[Himachal GK] Important Details and History of District Lahaul-Spiti, Himachal Pradesh

Details about District Lahaul-Spiti, Himachal Pradesh :
  • Headquarter: Keylong
  • Altitude: 3165 meters
  • Languages spoken: Bhoti, Manchat, Gaheri and Changsa.
  • The district Lahaul-Spiti lies between 31°44’55” and 32°59’57” North latitude and 76°46’29” and 78°41’34” East longitude.
  • The Lahaul has three prominent valleys. They are ‘Chandra Valley’ or ‘Rangoli Valley’, ‘Bhaga Valley’ or ‘Gara Valley’ and ‘Chandra Bhaga Valley’ or ‘Pattan Valley’.
  • Chandra Bhaga valley is also called as ‘orchard and granary of Lahaul-Spiti’.
  • ‘Khoksar’ is the first village of Lahaul valley.
  • The prominent passes in the Lahaul-Spiti district are Rohtang Pass, Kukti Pass, Baralacha Pass, Kunzum Pass, Banghal Pass, and Shing-dkon Pass.
  • Spiti has four distinct regions. They are Sham Region, Pin Region, Bhar Region and Tud Region. Sham is the lower region of Spiti. This region is situated on both sides of River Spiti between its confluence with River Lingti and its junction with Pare.
  • River Spiti rises from the slopes of Kunzum La.
  • Famous fairs celebrated in the Lahaul-Spiti district are Ladarch fair (annual fair held at Kibber in the month of July), Sissu fair, Phagli or Kun fair (Pattan valley), Pon fair (Pattan valley).

POPULATION
2011 Census
Total
Number
31,528 (Lahaul=10,199, Udaipur=8,884, Spiti=12,445)
Male
Number
16,455 (52.20%)
Female
Number
15,073 (47.80%)
Rural
Number
31,528
Urban
Number
Nil
SC Population
Number
2,605 (07.84%)(as per 2001)
ST Population
Number
24,238 (72.95%)(as per 2001)
Others
Number
6381 (19.21%)(as per 2001)
Sex Ratio
916 Women per 1000 Men
Density of Population
Per Square KM
2
Birth Rate
as per 1995 year
16.2
Death Rate
6.1
PEOPLE & CULTURE
Major Religions
Hindu & Bodh
Languages Spoken
Manchad Dialects, Bhoti, Sanskrit
Culture
Tibetan & Bhoti Culture
Traditions
God Prayers
Art Forms
Tibetan
LITERACY RATE AGGREGATE
77.24%
Male Literacy
86.97%
Female Literacy
66.50%
GEOGRAPHICAL AREA
Hectares
13,833 Sq Kms
9,11,195 Hectares
-Lahaul
-Udaipur
-Spiti
3472
1,97,612
7,10,111
Forest Area
Hectare
1,37,376
Total Agricultural Area
Hectare
3,503
Cultivated Area
Hectare
3,398
Irrigated Area
Hectare
3,398
Area Under Major Crops
  • Barly
  • Maize
  • Wheat
  • Potato
  • Peas
Area Under Fruits
Hectares



403
19
46
747
1782


202

Altitude
Above Mean Sea Level
10,050 feet
Ranges lies between 5,480 meters and 6,400 meters
Longitude
Lies between East Longitude 76 46' 29" and 78 41' 34"
Latitude
Lies between North Latitude 31 44' 57" and 32 59' 57"
Major Rivers
CHANDRA + BHAGA =Chenab
CLIMATE
Generally Cool
Humidity
Generally Dry
Rainfall/Snowfall
Scanty/Heavy(1185.8 cm)
Rainfall
2010
1461.2 milli meters
DISTANCES
From State Capital Shimla
Nearest Railway Station
Shimla
341 Km
Nearest Airport
Bhuntar for Lahaul
Shimla for Spiti
166 Km
341 Km
ADMINISTRATIVE SET UP
As on 01st Jan 2011
Sub-Divisions
3 (Keylong, Kaza, Udaipur)
Tehsils
2 (Lahaul at Keylong, Spiti at Kaza)
Sub-Tehsil
1(Udaipur)
Development Blocks
2 (Lahaul, Spiti)
Gram Panchayats
41 (Lahaul=28, Spiti=13)
Villages
521
HEALTH SET UP
As on 01st Jan.2011
District Hospitals
1
Community Health Centers
3 (Udaipur, Shansha, Kaza)
Primary Health Centers
15 (Sissu, Gondhla, Gemur, Tholang, Jhalma, Thirot, Tingret, Tabo, Sagnam,Darcha,Phura,Tindi, Lossar,Hansa,Kibber )
Civil Dispensaries
5 (Darcha, Phura, Kibber, Lossar, Hansa)
Sub Centers
36 (26 in Lahaul, 10 in Spiti)
TBA
36
Ayurvedic Hospitals
1
Ayurvedic Dispensaries
21
EDUCATION
Primary Schools
205
Middle Schools
33
High Schools/Sr Sec Schools
29
Govt Degree College
1 at Kukumseri (Udaipur)
Kendriya Vidyalaya (KVS)
1 at Keylong
DIET
1 at Tandi
University
Nil
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
Hospitals
14(Lahaul=9,Kaza=5)
Dispensaries
43(Lahaul=25,Kaza=18)
AI Centres
40(Lahaul=30,Kaza=10)
Sheep & Wool Ext. Centres
1
Dispesary(MMAPDY)
1
Mobile Units
1
LIVESTOCK   POPULATION
65,109
Total Live Stock
65,109(cattle=12280,Yak=1290, Sheep=37004, Goat=8443, Horse=17, Mithun=2,      pony=955, Dog=215,   Poultry=2896 , Donkey=2007
GENERAL
Telephone Connections
Around 800
Villages with link road
190 approx
Katcha Roads
Kms
568
Metalled Roads
Kms
222
Electrified Villages
100% Electrified
287
Census Villages where drinking water facility available
100%

287
Nationalized Bank Branches
SBI,SBP,UCO,PNB


12
Name of Lead Bank
SBI
Cooperative Bank Branches

3
Post Offices/VPO
47
Telegraph Offices
1
Police Post/Chowki

3(Police Stations-Keylong, Udaipur, Kaza)
(Police Chowki-Tindi, Jhalman, Koksar, CP Sumdo)
Major Crops
Potato, Peas, Kuth, Hops, Seabuckthorn
HP State Govt Employees
Number
2318
Gazetted
138
Non-Gazetted
2180
Co-operatives Societies
123
Fair Price Shops
67
RELIGIOUS PLACES
  1. Triloknath Temple, Udaipur (Lahaul Valley)
  2. Mrikula Mata Temple, Udaipur (Lahaul Valley)
  3. Lady Of Keylong
BODH MONASTERIES
  1. Kardang
  2. Shashur
  3. Gemur
  4. Tabo
  5. Kee
  6. Tayul
  7. Guru Ghantal
RIVER & LAKE

  1. Chandra River
  2. Bhaga River
  3. Chandrabhaga
  4. Spiti River
  5. Tsarab River

  1. Chandra Tal
  2. Suraj Tal
  3. Neel Kanth
PASSES
  1. Rohtang (3978m)
  2. Baralacha La (4830m)
  3. Kunzam (4551m)
  4. Pin Parvati (5319m)
  5. Ghunsarng (5600m)
  6. Monirang (5335m)
  7. Sara Umga (5019m)
  8. Hamta (4268m)
  9. Kugti (5040m)
  10. Kalicho (4803m)
  11. Tarsalamu (5358m)
PWD CIRCUIT HOUSES
3 (Keylong, Udaipur, Kaza)
PWD REST HOUSES
24 (Keylong, Jispa, Patseo, Thirot, Udaipur, Tindi, Gondhla, Sissu, Koksar, Chhatru, Chota Dara, Kaza, Tabo, Losar, Samd, Poh, Sagna)
IPH REST HOUSES
7
Forest REST HOUSES
4 (Keylong, Jahalman, Udaipur)
HPSEB REST HOUSES
3 (Karga, Thirot, Rongtong)
HELIPADS
  1. Stingri
  2. Barring
  3. Sissu
  4. Tingret
  5. Udaipur
  6. Rawa
  7. Jispa
  8. Tindi
1.Kaza
2.Tabo
PETROL PUMPS
  1. Tandi (Lahaul) 112 Kmsaway from Manali on Manali-Keylong-Leh highway.
  2. Kaza (Spiti) 421 Kms away from Shimla.




Fig : Lahaul-Spiti District 


History of Lahaul-Spiti:
  • Tibet- Ladakhi Mughal war was fought in A.D 1681- A.D 1683.
  • Gondhla fort was built by Mann Singh.
  • In A.D. 1695, Raja Udai Singh (A.D. 1690-1720) of Chamba renamed Murgul as Udaipur.
  • Andrew Wilson, a European traveler called Lahaul ‘a valley of glaciers’ in 1873 A.D.
  • Mr. Cunningham visited Lahaul in 1839 A.D.
  • Zorawar Singh was the Governor of Ladakh.
  • In 1960 A.D., the government of Punjab converted Lahaul-Spiti into a district with headquarter at Keylong. In 1966 A.D., it was transferred to the state of Himachal Pradesh.
  • ‘Dugpo’ is a ladies gown in Lahaul-Spiti.
  • The most popular tribal deities in Lahaul-Spiti are ‘Gyepang’ and ‘Dabla’.
  • The monasteries in the Lahaul region are Khardong, Shashur Gemur and Guru Ghantal. ‘Gompa’ is the synonym of Monastery.
  • There are three monasteries in Spiti region. They are Tabo, Kee and Dhankar.
  • Three different types of marriage systems are prevalent in Lahaul. The first one is ‘Tebagston or Mothe biah’ (arranged marriage). The second is‘Kowanchi Biah’ (arranged but performed very briefly). The third and the last one is ‘Kunmaibagstan or Kuchi Biah’ (marriage by elopement).
  • Two types of marriage system are prevalent in Spiti region. The first one is arranged marriage and the second one is ‘Khandum’ (choice is made against the wishes of their parents).
  • ‘Kuphachacha’ or ‘Tshud-Thwagsti’ is a ritual performed in the case of divorce in Lahaul-Spiti, simple woolen thread is tied to the little finger of both the companions is pulled apart in presence of some elder person and this decides the issue.


Detailed History of Lahaul-Spiti:
Lahaul & Spiti is a big district having international boundary with Tibet. It  attained the status of a district in the year 1960. Till then it was merely a tehsil of Kullu Sub-division. The valleys. mountains, glaciers, rivers, forests, pastures, gompas (monastries) and ancient buildings of the former ruling dynasty are the principal objects of study.

The rugged awe-inspiring snow clad mountains are standing invitation to the hikers, mountaineers and adventurers. The entire district is full of natural scenery exorting the tourists and visitors to explore and imbibe its hidden grandeur. The customs, myths, beliefs and conventions of the simple unsophisticated people are the unique features of this border highland. Every village or a hamlet has a prayer flag fluttering over the Buddhist monastery. These shrines are the centers of the cultural life of the people that have influenced their religious beliefs for centuries and round which their social life revolves.

Origin of the Name of the District
Lahaul & Spiti, which now form, a district of Himachal Pradesh, bordering Tibet, were at one time separate Himalayan waziries or cantons of the Kullu sub-divisions, and Kullu itself formed a part of Kangra district of Punjab.

As is clear from the name ‘Lahaul & Spiti’, the district comprises two different mountains tracts, one known as Lahaul and the other as Spiti. Hence the name of the district came into being with the formation of these two parts into a revenue district. The names, Lahaul & Spiti, have different origins.

Hiuen Tsiang stated Lahaul to be 1800 or 1900 li (575 or 610 Km) distant by road from the middle of Kiu-lu-to (Kulu). It is a gross overestimate as the first village in Lahaul is only about 70 kms from Sultanpur. Despite this error, whatever its source may be, Lahaul is clearly the country referred to here. But the Tibetan Li-yul has also ben identified by Rockhill with Khotan. If this is correct Hiuen Tsiang's placing Lo-u-lo at 1800 or 1900 li north of Kulu might be intelligible though an under-estimate. Probably Hiuen Tsiang confused the two countries as Li-yul (Khotan) and Lo-u-lo (Lahaul) in his estimate of distances, admittedly derived from hearsay.

