Snow-capped peaks, storybook villages, and swollen riversâ€”Lahaul-Spiti is a little explored, beautiful destination in the Himalayas. Read on to know more.
A Zen verse goes:
Earth, mountains, riversâ€”hidden in this nothingness. In this nothingness - earth, mountains, rivers revealed.
You may just decipher the mystical secret behind these verses as you stand before the breathtaking panorama of earth, mountains, and rivers that is Lahaul and Spiti. Rugged mountain ranges whose sheer ravines and perilous pinnacles demonstrate the beauty of harshness, architecturally inspiring monastic shrines that show you depth of silence, villages whose lush vegetation and smiling inhabitants complete a postcard picture, rivers and waterfalls that drench your body and soul with sweetnessâ€”does this scene appeal to you? If so, the twin valleys of Lahaul and Spiti would be the perfect monsoon getaway for you and your family or friends.
The remote valleys of Lahaul and Spiti lie on the Indo-Tibet border. They are surrounded by the Kullu Valley in the south, Ladakh in the north, and Tibet in the east. Many people say that these mountains
surpass the magic of the Leh, Nubra, and Zanskar valleys, combined.
Summers are cool and pleasant with songbirds and meadows and light
woollens are the norm. Winters are harsh and not a preferred time for
visiting. Neither of the valleys receives much rain, making it an ideal
destination for the monsoon months of May to October.
Places to See and Things to Do
In a place as untouched by urbanisation as this, even sitting by the
wayside and soaking in the austere wildness is a pleasurable
experience. However, there is much more to occupy your time at Lahaul
and Spiti. The local languages include Lahauli and Bhoti. However,
English and Hindi are understood as well.
The valleys are dotted with Buddhist monasteries (known as gompas) that are pleasing both to the eye and the mind. These are some interesting facts connected with the gompas:
The Guru Ghantal monastery, situated on the right bank of the Chandra River, is believed to be the oldest gompa
of Lahaul. It is structured out of wood and possesses pyramidal roofs
and wood carvings. You can see the idols of Padmasambhava and
Brajeshwari Devi here.
The Kardang monastery found across the Bhaga River, boasts of
a large library of Kangyur and Tangyur volumes of Buddhist scriptures
in Bhoti. There is a similar library at Tayul Gompa> as well.
The Shashur monastery has paintings that depict the history of the Buddha.
Kye monastery is the oldest and biggest monastery of the
Spiti valley, and worth a visit. Located above the Kye village, it
houses beautiful scriptures and paintings of Buddha and other
goddesses. You may enjoy watching the lamas (Buddhist monks) as they
practise dancing, singing, and blowing on pipes and horns. The
monastery offers religious training. One can find murals and books of
high aesthetic value here.
The Dhankar Monastery near Kaza is home to about 100 lamas.
Remember to look out for the statue of 'Vairochana' (Dhayan Buddha)
consisting of 4 complete figures seated back to back. You can also find
relics in the form of paintings and sculptures.
The murals at the Tabo Monastery have an uncanny similarity to the Ajanta cave paintings near Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
The Trikolinath Temple on the left bank of Chenab Temple is one of the
biggest crowd-pullers. Initially a Shiva temple, the six-armed image of
Avalokiteshvar, a deity of the Buddhists, was installed here by Guru
Padmasambhava. Today it is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists and is a
popular pilgrimage destination.
The Markula Devi Temple at Udaipur (a town in the Himalayas) is
renowned for its wooden carving on the roof and ceiling. A shrine
dedicated to Geypan, a powerful deity of Lahaul, can be found at
Shansha village. There is also a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga at
the top of Kunzum Pass.
Lovely, verdant villages dot the twin valleys. Don't miss the residence of the Thakur, the village head
at Gondla, 18 kilometres from Keylong. It is an eight-storey building,
a novelty in Lahaul. Built in 1,700 A.D., it is known as Gondla castle
or fort. You can also spend an evening discovering the mythological
history of Thandi village. Keylong is a paradise of emerald fields and
willow trees, with rivulets flowing through its tan hills and
snow-capped peaks. Kibber at 4,205 metres is one of the highest villages in the world and is surrounded by mountains on all sides.
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- The Indiaparenting Team