Kheerganga Trek – A Rejuvenating Walk through Dense Forests, Waterfalls & a Landslide

 

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Unplanned trips often give memories to be etched forever in the mind because unexpected adventures thrill us more than the expected escapades. We went through the same series of adventures on our Kheerganga trek.

We, a group of 5 friends, planned a trip to Rishikesh but one friend turned down and the trip got cancelled. My husband and I have a problem. We can never cancel a trip. Transforming the impossibilities into possibilities, we always end up saying to each other ‘yes, we are going’ (no matter what).

After the cancellation of the trip, we had no backup plan. I was considering destinations after destinations, but finally settled on Kheerganga Trek. Why? Because my school friend, Narendra Singh Rawat, runs a travel agency ‘Travel Syrup’, and he was already there with a group of 10-15 people. So, I knew there would be no problem of accommodation.

The only task was to reach Kasol in the morning as Kheerganga trekking begins from Barshaini which is 16 kilometers from Kasol. It was already 4 PM when we decided to trek to Kheerganga and the bus options were few. The only bus that matched our timing was HRTC ordinary bus, which was scheduled to leave Delhi at 6.15 PM to reach Bhuntar at 4 AM.

We could have reached Kasol on bike, but we had a friend-cum-bro, Nihal, to accompany us on the trip and he was more excited than us for Kheerganga. He has the same level of our craziness, so we could not say ‘No’ to him.

Without wasting time, we packed our bags and booked a cab for ISBT Kashmiri Gate. Nihal met us at the bus stop. Ordinary bus and Volvo bus were standing next to each other. Unaware of the fact that we are going by an ordinary bus, Nihal started moving towards the Volvo bus as he was all the way dreaming of traveling by a Volvo. He is from Orissa and he has no experience of traveling by bus.

Mr. Gupta stopped him from making a further movement towards Volvo. With a devilish smile, he shattered his dreams by pointing a finger towards HPTDC Ordinary Bus and told him that this is our bus. He looked shocked for a moment and then burst out laughing. We settled ourselves in the bus and realized that the crowd is better than what we expected.

Only one lady troubled us in the bus and that lady was sitting on the seat behind me. She vomited all through the journey making horrible sounds, strong enough to make anyone nauseous. Luckily, Mr. Gupta & I are mentally strong enough to not get affected by such sounds. But to add more entertainment to our bus journey, barfing sound works as an emetic for Nihal as he feels like puking. After deboarding the bus at Bhuntar and taking another bus for Kasol, it was Nihal who took the charge of vomiting.

We reached Kasol at around 11am. Narendra arranged a room for our refreshment in Hotel Tashila and the tempo traveller was waiting outside to take us to the starting point of the trek – Barshaini. It takes around 30-40 mins to reach Barshaini from Kasol.

In the tempo traveller, we were accompanied by a group. They were from the different parts of Rajasthan and most of them were colleagues-cum-friend. Accommodating ourselves in the tempo traveller, we reached Barshaini to begin our on-foot journey.

There are two routes to reach Kheerganga top. We chose the Rudra Nag – Nakthan route to climb up and Kalga route to descend. Nakthan village is the last spot to get mobile networks on the way to Kheerganga. So, it’s advisable to inform your loved ones before starting the trek and losing yourself in the beauty of nature.

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This wonderful 12-km trek encompasses natural bounties of the region. We were greeted by River Parvati on starting the trek. People offer sticks for rent at the cost of Rs.10 which you need to give back on the completion of the trek. You can take one as they prove supportive while trekking.

Kheerganga trek via Rudra Nag has an easy pathway in the beginning with almost straight walking passage till the midway & a few climbs and slopes. You will get some dhabas on the way, offering maggi, soft drinks and tea. But it is recommended not to eat too much during or before the trek. Having light snacks, chocolates, energy bars and drinks are a good way to stay energized.

We crossed several streams on foot, enjoyed the sight of mighty waterfalls and apple loaded trees.

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Water Streams on the way!

 

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Apple Trees…

 

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Singing and rejoicing, we walked halfway in no time. Moving towards a bridge, we started hearing the thunderous sound of the water and witnessed the river Parvati flowing vigorously. It was quite scary. I couldn’t watch the constant and powerful flow of the river for a long time and I crossed the bridge speedily.