In ancient Buddhist scripures, 'Padma thangyiang' and 'Mam-kambum' there is mention of a country named Khasa or Hasha to the south of Ladakh and Zangskar. It is possible also that 'Garzha' may be corruption of Khasa or Hasha. Between the 6th century B.C. and the 5th century A.D., the Saka and Khasa tribes, after having been driven out from Central Asia by the Huns, crossed over into India. many of these settled down in the valleys of Mid-Himalayas between Garhwal and Ladakh. This is borne out by the numerous remains of their graves found in these valleys. There is a nullah near Keylong known as Shaks, which seems to have taken its name after the Saka tribe settled in the Bhaga valley.

The Histroy of the District as an Administrative Unit
The two units of the district i.e. Lahaul & Spiti, have separate historical backgrounds. In the distant past Lahaul had been changing hands between the rulers of Ladakh and Kulu. In the second half of the seventeenth century with the disintegration of Ladakh kingdom, Lahaul passed into the hands of the Kulu chief. In 1840, Maharaja Ranjit Singh took over Lahaul along with Kulu and ruled over it till 1846 when the area came under the sway of the British. From 1846 to 1940, Lahaul formed part of the Kulu sub-division of Kangra district and was administered through the local jagirdars/thakurs. One of the thakurs was designated as Wizier of Lahaul & was invested with   judicial and executive powers. Another thakur was given the powers of a Revenue Officer. These functionaries exercised traditional as well as other power conferred by the Government. The Assistant Commissioner. Kulu used to visit the area once a year for a month or so. In the late thirties the unprecedented prosperity of the people through growing kuth  and their consequent awakening created a formidable challenge to the power and influence of the Wizier of Lahaul, which gradually started declining. The inadequacy was soon noticed by the Government which considered the extension of the regular system of administration. Accordingly in 1941, a separate sub-tehsil comprising Lahaul & Spiti was formed and a naib-tehsildar was posted at Keylong thereby divesting the thakurs of their powers. The system remained in vogue till June, 1960 when Lahaul & Spiti district came into being. Simultaneously, Lahaul was constituted into a separate tehsil, and, later on it was formed into a sub-division.

The East India Company took over the possession of the Spiti portion in the year 1846 after the cessation of cis-Satluj States as a result of the Anglo-Sikh War. Before that it formed a part of Ladakh, a subsidiary of Jammu & Kashmir. Because of its remoteness and poverty of natural resources, the British following the example of the Ladakhi rulers, did not introduce any substantial changes in the administrative set up of the territory. The Nono of Kyuling was recognized as the hereditary Wizier of Spiti (re-affirmed by the Spiti Frontier Regulations of 1883) and was suppose to represent the British India Government. He collected the land revenue for the Government, his judicial jurisdiction included trial of all criminal cases, except cases of murder; and he performed all functions and enjoyed all necessary powers for the fulfillment of his tasks and duties, as laid down in the regulations of 1883.

In 1941, Spiti,with Lahaul, was constituted into a separate sub-tehsil of Kullu sub-division which had its headquarters at Keylong. Later on, after the formation of Lahaul & Spiti into a district, in 1960, Spiti was formed into a sub-division with its headquarter at Kaza.



Geography :

Geographical Conditions :
The valley of Lahoul is situated to the south of Ladakh. For this very reason this place derived its name “Lho-Yul” meaning "Southern Country". To its south is situated the beautiful valley of Kullu across the Rohtang Pass (3195Mtrs) and the Bara Bangahal (Kangra) across the “Asakh” pass (5051Mtrs) . Its western boundaries touch the Pangi and Churah areas of Distt. Chamba. To its north situated the valleys of Zanskar and Ladakh across Shingola (5090 Mtrs) and Baralacha la (5450 Mtrs) respectively. Its eastern and south eastern boundaries coincide with those of Spiti and Western Tibet across the Kunzom Pass (4500 Mtrs).

Approach :

Approach To Lahaul Valley: Upto Kullu by air (Bhunter Airport) or road then proceed to Manali from where one can easily reach Keylong the Headquarter town of Lahoul  valley through Rohtang Pass by Bus/ Jeep. Its a 115 Km journey from Manali which takes 6 hours.  Although one can opt for other approaches such as Shimla- Reckong Peo- Kaza – Kunzom – Keylong. Leh- Tanglangla – Baralacha la – Keylong.

Approach To Spiti Valley: Spiti is linked via the Sutlej valley of Kinnaur with motorable road. Upto Shimla by air, rail or road. By road from Shimla to Kaza (The headquarter of Spiti division) the distance is 412 kms. This is via Narkanda, Rampur, Jeori, Wangtu, Karcham, Powari, Jangi, Puh.
Due to closure of Rohtang Pass the road to Lahaul valley remains closed from Mid November to MidMay every year and due to closure of Kunzam Pass the road from Lahaul valley to Spiti i.e. Koksar-Batal-Kaza remains closed from Nov to June, however the road to Spiti valley from Kinnaur is almost all-weather road.

Climate :
Since the valley is situated in rain shadow area, north of the Pir Panjal ranges the weather remains pleasant and quite comfortable during summers i.e. from May to mid Oct. This is the best season to visit this valley. It seldom rains, and the Mercury level does not exceed 300c and never falls below 15c through out the period mentioned above. One can always enjoy bright sunshine wandering within lush green valley. There is little or no rain in monsoons. The climate remains dry & invigorating. The days are hot and night are extremely cold. Heavy/Light woolens are recommended.
During winter, i.e. from Nov. last to April because of western disturbances it snows heavily and the temp. goes down below minus. There is an average annual snow fall of about 7 feet.


Petrol Pumps :
In district Lahaul & Spiti there are only two petrol pumps one at Tandi (Lahaul valley) which is 105 Km away from Manali and second in Kaza (Spiti valley) which is 421 Km away from Shimla. In Lahaul valley after Tandi another petrol pump is situated at Leh (J & K) which is 368 Km away from Tandi.
Tele-Communication & Internet Facilities:
In the district BSNL P&T  and Mobile facility are available. The BSNL & AIRTEL cellular services are available. The BSNL coverage area is Keylong, Tandi, Sissu, Goushal, Koksar (from Keylong to Koksar side), Keylong, Udaipur, Darcha and Kaza. Recently Airtel service has also been started from Keylong this year. Right now coverage area of Airtel is only in Keylong around area. The STD Codes for Keylong is 01900, Udaipur it is 01909 and for Kaza it is 01906. The basic P&T lines are upto Darcha only on Manali-Leh highway. Besides this WLL service of BSNL is also available.

Internet Facilities:
At Keylong & Kaza lot of locally established Internet cybercafé are available where one can access internet through BSNL dialup & GPRS service. BSNL GPRS is also working fine in the area.

Railway Reservation Ticket Counter:
A Railway Reservation Ticket Counter has been opened at DC Office,Keylong in i-Cosc Centre. Where railway tickets are issued on all working days between 10:00AM to 01:00PM
Museums/Art Galleries, Forts :
KEYLONG MUSUEM : A museum of Tribal Art along with an auditorium is being established at Keylong. The museum apart from archaeological finds displays Thanka Paintings, objects of everyday use as they existed before the  achievement of modern mechanised equipments in the District. The museum is also having  manuscripts in Bhoti Scripts and Tankri  documents. The musuem is also having a good auditorium for hosting cultural events. Open for general public on all working days including Sunday between 10:00 AM to 05:00PM except Tuesday. The museum is under the control of Department of Language Art & Culture.

At Kyuling (Spiti) the sect of  the  nono of Spiti ( the ruling Wazir of Spiti area under the nominal British control before Independence)have also established a small museum of artefacts.



RIVERS & GLACIERS : 
The Chandra and the Bhaga rivers are the main drainage lines of Lahaul. After their, confluence at Tandi, their combined waters constitute the Chandrabhaga or the Chenab river. In the Spiti sub-division, major river is Spiti river.

The rivers are not associated with any myths or historical events; on the other hand gods-one in each case are supposed to reside at the various junctions of the important streams and all such places are named after these gods. Similarly Places where ancient bridges exist are also supposed to be the abodes of gods; these gods are propitiated by occasional, often annual, sacrifices of goats and sheep.

Chandra River
The Chandra river originates from a huge snow, bed on the south-eastern side of the Baralacha la and assumes a large size very soon. During the summer, it becomes unfordable within a short distance, about two kilometers of its source, while the rocky bed, the icy temperature of the water and the swiftness of. the current deter the boldest swimmer. Looking down the valley from the pass, a vista of grand peaks and glaciers, on the right hand side, falling abruptly to the water's edge makes a memorable impression on the visitor. On the left hand, the slopes are bare the feet of which remain perpetually covered under heavy mass of debris falling from above.Lower down, the Chandra Tal, a kilometre long and a half wide, lies in a broad grassy plain, the lake is placed between a low ridge and the main Kunzam Range with an outlet into the river. Following a general south-westerly course for about 48 km the river sweeps round to the west whence a further course of 64 km west and north-west takes it to Tandi where it meets the Bhaga river. Throughout its course the river is fed by a number of glaciers the biggest being the Shigri on its left bank, and the Samundari on the right. The chief tributaries of the Chandra below Shigri lie on the right bank and they originate from the Sonapani glacier opposite Khoksar and the Sissu glacier. The left bank is steep and bare, but there is good grazing ground on the right bank beyond Khoksar. There are several villages on the right bank as far as Sissue, and from Sissue the valley becomes richer and cultivable down to Gondhla. The hamlets grow larger as Gondhla is approached, and the houses are seen to be better built, surrounded by groves of poplar and willow. The northern mountains take gentler slope, but on the south, opposite Gondhla, the whole mountain side, from the peaks over 6,090 metres to the river bed below. 3050 metres, is visible. Glaciers and snowfields overhanging rocky steeps merge into grassy slopes below. At one point the cliffs descend for some 1,210 metres and form the grandest precipices in the world.
From its source to its confluence with the Bhaga at Tandi, the Chandra registers a fall of about 12.5 metres per kilometre.
Bhaga River
The Bhaga river rises in the Suraj Tal or Lake of the Sun, a name given to the small but deep tarn situated well on the summit of the Baralacha Pass, a little below an altitude of 16,000 feet. The Bhaga is another significant constituent of the Chenab river system. It takes its origin from the snow-bed on the south-western foot of the Baralacha Pass and flows northwest and later curves round to the south-west. The country is barren down to Darcha village, which is situated near the junction of the Yoche Nullah and the Zangskar Chu with the main stream at about 3,500 metres from the sea. The total length of the river is about 65 km with an average fall ofabout 28 metres per kilometre. The banks of the stream are steep and rocky.

Below the confluence of the Chandra and the Bhaga at Tandi the joint stream is known as Chandrabhaga. From a height of about 2800 metres the fall of the river is six metres per kilometre through 25 km of length in a north-westerly direction to the border of Chamba district. The side ravines are numerous the biggest among them being the Chokhang nullah, which pours in from the north by the village of Thirot.
Chanderbhaga or Chenab River
In its upper course through Lahaul valley, the river Chenab is known as the Chandra-Bhaga. It is formed by the rivers Chandra and Bhaga and hence the name. As it flows through Lahul, this river has laid thick deposits of sediments. It is in spate during the summer season when the snow on the mountains melts. Flash floods occur with regularity in the early afternoon in summer. They have been known to wash away hundreds of cattle each year. The river Chandra-Bhaga may freeze occasionally during the winter season.
Spiti River

The Spiti river has its source far north on the eastern slopes off mountain ranges which ruin between Lahul and Spiti. The river is formed at the base of the Kunzam Range by the confluence of Kunzam La Togpo and the streams Kabzima and Pinglung. On the western side of its sour lies a vast salt-water lake. The river follows a long winding course interloced here and there by spurs that project from the foot of the plateaus on both sides. The Spiti has a broad and flat valley bordered by high vertical cliffs.  The valley tops are flat and plateau-like. Above the 'plateaus and land again rises in steep scarps. The length of the river within Spiti on the south-east, is about 130 km. It continues in Kinnaur district upto a place known as Khabo where it joins the Satluj.

The main stream of the Spiti river, which is fed by the glaciers, is a perennial one, while some of the tributary streams disappear in the loose morain at the feet of the plateaus. During its course through the difficult, complex terrain, the Spiti is joined by a number of tributaries from both the sides. Those which join its right bank include: Chiomo, Gyundi, Rahtang, Ulah, Pin, Lungze, Mane, Surahl, Pomograng, Mamdang and Sumra; the left bank tributaries are: Thamar, Hanse, Thumna, Tagting, Thumpa Lumpa, Shila, Kaza, Lingti, Poh, Tabo, Karati, Gimdo and Parechu.

