Kinnaur Road Trip — Part 2 — Nako
After mesmerizing trip to chitkul & spending quality time in Sangla, we headed for Kalpa, via Reckong Pio. Pio is neat city, district capital of Sangla and may be the most beautiful district capital ever in India.
Situated in the lap of Himalaya, Reckong Pio got the amazing mix of chaos of city and friendly environment of typical himachali village. In City center, mainly marked by Market and Taxi stand, our first point of contact was Mr. Raju, who has been referred to us by our Sangla host, Mr. P. L. Negi. Mr. Raju wasn’t there at his shop, but his wife is. Smiling, middle aged Himachali lady, she tried her best to give us more information about the area and possible sightseeing options. Meanwhile Mr. Raju arrived and greeted us like an old friend visiting after years. He suggested to stay at Kalpa (few kilometers ahead of Pio) for better deal and better view. We took a call to visit Kapla and finalize hotel, and come back to Pio for some shopping followed by Dinner.
Again road to Kalpa, was no less scenic, but with added toughness, hairpin bends are frequent and we actually pass through Forest Reserve. At Kalpa, we checked couple of places, finally got a real deal of resort. 600 Rs per night, with breakfast, in a valley facing room was a deal to steal. To add up the awesomeness, there was water-stream flowing exactly next to our room. Serene meadows and typical wooden house, just like coming real from some fairy tail.
Resort was otherwise empty, except a group of Europeans staying next to our room. Moody was Swiss and his friends were from Paris and Austria, friendly people.
The Day was ending, light of setting sun were covering the mountains across the valley, and suddenly we saw a golden shade, appearing across the very next peak. It was incredible. We all rushed to next balcony, and “Moody” was welcoming enough to let us catch that view. It’s like heavenly glow, covering most the mountains in the East, a sight very very special for Himalayas, while everything else, including valley are getting a thick cloud cover, peaks are glowing golden. Suddenly like a movie ends, that glow disappeared. This is how sunset in mountains is. We decided to have dinner at Pio and drove back. While seating in a good enough restaurant, we were planning about what else to be done for Nako and further more locations, suddenly a lady from next table turned to us and asked in plain Marathi (our native language), “Marathi aahat tumhi?” (Are you Maharashtrian?). She was introduced herself as Kshitija, a Maharashtrian traveler, exploring this region all alone. It was a nice casual chat with average quality dinner and we headed back to our lodging.
Day 4 of our journey was planned as a visit to Nako, which is famous for monasteries and a lake, at approx altitude of 12,000 ft. from MSL. As our Indigo car cannot drive at such high altitudes, we opted for one day hire of Mahindra Xylo.
Day 4 Nako
We left for Nako early morning, even without breakfast, as we have to head back, before shooting stone winds in the late afternoon.
Our first stop was a temple, built by Border Roads Organization, responsible for this & many more vital roads operates across the border. In such rigorous terrain, its the faith, which keeps one motivated and focused on work.
This area is operated under Project DEEPAK of BRO.
Soon the landscape changed. From lush green cover, it became barren, blank deserted stony mountains, resembling Ladakh. Green is now a rare color and one can see warning signs road side, quite often. Our new driver Giridhari lal, is a gentleman, with skilled hands and in depth knowledge of the locality. He shared his experience during a flood couple of years back. Regarding the shooting stone warning, he said, “After around 2.30 PM there starts a strong wind, which loosens up boulders uphill. That starts shooting stone on this road. It is not just landscape which makes it officially the most treacherous road of the World.”
On the we passed some military vehicles, one decorated Maruti Gypsy, which Giridhari said, “it must be a Farewell to some retiring Army Personnel”. and some routine trucks. Finally a dense green patch was visible on the far away mountain, that was the destination, NAKO village.
NAKO located around 12,000 ft from MSL, known for Buddhist temples and Nako lake, a lake at such high altitude. Village itself is not much densely populated, and signs of Buddhism are prominent throughout.
First look at Nako lake brings in almost regular shaped lake, with very high greenish tint, and not-so-impressive view overall.
Well surrounded by trees around, and some random yaks are making appearance inbetween.
Near this lake, there are four temples, attributed to saint Padmasambhava. Our visit timing was a bit mismatch, and we found the temple locked. But weather was clear, and we had some good time to roam across the lanes of NAKO.
We found a restaurant. a normal restaurant and dormitory facility, but something was different. When we asked about the contents of salad, that waiter (who is also a cook) just glanced outside, saying, there will be cabbage, reddish, and so on. Upon asking why he is looking outside, he replied, “I will harvest it from garden & make it fresh for you. You can have a small walk, in an hour, your salad & pasta will be ready.” Taken by surprise, we also glanced his kitchen. Really clean, tidy kitchen that was. and finally the food was served.
Clock was ticking, we have got some good pics all the way. We decided to head back, considering we have to reach Kalpa again. Before leaving Nako, we had one last glance at that beautiful neat and slightly modernized village.
Next Day — Exploring Kalpa in Part 3