Road Trip to Spiti - Part 2: Kinnaur to Nako Village

After a good night’s sleep in Kalpa, we woke up to a stunning sight. From our room, we were greeted by the snow-covered mountains that stretched as far as our eyes could see. Among them, the Kinnaur Kailash peak stood out, though it looked quite small. We weren’t entirely convinced that this was indeed Kinnaur Kailash, but our driver and guide confirmed it for us. As we watch this peak, I was wondering how had a mere stone atop a peak become a revered deity, compelling people to trek despite the challenging terrain? Strange world!

Tiny Kinnaur Kailash from distance

After breakfast, we continued our journey deep into Kinnaur region, accompanied by river Sutlej. At Khab we witnessed a beautiful sight of two rivers – Sutlej and Spiti – merging gracefully.

Along the way, we noticed numerous hydropower plants and inquired about them from our driver. He informed us that a surge in hydropower plant constructions had taken place recently in the mountains. The process involved drilling into the mountains, impacting nearby villages, causing mild tremors. This had also led to increased occurrences of landslides, he added. Hearing the driver's account reminded me of a recent article I had read about the development of cracks in Joshimath village in Uttarakhand, causing damage to properties. It was argued that one of the contributing factors behind these cracks was the hydropower project. It struck me how, often, the underprivileged villagers bear the brunt for the supposed betterment of the privileged.

As we drove past the hydropower plants, our guide advised us to take regular sips of water at intervals. He emphasized the significance of staying hydrated on these high-altitude roads. The guide further informed us about the forthcoming leg of our journey, sharing insights into the landscape. He explained that as we ascend, the roads would become more barren, devoid of the usual greenery and trees due to the lower oxygen levels at higher altitudes. This prepared us for the desolate stretches of our road trip.

After 3 hours’ drive, we reached this enchanting Nako village, which is located at whooping altitude of 12000 ft. from sea level. This remote village was a captivating sight, with its mud houses blending seamlessly with the natural surroundings. We decided to explore the village further and embarked on a short trek. We saw the oldest monastery that was said to have constructed at around 11th century. Then after walking through the mud walls in between houses and cow sheds, we reached a lake located on top of the village. The trek was short, but the altitude made it more challenging, leaving us breathless and exhausted. Coming from a coastal region, the weather was quite complex for us to handle. The temperature was around 10 degrees yet we were surprised by the intense sun. We took precautions, covering ourselves entirely to avoid sunburns and the relentless heat was quite draining. 

Nako Village

Surrounded by the serene mountains, we couldn't help but feel a deep sense of tranquility. We sat there on the banks of the lake for a while and it was a moment of pure connection with nature and the local way of life. Our guide said that it freezes during winter and the kids play skating on the lake.

Nako lake

On our way back, we noticed apple trees that were half the size of the ones we had seen in Shimla. We learned that the villagers were provided with hybrid seeds as part of a livelihood initiative by the government. Additionally, the villagers were engaged in the cultivation of potatoes, mustard, and green peas. Interestingly, seeing the potato farming reminded me of how potatoes found their way through the British before independence. It was Captain Young who introduced potatoes to the Himalayan foothills (Roads to Mussoorie, Ruskin Bond). Little did he know then that aaloo, as we call it, would become a staple food in most parts of North Indian cuisine, leaving a lasting mark on the region's gastronomy.

We started from Nako Village and our next stop is Dhankar in Spiti district. With all the excitement, we started our journey. Around 30 minutes into the ride, we noticed a vehicle coming back on reverse gear. Intrigued, we slowed down to inquire about the reason. The driver shared an unexpected twist – no one could proceed further due to falling rocks near Malling Nalla. As we cautiously went past that vehicle, we witnessed the live landslide. Rocks of all sizes were tumbling down from the top. The hills harbored water at their peaks, which comes down as falls near Malling Nalla. This water flowed onto the roads where a small bridge was under construction. It was the construction worker who saw the landslides initially and prompted the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for clearing it off.

Temple near Malling Nalla

At that moment, one of the construction workers said that these rocks would also come down very soon, pointing to the hill near our vehicle. Panic surged through us as we saw water seeping through the tiny holes in the Rocky Mountains. 

Photo Credit: Suganya Srinivasan

Road Trip to Spiti - Part 2: Kinnaur to Nako Village Road Trip to Spiti - Part 2: Kinnaur to Nako Village Reviewed by Gowthama Rajavelu on 22:10 Rating: 5


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