PIN RIVER
The Pin river constitutes the most important right bank tributary of Spiti river. Its main branch, Kyoti, originates from the Lasuma mountain in the Srikand Range of the Middle Himalayas. It is joined by another branch from the Bhaba Pass near Mudd village. Later it is fed by a number of streamlets, chief among which are Palder Chin, polder Chum and Shang on the right bank, and Karve, Lavrang, Mudd Taking, Madang, Saguaro, Barakuit, Gooling, Seeling and Kit 'togpos' on the left bank. The Pin is about 50 km long. The Gyundi and the Rahtang, like the Pin, rise from the Mid-Himalayas and are fed by glaciers.

Of the left bank tributaries of the Spiti, the most important are: Lingti, Gimdo and the Parechu, all of which rise in the main Himalayas. Lingti is about 40 km in length and there are a number of villages in its watershed. Parechu, which starts from near the Tagling La and Parang La ranges, runs north-east and joins the Spiti at Sumdo.

The Spiti rivers are all violent torrents whose depths vary enormously, depending upon the season. In winter, when the water freezes, the Spiti is barely about half a metre deep and at its widest only a stone's throw across, and has a discharge of a couple of hundred cusecs. Its water, heavily charged with silt, is generally turbid and yellow. Fording, especially in the latter part of the day, is thus rendered perilous and almost impossible. The maximum discharge in the river, at the point where it enters Kinnaur, may go as high as twenty to thirty thousand cusecs. The discharges in its tributaries also are subject to seasonal, daily, and even hourly fluctuations. None of the rivers is navigable. The larger tributaries of the Spiti flow through valleys which sometimes resemble its own. But shortly before joining it, these are forced into narrow chasms in the rocky heights which rise on either side of the main river. The depth of these cuttings is enormous; the walls of the canyon in the Shila Togpo can hardly be less than 600 metres. The Pin gorge is several kilometres in length; similar rocky chasms can be seen in the gorges formed by the Sampa, Lingti, Rahtang and Gyundi togpo.
Tsarab River
In the north, the Tsarab runs north-westwards for about fifty kilo-metres before joining the Lingti river and entering Zangskar in Ladakh. The Tsarab is, because of its peculiar location, not used for any purpose by the Spitians. Its watershed does not contain any human habitation; it ultimately joins the Indus in Ladakh.
Bara Shigri Glacier
The largest glacier in the district is situated in Lahaul sub-division known as Bara Shigri, Bara meaning big andShigri meaning glacier, in Lahaul dialect. Many mountaineers have trekked it for the sake of hobby orgeographical exploration. This glacier rises from a number of large glaciers, meeting in great valley above, filling that up, and then pushing themselves over its rim in one great ice-stream down to the river.

Hugh Whistler, writing in 1924, says, "Shigri is applied par-excellence to one particular glacier that emerges from the mountains on the left bank of the Chandra. It is said to be several miles long, and the snout reaches right down to the river, lying athwart the customary road from Kullu to Spiti." Estimates differ as to the breadth of the glacier where it is crossed, as owing to its movement and roughness no two caravans cross it in exactly the same way, but it is not less than a mile wide. In 1836 this glacier burst its bounds and dammed the Chandra, causing the formation of a large lake, which finally broke loose and carried devastation down the valley. The story runs that the people of Spiti posted guards in the Kunzam Pass to watch whether the water would rise high enough to flow across into Spiti."

The Bara Shigri glacier attracted much attention for many years because of the valuable antimony deposits found there. The glacier was first surveyed in 1906 by H. Walker and E.H. Pascoe of the Geologiaal Survey of India. Daring 1955 the Geological Survey of India sponsored an expedition to this glacier as part of the Indian programme for the International Geophysical Year 1956-57, when a number of Himalayan glaciers were examined and their snout position fixed.

The Bara Shigri glacier, whose name signifies 'boulder-covered-ice', flows northwards and debouches into the Chandra river where its southerly course is deflected westwards, close to the Spiti border. The glacier is above 3,950 m altitude and extends beyond 4,570 m, a 11 km length of which has been recently surveyed and mapped. The glacier is so heavily covered with surface moraine that ice is not visible for long stretches except along the crevices and in the ablation areas.
Across the Bara Shigri is another glacier known as Chhota Shigri. It is a comparatively smaller glacier and does not reach down to the bed of the river, but it is most steep and slippery, difficult to cross.
Gangstang Glacier
The Gangstang glacier situated at the western border of the Lahaul region at an altitude of about 5,480 m streaming into Shahsha nullah which joins the Chandrabhaga river at about 13 km to the south.
Sonapani Glacier
The desiccated glacier lake and the old terminal moraine are visible from the Rohtang Pass. The desiccated lake, about 2.5 km in length, is a narrow meandering plain following the contours of bounding slopes and consists of such fluvio-glacial deposits as mud, fine sand, pebbles and angular gravels, through which the glacier stream runs. The glacier is about 11 km long. An ice-cliff forms the snout which is mostly covered by stone, and the stream issues from an ice cave situated towards the western limb of the curved ice-cliff. To the south of the snout, and near to it, is a small terminal moraine. A large terminal moraine used to hold up the waters of the old lake. Three more old terminal moraines are cut through by the Sonapani stream after its escape from the lake-bed.
Perad Glacier
It is a small one and is easily accessible being within one kilometre of Putiruni. There is a well marked ice-cave and the glacier stream runs between two large lateral moraines


Lahaul Region :

Lahaul abounds with monastries (gompas), the homes of lamas (buddhist monks); therefore Lahaul is often referred to as the 'land of lamas'.

Lahaul is surrounded by a series of high mountains. Main Himalayas lie in the north and mid Himalayas are to the south with joining ranges on the east and the west. This gives a highly pinnacled topography to Lahaul.

The mountains rise to a mean elevation of 18000 feet, with the highest peak touching over 21000 feet and the lowest touching 9000 feet where Chenab river enters Chamba. Numerous lateral spurs shoot off from the main mountains filling all the valleys with glaciers. It is this feature which made Andrew Wilson, a European traveller (1873), call Lahaul "a valley of glaciers".

Looking down the valley immense glaciers were seen flowing down the clefts in the high mural precipices on both sides of Chandra and extending from the great beds of snow above down to and even into the river. This was the Abode of Snow and no mistake, for nothing else but snow glaciers and rocks were to be seen and the great ice-serpents crept over into this dreaded valley as if they were living monsters."

Some of the famous glaciers are Bara Shigri, Chhota Shigri, Samundari glacier, Sonapani glacier, Gangstang glacier and Perad glacier.

The Rohtang Pass, the gateway to this sub-division, connects Lahaul with the Kullu district. There are passes on the northern and eastern mountain ranges also but all remain closed for more than half the year because of the snow.

Opposite Rohtang, a little  towards on the left, are the twin peaks of Gyephang La, jagged pyramid of rocks, snow streaked and snow-crowned. The higher of these two peaks is 5,856 meters high. The slopes up to an elevation of 3,350 meters are characterized by vegetative cover during summer but above this height barrenness is the rule. The whole Lahaul & Spiti district is a cold desert whose bare rocks and steep slopes stare the visitors in the face.

The Chandra & Bhaga rivers, which constitute the Chandrabhaga/Chenab river after their confluence at Tandi, are the major features on the geomorphology of this region.

PHYSICAL REGIONS
Lahual can be divided into five distinct physical regions:
  1. The valley of Chandra River
  2. The valley of the Bhaga River.
  3. The valley of the Chandrabhaga River.
  4. The Pattan valley.
  5. The catchment of Lingti.
The Chandra Valley :
called Rangloi in the lower inhabited part, begins from the snow bed on the south-eastern foot of the Baralacha Pass. For the first 72 km the valley is barren and uninhabited, with high peaks and large glaciers tapering downwards from snowfields on tops of ridges. The slopes are characteristically stony and bare. Pastures exist in patches only along the valley where the Gaddis camp during the summer.

The Rangloi contains four Kothis of Khoksar, Sissu, Gondhla and Gushal. Khoksar is the first village in the valley. From thereon scenery becomes greener and less oppressive. The valley on the right bank broadens out; villages are more frequent and cultivated area more widespread, flanking both sides of the road which runs through the middle of the valley. On the left is a sheer mountain wall from the river bed to the rugged crest. Beyond Gondhla, however the topography to the left also becomes less rugged and the mountain slopes are gentler, with terraced fileds sloping down to the river.

The Bhaga Valley :
The Bhaga valley starts from the south-western foot of the Bara-lacha Pass. It is barren, rocky and uninhabited up to Darcha which is the first village in the valley. It is situated at the junction of Yoche Nullah and the Zangskarcha. (taking off from the Shingola Pass) with the main river. The valley broadens out from here onwards. The right bank has large tracts of level and cultivable land. Every seven or eight kilometres one comes across a small village. From Darcha to Kolong, the valley is called Stod, and from Kolong to Keylong it is Called Gnat. Keylong, on the right bank of Bhaga river is the largest village in Lahul and is the headquarters of the district. There are precipitous cliffs on the left bank but in the the slopes become gentler and there are some villages on the left bank also. Kardang, the one time capital of Lahul and the seat of a famous monastery lies on a commanding spot opposite Keylong. Gaar contains four Kothis: Kardang, Barbog,. Kolong and Gungrang.

The Valley of the Chandrabhaga River :
Enclosed by the Chandra and Bhaga rivers is a great triangular mass of mountains which forms the centre of the area. From outside, this great mass of mountains presents the spectacle of a huge fort with more or less evenly serrated settlements. Here and there, the sheer wall is broken forming a deep furrow, revealing on the top a huge tapering glacier and a torrential nullah gushing forth from underneath it The highest of these is the Sarnundari glacier with two branches, each 16 km long with a mouth about 3 km wide, opening into the Chandra river: The main axis of the central mass lies from north to south with a branch going west towards Tandi. On the top of the mass are lateral spurs with intervening valleys filled with glaciers and perpetual snow: The peaks rise to over 6,400 metres above sea-level and include the Gyephang Peak which can be seen from Shimla.

The Bhaga flows at some distance from the northern and western heights, and numerous torrents pour into it from the glaciers placed in the angle formed by these mountains, as well as a large stream which joins the left bank from the central mass. The Baralacha Pass is an important feature in the general configuration of the region. It is nearly eight kilometres long and consists of a high neck of land connecting the central mountains with the main Himalaya. Its name implies "Pass with cross roads on summit"-roads from Zangskar; Ladakh,- Spiti and Lahul meet at the top. The pass gives off, on the north-west, and Bhaga river, on the north the Yunan, and on the south-east the Chandra. The Yunan crosses the pass from a glacier on the south-west belonging to the central hill and thus passes between the sources of the other two rivers.

The Pattan Valley :
The valley of the combined Chandra and Bhaga rivers, called the Pattan valley, starts from Tandi where the Chandra and Bhaga meet and ends at Thirot on the, boundary with Chamba. It is a broader, more fertile and thickly populated valley. This valley contains six Kothis: Tandi, Warpa, Ranika, Shansha, Jalma ahd Jobrang.

The Catchment of Lingti :
Across the BaralaehaPass, towards the north is a vast tract of land some 260 sq km in area known as the Lingti maidan. This tract is uncultivated and uninhabited and has a minimum elevation of about 4,270 metres. The plain is a good grazing ground and Gaddis move in during the summer. The plain is dissected by the Lingti which meets the Yunan river and the combined stream runs north-east to meet the Tsarab before flowing north into Zangskar.
The high pinnacled mountain ranges and narrow river valleys are the most conspicuous features in the topographic diversities of Lahul.

Places of Interest in Lahaul : 
Rohtang

Rohtang pass (altitude 13050 feet) separates Kullu, from the exotic charm of the Lahaul valley. In Tibetan Rohtang means "a heap of dead bodies" and the pass stands true to its notorious name. Every year it must take toll of life and property. This is so because after 11 A.M. sudden blizzerds and snow storms calledBiannas are only to be expected. The pass becomes all the more hazardous to negotiate due to frequent avalanches.

 The summit of the pass turns into lush green meadow in summer studded with violets and varieties of wild Himalayan and Alpine flowers. Butterflies of numerous and rare kind and varigated hues also draw the attention of' the visitor.

