Chitkul, a village on the right bank of the Baspa River, is the last village in the Baspa valley and the last village on the old Hindustan-Tibet trade route. It is also the last point in India where one can travel without a permit. The best way to explore Chitkul is on foot so that you can twist and turn along the paths that weave through the village.
What To See:
Fort of Chitkul
Although commonly referred to as “quila” or “fort,” it is actually a sanctuary. A three-storey tower-shaped structure, it is built in a typical Pahadi style. The base is solid stone, available locally, while the top three floors are made up of alternating layers of stone and wood. There is a small sanctuary on the top floor, which is surrounded by wooden balconies on all four sides.
The Mathi Devi temple
The Mathi Devi temple is an architectural gem. Recently restored, the old wooden roofs have been replaced by stone. As with the fort, this temple is also a combination of wood and stone and is a perfect example of the unique Kinnauri / pahadi style of architecture. Located in the middle of the village, the temple features intricate wood carvings and a distinctive roof profile.
Bering Nag Temple
Beautiful temple located about 15 minutes walk from the main market. Exemplary Kinnauri craftsmanship on display in the form of woodwork that adorns the temple. Amazingly detailed freizes and pillars with exquisite carvings etched in wood. Angels, nagas, deities, creepers, flowers, sun and the moon everything is amazing in its detailing.
The most iconic feature of Chitkul is its old, wooden houses, which represent the finest example of the vernacular style of architecture. The homes exhibit a wide variety of styles. In fact, no two homes are the same in scale or detail even though they are close together. Construction materials vary as does the basic house form. Stone and wood are the common traditional materials but new homes often use concrete. Originally, roofs were covered by wood, which was replaced by local stone and now tin sheets. Despite this multiplicity, Chitkul reflects the Kinnauri vernacular style architecture.
The dialect spoken in Chhitkul is a strange mixture of Kinnauri, Hindi, English and even Sanskrit. Legend has it that when God distributed tongues to people, all of his stock ran out by the time he reached Chhitkul, allowing himself only a concoction of every tongue imaginable. But the linguist’s explanation lies in the fact that the village was founded by the early settlers of Gardhwal, and the influences of Kinnauri dialects, traders, explorers and herb gatherers and thousands of tourists from around the world.
Best Time To Visit
You can visit Chitkul anytime between middle of March & early November. Though peak seasons for the tourists are between May & June, on the Durga Puja time (15th September-10th November) & on long weekends. Due to heavy snowfall, the roads are closed after November.
- Chhitkul is accessible by road from Chandigarh – Shimla – Rampur – Karcham – Sangla – Rakcham – Chhitkul.
- From Manali side, Chitkul is accessible from Manali – Kaza – Tabo – Nako – Kalpa – Karcham – Sangla – Rakcham – Chhitkul.