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The terrain changed after the bridge. The flat, paved track turned into the narrow rocky pathway with tiring ups and downs. It started raining as we were acclimatizing to the high altitude, which added more challenges to finish the trek. We wanted to be the first one of our group to complete it, so we were walking without taking many breaks. Also, we wanted to make it to the campsite before the sunset.

The most challenging part was when we saw a landslide on the way. There was a long queue to cross the landslide affected area and people were moving one by one. After standing for more than half an hour, it was our turn to pass through the 100-meter landslide. With bated breath, I went ahead, stepping on the debris that moved down the slope, crossing the mudflow occurred due to heavy rain, taking giant steps up & down on the masses of rock to cross the landslide area.

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Landslide on the trek…

 

When I was about to finish this terrifying task, I heard someone calling my name. I looked up and it was Narendra, stretching out his hand to help me take the final step of coming out of the landslide. He helped everyone as the last step to cross the slush required a big leap and it wasn’t possible without anyone’s help. Overall, it was an adrenaline pumping experience with a mix of fear and excitement.

There was a sense of achievement & relief that we are out of danger, but the task did not end here. The last few minutes’ walk was exhausting, almost uphill. Our competitive spirit kept us going until we reached the crowded top with a number of tents, eateries & lots of trekkers. It wasn’t a pleasant sight after a really long trek. We were a little disappointed to see a packed place as we had in our imagination a beautiful, isolated & peaceful hilltop. Nevertheless, we create happiness wherever we go.

We started searching for our camps and to our relief, they were at some distance from that crowded fish-market looking area. There were numerous tents to accommodate groups of different sizes. We got a small one as we were 3. Keeping our bags inside the tent, we straight-away headed to the cafeteria as we were hungry. We ordered tea and maggi. It started raining again in full form. We were relaxed as we reached our destination before sunset, but a little worried too as our group mates did not make it to the campsite.

After half an hour, they all came one after one and that moment made me realise that the bunch of strangers turned our friend now. And, then we started the PARTY! It’s always thrilling to party in the lap of nature (Note: without harming the natural environment & disturbing the wildlife).

There was a group of people taking joint in the cafeteria. After some time, they were high and transited to a different world and we even forgot they ever existed. They all sat still and numb throughout the night under the influence of joint while we enjoyed music, danced crazily and shared the saga of our common passion – travelling.

Travelling connects people & their lives. It brings out the commonness among strangers and boosts the feeling of oneness. It makes us realise that there are so many like us who wander to quench their thirst for travelling to different places. Some travel to get their questions answered, some travel to explore different terrains while some travel to challenge their own limits. We all travel for some purposes. This time, we travelled to gain a new experience of trekking.

It was a beautiful night on the meadow of Kheerganga, when the dark sky was our blanket and the lush green grass was our bedsheet. We were exposed to the nature from every nook and corner. And, to add more charm to the night, it rained the whole night. I could hear the drops of rain falling on the tent, which made me feel wrapped in the arms of Mother Nature. It was among the rarest of the rare nights when I enjoyed the rain. I usually don’t.

We woke up around 8am when the sunlight entered the tent and it became too hot to sleep peacefully. All our group mates were ready to take a dip in the sacred hot water spring of Kheerganga which is said to have medicinal properties. We took paranthas & tea for breakfast and then got ready to enjoy the natural hot water spring. But before that, it was the time to bid goodbye to our trek mates. We also clicked a pic with the group to keep the beautiful memories intact.

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After taking bath in the hot water spring, we also started our journey back to reach Bhuntar. We took the Kalga route to descend and found it trickier than the previous one. However, this route is claimed to be a shorter one.

A beautiful waterfall passes by after crossing halfway with a café offering maggi and tea.

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Trekking down was more exhausting than climbing up, maybe because we knew the adventurous journey is going to end. But the excitement of our trip did not end here as more fun was waiting for us.

We took a taxi to reach Kasol, but we couldn’t find a single bus in Kasol for Delhi. We contacted the taxi union, but they also refused to drop us to Bhuntar as there was a heavy traffic jam in Kasol. We started asking for lifts from the passers-by and we got different reactions from different people.

