacular snow clad mountains on an easy to moderate level trek to the last ITBP border checkpoint. Discover More.
- Shivling Trek: It is a 3 days trek to Shivling done in August-September. Local committees organize a yatra (trek) in August with food and stay arrangements enroute.
- Kinner Kailash Parikrama Trek (walking around the base of the mountain): This is one of the most difficult treks covering 60 kms of tough terrain and takes 5 days beginning from Thangi village. Inner Line Permit is required for the trek and can be obtained from the DC office in Reckong Peo.
What To Buy in Kalpa
- Kalpa is famous for its Kinnauri shawls, stoles, mufflers and caps woven in colourful traditional patterns. These shawls are exquisite and more expensive than the Kullu shawls.
- Buy locally produced fresh fruits and fruit juices.
- Buy dry fruits, kidney beans, millet etc
Winter: -15°C to 9°C, December to March. Temperatures drop below freezing point. Heavy woolens required.
Summer: 5 °C to 30°C, April to July. Temperature remains moderate with warm mornings and colder evenings. Cottons and light woolen clothing is recommended.
Monsoon: July to September. Rainfall in this area during monsoons is quite unpredictable. Rain wear and umbrellas recommended. The valley gets a decent amount of rain from Feb-Apr as well.
Best Time to Visit: Summer months (April-July and October)
Route to Kalpa:
Kalpa can be accessed only by road. Buses and Taxis are available from Shimla and Rampur. Taxis are available from Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla, Kullu and Manali. Buses are easily available from the Airport and Railway station to Kalpa.
Delhi-Kalpa (593 kms, 15 Hours): Delhi (NH1)- Ambala (209 kms, 4 hours) – Zirakhpur (40kms, 50 mins; turn right under the flyover) – Panchkula (9kms, 25 mins)- Parwanoo (23kms, 35 mins) – Kumarhatti (27kms, 50 mins)- Solan Bypass (15 kms,30 mins) – Kiarighat – Shimla (48kms, 2 hours) – Fagu (18 kms, 50 mins) – Theog (10 kms, 15 mins)– Narkanda (33kms, 1 hour) – Rampur (62kms, 1.5hours) – Jeori (23kms, 30 mins) – Karcham (55kms, 1 hour 20 mins) – Turn left at bifurcation – Powari (11kms, 20 mins) – Turn left – Reckong Peo (10 kms, 30 mins) – Kalpa (9.2 kms, 30 mins).
If you want to break your journey, take a halt at Narkanda which has a few good hotel options. Narkanda Hotels.
Shimla-Kalpa (233 kms, 7 Hours): Shimla – Fagu (18 kms, 50 mins) – Theog (10 kms, 15 mins)– Narkanda (33kms, 1 hour) – Rampur (62kms, 1.5hours) – Jeori (23kms, 30 mins) – Karcham (55kms, 1 hour 20 mins) – Turn left at bifurcation – Powari (11kms, 20 mins) – Turn left -Reckong Peo (10 kms, 30 mins) – Kalpa (9.2 kms, 30 mins).
- Route 1 (302 kms via Jalori Pass) – via Kullu Bypass(40kms, 1 hour) – Bhuntar (10kms, 20 minutes) – Aut (20kms, 40 mins) – Turn Left after tunnel, NH305 – Banjar (24kms, 45 mins) – Shoja (14kms, 30 mins)- Jalori Pass (5kms, 20 mins)- Rampur (84kms, 2 hours) – Jeori (23kms, 30 mins) – Karcham (55kms, 1 hour 20 mins) – Turn left at bifurcation – Powari (11kms, 20 mins) – Turn left – Reckong Peo (10 kms, 30 mins) – Kalpa (9.2 kms, 30 mins).
- Route 2 (421 kms via Spiti Valley)– via Rohtang Pass (52kms, 2 hours) – Gramphu (15kms, 50 mins) – Batal (49kms, 1.5 hours) – Kaza (88kms, 2.5 hours) – Nako (110kms, 3.5 hours) – Puh (39kms, 1.5 hour)- Reckong Peo ( (66kms, 2 hours) – Kalpa (9kms, 30 mins).
Sangla-Kalpa (56kms, 2 Hours): Sangli – Karcham – Turn left – Powari – Tapri – Reckong Peo – Kalpa.
Sarahan-Kalpa (100 kms, 4 hours): Sarahan – Jeori (23kms, 30 mins) – Karcham (55kms, 1 hour 20 mins) – Turn left at bifurcation – Powari (11kms, 20 mins) – Reckong Peo (10 kms, 30 mins) – Kalpa (9.2 kms, 30 mins).
Reckong Peo-Kalpa: 14 kms, 30 minutes
Nearest Airport & Railway Station
Shimla (233 kms, 7 hours drive)
Best Places to stay in Kalpa:
The Grand Shangri-La: My favourite place to stay in Kalpa is the Grand Shangri La hotel. Set amidst glorious apple orchards, this 3 storied deluxe hotel offers absolutely spectacular views of the enchanting mountains from is balconies. The rooms are traditionally furnished and well equipped. The multi-cuisine restaurant serves great food and freshly made apple juice. Experience great service and hospitality. There is a lounge, library and reading gallery on the top floor. Phone: +91-9805695423.
The Kinner Kailash: This HPTDC run deluxe hotel is designed in the local style of architecture. The large glass windows offer great views of the Kinner Kailash. Rooms are spacious and furnished as per the HPTDC standards. The restaurant on the second floor serves Indian, Continental, Chinese and Himachali cuisine and offers panoramic views as well. Hotel also has a sprawling lawn and parking facilities. The hotel is closed during the winter months and re-opens in April. Phone: 01786-226159.
Hotel Kinner Villa: Comfortable deluxe rooms with attached bath, hot water, multi-cuisine restaurant and great mountain views.