Sangla Valley known as the Switzerland of India with Baspa river flowing along is in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh close to the Indo Tibet border. In Tibetan, the term Sangala means “pass of light” which refers to the valley receiving sunlight during the day.
Sangla Valley begins at Karcham and ends at Himachal Pradesh the last village along the Indo Tibet border. Sangla is the major town in the valley and is surrounded by forested slopes and with magnificent views of the snow-capped mountains and lies in the greater Himalayan Range. Till 1989 outsiders were allowed only with special permits in this valley for its close proximity to the China border. The Baspa River flows in the Sangla Valley which is rich in apple orchards, apricot, Wall-nut, Cedar trees, and glacial streams with trout. The main village in the valley being Chitkul, Rakcham, Batseri, Themgarang, Kamru. The nearby Baspa hydel–project has been completed in 2004. Besides the natural beauty of Great Himalaya Kamru Fort, Mata Devi Temple & Bearing Nag Temples are the main attractions of the Valley.
Sangla Valley is a part of Kinnaur and inhibited by Kinnauris. The main livelihood is agriculture while apples are a major cash crop here. The apples grown here are considered to be the finest in the world. The valley remains closed for six months during winter when the snowfall is heavy.
Sangla valley can be reached from, either Delhi or Chandigarh. From Delhi, Sangla Valley is more than 500kms away. From Chandigarh, it is around 350kms one to pass through Shimla. From Shimla, it is another 6-8 hours away as one has to drive through the most dangerous motorable roads as described by the National Geographic channel. Spread over an area of over 40kms, it’s a magnificent sight to behold. Snow-clad mountains surround you and you get to see the Kinner Kailash peak. The Baspa River flows through the valley and that is why it is also known as the Baspa Valley.
Sangla Valley has many things to offer and one can enjoy it all by staying at the Kinner Camps run by two brothers Pradeep and Dalip Negi excellent host with a comfortable stay in swiss tents with awesome food. Kinner Camps provides all facilities that the tourist need to enjoy the valley.
Enjoy undisturbed walks across the valley where one gets to admire the flora and fauna including Apple orchards. For adventure one can try rappelling, rock climbing, River Crossing, and Angling.
Day treks are a good option one can get to see the beautiful Kinner Kailash peak up-close. There is a glacier trek which will take you to the snowy regions of the mountains though by late summers they more or less disappear, which is a must.
The Kamru Fort is over 800 years old. It houses the famous Kamakshi Devi Temple and the Bering Nag Temple is dedicated to the snake of Lord Shiva.
Visit the Chitkul village is a must as it is the last town on the Indian border with Tibet where one can still see the traditional houses though they are being modernized at a rapid pace. Also visit Batseri, Karchem, & Kalpa, all of which are located close to Sangla.
The best time to visit Sangla Valley is anytime between March to November. So hurry to block your date for Sangla Valley as it opens up this season for the tourist.
Text & Photograph by T, Narayan