Kinnaur District

Notes, Himachal

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  • Headquarters of Kinnaur District  – Reckong Peo
  • Languages spoken- Kinnauri (Hamskad), Sanganur, Jangiam, Shumecho, etc.
  • Kinnaur as a separate district was carved out on 1st  May 1960, out of the erstwhile Mahasu district (Beforehand it was known as Chini tehsil of Mahasu district)
  • Area of Kinnaur District – 6401 sq km
  • Kinnaur shares its Eastern boundary with Tibet. 
  • The Zanskar mountains form the international frontier between Kinnaur and Tibet.
  • The international border starts at a point Parechhu and passes through Shipkila, the Rainso Pass, the Saimdang Pass, and the Gumrang (Khim Okul) Pass, and reaches a point flanking Chor Gad valley in the East.
  • On the South and South-Eastern sides of Kinnaur District, it has Uttarkashi (a district of Uttarakhand)
  • On the western side lies the Shimla district and on the North-West is situated Lahaul and Spiti. 
  • Kullu also touches Kinnaur District from the West.

Three parallel ranges of Kinnaur District

  1. Zanskar mountains in the East.
  2. The Great Himalayas stretches from the North-Western corner of the district to its South-Eastern extremity.
  3. The crest of the Dhauladhar range forms the southern boundary of the district.

Peaks of Kinnaur District

  1. Leo Pargial (6,791 meters) and Parassala (6,608 meters) lie in the Zanskar mountains.
  2. Kinner Kailash or Raldang Kailash (6,500 meters) lie in the Great Himalayas.
  3. Leo Pargial rises from the Spiti on one side and from the Satluj on the other side.

Some of the important valleys of Kinnaur District are

  • The Satluj valley is the largest river valley in the district and traverses about 140 km in the region.
  • The Hangrang or Spiti Valley is drained by the river Spiti or Lee. Only the lower portion of this valley is located in Kinnaur while the upper part lies in the Lahaul Spiti district.
  • The Ropa or Shyaso or Sunam valley is drained by the Ropa stream.
  • The Baspa or Sangla Valley is drained by the Baspa river.  It is named Sangla valley after the name of the Sangla village. 
  • The historic village Kamru (Mone) is situated in this valley. 
  • Baspa valley is connected with Garhwal by several passes. 
  • These passes from the West to East are-
  • Barua pass or Buran Ghati, Kimilay or Khamilaga Pass , Borasu Pass and Lamkhaga Pass
  • The Shinka, Kimilay, and Borsa Passes lead to the famous Har ki Dun valley
  • Charang pass near chitkul
  • The Tidong valley is without exception the most rugged glen of the district. It is often called ‘a scene of savage grandeur’.

Other valleys of Kinnaur District– 

  • Wangpo or Bhabha
  • Gyanthing or Nesang
  • Pejur or Leppa
  • Kashang
  • Mulgaon 
  • Yula

  • Largest village of the kinnaur district, i.e. Bhabha
  • Chitkul (3,450 meters) is the last and highest village in the Baspa valley in district Kinnaur
  • It is situated on the right bank of Baspa river.
  • Chitkul is the last inhabited village near the Indo-Tibet border/old Hindustan-Tibet trade route.
  • It is also the last point in India one can travel to without a permit.
  • Potatoes grown at Chitkul are one of the best in the world and are very costly.
  • Poo or Pooh also spelled Puh (altitude 2,662 meters or 8,736 ft), is a small town in Kinnaur district. 
  • It is also known as “Spuwa”
  • Inscriptions suggest that Poo was an important trading center in the early 11th century.
  • When A.H. Francke arrived in Poo from the south in July,1910, it was the first village he found where the language was ‘entirely Tibetan”.
  • There is an ancient temple, the Lotsaba-bai-lha-khang, dedicated to Shakyamuni or Lord Buddha and attributed to the great translator (or Lotsaba), Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055).
  • There is a local pre-Buddhist deity, Dabla, who has no dwelling or altar in Poo (although he has a devta temple devoted to him at Kanum).