At the highest point on top to the right as one faces Lahaul, is a small stone enclosure and a water spring which is the principal source of the river Beas; .the other, Beas kund is at the head of the Solang nullah. The place gained religious significance because of sojourn of Beas Rishi (the famous Vyasa Rishi, author of the epicMahabharata.
To the left of this pass is the little lake Sarkund. On the 20th Bhadon (early September) every year a large number of people visit this lake with the belief and hope that an early morning bath in it will cure all their ailments.

Almost directly opposite and obviously only a few kms away is the well defined Sonapani glacier. Slightly to the left are the twin peaks of Gyephang La, seats of Pre Aryan Himalayan Gods Jamulu and his younger brother Gyephang. These peaks are snow streaked and snow covered. The higher peak is 5856 m. high. Gyephang La can be seen from Kunzom, Pangi Lahaul and from Serchu plains across the Baralacha La. The higher of the two peaks can be seen on a clear day from as far as the Ridge in Shimla.
 Himachal tourism buses and taxi operators of Manali provide frequent and efficient service to the tourists in the open season. Tea and snacks are available on the top. However for food one has to halt at Marhi.

KHOKSAR
Khoksar is the first village and gate way to Lahaul. This village is situated at an altitude of 3140 m. on the right bank of the river Chandra. There is habitation on the left bank also. H.P.P.W.D. rest house and Serai are on the left bank. Khoksar remains covered under snow during winters. This village is surrounded by high mountains and is avalanche-prone. Avalanches can be seen piled up even near the river bed. During winters Khoksar is the coldest inhabited place in Lahaul. The river freezes during winters and is covered with snow to afford regular passage for human beings as also for mule traffic. Just five kms ahead of Khoksar towards Manali is Gramphu from where a diversion to the left leads to Kaza. During summers rich growth of alpine flowers, beautiful potato fields and numerous water channels spell bound the visitor. Herds of goats and sheep can be seen grazing around. This may be of interest to the reader that Khoksar was on the old trade route from Indian plains to the West Asia.


SISSU
This village is situated on the right bank of the river Chandra at an altitude of 3130m. The village is located on a broad flat ground above the Chandra river. Good plantations of willows and poplars on both sides of the road are so dense during summers that at places even the sun rays fail to penetrate. The terraces are green with potato, peas, barley and buck wheat. Wild roses of white, yellow and red hues with expanses of alpine flowers deck the slopes in an unforgettable feast of colours.

 There is a swampy patch on the river side where the Siberian wild duck and geese halt when on their way back from the Indian plains. Snow trout is also available in the village near the river side.
 Behind the ridge on which the village is situated is the famous and most propitiated Gyephang peak. Lord Gyephang or Ghepan is the presiding deity of Lahaul--the protector of people. In olden days people of Lahaul fought, their wars under the banner of Lord Gyephang. The temple of Lord Ghepan is in this village. The temple is not open to outsiders. Once in two/three years the deity is taken out of the temple in a procession.

A little short of the village is the Sissu nullah which flows down a narrow gorge from tho Gyephang peak glaciers.

Across the river one can see the beautiful Sissu fall cascading over the cliff from the high valley between the two mountains. A suspension bridge over the river provides easy access to this picturesque fall. Very good photograph of the fall can be had from the road just short of the P.W.D. rest house.

Two fountain slabs dating back to 1l th or 12th C. AD can also be seen in this village.
GONDHLA
The village is situated at a distance of 18 kms from Keylong, the district headquarters along the right bank of the river Chandra. Situated at an altitude of 3160 m. on a fairly level expanse of land this hamlet is large as compared to other villages in the valley. The village is surrounded by thick foliage of poplars and willows. From Sissue to Gondhla land is cultivable and fertile. Between these two places the whole mountain side from the peaks over 6090 m. to the river bed below 3050 m. is awe-inspiring. Glaciers and snowfields overhanging the precipices make them one of the finest in the world.

House of the Thakur of Gondhla, called the Gondhla castle or fort, attracts a large number of tourists. The Present Thakur Fateh Chand would like the tourists to believe the Fort is about 20 generations old, but according to the District Gazateer of Lahaul and Spiti the fort was built in 1700 A.D. by Raja Man Singh of Kullu whose influence stretched upto the Lingti plains beyond the Baralacha-la. This Raja also married a daughter of the Gondhla family to cement his ties with the Thakur. ,

The castle is an example of the indigenous timber bonded stone style of the Western Himalayas consisting of alternate courses of stone and wooden beams and cemented together with wet clay. This seven storey high edifice is topped by a wooden verandah which runs round the upper storey. This is some thing like the Swiss Chalet. The staircases in the building are partially notched wooden logs. The building has many apartments which can comfortably accommodate more than 100 people.

The fifth storey was exclusively meant for the Thakur. It consisted of personal prayer chamber and a verandah from where the Thakur used to listen to the public and later pronounce his judgements. Once the walls of the prayer chamber were painted all over in stone colours. Forty volumes of Kangyur can still be seen littered around and carelessly stacked on a wooden rack. Ganesha as the main deity carved on the facade of the prayer chamber. In one of the prayer chambers the window connecting the outer room is an exquisite work of wood carving. The 'jali' (net) carved on a single piece of wood looks exactly like the cane work.

Raja Man Singh of Kullu is believed to have stayed in the sixth storey of the-fort in 1720 A.D. when he was on his way to Trilokinath Temple in Udaipur. Remains of the kitchen and utencils can still be seen in the room.

Several weapons including bows, arrows, quivers, catapults, guns and canons beside other articles of antique value can be seen rusting in the apartments. Age old costumes, furniture and idols are also strewn around in a state of neglect. The Thakur is negotiating with the Department of Language and Culture of Himachal Pradesh to sell it as he finds it difficult to maintain this structure.


TANDI
The village is situated above the confluence of the rivers Chandra and Bhaga in the Pattan valley some 7 kms away from Keylong. Revenue and settlement records reveal that Tandi was founded by Raja Rana Chand Ram under the name of Chandi which over the years got corrupted into Tandi.

There are atleast three mythological stories connected with Tandi. First, Tandi is believed to means Tan Dehi,i.e., giving up of the body. This is associated with Draupadi, the wife of Pandav. as, who left her body at this place. Second, this is believed that Rishi Vashishtha who meditated near the hot water springs of Manali was cremated at this confluence; hence named Tandi, i.e., body consumed. According to the third, Chandra and Bhaga were son and daughter of the Moon and the Sun gods respectively. They were in love with each other. To perform their celestial marriage they decided to climb the Baralacha-la and from there run in opposite directions encircling a vast tract of Lahaul. Thus flowing south-east and south-west both met at Tandi to enter the wedlock.

Another village above the confluence is Gushal which looks extermely beautiful when seen from Tupchiling or Kargha. The confluence itself is best seen from Tupchiling, Kargha -and Ghushal.

Keylong
Keylong is the district head quarters of Lahaul and Spifi. At an altitude of 3156 m. Keylong is situated on the main trade route between the Rohtang and Baralacha passes above the Bhaga river. Most of the government offices are located at Keylong. This is also the hub-centre of all commercial activity with a regular bazaar. Naturally Keylong is the most populated and busy village of the Lahaul valley. As far as communication facilities are concerned, there are police and telegraph radio nets, telephone exchange at Keylong and postal service throughout the valley. There are three light TV  transmitter has been installed one in Sumnam village, second in Baring & third in Udaipur. In the past Keylong was home for the Moravian missionaries.

During summers Keylong is very green looking refreshingly striking against a backdrop of brown hills and snow clad peaks. Because of this panoramic setting Lieut. Col., the Honble C.G. Bruce, M.V.O. likened Keylong to a barbaric jewel--a roughly cut emerald in a bronze and silver setting. There can not be a better simile to describe the lush green charm of Keylong during summer's. "It is an oasis of green fields and willow planted water courses surrounded by brown hills and snowy heights".
There is a Cricuit House, a P.W.D. rest house, a Sainik Rest House, a Tourist Bungalow and many hotels which provide accommodation to the tourists. Several eating joints and restaurants are also there for every taste.

Three of the best known monasteries Tayul, Kardang and Sha-Shur are within a few kms. from this village. Tourists may also like to visit the temple of the local deity Kelang Wazir in the house of one Sh. Nawang Dorje

JISPA
This beautiful spot is 22 kms away from Keylong and 4 kms ahead of Ghemur. The village is situated at the junction of two nullahs with the main river Bhaga. Jispa has a very large dry river-bed, a rarity in Lahaul. 

Just on the edge of the river Bhaga is a small PWD rest house. Near this the river is shallow and plenty of trout fish can be caught during summers. The place is virtually an angler's delight. Good juniper plantation is around this village.

DARCHA
Darcha is situated at the junction of Yotche nullah and the Zangskar chhu which takes off from the Shinkun la. Both these nullahs meet with the main river Bhaga at this place. The valley broadens out from Darcha. The altitude of Darcha is about 3500 m. which makes it an ideal base camp for acclimatisation. Two days acclimatisation at this place will prove useful for expeditions to Baralacha la and beyond. Darcha is the jumping off point for treks to Padum over the Shinkun la or Baralacha la and Phirtse la and for treks or mountaineering expeditions to Leh and peaks of Chandra Bhaga series. However no tourist bungalow or rest house facilities are available on either side of the nullahs. A police check post is also there. Darcha is the last village where one can see sparse growth of trees. Beyond Darcha not even a single tree can be seen on either side of the highway. Landscape starts looking desolate and absolutely barren.

SURAJ TAAL
Suraj Taal or the lake of the Sun god is situated well on the summit of the Baralacha laa little below an altitude of 16000 feet. The Bhaga river rises in this lake which is situated in a beautiful natural amphitheatre just below the highway. "During winters it remains in the grip of a pall of ice untidy with lumps of frozen snow and jutting stones". But in the summer season this tarn comes back to its glorious charm, the deep blue of its icy waters reflecting craggy mountains and snowy heights. This is an ideal halting place for having a bite that one might be carrying. No shops or dhabas are available around this place

CHANDRA TAAL
The natural lake of Chandrataal is situated at about 14,000 ft above msl between a low ridge and about nine kms from the Kunzom pass. The lake lies in a broad grassy plain which in ancient times was a glacier. The lake is about a kilometre in length and half of it in breadth. Its circumambulation is five kms long. There is a brownish patch "Samundari Tapu" in the middle of the lake which a number of people have tried to reach but in vain. There is a story of a mermaid living in the glacial lake. This is also said that a shepherd from Hansa village in the Spiti valley fell in love with the fairy and spent some time with her under the water. Cranes and ducks abound in the lake.

UDAIPUR
This sub-divisional headquaters is situated at the junction of the mighty Mayar nullah with the main river Chandrabhaga. Situated 53 kms away from Keylong, earlier this village was known as Margul or Markul. Around 1695 it was renamed Udaipur when Raja Udai Singh of Chamba (1690-172'8) raised it to the status of a district centre in the Chamba-Lahaul which his father Chatter Singh had annexed to his Chamba state.

Good kail-blue pine forests can be seen all around the village. Since the altitude is low, apples, walnuts, apricots, etc. are grown in the area. This village is warm but avalanches-prone; the latter making it unsuitable for district headquaters. However Udaipur offers the most thickly forested and green scenery in Lahaul. Hermann Goetz who visited this area in 1939 complimented the natural charm of this place by comparing its scenery to the Swiss scenery.

This place attracts a lot of tourists and pilgrims to its two unique temples, namely, Trilokinath and Markula Devi temples.

Trilokinath temple
 is representative of the Kashmiri-Kannauj style of, Lalitaditya of Kashmir (725-756). Most of the Trilokinath temple is of much later period, but the column bases of the original porch of the sanctuary are of a very special type characteristic of the reign of Lalitaditya. This Shiva temple was transformed into a Buddhist shrine by Padma Sambhava. However, according to Goetz its present Lamaistic image of Avalokiteshvara-Trilokinath cannot be earlier than the 12th C. This temple continues to attract both the Hindu and the Buddhist pilgrims. In the centre of the compound one can still see the Nandi Bull of Lord Shiva. There is also a drain in a wall of the temple at the level of the platform in the sanctorum which was probably built at the time of construction to drain out the water or milk which was poured over the Shiva.

The temple is built in the classical style introduced in the hills in the 7th and 8th C. As is typical to the style this temple consists of a curvilinear stone tower (shikhara) crowned with the characteristic 'amalka' (imitating a segmented gourd). Like plains there is no pillared hall (mandapa) in the hills perhaps owing to non-availability of clear ground.