After a struggle of more than half an hour, a local offered us lift in Mahendra Bolero till Bhuntar as he was going to Chandigarh. I can say that it was the scariest ride of my life. He was driving crazily, overtaking each and every one coming on his way. I was calming myself down by remembering the fact that he is a local driver and he knows well how to drive.

It was not just me who was scared, I found ‘tongue in cheek’ expressions on the face of Mr. Gupta as well as Nihal. I, naturally, calm down when I see other people worried more than me. I left our fate in the hands of God and closed my eyes to open them in Bhuntar.

We were blessed enough to reach Bhuntar safely by 9 pm and we saw a bus ready to depart for Delhi. We were super-excited to ask the driver about the availability of seats and to our delight, he confirmed the availability of three seats at the back. It was a Scania bus, better than Volvo. A huge smile appeared on Nihal’s face after entering Scania. On settling down in the bus, we slept in every damn possible position on the back seat as it was solely our territory. There was no one else on the back seat. The bus was like a treat after all the hustle bustle. I can say that ‘All’s well that ends well’.

The bus dropped us at Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, around 7 am, putting an end to our wonderful journey.

Points to Remember :

  • Book a hotel in Kasol to keep your luggage and carry only the essentials on trekking.
  • Do not forget to keep a water bottle, light snacks and energy bars on the trek.
  • A guide is not required for Kheerganga trek, but if find difficulty in carrying your luggage, then you can hire one.
  • It takes approx. 4-5 hours to reach the Kheerganga top from Barshaini. So, it is advisable to start the trek before 12pm to enjoy the evening at Kheerganga.
  • Best time to visit Kheerganga is April-June and September-November. Avoid monsoon and winter season.
  • Do not pollute the Himalayas by disposing of the leftovers, water bottles and other hazardous material. Love, respect & save the Mother Nature so that our next generation can enjoy the same clean & green environment.

For any other queries related to Kheerganga trek, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks!

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Singapore: A Paradise for Adventurous, Nature Lovers & Nightlifers!

pexels-photo-462342.jpegThe first foreign trip is always memorable, especially when it is your honeymoon. The newlyweds brimming with unbridled energy explore the new land, interact with different people, embrace lifestyle & cultural diversity. All the thoughts of traveling to a new place with the loved one make one super-excited for the trip, just as we were thrilled for our first international trip.

Singapore was on the top of our list because it offers varied tourist attractions to keep entertained almost every type of traveler. It has a nocturnal zoo, world’s largest orchid garden, world’s tallest indoor waterfall, 541-foot tall flyer, beautiful beaches, amazing theme parks, rocking nightlife & the list goes on…

Here’s what we loved and how we made the most of our Singapore trip:

Heading out of the Changi airport, we were not sure of what this beautiful land is going to offer us. Our mind was blank, having no expectations, but we were all set to get drenched in the rain of different experiences. We were welcomed by our driver at the airport as we booked a package through Cox and Kings.

Singapore pic.jpegThere was a twinkle in our eyes as we were moving towards the hotel. We could see a world so different from ours. Tall flashy buildings situated parallel to a river, gaudy markets, on-street restaurant bars and lighting everywhere. Our excitement doubled after entering the hotel as a wedding ceremony was going on in the restaurant area and we could hear people singing with joy and celebrating the event.

We stayed in Village Hotel Bugis on the Victoria street which is nearly at a distance of 2 km from Little India. It is a better option for vegetarians to stay near Little India as there are a very few eateries that serve vegetarian food in Singapore, while you get a plenty of options in the Little India market, from North Indian to South Indian food. Besides, Singapore seems to be a paradise for non-vegetarians, especially for seafood lovers.

The first day of our guided tour was dedicated to the Singapore City Tour, which included Cricket Stadium, Parliament House, Supreme Court, City hall, panoramic views of Marina Bay, and Singapore Flyer, which is a giant wheel that is “really” giant. Singapore Flyer offers a splendid view of Singapore.

 

Flyer.jpegMerlion, the national icon of Singapore, was also on the list, but due to some renovation & routine maintenance work, our visit to Merlion was canceled by the tour operator. We got disheartened to know this as we could not afford to miss the mythical symbol of Singapore, knowing its prominence.

