The Spiti Archives: Pin Valley, The Untouched Beauty

Estimated reading time: 4 Minutes

Kaza to Pin Valley

Pin Valley, our next destination from Kaza, was a cold desert known for its picturesque beauty, and also unique vegetation, and wildlife. It is a 50 Km long drive from Kaza to Mudh (via Mikkim village), latter being the last village in Pin Valley. It takes around two hours to get there, venturing deeper into the regions of the Himalayan range. We took much more than two hours unable to stop ourselves from ogling at the splendor that unraveled itself as we went ahead. Who knew our own country had such unscathed beauty that was kept from human tyranny in the most natural ways?

From Kaza to Mudh

Velvety undulating mountain surfaces with a yellow-green sheen from glistening rays of the sun, alternated with patches of shadow from the cotton-white clouds.  The mountains changed form as we went ahead, with sharp sediments running horizontal, vertical and in loops, appearing as if they were marked by fingerprints, probably by God himself!

Passing through the Himalayas

We went alongside the Spiti river, and then the Pin river, all the way to Mudh, with little traces of human life found intermittently. Just as we entered, a rickety bridge with colourful fluttering prayer flags welcomed us, tempting me to hop on to it. I must admit, it was a bit unnerving to be swinging on interlocked pieces of wood with ropes on either side above a gushing river.

Bridge to Tailing Village

As we moved ahead, the river parted ways from the road; it went along the gorge, towards the mountains, where it belonged, as if bidding us goodbye. We were now surrounded by vibrant pea fields that added to the beauty of the landscape.

We reached our destination just in time for lunch. We halted at the most easily accessible-Tara Café, where the tables were laid out on the outside to view the beauty we were amidst. As we waited for our hot Thukpas to be prepared by the mom-daughter duo who were the chefs-cum-waiters-cum-managers, we heard the clanging noise of a school bell followed by buzzing and scattering preschoolers wrapped in their teeny warm jumpers. They were out on their lunch break, some walking back home and some waiting with their plates for their teacher to serve them food.

Pin Valley

After our meal, we went out for a short walk, all the way to the other end of the street. Hopping over small rocks to keep our feet from getting wet, we reached a small stream around the corner, which was trickling from a glacier above. We met the local kids along the way, some shying away and some eager to talk to the tourists, anticipating chocolates in return. A pattern of behaviour, probably reinforced by most of the tourists visiting the place. For the rest of the day, we walked through the fields as far as we could go, in between the local houses, clicking pictures and enjoying the moment.

Pin river flowing away from Mudh

Mudh Village

We spent more time in the café before we headed back, savouring the special Tibetan butter tea, which turned out to be salty. I wanted to experience how a homegrown must feel, sipping a cup of steaming local tea in the village of Mudh, right in the heart of the Himalayas. And isn’t that, what travelling is all about?

Do share your experiences and thoughts below if you’ve been here or are planning to visit.

Tibetan Butter Tea at the cafe

TIME OF VISIT: July 6th, 2017
1. Short nature walks.
2. Sip a cup of Tibetan butter tea or lemon-ginger tea with steaming hot Thukpa at Tara Café.
3. If you are a writer or a painter, grab a blank sheet of paper and go nuts with endless inspiration all around you.
4. Bhabha Pass Trek- Starts from Mudh, descending down Pin river, all the way to Kinnaur. It’s a 5-day long trek of moderate difficulty where you cross 15,900 feet. It is usually available from June to October as the trails are blocked by snow otherwise.
5. Pin Parvati Trek- Usually available from July to September. An 8-11 day challenging trek taking you to a height of more than 17,000 feet, starting from Mudh.
6. Do nothing.  Just be mindful.
• If you aren’t planning to stay overnight, head back at least 3 hours before sunset. If you have a driver unfamiliar with the roads, keep more time for travel.
• There are small homestays for accommodation that are available for cheap.
• Taking the bus from Kaza is also an option. The bus runs only once daily at a fixed timing, stops several times and takes 2-2.5 hours to reach. It is usually crowded, with many people standing all the way through the jolting journey.
• It was pretty cold in July, even during mid-day when the sun was shining bright, unlike other places in Spiti. Dress in layers to be comfortable.
• I didn’t see any ATMs around, carry enough cash.
• There’s no mobile network anywhere around.

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