Visiting Spiti in August, a peak monsoon month, was thrilling. During this tour, I had a chance to spend a night at Chitkul. Literally had fun at this place. During the daytime in Chitkul, I visited all the places in this mountain village. I am putting together this comprehensive guide for everyone heading to Chitkul. The kind of peace that you get here is just mesmerizing.
I am going to break this article down into sections and would cover everything that Chitkul has to offer you.
I started my journey from Jaipur and I reached this village in about 3 days. First I reached the starting point of the Spiti circuit which was Shimla. Check out my article on how to reach Spiti from Jaipur.
From Shimla, you can reach this mountain village by taking the Kinnaur route. Check out my Vlog from Shimla to Chitkul, and do not forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Chitkul village is the last inhabited place on the Indo-Tibetan border. This beautiful, enchanting hamlet is located in the Kinnaur valley. It is the most gorgeous village in the Baspa valley in Himachal Pradesh.
If you want an escapade to some isolated, beautiful place in the world to enjoy nature’s lap, Chitkul is the place to be. It is a heavenly sight to those who love nature —a paradise for those who love mountains. The area is filled with awe-inspiring geographical features. So, A trip to Chitkul is a must. Check for the directions below.
They say the most challenging climbs offer the best views. I agree with them on this. Chitkul is situated at an altitude of 11,319 feet. This is one of those offbeat places where you get disconnected from the world, there is no phone, and there is no internet. Here nature shrouds you. It reconnects you with the pristine elements of nature.
Chitkul village has secured a perfect spot at the banks of the Baspa river with Mount Kailash in the background. The hamlet is full of long-standing queues of Deodar defining the temperature range of this place. The valley is abundant in Chilgoza orchards and is famous for its delicious Golden apples. Chitkul is blessed with high-quality potatoes with accommodative weather and fertile land. The high-quality produce sells for a high marked price.
It is believed that Kinnaur used to be a land of mythical creatures called Kinnars. Kinnars are the creatures between gods and humans. So Kinnaur is a land between Heaven and the Earth. The villagers are either Hindus or Buddhists who speak a Tibeto-Burman dialect called Kinnauri. People here wear pahadi caps.
Tibet is to the east of Chitkul, Garhwal is to its South, Spiti valley is to the North of it, and Kullu surrounds the west. Chitkul is 20km from the Uttarakhand border. From Uttarakhand, you can reach here by walking into Govind pashu Vihar and crossing Borasu Pass.
Delhi is around 570 km from Chitkul. The nearest Settlement from Chitkul is approximately Sangla Valley, about 28 km from here. Rakcham village is a midpoint of Sangla to Chutkul. The route from Rackham to Chitkul is adventurous and Amazing.
It is approximately 90 KMs from Chitkul to the Indo-Tibet border. Since there is no civilian movement beyond Chitkul, this village is considered the last one before the Indo-Tibetan border. The area beyond the town is under the control of the Indo-Tibet Border Police(ITBP).
Chitkul Village: Weather
Chitkul offers a mildly cold temperature range of 5 degrees at night to 20 degrees during the days in the summer. The season is hard enough to offer a bone-chilling breeze. Except for the winter season, the climate is usually pleasant.
The road to Chitkul opens in March, and so does the tourist gateway. March is a bit colder than the upcoming April to June months. This is when the visitors flock to the valley in large numbers.
July and August are a bit hard to visit mountains as the terrain can experience landslides, as heavy rains are common in the areas. So, this is a dangerous season, and it is non-advisable to visit here this season.
This season is most preferable to visit as the apple season is going on. The mild cold has settled in the surroundings, making roads much safer. There are colours spread all over, which feels enjoyable and satisfying.
December to February marks heavy snowfall in the region. The temperature falls below zero, dropping down to -20 degrees Celsius. One might get entrapped for months if the roads are closed suddenly. These are the months when even the local people move to the lower elevations.
Best time to visit Chitkul
Summer and Autumn are the best time to visit the village. The skies are clear, blue in summer. The India-Tibet highway provides picturesque views on this adventurous trip. August-September is the harvest season for apples. October, my favourite season, offers you the perfect setting for every element to enhance your travel experience.
The Serenity is nearer than you Think
En route to Chitkul, you cover various valleys in the Kinnaur region. The green, planted mountains touch the blue sky and are joined by other small and large brooks on the way.
The clouds are so close, and the landscape makes you forget the insanely tricky route to the mountains. This route is more complex than the Manali Leh highway.
