Lahaul and Spiti

Lahaul and Spiti are two remote Himalayan Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, lying on the Indo-Tibet border. These valleys have their own exquisite beauty combining a rugged landscape with enchanting snow covered peaks and massive glaciers. It is a cold desert region where the monsoon never pays a visit making it a haven for climbers and trekkers. Against the backdrop of snow peaked mountains are villages, Buddhist Monasteries rich in ancient murals and wood carvings, temples and the beautiful Chandra Taal Lake.
Kaza is the capital and regional headquarters of Spiti valley while Keylong is the district headquarters of Lahaul. Situated at very high altitudes in the Himalayas on the left bank of the River Spiti, Kaza has all modern facilities and is connected by road to Manali and Shimla. During the winter months though, these roads too are inaccessible. The route from Manali via Losar crossing Kunzum La and Rohtang La along the Chandrataal River is very beautiful. One can stay in the PWD houses or Private hotels.
Best time to visit: May to October
Languages spoken: Lahauli, English, Hindi, Bhoti
Climate: Cool summers and freezing winters
Buddhist Monastries: Key Gompa, Saskyagongmig Gompa, Dhankar Gompa, Tabo Monastery, Gungri Monastery
Natural Wonders: Pin valley, Kunzum Pass, Chandra Taal Lake, Rohtang Pass, Shigri glacier
Villages: Khoksar, Sissu, Tabo, Kaza, Kibber

Chandratal to Sarchu… a picturesque drive through Lahaul

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Just this morning I was overwhelmed to see the abundance that water has bestowed in the southern part of Lahaul. I thought that is glorious. And now I stand awestruck in this dry and desolate landscape where soaring mountains surround a vast high altitude rolling plain through which is a deep gorge and a river flowing through it… We are a little short of Sarchu and these are the Lingti plains where there is virtually no precipitation even in the winters…

And finally, Sarchu! There is virtually nothing in the place except a few tented camps during the summer months and a small army detachment year round. The wind howls making me burrow deeper into my jacket the minute I step out. We take a walk around the place and soak in its unique charm. But nature has been kind in all its adversity. Or maybe it is the stark unspoilt and unpolluted beauty that I am so taken with. Such places need no adornment, no embellishment. Just this raw, unadulterated nature is enough. This is a place one must travel to at least once in this lifetime!

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Road to Leh!

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This July, I completed a motorcycle ride from Gurgaon to Ladakh, covering Spiti Valley, Leh, Kargil and Srinagar – one of my many trips to this part of the world. Despite having done these rides multiple times earlier, why do I keep riding to these crazy terrains, where unless someone has actually travelled on a motorcycle? They wouldn’t believe what one would experience. What’s the lure of Ladakh still, when everyone and their mothers-in-law are riding/driving/flying there these days? When

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Spiti valley, a caravan diary

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Woke up with a terrible headache and nausea on the Day 3 of the voyage to the once forbidden land, Spiti Valley. Outside it was just another dawn in Kaza, the snow is reflecting a tinge of orange in the early morning sun; the spotless blue sky in the background is arched over the town. The Gong inside the head continued meanwhile; I needed oxygen then.

It’s the primary state hospital of Kaza where I met Serine and the fellow patients. An ugly looking machine was pushing oxygen through my nostrils and I was trying hard to concentrate. Serine teaches english in a local private school, where tibetian is hardly taught seriously, she frowned. Her mother was lying sick on the bed adjacent; they have ultrasound machine here but nobody knows how to operate, looks like she will have to take her mother to Simla, a 500 kms and a strong determination away from Kaza. She had once travelled to Delhi though, her sister works as a hotel receptionist there. The Metro escalators are amongst worst inventions of the human kind; and she frowned again…it continued and the other patients joined in no time. Soon I was being invited to their homes; for tea, thukpa and country liquor ! Never felt more disappointed on leaving a hospital; was feeling better already. Affection works better than the oxygen may be…who knows !

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Solo Travel, Himachal Tribal Circuit – Kinnaur Valley

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After crossing Simla and its suburbs, the lush green mountains and apple orchards in the valleys were a treat for the eyes. We had a small stop over at Theog. Rain drenched Theog looked all the more beautiful during sunset. I had never been beyond Theog before, so I had a fascinating image of Narkanda, a winter sport hill station of Himachal Pradesh, in my mind. But frankly, seeing Narkanda for the first time was an anti-climax. It is a small non-descript town, with hardly any tourists during the monsoon season. After Narkanda, it was a steep downhill journey with never ending zigzag turns and U-turns.

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The Barren Tribal Circuit

The Barren Tribal Circuit

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Tribal circuit is one of my best trip I had so far, more than 1000 KM X Chandigarh in 3 nights and 4 days, exploring through the whole of Himachal, passing through two major high altitude passes, exploring the changing vegetation and roving to places where you bound to feel “This is heaven and I am God”. You probably get hypnotized by the nature and feel need of nothing and feel a peace which only god can feel. All worries are left behind, in fact at that height when you look below from the edge of the cliff you will feel like there are my big worries looking so small from here!

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The land of monasteries and mysteries of God……

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I entered the ‘Spiti Valley – The Middle Land’ realizing that i have lost all the contact with the world outside. If everything goes according to the plan, it would be after 3 days i.e. on 7th Oct evening when I’ll get the network back upon reaching Manali. But for now let me enjoy the beauty of the Spiti Valley for the final 27 kms left to cover from Sumdo to Tabo. As the valley now divided into two parts ‘Light & Shade’ looked magnificent in the setting sun….

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