[metaslider id=2035]Kinnaur lies in the Western Himalayas on the banks of the river Sutlej surrounded by the mighty ranges of the Zanskar, Dauladhar and the Greater Himalayas. It is the North-Eastern frontier district of Himachal Pradesh bordered by Tibet on the East. With a varied elevation ranging from 2320 m – 6816 m, Kinnaur is an immensely picturesque mountainous region. Majestic snow clad peaks, stark desert mountains, spectacular valleys, lush green meadows, pristine rivers and luxuriant vineyards and orchards dominate its landscape. The district seems like a fortress with the Zadskar Mountains on the East, Srikhand Dhar range on the West and the Dhauladhar range on its South. The Spiti River borders it on the North separating it from the district of Lahaul-Spiti. The snow and glaciers on these ranges are also the source of the three rivers, Sutlej, Baspa and Spiti which flow through the district. Kinnaur is famous for the magnificent Kinner Kailash peak, which is greatly revered as the winter home of Lord Shiva.
Kinnaur has a sparse population due to the hilly terrain and cold climatic conditions. Kinnauris are distinct in their language and culture which differs from the rest of Himachal Pradesh. The economy is primarily agrarian practised through step farming on the mountain slopes. Sheep and goat rearing is also commonly practised. Kalpa, Sangla and Rekong Peo are some of the main villages of this predominantly Tribal district.
Kinnaur has a temperate climate due to its high altitude which supports a rich diversity of flora & fauna. Vegetation is sparse in the upper terrains while apple, apricot, magnolia, oak, horse-chestnut, pine, birch, juniper and cypress trees dot the lower regions. 3 wild life sanctuaries have been set up in the district to support wildlife many of which are endangered species.
Festivals of Kinnaur
The festival of Fullaich or Ookhayang is celebrated when the rains end and a fiery riot of colours spread across the hills. Villagers collect colourful blooms from the beautiful countryside and gather in the village square. The flowers are then offered to the local deity and the spirits of the ancestors are evoked. Revelry follows in the form of singing, dancing and feasting. The village of Kalpa has the most vibrant festivities and there is a special celebration every twelve years.
Places To Visit in Kinnaur
The unprecedented beauty of Kinnaur, from the lush green pastures of Rakcham, the orchards of Sangla Valley, the magnificent Kinner Kailash peak in Kalpa, the starkly surreal Hangrang (Spiti) Valley to the spectacular lake in Nako, is sure to leave every visitor completely spell bound.
Climate & Clothing
Winters: October – May. Located at high altitudes with a temperate climate, Kinnaur is prone to long winters with heavy snowfall. Heavy woollen clothing required.
Spring: April – May
Summer: June – September. Light woollen clothing required.
Monsoon: The lower valleys of Sutlej and Baspa receive rainfall but the upper regions are arid and receive very little or no rain accounting for the low population in these regions.
Autumn: September – October.
Best Time to Visit: April to October
What To Buy
Kalpa, Reckong Peo and Karchham have many wholesale shops which sell:
- Handloom items: Exquisite hand-woven Kinnauri shawls, caps, mufflers with colourful traditional patterns.
- Handicraft items: carved wood and metal work items
- Jewellery: Silver & Gold ornaments
- Food items: Apple, Grapes, Peach, Almond, Apricot, Walnut, Pine Nut (Chilgoza), Giri (apricot seeds). Olga (millet), Rajma (kidney beans), Hing (asafoetida) and Kala Jeera.
How To Reach
Kinnaur district can be accessed by road via NH22 from the Shimla side and begins from Chshora village. It is an unbelievingly spectacular drive on a road carved out on the mountain sides challenged by a steep drop to the roaring Sutlej below.
Protected Area Permit (PAP) for Foreign Nationals in Kinnaur
PAP (Protected Area Permit) is required (in addition to the Indian Visa) for Foreign Nationals visiting protected areas and upper reaches of Kinnaur or entering Spiti from Kinnaur via Reckong Peo. Foreigners travelling between Puh (Kinnaur) and Kaza (Spiti) require a permit. NRIs staying abroad for more than 6 months/ OCI or PIO card holders are also required to apply for PAP.
Partially Protected Areas under PAP: Pooh, Khab, Sumdo, Dhankar, Tabo Gompa, Kaza, Moorang and Dabling.
Permit is not required for Sangla Valley and Kalpa.
Permits can be obtained in 1 working day from:
- District Magistrate (DM Office) from Shimla, Reckong Peo, Kullu, Keylong.
- Offices of S.D.M at Rampur, Bhaba Nagar, Keylong and Kaza.
- Deputy Commissioner, Shimla or Kullu
- Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Delhi
- Government of Himachal Pradesh
Documents and Conditions:
- Restricted Area Application Form (Duly filled and signed)
- Photocopy of Passport
- Photocopy of valid Indian visa
- 2 Passport size photos
- Fee $30 for all nationalities
- Foreign Tourist has to be present with the original passport at the DM’s office
- Minimum members: 4 (individual tourists not permitted)
- Duration of visit: limited to validity of visa.
- Must travel with a registered travel agent.
Inner Line Permit for Indian Nationals
Indian citizens who are not residents of those areas are required to obtain an Inner Line Permit.
Tourist Information Center: Deputy Commissioner Office, Rekong Peo.