Every year in the month of August a festival named Pauri is held there for three days when followers of both religions gather to offer prayers.

The Markula Devi temple goes back to Ajayvarman's reign in Kashmir, though no original work of so early a date survives. But part of the Markula temple has been copied during repairs in the 11/12th and 16th C. The phase of Kashmiri art in the 11th and 12th C in its transition to the Lamaistic art of Western Tibet is represented by the inner facade of the temple; main characteristic of this transitional phase being three headed Vishnu images.

Markula's wood carvings belong to two different periods, the earlier one consisting of the facade of the sanctum sanctorum and the ceiling and four main pillars of the mandapa; arid the later one consisting of two additional pillars, the dwarpala statues on both sides of the facade, window panels and the architraves supporting the ceiling. The exterior of the temple is most ordinary as it had to be renewed time and again because of vagaries of nature. The temple is the usual structure of timber-bonded stone. The temple is covered with a steep gable roof of wooden shingles in a steep pyramid looking like the Shikhara temples in the plains. The interior, however, is rich in artistic quality.

The wall panels depict scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Sunderkand, Yuddhakand, grant of ground by Raja Bali to Vaaman, three headed incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Churning of the ocean (Samudramanthan)Amritpaan, etc.

The ceiling consists of nine panels of different size and shape. Eight of these border the big centre piece. The centre piece, is in the Lantern style. The 'kirtimukha' masks on this centre piece are characteristic of the 7th and 8th C. Four figural panels on the four basic directions depict Gandharvas busy with their mates and holding objects like crowns, bracelets, jewels and charnaras, etc. Their dance, poses are those of the Bharta Natya andthe costumes resemble the late Gupta period. Also shown are Nataraj  and Gauri with dancing Ganas. Shiva on both sides is flanked by his alter egos, the Bhairavas. The next panel deviates from the Hindu pantheon or myth for it represents the "Assault of Mara". In the centre Buddha is shown sitting on the Vajrasana inBhumisparshasana calling the Earth goddess to witness his victory over Mara or the god of Lust and death.

The facade of the temple is most richly, elaborately and intricately carved. The niches of the door jambs have been carved into complicated gables of late Kashmiri style. The facade displays, the Ganga, the Yamuna, several Yakshas and. Kinnars, ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu the Navgrahas and Lord Surya (the sun god). The Sun god is repeatedly shown on his chariot drawn by seven horses making it explicit that the temple was dedicated to Lord Surya.

The silver idol of Kali in her aspect as Mahishasurmardini was installed by Thakur Himpala in 1569-70. The statue was cast by one Panjamanaka Jinaka from Bhadravah. The workmanship of the statue cannot be called exquisite because the bodies of the goddess and the buffallo look bloated. The statue head is too big and her Crown resembles the ceremonial headgear of a Tibetan lama. The enclosing frame suggests brass idols of the 15th and 16th C. from Rajasthan, the top of it-the backs of early Moghul thrones. The impact of the Moghul and Rajput styles is understandable which perhaps penetrated via Balor which then had some control over Bhadravah. The Tibetan element is also not surprising in a frontier area like Lahaul where Tibetan Lahaulis treat Markula Devi as rDo-rje phag-mo (sanskrit Vajravarahi). Previous to this installation Lahaul had been for several centuries under the Ladakhi supremacy, and it was then that the Lamaistic sculpture was introduced. At the time of its reconversion into a Hindu shrine it was natural to seIect an image of Kali because of its superficial similarity to Vajravarahi. The poor and uneducated local population could hardly make any distinction between the Lamaistic and the Hindu interpretations of the great goddess. This Hindu revivalist style was patronised by Raja Pratap Singh (1558-82) of Chamba. Selection of episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata is typical to this style.

Local population believes this temple to be the work of the master craftsman who built the famous Hidimba Temple at Manali for Bahadur Singh of Kullu. Historically this theory sounds plausible because Pratap Singh was the son-in-law and close fried and ally of Bahadur Singh. There is striking similarity between many figures and other details of the later wood carvings to the relief's of the Hidimba Devi Temple.

This unique shrine is the last wooden temple built fundamentally in the tradition of the early 8th C. This is a must-visit place.


Peaks in Lahaul Valley : 
Peaks
Metres
Longitude
Latitude
Details
Baihali Jot
6245m
76° 35'
32° 50'
Udaipur (lt.H) -Margaon-BC (Tal Got).
Central Peak
6285m
On Barashigri glacier.
Corner Peak
6050m
On Barashigri glacier.
CB-9
6108m
77°27'
32° 34'
Manali-Batal (RH)-BC

CB-10
(Tara Pahar)
6227m
77° 28'
32° 36''
Manali-Chhatru-Chhota Dara-Batal (RH)-BC.

CB-11
5955m
77° 31'
32° 22'
Manali-Chhatru-Chhota Dara-Batal (RH)-BC.
CB-12
6258m
77° 33'
32° 20'
Manali-Chhatru-Chhota Dara-Batal (RH)-BC.
CB-13
6264m
77° 33'
32° 21'
CB-13a
6240m
77°33'
32° 21'
Manali-Chatru-Chhota Dara-Batal(RH)-BC.
CB-14
6078m
77° 34'
32° 22'
Manali-Chatru-Chhota Dara-Batal(RH)-BC.
CB-16
5825m
77° 31'
32° 19'
Manali-Chatru-Chhota Dara-Batal(RH)-BC.
CB-20
5695m
77° 31'
32° 24'
Manali-Chatru-Chhota Dara-Batal(RH)-BC.
CB-22
5720m
77° 33'
32° 24'
Manali-Chatru-Chhota Dara-Batal(RH)-BC.
CB-26
5840m
77° 29'
32° 20'
Batal (RH)-BC.
CB-31
6096m
77° 28'
32° 25'
Manali-Chatru-Chhota Dara-Batal(RH)-BC.
CB-32
5639m
77° 27'
32° 26'
Manali-Chatru-Chhota Dara-Batal(RH)-BC.
CB-33 (Minar)
6185m
77° 29'
32° 28'
Batal (RH)-Dekka-BC.
CB-34
5635m
77° 31'
32° 28'
Batal (RH)-Dekka-BC.
CB-35
5568m
77° 30'
32° 29'
Manali-Batal(RH)-BC.
Dibbokri Pyramid
6109m
On Dibibokri Glacier
Gangstang
6162m
77° 48'
32° 42'
Approached from Keylong
Gepang Goh
6050m
On Barashigri Glacier
Kulu Makalu
6350m
On Barashigri Glacier
Kulu Pumori
6553m
On Barashigri Glacier
KR-2
6145m
77° 20'
32° 39'
Rohtang-Pass-Darcha (RH)-BC
KR-4
6340m
77° 22'
32° 39'
Rohtang-Pass-Darcha (RH)-BC
KR-5
6258m
77° 23'
32° 38'
Rohtang-Pass-Darcha (RH)-BC
KR-6
6207m
77° 24'
32° 37'
Rohtang-Pass-Darcha (RH)-BC
KR-7
6055m
77° 25'
32° 35'
Rohtang-Pass-Darcha (RH)-BC
Lion Peak
6164m
On Barashigri Glacier
Menthosa
6443m
76° 42'
32° 55'
Manali-Rohtang Pass-Tandi-Udaipur (RH)-Miyarnala-Urgos vill (last vill)-BC.
M-1
6045m
77° 20'
32° 36'
Rohtang Pass-Darcha (RH)-Yoche (Vill)-BC
M-2
5932m
77° 22'
32° 36'
Rohtang Pass-Darcha (RH)-Yoche (Vill)-BC
M-3
5795m
77° 26'
32° 32'
Rohtang Pass-Darcha (RH)-Yoche (Vill)-BC
M-4 (Mulkila)
6515m
77° 24'
32° 32'
Rohtang Pass-Darcha (RH)-Yoche (Vill)-BC
M-5
6370m
77° 24'
32° 32'
Rohtang Pass-Darcha (RH)-Yoche (Vill)-BC
M-6 (Taragiri)
6182m
77° 23'
32° 31'
Rohtang Pass-Darcha (RH)-Yoche (Vill)-BC
M-7
6279m
77° 22'
32° 32'
Rohtang Pass-Darcha (RH)-Yoche (Vill)-BC
M-8
6055m
77° 21'
32° 32'
Rohtang Pass-Darcha (RH)-Yoche (Vill)-BC
M-9
5680m
77° 22'
32° 32'
Rohtang Pass-Darcha (RH)-Yoche (Vill)-BC
M-10
5852m
77° 19'
32° 34'
Rohtang Pass-Darcha (RH)-Yoche (Vill)-BC
Phabrang
6172m
76° 48'
32° 46'
Manali-Rohtang Pass-Tandi-Udaipur (RH)-Miyarnala-Urgos vill-BC
Shigri Parvat
6645m
On Barashigri Glacier
Unnamed Peak near Parvati
6309m
in Parvati Valley
Unnamed Peak north-east of Barashigri Glacier
6309m
On Barashigri Glacier
Unnamed Peak North-East of Barashigri Glacier
6050m
On Barashigri Glacier


Monasteries of Lahaul : 
GURU GHANTAL
This monastery is situated on a hill above the Tupchiling village at the confluence of the rivers Chandra and Bhaga. This gompa was founded by Padma Sambhava and is more than 800 years old. The peculiar feature of the gompa is the wooden idols as distinguished from the clay idols found in other monasteries. The Guru Ghantal white marble head was installed by its founder, but now the same is kept under lock and key for fear of theft. This monastery has idols of Guru Padma Sambhava, Brijeshwari Devi and several other lamas. On the 15th lunar day (mid June) a festival called Ghantal was celeberated at which the visiting lamas and Thakurs used to feast for one day. The festival is no longer celebrated.

There is one blackstone statue of a goddess identified as kali in the innermost chamber which gives credence to the theory that this was once a Hindu temple like the Trilokinath temple at Udaipur.
The wall paintings are in stone colours. Because of lack of care colours have washed away. There is lot of seepage in the monastery. Another reason for lack of care is that most of the valuables have been transported to the Tupchiling gompa which is easily accessible and the caretaker also hails from this village only. The workmanship in the gompa is certainly superior to all other gompas.

SHA-SHUR
Sha-shur in the local parlance means in the blue pines. This is very apt as good patches of blue pine can still be seen around the monastery.

This gompa was founded in the 17th C. AD by Lama Deva Gyatsho of Zangskar who was a missionary of Nawang Namgyal, the king of Bhutan. The lamas of the gompa are of the Drugpa sect (red hat sect). Namgyal founded this sect and the name originated from Dug which in the Bhoti language means Bhutan. Before Deva Gyatsho renovated the present monastery, there existed a small gompa. Deva Gyatsho stayed at the monastery till his death. When he was being cremated, this is said, his heart did not burn and was enclosed in a black image of Gyatsho. A statue of Namgyal is also present in the gompa.

This gompa has the biggest Thanka paintings, over fifteen feet, and invalueable wall paintings depicting all the 84 siddhas of Buddhism. In the month of June/July Chham is performed in the monastery which is the most popular Chham in Lahaul.

KARDANG
Village Kardang which was once the capital of Lahaul has the most popular and the biggest monastery of the area. The monastery is situated on the left bank of the river Bhaga just above the village of Kardang. This was founded about 900 years ago and stood in ruins uptill 1912 when Lama Norbu of Kardang renovated it. This gompa is located against the backdrop of the bare mountains of the Rangcha massif which "rises above the valley like a giant cobra standing on its tail with hood outspread, ready to strike". The monastery is perched on a ridge below the 15000 feet high Rangcha peak. The valley is so placed that Kardang gets maximum sunshine in winters.

This monastery houses the largest number of lamas and chomos. The library of the gompa is one of the biggest containing full volumes of Kangyur and Tangyur. Since the monastery belongs to the Red Hat sect the regimen is not very strict. Nuns and monks enjoy equality. Lamas can marry and generally they stay with their families during summers to work in the fields. In winters they return to the gompa for meditation.

In the vicinity of the monastery is a silver coated Chhorten. The walls of the gompa are decorated with colourful wall paintings. The influence of Lama Gozzangwa is easily perceptible in the monastery as one can see a number of tantrik paintings and statues depicting a male and a female engaged in ecstatic union. The bhandar has a large store of musical instruments, dresses, thankas and other such articles.

Its founder Lama Norbu died in 1952 and his mortal remains as also his silver Chaitya/stupa are preserved in the gompa.

