A Journey (in Pictures) to Kalpa in Kinnaur Valley

Cricket is the universal language of India. Put a cricket match on TV and a bunch of strangers in the room, they will instantly become friends. Laughing, cheering and cursing with each other for the duration of the match. “What’s the score” is the easiest ice breaker in the country. There was a cricket match on TV the day we reached Kalpa (a small village in Himachal Pradesh) and it was never easier to talk to the locals.

It became the highlight of our day and when India lost, everyone sat around with a cup of tea and offered their own opinions as to who screwed up, and who should not be on the team and what was the captain thinking. Such was the scene at 10pm in the cafe of the Hotel Apple Pie of Kalpa.

No matter, who you are and what’s the story of your life, cricket will give everyone common ground and something to talk about. I find it pretty amazing!

Enroute to Kalpa

A quintessential lunch home around the valley. The spellings are bizzare, the facade looks dicey, but the food will be tasty, plentiful and cheap!

A quintessential lunch home around the valley. The spellings are bizzare, the facade looks dicey, but the food will be tasty, plentiful and cheap!

The welcome door announcing the official start of Kinnaur! A great photo-op point with amazing views of the valley

The welcome door announcing the official start of Kinnaur! A great photo-op point with amazing views of the valley

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The picturesque scenery which reminded me of every scenery drawing I ever made in my life, always wondering if something like that actually exists outside of my drawing book. By Jove, It does!

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The road passes through increasingly treacherous ways making you wonder how was it even made. Here it goes through a natural cave, which is so unique, that it became a picnic spot for a travelling group of friends. If you pay close attention, you will see a bunch of people dancing away in the middle of the road inside the cave! Its so ridiculous and hilarious that it makes you want to join in!

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Our fearless guide ‘Konga Jordan’ who was with us from starting to end, telling stories and folk tales of the natives of the villages we passed.

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At a dam we encountered on the way built by drilling and tunneling into the mountains. The dam lies at quite a height and has caused more than its fair share of flooding of the nearby villages and farms. And then there is a risk of the mountain top collapsing if it becomes too hollow and unstable. I can understand why people here have a love-hate relationship with this marvel of technology and are not entirely sure that the price of electricity is worth paying.

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By this time, we had left the tar roads behind us and were solidly in the dust road zone. This area being so prone to landslides that it’s almost not worth making proper roads. This road was probably made weeks before our arrival and I doubt it has lasted all this while.

Kalpa

View from our hotel above the village of Kalpa. The Kinner Kailash peaks are hidden behind the clouds and Kalpa is visible in all its colors. Breathtaking!

View from our hotel above the village of Kalpa. The Kinner Kailash peaks are hidden behind the clouds and Kalpa is visible in all its colours. Breathtaking!

The famous suicide point of Kalpa
The famous suicide point of Kalpa!

We decided to check out the famous suicide point of Kalpa. In some ways, it was like any other suicide point you may encounter at any hill station. Complete with the identical story of two lovers jumping to their deaths when their families denied them marriage. But let me assure you, it is like no other. It is so steep that I could not bring myself to see where it ends and I refused to go to the edge. Irrespective it is an amazing place, stark contrast of colours between the dusty brown rocks against the backdrop of lush green hills around. The sun had started to sink towards to horizon, hills in its path cutting amazing streaks of light and shadows. A photographer’s dream!

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All too common occurrence in our photo tour. The fifth member of our group, obviously, decided to capture us instead of whatever we were all so intent on photographing!

The Jugaad to keep the prayer wheels turning!
The Jugaad to keep the prayer wheels turning!

The next stop on the list was the monastery, where we saw this wonderful Jugaad. The area is so windy that people have screwed in bowls to keep the prayer wheels in constant motion by catching the wind! An amazing Innovation!

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We hung around the village of Kalpa waiting for the golden hour to arrive and give us some photo opportunities of the famous peak of Kinner Kailash. After about 2 hours of waiting in bitter cold and increasing hunger, we were finally rewarded with this view which made everything worthwhile.

After this tiring wait for the right light, we did what any rational person would have done. Had some momos; trekked (and wheezed) back to the hotel to acclimatise to the altitude; and watched the rest of the cricket match. Afterwards, we sat listening to the post-match discussions over a round of ginger lemon teas. Ah, the life in the mountains!