Rivers In Kinnaur District-

  • The Satluj divides Kinnaur almost in two equal parts. 
  • In the Vedic literature, the stream is referred to as Sutudri, while in the later Sanskrit literature, it is called as Shatadru
  • Greek scholars mention this river as Zasradros or Heisidrus. 
  • In Tibet, it is known as Zungtee and Muksung.
  • The river traverses for about 140 Km in Kinnaur. 
  • The river Spiti joins it at Khab Village.
  • The Spiti is the second major river of the district.
  • The Baspa rises on the North-Eastern declivity of the Dhauladhar range. 
  • The Zupkia, the Thatang, the Bering, the Rutki, and the Suthi are its important tributaries.
  • Ropa merges with Satluj near Shiatsu.
  • Pejur or the Taiti is one of the largest feeder of the Satluj
  • The Kashang also joins the river Satluj.
  • The Mulgaon coursing for 24 kilometers exhausts itself in the Satluj. 
  • The Yula is another tributary of the Satluj.

Lakes In Kinnaur-

  • Nako lake – famous for ice skating
  • Sorang lake – situated above the villages of Jani & Ramni in Nichar tehsil

Springs In Kinnaur-

  • One spring is found at Nathpa, three at Tapri and one at Joktiaring.
  • Yaks and dzos are reared by local farmers in the higher areas

Vegetation In Kinnaur-

In Kinnaur district, three types of natural vegetation are found:

i) The wet zone forests are found on the left side of the Satluj valley

ii) The dry zone forests extend from Nichar to Chini.

Neoza pines, which produce edible nuts–grow in this zone and are the only forests of Neoza in India.

iii) The parts adjoining the Tibetan border contain arid zone forests

Mineral deposits of Kinnaur District

  • Pyrite–Chirgaon, Shiatsu & Purbani
  • Silver deposits– chirgaon
  • Deposits of gypsum–Shialkhar and Chango
  • Rough slate quarries– Sangla valley (where these are used for roofing purposes)
  • China clay- Asrang & Lippa
  • Mica- Tangling khad

Fair & Festivals of Kinnaur-

  • Chaitral festival (named after the month of Chaitra) is celebrated at Chirgaon village.
  • Beeshu is an important festival of many Kinnaur villages & is the first festival in villages where Chaitral is not celebrated.
  •  Dakreni or Dakrain is an important festival of Kinnaur celebrated in the Shravana (July-August) month
  •  Ukhyang or Phulaich is a festival of flower
  • also known by various names, such as Namangam, Ukhing, ‘Chamang’ and Minthiko etc.
  • most important and widely prevalent festival of Kinnaur.
  • Phaguli also known as Luskar is celebrated in Phagun month( mid February to mid March)
  • In Kamru, the festival starts on Basant Panchami (continues for five days at Kamru.)
  • In Ropa, the festival is known as ‘Phalgun’. 
  • In Lipa, the festival is celebrated under the name of ‘Lamoch’.
  • Losar (Lo in Tibetan means ‘new’ and Sar means ‘year’, i.e. new year) is an important festival of Tibet.
  • Hence the Losar festivities are limited only upto upper Kinnaur, where Tibetan influence is prevalent.
  • Shirkin festival is celebrated in Kartika month (October-November) when trans-human semi nomads move to the sub-mountainous and plain areas with the flock of their sheep and goat.
  • Jagro festival is celebrated in the villages of Morang, Kamru and Ribba, where Mahasu god is held in very high esteem. 
  •  It is also known as Jagang, which means night long awakening. 
  • This resembles what is celebrated in the areas as Jagrata.
  • Sazo festival is observed in the month of January every year to bid farewell to the devatas who are supposed to proceed for a temporary sojourn to paradise in winter. 
  • In some parts of the district, the festival is also known as ‘Shu Pitang Hoorang’.
  • Khepa is an important primitive society festival which is held only in a handful of villages in Kinnaur. 
  • This festival is celebrated in the Ropa valley villages of Ropa, Jabong, Sunam Rushkling.

