In this digitally driven world, what is the value of the conventional Mail? You would know if you visit Hikkim, which claims to have the highest post office in the world. Want to send a post from 14,400 feet above sea level? Read this travel guide of Hikkim to know everything about it in this detailed guide to Hikkim village – the next in my series on ‘Villages of Spiti’.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Famous for housing the world’s highest (14,400 ft.) ‘permanently structured’ post office, Hikkim village is nestled between Komik and Langza, the other two exquisite high altitude villages of the region. Technically, there exists a post office which is located at a higher elevation than Hikkim – at Qomolangma in Tibet (17.060 ft.), the Mount Everest Base Camp Postal service.
However, that is not a permanent structure. Even though it functions effectively for seven months in a year, almost equivalent to the amount of time Hikkim post office works given the challenges of weather and terrain. So, the ‘world’s highest’ stature is a bit disputed. I believe such accolades don’t matter to a true lover of mountains, do they? As long as we all get to soak in the serenity and wilderness of that enticing land.
At a bird’s eye view, Hikkim looks like an extension of Komik or Langza villages, as they all are structured in a similar pattern and Hikkim falls somewhere in the middle of the two. It is one of the most captivating villages – with its layered fields reflecting shades of green and brown, guarding snow-capped peaks and the rustic charm of Spitian way of life. Add to it the thrill of posting a letter from this towering height – and there you have an immersing Spiti escapade.
Hikkim is situated at a distance of 16 km from Kaza, 45 minutes of the uphill drive with dizzying roads. You can approach it while going to Komic and Langza villages from Kaza.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
As I have mentioned in my previous articles on Spiti, summer is always a good time for a hassle-free trip to the region. A white blanketed Hikkim during winters looks hauntingly beautiful, but poses many challenges to reach there.
I am an advocate of choosing your own experience and time to visit any place. That’s why I say, the best time to visit Hikkim or Spiti valley depends on the kind of experience you are seeking (every season has its pros and cons) and on the route (Manali to Kaza or Shimla to Kaza) you take.
Spiti valley’s weather is cold and dry. Winter months are extremely harsh with the temperature dropping as low as -20 degrees. The valley gets covered under several feet of snow, which makes reaching Hikkim very arduous in this season. Rohtang pass shuts due to heavy snow, so Manali to Kaza route is not an option in winters.
Summer months are pleasant with very bright sunshine, which is fully utilized by locals through solar panels empowering various operations. Though summer nights are cold and you would require woolens. Monsoon months don’t see much rain or no rain at all. But the roads leading to Spiti from Manali or Shimla witness rainfall and landslides, leading to blockages and closures including Rohtang pass.
For a detailed and month-by-month guide on when to travel to Spiti, please refer to our article ‘Best Time to Visit Spiti Valley – A Month by Month Guide’
How To Reach Hikkim from Kaza
The village does not have a rail or air connectivity. It is connected to the nearest town of Kaza by road.
Hikkim is 45 minutes of terrific drive away (16 km) from Kaza. The sinuous roads offer spellbinding views. The ascend gets steep at points and there are many hairpin bends. You can either hire a taxi from Kaza to reach Hikkim or board a state transport bus which goes till Kibber. For details on public transport around Spiti valley, refer to our previous article How to make a budget trip to Spiti Valley by public transport.
Kaza is connected to Manali, Shimla, and Chandigarh by a network of buses. Shimla and Chandigarh buses reach Reckong Peo and from here you have to board another bus to Kaza. Another option is to drive all the way to Kaza from any of these towns.
If you are self-driving, you will need to acquire permit to cross Rohtang pass (if choosing to follow Manali-Kaza route). For details on getting Rohtang pass permit, please read our article How to get Rohtang Pass Permit Online or using Mobile App in 2019?
The nearest train station is Joginder Nagar (364 km from Kaza), which is a narrow gauge station and receives train from Pathankot railway station (broad gauge). The major nearest railway station is Chandigarh (500 km from Kaza).
Chandigarh is the nearest international airport and Bhuntar (Kullu) is the nearest domestic airport with limited flight connectivity. The onward journey in case of rail and air travel can be made by taxi/ self-drive or bus.
Things to do in Hikkim Village in Spiti Valley
Hikkim wilderness and panorama views are very inviting. It lures a traveler to walk along its fields, have a slice of its life and of course, post a mail from the famous post office.
Send a Post from 14,400 feet
It is exciting to send a postcard to yourself or your loved ones from a post office which is famous as being the world’s highest. The credit to establishing and running this post office goes to Rinchen Chhering, the postmaster who has been working here since its inception in 1983.
The post office caters to the cluster of 4-5 villages and also serves as Rinchen’s living quarters, which is a traditional Spitian house. He lives there with his family. Be it the residents of tiny villages like Gette or monks from hilltop monasteries like Ki, they all get their mail from Hikkim post office. Absence of stable mobile networks and internet connection makes the presence of traditional mail highly important.
For some people, this is the only mode of communication with the rest of the world. And Rinchen, along with his two assistants, the postmen, has been diligently doing this job for the past 29 years.
A message from Hikkim travels a long and difficult way to reach any corner of the world. Not many motorable roads and infrequent modes of transport mean the postman takes the mail from Hikkim to Kaza by foot the morning. From Kaza, the mail goes to Reckong Peo by bus, then to Shimla, and further to Delhi. Delhi center takes it ahead to the rest of the world.
