A tiny hamlet in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul & Spiti district, Hikkim is known to have the world’s highest post office.
Hikkim is tiny but, when viewed from above, has the most photogenic setting of all the Kaza area villages. Gaze down across widely layered fields with the start of a canyon evident below and horizon of jagged, saw-edge peaks.
Driving tours stop here primarily to visit what’s claimed – disputably – to be the world’s highest post office (4440m). It’s virtually indistinguishable from other village houses and, curiously, doesn’t actually sell postcards or stamps, though you can buy those across the yard from a small cafe.
The post office connects small villages around this isolated area to the rest of the world and is actually functional, carrying out postal services and maintaining savings accounts for the locals. The mail is carried on foot to Kaza from where it further reaches ahead.
Travellers who make it this far take pride in mailing their letters from the highest post office on Earth. The post office started functioning in 1983, and its Postal Index Number or PIN is 172114.
How to reach:
There is no direct route to reach Hikkim from any metro city. Travellers need to reach Kaza, the most accessible place in Spiti, to travel anywhere ahead. The best way to reach Spiti is via road while you enjoy the scenic beauty of the place. Take a bus from Delhi to Shimla, another one from Shimla to Reckong Peo and further another one from Reckong Peo to Kaza. To reach Hikkim, one can hire cabs from Kaza. Alternately, you can also go for a 2-hour uphill hike to curb your adventure cravings.
Tip: The 15km road that descends back to Kaza makes for a terrific drive. After around 4km, look back for a particularly memorable view towards the abandoned mud-walled remnants of Getung Village, sitting atop a canyon junction and looking more like a ruined fortress. Just after this, the road turns into ladder of hairpins with truly splendid valley views.
Another route is via Manali, which is shorter, but not recommended as it is dependent on weather conditions and isn’t open in all seasons.
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Some other places of interest in Lahaul & Spiti are:
This gloriously calm glacial lake presents mirror-perfect reflections of the surrounding white-top peaks and geological colour-swirls. At 4270m, the 20-minute walk from the car park gets most visitors breathless enough that they stop at the nearest (southern) end. But it’s well worth the 90-minute stroll to go right around the lake’s edge, escaping the crowds and appreciating the reflections from ever new angles.
Founded in AD 996, and retaining five sub-temples dating back over 900 years, Tabo Gompa is reckoned to be the oldest continuously functioning Buddhist monastery in India. Don’t expect the towering, colourful structures of Ladakh: the temples here are low-rise structures whose uncoloured mud exteriors are faintly reminiscent of ancient Malian mosques.
Like a series of whitewashed limpets, the 1200-year-old Dhankar Gompa clings precariously to an eroded cliff-edge rock pinnacle, high above the beautiful Spiti Valley. The result is one of Himachal’s most spectacular sights, especially seen from a distance.
Forming the watershed between Lahaul and Spiti, this 4551m pass, accessed by multiple switchbacks, is topped by a grassy area where stupas are strewn with fluttering prayer flags. Local drivers (and even the buses) briefly divert from the road to perform a respectful circuit around them.