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Why you should be going there - Urgos

I was sold on Chitkul more than two years back. And I have tried to sell it ever since. To whoever has 4 days or more, and is willing to travel. I, in all my sincerity, urge them to fit in another one and half hours into their bone-jangling 10-hour journey time starting from Shimla. 90% gave me the do-you-even-know-what-makes-a-holiday-look and stopped at Shimla. And well, went to Chail and Kufri. Then there were a few who saw the pictures and got tempted. But, ten-hours, they said, were more than enough and got off at Sangla.


But for me, Chitkul was calling. The underlying reason was that it was the last village on that route. Last villages are like final frontiers. They have their own charm, as do the first ones, tallest, fastest, highest … and so on.


In our travels, we always try to reach where the road ends. And we did so, this time as well.


The road in subject here starts in Manali, and goes through the Rohtang pass. This is where the families, couples and groups of friends from all over India stall their cars, jump out into their hired fur coats and gum boots to frolic on brown coloured snow that is not even snow-ballable.


A scattered few switch to neutral gear and gravitate down the mountain, on the other side, on their way to Ladakh.


But Ladakh wasn’t on our agenda; it was Lahaul. Lahaul is considerably unexplored, Keylong being the only well-known district, owing to the fact that it falls on the Manali-Leh highway. Our predetermined plan took us to a couple of monasteries around Keylong (Kardong and Billing), and to Udaipur, uptill Tindi village (the last village of Lahaul on this road). And a river gone beserk did not take us to Purthi and Killar, which fall futher up on the road beyond Tindi instead we landed  in the village of Urgos, in Miyar valley, which is at the end of the road that turns east right before Udaipur.

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Urgos was also calling, like chitkul had. For the same reason, and also cause secretly I was considering it to be a village straight out of Lord of the Rings, thanks to its mysterious sounding name. Not to mention, according to my mother, “we would find khargosh in urgos”.


So we kept a few rabbits and some elves on the radar, and continued on this superbly coal-tarred road. True to my observation of roads throughout Lahaul, that every new detour starts off like silk, and turns to jute, even for this, we were led from bad to worse, to driving on the river bed(with rocks and boulders). The views were spectacular. A number of villages fall en route, each with a great setting: Shakoli, Chimret, Karpat, Tingrat, and finally Urgos. At tingrat, the only village which boasts of a hotel, we were made to fill in details at the check post, and a solitary string is what stops you from driving by without stopping. No one breaks any rules here. That’s for sure.


A newly built bridge on a river-tributary is what separates Tingrat from Urgos, and owing to that, buses can ply till the last village, Urgos. So could we.


Reaching there, I was torn between my love for Chitkul and an imminent likeness towards Urgos. Pretty and identical in their settings, of green forests in the vicinity, and pointy snowed in peaks in the distance and a river cutting through the valley. These were the last villages, but the scope doesn’t end with that. There are fabulous, even if tough.

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