SPITI : Trip Report

#31 Jul 12th, 2016, 21:44
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#31
Tabo : Ajanta of the Himalayas

I am not an expert on Art but I could appreciate the aesthetics of it . We reached the Monastery before the doors were open . Seeing our enthusiasm the Lamaji opened the Main temple " The chamber of pictures" - is it only me or anyone noticed the Harry potter esque name .
The inner chamber have very low light , once the eyes got used to the low ambient light , I was spell bound by the exquisite murals on the walls & ceilings depicting the Buddhist pantheon. The majority of the paintings are from 10th to 14th century. Other major temples are the Golden Temple, Bodhisattva Maitreya temple,Temple of Dromton etc. The artwork is now under preservation of ASI but many wall paintings of some temples were lost due to water leakage from roof and other natural calamities like earthquake. For art lovers, a whole day at Tabo won't be enough!!

Our next Itinerary : Pin Valley - Komic - Langza

Next we started for Pin Valley from Tabo . The road was dusty and full of gravels , with warning signs “ Shooting stones” all along. We crossed a bridge and rode towards Pin valley. The landscape changed drastically and it was a lot more greener. For me, it was the most scenic part of Spiti I witnessed till now. There was the gurgling PIN River , valleys wide open , green pastures, houses built at edge of the cliff and a puff of fresh air. It took about 2 hrs to reach Pin valley. But as they rightly say " The Journey is more important "













We had lunch at Tara Guest House and went for walk in the village.
#32 Jul 12th, 2016, 22:38
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Spiti Villages:

We started at 2 :00 PM from Pin valley. It was the same old story, we wanted to spend more time at Pin Valley but our driver wanted us to reach Langza as early as possible .But this time it was different , he did gave me an offer I couldn't resist , he offered me to show a trek where 7 villages will be visible from the top. I was reeling after the failed Dhankar Trek and jumped on this possible opportunity.
Traversing the Pin valley , we were climbing high for the mountain villages. Our first stop was at Demul. The setting of the village was very picturesque , there were the green rolling hills and modest village huts.



Our car waited at a circle and I began my hiking to the high vantage point. The trail had some moderate climbs and easy walks through open pastures. There were sparse undergrowth of reddish thorny bushes, unknown wild flowers in full bloom and birds hopping from one bush to the other. A howling wind was blowing and I fully enjoyed the hike . I walked for about 30-40 mins , a long way away from the car and it was no longer visible.



I looked up in the direction where I need to go , gauging the ascent it would take another half an hour for me to reach . I was contemplating to take a shorter but steep path. Just then, my eyes fell on something and I froze in my stride. A Himalayan Blue sheep in its white coat grazing at the middle of the hiking path. In slow motion , I raised the camera and started taking pictures . Soon , another one joined the former. I approached them with slow foot steps but somehow they got heed of it and hastily beat a retreat .















I climbed up but couldn’t find any trace of them . After that I lost all my interest in the hike and sat at the edge of the cliff , enjoying the howling wind and the Spiti river drawn with chalk across brown mountains. Happy and content , I receded back to the car .





It took almost 1.5 hrs for the complete hike . When , I reached my wife showed a small fossil of snail , she found among the rocks. Our driver , Hosiar singh, showed a large herd of Himalayan blue sheep grazing on the far side of the mountain.

#33 Jul 12th, 2016, 23:20
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Komic :

After Demul , our next scheduled stop was at Komic . The road we were driving was not for the faint hearted , hairpin bends and driving close to the cliff. The scenery was exceedingly beautiful but the drive kept me occupied with my heart in the mouth . Here our driver showed his expertise on these roads . The sun's flare made it impossible to see anything without the shades. I was also getting a terrible headache by then , it may be due to the rise in altitude. We reached komic when it is was well past 6 PM.

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We climbed up the stairs and reached the Tangyud Monastery . We called for the young lama and he opened the monastery gate for us .



Like many other monasteries, the Tangyud monastery was also built like a fort at the edge of a cliff and belonged to the Sakya sect . Two things inside the monastery really surprised me- 1) First was the stuffed snow leopard hanging at the entrance. The magnificent creature , I have only seen in Nat geo and hope to see one in real someday. A really sad end to an endangered animal .
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2) Other , the signage of " Woman not allowed " alongside the leopard, earlier i thought Buddhism to be less parochial compared to other major religions . The signage made my wife very upset . At least all religions are same in restricting woman from places of worship.

