The World's Highest Post Office: A Lifeline for the Isolated Villages of Hikkim


India proudly boasts not only the largest postal network globally but also the honor of hosting the highest post office in the world. Nestled in the serene town of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, this post office stands as a testament to human resilience and connectivity despite geographical challenges. Surpassing all expectations of postal services, the Hikkim Post Office operates at a staggering altitude of 4440 meters (14,567 feet) above sea level. 

Lahaul and Spiti were granted district status in the year 1960. It took almost 23 years after India's independence for a post office to be established in the region. This post office played a crucial role in the daily lives of the people residing in Spiti or Lahaul. The post office is not just a tourist attraction but also serves as a vital link between the remote communities of the Spiti Valley and the rest of the world.

Rinchen Chhering: The Postmaster of Hikkim

The Hikkim Post Office was established on November 5, 1983, and has been serving the locals ever since. Rinchen Chhering has been the postmaster of the Hikkim Post Office since its inception, and he has been serving the people of Hikkim for more than 30 years now. He has been a part of the post office since its establishment and joined the team when he was just 22 years old. He was selected for the job because he was a fast runner and owned a bicycle. Throughout all these years, Rinchen has been working alone and dedicatedly, which is truly remarkable. 

According to Rinchen, he was chosen for the job from among three young men. He had a better qualification than the other two, as he had dropped out of school after class VII, while the other two had dropped out after class V and VI.

Despite the challenging terrain and harsh winter conditions, the post office operates year-round and braves treacherous mountain passes to ensure that letters and parcels reach their destinations.

The post office not only serves as a mail distribution centre but also maintains savings accounts for the locals and provides passports for monks from the nearby Komic monastery to undertake overseas pilgrims. The post office handles around 15-20 letters every day, and around 50 people have a savings account in this post office.

For most of the months, Hikkim remains cut off from the rest of the world due to heavy snowfall over the passes. The post office too gets shut down for six months due to extreme climatic conditions. The journey uphill to this post office is quite a tough one, and we can only imagine how difficult it must be for the postmaster, Rinchen Chhering, to send out mails from here.

Tourism and the Transformation of Hikkim Post Office

The Hikkim Post Office, being the highest post office in the world, has become a tourist attraction and a must-visit destination for many. 

Until recently, the highest post office operated from a humble mud-house, symbolizing the resilience and adaptability of the postal service. 

However, with evolving times and growing tourist interest, the post office received a makeover, now resembling a charming letterbox-shaped structure. This transformation not only enhances its functionality but also elevates its appeal as a tourist attraction.

The post office has selfie points outside, where tourists can take photographs and tell their friends and family about their visit to the highest post office in the world. Tourists can also mail colourful postcards to themselves or their friends, with the postcards greeting the recipients with the message that it is sent from the world's highest post office.

The Department of Posts in Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti Valley, has taken the initiative to transform the Hikkim post office to attract more tourists. The letterbox-shaped post office has quickly become a tourist attraction, and the official postal work now begins in the new setup. Tourists now have the opportunity to buy and send postcards from the letter-box shaped post-office as well.

India is not only known for having the largest postal network in the world, but also for having the highest post office in the world. The second-highest post office in the world is also in the Indian state of Sikkim at Sherathang, approximately 13,600 ft. The third and fourth places are Mount Fuji with 12,388 ft and Jungfraujoch in Switzerland with 11,333 ft. 

The Importance of Communication in a Digital Age

In today's era, parcel delivery and other banking facilities have been linked to the post office even in remote areas. Due to changing times and an increase in means of communication, the usefulness of the postal system has decreased, but its importance has not ended. The journey of the mails from Hikkim post office is quite a long one, and it involves a lot of sweat and hard work. The posts and letters are firstly sent on foot to Kaza every day, then taken to Reckong Peo by bus, and then to Shimla. Later, mails are loaded on a train and sent to Kalka, from where a bus takes the cargo to Delhi. The mails' journey to its real destination begins from Delhi.

A Symbol of Connectivity

In an age dominated by digital communication, the enduring relevance of the postal system is exemplified by the Hikkim Post Office. Beyond its primary function of mail delivery, it serves as a lifeline for the local community, fostering connections that transcend borders and time zones. In the midst of modernity, the charm of receiving a handwritten letter or package remains unparalleled.

The Hikkim Post Office serves as an inspiration to us all, showing us the importance of communication and the value of handwritten letters and packages. It is a testament to human endurance and the power of technology to overcome even the most challenging conditions. The post office has become an integral part of the lives of the people of Hikkim, and it will continue to be a lifeline for the isolated villages of the Spiti Valley. 

As technology continues to reshape the world, the humble post office in Hikkim reminds us of the enduring power of human connection. So, if you ever find yourself amidst the majestic Himalayas, don't miss the opportunity to visit this remarkable postal marvel.

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