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

The Great Himachal Circuit – Part 4 : Kaza to Manali

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Chattru at a height of around 13000 ft, around 17 KM from Gramphu, 32 KM from Rohtang top, and we started around 4:30 from there. Next was Gramphu on way and because of the pebbled roads another 1 hour to reach Gramphu. And lots of small as well as big waterfalls. And lots of nullahs. As we approach towards Rohtang top, greenery starts to appear and the dryness starts to disappear. Lovely view of small waterfalls in distant mountains on the opposite side, makes the journey lovely. In one such waterfall, Lekhram stopped the cab and washed it, while we enjoyed the view of the waterfall, the chilled water and the amazing view.

Once Gramphu is crossed, then starts the steep rise to Rohtang Pass. And oh man, the view is something one can never forget. Just before getting up, there is a route that joins the route we were into. This route is coming directly from Ladakh, the well know Leh-Manali highway. As one rise up, there may be numerous landslide clearances. And stoppages and long traffic snarls can eat up few hours. But all these clearances are very enjoyable.

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Road to Leh Part 2 : Manali-Keylong-Sarchu

Road to Leh Part 2 : Manali-Keylong-Sarchu

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The entry to Sarchu was amazing. After crossing the curvy path of mountains and snow, one suddenly comes across a vast plain between the high mountains but with little snow cover. There are gorges on one side where a thin stream of Yunam river flows. These gorges have very strange formations which look like pointed erections, possibly caused by wind erosion. The place is bone dry with cracks appearing in the soil with little precipitation even in severe winter when temperatures plummet below -30 degC. However, the place is very windy with wind velocities possibly approaching 40-50 Km/hr making the temperatures feel subzero despite actual temperature being about 5-10 degC. Here, no one lives permanently except a few Army settlements. Reception of cell phone is nonexistent and one really need to live like nomads. We found a camping site where we stayed in the camps. These camps serve you food and bedding and some of them also provide toilets which is indeed a luxury at this place (exposing your bum to morning frost is no fun :) ).

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The Trans Himalayan Experience

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We halted there for about an hour to tank up on fuel, breakfast and water. Soon it was time to move and we headed out to Tanglang La over the Gata Loops, which is a series of 21 hairpin bends, starting at 13780 Ft ASl and in a stretch of 17 kms, take you up by 1500 Ft to 15302 ft ASL.

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