Like many of you, and for the longest time I believed those words painted on the board hanging outside the Post Office at Hikkim, which read, “The World’s Highest Post Office – 4440m (14, 567 Feet)”. I even took a picture with it and proudly posted it on Facebook and Instagram.
Then one day, I came face to face with a Post Office at 17060 Feet or 5200m.
So logically, here I was, at a post office which was higher than Hikkim too!
Before I disclose the location of this “actual” highest post office, I want to share some things about the Hikkim Post Office. This branch post office is located in the small town of Hikkim, in Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.
This branch is run by the postmaster Rinchen Chhering, who amazingly has been here since its inception on November 5, 1983. I reached here, after making a rather rattling journey on some no-road roads. STUNNING but Rattling. I realized then, that delivering mails from such a remote location mustn’t be easy. And I was right.
Mails are sent on foot from Hikkim to Kaza every morning, from there it is taken to Reckong Peo by bus, onward to Shimla, then loaded on a train to Kalka, and loaded again on a bus heading to Delhi. *Phew*
From here it is disseminated further to its destination.
I wanted to send myself a postcard but sadly the post office was shut at that time.
Life went on and all was well.
Then one day, earlier this year, I received a postcard at office.
It had a picture of a BIG White Mountain. I flipped it around and saw that it was addressed to me and was WRITTEN BY ME!!!
Suddenly I remembered what this was. It was a time capsule that instantly took me 2 years back to the time where I stood writing this postcard with shivering fingers and chattering teeth at 17,060 feet.
It was an extremely bone piercing cold afternoon on October 3, 2014. I was standing outside a flimsy green tent which said, “Welcome to the Qomolangma Base Camp Postal Service, 5200m”.
For those not aware of this, Qomolangma is the Chinese name for Mount Everest.
Yup. I was at the MOUNT EVEREST BASE CAMP Postal Service in TIBET, China.
Compared to the Hikkim post office, this one hardly looked like a post office though!
This simple post office had only three officials, the director, the comprehensive official and the courier and looked like it would blow away anytime! But considering the fact that it is located at 17,060 feet and endures the harshest of the climate, I reluctantly gave it some credit. So harsh are the conditions here that this postal base only operates for approximately seven months in a year.
Despite it not being a permanent structure, the China Post Office at EBC, located at an elevation of 5,300m is reputed as the World’s Highest Post Office. This postal base was set up in 2008 to meet people’s need of posting card to friends and family members and also used by the locals of the nearest settlement.
Standing on the ‘Roof of the World’, I decided to test China post. The fee for sending a postcard to myself was kind of expensive but it was worth a try. The man behind the counter told me it would take a while for it to reach its destination. In this case, TIBET to MUMBAI!
Soon afterwards I got back to India, got busy with life and forgot about the postcard from Everest.
That is, until now.
More than two years later, here I was staring at the little piece of memory. It had made a long arduous journey for sure. It seemed to have literally walked across mountains to reach me. A journey that I can’t even imagine. From the ‘Roof of the World’ to the ‘Indian Subcontinent’.
From 5200m to 14m above sea level. Across mountains ranges, across countries, across hands, across various modes of transport.
I was finally convinced that China Post did indeed work and that tiny post office at Everest Base Camp did function.
And even though the EBC postal base isn’t a permanent structure, it is the highest and does what it is supposed to do, albeit a little slow. I mean better late than never!
Sorry but not sorry. The World’s Highest Post Office as per me is NOT Hikkim.
So what do you think?
Comment below and tell me, which according to you is the Highest Post Office in the World?