Langza in the evening :

It was already 7 o'clock in the evening when we approached Langza . The Chau chau Kang Nilda peak was visible in the backdrop .

"Last shot of the day before my camera battery committed Harakiri"



It was the most beautiful village of spiti. Some amount of daylight was still left and I dragged our luggage through the narrow trails to the village homestay " Tanzi Homestay " where we had a booking. We were the only guests on that day . By that time my headache was bad and I was feeling terribly cold. I took to bed immediately after reaching the room.
The owner was very hospitable , they welcomed us just like family members . She called me for dinner at 9 PM . I looked out of the room window , it was a beautiful starry night over Langza. After dinner, I went to sleep.
#34 Jul 12th, 2016, 23:53
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Langza in the morning :

I woke up at 5 AM and after a good night's sleep felt completely fresh . I took the camera , jacket and sneaked out of the house . The village was still asleep and a worn moon was hovering in the morning sky. I was in the mood to hike and made my way towards the chau chau and climbed to a high vantage point. . I was hoping to get glimpse of any Ibex or red fox in the area. Last night , Hosiar singh , told me stories of Ibex herd visible in that region and red foxes jumping on flying birds for a catch. Though I found none , I made the most of it enjoying the morning fresh air and watching the Idyllic village get to life at day break.

A lonely moon above Langza:



Buddha of the Rising sun and Moon :



Chau chau peak framed with Buddha :




Farming using Yaks as day light approaches :



I reached GH for breakfast . After freshening up , we were on our way again . Our next stop was at Hikkim - the Highest post office of the world.


I had sent 3 post cards to my home and relatives. 15 days had passed , I am yet to receive any postcard but I have kept my fingers crossed.
#35 Jul 14th, 2016, 23:01
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#35
Great report , Himadri. Don't know how i missed it. Just stumbled upon it now and read through; though you had mentioned in another thread that you were going to write one after your trip to Spiti. Did not realise that it was already started.
The photographs are marvellous. The landscapes bring out the scene as it is. Great going. And i see that your camera sensor is clean...well almost!
#36 Jul 14th, 2016, 23:09
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earthian View Post Great report , Himadri. Don't know how i missed it. Just stumbled upon it now and read through; though you had mentioned in another thread that you were going to write one after your trip to Spiti. Did not realise that it was already started.
The photographs are marvellous. The landscapes bring out the scene as it is. Great going. And i see that your camera sensor is clean...well almost!
ya almost ...i need to take it to shop !!
#37 Jul 14th, 2016, 23:37
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#37

Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by SayanBanerjee View Post Indeed it is the place where God resides. Photos are spectacular with appropriate writeup, thanks for presenting such a nice travelogue.
is it possible to go in end december
#38 Jul 15th, 2016, 22:37
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Originally Posted by amitava2016 View Post

is it possible to go in end december
In December it is possible to go by kinnaur side but depends on the snow .
Chandrataal wont be possible though.
#39 Jul 15th, 2016, 23:09
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Journey to Chandrataal Lake :

After Hikkim , we hardly stopped anywhere , except for a view point from where the entire kaza town is visible . We also gave lift to a local boy & girl from Hikkim , they unfortunately missed the morning cab and were taking a long walk to kaza. The girl's mother requested us to look for her and drop her to kaza. In spiti, in the higher villages , it is common for people to ask for lift as public transportation is very infrequent and minimum.We dropped them at kaza and also got our car filled at the kaza petrol pump.

We drove for 3-4 hours till we reached losar during noon , we had noodles as rice was not available yet . From Losar it took another 1 hour to reach Kunzum top . It was the second time in a week we were standing on kunzum , first under a full moon and now under the clear daylight , Kunzum looked spectacular . A wind was blowing and without the jacket I felt the cold bite.
I took as many frames as I could imagine , our driver also prayed at the site for blessings for our onward journey.

Prayer flags fluttering in the wind :


Kunzum , so beautiful :
#40 Jul 15th, 2016, 23:30
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Contd..
From Kunzum , chandrataal must be approx. 19-20 kms . But our sense of distance and time doesnot work here , it is all relativity . The road was bad at most patches and some spot was worse . We took a complete grinding even in an Innova. But the bad road can't take away the beauty of the landscape. We reached Chandrataal camp site which is 2.5-3 km away from the lake at about 2:30 PM. We had booking at the Parasol camps and were greeted by the staff of the camp.
Close to the camp there were yaks grazing and a herd of sheep grazing at the slope of the hill.