After this half day city tour, we got ready for some more fun in the Gardens by the Bay, which is a futuristic nature park having hundreds of plants and trees. The Supertrees offer an enthralling Skywalk over the gardens and they are enough tall & amazing to mesmerize the onlookers. We really appreciate the creativity of presenting and enhancing the power of ‘Green’. But at the same time, you need to be careful with the plants. Mr. Gupta touched a plant (a cactus, lol) and he regretted later because his finger turned blue after some time. Luckily, nothing worse happened.

IMG-20151210-WA0007.jpgWe were exhausted by the evening, but still full of enthusiasm to explore the place on our own. We walked a mile to find a vegetarian restaurant and glad to spot one open-area restaurant, serving veg pastas, sandwiches and our much-loved beer. Well, that was enough to end the first day of our trip on a good note.

The second day of our trip was dedicated to Sentosa Island. The adventure began as soon as we boarded Mount Faber cable car. It started drizzling and we got uncertain whether we would be able to enjoy the shows or not, as the availability of most of them was subject to weather conditions. But we have been lucky enough to enjoy one and all because the drizzle stopped and the sky opened up after a while.

Dolphins welcomed us with their playful antics in the Dolphin Lagoon of Sentosa Island. Synchronized tail walking, dancing, jumping and entertaining people is all that they do. Though the act was cute, it is depressing on the other hand because we don’t know what these little creatures go through to learn the tactics.

pixsanta19After enjoying Dolphin show, we went to Underwater World. We walked through a transparent tunnel at the bottom of the sea with the amazing sight of thousands of sea creatures. This was the first time I so closely experienced the aquatic life – from crabs, turtles, jellyfishes, seadragons to sharks. We waited to capture the shark in a frame with us and we succeeded after a few shots.

(Sadly for the people planning to visit Singapore now, Dolphin Lagoon show and Underwater World are no more operational.)

In the evening, we spent some time on the Sentosa Island Beach, watching the sunset as the next on the list was ‘Wings of the Time’ and the show timing was 7 pm. So, we took a snack break afterward and geared-up for the show. Wings of the Time is a magnificent night laser water fountain show with 3D effects.

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The best part of this show is the backdrop of an open sea. It feels simply amazing to watch the laser show on such a grand scale where you feel all the magical things coming to life. The world-class effects, the burst of fire, foot-tapping music, colorful lights will make you go gaga, just as it wooed us completely. Our second day ended on a majestic note after watching Wings of the Time. We had dinner in the same restaurant where we did the first night.

Contented with the second day of our trip, I was not expecting that a lot more fun is still left in store for us for the third day. I must say that I have never been so entertained in my life by any theme park and the credit goes to Universal Studios. It is a complete entertainment package with 24 rides and seven themed zones. You can feel your favorite Hollywood blockbuster movies coming to life and the best part is you can be a part of them.

 

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After standing in the queue for more than 60 minutes, I thoroughly enjoyed the super realistic Transformers: The Ride-3D. It takes the riders in the middle of all the action and keeps them highly engrossed. The simulator ride and the projection technology are so powerful that you actually forget that you are in a ride and get completely involved in the scene because so much is happening around you.

After the action-packed Transformers ride, we entered the world of dinosaurs. This river raft ride may wet you but that’s worth it. I found this one fascinating because of the jungle look & feel. Overall, it was a pleasant experience to ride through the Jurassic Park in the circular raft crossing the animatic dinosaurs. You are advised to bring your own poncho or you can also purchase the same from the vending machine to save yourself from getting wet.

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I was avoiding ‘Revenge of the Mummy’ ride because I knew it’s not for me but still, I went for it to accompany Mr. Gupta. Revenge of the Mummy is an adrenaline-pumping high-speed roller coaster ride, which is surely not for the faint-hearted. The sudden acceleration, breaks, climbing, jumping, twists & turns will keep your heartbeats elevated. Frankly speaking, I hardly saw anything in the ride & was just waiting for the end.

