Solo Bus Trip to Kinnaur Spiti (post 7)
At four sharp a mini-bus arrived and a man helped me up with my bag. If he hadn’t helped me, I probably would have dropped it on the road – I was so tired and just a little bit wet. At half past four we had completed the seven kilometer ascent to Kalpa, and as the bus was passing through town, a little beyond it on the right stood hotel Golden apple. I recalled reading about this hotel online somewhere but wasn’t tempted to jump off – it looked a bit commercial. I had not gotten off earlier as the town center didn’t appeal much – it was a cluster of rambling hotels, houses and shops with peeling paint, and an ugly, grey stone building (that I learnt later, was the police station cum jail).
The bus passed the center and continued onwards, past golden apple, and slowed down a bend, I saw a lonesome house with the board atop – Vishaal guest house and I mustered the strength to get off. In fact, I chose that place more for what lay beyond it – a clear view of the mountains on the opposite side of the steep valley below Kalpa.
Eponymous Vishaal is the young man whose father owns the land on which this unassuming two story house stands. The family lives on the ground floor while on the first floor are rooms that are let out to tourists. Out front is an apple orchard! There is no parking space for cars but the rooms are clean with attached bathrooms (including electric geysers for hot water). There was no TV in the room – watching TV would any ways be a travesty in such pristine surroundings. After a few minutes in my room, I stepped outside and looked at the surrounding hills from the balcony. Kalpa was a little slice of heaven indeed.
Not content with the lovely views from the balcony, I got ambulatory again and walked downstairs and on the road leading towards Roghi village. This was the view from the road.
I didn’t quite have a plan for the remaining one hour – that was about the time I had left while there’d still be daylight. So, I just hopped along following a group of school students who carried a cricket bat – making small talk with one of them occasionally till they went on the trot and away swiftly amidst the tall trees that line the road further-on.
The scenery kept improving as I walked with the mountain face falling steeply on my left and a near vertical rise of a hundred meters to my right. A bend that has an overhang of rock jutting out on the valley face of the mountain has been labeled Suicide Point by the local tour operators.
I came upon another bend in the road, which would have seen a landslide not too long ago. It was a somber reminder of how unforgiving the Himalayas can be to the careless.
Moving on, as the sun went lower on the horizon, on my left, the slopes on the other side of the valley were a veritable palette of colors – ranging from a white powder top with a dash of honeyed sunlight followed by the green cover and the duller brown below. It reminded me a bit of a giant dessert cake.
Given the altitude difference between Reckong peo and Kalpa, I reckoned that the road below was about a half kilometer from where I stood and that road was at an altitude of 2200 meters. The mountains across were on an average a height of 5000 meters or more – thus the eye could view more than three kilometers from top to bottom! It was a sight I had never seen before in my life and it pleased my heart no end.
By then, I had no energy to walk all the way to Roghi village so instead, I kept my eyes peeled my eyes for a sight of the most famous member of the massif in front – the peak of Kinnaur Kailash. The peak stands tall at 6500 meters and is the tallest in Kinnaur division but due to the cloud cover that day, I had not got a view until then. Still, I couldn’t help but get another shot of the part of the Kinnaur massif that was receiving sunlight.
Just as I said to myself, well I have another day – suddenly – perhaps by divine pleasure, for a fleeting few minutes, the rock that is worshiped as the shivaling (the phallic form of Shiva – the symbol of creation), became visible as the clouds parted. It was quite a sight with the sky turning a mix of grey, light blue and white – almost like a painting.
By then, the clock was past six in the pm and the wind had picked up, as this video I shot then, should show you. The howling noise is of the wind.
The wind pierced through my parka and I hotfooted back to my room. Dinner was a lackluster affair – Mrs Negi (Vishal’s mother) tried her best but apart from being freshly cooked, the food held little charm. After a brief spell of bedtime reading, I was sound asleep.