Route to Chitkul from Delhi
Delhi > Manali > Shimla > Narkanda > Rampur > Karcham > Sangla > Rakcham > Chitkul
I promise that whatever mode of transportation you choose will still be a road trip. And that, too, is a good one. Roads take you to the place with troughs and crests. Beautiful green vistas are your companion as you glide over the valleys.
After crossing Narkanda, you will be mainly driving downhill to the river bed of Sutlej, right up to Karcham. After Karcham, there is an ascent to the Chitkul. One should be alert of tricky Himalayan roads with sharp cuts and elevations. These single-lane roads often need good skills to tackle the coming traffic.
How To Reach?
Airports in Shimla and Manali are close to Chitkul. I’d say that Chandigarh is the best place to start your journey. The airports in Manali and Shimla are smaller and have limited connectivity.
The nearest Railway station to Chitkul is in Shimla, and you must travel by road from Shimla to Chitkul.
Chitkul is well connected to the other parts of the state through public transport. Buses from HRTC are available from Shimla to Reckong Peo and Sangla. There are two buses for these places from Shimla.
Sangla is very convenient to reach from Chitkul. You can catch a bus from Sangla to Chitkul.
Hindustan-Tiber highway leads to this place. This highway, called NH-05, is very adventurous. There are such sharp turns that the vehicle feels like a cart on a roller coaster. Life is not an easy one on this side of the country. This often feels grateful to be in the hinterland of the nation.
Taxis are available but are an expensive option. Travelling in a group won’t be costly. Self-drive cars are also available in Delhi and Chandigarh.
Hamlets like Chitkul are best explored on foot, keeping with my advice for the Himalayan experience. Experience life as a local by exploring the alleyways.
Places to visit in chitkul
The village has a population of just under 1,000. Such a small population, yet the town is full of life and culture. There is much to do in the village and more to cover! Experiencing more takes more time.
There are two schools in the area, and you might spot kids playing outside or going to school. The village has three temples, and all three are dedicated to Mathi Devi. The oldest one is around 500 years old. The temple complex is made up of wood. There is a major Bengali effect here, as many pilgrims travel here from Bengal.
It would help if you also spent some time on the banks of the Baspa river. The cold glacial water might make you feel the higher power of nature. You can also talk to the Himalayas about all your issues, problems, and joys. I bet it will listen to you like no one ever has.
There are a few treks to do in the region. You might plan your journey accordingly.
- Nagasti ITBP (around 4 km)
- Rani Kanda Meadows (Approximately 10 km)
- Borasu Pass Trek
- Lamkhaga Pass Trek
- Jalandhari Valley
You might want to try off-roading, bouldering, climbing, and slacking. You can also go fishing as the area is famous for freshwater trout fish. But try not to catch too many 🙂
Hindustan ka akhiri Dhaba is a must-visit to-do thing on the list. Beware, many claim that title. Momos and Thupka are readily available food options among visitors. The other ones are Maggi and Paranthe.
Chitkul has a PWD rest house. The place has some basic amenities. The Wanderer’s Nest is a great place to stay if you plan to spend a few days in Chitkul. This is a place with a higher elevation that might mark your soul with amazing, jaw-dropping views. Not only that, the food is piping hot.
Many old-school Himachali wooden house is converted into guesthouses. However, due to isolation, these places can be slightly more expensive. There are a few spots near the village to camp, and villagers are happy to help! So, try to take your camping gear along and spend a night under a starry night sky.
A 2-3-day trip is advisable to enjoy this beautiful Kinnauri Village. However, many travellers visit Chitkul for a day and head back to Sangla. The Sangla valley offers affordable accommodations and good connectivity, making it a favourite among travellers.
Things to remember
No Permits are required to visit Chitkul.
There is No Petrol pump present in Chitkul. The nearest ones are in Reckong Peo or Tapri, there is a new petrol pump that has just opened in Sangla.
Chitkul has a decent electricity connection. Make good use of it. Carry power banks!
No ATM available – carry enough cash.
Good JIO connectivity & BSNL, Airtel struggles.
The village has no hospital/clinic; the nearest one is in Sangla and Reckong Peo. You might ask the army for help.
Keep yourself hydrated. Avoid the extraneous effort if you feel altitude sickness.
Make friends on tea, with conversations. Look at the Great Himalayas, with fellow travellers or in solitude. Fall in love with air and water, and read some books on the Banks of the Baspa river. That’s what it is all about. Appreciate the geography of nature, and experience all that you once read in books. The more you wander, the more you discover.
Have any questions? leave them in the comment box below.