There are a number of other interesting rides in Universal Studios, Singapore like Madagascar: A Crate Adventure, Puss In Boots’ Giant Journey, Battlestar Galactica: Human vs. Cylon etc. One day is not enough to make a visit to all the zones and rides. If possible, get the 2-day fun pass to enjoy the rides, shows, and attractions. We still regret not been to all the rides because of the shortage of time and that’s what motivates us to visit Singapore again. After having soup, noodles and potato chips, we bid goodbye to Universal Studios.

 

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We explored the markets on day four and shop for our friends and relatives. We started with Haji lane, which was just a few minutes walk away from our hotel. It’s a colorful narrow alley with some independent fashion boutiques, cafes & restaurants. From there, we took a taxi and went straight to our favorite place ‘Little India’ to enjoy Indian cuisines. After trying Dosa, Sambar Vada and filter coffee in a South Indian restaurant, we went for shopping at Mustafa Centre.

You get almost everything in Mustafa and that too at bargain rates. From grocery, clothing, jewelry to gadgets, it has simply everything! Must shop for accessories for your friends from here. They gonna love it and it won’t dig a hole in your pocket either. Another thing that I loved shopping at Mustafa is perfumes. You get the authentic ones at a fair price.

Well, it was hell difficult to get yourself out of the shopping center but we had to do it because ‘Night Safari’ was lined up in our schedule of the day. I was super excited for Night Safari ever since we planned the trip because of the idea of closely observing animals on a tram when they are not caged thrills me. And guess what? It super exceeded my expectations. Universal Studios and Night Safari are the two not-to-be-missed things on a Singapore trip.

Safari entrance

This nocturnal zoo houses Indian rhinoceros, Malayan tigers, Asian elephants, fishing cats, leopards, Asian lions and thousands of other animals. They are made visible through a special light that resembles moonlight without disturbing or irritating animals. You have the option to explore this tropical forest either via tram or through walking trails on foot.

What I love about this zoo (besides the idea of seeing animals uncaged) is that it respects the day-night cycle of animals. Animals rest during the daytime and they are most active during the night hours. So, the park has been thoughtfully designed without disturbing their cycle and taking proper care of their habitat. Thumbs up to Night Safari!

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It was all good throughout the day but the trouble started when we started looking for Indian food. It was already late by the time we reached our favorite restaurant where we had dinner almost every day. It was closed. We walked through the streets in search of vegetarian food but we failed to locate even a single restaurant on the streets serving vegetarian food. We tried McDonald’s too, but surprisingly, they had nothing vegetarian, except for the French fries, which was our last hope to satiate our hunger. By that incident, we learned to keep some foodstuff in store for an emergency.

The fifth day was our departure day. We had our flight in the evening, so before ending the trip, we continued the fun. With the swimming costumes that I especially bought for the trip, I was ready to bask in the sun and take a dip in the swimming pool of the hotel. At the end of the swimming session, we decided to visit the Merlion Park on our own in the metro. We believe it’s a must to get clicked with the Merlion if you visit Singapore.
Depositing luggage at the hotel counter, we boarded metro from Bugis MRT to reach Merlion Park. After 2-3 attempts, we bought the tickets from the vending machine and enjoyed the metro ride experience.

After deboarding the metro and walking a few miles, we caught the sight of the Merlion. Our efforts didn’t go in vain as we succeeded in getting clicked with the iconic statue of Singapore in its renovation form. Our trip completed with this last stop and we boarded the metro back to reach the hotel and to finally put an end to this wonderful trip of ours.

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On a concluding note, I would really recommend visiting Singapore for many reasons.

  • A 5-hour flight will take you to Singapore from Delhi. You don’t have to spend too much time in flight.
  • A trip to Singapore can be done in 2 Lac Rupees for a couple (we did in December 2015). You can get a plenty of cheapest Singapore tour package options.
  • Singapore offers good nightlife too. Visit Marina Bay Sands, Club Street, Clarke Quay & Sentosa Beach Bars to rock the night.
  • Singapore is a must to enjoy Universal Studios and Night Safari.
  • Its compact size makes it easy to travel and above all, Singapore is safe.

First-time international travelers can book Singapore package online to make their vacation smooth. Otherwise, I would recommend preparing an itinerary, set a budget and get set go on your own.

For any query related to Singapore tour plan, please leave us a comment.

