Kinnaur Travel Guide: A Detailed Guide To Planning Your Vacation in Kinnaur (2023)
Kinnaur is one of the districts of Himachal Pradesh and is surrounded by Tibet to the east and is in the northeastern corner of Himachal Pradesh. It is located around 235 km from Shimla and is an extremely beautiful place in the lap of the Himalayas. Kinnaur is surrounded by three mountain ranges. These are Zanskar, Greater Himalayas, and Dhauladhar mountain ranges and the gushing rivers in the area are Sutlej valley, Spiti, and Baspa and their tributaries that have created beautiful valleys across this beautiful land. All the valleys are exceptionally beautiful and awe-inspiring. These beautiful mountain ranges are surrounded and covered with thick wood, apple orchards, apricots, beautiful fields, and bewitching hamlets. The very famous Kinner Kailash Shivalinga is also located here which is visited by thousands of tourists from India and outside. It is also a destination for adventure seekers. The much religious Shivalinga lies at the peak of Kinner Kailash mountain. The name Kinnaur is also derived from the name Kinnar Kailash. It was once forbidden land, but it is now full of travel junkies, adventure seekers, and daredevils.
Kinnaur is a unique amalgamation of two cultures, both Hinduism and Buddhism and you will see and experience both cultures here. Since Kinnaur is also surrounded by Tibet, you will also see Tibetan influence here and will get to eat the scrumptious food in these beautiful hills. You will also get to visit some of the oldest Buddhist monasteries and temples in the vicinity which have a religious value to both Buddhists and Hindus, respectively. Kinnaur is also very famous for adventure sports like trekking and skiing nowadays. There are about nine known routes for hiking and some of these hikes are around 5 to 6 days long. If you are a wanderer, adventurer, and hiking junkie, Kinnaur is heaven for you. A detailed guide to planning your trip to Kinnaur is mentioned below.
Best Time To Visit Kinnaur
The best time to visit Kinnaur is during summers from April to October as the roads are almost clear during this period for you to travel around the place without worrying about the landslides or if you are planning a road trip. They say winters in Kinnaur are not for the faint-hearted as the temperature is searingly low in the colder months of the year here and it gets really difficult to survive there without the centralized heating if you are not accustomed to living in a cold environment. The temperature during the summers is between 7 to 9 degree Celsius, which starts in April after the snow starts melting
April to October experiences mild and pleasant as per the Himachal standard which is suitable for local sightseeing. It is advisable to avoid planning a trip to Kinnaur during Monsoons and winters. Winters are harsh in this part of the hills as the minimum temperature between October to May is below 0 degrees Celsius and goes down until -15 degrees Celsius. But if you are a brave heart and can survive in the cold, you will experience the best winter in the hills at Kinnaur.
How To Reach Kinnaur?
Kinnaur is a beautiful valley that is easily accessible via many transport options. It is well connected with the main cities like Shimla, Chandigarh, Dehradun, etc. However, with the distance from major cities, the easiest option to travel to Kinnaur is by bus or a private taxi/car, etc. Other options to reach Kinnaur and stay at this beautiful valley are mentioned below:
- By Air: The closest airport is Shimla Airport which is around 270 km far. The nearest international airport is Chandigarh airport which is around 550-600 km from Kinnaur. You can reach Chandigarh and take a connecting flight to Shimla airport and travel the rest of the journey via road. And you can book a taxi from the Chandigarh airport to Kinnaur which is quite a scenic drive and not to be missed.
- Trains: The nearest broad-gauge railway station closest to Kinnaur is Shimla which is also around 260 kms from Kinnaur. The nearest railhead is Dehradun. Traveling to Kinnaur via train is not an ideal option as it tires you and the connectivity is also poor as anyway you need to travel by road for around 270 km. The best way to reach Kinnaur from Chandigarh is via road. You can either take a taxi from Shimla to Kinnaur or take a bus from Shimla or other nearby major cities.
- Bus: Take a bus preferably Himachal Pradesh tourism from Delhi to Chandigarh. The Himachal state transport runs buses are available for both routes in summers, but it is advisable to take a bus through the Shimla-Narkanda-Sangla-Rakcham-Chitkul route. Direct buses are available from Chandigarh, Shimla, Kullu, Manali, and some other parts of North India. You can take public transport from your city to reach Chandigarh/Shimla and can get a direct bus to Sangla via Narkanda from here. There are many public and private buses running between Shimla and Kinnaur from 5 AM to 8 PM. You can also find overnight buses to Reckong Peo which is the headquarter of Kinnaur district and you can get these buses from the New Bus Stand as well as from the Old Bus Stand in Shimla.
- Taxi and Local Transport in Kinnaur: Taxi is by far the easiest and the fastest way to reach Kinnaur from Chandigarh and probably the most comfortable as well. As you can stop and enjoy the view as per your comfort. It certainly is a little expensive at the same time as the average cost of a taxi from Shimla is around INR 2500 – INR 3000 per day. And the prices depend on the season and your bargaining skills as well. You can also drive yourself to Kinnaur as many people choose these days. However, you should have some experience to drive on the steep mountain roads if you are planning to take your vehicle. However, the roads are exceptionally steep to drive by anyone, there are taxis and buses readily available for local transport.
People generally prefer to walk to their destinations in the city here.
