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Visitor No: 242350

Tourist Places in Spiti

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Last Updated On: 22/09/2015  
Places of Interest in Spiti
 

Spiti

  Lhalung

 

Lossar

Kaza

Kunzum Pass

Kibber

Tabo

 

Pin valley

Dhankar

    Kye  
 

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.
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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.

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Kunzum  Jot

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.

   

 

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.

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Thousands of devotees from all over the  world here 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.

   

 

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. (JPG, 10 KB)

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.
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