Kinnaur

Kinnaur

Kinnaur is a very picturesque place in Himachal Pradesh and is surrounded by three majestic mountain ranges Zanskar, Greater Himalayas and Dhauladhar which enclose river valleys of Sutlej, Spiti, Baspa and their various large and small tributaries. Shimla district lies towards west, Tibet towards east and Spiti towards south. The old Hindustan-Tibet road passed through Kinnaur to enter Tibet via Shipki La Pass. Word Kinnaur is derived from Kinner, a demigod race of people from ancient times.

Kinnaur Weather and Geography Kinnaur Map

Altitude of Kinnaur region varies from 2320  m to 6816 meters. Due to high elevation, temperature is mostly temperate. Winter season is from October till May and summers from June to September. Parts of Kinnaur at lower altitudes in Satluj valley and Baspa valley have a short monsoon season. But rest of the valleys receive little rainfall due to their location in rain-shadow area. The terrain and climate there is quite similar to Spiti and Tibet.

Transport

Kinnaur is connected via National Highway 22. Nearest airport and railway station are at Shimla which is 235 km away. Private and Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation buses ply on the route regularly except in winter. Another route from Manali-Kaza-Recong peo is possible but remains closed for 7-8 months.

Flora and Fauna

Higher reaches of Kinnaur have sparse vegetation and consists mostly of hardy bushes and grasses. Between 3500 and 5000 m, it’s common to find pine, fir,  juniper,cypress, and rhododendron. Below this altitude the temperate weather allows growth of chestnut, oak, birch, alder, magnolia etc. Commercial fruit crops include apples, apricots etc.
Himalayan black bear, certain types of deer are also found.

People and Culture

Kinnaur is the least populated district in Himachal Pradesh with population of around 84500 people with literacy rate of abround 81 %. Kinnaur district can be classified in to 3 major territorial units :

Lower Kinnaur: Area between Chora with Rampur, Bushahr and Kalpa with Sangla and Nichar.  People here are mostly Hindus with some Buddhits influence.

Middle Kinnaur: Area between Kalpa and Kanam including Moorang. People here have Mongoloid and Mediterranean features. Buddhism and Hinduism are almost equally popular.

Upper Kinnaur: Area between Pooh and Hangranf valleys till Tibet. Most people here are Mongoloid and follow Mahayana Buddhism.

The population is mostly divided in to two occupational groups, farmers and artisans. Most  people belonging to cultivating Kanet community use honorific sur-name Negi.

Language

Kinnaur region boasts of a number of dialects which mostly fall under the Tibet-Chinese Family of languages. The relative isolation of villages and lack of external influences  encouraged the development of various localised dialects which are spoken nowhere else. The villagers near Indo-Tibetan border speak western-Tibet dialects. In some villages of Moorang tehsil, Jangram dialect is spoken. Shumceho is used in Pooh. A mix of Kinnauri-Jangram is used in Sangla. All of these are call Kinnauri or Kanauri and are classified as Western Sub-Group of Pronominalized Himalayan Group belonging to Tibeto-Himalayan Branch under Tibeto-Burnab Sub-Family. A lot of people can speak Hindi and a few English to some extent.

Kinnauri Cuisine

Major ingredients of Kinnauri cuisine are mostly produced locally like weat, barley, oglam phafra, maize, bathhu, kankani, cheena etc. Pulses include rajma, black peas, mash while cabbage, peas, turnips, beans, potato, tomato and local leafy green vegetables are grown too. Rice is mostly imported. Tea is salty and drunk often. Meat mostly comes from goat, ram and sometimes Yak. Alcohol is distilled in many households out of  barley, grapes, apple and other locally grown fruits and it’s really common to in their festive occasions as well as daily lives.

Festivals

Festivals and fairs are a big part of Kinnauri lifestyle and are celebrated all through the year. Some of the more important ones are Sazo (January), Phagul or Suskar (in Ferbuary or March), Baisakhi or Beesh  (in April), Dakhraini (in July), Flaich Ukhayang (different dates), Losar (December), Janjatiya Utsav (October or November). Most of villages have a local deity and local gatherings or festivities and rituals may be held separately.

Tourist Places

Due to it’s varied terrain and culture, Kinnaur offers a large variety of places of interest for tourists.

