Nako (3600m) is a small village in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, India. It lies in the sensitive restricted zone along the border with Tibet, which requires an Inner Line Permit to travel through. That, coupled with its remote location and limited tourist infrastructure, makes it a little-visited but rewarding destination.
Nako (11,800 ft (3,600 m)) is at the east end of Kinnaur Valley and is the last point of interest before you reach the landslide at Malling Nullah between Kinnaur and Spiti Valley. Catch a bus or 4WD to the landslide from Reckong Peo (4 hours), and tell the driver you're heading to Nako. If he isn't headed there himself then he will advise you on getting there.
Nako lies within the restricted area close to the Tibetan border. An Inner Line Permit is required, which is available in Reckong Peo for ₹50 or Kaza or Shimla for free, and is good for 14 days. It is no longer prohibited to stay overnight within the restricted zone, provided you have a valid permit.
If you've just crossed the landslide from Spiti Valley, ask around at Malling Nullah for a bus or car that can take you to Nako (45 min), or catch a Reckong Peo-bound bus that can drop you at the turn off to Nako and advise you on a connecting ride.
Nako is tiny and walking is the only option.
- Gates in the village streets. Built from stone and wood and painted in the inside with colourful Buddhist religious paintings.
- 1 Nako Lake. This is a small and beautiful holy lake. Early in the morning is the most scenic — if the water is still you get a beautiful reflection of the village and mountains in the lake. Follow the path around the left side of the hotel.
- 2 Nako Monastery (Nako Gompa) (in the middle of the village). Allegedly founded by Ringchen Zangpo in 996 AD. A complex of small old temples with fine old sculptures and frescoes, some of them neglected. There's also a new temple. Free, donation appreciated.
- Walk around the small village absorbing the traditional atmosphere and architecture — it looks like it hasn't changed in hundreds of years.
- There are some nice day walks around the mountains if you're reasonably fit. Behind the lake you can head up the mountain towards the visible chortens which is a nice viewpoint. If you still have a lot more energy continue around to the other side of the range for views east towards Tibet. In 3 to 4 hours you can reach the village of Tashigang perched high above the Sutlej valley, with an interesting temple. The only things you'll encounter underway are sheepherders and great views.
- There isn't much to buy except snacks for some day hikes. Bottled water is available.
- . During the tourist season there are some souvenir stacks with clothes and Tibetan Buddhist artefacts.
Only 2 options exist:
- A few local dhabas serve very basic local food such as momos, chowmein, or rice & dal.
- Reo Purgil has a little more variety and caters more to foreign tastes.
There are only 3 options for visitors, and unfortunately they're all at the entrance of the town on the road. With luck and time some of the locals may start some homestays, but for now it is not possible.
- Lake View Hotel (infront of nako lake), ☏ .
- Galaxy Guesthouse. t ₹150.
- Lavon Guesthouse, ☏ . Another guesthouse of similar standards and next door to Galaxy. ₹150-₹600.
- Reo Purgil (across the road from the Galaxy), ☏ . Tacky and out of place, it's the only hotel in town, for those that need a little more western comfort. The owner is friendly, there's a restaurant on site, and beer is available. Rooms from ₹400.
Always walk clock-wise around temples and chortens, and keep your right side facing them. Don't touch them with your left hand. Nako doesn't see much tourist traffic so tread lightly and be discreet and polite.
1 or 2 buses a day leave from here and can take you to the landslide at Mulling Nullah (45 min) if you're headed for Lahaul and Spiti, or to Reckong Peo (4-5 hours). Times can be sporadic so enquire locally. There are also a handful of 4WDs, some working as shared taxis (slightly more costly than a bus) and some available for private hire.