In the Kardang village one can visit another small gompa of Lama Gozzangwa and outside the gompa can see rock carvings and two big Chhortens.

TAYUL
This gompa above the village of Satingri has the biggest statue of Padma Sambhava and his two manifestations as Singhmukha and Vajravarahi. The statue is 12 feet tall. This gompa houses full library of Kangyur. Thankas in the gompa depict various episodes from the life of Lord Buddha.

Tayul gompa written in Tibetan as Ta - Yul means chosen place. It is one of the oldest Dugpa sect monasteries in Lahaul. One Dugpa lama, Serzang Rinchen of Khan region of Tibet, founded this monastery in the beginning of the 17th C. There is a story about how this place was chosen for construction of a monastery. Lama Serzang while making the meritorious circumambulation of the holy peak Drilburi spotted a small glade in the juniper forest above Kyor and Tashikyang villages on the opposite side of the valley. He then told his fellow pilgrims, "Look, over there, that is a suitable and auspicious place for a gompa". Thus the building of the gompa began to take shape. This monastery houses a hundred million mani wheel  by turning which the minds of the sentient beings open to the compassion of the Lord. This mani wheel is reputed to be "self turning" on auspicious occasions. According to the lamas this wheel last turned on its own in 1986.

After almost a century a Ladakhi Tulku Tashi Tanphel of Tagna monastery renovated and extended the building of this gompa. He decorated the walls with murals, made stucco images of giant size referred to above and brought in the Narthang edition of the Kangyur from Tibet.

GHEMUR
This hamlet is situated at a distance of 18 kms from Keylong. It has a gompa where in the month of July devil dance  is enacted by the Lamas. The Thakurs of Gushal are now settled in this village on the right bank of the river Chandra. The place is easily accessible as it is on the Manali-Leh national highway.

Spiti Region :
The Spiti sub-division is even more difficult than Lahul in terms of, terrain, climate and habitation. It is less accessible and less developed than Lahul with which it stands back to back. It is vastly different from the regions that surround it, and thus it has its own mountain ranges. Within it also ruggedness of terrain is the rule, level areas are few and of limited extent. Spiti mountain ranges belong to the Great and Middle Himalayas. The sub-division lies at a mean elevation of about 4570 metres. The average elevation of the mountain ranges is over 5,485 metres above sea level which is somewhat higher than what is found in Lahul. The valleys in Spiti are some 610 metres higher than Chandra and Bhaga. The Tsarab valley has a minimum elevation of about 4,270 metres and the lowest parts of Spiti valley are considerably higher than 3,350 metres above sea level. The drainage of the northern waste of Tsarab flows into the Indus, while that of the main Spiti valley, and its tributaries, join the Satluj.


The name Spiti (Tibetan: sPiti) means "middle land" : the land between India & Tibet. Local people divide spiti into four units based on aspect and elevation :
SHAM (lower region) which lies on both sides of the main river between its confluence with Lingti and its junction with the Pare Chu.
PIN which lies on both sides of the Pin river. Pin is the home of chaumurti horses and the mysterious Buzhen lamas, famous  for performing a unique trance ritual in which demons hiding in a rock are banished after a long ceremony in which the rock is broken on the chest of a monk.
BHAR (middle region) which is the local name for the Spiti valley lying between the point where Shillah Nullah meets the main river about 3 kilometers above Kaza and Sham. Bhar owes its importance to Spiti's biggest monastery, Kye Gompa, and to its second most beautiful, the Serkhang of Lhalung in the Lingti valley.
TUD (higher region) which includes all portions of the territory above Bhar.This region includes several minor but important villages like Hansa, Kyoto and Lossar which have preserved the traditional life-style of the Spitians


Places of Interest in Spiti :
SPITI
Spiti (locally pronounced 'Piti') or the 'middle country', has its sub divisional headquarters at Kaza. The river Spiti originates at the base of the Kunzam range and flows eastward to join the Sutlej at Khab in Kinnaur. In practical isolation for centuries, Spiti has an intensely introvertive culture centred around its several monasteries- Dhankar, Ki, Tabo, Mud, Gungri, Lidang, Hikim, Sagnam, Mane Gogma and Giu to name a few. Spiti was loosely ruled for many centuries by a hereditary wazir, styled Nono. The majority of the people are Buddhists, followers of the Geluk-pa sect. The repetition of the mantra "Om mani padme hum" (literally, 'Behold, the jewel is in the lotus'), is constant; it is believed to bring good fortune and wash away all sins. For all the seeming bleakness, Spiti possesses a haunting beauty. The wildlife in the region includes the elusive snow leopard and ibex, found in the Pin valley.

Spiti has come to be known as the "fossil park of the world". The three villages Kibber, Kaza & Kye fall on the route faovourite among those looking for fossils. These villages are situated at heights between 13,500 ft. and 14,400 ft. above msl. Langza is famous for fossils of maritime life. These fossils are found on either side of Kang-yur and Paapen-yu nullahs near the village.

KAZA
Kaza, the sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti, is situated on the left bank of the Spiti river at an altitude of about 12,500 ft. above msl. The village is overlooked by steep ridges. The otherwise soporific place hums with activity of tourists during summer, who converge here for permits, current exchange, information, accommodation, petrol and to witness the annual trade fair which a number of visitors compare with the fairs in some of the gompa towns of Ladakh. Besides, Kaza makes a ideal base camp for all treks and tours within the valley. Guides, porters, pack animals and most importantly permits for treks can be obtained in Kaza.

There are two rest houses in Kaza proper. The Electricity Board rest house is at Rangrik just 4 km away. It is the best in the valley.  Kaza has one of the two Sa- kya- pa sect monasteries. The other monastery is at Hikkim. Opposite Kaza on the right bank of the Spiti river is Kyuling from where the nono of Spiti ruled over his subjects. Rani Damyanti, a descendent of this ruling, family, now resides in Kaza preserving all the stately charm of the yester years.

DHANKAR
On the left bank of the Spiti river at a distance of 32 kms downstream from Kaza, near Shichling at an altitude of 3870 m, nestles the citadel of Dhankar, the official capital of Spiti. The citadel is built on a spur which projects into the main valley and ends in a precipice. The location of this fort is strategic as Spiti always had to suffer innumerable aggressions by its neighbors. The location allowed the Spitian to keep vigil on the approaches and to submit messages to surrounding inhabitations in case of danger. Whenever the Spitians were attacked, they built huge fires to signal meeting in the safe sanctuary of rocks, i.e., Dhankars. In the meeting all men and women decided the course of action to be taken against the aggressors.

According to the State Gazetteer, "(The fort) became notorious for housing a cavernous dungeon which the Nono used as prison. It contained a cell without doors having only a small opening at the top through which the condemned person was lowered and received his meals."
The fort of Dhankar now lies in ruins, but still is a place worthy of visit. From the remnants of the fort one can see vast expanses of the Spiti valley.

Dhankar is also of art historical importance. Founded between 7th and the 9th centuries, Dhankar's old temple complex occupies the southern part of the steep mountain slope of the village. It is known by the name of Lha-O-pa Gompa (monastery of the followers of Lha-O).

The monastery consists of a number of multi-storeyed buildings perched together, giving a fortress like impression. There are five different halls including Kanjur, Lhakhang, and Dukhang where a life size silver statue of Vajradhara, the Diamond Being, is placed in a glass altar embellished with scarves and flowers.

Most interesting at the Lha-O-pa gompa is the small chapel on the uppermost peak above the main monastery - Lhakhang Gongma. The building is decorated with depictions of Shakyamuni, Tsongkhapa and Lama Chodrag on the central wall Dhankar's main attraction, although least publicised, is a fresh water lake about 2.5 km from the village at a height of 13500 ft. Set amidst lush green pastures, the lake offers a perfect idyllic camping site. Some boating facilities are proposed to be introduced in the near future. Under the Desert Development Project of Spiti the common carp variety of fish has been introduced in this lake. No angling is, however, allowed in the lake.

Dhankar is approachable by a motorable road, good for small vehicles only, that branches off for Dhankar from the main Kaza - Samdu road at a point around 24 kms from Kaza. The branch road is 8 kms in length upto Dhankar.

There is no rest house in the village. If you plan to halt for night, do carry tents, sleeping bags and other provisions.
LHALUNG
From the small hamlet of Attargu the track leads through deserted and rugged terrain over heights of around 3800 metres into the Lingti valley. Lingti is the third biggest river, after the Pin which pours its great waters out into the spiti. The road into the Lingti valley leads along the slopes of the Lingti's right bank in serpentine curves from which one has a giddy view of the few medieval settlements along the river. After an hour-long drive the valley opens up a little for the rich pastures of Lhalung town, consisting of barley and the yellow rape that adds another beautiful colour to the reduced palette of Spiti.
A few of the chhortens lead up to the monastic site from the outskirts of the village. The compound consists of five buildings. At some spots fragmentary remains of a wall encircling all the buildings are to be found. The local tradition that the site once consisted of nine temples, together with the rich interior of the main chapel and the fact the building is also attributed to Rinchen Zangpo, may suggest that the temple like that of Tabo was designed as a Chokhor site, a place of learning and debate as opposed to a simple chapel for worship by local people.
The paintings on the walls are of recent date. Serkhang, the golden hall is completely overwhelmed by the number of deities present. The small chapel has a total of 51 deities, either mounted against the walls or placed on the central altar, of which the most are painted in gold.

KUNZAM PASS
This pass is situated at 60 kms from Gamphu on the Gramphu-Kaza- Sumdo road. It provides chief access to the Spiti-valley from Lahaul which is separated from the Spiti valley by the great Kunzom range, and from where the Spiti, pronounced Piti, the chief river of the area takes its source. Though higher than the Rohtang Pass, Kunzom is safer and provides easier ascent and descent. The altitude of this pass is about 4590 m. The panorama as viewed from the top is breathtaking. The lofty Shigri Parbat can be seen right in front in all its grandeur. The crest of the pass has been marked by a chhorten of stones erected ages ago. Recently a temple has been built on the top. A hut has also been built for the people to take shelter.

The crest of the pass is marked by a wall of mani stones clearly suggesting that one is now stepping into a Buddhist country. A temple dedicated to Durga, the fierce female deity, was built by some gaddies but it could not withstand avalanches and today is in ruins. People believe that the deity has refused to live in the temple. She prefers to stay in the open. Her foot impressions worshipped by gaddies and local people.

There is a small hut about 200 m. away from the temple where travellers can find shelter during foul weather. For tourists it is a favourite halt for tea or snacks. From Kunzom one trek leads. Chandrataal, the lake of the Moon.

LOSSAR
Lossar is the first inhabited village on the Spiti side if you advance to the valley from Manali over Kunzom pass. Situated at a height of 4,085 m., the village is singularly secluded. Sight of Lossar to a trekker coming down from Kunzom brings instant relief. The neatly white-washed mud houses with red bands look extremely picturesque. The contrast is rendered all the more appealing by verdant fields and willow plantations around the village. According to Gerard, "Lofty as the level of Lossar is, there is little in the landscape to betray its position when viewed in summer, embosomed in flourishing crops and herds of Pashmina wool goats. Yaks and horses meet the eye upon the high activities of the mountains, and an ardent sunshine keeps the air looming from the effect of mirage.
There is a small gompa in the village. The flat roofed houses are topped by white flagpole which the superstitious believe saves them from evil spirits and brings prosperity.
There is a PWD rest house at the edge of the village where one can stay. A few meters from the rest house from Spiti river in all its serenity. A small flight of steps leads to the river bank where one could even venture a swim.

The village grows seed potatoes and green peas besides traditional crops. Yak is the beast of burden. Ibex, blue sheep, etc. can be seen in the higher reaches around the village.
Porters, pack animals and guides for Chandrataal and other treks starting from Lossar can be hired from here.

The people of Lossar are very hospitable, it is common for the villagers to invite touring officials to their village for a binge where the gusts are regaled to the tunes of local music and dance an liberal helpings of chhang and arak. One wonder if the tourists are also accorded the same hospitality.

The inhabitants dress up more like their Tibetan counterparts and perform an interesting post harvest Yak dance which can be witnessed during La Darcha fair.

Lossar is surrounded by vast alpine, meadows which are frequented by herders from Kangra Mandi, Chamba, Kullu and Bilaspur. The shepherds believe a stay of two months in and around Spiti immunises their flock and increases their fertility.

