Himalaya · Photography · Tips · Travel Writing

Looking glass – A Trip Planner for Himalayan wonderlands

Hello all,

Thank you for coming along with me on this journey, that started in Shimla, went via Sarahan, Kalpa, Chitkul, Tabo, Kaza, Langza and the incredible Pin valley. I thought of sharing this short post summarizing some options and money and cost information. The rather unglamouros photos are of the restrooms of hotels I stayed in. Why? Because I think we all deserve a clean place for the morning’s business – even if you’ve  used public transport for reasons of economy or unintentional humor. Also in the worst case, you can take a lightweight sheet and use it to dress the bed, but what’re you going to do about the bath?

Please bear in mind that the rates below are low season rates. In season (June-November) expect higher rates. If you’re calling from outside india, remove the dashes.

Stay options:

  • Shimla – if you need a cheap room, the YMCA has a few for Rs 400/-. The solo rooms are Rs 1500. The lower priced ones have shared bathrooms but very clean. It’s behind the Christ Church on the ridge (walk past the theater). Plenty of hotels in Shimla otherwise. Not very long from the Goofa restaurant of HPTDC.
  • Also in Shimla – Hotel Peterhoff – very atmospheric (old wood work) – HPTDC Hotel. ph-+91-177-2812236,2652538. Rate: Rs 2500-5500. Otherwise drop in for a high tea or lunch.
  • Sarahan – Bhimkali guest house. Rs 550/- for a large, comfortable double room that can sleep more people. Ensuite bathroom. Great value for money. No advance booking though – show up and pray to the goddess that a room is available.The manager is nice and will ask for a copy of your ID but little else.
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  • Recong Peo – May your worst enemies never need to spend a night in this town. I paid Rs 350/- for a room that reeked of a frog’s vomit.
  • Tabo – Kesang Guest house. Mr Tserap Bodh is resourceful, energetic and helpful with stay, transport and communication facilities. Mrs Bodh is an excellent cook who’d make some lovely home cooked stuff for you. Contact information below.
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  • Another option (don’t know how it’s like) is Sonam home-stay -contact above.
  • Kaza (base for key, Hikkim (world’s highest post office), Langza and Pin) – Hotel Deyzor. Karanbir singh Bedi is all that Mr Bodh is, minus the excellent kitchen. Skalzang Dorje tells some amazing stories. The hotel’s fairly upmarket and can be located via tripadvisor or his site Himalayan Sherpa. Usually about Rs 1000/- and upwards.Here’s the bath.
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  • Langza – Tanzi home stay. I didn’t stay here but had lunch and was described in this post . Also, there’s just about one place in the village and this is it! See below for contact –
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  • Mudh for the spectacular pin valley and the trek over the pin bhabha pass – Tara guest house. The adorable Rekha and her father run the home stay. She’s very adept at spotting wildlife (she spotted the ibex first, I couldn’t have done that on my own). Sorry dont have the number now.
  • Kalpa – the place of waterfalls at suicide point and apple mornings– Vishal guest house. 600/- for the night. They’re on +91-9418448114. With the view I had, can’t complain. Not for the lazy as nearest restaurant is about 1 km. Clean rooms and bathrooms. (see below for photo). Great option if you’re on a bike, not so hot if you have a large car – second photo below.
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  • Other options in Kalpa (owned by Bengalis) include hotel aucktong, blue lotus and golden apple. Shyamal debnath runs Aucktong and he’s helpful. He’s on +91-9816179457
  • Chitkul – HPPWD guest house charges per rate card published by himachal government. I paid Rs 520/- of which 20/- was the charge for the abetted suicide device that passes for a heater. Tourists are allowed to walk in if there’s no government official at the moment. I stayed here. At-least two other hotels in town. One Shahensha is run by Bengalis and booking can be made in Calcutta. See below for a crop from a photo I had taken.
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  • Transport.
  • The HRTC (state roadways) buses are reliable, largely punctual and have about the ablest drivers you’d find in the hills. The hills are tricky. I have published the time tables already in this post. A few tips –1. There’re two direct deluxe buses from Chandigarh to Recong Peo – one in the early morning and one in the afternoon (around 3 pm) that reach Peo in about 12 hours.2. There’s one long distance bus from Haridwar that passes via Shimla (around half past five) and will take you to Recong peo.3. For spiti valley, in season there’s atleast one long distance bus to Kaza. It will take all day and then some. Ticket booking is computerized but not online – in person only. If you don’t get this bus, board a share jeep to Pooh and try to find another from there onwards.4. Share jeeps run from Rampur to Kaza. Also from Nako to Kaza.

    5. Key / ki / kye is easily doable by hired car from Kaza and combined with Langza and Hikkim in one day. Each of these places have homestays too, but they typically come with a squat toilet of the dry spitian variety. There’s no water used, it is very eco friendly, but takes some getting used to.

    6. For pin valley, you may either hire a car from Kaza or take a bus and get off the turn at Attergu and board a share jeep. Chances of returning the same day in that case are very slim, so plan to stay overnight. As such the road is so bad that unless you’re in a hurry, better to stay overnight.

    My itinerary was Shimla 2D/2N – Sarahan 1D/1N – Kalpa 2D/2N- Chitkul 1D/1N – Peo 1N – Tabo 2D/2N – Kaza 2D/3N – Pin 1D (returned to kaza for the night) – Kalpa 2N/1D – Shimla for the train back.


Other points –

  • I didn’t get struck by AMS but entering from Manali side, you may if you stay at a high altitude such as Chandertal or Losar. So take it slow. Tabo is the best place for acclimatization. Right altitude (3000 meters flat) and great place to stay as the valley curves reducing wind speed.
  • Private cell phone operators such as Airtel don’t work in Tabo as they’re close to the border. BSNL works. Must say it was a huge surprise to find that Kesang home stay has a satellite connected internet, printer and the works. As in finding a Starfleet ship adrift in outer space – minus Spock, or the Hyperdrive – that kind of impressive.
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  • If you’re driving, there’s no petrol station between Reckong Peo and Kaza (altitude 3600 meters). However, petrol is available in Kaza – there’s an IOC petrol pump. Again no availability in smaller places such a Pin valley, Langza, Key, Kibber. etc.


Food and decorum –

  • Vegetarian food is available throughout – no worries. Vegan food is available too – ask the cook not to add yak butter or cheese. Spitians are wonderfully hospitable people and will do anything to help.Sugarless tea and milk-free tea is available easily in spiti. Ask them for ‘black tea’.
  • Most spitians, strangers included, will ask you to have a cup of tea with them (this is the regular milk and sugar variety). Do offer something in return, though many are genuinely surprised that you offer but they will accept it.
  • Don’t carry off fossils you find. I cannot emphasize this enough – some tourists actually buy these fossils and carry them off to showcase in their drawing rooms. They must be left in Spiti.


That’s all folks! For now. If you enjoyed reading my adventures or this post helps you in any way, please leave a comment!  🙂

Tagged to – daily post – Glass.


5 thoughts on “Looking glass – A Trip Planner for Himalayan wonderlands

  1. Beautiful travelogue, Vaibhav, very informative indeed 🙂

    Having just completed my first encounter with the mighty Himalayas, in Utharakhand, I could very well relate to your images and notes.

    Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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