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Photographer's Note

Tucked away in the south-eastern corner of Himachal Pradesh lies the Sangla Valley, part of the region of Kinnaur. The Valley, also known as the Baspa Valley, claims to be one of the `most beautiful valley in the Himalayas’. Stretching for 95 km, the Sangla Valley is watered by the Baspa river, which meets the Satluj at Karcham, and by several smaller streams and springs. The first 18 km of the valley are fairly narrow, with cedar, chilgoza pine and bhojpatra trees covering the slopes on either side. After that, however, the valley opens up and widens into an unforgettably lovely vale, dotted with a pretty-as-a-picture villages, right up to Chitkul (will post pictures later), beyond which habitation is virtually nil.

The Sangla Valley stretches across what was once a glacier moraine but is today a gorgeous swathe of green, dwarfed by the surrounding mountains. The clear waters of the Baspa run between orchards of apple and apricot, through villages where the houses have exquisitely carved wooden doors and steeply sloped slate roofs; an area so amazingly lovely that the natives actually say that this is where the gods live.

In the Tibetan language, the word sang actually means -light- and la means 'pass'. As such, the word Sangla stands for 'pass of light', as on crossing the majestic mountains, one suddenly emerges into a valley filled with bright sunshine and breathtaking natural beauty.

Sangla at a height of 2700 metres (8,900 feet) is the largest & most important village of the Sangla Valley. Though the largest village in the valley, it is not very big but has a sizeable number of small guesthouses and hotels. The valley was closed to outsiders until 1989, and this is one of the reasons for it remaining untouched by the intrusions of the tourism industry till about 5 years back, when a tourism explosion happened thanks to my fellow kins…Bengalis! The small village of Sangla has lost its charm with numerous guesthouse & hotel constructions mushrooming almost everywhere.

Found this niche, away from the new hotels & guest houses, with the typical stone & wood houses of the region, stacked up fuel wood - provisioning for the winter dwarfed by the surrounding mountains in the BG.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7733 W: 324 N: 15516] (54703)
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