Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The descent

I'm now in Dehra Doon, well and truly out of the mountains. It's hot and I'm stinking.

My trip down Kinnaur was a lot more adventurous than the trip up. And I managed to do it without stopping in any place mentioned in the Lonely Planet. With mixed success.

After getting the bus from Spiti to Kinnaur, the first village I stopped in was Spillo, a pretty non-descript town by the river where buses stop for meal breaks.

I spent an afternoon and a morning hiking up to two spectacular villages on the hillside above, Khanum and Labrang. Both had amazing views back towards Kinnaur Kailash.

Khanum had an ancient monastery. It had been renovated not too long ago but the prayer room (which I couldn't photograph) was at least hundreds of years old (the lama thought 1,000).

And Labrang had an ancient fort.

Lamas in both villages showed me around the monasteries and fed me cups of tea. One even gave me a bag of dried apricots and almonds (both local) to go back down the hill with!

I then headed off on foot for Lamba, a village in a remote valley which I knew nothing about. I had been assured by several people that there would be a place to stay there. After seven hours on foot, I arrived to find out that it was little more than a settlement for migrant road workers!

I stopped in a little restaurant in a hut, run by an old Nepali man. It was almost dark when I arrived and luckily he offered me a space on the floor of his hut.

I spent a really interesting evening sitting around the fire in his little restaurant while he dispensed wise advice to the young migrant workers from poorer parts of India. They were smoking a lot of marijuana so I'm not sure how much advice sank in. He didn't seem to mind.

It started raining heavily during the night and the hut was very draughty. I was very grateful that very little water seemed to get through the holes in the roof! Some time in the early morning I heard noises which I think was some kind of small animal coming in to shelter from the rain.

In the morning I paid the old guy a hundred rupees (he asked for 40 - i.e. 50p for dinner, accommodation and a lot of cups of chai!) and got a ride in the first vehicle leaving the village. I had been hoping to hike further up the valley but the weather was really misereable.

I then headed to Roghi, a village on a steep slope with incredible views. It was misty when I arrived there but the locals entertained me with tours of their apple orchards and an old holiday house left by the British.

And they plied me with a lot of local alcohol. Each time I finished a glass there was another type that I had to try because it was better for some reason or other. After finding out that the last type I tried was 50% alcohol, and then finding out I couldn't walk very straight, I insisted that I couldn't take any more.

I really am going to miss the apricots, fresh and dried, and the apricot wine!

The weather did clear up on my last night and the views were fantastic.

I sat on the rock in the foreground of this photo and watched the sun set on the mountains.

Roghi is on the old high up highway to Tibet, (built before a new one was blasted into the rock face next to the river) and I walked several hours on the old highway to get further down the valley.

After walking through a forest, passing more abandoned British holiday houses and a couple of villages, I took a shortcut down to the new highway and got on a bus out of Kinnaur.

I've spent most of the last couple of days on buses. Speed on mountain roads is frustratingly slow, particularly when you have to pass through congested little villages. I've taken my last bus now - I spent a couple of hours in a queue this afternoon for a train ticket to Delhi at 5am on Thursday.


j a s o n said...

Amazing adventure Joe...wow, you sure know how to show everyone there is more to travel than "doing" European cities!

Cal said...

Wow what and adventure. Guess you were definitely off the beaten tourist track!

Suspect my trip is going to be exploring more of the middle class four star hotel side of India - not going now till Weds evening so would be great to catch up when you're back and before I go.

j a s o n said...

And now the photos.....WOOOOOOOOOW

Anonymous said...

Kinnaur is a breath takingly scenic and sparsely populated region. Spiti and Satluj rivers flow through Kinnaur to

meet at Khab and become one the Satluj. Scores of flowing streams feed these rivers and all their valleys are

strikingly beautiful the slopes are covered with thick woods, orchards, fields and picturesque hamlets.Here are two

of the world's great mountain ranges the Zanskar and the Great Himalaya.Sumdo is the last Kinner village on this

road i.e.NH-22 whereafter the SH-30 starts leading into Spiti Valley. The total length of road from Shimla is 355

Kms whereas Shimla is another 385 Kms from Delhi.
Please Visit For More Detail