Kinnaur Road is a narrow and dangerous cliff drive

Kinnaur Road is a scenic cliff-hanging drive through the seemingly bottomless Baspa river gorge in Sangla Valley, in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, India.

Kinnaur Road

Where is Kinnaur?

Kinnaur is one of the twelve administrative districts in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located in the southeastern part of the state and borders Tibet on its eastern end. 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 make it a great area to explore.

How is the Kinnaur road?

To connect Kinnaur with the rest of the country, Kinnaur Road was built, cut into hard rock. In places, the road is carved out of sheer precipice, with the valley below hundreds of feet down. The road, right after the start of Kinnaur, suddenly becomes narrow and perilous, frequently blocked by landslides. The road takes a dramatic turn for the wild once you enter Kinnaur, with the mountain edges looking a lot more jagged than before, and the population thinning out. Along the way, you’ll encounter landslides, streams, waterfalls, ice, and/or boulders.

Is the Kinnaur road paved?

Part of National Highway-5 (NH 5), the road is fully paved. 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, but they also keep the road under them cooler than the outside temperature. The road crisscrosses 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.

Is the Kinnaur road open?

The valley remains closed for six months during winter (from December till May) when the snowfalls are heavy.
Pic: Dashrath Kumar