6 Incredible Places To Visit & Things To Do In Kinnaur
- Reckong Peo: Reckong Peo, also known as Peo is the headquarters of the Kinnaur district. It is located at a distance of 270 km from Shimla and a height of 2300 meters. It is famous for its quiet and quaint nature to soothe the brain and calm the nerves. Reckong Peo in Kinnaur is an ideal getaway from the hustle-bustle of city life and to enjoy in the lap of nature. You will also look at beautiful deodar trees, apple orchards, and pine trees which enhance the beauty of the place even more and appeals to everyone. You can easily view the two very famous Himalayan peaks, the Kailash mountain and the Shivaling rock from Reckong Peo. People come here from far to see these peaks and enjoy living their life in the lap of nature.
- Kalpa: Kalpa is the most beautiful place in the entire district. It is located in the Sutlej river valley and a place you would always remember visiting. The view of the famous Kinner Kailash mountain in the village is awe-inspiring. You will see the best views of the mountains and the lush green valleys in the entire area. The valley has many famous temples and monasteries of historical importance surrounded by tall deodar, pine trees, and apple orchards.
- Sarahan: There are so many hidden spots at Sarahan that no matter how long you stay and roam around at this beautiful place, you would miss some views and landscapes. The entire place is picturesque and is a paradise for nature lovers and nature photographers. Sarahan is also known as the Gateway to Kinnaur and is located on the Indi-Tibetan road at an altitude of 2155 m. Sarahan is famous for the never-ending apple orchards, dense emerald pine and deodar forests, gushing streams, wildflower fields, numerous farms. This village is a sight to behold and a place to visit at least once in life for people who love mountains. It is also famous for the two-towered temple of Devi Kali, the Bhimakali temple. It is built in traditional Kinnauri architecture with a touch of unique Tibetan architecture.
- Nako: Nako is another beautiful village located in the district Kinnaur at a height of 3600 meters above sea level. It is quite a picturesque village and famous among travel photographers who spend days here clicking pictures and making lifetime memories. Nako is also referred to as Land of Fairytales and is very popular among surrounded by greenery and home to many rare species of plants. There are many places to see in Nako like the famous Nako Lake, Buddhist temples, and Raksham among many other popular places. You will also find the footprints of Saint Padmasambhava. As the legend says Saint Padmasambhava is believed to have meditated at the spot some ages back. Nako is located between Kinnaur and Spiti Valley, and thus shares a mixed culture of both. The Nako village is also one of the most traveled destinations that are located in the area and are located close to the Tibetan Border. Travelers require inner line permits to travel to the region. Foreign nationals also need permissions to stay overnight in any part of the village. Make sure you check all the necessary guidelines before visiting the place to avoid any problems during your travel.
- Ribba: Ribba, also known as the land of Grape Wine/Angoori is very famous for its grape orchards and grape distilled alcohols and the innumerable trees with edible pines. It is also known as Rirang by the locals. It is a quite populated village as per the Himalayan standards and is located at a height of 3745 meters above the sea level. The village is quite famous for the abundance of pine nuts or chilgoza in the area and hence it got its name from it. Ribba is especially famous among nature lovers and wine lovers as there are few wine distilleries also in the area. Make sure you visit Ribba if you enjoy good wine. Ribba is a small village before Nako that you will hardly find in any travel guide. It is covered deep in the snow and is therefore cut off from the rest of the world for half a year. If you are lucky and plan a travel to this part of the country, do not miss trying the grape wine in this small and beautiful village Ribba.
- Trekking in Kinnaur: There are many treks in Kinnaur and the highest peak in Kinnaur is Reo Purgyil- also the highest peak of the state. The most famous treks in the area are Bhabha- Pin valley is 4 days trip, Kinner Kailash Parikarma is a 3-day trip, Sangla to Dodra Kawar (3 days); Sangla to Dhamwari is a 5 days trek, Sangla to Barang is a 1-day trek, Tappri to Chhitkul which is a 5 days trek, Tapri to Kalpa is a 3 days trek, Reckong Peo to Nako 6 days trek, Chhitkul to Gangotri is a 5 days trek and special permission is required for this route. You can choose a trek based on the difficulty level and also your time convenience. Each of these treks is extremely beautiful and will leave you awestruck.
Places To Stay In Kinnaur:
Kinnaur has decent places to live which fulfill the requirements of the travelers at such a height on top of the Himalayas. Many homestays allow you to live with the locals and enjoy the local food. It will also allow you to enjoy your time talking to the locals and understand how they spend their days in the hills. If you are lucky, they will also guide you to the hidden spots in the Himalayas. The famous places to stay in Kinnaur are Kanum Homestay, Bird’s Nest in Charang, Farmvilla Homestay, RIKPA homestay, and many more. Besides homestays, you will also find rentals for every budget and for the space you want. You will have no problem finding a place with all essentials in this beautiful place.
What to Eat in Kinnaur?
There are mountainous food grains famous in the area. That you must try to eat when in Kinnaur. You must try local Wheat, Ogla, Phafra, barley, peas, black peas, and other numerous local things when you are here. Non-vegetarians in the area eat Goat’s meat and ram’s meat and if you are a non-vegetarian, you must try the local preparations which are different and scrumptious. You will find people sipping on alcohol here every evening which is a common affair here.
The local meals include The Morning breakfast which is also called Ken or Thema. This is usually consisting of Rotis and flatbreads made of barley, buckwheat or Amaranth served with some accompaniments.
The Lunch is called Shod. Chicken is usually a very integral part of lunch and forms the staple diet of most people. You can also try Phanting which is a special gruel made with wild apricots and cooked in water and salt. Dinner is also called Yangskin or Gongal. Depending on various regions, different meats are served for dinner. For example, in upper Kinnaur, it is quite common for a few communities to have yak meat during their meals while others as stated above eat chicken, goats, or ram’s meat.