I have been to Kalpa quite a few times but never knew what’s the meaning of its name. Before I get going on why you all should trip yourselves out in Kalpa, let me take you through a brief history about the name Kalpa, its meaning, and how it ties up with the fact that you should see this place.
Kalpa is a Sanskrit word that translates to Aeon. An eon is a long period. According to Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, a Kalpa means an eternally long time, and it is referred to as the time between the creation and recreation of the universe. More on Kalpa, the word can be read here.
Kalpa, the small hill station in the Kinnaur district, lives up to its legendary name and exhibits eternally beautiful sights. It is home to the famous Kinnaur Kailash mountain, which is not to be confused with Mt. Kailash (aka Kailash Parbat) in Tibet. Kalpa falls in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh and is situated at an altitude of 2800 meters that roughly equals to 9200 ft. It is located in the Sutlej river valley above Reckong Peo, the name you’d see on the buses going to Spiti from Shimla. The road from Peo gradually ascends and is sprinkled with beautiful pine trees on the mountainside. Kalpa is usually is a halting point in the journey towards Spiti valley. But it would be foolish to say that this place doesn’t deserve that stopover. Instead, I’d say that one should spend here a night or two before moving on to their journey. Please don’t believe what I say, see for yourself.
A lot many people trek to Kinnaur Kailash and stay in Kalpa before or after the trek. This is a 2-3 days trek and not an easy one, so having a sort of base helps in planning and enjoying the trek. Although the trek to Kinnaur Kailash starts from Tangling village, Kalpa offers more options for food and lodging and hence a better base camp to say.
Even if you don’t trek to Kinnaur Kailash, you can enjoy its views and hues all day long from Kalpa. Even if the clouds are there, they would only add their magic to this already magical and mystical place. Just make sure your hotel room has a view of the mountain range on the opposite side. After that, all you got to do is to sit back, grab another chai, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the free show. And if you get hungry, take a walk, and you’d soon find an apple tree from which you can pluck the famous Kinnauri golden apple.
Kalpa is also home to an indigenous tree called Chilgoza pine. These trees are native to the northwestern Himalayas and are found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. This is a threatened and almost extinct tree, so when you go to Kalpa, do check it out because you never know it might not be there for your next visit. You can read more about this here. This is a wonderful place, and it is sad to see that the natural beauty this high up in the Himalayas is also vulnerable to our wicked ways. Don’t just sit and wait for the real beauty of our planet to disappear forever, do travel as much as you can and see the wonders that our world has to offer.
How to reach?
Kalpa lies in the ancient India- Tibet road, which used to be part of the erstwhile silk route. Now it lays on the national highway 22 or NH 22 some 250 km from Shimla. In the old days, it was supposed to be a trading town for traders from India and China. Public transport is readily available from Chandigarh or Shimla, direct buses available from both cities. The road from Shimla to Kalpa is one of the most epic streets of India with the Sutlej River gurgling below on the left, and the beautiful mountains range all around. The road is something like this:
Shimla-> Theong-> Narkanda-> Rampur-> Jeori-> Wangtu-> Reckong Peo-> Kalpa
Near Wangtu, there will be a bridge from which one-road leads to Kalpa, and another one leads to Chitkul in Sangla valley. There is a lot of construction going on around Wangtu, and this place almost looks like a bond film set. You’ll know when you are there.
Where to Stay?
As one climbs from Reckong Peo towards Kalpa, there are many guesthouses lined up on the roadside hidden behind the pine trees. It is best that one rises to the top and find a guest house which has the view of the Kinnaur Kailash on the opposite side. Just make sure the room has running warm water and a beautiful view. If they have a garden in front, then it’s perfect for tripping out in the open late in the night. There are government-run hotels and guesthouses, which one can opt for as well. Go here for more details.
Best time to go?
June- September is the period when one can usually go to Kalpa. It snows here from Oct to May, and the roads are closed for people to go and stay in Kalpa.