The season ‘Fall’ is always related to the creation of a barren earth. Yet, there is one place among the Himalayan hills, which is most fertile around the time of the fall. The color of Autumn in the small Himalayan hamlet Kalpa is red, green and gold, the color of its giant-sized apples. This small Himalayan village is located in the Kinnaur- Kailash range, which is believed to be the winter gateway of Lord Shiva. Apart from the mythological connection, this village is also preserving its unique tradition and cultural blend, which can be felt not only through eyes but also with the ears.
"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons"-- Jim Bishop
Reaching Kalpa Ascending the Himalaya
The main gateway of the village Kalpa is the town Simla. Fall is the time of various festivals or pre-festival holidays in India. So, the city Simla was crowded, lively and full of life during that time. Expecting the crowd to lessen in the way of Kalpa, we started our journey towards this lesser-known destination. The distance between Simla to Kalpa is around 225 km, which cannot be covered in a day due to the tough climb through the Himalayan range. So, we decided to spend a night in Sarahan. After the journey of another day through the hills, we reached to the Reckong-Peo, the district headquarter, around the late afternoon. The Reckong-Peo was a crowded town, especially around the market area. Getting down from the car, we first had the glimpse of the elusive peaks of Kinnaur Kailash hills. In the late afternoon, the descending rays of the pre-setting sun were creating a unique effect. Our destination Kalpa is famous for providing a great view of these Kinnaur Kailash peaks.
The Mystic Peaks of Kinnaur Kailash and a Related Story
The term Kailash is related to Lord Shiva intimately. The sacred ‘Mount Kailash’ is presumed to be the home of Lord Shiva, which is located in Tibet. The Kinnaur Kailash range located in the Himachal Pradesh of India is rather related to the romantic history of Lord Shiva and his wife Goddess Parvati. Near the peak of the Kinnaur Kailash, there is a natural pond, which is believed to be created by none other than Goddess Parvati. In the bank of this pond, Goddess Parvati had worshipped for a long time to achieve the love of her life, Lord Shiva. Thus, it is the very place where Lord Shiva had first met with his wife. This pond is even named after the Goddess Parvati. It is also believed that every winter Lord Shiva comes back to this place and have a gathering with the rest of the Gods and Goddesses. Although the divinity of this place rests in just the beliefs, the beauty of this place is set to create the ambiance to back up this romantic myth.
Kalpa, the Land of Mystery, Music and Apple Orchards
With the rays of setting sun reflecting in the mystic peaks in the background, we started our journey from the Reckong-Peo. Just a half an hour climb had taken us uphill, where the hotels of village Kalpa was located. All the hotels of this village were located among the apple orchards, on the stepping of hills. When we reached the hotel, there were a large group of Kinnaur women sitting on the road just outside of our hotel. After a while, they had started singing. Curious about them, as I was about to get on the road, the hotel staffs informed me that, the women were actually mourning. They were following the rituals after the death of their near and dear one, who might have decreased recently. Not wanting to cause any disrupt, I silently stand there for a long time, listening to the earthy tune of the mystic land I was visiting.
After coming back to the earth, I felt chilled suddenly. The temperature had dropped after the sundown, so it was time to find the solace of a room. To get access to our room, we had to climb down, as the whole building was built on the slope of the hill. From every room and balcony, we were to get the glimpse of the Kinnaur Kailash peaks, we were assured by the hotel manager. While walking through the balcony to reach our room, I suddenly felt the music of this land hadn’t left us. On the village below, the rhythm of celebration was still going on. The beat was different from the song of mourning, yet somehow it was complementing the mystic atmosphere.
The night was chilly, yet I could carry on sleeping late, as the Kinnaur Kailash peaks don’t offer the glimpse of rising the sun. Instead, the almost early morning expedition took me through the apple orchards, where the glimpse of the large red-green-golden apples was waiting for us. The trees of the apples were loaded with the apples, even the leaves of some of the tree were not visible for the density of the fruit. The sizes of these apples were very unusual, which could be described easily as the giant-sized apples.
Suicide Point and Roghi Village
Located just 7 km away from the Kalpa town, the suicide point was a steep point along the road which had given us chills. The barren hill was just hanging in the pathway of the hills, which was quite a dreadful place to cross over, even in a safe car. The Roghi Village was located just beyond the suicide point, which also had a number of apple orchards, along with some beautiful flower plants. After a certain place, the vehicles couldn’t enter the village. So, we had to take a walk to enjoy the earthy beauty of the Roghi Village.
A Trip Through the Village Kalpa
The main village of Kalpa was located a bit lower than the place where the hotels are based. To reach in the main village, one has to climb down to 150 stairs. So, after gathering all the energy, we started our journey to the main village of Kalpa after the lunch. The music from the last night continued throughout the day, except for some minor intervals. I was very interested in finding the source. The main village was apparently small, and we were welcomed by the smiling people wearing the traditional attire. The main attraction of the traditional dress was definitely the colorful headdress, with the leaves or flower attached, worn by both men and women. Walking towards the source of music, we reached to the spot where the music was accompanied by the traditional dance of the village, in the honor of the Lord Bishnu. The group dance was performed by the local men and women, where they moved in a circle holding hands in a cris-cross manner, circling the deities of the Gods Shri Badri Narayan Ji and Shri Vishnu Narayan Ji. The beat of the music was symbolizing the earthy feeling, whereas the dance with the surrounding view of the hills had kept me transfixed for a long time.
After enjoying the dance for a long time, we moved towards the other attractions of the village, the Narayan-Nagini temple and Hu-Bu-Lan-Kar monastery. The monastery and the temple shared the same boundary, with the temple located behind the monastery. The architecture of the Hindu temple resembles the Tibetan architecture, as well as the deities of the Hindu gods, were different in this region than the rest of the world.
We were warned by the manager of the hotel to finish our trip before the sundown, as we couldn’t afford to miss the sunset beyond the Kinnaur Kailash peaks. So, after climbing 150 stairs in a breath, we reached our hotel at just-in-time. This sunset was one of the best things the village Kalpa could offer— the proud declaration of the manager got justified as we enjoyed the view of setting sun beyond the peaks from our balcony, sipping the afternoon tea. The sunset had brought a justified closer to our extraordinary journey through the village Kalpa, with the promise of bringing another new chapter to a new destination.