“Why did we come to Kalpa? There is nothing to see here.” – A frustrated backpacker I met in Kalpa market.
Kalpa is a sleepy little village a few kilometers above Reckong Peo, the administrative center of Kinnaur valley. Peo has a major bus depot that provides connectivity to Spiti, Kinnaur, Manali, and Delhi. Travelers on their way to the Spiti Valley reach Reckong Peo exhausted and head to near by Kalpa for a short recuperation – staying for a few hours to a day or two.
A couple of years ago, this village lay untouched by the tourist trails, and only a few adventurous foreigners would head here. The increasing interest in Spiti and Kinnaur valley, has put the spotlight on this idyllic retreat. Several homestays, an HPTDC hotel with a studding view deck, and a few hotels have sprung up to cater to tourists. While you won’t find an ATM here, there is decent internet and mobile phone connectivity.
Things to do in Kalpa
Everywhere you go, you’ll have stunning views of the Kinner Kailash (or Kinnaur Kailasha) mountain. There’s a vertical rock formation on this mountain, which is believed to be the winter abode of Lord Shiva. Locals claim this sacred Shivling rock never gets covered with ice, and changes color throughout the day.
Kalpa offers simple pleasures in little things one may otherwise miss in a typical Himalayan sojourn, as they might feel too common: apple orchards in bloom, stately pine-nut and deodars, a small monastery, an intricately-carved temple and fort, and traditional Kinnauri houses. To see the mountain up close, go on the Kalpa to Chakka trek. There are the nearby Roghi village and a suicide point (where no one really committed suicide!) to hike or drive to.
Kalpa trivia: the first vote in India was cast here!
When elections were held for the first time in the country, Kinnaur was the first region where polling was scheduled. The polling was held in phases and other parts of the country went to polls in February 1952. 97-year-old Negi and his wife Hira Mani (92), of Kalpa, were the first to cast a vote.
Best time to visit Kalpa
Winters offer a white wonderland and summers the lushness of a Himalayan village. I went in April, which was a best of both seasons – snowy vistas, very few tourists, and the beginning of the apple blossoms.
Reaching Kalpa by Public Transport (HRTC)
Shimla/Delhi > Reckong Peo > Kalpa
- There are two buses that run from Shimla till Reckong Peo (9 hours), one at 6 pm and another at 6 am. It is best to board the bus at ISBT stop so that you get space to keep your luggage.
Tip: You can pre-book a seat on the evening bus from Shimla to Reckong Peo.
- There is a direct bus from Delhi to Reckong Peo (18 hours) which you can book online.
- From Reckong Peo, regular buses ply to Kalpa. (40 minutes)