Kinnaur Road is a scenic cliff-hanging drive through the seemingly bottomless Baspa river gorge in Sangla Valley in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, India.
Kinnaur is one of twelve administrative districts in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is located in the southeastern part of the state, and borders Tibet on its eastern end. Kinnaur Road has been cut into hard rock, to make a road linking Kinnaur and the rest of the country.
The road still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. A quick glance at the map, at its sheer drops and serpentine twists and turns, confirms that this is no hype. Most of the villages of Kinnaur lie at quite a high altitude, some close to 4000m. It's a dry and very cold area, and in the right season (July-August) its quietness, great visibility, wonderful views and somewhat mysterious atmosphere all make it a great area to explore. The drive is definitely worth it. Don’t forget your camera!
The valley remains closed for six months during winter (from December till May) when the snowfall are heavy. It can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. Avalanches and heavy snowfalls can sometimes block some sections of the road and can be extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. Conditions can change quickly and be harsh. Road closures can be frequent, so check conditions before traveling to this area. In places the road is carved out of shear precipice. The valley below is hundreds of feet below.
Portions of the road may be temporarily closed due to road work or inclement weather. Heavy or prolonged rain can cause local flash floods that cover the road with water or wash out culverts or bridges. The roads right after the start of Kinnaur suddenly became narrow and deadly and it’s frequently blocked by landslides. The roads take a dramatic turn for the wild once you enter Kinnaur. The mountain edges look a lot more jagged than before, and the population thins out.
The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. Any barriers along the edge afford little more than token protection; large stretches should be taken at a snail's pace and a lookout kept for vehicles coming from the opposite direction! In Kinnaur Valley the roads are built by cutting the hills in such a manner that at some places, these overhangs are left. Not only do they look stunning, they keep the road under them cooler than the outside temperature.
The main risk on this curvy and narrow mountainous road which rarely permits speeds over 30km/h is coming around a blind corner and discover a vehicle proceeding toward you. Despite remarkable improvement in the road condition in recent years, a trip to Kinnaur still remains an adrenaline- pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint hearted. The road is crisscrossing rivers on several occasions over wobbly suspension bridges. At many places, especially at the infamous Taranda ‘dhank’ (cliff) it is literally carved into the perpendicular cliffs with a vertical drop down to the turbulent Satluj. So, use caution and enjoy the magnificent scenery.