KIBBER
Kibber is located at a height of about 14,200 ft in a narrow valley on the summit of a limestone rock. It is only 16 kms from Kaza and a bus service plies between these two places in summer. Kibber is a rather pleasant village with plenty of cultivation. The moment you get down from the bus you are greeted by lush green fields which look strikingly refreshing against the arid backdrop of lofty hills.

There are only 80 houses in the village. The remarkable feature about the architecture is the use of stone instead of mud or adobe brick used extensively in the valley. There are a civil dispensary, a high school, a post office, a telegraph office and a community TV set in the village. There is a monastery in Kibber which is named after Serkang Rimpochhe of Tabo. The lama breathed his last in Kibber in 1983 and when he was being cremated a water source erupted from that spot. Even today the source is being used by the villagers. There is a traditional trade route from Kibber to Ladakh over Parang La. The Spitians go to Ladakh to barter their horses for yaks or to sell for cash. The trek to Ladakh takes minimum 3 night halts. Permits are required for this trek.


PIN VALLEY 
One of the four local units of Spiti is the Pin valley which lies on either side of the Pin river. Geographically, the Pin valley is shut off from the rest of Spiti by high mountains. The only opening has been provided by the Pin river that forces its way through a deep narrow gorge to join the main river Spiti, at Attargu.

The Pin valley is famous for its internationally recognised Chaumurti horses that are bred and sold for considerable sums in Rampur-Bushahar during Lavi fair and in Ladakh. The climate and the rich grass of the valley produce extremely sure footed horses able to negotiate great heights without much difficulty. A tourist in the Pin valley may see scores of horses, colts and fillies grazing on the river banks and some youths galloping away on these horses singing wildly in joyous abandon.
Horse racing and arrow shooting are very popular in the valley. A tourist may frequently come across arrow shooting competitions called Dhuvor.

Monasteries of Spiti :
KYE MONASTERY
Overlooking Kaza from a height of about 13,500 ft, the Kye monastery is the largest in the valley and holds a powerful sway over the most populous part of the valley around Kaza. The gompa is an irregular heap of low rooms and narrow corridors on a monolithic conical hill. From a distance is resembles the Thiksey monastery near Leh in Ladakh. The irregular prayer chambers are interconnected by dark passages, tortuous staircases and small doors.

Hundreds of lamas receive their religious training in the monastery. It is also known for its beautiful murals, thankas, rare manuscripts, stucco images and peculiar wind instruments that form part of the orchestra whenever Chham is enacted in the gompa in summer. Another interesting aspect of the gompa is its collection of weapons which may have been used to ward off marauders as also to maintain its control over people betraying a church-militant character.

Thousands of devotees from all over the world were attended the Kalachakra ceremony which was performed in August, 2000 by His Holiness Dalai Lama.Kalachakra initiation (Skt. Abhisheka, Tibetan Wang) is not just an elaborate puja or a religious congregation. It is a workshop in a grand scale to make an earnest effort by both the teacher and disciples to awaken their Buddha nature by the combined forces of teaching, prayer, blessing, devotion, mantra, yoga and meditation. It is an effort by every participant to try to discover the true and permanent peace for the sake of all others. The Buddhists believe mere presence during this elaborate initiation ceremony stretching over a few days, liberates the participant from suffering and bestows on him the bliss of Enlightenment.

The ceremony focuses on five main subjects - cosmology, psycho-physiology, initiation, sadhana and Buddhahood. A Kalachakra mandala and Viswatma deitiy in union with his consort are at the centre of this ceremony guiding the disciple through the tedious process of initiation.
The gompa is approached by road from Kaza (only 12 km). However, it is only 8.5 kms trek from Kaza.


TNAGYUD GOMPA
Near Comic village is the renowned Tangyud gompa. Built around the early decades of the 14th c, the gompa belongs to the Sa-kya-pa sect and is of historical importance. It is recorded that a team of Buddhist scholars of the gompa accomplished the task of revision of Tang-rGyud - the Tantra treatises which in 87 volumes form one class of Tibetan scriptures. The lamas of this gompa are supposed to be proficient in tantra. This gompa was earlier near Hilkkim village which was brought down in the earthquake of 1975. The villagers then shifted this gompa to its present site. Some remains of the monastery can still be seen near Hilkkim.

Kaza to Langza by road is about 9 kms. From Langza one has to walk to Hikkim - Tangyut Comic, which is another 8 kms. From Comic to Kaza is a trek of about 6 kms. It is a circular trek which can be adjusted according to one's own convenience.


KUNGRI GOMPA
Spiti's second oldest monastery is located in the Pin valley. The Kungri gompa built around 1330 AD recently acquired public attention after it received large foreign donations for its renovation. Kungri provides unmistakable evidence of tantric cult as practised in Buddhism. Kungri gompa is the main centre of the Nyingma-pa sect in Spiti. The gompa consists of three detatched rectangular blocks facing east.

The curious looking buzhens perform a sword dance and are perhaps the only branch of Buddhism in which use of weapons is practised. Some of the buzhens live in Mud village on the right bank of the Pin river. It is a chance encounter with buzhens as these lamas are wandering friars. Most of the Pin valley has been demarcated as the Pin Valley National Park which is the natural habitat of the snow leopard and Himalayan ibex.

There is a PWD rest house at Sagnam. Some more accommodation is also being added. Must carry own tents and camping gear. Tracks from this valley lead to Kullu over Pin Parbati pass and Kinnaur over Bhaba pass.


DHANKAR
On the left bank of the Spiti river at a distance of 32 kms downstream from Kaza, near Shichling at an altitude of 3870 m, nestles the citadel of Dhankar, the official capital of Spiti. The citadel is built on a spur which projects into the main valley and ends in a precipice. The location of this fort is strategic as Spiti always had to suffer innumerable aggressions by its neighbors. The location allowed the Spitian to keep vigil on the approaches and to submit messages to surrounding inhabitations in case of danger. Whenever the Spitians were attacked, they built huge fires to signal meeting in the safe sanctuary of rocks, i.e., Dhankars. In the meeting all men and women decided the course of action to be taken against the aggressors.

According to the State Gazetteer, "(The fort) became notorious for housing a cavernous dungeon which the Nono used as prison. It contained a cell without doors having only a small opening at the top through which the condemned person was lowered and received his meals."
The fort of Dhankar now lies in ruins, but still is a place worthy of visit. From the remnants of the fort one can see vast expanses of the Spiti valley.

Dhankar is also of art historical importance. Founded between 7th and the 9th centuries, Dhankar's old temple complex occupies the southern part of the steep mountain slope of the village. It is known by the name of Lha-O-pa Gompa (monastery of the followers of Lha-O).

The monastery consists of a number of multi-storeyed buildings perched together, giving a fortress like impression. There are five different halls including Kanjur, Lhakhang, and Dukhang where a life size silver statue of Vajradhara, the Diamond Being, is placed in a glass altar embellished with scarves and flowers.

Most interesting at the Lha-O-pa gompa is the small chapel on the uppermost peak above the main monastery - Lhakhang Gongma. The building is decorated with depictions of Shakyamuni, Tsongkhapa and Lama Chodrag on the central wall Dhankar's main attraction, although least publicised, is a fresh water lake about 2.5 km from the village at a height of 13500 ft. Set amidst lush green pastures, the lake offers a perfect idyllic camping site. Some boating facilities are proposed to be introduced in the near future. Under the Desert Development Project of Spiti the common carp variety of fish has been introduced in this lake. No angling is, however, allowed in the lake.
Dhankar is approachable by a motorable road, good for small vehicles only, that branches off for Dhankar from the main Kaza - Samdu road at a point around 24 kms from Kaza. The branch road is 8 kms in length upto Dhankar.

There is no rest house in the village. If you plan to halt for night, do carry tents, sleeping bags and other provisions.

KIBBER
There is a monastery in Kibber which is named after Serkang Rimpochhe of Tabo. The lama breathed his last in Kibber in 1983 and when he was being cremated a water source erupted from that spot. Even today the source is being used by the villagers.


Peaks in Spiti Valley :
Peaks
Metres
Details
Chau Chau Kang Nilda-I
6303m
Approached from Langia village
Chau Chau Kang Nilda-II
6158m
Approached from Langia village
Fluted Peak
6139m
Karcha valley
Gya
6794m
Lingti valley
Gyagar
6400m
Lingti valley
Kanamo
5964m
Shilla nala
Lama Kyent
6040m
Head of Lingti valley
Lhakhang
6250m
North of Shilla
Parilungbi
6166m
In Lingti valley
Ratang Tower
6170m
Ratang valley
Shilla
6132m
In Lingti valley
Unnamed Peak in Gyundi Valley
6172m
In Gyundi valley
Unnamed Peak in Gyundi Valley
6035m
In Gyundi valley
Unnamed Peak East Gyundi
6283m
In Gyundi valley
Unnamed Peak Gyundi Area
6310m
In Gyundi valley


Passes in Spiti Valley : 
Chaksachan la
(5250 m)

A pass between the bend of the Lingti river in eastern Spiti. From west to east it leads to Lingti valley as the river makes a curve. Great view of Gyagar from its top.
Ghunsarang la
(5500 m)

An alternate pass near Manirang Pass is Ghinsarang la, or known locally as Ghulla la. It also connects Mane with Ropa by a detour on the same ridge.
Kuli la
(4880 m)
Pass south of Chaksachan la, west of the Lingti river. It joins the Lingti valley with the Syrma valley in eastern Spiti.
Kunzum la
(4550 m)
This pass is the gate to the Spiti valley from the west. There is a motorable road running through this pass now, which connects Batal in the upper Chandra valley and the first village Losar of the Spiti valley. This pass is broad and easily crossable. The ascent is steep, but not difficult from the upper Chandra valley, but the descent towards Spiti valley is negligible. This pass is crossable on foot from May/June to October/November and the snowfall on this pass is less than on the Rohtang Pass. The entire route is generally motorable from early August to late September, depending on snowfall each year.
Lepcha la Pass
(Hangrang Pass)
Lepcha la connects the extreme south­eastern end of the Spiti valley with Shailkhar and Chango of the Hangrang valley in Kinnaur. There is vegetation on this pass and small trees and bushes are present. During winter there is residuary snow for a couple of months but the pass can be negotiated.
Manirang Pass
(5550 m)
Manirang Pass connects the Spiti valley with the Ropa valley of Kinnaur. This is a high pass and there is a five km long snow-bed on the Ropa valley side and about a three kilometres long snow-bed on the Spiti side. The approach to this pass from the Spiti side through village Mane is gradual whereas the descent towards the Ropa valley side is very steep through a very narrow gorge.
There is hardly any other traffic on this route. The tracks leading to the pass are in a bad shape, quite tiring and in some places dangerous.
North Ratang Col
(5600 m)
Situated on the shoulder of Ratang Tower peak. it is approached from the side valley of the Ratang and on the north leads to the Gyundi valley after careful negotiation.
Parang la
(5580 m)
Parang la connects the Spiti valley to parts of Ladakh. On the Spitian side of this pass, flows the river Parilungbi and the track runs on its side, climbing up the pass towards Ladakh. There is a glacier about three kilometres on the northeast of this pass and a number of crevasses make it difficult to cross.
On the same axis as Parang la lies Takling la which follows a little detour to cross from Spiti to Ladakh to meet the Parang la route.
Pin Parvati Pass
 (5400 m)
This is the only major pass which was not discovered by the enterprising locals. It was Louis Dane who investigated this pass and finally crossed it in 1897. This is a major pass which links the Pin valley with the Parvati valley of Kullu, thus avoiding the entire round-about journey over the Rohtang and Kunzun la. For a visit to the large Pin valley it was not necessary for locals to come via Kaja.
Route from Kullu climbs up gradually over snowfields and descends to the Pin valley to meet the Tari Khango pass route. The first villages in the Pin valley of Spiti are Mud and Sagnam.
Sanugba Col
(5400 m)
The Ratang valley, west Spiti has a major side valley called Sanugba. This pass in the side valley of Ratang leads to the Sanugba valley.
Shijbang
 (4820 m)
A pass in the Lingti valley, ahead of Lalung village. After crossing Zingu Top one has to climb steeply to cross this pass and descend to Shijbang plains.
ShillaJot
 (5670 m)
The pass dividing Langja valley and Syarma nala, It is situated on .the same ridge as Chau Chau Kang Nilda.
South Ratang Pass
 (5600 m)
Approaching from the Pin-Khamengarvalleys one has to approach this pass from . a side valley. Difficult and steep descent towards the Ratang side.
Syarma la
(5040 m)
A pass joining the Syarma vailley with Kuli la in the Lingti valley. Situated on the right side of the valley. The Syarma nala leads to ShillaJot.
Takling la
(5500 m)
An alternate pass to Parang la, now sparingly used. It leads from Spiti to Ladakh.
Tari Khango Pass
(Bhaba Pass)
(4865 m)
There are two passes in the southwest of Pin valley which connect the Spiti valley with the Bhaba valley of Kinnaur. The
track from the Bhaba valley connects the Hindustan-Tibet road at Wangtu. The pass situated in the east is named 'Taft Khango' and is popularly known as the 'Bhaba' Pass. The pass in the west is called Shakarode (5100 m) (also known as Shakarog Khaaxgo). By crossing Bhaba Pass from th~ Pin valley side, the entire area of Kinnaur district to the east of Wangtu can be bypassed. The approach to the pass from Spiti is gradual whereas the descent to the other side of the pass towards Bhaba valley is tedious and rocky. This pass has long been used as a trade route between the Pin and Bhaba valleys.
Yangzi Diwan
(5890 m)
Literally means 'a new pass'. It is linking the upper Lingti valley and the Pare Chu valley. It is a snow-bound and near Paftlungbi Peak.
Zingu Top
(4510 m)
Climb steeply from Lalung village in the Lingti valley to the depression in the ridge. The eastern side is steep and full of scree and leads to Shijbang Pass.


