Himachal welcomes tourists with its winding roads, snow-capped mountains, dense forests and pleasant weather. The state is dotted with towns and cities that are more majestic than one another. Kalpa stands quietly with the snow-capped mountains of Kinner-Kailash guarding it.
The base town at the Kinner-Kailash range, Kalpa is known for its apples, thick tall trees, and lovely weather during the year. A quiet and friendly village in the Kinnaur district, Kalpa is not as explored as the other villages full of tourists. You can hear the Sutlej River flowing calmly through the valley.
Kalpa is easily accessible by road, train or bus from the major cities. Buses run regularly from Shimla to Kalpa using the NH-22. If you want to experience a railway journey, you can catch a train from Delhi or Mumbai to Shimla. Kalpa is situated around 230 kilometers away from Shimla. A tourist or state transport bus or a taxi will help you travel from Shimla to Kalpa. Similarly, for foreign tourists who prefer taking a flight, Shimla Airport is the closest. Getting down at the airport, you can catch a bus or taxi to reach the pretty village.
Earlier, Kalpa was the headquarters of the Kinnaur district. Rekong Peo now holds that title. The weather in Kalpa is temperate due to elevation. Locals face long difficult winters from October to May. Tourists should visit Kalpa during summer from June to September. Even during summer, it is advisable to carry woolen clothing as the temperature can dip to a meager 8 degree Celsius.
Things to Do
Kalpa doesn’t find its place in a lot of Himachal itineraries due to its relative quaintness and lack of adventure sports. That is the precise reason why you should visit this offbeat haven to relax, regroup and take a breather.
Hiking and trekking is a must try activity in Kalpa because of the Kinner-Kailash range providing a perfect and arduous terrain for hikers to cover. The sacred Shivling rock perches on the top of Kailash Mountain, its colors visible from Kalpa. Devotees trek their way to the top to pay their respects and watch the stunning vistas from the peak.
Locals and tour guides suggest a full day hike that leads you through little ponds and lovely meadows of Chakka. Pack the right gear and bundle up because the weather can be cold even during summer.
You can also visit and walk through many apple orchards, full of the juicy ripe fruit exported through the country. Or enjoy the scenery of the leafy, majestic forests and stray along the streams and ponds of Kalpa.
Paying homage to its Buddhist roots, the Lochawa La Khang is an ideal place to meditate and absorb local culture. Hindu devotees can also find the Narayan-Nagini temple with its rich sculptures and colors vividly encompassing local traditions and customs.
Foodies have a lot to look forward to in this chilly haven. A salted tea called ‘Cha’ is prepared every morning in the village. Another delicacy called ‘Sattu’ made of barley flour is served with the tea and enjoyed with the views of snow covered mountains. Try to get to the stalls or hotels early morning so you can catch the sunrise with your tea. The sunrise over the Kinner-Kailash range is a sight for sore eyes.
Locals prepare and savor local grains and recipes that are simple but delicious. Villagers love meat or mutton dishes and usually have it for lunch or dinner along with fresh vegetables sourced from their farms. A meal of rice, fresh meat and vegetables is their local fare and served during lunch and dinner.
Homestays and few hotels are available in the region for tourists and travelers to stay in. Kalpa is yet to develop to attract tourists but the offbeat and simple traveler can relax and soak in some peace and quiet in this village.
Featured Photo by Carlos Adampol