India boasts of having the largest postal network in the world with about 1,55,618 post offices and over 5,66,000 employees. From among these, the world’s highest post office, Hikkim (pin code 172114) is astonishingly located at 15,500 feet, above the sea Level and is a part of the Lahaul and Spiti district in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. As a matter of fact, the world’s first official airmail flight spanning a journey of 18 kilometres and 27 minutes also happened right here in India on 18th of February in the year 1911. It was a French pilot by the name Henri Pequet, who ferried around 15 kilos of mail (about 6,000 letters and cards) from Allahabad to Naini, across the river Ganga.
Hikkim Post Office – The Highest Post Office in the World
The intensity of excitement as one climbs to the world’s highest post office perched at 15,500 ft above the sea level is truly amazing. It is aptly located in India that is home to the world’s most extensive postal system. Hikkim, the Indian village which is home to the world’s highest post office is situated about 23 kms from Kaza, that is the main town in Himachal Pradesh’s barren Spiti Valley.
The Hikkim post office was started on November 5th, 1983, and since its inception, Rinchen Chhering has been the branch postmaster here for 29 years. Rinchen was barely 22 years old when he took charge of this post office. Today, stamping letters and postcards is a task that is simply at the back of his hand. This small Spitian office doubles up as Chhering’s home and is the world for Hikkim’s 165 or so residents. This is because there is no cell phone reception or internet access in this village. The post office is also shut down for about half a year because of snow just like the rest of the valley.
It is in this post office that the monks from the Komik monastery in the vicinity receive their passports to embark on an overseas pilgrimage or where the local farmers can make a savings accounts. They have employed two runners in this post office who take turns to deliver the mail on foot journeying from Hikkim to Kaza daily in the morning. From Kaza it is carried by bus to Reckong Peo to Shimla and further by train to Kalka. In Kalka it is loaded on a bus again and taken to Delhi. From Delhi it is distributed by rail or air as per the destination.
How to Reach
In order to reach Hikkim, one has to take a motorable road. Tourists can hire a cab in Kaza or alternatively they can also go on a uphill hike of about a couple of hours from Kaza. The bus frequency is very less, that is one per day at about 2 p.m. that alights the passengers above the village. Hikkim has no guesthouse and only one homestay in the village of Langza nearby. However, Kaza has the best alternatives for restaurants and hotels for accommodation purpose.
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