Being a traveler, I have always been fascinated by the idea of sending postcards to myself from the most unusual places on the earth. This fascination was the seed to my never-ending curiosity to visit the World’s Highest Post Office which is located in a quaint little village known as Hikkim in Spiti Valley in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Positioned at an altitude of 4440 meters, the highest post office in the world is a wonder in itself. It’s a beautiful structure made of mud and stone with a thatched roof and the exterior is painted in white with a cute blue door. This is the traditional architecture followed in Lahaul and Spiti Valley and all the houses are very much similar to each other in the village of Hikkim. A big board by India Post hung outside proudly claims it to be the highest post-office in the world located at a height of 14567 feet.
As I entered inside, I realized that this is the home cum office for the postmaster Rinchen Chhering. The heaps of postcards lying on the table and the smell of mud flooring left me awed by the authenticity and the simplicity of this place. How can a place that holds a record of being one of the highest places in the world could be so authentic? Sometimes, the only sound one could hear over there is the continuous sound of stamping which is indeed the essence of this place. As I sat down to get my postcard stamped, I could not control my inquisitiveness to know more about Rinchen’s life and the logistics involved in the functioning of the place. Rinchen smiled while focusing on his work and mentioned that he took charge of Hikkim post-office on the day of its inception which is Nov 5, 1983, and has been serving continuously since then.
Logistics never turn out to be easy in rough mountainous terrains or high altitudes and not to mention that Spiti Valley is a combination of both. The two men hike from Hikkim to Kaza every morning to deliver the mail which further goes to Reckong Peo in a bus followed by another road journey to Shimla. The post takes a train ride from Shimla to Kalka and then a bus ride to Delhi where the mails are sorted as per their final destination and are forwarded to their respective directions by road, rail or air. After all, India has the largest post office network in the world with 1, 55,618 post offices and over 5,66,000 employees. Hikkim post office also stays closed for almost six months of winter as it experiences heavy snowfall during that time.
I was thrilled to see that most of the postcards are contributed by travel photographers here. You too can print some of your best photos from Spiti Valley trip in a postcard format and mail them to the post-office to be used as postcards by other travelers. You can also mention your name on the card to stay in the memories of so many visitors.
How to reach:
- Hikkim is located at a distance of 16 km by road from the town of Kaza. Buses run in summers every Tuesday and Saturday from Kaza which shall take you to Hikkim. Make sure to cross-check the time from your hotel reception or homestay owner a day before you plan to take the bus. If you wish to cover more places on the same day, then the best option is to hire a local taxi and visit Kaza-Hikkim-Komic-Langza circuit in one day. It’s very easily doable in a day in a private vehicle.
- Locals also trek from Hikkim to Kaza and back. Tourists take minimum 4 hours to make a round trip excluding the time they spend at Hikkim.
There are no accommodations available in Hikkim. Either you stay in Langza which is 8 km from Hikkim or the town of Kaza.
What to know before going:
- In summers, the opening hours are 6 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday
- The stamping and domestic delivery of every postcard are charged 25 INR
- The post-office stays closed during the six months of winter
- You can also see a good view of Chau Chau Kang Nelda Peak from Hikkim
- Hikkim is located at an altitude of 14500 feet. Make sure you have proper warm clothes and you are acclimatized well.
If you are interested in exploring Spiti Valley with a group, then please check our Group Departure Tour to Spiti.