Sangla Valley : Surrendering To The Himalayan Magic

Early next morning, the rays of sun unveiled the mountain peaks with scanty snow, as we started our journey to Sangla Valley. We retreated downhill from Sarahan back to NH 22 and stopped at the first dhaba we saw for hot breakfast, next to the Satluj riverbed. The early morning sun was on the opposite side of the river, leaving us shivering in the shadowy part with morning chills. We were now at around 2300 metres, and could see sharp drops below, as we drove on the roads built by thinly slicing the rocky mountains. From a distance the roads looked like thin ribbons, and unbelievable that we were actually driving past them without a boulder or a rock falling on our head. We stopped for a brief ‘soaking the sun break’ and interestingly spotted Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata), basking in the sun too, and heavily camouflaged.

Village Gate Tibetan Style
Beautiful welcome gates to local villages…
Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata),
Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata),
Tibetan Prayer Flags
Tibetan Prayer Flags on the road
Sangla Valley Road
Winding roads like these took us to the Baspa River Valley

Without much breaks, we reached Sangla Valley just a little after noon time. The valley was dotted with autumn yellows and dried up greens, heralding the winters. We arrived at Apple Orchard Camps, and were overjoyed to see Green apple trees all round us. We were greeted with a glass of fresh apple juice and light vegetarian lunch. We then decided to take a walk by the river bed. As the tiny trail that we followed touched the banks of Baspa river, we saw piles of smashed stones, and floating dust as a dam was under construction, another disturbing site of human interference. We decided to walk away and into the forests. As we neared wilderness, we were arrested by the beauty of the white river bed and pristine Baspa flowing in turquoise blue.

green apples
There were green apples everywhere.

Apple Orchard Camp
Our Apple Orchard Camps were peaceful and cozy. We were greeted with fresh Apple Juice.
Baspa River
The river flows with pristine waters, fresh from the glaciers above…

The forests ahead was enticing us. We walked through the gallery of poplars and pine trees painted in hues of pale yellow, deep orange and dusted reds, and huge sized steep rocks, thats ere precarious to climb. In the shadow of the mountains we heard echo of various chirping birds.

Bar-Tailed Treecreeper (Certhia himalayana)
Spot the Bar-Tailed Treecreeper (Certhia himalayana)…
Spot Winged Tit (Parus melanolophus)
A Spot Winged Tit (Parus melanolophus) gave me ample photo opportunities.
Green Backed Tit (Parus monticolus)
We were also lucky to spot a Green Backed Tit (Parus monticolus). Its amazing what a small forest patch can support.

We finally climbed up a certain height to look down at the river valley and sat in the quiet, catching our breath. On the way back we were greeted by a herd of very friendly mountain goats and sheep who huddled all round us and walked us through a cute Himalayan village. The night in the caps was cold, though we could run heaters for a small while, with the instruction of not letting them overnight, to avoid any accidents.

Seabuckthorn or Hippophae berries. These are juicy and delicious, but being thorny, difficult to harvest. In Kaza we had tea made of dried Seabuckthorn berries.
Baspa River
River Baspa in full flow in Sangla Valley.
Baspa River Sangla Valley
The banks of the Baspa River are flanked by white sandy beaches.
The gorgeous landscape spread
The gorgeous landscape spread of Sangla Valley
Sangla Valley Baspa River
Taking a breather. At Sangla valley, roughly 2700 meters above sea level, one can already start feeling the effects of a thinning air.
Sangla Valley
Beautiful sands, pines and peaks. Sangla Valley is too beautiful to be covered in a short day.
Sangla Valley Pine forest.
Some of the alpine trees have started losing their chlorophyll to become yellow. Winters are fast approaching.
Baspa River
Gorgeous long treks by the Baspa River are dream-like…
Sangla Valley guide.
Yodhvir, our local guide, took us into the forests adjoining the river.
Baspa River Banks
Cant get enough of these views…
Pine cone Sangla valley
What looks like the cone of the Chir Pine (Pinus roxburghii).
River Baspa
The river flows with pristine waters, fresh from the glaciers above…
Baspa River
The river is in full force, and probably has more water than usual. One can see the pines getting submerged. Warming climates melting glaciers faster?
Poplars in Sangla Valley
Love these trees which have turned yellow. Probaly Poplars. These trees have a very wide genetic diversity.
Bar-Tailed Treecreeper (Certhia himalayana)
Bar-Tailed Treecreeper (Certhia himalayana). This small (12cm) bird is so fidgety I spent hours trying to get a good shot.
Tree stump deforestation.
Sadly a lot of the Himalayan trees are being cut down for its wood and fuel. I saw cut tree stumps everywhere.
fungus in sangla valley
Some beautiful fungus on old trees.
Mountains and Poplars
Ah! These poplars and those peaks…
Pine cone.
Another pine cone.
Barren peaks
These far away rocky peaks were so inviting for a trek, but we just didn’t have enough time.
Snow Covered Peaks.
It was getting dark and cold. We had to head back, but one last look at the snow filled mountains.
Still trying to identify this warbler.
pine sap
Sap from the pine trees…
Sangla Valley Forest
Surrounded by Poplars and other alpine trees, the forests in Sangla Valley make for a serene and pretty picture.
River Baspa in Sangla Valley
The beautiful river Baspa meanders below as the deodars rise above…
shepherd with sheep in Sangla Valley
On the way back we met these shepherd family with lovely woolly goats…
Sangla Valley village
These narrow village roads has traffic of another kind…
Flowers in Sangla Valley.
Beautiful flowers in a village house.
Sangla Valley Param and Shikha
On the walk back we were followed and soon overtaken by these Himalayan woolly goats and sheep.
Green Apples Drying...
Green Apples cut and left out to dry. We asked what are the dried apples used for and were told they are for the cows and goats…
Village Door in Sangla Valley
A typical village door in Sangla Valley…

Read the first part of the road trip here : Mumbai to Spiti Road trip.

Our first stop in Himachal was Sarahan, a sleepy like beautiful town.

[box type=”success” width=”100%” ]How to Reach Sangla Valley : Sangla Valley is roughly 313 km from Chandigarh. Road is the only way to go, and you go via Narkanda and Jeori. There are many public buses that ply this route.

Where To Stay : We stayed at the Apple Orchard Camps and Farms. They are nice and clean and the staff very warm. The food is served in a central camp, like a mess, and its delicious. You could also opt for Banjara Camps nearby, but they are more expensive. There are many lovely home stays and other Apple Orchard stays here.

When to visit : Though they say summers are the best time, we in the end of October – Early November and loved it. Each season will have its own charm.

What To Do : Sangla is a great places for couples trips. Go for walks next to the river and into the forests. Spend time with the villagers understanding their lives. Sit and read a book. Go bird watching. On a clear night, look for the Milky Way Galaxy.


This post is part of our Mumbai to Spiti By Road Trip. Other posts part of this trip are Sarahan, Sangla Valley, Sangla to Nako – Kaza, Kaza – Key, Kibber, Langza.

23 thoughts on “Sangla Valley : Surrendering To The Himalayan Magic”

  1. I felt so relaxed looking at your photos. Such is luxury for an urban dweller like me. I love the fact that this place seems to be relatively untouched by mass tourism, meaning only those who really appreciate the nature are willing to go this far. Thanks for posting this!


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