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Chitkul village - the last village of India on the Indo-Tibet border has made its name as one of the most offbeat and mesmerising hill stations in India. Chitkul is located in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, India. Chitkul village is a popular stop on the way for people travelling to Spiti Valley. Delhi to Chitkul is a distance of 586 km, making it a favourable destination for those looking for a quick getaway to the mountains as well as wanting to explore an offbeat location in Himachal Pradesh.
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A Travel Guide to Chitkul Village in Himachal Pradesh
This travel guide to Chitkul village contains all the relevant information that you need to plan your trip from Delhi to Chitkul or from Delhi to Kinnaur via Chitkul. Moreover, even if you’re coming from any other location in India, there are detailed instructions on how to reach Chitkul. Additionally, I’ve mentioned a comprehensive breakdown of the Chitkul weather during different months and mentioned the best times to visit Chitkul. This is in addition to the sights to see in Chitkul and lots more info on Chitkul village.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Road from Delhi to Chitkul - Route and Road Conditions
- How to Reach Chitkul
- Nearest Airport to Chitkul
- Nearest Railway Station to Chitkul
- Shimla to Chitkul by Road
- Delhi to Chitkul
- Reckong Peo to Chitkul
- Best Time to Visit Chitkul
- Chitkul Weather
- Chitkul Trip Cost - How to Make a Budget Trip to Chitkul
- Where to Stay in Chitkul
- Things to do in Chitkul
- Where to Eat in Chitkul
- Clothes to Pack for Chitkul
- Network Connectivity in Chitkul
- ATMs and Petrol Pumps in Chitkul
- Itineraries for a Trip to Chitkul Village
- Itinerary for a Delhi to Chitkul Trip
- Itinerary for a Kinnaur Valley Trip
- Itinerary for a Spiti Valley Trip
- Did you Enjoy this Travel Guide to Chitkul Village, Himachal Pradesh?
Road from Delhi to Chitkul - Route and Road Conditions
Delhi - Chandigarh - Shimla - Rampur - Jeori - Tapri - Karcham - Sangla - Raksham - Chitkul
The route to be followed while going from Delhi to Chitkul is mentioned above. In case you’re driving this distance yourself, you need to be well-aware of the road conditions between Delhi and Chitkul. While the road from Delhi to Shimla is a nice stretch, it changes while going from Shimla towards Kinnaur. The road to Kinnaur from Shimla is treacherous, very narrow at parts and landslides are common at some stretches.
Moreover, after Karcham, the road condition gets even worse. The road to Chitkul from Karcham onward is an uphill climb with steep bends and extremely narrow roads. Believe me when I tell you that this will be the scariest drive of your life. You need to be very careful and cautious while you’re on this road.
How to Reach Chitkul
Nearest Airport to Chitkul
Shimla airport is the nearest airport to Chitkul. This airport is roughly 247 km from Chitkul. Since the Shimla airport is a really small one, there are very few flights to and from Shimla. Thus you can even reach Chandigarh airport which lies 350 km from Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh.
Nearest Railway Station to Chitkul
Once again, Shimla is the nearest railway station to Chitkul. In fact, to add something extra to your Chitkul trip, take the Kalka-Shimla toy train which is known for the breathtaking views along the way. From Shimla, you will have to proceed to Chitkul by road.
Shimla to Chitkul By Road
Shimla to Chitkul is a distance of roughly 243 km that has to be covered by road. You have the option or either taking a taxi or an HRTC bus from Shimla to Chitkul.
Hiring a taxi can cost anywhere between INR 2500 to INR 3500 per day. It’s the best way to reach Chitkul if you’re looking for comfort and can afford these prices.
On the other hand, the buses are also a safe and economical way to reach Chitkul. You can either take a bus to Reckong Peo (the administrative capital of Kinnaur district) or to Sangla, which is closer to Chitkul. From either of these two destinations, you will find onward buses to Chitkul. Buses to Reckong Peo and Sangla are available early in the morning from 4 am onward. It’s best to take a bus as early as possible because it’s a long journey and you might get stuck due to bad road conditions, accidents or landslides.