Like any other Indian post office, this one also offers savings account service to local farmers and villagers.
Sending a post from this enigmatic post office costs 25 rupees. Traveling all the way from Delhi to this village snuggled between the towering brown mountains feels like a pilgrimage, an ode to the mammoth of a network that is The Indian Post (with 155,015 post offices).
A deep-rooted culture and truly organic lifestyle is the soul of any village in Spiti valley. Proximity to Tibet, the influx of Tibetan Buddhists and the remote location has helped in inculcating and preserving the purity of Spitian culture.
Like other villages in the valley, Hikkim too has a monastery which is located at the far end of the village. You may not find this monastery anything out of the ordinary if you have already been to Ki, Tabo or other ancient monasteries in the region. However, it is worth a visit if you are here to explore Hikkim and understand more about its people and their faith.
Being Langza’s cousin in topography and geographical history, Hikkim too is fossiliferous. Though it isn’t as popular as Langza for finding marine fossils. But the village’s land is rich enough to stumble upon an ammonite or a fossilized crustacean from the Jurassic era.
Although it is exciting to get your hands on an ancient marine fossil, so high up in the Himalayas, it is imperative to understand that these fossils are the archaeological heritage of Indian subcontinent.
A lot of countries in the world have strict protocols for the conservation of their fossil wealth and any kind of vandalism is well reported. The Mesozoic era’s relics found in Spiti have their counterparts in the Alps.
Travelers visiting Langza are especially focused on taking a fossil back home as a souvenir. A responsible travel alternative to this is buying a replica of fossils from local shops, instead of eroding one from the land where it belongs. By taking this small step towards conserving the natural history of the Spiti valley, travelers can further embrace responsible travel to the region.
Walking around the Hikkim village
There is no better way to explore and understand a place and its inhabitants than by walking around, observing and interacting with locals. If you are looking for an enveloping experience of Hikkim, take a stroll down to the houses, fields, the monastery, and the village school. The beauty of the place and simplicity of people will mesmerize you. The people of Spiti are magnanimous, hospitable and extremely helpful.
The mud and stone houses with white walls, red windows, and blue doors are a characteristic of all villages in Spiti valley. Fluttering Buddhist prayer flags disseminate the pious words through the air into the world from these brown mountains. Yaks and Himalayan Blue sheep leisurely wandering around, well layered green fields, and a captivating view of Chau Chau Kang Nalda peak (Langza offers the best views this peak) – all these sights fill your soul with tranquility.
Night Sky Gazing
Being a sky lover, this has been my favorite activity whenever I am in Spiti. Night sky at Spiti is magical, with millions of stars looking down upon you, the milky way seems like an arm’s length away (no city offers this view) and the moon is a giant white spotted ball – all of this silhouetted against the trans-Himalayan mountains. At night Spiti becomes an otherworldly land, totally gripping you in its charm. Same goes for Hikkim, try your hand at astrophotography or night photography, if you are into it. Spiti is one of the best places in the word to do that. Or simply gaze at the alluring night-sky and make twinkling memories of a lifetime.
Where to Stay in Hikkim
In Hikkim, houses are built in a clustered fashion, looking like white bunches from a distance. And these are your only options to stay in the village. There is only one formal homestay in the village – Tsedup’s House. The setup provides basic facilities with bed and bathroom and three full meals – everything local and Spitian styled. An excellent way to explore the village would be to spend a night here.
Alternatively, you can try your luck with other houses. The ever benevolent villagers can open their doors for you if you wish to spend a night.
However, there are homestays in neighboring villages of Langza and Komic. Here is a comprehensive list of homestays in Spiti Valley.
What to Eat
There is a little cafe right opposite the post office. You get various local dishes, tea and beverages to keep you supplemented through the next leg of your journey. The cafe also sells postcards and basic stationery to write letters and posts, which is the key attraction of Hikkim.
In my previous articles on Langza and Kibber I have elaborated on what to eat at these villages, should you make a stop at these villages along with Hikkim?
Tips for a trip to Hikkim
- Stay hydrated and refrain from consuming alcohol to prevent altitude from taking a toll
- Follow these tips to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
- Always wear sunscreen and carry a refillable water bottle, as the sun gets harsh in summers at Spiti. And here are the tips on carrying clothes to Spiti
- Phone networks do not work well here except BSNL. For insights on mobile network connectivity, refer to Tips on Phone Connectivity in Spiti Valley
- We have summed up the best of prerequisites for Spiti valley in 14 mistakes people commit on a Spiti Valley Trip. Do have a look.
The hamlet of Hikkim is one of the many gems of Spiti, where a traveler can experience the life of a trans-Himalayan village, a landscape like no other and to top the list – post a mail from one of the highest post offices in the world (14, 400 feet above sea level). Hikkim village should be clubbed with the neighboring villages (Langza, Komic, Kibber and Dhankar monastery) in your sub-itinerary for Spiti valley.
Have a travel question?? You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there.
I hope, this detailed guide to Hikkim will help you to plan your journey better and make it a memorable one.
Do you still have any questions or suggestions or need any help in planning your trip to Hikkim? If yes, please feel free to post them either in the comments section of this article below or direct message on Instagram.
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Happy traveling to you!!!
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