It is a gorgeous high altitude village located super close to the Indo-China border in the Trans-Himalayan region of Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh. It is famous for its apples, apricots, yaks, horses and a 11th century monastery. I am talking about the rustic Himalayan gem called Nako that is situated at the end of Kinnaur and at the start of Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh.
Located at an altitude of 11,893 feet and under the backdrop of the mighty Reo Purgyal mountain (22,362 feet), Nako is a small village of about a thousand people in the Hangrang valley. Farming, fruit orchards and cattle rearing are the main sources of livelihood here. Not many tourists stay here. Rather, they continue to Spiti valley for the more famous tourist attractions. But, there is more to Nako than what meets the eye.
For starters, there is the Nako lake whose periphery has willow and poplar trees. During the winter months, when it freezes completely, it becomes a skating rink. At other times, it offers some of the best views of the village and offers oodles of mountain peace and quiet. Then, there is the Nako monastery that was founded in the 11th century by a renowned ancient translator Lochen Rinchen Zangpo. Also known as Lotsava Jhakang or complex of the translator, the serene Nako monastery is built along the lines of the famous Tabo monastery in Spiti valley.
Nako is also the base camp for the trek to Pargial peak and is enroute to the Thashigang monastery. There are also many shepherd trails that connect Nako with the villages of Chango, Hango and Tashigang. In addition to these trails, there are many day walks behind the Nako lake that will take you to view points in the east and that looks into Tibet.
If you feel like relaxing, you can spend time walking around the small village absorbing its traditional atmosphere and architecture. My favorites are the gates in the village streets built from stone and wood and that are painted in the inside with colourful Buddhist religious paintings. Then, there are the walks around the farms and the orchards.
I see Nako as a fantastic rustic holiday destination in the Himalayas. It has oodles of quiet, stunning panoramas, a bit of culture and traditions, lots of avenues for walking and trekking, kind people and delicious locally sourced food. If such rustic places are your thing, then I would highly recommend Nako to you. It is definitely more than a pit stop on your trip to Kinnaur and/or Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh. It’s beauty deserves at least a couple of days on its own. Do remember to visit this place on your next holiday to Himachal Pradesh. And don’t forget to taste their apples if you happen to visit during the late autumn season. They are truly special!
How to reach there:
The nearest airport would be Chandigarh, about 410 kms away.
The nearest railway station would be Shimla, about 311 kms away.
The nearest large bus station would be Shimla or Kaza.
The only way to reach Nako is by road. The route is a narrow mountain highway that is at the mercy of nature (landslides, snowfall, accidents, etc.) and hence one should budget in some buffer time to accommodate for delays.
It is best if you have your own mode of transportation. However, buses run by HPSRTC will also take you there, though the number of buses plying every day would be few.
Best season to visit:
Nako is open all year round. Winters can get really cold. Summers can get quite busy. Spring and Autumn would be the best seasons to visit if you wish to enjoy the landscape at peace. September and October would be perfect if you like to taste fresh apples from the local farms.
Other nearby tourist attractions:
1) Tabo: A village that is home to some of India’s best apples and a beautiful monastery
2) Kalpa: A hill station that offers spectacular views of Kinnaur Kailash
3) Chitkul: Himalayan village with cleanest air in India
4) Baspa River Trek: A scenic mountain trek in Himachal Pradesh
5) Sangla: Another village famous for its apples and views of Kinnaur Kailash
6) Sarahan: A village known for its apples and ski slopes
7) Dhankar: Prettiest village of Spiti valley
8) Pin Valley National Park: A remote Himalayan wilderness known for sightings of the elusive snow leopard
9) Langza: The Himalayan village that is known for fossils of marine animals
10) Ki Monastery: A stunning monastery surrounded by snow capped mountains near Kaza
11) Kibber: The village of the snow leopard
12) Komic: One of the world’s highest villages with road connectivity
13) Hikkim: The Himalayan village with the highest post office in the world