Earlier this year, I made a hectic sprint to Kinnaur to scrutinize a route to the Indo-Tibetan border in preparation for a longer, more arduous trip later. Tired and weary, after three days of bouncing along non-existent roads, over roaring waterfalls, and through fearsome khuds carved out by an angry Sutlej, a friend and I stopped for a much-needed cup of tea at the Jangi rest house.
Strikingly beautiful mountain ranges surrounded us; tiny villages nestled cosily into their angular folds. One such hamlet faced us directly across the Sutlej, Moorang: the name indicating a place where three khuds meet. Interestingly, it was also the place where the friend accompanying me had spent some of his early childhood. He tried pointing out familiar landmarks from afar but to me each distant dot resembled another.
The only distinct feature was a mud structure crowning a rocky hilltop in the foreground. Reaching towards the sky, it was rectangular in shape and of indeterminate architectural style and age. Silhouetted against snowy peaks and the sky, it had me intrigued. My friend, an expert on the region in his own right, explained that it was said to be a fort dating back to the Pandavas.
It certainly looked antediluvian. But then it is common practice amongst locals to connect all things ancient to the Mahabharat. Including the practice of polyandry, still prevalent amongst the tribal women of Kinnaur, who believe the system was bestowed sanctity by the polyandrous Draupadi. She and her husbands reportedly stayed here during their exile.
On a sudden whim, we decided to drive across to Moorang, one of us goaded by nostalgia and the other sheer curiosity. It entailed driving through an eerie stretch called Kiran khud: cold, stony, hostile with nary a sign of habitation and strangely silent. Save for the echoes of the Sutlej furiously slamming rocky sides many hundred feet below us as we raced against daylight.
Every scary curve had me sending up prayers to the plethora of gods overseeing the wellbeing of Himachali folk. They were partly answered. We arrived safely but too late to walk up to the fort for a peek inside. I did, however, get a chance to capture a closer glimpse of the fort even as swiftly fading light played spoilsport.
PS: The real reason we got delayed getting there? My childish desire to take goofy pictures in a sunny field of wild cumin!
Great reading about one of my favorite places in Himachal. Remember going there on a bike trip with a friend many, many years ago. At that time one had to get a pass to enter Kinnaur. I can never forget the stunning yellow mustard fields in full bloom, countered with breathtaking fields of the soft pink of ogla (I think that’s what they call it, if memory serves). Still have some great slides from that trip. Oh, and that spectacular view of the mountains from the resthouse in Kalpa.
It was great being there. Has to count as one of my favourite destinations. Spectacular landscapes galore, especially Kalpa on a full-moon night…
Puneet, I suddenly notice you have hair in which you can flaunt mustard flowers! Normally, I only notice only what’s under it, your wonderful head, and all the novel ways it describes things, people and places. 🙂
Jagpreet, for what it’s worth, I’m quite proud of my hair as well… 😀
The sunny picture descibes you and your blog better than the earlier one.
lovely pictures and you are having such a good time , next time i plan a trip i will need a GURU’s advice and YOU are the ONE 🙂
Do remember that with a guru comes guru dakshina 😉
good one 🙂
Wow……Did u ultimately visit the Fort?……And what about the longer trip which you mentioned in the first para…..I wish I could join…
Generally March is my month for visiting Kinnaur….
All strength to your wonderful travels, great write ups and photos…(I may be slow in reading these but I enjoy every word of what you write…)
No, am afraid not. As the longer trip (which happened in June 2010 incidentally) was time bound and the fort was off our intended route. I appreciate your kind wishes and feedback. It’s very encouraging 🙂