Thursday, March 26

Rakchham - A small hamlet of Kinnaur District

As I unzipped the canvas, soft morning rays approached my window. Peeping outside the vent I saw a family of four marching to their hut along with fodder that should be enough for a week carried by women on their back. The burbling streams of Baspa which was visible from the window kept my mind occupied and wondered at night that how far it would be from my tent? 
Glimpse of Baspa from my canvas window. 
The gushing sky blue water on a shallow river bed surrounded by fruit orchards (dominantly apple), 
meadows and evergreen coniferous of oak and pine trees on both sides of the stream outline the village of Rakchham.  Rak-sh-yam as natives from the village pronounce, is a place with around 800 people on the valley formed by Baspa River which is sandwiched in between touristy destinations of Sangla and Chitkul. 
A villager walking towards the government school of Rakchham.
River Baspa originates from Chung Sakhago Pass (Indo-Tibetan Border) which meets Satluj on its left bank at Karcham after flowing for a cultivable stretch of 95 kilometers. There are a handful of private accommodations and a PWD Rest House in the village. Rakchham is situated at an altitude of 3050 metres and remains snow cladded during months of winter (December – March /April). Like other places in Himachal Pradesh, Baspa valley (also known as Sangla valley) can also be visited throughout the year.  It has four distinct seasons according to which shades of the landscape change.
First snow of autumn as seen from Rakchaam.
Note: This winter the valley has received heavy snowfall. Due to which flowering season of apple will arrive late. It is expected anytime between 10- 15 May 2015.
Flock of sheep on their way to home near Sangla. 
The Journey:
Around 7:00 in the evening we reached Sangla Market.  Due to a sudden change in our itinerary we had to detour to Sangla – Chitkul highway (SH) and had an opportunity to visit Baspa valley once again. Since the plan was impromptu, we had no prior bookings in the valley. Also it was difficult for any hotel to accommodate a group of 13 people instantly during a peak season like October’s autumn break.As we crossed Karcham and turned left to the state highway in the direction of Baspa River, I tried my luck and called Mr. Ashok of a homestay near Kupa. His first advice to me was to stick to Hindustan-Tibet Road and find a place for that night on NH itself. Because hotels in both Sangla and Chitkul were packed with tourists from Bengal. Secondly, the day was “Asthami” and being celebrated by the local households. With that my preferred option of staying in a homestay was also closed.
Natives of Rakchham village. 
At Sangla, finding a hotel for thirteen heads was a challenging task. Thankfully my internet had full strength till then with which I managed to find a camp for all at Rakchham which was another 14 kilometres ahead of Sangla. As the night dropped like heavy theatre drapes hiding everything on the stage, it became risky to move ahead on the meandering road. On our way we also found a couple of campsites, Banjara Camps and Kinner camps at Sangla and Seringche respectively. It took an hour and twenty minutes to reach our campsite at Rakchham.  To reach Kailash View camp we had to divert left from the SH and had crossed a rickety suspension bridge over Baspa river.
Mr. Naresh Nege offered us three tents on our arrival. The tents were compact and clean and soon the gurgling sound of the river absorbed my tiredness and anxiety as I released my body on bed.
Tents of Kailash View Camp. 
The Information:
Getting There: 
 Rakchham falls on the Sangla –Chitkul State Highway. It is 14 Kilometres from Sangla towards Chitkul and 10 Kilometres away from Chitkul. Chitkul bound HRTC buses ply on regular interval from Sangla during daylight. To reach Sangla one has to take direct buses from Shimla or can take Reckon Peo/Kalpa bound buses and can get down at Karcham. From there can board Sangla/Chitkul bound buses. Karcham is 18 Kilometres ahead of Sangla towards Hindustan – Tibet road. One can also hire direct private taxies from Shimla (240 Kilometres).
Burbling streams of Baspa.
What to do:
Rakchham has a post office, a health centre and a co-ed secondary school. The valley at Rakchham is silent and picturesque. One can sit beside the river and can listen to the sound of water rolling through the stones. Or can hike towards Chitkul following the river path. Trout fishing is a popular activity during May.  In the months of autumn (Mid-September to October) the valley produces the famous crisp and juicy Kinnauri apples.
River Baspa at Chitkul.
Where to Stay:      1. Rupin River View Hotel. Website:
                                   91-9816686789, 91-9418092894 – Mr. Naresh Jisthu.
                                   Tariff: INR 1500-2000 per room.
                                2. Apple Pie Hotel. Website:
                                    91-8860688496, 91-8894579727 – Mr. Mukesh Sharma .
                                    Tariff: INR 2500 – 4000 per room.
                                3. Kailash View Camp.  (This is where we stayed)
                                    91- 98305380746, 91-9816342746 – Mr. Naresh Nege .
                                    Tariff: INR 1500 per tent.
                                4. Aditya Niwas Homestay.
                                    098160-99668 – Mrs. Ganga Charni.
                                    Tariff: INR 800-1000 per room.
                                5. Rakchham Homestay.
                                     094185-27669 -  Mr. Tikkam Singh Negi.
                                     Tariff: INR 800-1000 per room.
                                6. PWD Guest house.
                                    Prior confirmation from District Magistrate’s office is required for booking.
A boy in traditional Kinnauri cap "Thepang".


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