Once called Chini, the village came into prominence when it was visited by the British Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie (1848-56 AD). Dalhousie was also responsible for the creation of the original Hindustan Tibet Road. Within the village visit the Narayan-Nagini temple which is a remarkable example of local craftsmanship and the Hu-Bu-Lan-Kar monastery said to have been founded by the Great Translator, Rinchensang-po (950-1055 AD). There are thick forests of Himalayan cedar, the quite legendary ‘deodar’. These woods are gamished with spruce, alder and the unusual birch – the ‘bhojpatra’ tree whose peeling bark served as parchment for ancient Indian texts. Chocolate-box pictures of villages, orchards and fields dot the area. Across the river, facing Kalpa is the majesty of the Kinner Kailash range. This is a spectacular sight in the morning as the rising sun touches the snowy peaks with crimson and gold light. Kalpa is may well be considered the point where the mountains halt the march of monsoon winds.
Height: 2960 m
Climate: In winter, the temperature drops below the freezing point when heavy woolens are required and for summers, light woolens are recommended.
Getting There & Away: How to reach Kalpa
Nearest Airport (267 kms) and Railway Station (244 kms) are at Shimla. The route is on NH-22 which bifurcates to Kalpa from Powari. Buses and Taxis are available at Shimla and Rampur. One can also reach Kalpa via Manali-Rohtang Pass-Kunzum Pass-Kaza (400 kms)
Tourist Attractions in Kalpa
Nichar (2150 m): this lies on the alignment of the old Hindustan Tibet Road and is approached by a side road of 16 kms that turns off near Sholding Khud. This has thick forests dotted with orchards and there is a variety of wildlife that includes bear, ghoral and the thar. Among other temples in and close to Nichar, the shrine dedicated to the deity Ukha is an excellent example of local craftsmanship.
Recong Peo (2290 kms, 13 kms): This is the district headquarters of Kinnaur and has the primary marketplace. This is 7 kms from Powari that lies on the Hindustan Tibet Road. Like Kalpa, Recong Peo faces the Kinner Kailash mountain (6050 m).
Sangla (2680 m, 51 kms): This is the largest village of the bewitchingly beautiful 95 kms long Sangla valley through which the river Baspa flows. There are picture perfect villages surrounded by fields and orchards; there are thick forests – including magnificent ones of peeling birch and there are high snow covered peaks and glaciers. Sangla village is built on both sides of the highway and has the main market of the valley. Surrounded by houses, this has the old temple of Bering Nag.
Kamru (3000 m): The village of Kamru lies at a height above the valley floor and is 1.5 kms from Sangla village. Here stands its famous tower-like fort and temple which enshrines the goddess Kamakhya Devi. This wood and stone structure was the original seat of the rulers of the erstwhile princely state of Bushair – they later moved to Sarahan and then to Rampur which lie downstream of the Satluj. With a population of around thousand people, Kamru is a dense cluster of houses and is surrounded by fields and orchards. The gateway to the village is painted with Buddhist motifs and images.
Batseri: This lies across the river Baspa and is built along a hill slope. With narrow well marked paths, Batseri also displays some of the unusual traditional architectural methods of the area. The recently rebuilt temple of Badri Narayan is an extraordinary piece of craftsmanship with superb carvings along its panels and finely-worked slate roof.
Raksham (3115, 14 from Sangla village): This is a picturesque village with wood and stone houses and is set before a mass of dark rock and moraine. This rests at the end of a glen with thick forests.
Chitkul (3460 m): This is the last inhabited village in the Sangla valley. The drive to this is along a road that lies close to the river bank. This also has three temples dedicated to the goddess Mathi. The main temple is believed to be around six hundred years old.
Ribba (2745 m, 16 kms from Powari): Well known for its local liquors, it is a picturesque village.
Moorang (2591 m, 26 k ms from Powari): This is an attractive village surrounded by apricot orchards.
Kanam (2699 m, 40 kms from Powari): This is a complete monastic village and its Buddhist monastery is of considerable significance and dates back to the time of Rinchensang-po. This is located at the base of the Nessang valley – and is on one of the old routes that lead to Tibet.
Jangi (45 kms from Powari): This has the Inner Line Checkpoint and is one of the starting points for the trek route, the Kinner Kailash Parikrama.
Puh (2837 m, 71 kms from Powari): This is a middling sized village with a market and administrative offices. The area is well known for its apricots and almonds.
Nako (3662 m, 110 kms from Powari): This is one of Kinnaur’s most picturesque villages and is built around a small lake and has an important Buddhist monastery and a couple of small temples, A footprint-like impression on a rock is ascribed to the saint Padmasambhava. Nako is also the base to reach the Tashigang monastery and the start for the trek to the Pargial Peak.
Leo (2438 m): this is a small village with an old temple dedicated to the local deity, Tangtashu.
Chango (3058 m, 115 kms from Powari): Surrounded by high hills, this place is famous from its apples.
Kailash Parikrama (this circles the base of Kinner Kailash mountain), the Charang Ghati trek, the several routes that lead from the Sangla valley to the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand, the Karcham-Sangla trek via the villages of Sapni and Barua, the Ropa valllley trek and the Bhaba valley trek are some of the important treks that can be undertaken from Kalpa.