Rupin Valley Kinnaur

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Resembling Mars topography, the beautiful expanse of Rupin Valley under snow-covered Himalayan peaks. This is on the way to Raksham.

Road to Kinnaur enchantment, the Rupin way. Not least bit jammed in late-autumn.

Rugged grandeur in the bare contrasts of earth and stone pinnacles.

Chitkul, last village on the Indo-Tibet border. Tower dwellings often doubled as observation towers in the days of yore, marking royal palaces in Himachal Pradesh. Its mountain territory often braved invasions from the North.

Intricately carved door of a typical little temple shrine.

The joys of telecommunications, in the last border village.

Making hay when the sun shines’. Abundant free solar power, for use in food processing the traditional way. Kinnauri woman spreading grain for drying on the extended multipurpose roof top. There will not be many more such days of clear skies once the winter has truly set in. Light snowfall had begun on the first night of our stay in the region.

Three generations of Kinnauris, readying for the ceaseless hard grind of work.

On the very edge. The Great Hindustani Dhaba proudly asserts its ubiquitous presence in the last village on the Greater Himalayan border with Tibet.

And probably, the last gracious Guest House, and the last temple too in the back, making its appearance on the last fence.

Rakchham village, located near the source of the River Baspa, tributary of Sutluj. A charming habitation, with a vast meadow housing little shrines of elemental and animistic deities – adorned with horn and bone – used as grazing ground for big herds of cattle, including gentle monsters with long tails, the Yak. When we arrived in the village, a large group of beautifully clad married women of varying ages had assembled from all over the region for somebody’s pre-nuptial sacred ceremonies, singing along the way to a temple at the back of the village. Also, the mountain in the background was utterly bare when we arrived in the evening, and by the next morning, it bore evidence of a fine dusting of snow.

Baspa River, right at the back of Rupin View Guest House, Rakchham.

Kullu or Kinnaur, Himachulis all, Guest House owner, cook, trekking guide and driver, posing together for a happy picture. Kitchen house tent at the back! And truly delicious meals to fight altitude sickness with high calories and proteins, topped with hot chocolate at night! Also, hot water bags in bed each night, to ward off the harsh nighttime chill.

Rakchham, total population 735. Himachulis of different persuasions assembled together on the day of departure, with a great Chinese vulture sans boundaries hovering in the skies to wish us good luck on the return journey.

Colourful ceiling of the traditional entrance way to Batseri village, with an elaborate painted Buddhist mandala.

Half Buddhist zodiac painted on either wall of the entranceway, along with a painting of tantric deity, Vairochana Padmasambhava, on this one.

Awesome wooden sculptured temple of Badrinarayan in Batseri village, Rupin Valley. It is a relatively new structure, amazing in the finely crafted artistic carvings, with a mélange of the Chinese dragon, Hindu symbols, Gods, saints and last but not the least, Khajuraho-style ‘sexo-yogic postures’, all together with enthusiastic support of local devotees!

A beautiful temple, with intricate execution of earthquake-proof architecture promoting rhythmic motion of stone and wood in the event of seismic motion.

Close up of modern day craftsmanship thriving in Kinnaur, as everywhere else in HP. The overall impact of the beautiful temple environs on the viewer is indescribable. The work on the temple was not yet finished, and we could observe some of the workmen engaged in inspiring master craftsmanship.

Another close up view of the carved decorative figures mounted on walls of the Badrinarayan temple in Batseri, Rupin Valley, which is actually a part of the Kalpa mandal in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh.