Lahaul & Spiti :
Location : Himachal Pradesh
Altitude : 6,500m
Formed In : 1960
Best Time To Visit :
Lahaul- Mid June To Late October
Spiti- August To October
The high Rohtang Pass, at the top of the Kullu valley very near Manali, is the main entry point to the stark splendour of Lahaul - a part of the district of Lahaul-Spiti. The Manali-Leh road, one of the highest highways in the world, crosses the subdivision linking Keylong , its headquarters, to Manali.
A high altitude cold desert, Spiti lying in the rain shadow of rugged mountain ranges has very little rain and an abundance of snow. It is out of land of fairy tales and fantasis.
Lahaul and Spiti, the largest district in Himachal Pradesh, is a vast area of high mountains and narrow valleys bounded by Ladakh to the north, Tibet to the east, Kinnaur to the southeast and the Kullu valley to the south. Lahaul is often regarded as a midway point en route to Leh and the Indus valley, but has more to offer travellers. Spiti has only recently been opened to foreign tourists attracted to its isolated Buddhist gompas and villages. The best time to visit Lahaul is mid-June to late October and Spiti is August to October.
Lahaul is also a fascinating area for Buddhist art and culture. The monasteries of Lahaul and Spiti are rich repositories of ancient murals, thankas, wood carvings and golden images of the Padmasambhava. The people are charming, friendly and hospitable with their own traditional dances, ballads, folk tales and legends. The valleys lie at a height of 2,745 metres above sea level. Summers in these valleys are cool and pleasant with green grass and alpine flowers and an abundance of crops. There is no monsoon in Lahaul and this enables climbers and trekkers to enjoy a long and unbroken season in perpetual sunshine and dry crisp air of Lahaul and explore the wilderness and grandeur of the inner Himalayas.
As far as the other valley i.e. Spiti is concerned, it is closed I to tourists. The valley of the Pin river is even wider than that of the Spiti. It joins the main Spiti valley at a point near Dungkar, going up the south-westerly direction, and ending below the Pin Parvati range, on the other side of which lies the Parvati valley. Like their twins from Lahaul, the people of Spiti follow Lamaism. A famous monastery named the Dankar Gompa is situated here. There are some big village such as Hansi in the upper valley and Kaurik further down.
With high passes standing between them and the 'civilized' world, the people of these valley have developed an intense love for their home and culture; their songs and dances are as chaste and pure as the snow that clothes the mountains around. At the slightest excuse, these 'children of the Himalayas' dress up in their gayest and dance in the open, amidst the rugged hills with an abandon and ease, unknown to the busy world of today. Wearing rich brocades and silk, exquisitely embroidered, and with masked faces they perform the devil dances, depicting the victory of good over evil--the age old battle.
Places to see :
Kye Monastery: It is situated 12-km north of Kaza and serves the western population of Spiti. Known as the oldest and biggest monastery of the valley, Kye Monastery is located at 4116m. above Kye village. It houses beautiful scriptures and paintings of Buddha and other goddesses. Many Lamas get religious training here such as dancing, singing and playing on pipes and horns. It has murals and books of high aesthetic value.
Thang Yug Gompa: It is located 13-km above Kaza, serving the western part of central Spiti. Situated in a secluded place in the narrow gauge of Kaza Nallah, it generally has a Lama from Tibet. Above this there is a long plateau which leads to Shilla peak.
Kungri Gompa: It is situated in the Pin valley about 10-km from Attargo where Spiti river has to be crossed to enter Pin valley. It is serves the population of Pin valley.
Gemur : It is 18-km from Keylong in Bhaga valley where devil dance is held during July in the Local Gompa. The place is situated on Manali-Leh highway.
Sarchu: It is the last border point between Himachal and Ladakh, where HPTDC put up a tented colony for the convenience of the tourists during summer season. It is situated at a distance of 116-km from Keylong.
Kibar: 15-km northwest of Kaza is Kibar or Kyipur, which at 4,205m. is reputed to be the highest village in the world. It is 200 km from Manali, and there's a bus to Kaza via Keylong and the bus trip takes 8 hours.
Losar (4080m): Situated near the confluence of Losar and Peeno streams, this village is worth a visit being the first big village of the Spiti valley and because of its Location. Yak and horse riding are other charms to add to its beauty and unique experience.
Kaza (3800m): 224-km from Manali, 197-km from Keylong and 425-km from Shimla, Kaza is a Sub Divisional Headquarter of Spiti Valley. It is situated at the foot of the step ridges on the left bank of Spiti river. Once it was the headquarter of Nono, the chief of Spiti. It has all modern facilities and is connected by road with Manali & Shimla except in the winter months.
HOW TO GET THERE
Road : Lahaul is connected with road from all parts of the country. Manali is the point where buses from various stations come. From here, one can take bus/taxi to any destination in Lahaul-Spiti, Pangi & Leh during the months between June to November depending upon opening and closing of Rohtang pass, the gateway to this valley. National highway 21 passes through this valley enroute to Leh. Other two directions are from Shimla via the Spiti Valley, along the road, which runs up to the Tibetan border through Kinnaur and from Zanskar and Ladakh over the Shingo La and Baralacha La passes. The Shingo Lo gives access to Lahul from Zanskar while the Baralacha La is on the Leh-Manali road and provides access to Lahul from Ladakh.
PLACES TO STAY
The town of Kaza is a maze of shops, hotels and houses. Some of the hotels in Kaza include Milarepa's Guest House and private accommodations. At Keylong a Tourist Bungalow is run by HTPDC.
Lahaul's climate is very much similar to that of Ladakh and Zanskar, which border it to the north. Beyond the reach of the monsoon, the valley sees little rain in summer, when the sun is strong and the nights are cool. Between late October and late March, heavy snow closes the passes, and seals of the region. Less rainfall in both valleys enables climbers & trekkers to enjoy a long and unbroken season in perpetual sunshine and explore the wilderness and grandeur of the inner Himalaya. This unique feature makes Lahul-Spiti as an ideal destination for tourists and trekkers in the month of July, August and September
Lahaul and Spiti at a glance :
Area 12,210 sq km.
Places of Interest
Suraj Tal , Guru Ghantal Monastery(3020 m) , Tashigang Gompa , Tilasangh Monastery , Kaza , Thang yug Gompa , Ki and Kibber , Tabo Gompa , Shashur Gompa , Dhankar Monastery , Kunzam , Keylong , Tayul Gompa(3900 m) , Khardong Gompa , Pin Valley National Park