Delhi to Chitkul
There are multiple options for you while going from Delhi to Chitkul. Firstly, reach Shimla by air/ train or road. From Shimla, go onward to Reckong Peo like I did. I spent a night in Kalpa (which is half an hour from Reckong Peo) then catch a bus to Shimla the next day.
Your second option is to take a bus to Reckong Peo from Shimla but get down at Karcham, from where a road diverges towards Sangla and Chitkul. You will find buses from Karcham to Chitkul (explained below) or you can even hitchhike.
Thirdly, you can even find a direct bus from Shimla to Sangla (which is only twice a day last I checked). Once you reach Sangla, Chitkul is a short distance away so you can hitchhike or find buses from Sangla to Chitkul (explained below).
Reckong Peo to Chitkul
One can very easily go from Reckong Peo to Chitkul. There are 3 buses from Reckong Peo to Chitkul - at 9.30 am, 12 pm and 4 pm. The route followed is Reckong Peo - Karcham - Sangla - Raksham - Chitkul.
Thus even while coming from Shimla, if you get down at Karcham, you can catch this bus going towards Chitkul. The journey from Reckong Peo to Chitkul by bus takes approximately 3 hours. All buses going to Chitkul from Reckong Peo stop at Karcham and Sangla on the way.
Best Time to Visit Chitkul
Chitkul village is a favorable destination all year round. People go there in winters to play in the snow and visit Chitkul when there are very few crowds. On the other hand, summer is the most popular tourist season when a lot of people travel here, especially from Delhi to Chitkul to escape the harsh Delhi heat. Typically, avoid going there in the monsoon season because landslides are common at that time, which blocks roads and causes havoc.
Chitkul in March to June: Summer in Chitkul
The spring-summer months from March to June are the best time of the year to visit Chitkul. Usually, people start making a trip to Chitkul as soon as the snow melts, which happens in March, depending on the weather conditions that year. The summer months of May and June are a popular time. This is when most hotels and homestays will be booked out so you need to plan your trip in advance, in order to beat the crowds.
Chitkul in July to August: Monsoon in Chitkul
Chitkul experiences the monsoon showers from July to August, much like other parts of Himachal Pradesh. While there’s no chance of flooding in Chitkul, other parts of Himachal often get flooded, causing disruption in the state. Moreover, there are frequent landslides during this season. Thus it’s best to avoid visiting Chitkul during this season.
Chitkul in September to November: Shoulder Season in Chitkul
The shoulder months from September to November are the best time to visit Chitkul, as per my personal experience. During this time, the weather is just right - neither is it hot or rainy nor is it too cold. Secondly, there are lesser number of visitors making a Chitkul trip during this time compared to summer, when there are too many people. That being said, there are still many travellers for you to meet along the way.
Chitkul in December to February: Winters in Chitkul
Chitkul experiences winter from December to February. Some people choose to make a Chitkul trip during this time to experience snow and avoid the crowds. Furthermore, those who are making a trip to Spiti Valley during winter for snow leopard sightings often drop by Chitkul. You need to keep track of the road conditions and closures when travelling to Chitkul in December to February.
Chitkul Trip Cost - How to Make a Budget Trip to Chitkul
While planning a budget trip to Chitkul, there are 3 areas where you need to mind the cost - travel, accommodation and food. First, you can cut down the cost of travel by avoiding taxis and taking the HTDC buses or by hitchhiking. Secondly, coming to accommodation, staying in hostels and home stays will cut down a lot of your costs. Thirdly, food in Himachal is anyways super inexpensive. You won’t have to cut any costs there. Thus the major chunk of your Chitkul trip cost depends on the mode of travel and the accommodation that you choose.