Delhi – Narkanda – Sangla- Chitkul – Kalpa

Delhi – Shimla (350 KM) – Narkanda (65 KM) – Rampur (68 KM) – Karcham (60 KM) – Reckong Peo (58 KM) – Kalpa (3 KM)

The realization of inner strength and passion is equivalent to second birth. I was born again in the land of adventurers when I discovered my love & passion for biking. I don’t drive instead I am a pillion passenger. But, I found wings added to my soul when my husband and I, headed onto unfurl the beauty of Himachal Pradesh on our trip to Sangla, Chitkul & Kalpa. Our decision to travel alone on the bike came after our group of friends said ‘No’ to us, being hectic for them.  Even then, we thought to take a dip in the ocean of adventures.

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Day 1

Packing our bags & safeguarding ourselves with biking gears, we left Delhi at around 6am. The scorching heat of June compelled us to take a break before Chandigarh for Lime water & snacks. We took the second break near Solan for buttermilk (Chhach). Crossing Shimla at around 12pm, we reached Narkanda by 5pm. Narkanda is a small beautiful town, spreading its own magnificence. We checked-in to Hotel Himalaya Inn on the main chowk, which was priced around Rs.1200. There is only one shop in Narkanda to enjoy Thukpa (special Indo-Tibetan hot noodle soup made with mixing vegetables). North Indian food is easily available in hotel & market.

 

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The Yummy Thukpa !!!

 

Day 2

We left Narkanda at 9 am to lose our spirits in the serene beauty of Sangla & Chitkul. We crossed Karcham Dam at around 1pm. The road condition is moderately bad after the dam, though it’s worth driving through the treacherous road to reach Sangla. Remembering the long & bold standing mountains still give me goose-bumps. Sangla & Chitkul, both encompasses uniqueness in their beauty. While Sangla has mountains just aside you, Chitkul gives you a perfect landscape that you might have drawn in your drawing books in childhood – A river flowing amid snow clad mountains & greenery covering the valley with a few cottages.

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We stayed a night in Sangla & left for Chitkul the next morning at around 9 am. It was cloudy and the weather predicted rain in the evening, so we decided to reach Kalpa before it starts raining as we were not sure of accommodation in Chitkul. We reached Chitkul around 11 am and enjoyed the beauty for 2 hrs and left for Kalpa. Though, we now regret we could have stayed a night in Chitkul instead of heading to Kalpa. The beauty of this last village on the Indo-Tibetan border is untouched.

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There are some budget accommodation options in Chitkul that you can book after reaching the place. Post lunch, we headed towards Kalpa and reached the place at around 6 pm. The majestic views of the mighty Himalayas welcomed us & took away all the stress. It’s a very small village with a few eateries outside the hotel.

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Day 3

My heart just melted away with the stunning sight of Kinnaur Kailash, the Shivlingam, which keeps changing its color throughout the day. It looks the most beautiful in the early morning hours. Some of the places to visit in Kalpa:

Suicide Point: It is situated around 3 Kms away from Kalpa. You can even trek to suicide point with a group of friends. It is a place having a dangerous trench and vertical slopes and gives a sight of apple orchards.

Sapni Fort: It’s a seven-storey high fort situated in Sapni village in the vicinity of Kalpa. The fort is a pleasure to the eyes of Art lovers, rich in architectural grandeur & a witness to the glory of the past.

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Stop !!! There is a landslide ahead.

 

Sangla, Chitkul & Kalpa are some of the unexplored places near Shimla that must be explored by travel enthusiasts.

Day 4

After enjoying the beautiful sight of Kinnaur Kailash, we took a night halt in Narkanda and enjoyed the cool weather with a chilled beer in Hotel Hatu by HPTDC. The same moment we decided our next trip to Spiti Valley after seeing the mesmerizing picture of Dhankar Monastery on a wall in the hotel.

You can always trust hotels by Himachal Pradesh Tourism. They are neat, clean and well-maintained.

 

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Garden area of Hotel Hatu (HPTDC), Narkanda

 

Day 5

We left Narkanda early morning & reached Delhi in the night. Disheartened and dull, we put an end to our 5-day adventurous Trip to Himachal Pradesh and promised ourselves to come back again on a more thrilling expedition.

If you are bored of travelling to Shimla, then must visit these unexplored places near Shimla.