Chandika Temple Kothi of Kinnaur

  • Chandika Temple Kothi dedicated to goddess Chandika, more especially designated as Shuwang, Chandika has spread the fame of village Kothi in greater part of the district.
  • Kinnaur is the border district of Himachal Pradesh with Tibet on the east.
  • The most important road of the district is National Highway No. 22 popularly known as Hindustan Tibet Road.

Crops of Kinnaur

  • Barley is called Tag & Maize is called Chhahaa in kinnaur
  • Rice has been an important crop of the sole village of Kilba.
  • Cumin and saffron are produced in the Sangla valley.
  • Ribba valley is famous for grapes.
  • The people of Himachal had very strong trade ties with Tibet and China. 
  • But after the 1962 Indo-China war it has reduced substantially.

Local Drinks of Kinnaur

  • The brew obtained from barley is called Chhang, extensively used in the Hangrang valley.
  • Ghanti is the other common name given to the liquor obtained from barley and other cereals.
  • The Angoori prepared at Ribba and Brandy distilled in Nesing village are liquors of very high quality.

Dress of Kinnaur

  • The traditional dress of a Kinnaura woman resembles a pannier worn by an English woman long back.
  • The dresses used in Hangrang valley are clearly distinct from the dresses worn elsewhere in Kinnaur.
  • Chamu Kurti is an ordinary shirt worn by men. 
  • During winter, Chamu Kurti is put on under Chhuba, a long woolen cloak. 
  • ‘Chamu Sutan’ is a woolen pajama (trousers) worn by men.
  • Thepang now popularly known as Himachali cap,is a common dress of men and women in Kinnaur.
  • Women use ‘Dhori’ (woolen sari) , ‘Choli’ (full sleeved blouse), ‘Chhani’ (shawl) and ‘Gachhang’ for their dresses. 
  • Chutan, akin to baby shawl, is the dress of children in this valley.

GI Tags From Kinnaur

Kinnauri Shawls

  • registered in 2011, under Geographical Indications (GI)
  • was the 4th product after Kullu shawl, Kangra tea and Chamba rumal to be registered under the Geographical Indications (Gl).
  • Other GI from kinnaur
  • Chulli oil (Dried Apricot oil)
  • Kala zeera ( Black Cumin)

Punishments in Kinnaur

  • In Rohru, there is a place where Jubal Narayan used to imprison criminals for ghastly criminal acts, even death sentences were awarded.
  • Forms of punishments are-
  • Tichig Michig- for grabbing someone’s immovable property, exogamy & for violating devta’s directions
  • Chhetpa- fine awarded by biradari panchayat for violating its orders
  • Ti Darang Shishe- exemplary punishment given to the incorrigible errant (habitual offender)

Kinnaur Mahotsav

  • was earlier since 1987 celebrated under different names like Janjatiya Utsav, Phulaich Utsav and also as Tribal Festival.
  • being celebrated since 1994 from at District Headquarter Reckong Peo  
  • this festival has been declared as State Level festival

Shyam Saran Negi

  • first voter of independent India (1951)
  • Negi became the first voter of the country when he cast his vote on October 25, 1951 in Kinnaur (Shonthong polling station) ahead of other parts of the country that went to the polls in February 1952.

Census 2011 figures

  • District encompasses a geographical area of 6401 sq km 
  • Population of 84,121 (population density – 13  person/ sq km.
  • Sex ratio of 819 ( least in Himachal Pradesh)
  • The major religions in the district are Hindu (76.95%) and Buddhist (21.50%) of the total population respectively. 
  • The literacy rate in the district is 80.00% 
  • Mainly spoken languages are Kinnauri (72.05%), Hindi (16.65%), Nepali (7.03%).

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