Where to Stay in Chitkul
Zostel, the famous chain of backpacker hostels in India opened up one branch in Chitkul called Zostel Chitkul. The Zostel in Chitkul is located on one end of Chitkul village, overlooking meadows, streams and mountains. The idyllic location along with the choice of dorms, private rooms and tents makes Zostel a top choice among places to stay in Chitkul.
Budget Hotels and Homestays in Chitkul
Chitkul village, being a tiny place, doesn’t have big fancy hotels or resorts. Most hotels are budget hotels in Chitkul that are family-owned establishments. Thus budget hotels and homestays in Chitkul are synonymous with each other. You can find rooms between INR 500 - INR 1000 depending on the season and demand. Moreover, there are a few riverside camps in Chitkul as well, but the rates are higher than home stays, for obvious reasons.
Things to do in Chitkul - Chitkul Sightseeing
Hike to the other side of the Baspa river
View from the other side of the Baspa river in Chitkul
Chitkul village lies on one bank of the ferocious Baspa river. Most tourists that travel to Chitkul only go down to the river on one side. What most people aren’t aware of, is the fact that the other side of the river is uninhabited, has beautiful walking trails, meadows and is a lot greener than the side which houses Chitkul village. The way to reach the other side is to go to Hindustan ka Akhri dhaba restaurant. There’s a small trail to the right of the restaurant which goes down to the bridge. Cross the bridge and walk along the river. There are no humans to be found on this side of the river. Moreover, there are two walking tails - one along the river and a parallel one higher up that feels like you've been transported to Switzerland.
Walk till the Indo-Tiber border
Even though Chitkul is called the last village of India on the Indo-Tibet border, in fact, the border is actually quite a few kilometers away. Visitors are allowed to walk up to the first checkpost which lies approximately 3 kilometers from Chitkul. The road leading up there has nice views and you’re also likely to meet Indian soldiers along the way to strike up a conversation. This is one of the pleasant things to do in Chitkul.
Explore the temples
There isn’t a long list of things to do in Chitkul apart from a few small hikes nearby. People usually travel to Chitkul just to relax, detox and unwind. Thus some of the places to visit in Chitkul are actually just the local sightseeing spots such as the temples. Chitkul has a few temples that are constructed in the typical Kinnauri style of architecture. These are worth checking out while you are in Chitkul.
Where to Eat in Chitkul
There is one very famous restaurant in Chitkul village called Hindustan ka Akhri Dhaba (the last eatery of India). This dhaba is located right at the start of the village on a cliff overlooking the Baspa river and the lush mountains ahead. The family owned restaurant offers simple meals like daal (lentils), rice, vegetable or chicken curry and a simple salad. Apart from this restaurant, there are a few more places to eat in Chitkul but none aren't as great as the inexpensive yet delicious meals at Hindustan ka Akhri Dhaba.
Clothes to Pack for Chitkul
The kind of clothes to pack for Chitkul largely depend on the season during which you visit Chitkul. During winters, the entire village is covered in snow. Thus you will need multiple woollen layers, inner thermals, snow boots and something to cover your ears. On the other hand, during summers, regular jeans, trousers and t-shirts will work just fine. If you make a Chitkul trip during the shoulder season from September to October, you will need one sweater, a jacket, warm socks and shoes as it can get cold in the evenings.
Network Connectivity in Chitkul
All throughout Kinnaur valley and Spiti valley, BSNL is the best sim card to use in terms of network connectivity. That being said, there is next to zero network connectivity in Chitkul. Only BSNL works here, that too occasionally and only for calling and sending a regular text message. As you start moving back from Chitkul to Sangla, you will find network again in a few kilometres. Additionally, the last time I visited Chitkul (in September 2019), there were talks about a new Jio tower that’s coming up. So network in Chitkul is set to improve soon enough.
