Treacherous passes, snow-capped peaks in the background, a hint of sunlight and a population you can count on your fingers. No, we are not describing our last adventure. Rather, the route to the world’s highest post office located in a quaint Himalayan village, Hikkim in Lahaul-Spiti. At an altitude of over 4000 m, the day here gradually and gracefully transgresses from a sunny morning to a cloudy afternoon and later to a bone-chilling evening. Matching the landscape of the cold desert Ladakh, Lahaul is equally frequented by the intrepid traveller.
A land with no other form of reliable communication, ironically, is home to the world’s highest post office. This tiny post office in Hikkim is isolated from the rest of the world and is accessed by people from the nearby cluster of villages, who come here to post letters or deposit money into their savings account. This is probably one of the most unique post offices amidst India’s postal network that has over 1.5 lakh post offices spread over the length and breadth of the country.
The undulating path to and from the post office permits carrying mail only by foot. The postmen cover a round trip of more than 40 kms via foot to take the mail to nearby Kaza, the capital of Spiti, from where it goes ahead. All in-bound mail is carried back to Hikkim along the craggy, alpine path amidst lofty peaks.
The post office began its services in 1983 and since then has been maintained by post master Rinchen Cheering. The postal index number (PIN) here is 172114. Otherwise comfortably nestled in the valley, the post office shuts for winter months as snowfall makes it difficult to access the terrain.
If you’ve ever posted a letter from here, it is highly likely to be passed through the hands of the locals and has travelled through deep gorges, vast stretches of land, and seen a change of temperature every few kilometres.
While there's no direct accessibility to Lahaul-Spiti, and Hikkim specifically, one can reach Kaza and then hail a ride. For those who like living on the edge (quite literally) can also head for a 2-hour uphill trek.