Part One : Sangla Valley
I have not been a fan of road trips during my early years of travelling but after having done a few I started to enjoy them and now I am addicted to doing at least one every quarter. Over the years I have realised, how such trips challenge you, make you grow as an individual with varied experiences by meeting different people from all over the country.
Having been to Ladakh a couple of times, I already am an aficionado of gigantic mountains and the raw beauty of nature. So this time, we headed to Sangla Valley. This takes about two days from Delhi by road. To avoid the immense traffic jams, start early in the morning from Delhi. Till about hundred kilometres after crossing Shimla you will get paved roads and not too much traffic once you cross Narkanda.
This is the road quality close to 100 kms after crossing Narkanda
On way Narkanda view
Another beautiful hill station on way Kalpa
Almost after a few hundred kilometres from Shimla, road conditions are really bad. Considered to be one of the deadliest highways in India NH22, you experience narrow, broken roads, diversions and deep scary gorges. I kept thinking of the paved roads we left behind and when will I get a chance of seeing that again. Roads are extremely narrow, one vehicle can pass at one time and at certain points it feels like you are right on top of a mountain and all you see is a deep ravine on the other side. I saw a bus full of people stuck at a point like this and it sure looked scary. The driver had to off load all the passengers and with much difficulty passed the point.
NH22. The road that takes you to Sangla
And the bus that was stuck. It was really close
So, moving on, we reached Sangla around evening and it was raining which made it quite cold. Having made no prior bookings, as we were approaching Sangla, we quickly started scanning trip advisor for good resort options. Banjara camps & retreat was rated as the most popular resort, we dialled to check for availability of tents and were pleasantly surprised as the voice on the other side said ‘yes, one tent is available.’ Happy moment, could not ask for more that time! Once we reached the resort, dumped our bags in the lavish tents and stepped out to gaze at the beautiful valley covered with clouds. We looked around and everything was so gorgeous that it made us forget all the tiredness of the travel. The one thing we craved the most that time was a hot cup of tea and as we were served chai, we sat outside munching the delicious cookies sipping tea enjoying the perfect weather. We were told by the manager at the resort that this is perhaps the busiest time of year for them and luckily enough we found a tent for us. The resort is located on the banks of Baspa River, close enough for us to hear the sound of water in the calm & peace of the place. I could not wait for the next morning to walk to the river and plant myself alongside the running water in the sun with a book in my hand. It is that feeling which I absolutely love.
Sangla is known for apple orchards and we saw one right next to the resort. We were there around June, so hardly saw any apples on the trees. We were told that the best time to see apples is from late July till September. There is not much to do in the valley and that is the best part. Though, for you to discover the lesser known Himalayas there are trekking/ hiking tours, rock climbing, rappelling, river crossing etc. that you can opt for or can explore some nearby villages on foot. We went to Chitkul which is a small village and is a couple of hours drive from Sangla. This is the last inhabited village near the Indo-China border and attracts a lot of tourists. As they say ‘Indian roads end here.’
The place witnesses a lot of snowfall, so the resort wraps up all tents by end of October and they re-open only around April time.
To just sum it up, loved & enjoyed every bit of this place towering mountains around, the Baspa River, rich flora and fauna. It’s nature by your side.
But, this is not the end of the journey only the beginning.
So, Stay Tuned!
Sangla washed in rain and covered with clouds
The plush tents
Sun comes out giving a perfect view of the snow capped mountains and everything green
The Apple orchards
This creature was soaking in the view as well