ATMs and Petrol Pumps in Chitkul
While planning a Chitkul trip, it’s important to note that apart from not having any network connectivity, Chitkul also does not have any ATM machines or petrol pumps. The nearest ATM to Chitkul is at Reckong Peo, the district headquarters of Kinnaur district, which lies roughly 64 km away. Similarly, the nearest petrol pump to Chitkul is also at Reckong Peo. In fact, all throughout Kinnaur district, you will find major amenities at Reckong Peo itself and nowhere else. Thus carry sufficient cash with you (both large and small notes) while travelling to Chitkul village. If you’re coming from Delhi to Chitkul, withdraw your cash from a major city like Delhi, Chandigarh or Shimla itself, in case there’s an issue with the ATMs at Reckong Peo.
Itineraries for a Trip to Chitkul Village, Himachal Pradesh
Itinerary for a Delhi to Chitkul Trip
Day 0: Leave from Delhi
Take an overnight bus from Delhi to Shimla. There are a number of HTDC as well as private buses from Delhi to Shimla. The journey is short, the roads are in good condition and depending on when you leave, you can watch the sunrise at Shimla.
Day 1: Sightseeing in Shimla
Start a misty morning in Shimla hill station. The bus will drop you off at the new bus stand. Here you can find a hotel right near the bus stand (for convenience), freshen up then go sightseeing in Shimla. Since Shimla is a small hill station, you can cover all the sightseeing spots within a few hours. Read my post on the places to visit in Shimla to know everything about this hill station - right from travel info, stay to food with the best views.
In case you do not want to stay over at Shimla, take a bus on the same morning to Reckong Peo.
Day 2: Shimla - Reckong Peo - Kalpa
Take an early morning bus from Shimla to Reckong Peo. The journey takes 7-8 hours by bus, with stops for meals and snacks along the way. Thus it's advisable to start as early in the morning as possible (I started at 4 am).
Once you reach Reckong Peo, take another local bus to Kalpa, which lies 5 km uphill from Reckong Peo. After reaching Kalpa, I suggest taking the stairs from the centre of the village to go to the upper road. Take a hotel on this road, from where you will get a birds eye view of Kalpa village. Relax, walk around and do nothing at all in Kalpa.
Day 3: Reach Chitkul
There are buses every hour from Kalpa to Reckong Peo. Reach Peo in the morning to catch the 9.30 am bus from Reckong Peo to Chitkul. The 3-hour journey will take you through Sangla to Chitkul. In case you happen to miss that bus, there's another bus from Peo to Chitkul at 12.30 pm.
Day 4: Chitkul Sightseeing
Spend a whole day hiking in and around Chitkul, listening to the sounds of the mighty Baspa river and meeting fellow travellers. You can do small treks, hikes and lots of photography in Chitkul.
Day 5: Return Back
Start your journey back by taking the 6.30 am bus from Chitkul to Reckong Peo. From Peo, you’ll find buses to Shimla or Delhi. These buses get booked out fast so it's advisable to buy a ticket in advance from the Reckong Peo bus stand itself.
Itinerary for a Kinnaur Valley Trip
Kalpa, Kinnaur Valley
I made my trip to Chitkul village by going from Delhi to Chitkul using the itinerary I’ve mentioned above. In addition to that, I stopped at Sangla and Raksham along the way for one night each. If you want to cover the whole of Kinnaur valley properly, then I suggest taking a look at my Kinnaur Valley itinerary blog post. I’ve detailed my route, itinerary, hotels, food and travel in this guide to Kinnaur Valley.
Itinerary for a Spiti Valley Trip
Kee Monastery, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
The most popular reason why people visit Chitkul is because it’s a great place to detox before heading to or after coming back from the dusty and difficult Spiti Valley. As mentioned earlier, I visited all of Kinnaur Valley, including Chitkul then headed to Spiti Valley. But a lot of travellers choose to visit Spiti Valley and only include Chitkul or Kalpa in Kinnaur while coming back from Spiti or while going to Spiti. If that’s what you plan on doing as well then take a look at my Spiti Valley itinerary for 8 days. Depending on your route, stop at Chitkul on your way there.