It’s a hot & sultry day in Chandigarh; the temperature has hit the highest mark & the heat waves are all across the northern plains. So, what a better getaway can it be than going for a journey that begins from Chandigarh on the NH-5 and stretches up to Shipki La pass on the southern end, & Ferozepur on the Northern end. But this is the time to be in the Himalayas – the Mystique Mountains and the invaluable treasures it holds. We begin our road trip to Kinnaur, a district in Himachal Pradesh, known for its distinct culture & vibrant landscape from Chandigarh. Our first pit stop is at a place called Powari, as it has the only fuel station en route Kanam. And as we further go up & above we can feel the cool breeze from the streams that run through the mountains amalgamating with the dust on the road but with a clear sky & fresh air. Before reaching our destination we are welcomed by a bridge called ‘Akpa Bridge’, one of the oldest in Kinnaur. The road beyond Akpa Bridge is the smoothest of all roads in Kinnaur that runs along the Satluj River and lets you loosen up after a real rough ride before it. After crossing the bridge you see the sudden transition of landscape, a change in vegetation and arid highlands. Though the road between Kanam and Akpa Bridge is smooth throughout, with a very few rocky & rough patches, it is only after reaching Kanam & looking at the dirt smeared SUV you realize that it has been hell of a ride.
En route Kanam-Akpa Bridge
At around 5 in the evening we reach Kanam, & are awestruck by the jaw dropping view of the sunset, clouds shadowing over the mountains & in the backdrop you can hear soothing sounds emanating from a monastery nearby. The experience of standing atop the Kangyur monastery is breathtaking: you get a 360 degree view of the village and the satluj river that runs along the road & Spillo village. It is believed that in this monastery more than thousand Tibetan Buddhist scripts are kept, which were brought from Tibet in the early 19th century by a nobleman from a Loktus family of this village on the mules. You can also see the inscriptions of a Tibetan text inscribed on the rocks & Buddhist mantras printed on the flags . Many foreign visitors like Csoma Sándor have lived in Kanam for years to study collection of Tibetan manuscripts . Up & across the village u see another village Labrang, which has a tall monumental building, supposedly a fort of an unknown kingdom. The fields of wheat waiting to be harvested & drenched by the rays of the sunset made the surroundings golden yellow & lustrous. Immediately after the dusk, we enjoyed our dinner of homemade mutton dumplings cooked deliciously by the humble locals; this is a delicacy around this place & a must try.
At the top of Kangyur Monastery
Interioirs of the Kangyur
Watching the night sky is a real delight as you can see the gegenschein along with the stars. The morning alarms are quite unusual & interesting here – instead of Cock-a-doodle-doo of a rooster, you hear hee-haws of an ass & if you are lucky you can have a ride on one too. Morning walks here is an exhilarating experience: as I went for one, to explore the village & found out what the real peace & calmness mean. The early morning sun rays were penetrating through the canopy of trees, falling straight on the flowers and rejuvenating them into life. Weeping willows were no more weeping but were cheerful with the melody of birds chirping. Around the Kangyur monastery I met an old lady who was devotedly completing her Parikrama(called cora locally). She had such a positive aura around her which forced me to stand still for a while. Though we didn’t see many lamas but if you are in search of spiritual redemption, in the awe of serendipity, Kanam is the place.
The Morning phase in the village Kanam.
The Kangyur Monastery from outside and the old lady about whom I mentioned above.
Holy inscriptions on the rocks and magnificient stupas.
The early sunrise glory.
The Kinner Kailash range and the Satluj river passing through Spillo village.
An unforgetable fun ride on the Ass.
The golden wheat about to be harvested amidst the unripened apples.