  • Kalpa (2759 m) is 260 km from Shimla and is famous as a beautiful heritage village. Places of interest are Narayan-Nagani temple and Hu-Bu-Ian-Car Gompa,  founded it by Rinchensang-Po (950-1055AD). It is situated on foothills of majestic Kinner Kailash peak (6050 m), which according to many legends is winter home of Lord Shiv. More Details.
  • Reckong Peo (2670 m) is 235 km from Shimla and is famous for stunning views of mountain peaks like Raldang ( 5499 m ) and Kinner Kailash ( 6050 m) among others.
  • Sangla (2621 m) is situated in beautiful Baspa valley full of green vegetation and amazing views of snow covered mountains.
  • Chango (3058 m) is 122 km from Kalpa and is believed to be at the site of a lake which dried out a long time back.
  • Chhitkul (3450 m) is the highest and remotest village in Baspa situated on bank of Baspa river. There are 3 temples of local goddess Mathi.
  • Kothi or Koshtampi is a small farming village with fields and fruit orchards. The village temple has an image of local goddess Shuwang Chandika made of gold.
  • Leo once had a small fort which is now in ruins. This village is situated at the confluence of Spiti and Lipak.
  • Lippa (2438 m): Lipak has a forest famous fro it’s wildlife of ibex and 3 Biddhist temples dedicated to Galdang Chhoikar, Dunguir and Kangyur. Tangtashu is name of another local diety.
  • Moorang (3591 m) is 39 km from Kalpa and known for it’s beautiful views and fruit orchards. It is near the confluence of Satluj and Tirang rivers and there is an old fort which is believed to be built by Pandavas. The temple has an ark with 18 ‘mukh’ which represent 18 days of epic Mahabharat.
  • Nichar (3150 m) : This village is situated between Taranda and Wangtu on the left bank of Satluj about 5 kms above Wangtu.The scenery is enchanting and the climate is noted for its mildness. In the thick forests and rocky glen from this place downward goral and thar antelopes abound in. Black and red bears are also seen in the higher and colder portions of the range. The village deity is goddess Ukha.
  • Nako (3663 m) is the highest inhabited village in the valley119 kms from Kalpa on the western side of Pargial mountains. There is a picturesque lake surrounded by trees. This is base camp for Pargial peak trek and en-route to Thashgiang monastery.
  • Namgya (3048 m) is situated 2 km from confluence of Spiti and Satluj river. The terrain is mostly barren and some farming is done near the river.
  • Pooh or Spuwa is headqueter of the tehsil and  is 71 kms from Reckong Peo. It is comparatively a large settlement with fields, fruit orchards and most essential comforts of modern life.
  • Rakchham (3115 m) is derived from Rak (stone) and Cham (bridge). It is believed that there was an ancient stone bridge over Baspa river, hence the name.   It is situated at the end of a narrow valley and has huge bare rocks at the base.
  • Ribba (3745 m) is a populous village situated at northern flank of Kinner Kailash. This and Rispa village grow grapes which are used to make alcohol. There are also trees of edible pine nearby.

Rivers and Lakes

Kinnaur is blessed with a number of small and large rivers, lakes and small water bodies. Some of the bigger ones are :

  • Spiti River : It is 2nd largest river of Kinnaur and a major tributary river of Satluj.  It flows eastward till Kaurik and then takes a turn towards south to join Satluj at Khab (2589 m)
  • Baspa River : Baspa river is smaller than Spiti river and about 72 km in length, entirely inside Kinnaur. It is quite turbulent and width at it’s widest part can be between 20 meters (at Chitkul) and 23-25 meters further downstream. It meets with Satluj at Karchham.
  • Satluj River : It’s the biggest river of Kinnar district and divides the district almost in half. Length there is 130 km. It enters Kinnaur at 3050 m and exits at 1220 m at Chaura. Major tributaries of Satluj in Kinnaur are Spiti,  Yula, Ropa, Kashang, Taiti, Mulgoon,, Wanger, Shorang and Rupi on the right bank and  Tirung, Solding, Gyanthing and Baspa, Duling  running on the left bank.
  • Nako Lake : This small, yet beautiful lake is situated in Nako village of Pooh sub-division. There is a footrpint nearby which is considered to be that of saint Padmasambhava.

Circuit Houses and Guest Houses in Kinnaur

Rest House/Circuit House Location

PWD Division/ Booking Office

STD Code

Phone Number

e-Mail ID

Distance from Booking Office

No. of Suites

Rest House at Chitkul E.E. Karchham, BhawaNagar (Ponda)

01786

253303

ee-karc-hp@nic.in

73.00

4

Rest House at Rakchham E.E. Karchham, BhawaNagar (Ponda)

01786

253303

ee-karc-hp@nic.in

66.00

2

Rest House at Sangla E.E. Karchham, BhawaNagar (Ponda)

01786

253303

ee-karc-hp@nic.in

34.00

7

Rest House at Urni E.E. Karchham, BhawaNagar (Ponda)

01786

253303

ee-karc-hp@nic.in

28.00

2

Rest House at Tapri E.E. Karchham, BhawaNagar (Ponda)

01786

253303

ee-karc-hp@nic.in

20.00

4

Rest House at Ponda E.E. Karchham, BhawaNagar (Ponda)

01786

253303

ee-karc-hp@nic.in

08.00

2

Circuit House at Kalpa D.C. Kinnaur at Rekong Peo

01786

222252

dc-kin-hp@nic.in

08.50

8

Rest House at Kalpa E.E. kalpa

01786

226027

hp-kin@nic.in

Local

4

Rest House at Roghi E.E. Kalpa

01786

226027

hp-kin@nic.in

07.00

4

Rest House at Recong-Peo D.C. & A.C. Kinnaur

01902

222227

dc-kin-hp@nic.in

Local

15

Rest House at Jangi E.E. kalpa

01786

226027

hp-kin@nic.in

40.00

4

Rest House at Rarang E.E. kalpa

01786

226027

hp-kin@nic.in

35.00

4

Rest House at Ribba E.E. kalpa

01786

226027

hp-kin@nic.in

35.00

4

Rest House at Moorang E.E. kalpa

01786

226027

hp-kin@nic.in

45.00

2

Rest House at Kanam E.E. kalpa

01786

226027

hp-kin@nic.in

55.00

2

Rest House at Pooh E.E. kalpa

01786

226027

hp-kin@nic.in

82.00

1

Rest House at Yangthang E.E. kalpa

01786

226027

hp-kin@nic.in

107.00

3

Rest House at Namgia E.E. kalpa

01786

226027

hp-kin@nic.in

97.00

2