The roof rattled in the wind as a thunder shower ensued. We woke up to the awe-inspiring sounds of heavy rains on the mountains. It passed soon enough and we got ready to leave for our next destination, albeit with a heavy heart.
Sangla Valley was not a part of the original travel plan. It was recommended that we also visit Sangla and cut short our three day stay at Kalpa to two and spend a day in the valley instead when we were in Shimla itself. As always it wasn’t the distances that made the travel time long, but the bad, curvy, and often dangerous, roads.
On our second day at Kalpa, it was recommended to us that since we were going to Sangla, we should visit Chitkul from there.
Chitkul is the last inhabited town before the border outpost which can be visited by civilians. Further on, there is one more outpost which is out of bounds for the common man.
After a 6-7 hours journey, we arrived at Sangla and left for Chitkul immediately. It takes another two hours from there and the drive as bad on most stretches. A suitable plan had been chalked out even before we left Kalpa. Arrive Sangla, have a hearty breakfast (again stuffed parathas) and leave for Chitkul, take the three hour walk to the border outpost and back, and then have a sumptuous Punjabi meal at Thakur Dabba. Unfortunately we hadn’t carried our rain gear and even as we arrived, it began to rain dampening not only the terrain but moods as well. Half-hearted attempts were made to convince the children to join us for a walk. Sid then walked off on his own and did some exploring even as hubby and I sipped on scalding hot tea at Thakur Dabba while the clouds pelted us with a mild but chilling drizzle, and by the time we were ready to walk down along the lovely river flowing from the mountains, he was back. So much for the big plans. In the end, we managed a 30 minute walk down to the riverside and spent a few minutes there, taking in the amazing scenery and admiring the pretty rocks which I was tempted to pick up and carry back with me.
Since it was too early for lunch, we decided to return. On the way back, we realised that this seemed to be a favoured place for various camping sites. The area was dotted by many quaint little villages too. We noticed two tiny spots on a particular glacier on the way back and racked our brains trying to figure out what it was…for a pair of fast moving animal it was indeed and they seemed to be engaged in play. Thereafter topping our list of future travel purchases is a pair of good binoculars. Meanwhile a wild guess we’ve unanimously made is that, those were bears, unless we can go wilder still and imagine those were cats of some sort!
We took a short drive that evening and although the driver mentioned that we could visit the temple in the vicinity, it was vetoed by the boys. As Sid wanted to go down to the riverside, we tried to find a path towards it and finally gave up as each road seemed to take us further and further away from it. We got back in time for tea. The mood was sombre. The holidays were almost over.
That evening I stood outside and admired the clear night sky lit up by a million stars.