Fairs & Festivals of Lahaul & Spiti : 


Calender of Fair & Festivals
Month
Place
Fair/Festival Name
Jan/Feb
Pattan Valley
Khogla
Jan/Feb
Lahaul Valley
Halda
Febuary
Lahaul
Fagli
Febuary
Bhaga Valley (Lahaul)
Gothsi (Gochi)
June/July
Shashur, Kardang, Gemur, Kyi Gompas in Lahal & Spiti
Tsheshu Fair
August
Kaza (Spiti)
Ladarcha Fair
August
Udaipur (Lahaul)
Pauri Fair
August
Keylong (Lahaul)
Tribal Fair



LADARCHA FAIR
Previously, this fair used to be celebrated in Kibbar maidan in Spit in the month of July where traders from Ladakh, Rampur Busher and Spiti meet in this fair to barter their produce. Due to closure of Tibetan traders, this fair is now being celebrated at Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti Sub Division in the 3rd week of August. A large number of visitors and traders from Kullu/ Lahaul/ Kinnaur meet there. It has now become a conference of cultures of Spiti, Ladakh & Kinnaur as also of the Indian plains.

PAURI FAIR
This fair is celebrated during summer in the 3rd week of August every year. In earlier times this was the most prominent fair of Lahaul. People of all casts and creed gather there, not only from Lahaul but from Chamba and Kullu too. The fair is combination of pilgrimage and festive activities.  Preparations are made at least a week in advance and most of the people leave  their homes a day before the celebrations, where they have faced darshan of  the statue of Triloknath (Shiva Lord of Three Worlds) or Avolokiteshvara as it is regarded by Buddhist. After paying  their obeisance, people go to the parikrama gallery between the inner and outside walls of  temple. Pilgrims/ devotees usually complete three or seven clockwise  circumambulations of the gallery/ rotating the  prayer wheels and  murmuring  Mantras ( OM MANI PADME HUM) every morning and evening till they stay there. Ghee and Mustard oil lamps are lighted continuously inside. People donate money and Ghee/ Oil  to maintain the lamps, one of which is so big as to accommodate 16 Kgs. of Ghee/ oil. After the prayer and rituals, the fair begins.  Temporary shops, tea stalls and hotels are established at the fair  ground. As soon as darkness overtakes, the pilgrims dance in a huge circle to the melody of folk songs devotional or otherwise. On the second morning, a traditional procession is taken out, which is headed by the Thakur of Triloknath riding on a decorated horse. Their destination is the place where  as per traditional lores, seven gods, the  youngest of whom was Trilokinath had appeared from seven springs in the past.  This is the most important ritual  of the fair.  The precession then returns to the fair ground for more  festivities. Some people  for their native places leave as soon as the procession disperses, while others stay until the  third day when the fair is over.

TRIBAL FAIR KEYLONG
Tribal fair coinciding with Independence day is celebrated with great pomp and show from 14th to 16th August, at Keylong the headquarters of the district. People from all parts of the valley congregate in their queer disposition and a large number of Indian and foreign tourists gather here to witness the fair. It is being celebrated as at State level fair. In order to make the fair colourful , artists and cultural troupes are invited from Chandigarh, Dharamshala, Leh , Chamba, Kullu, Spiti in addition to local artistes.

TSHESHU FAIRS
Tsheshu fair is celebrated in  Shashur, Gemur, Kyi, Kardang Tabo and  Mane Monasteries in the months of June.  A large number of devotees/ people gather on these occasions.
Devil dance is performed by the Lamas bedecked in colourful dresses and wearing masks of different birds and animals.

FESTIVAL OF LIGHT
A festival of lights known as Diwali is celebrated all over India in October every year. A similar type of festival is celebrated as Khogla in Pattan valley and Halda in  other valleys of Lahaul at the second and third week of January.  The date is fixed by a Lama while in Pattan valley it is celebrated to Magh Poornima coincide with (full moon). Pencil cedar branches are cut into strips and are tied together into bundles to make a torch called Halda quite similar to Hola in upper regions of Shimla district.  In the evening halda at each house are lit and brought together at one centre place. This is repeated four to five times, each time in honour of different deitiesWhen the ceremony is over, the villagers return to their houses.  The haldas are prepared and lit in the same manner and collected at one place where they burn to lashes. But there is slight difference. Along with honouring  the deities, the people of Gahar valley curse the Ranas of clans  hostile to their own..  The people of  Keylong curse the Ranas of Goushal and Kardang threatening to “bite their hearts”.
FAGLI
Fagli, locally known as Kus or Kuns is one of the most important festial of the Pattan valley.  It falls, after a fortnight of  Khogla on Amawasya (Moonless Night) in the first/ second week of February. The houses are fully decorated and oil lamps are lit. A Baraza  is set-up which consist of a  bamboo stick, two to three feet tall, mounted on the floor. Around the stick a white chader is  draped in such a maanner as to suggest an angel dressed in while,  sitting in the corner, ornamented with jewellery and marigold flowers. Delicious dishes are placed before the Baraza along with burning incense.  The Baraza represents the angel “SHIKHARA- APPA) grand mother of the peak and  here visit is considered to bring prosperity to the house. According to ritual demand the head of the family and his wife getup early in the morning  to prepare (TOTU) (A dough of roasted barley flour and butter milk)  and kwari. The Totu is taken upto the roof which is offered to the deities.  Kwari is later thrown to the crows who await for it as if they have received the invitation.  The totu is distributed among the family members as prasada. The couple go to pay their annual respects to their cows and sheep to express their gratitude and acknowledge their dependence on these animals.  Rest of the family members getup and pay their respects to their elders of the household by bowing to them and touching their feet. After breakfast they first visit their nearest and aged person within the village and then the entire village community congregate to pay their respects to each house with Marchu (Local puri). Each day of the festival has a special name  to show its own  significance.  One day is called punha, a symbolic representation of ploughing the fields. Since the fields are covered under snow during the period, so symbolic ploughing is done. Two green willow sticks representing the bullocks and two more representing yoke and plough are moved forward in the room in the front of the Baraza. In the following weeks feasts and festivities continue among relatives and friends, along with the exchange of marigold  flowers and other gifts.
  
GOTHSI ( GOCHI)
There is a festival of the Bhaga valley which is celebrated in February in the houses where a son was born during the preceding year. The villagers gather in the morning. A dough is made of Sattu ( roasted barley ) and is placed in a big plate. It is lifted by four men  to the place of the village deity which is generally an idol of stone, a tree or a bush.  A young girl dressed in her best clothes and decked with ornaments accompanies them. The girl carries a pot of chhang ( Local drink). She is followed by two men, one carrying a burning stick of pencil cedar  and the other pencil their cedar leaves tied together in a lamb’s skin. The woman giving birth to the first son in the year, dressed in her best clothes accompanies them to pay homage to the village god. Labdagpa  the village priest worships the God with a  bow and an arrow. The dough is then broken and thrown away to appease the gods. The lamb’s skin is placed on a tree or a bush near the idol of the village deity and is shot at by arrows. Lohars beat drums during the ceremony.  After the worship of the village deity is over, the people disperse but the relatives and friends move in to group and visit all their houses where male children are born. Drinking and dancing go together, sometimes all through the nights


Adventure Sports in Lahaul & Spiti: 
ROCK CLIMBING & TREKKING
The Mountaineering Institute sub centre at Jispa offers you a very safe and adventurous Rock Climbing   & Trekking under the guidance of trained guides & instructors. Best time for trekking is from June to September.

RIVER RAFTING
Best period September. Koksar to Udaipur (90 Kms) , Darcha to Udaipur (70Kms).
Koksar the gateway of Lahaul-Spiti is best location for White Water Rafting, from here one can enjoy rafting upto Tandi bridge, the point of confluence of Chandra & Bhaga to become Chenab or Chanderbhaga entering through Pattan valley, the grain bowl of Lahaul. The other rafting route is from Darcha-Jispa and Gemure on Keylong-Leh route.

PARAGLIDING
Best time June to September. Suitable areas are Jispa, Sumnam, Dalang, Triloknath.
Joy ride para gliding, (twin rides) is available at Marhi and Rohtang. Even the short duration training course in para gliding is available.

FISHING & ANGLING
Trout fishing and angling can b enjoyed at Sissu & Jispa.

CAMPING SITES
In addition to Sarachu the last frontier on Leh-Manali route having Camping Site with a tent colony Darcha, Jispa, Gemur, Tandi, Koksar and Sissu the camping sites offer you a bountiful back to nature camping experience. Several private individuals are offering tentage/catering at these sites. A beautiful lake, waterfall, majestic snow clad mountains in full moonlight night at Sissu was painted even by N.Roerich.

JEEP SAFARI
Best time July to Oct.
  • Keylong to Leh : 365 Km. Darcha, Baralacha, Sarchu, Pang, Upshi and Leh.
  • Keylong to Kaza : 188 Km. Tandi, Sissu, Koksar, Chhatru, Batal, Kunzom Pass, Losar, Rangrik and Kaza.
  • Keylong to Manali : 115 Km. Tandi, Sissu, Koksar, Rohtang Pass, Marhi and Manali.
  • Keylong to Udaipur : 55 Km. Tandi, Jahalman, Thirot, Triloknath and Udaipur.
  • Keylong to Kilar : 130 Km. Tandi, Udaipur, Tindi, Purthi and Killar.
  • Keylong to Tsomo riri : Darcha, Baralacha Pass, Serchu, Upshi and Tsomo riri.

SKING
Sking in snow is one experience, which one can even enjoy in Lahaul in the month of April, for snow skiers there is plenty to offer at Babog, Patsieo, Keylong, Udaipur. Expert skiers can even ski from Keylong to Manali.

For sking purpose different ski slopes are :

SUMNAM SKI SLOP : One of the largest ski slopes in India. 8 Km. from Keylong. The slope is 6.5 Km. long and width ranging 2 to 4 Km. For stay two mountain huts one owned by Layul Mountaineers and Skiers Association Keylong and other one is owned by Great Himalayan Adventure Sports Sumnam. There are around 20 local houses who accommodate the tourists and also provide Indian and local food on payment. The houses are equipped with all modern facilities like phone, T.V., flush latrines & bath with geysers, cozy warm rooms. Camp fires are arranged by local clubs. For ski equipment and mountain guides one private ski tours provide all kind of sking equipment.
KARDANG SKI SLOP : 4 Km. from Keylong. Good ski slopes opposite to Keylong. For stay one mountain hut at Barbog and around 25 local houses for accommodation (local style).
GONDHALA SKI SLOP : One of the biggest in Himachal. 15 Km. from Keylong and for stay one rest house and villagers may also accommodate on request.
TRILOKNATH SKI SLOP : Gentle slopes good for beginners. Snow condition is best in March and April. For stay temple sarai with comfortable bedding. One can also stay at Udaipur 16 Kms. by jeep.
WILD LIFE WATCH
The Snow Cock, Ibex, Marmots, Snow Fox, Silver Carp, Trout are rare wild life stocks to watch.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Translate