Nako: A Wonder Destination You can’t afford to Miss if You are a Traveller
As a child, when I used to receive nature calendars as New Year gifts, they’d always leave me wondering where on earth such heavenly places exist. I remember how I used to cut out the nature pictures of the previous year to preserve them and wait for the next year calendar. It was a dream to visit those places at least once. However, finding out that those locations were foreign, I was inclined to search for such picturesque places in India. And Nako is undoubtedly one such exotic place in India I can vouch for, anytime.
Surrounded with snow-capped mountains and heavenly hues, Nako, a hamlet in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, appears like a picture cut out from those calendars. Unrealistically pure and clean, this small hamlet will make you forget your abode. The road to Nako was not smooth and it also has a rocky reputation. I had started my journey to Nako from Kalpa in a car and it was a consistently bumpy drive after a while. But the magnificent nature surrounding you will make one forget even the deepest pains. And once you reach Nako, you are bound to feel that it’s worth it!
As the car stopped by the entrance of the village, I felt I had arrived at a foreign land. The entrance gives a breathtaking panoramic view of the location. There is a paved walkway that leads inside the village. The entire road is delightful, surrounded by willow and poplar trees on both sides. The yellow leaves against the bright blue sky create an awesome view all the way.
Walking a distance towards the village, the Nako Monastery stands on the right. The ancient Gompa is believed to preserve the footprints of Guru Padmasambhava. Some beautiful stucco idols and murals can be seen in the sacred monastery.
On the left of the monastery lies the tranquil Nako Lake, one of the main attractions of the place. The oval lake is surrounded with willow, poplar trees and carved rocks bearing sacred scriptures overlooked by snow-capped mountains. The Leo Purgyil peak can be viewed very well from here. The water of the lake is still like a mirror and not a single leaf can be seen drowning on it despite trees around. According to folk lore, this lake is sacred and birds keep the water clean by picking up any leaf that might have dropped. Well, looking at the lake, one would want to believe in the myth.
Moving ahead, the entire stretch of the village in the Hungrang valley looks like a painted picture. The houses resemble each other and each premise gives a glimpse of the simple rural life here. As I walked my way, I could also see small stables of ponies and mules attached with almost all the houses. Surrounded with rocks, the stables are a tidy sight with peaceful animals munching on straws.
I took some time walking and exploring the beautiful locale and lifestyle. People here are very simple, warm hearted and welcoming. Inviting tourists to tea is a common practice among the locals. As the time rolled to 2 pm, I decided to turn up to my hotel and have lunch. Hotels are outside the village premises. So, I had to walk all the way back to get to my dwelling. But it’s great out there!
After a couple of hours, I was again out on a date with my newly found love, Nako. The peace and purity surrounding the place touched my soul. It was a very pleasing experience. The beauty of Nako is so overwhelming that at times I was actually left numb, unable to absorb any more. In the words of Sylvia Plath,
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’”― (The Bell Jar)
Next morning by 10 am, I was ready to leave for another destination. It was hard to bid adieu to Nako. This hamlet is addictive! And I promised myself that I will be back again, some time in my life to feed my soul with the bewitching beauty of Nako.
How to Reach
The best way to get to Nako is by car. You can hire a car from the starting point of your journey in Kinnaur or Spiti. You can also hire a car from Shimla or Manali, according to your trip route. Himachal Road Transport Corporation or State Transport buses are also available from Reckong Peo and Kaza.
Best Season to Visit
The best time to visit Nako is between the summer months of May-June and then post monsoons during September-November. The winter months are extremely cold and both roads and transport are often closed due to snow.