Due to restriction by the authority , cars can go up to 1.5 km only and the remaining distance need to be covered on foot. The walk was pleasant among green pastures and snow white peaks on the back ground.



After walking for 15-20 mins , we got the first view of the majestic lake . The water was sea blue , a sight to behold.

This is how the lake looked for the first time :

Last edited by sindabad; Jul 16th, 2016 at 08:39..
#41 Jul 16th, 2016, 00:00
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We reached the lake and waited for a while to soak in the heavenly beauty . Then instinctively decided to go around the lake , it would be a distance of 5 km . There are well laid path to go around the lake . Soon we met the shepherd and his large flock. They start their journey from Manali on foot and walk till chandrataal in search of fresh grass. They need special permits for grazing their flock.

Shepherd by the lake:





Beautiful chandrataal :



All that glitters !!









We circumnavigated the entire lake in 2 hrs. All the time I was hoping to get those refelctions I have seen in chandrataal's photos earlier but I waited till sunset and nothing happened . Later one driver told me " ye sirf 10-15 min ka game hai" . Anyways , I enjoyed sitting at the lake side , breathing in the fresh air and listening to the sounds of the mountains far away while closing my eyes.
#42 Jul 16th, 2016, 00:34
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After sunset , we made our way back to the car parking . Our driver seemed to be little inebriated , it made me very upset . It is highly risky to drive on such roads in a drunk state , as we had to only go 1-2 km , I didn't say anything.
Back to the camps, it looked adventurous but for someone who attaches maximum importance to personal hygiene , the tents could be a disaster, particularly the toilets were unusable. We just waited inside the tent for the dinner bells as we were completely famished . Finally we had dinner at 9 PM at a separate tent , it was extremely cold outside and windy . We were told to be ready by 6 AM , so we slept early.
Return to Manali :
We could only start by 7 AM due to problem with the car tyre , the journey was by the same route crossing Rohtang pass ,as we slowly moved away from spiti the pain of the bad roads seemed worse. We crossed Rohtang in 5-6 hrs , there was a huge gathering of tourists. We wanted to see Solang valley but after reaching there and seeing the weekend rush of people, hastily beat a retreat . Our spitian eyes were not yet ready for the huge crowd. My mind is still thinking about the Komic sign board -village population 114 people and I thought " Ah! Bliss!" . So instead we decided to reach Manali Hotel and rest.

Conclusion :

Next day , we left Manali at 6 AM and reached chandigarh by 2-3 PM for our onward journey. The journey was inconsequential except that it was long , arduous and boring. Only thing that kept me happy all these time were memories of the week spent in "SPITI : A place where the God truly lives ".

That's it folks , thanks for reading , will update on hotel and driver nos in next post
Last edited by sindabad; Jul 16th, 2016 at 09:01..
#43 Jul 16th, 2016, 06:24
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#43
Well, one more destination added to my bucket list. There is something about the mountains that beckon one. Very good TR with really great photographs that capture succinctly and vividly the beauty of the mountains. Going around that lake was brilliant, though tiring, possibly.
Sages have a reason to want to live there, i am sure. Possibly closer to Nature in all its glory and hence closer to its creator.

What would be great would be if there was a place to stay for say a week, in relatively clean lodgings.
#44 Jul 16th, 2016, 08:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earthian View Post Well, one more destination added to my bucket list. There is something about the mountains that beckon one. Very good TR with really great photographs that capture succinctly and vividly the beauty of the mountains. Going around that lake was brilliant, though tiring, possibly.
Sages have a reason to want to live there, i am sure. Possibly closer to Nature in all its glory and hence closer to its creator.

What would be great would be if there was a place to stay for say a week, in relatively clean lodgings.
Spiti has been in my bucket list for long , I am glad to have finally done it . Another movie that prompted me to do this trip was Imtiaz ali's Highway .When I am in the mountain I find inner peace. Long back I have discovered the mountain therapy, sit at any isolated spot with your eyes closed and listen closely to the sound of wind blowing , it relaxes the mind ,
In chandrataal there are no permanent lodging as it is a protected area , your best bet would be to stay at Losar and make a day trip.
#45 Jul 16th, 2016, 09:31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rajatchakraborty View Post At dhankar, lamaji asked us to go to the terrace one by one, the floor was quite unstable. Hope they strengthen the main structure.
I am revisiting spiti through your travelogue, and great photographs..
I think they have put up a board to that effect for the no of people who could climb to the roof at once, also women were not allowed on the roof . But most woman I met weight lesser than man but there can be exceptions
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