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Trekking Duration : 5 Days of trek + 4 days of Jeep safari in Spiti and Kinnaur.
Altitude: Min : Manali 2,100 Mts.
Max : Bhabha Pass (4,800 Mts.)
Region : Spiti Valley and Kinnaur
Best Time : July – September
Grade : Moderate
Few places on Earth can make so dramatic a change in landscape as the Bhaba Pass (4890Mts). To one side, an awesome vista of bare, chocolate – colored mountains to the other the lush green head of Kinnaur.We start towards Kaza from Manali in a jeep. Most of the drive is along the Chandra River. Through high summits massive moraines and glaciers.
As we cross the Kunzum La (4551Mts.), the topography changes. Spiti side offers a typical desert look, we glimpse barren reddish mountains with hardly any sign of vegetation. Driving through the lunar landscape we pass many villages on the way.We spend two more days exploring Spiti and its beautiful adjoining valleys such as Lingthi Valley. We also visit ancient monasteries of Tabo, Kungri, Lalung and Dankar, Kye, rich in image and murals.
Sarahan is 175 km from Shimla, another charming place. We drive via many small towns such as Nirth, Rampur through Satluj Valley. At Nirth, there is an old temple, dedicated to Sun God which is said to be built by the great sage Parshuram and Dutt Nagar is known for its archaeological importance. Sarahan is a small but beautiful village in which is situated the historical Bhima Kali Temple, known for its wooden architecture. This temple is believed to be 1500 years old. One can enjoy the view of Shrikhand range of mountains in the background of the town. Overnight in camp / Hotel
First part of the walk is all along the Bhaba River but slowly the trail climbs through the incredible Cedar forests. On the way we pass through few old wooden houses in the middle of the forest. One the way we get introduced to an amazing variety of Himalayan Flora. Slowly the Valley opens into an incredible meadow located at the bank of River Bhaba, carpeted with variety of alpine flowers it set a beautiful glade amidst prime cedar trees. O/N Camp
Start on a flat meadow, with alpine flowers all around. The trail narrows as you reach the junction of two streams, with rare Himalayan Blue Poppy Flower in the middle of The Rocks. Cross the stream that you have been following from the campsite, keeping this stream to your right, continue climbing up on till you reach the open pasture grounds of Kara Sheep Farm. The vast grass pastures attracts the shepherds from Kinnaur, who bring their flocks of sheep and goats here during the spring (July – September). From Kara we enter into the left Valley. As we climb gradually up the Valley, though the valley gets bit narrower but the scenery wins one’s heart with alpine flowers on the valley floor and waterfalls on the adjoining hills. Today we camp at the foot of the Pass. O/N Camp
Climbing steeply, the going is rugged for most the day, there is no defined trail, walking over moraine, scree, boulders and a push through the snowfields to the top. The top of the pass offers great contrast to both sides, towards Spiti, it is the chocolate colored barren mountains and to the Kinnaur side it is all green. In few meters, no place on earth can create such a difference in the vegetation as Bhaba Pass. First part of the descent involves ice for around hundred meters. The later part is descending through the moraine till we get to the bottom. From here it is another half an hour through the boulders then we enter the main Valley. To the left, another Valley makes its way through to the Pin Parvati Pass. The valley here expands to all sides with amazing color of mountains surrounding from all sides. One and a half hours of more journey through the impressive surroundings takes one to Phaldar. This is also a grazing ground for the Shepherds of Kinnaur. Camp at Phaldar
Today’s trek is all the way through the Pin Valley we might initially encounter some Shepard’s from Kinnaur. The landscape here is dry and barren with mountains of different color. Suddenly we catch the sight of a green patch right in the front later we discover few houses. Set in the completely barren surroundings the Village of Mud is like an oasis in the desert. The village of Mud lies across the Pin River. The village gompa is set impressively on a cliff between two streams. After visiting the Pin Valley, drive to Tabo. O/n Guest House
PIN: – Cross the Spiti River by a solid concrete bridge and following the Pin River, one of the major tributaries of Spiti River. The Valley is famous for wild life – Ibex, Snow Leopard. There is also a Monastery called Kungri Monastery is believed to be founded by Guru Padmasambhava. The Monastery must have remained an ancient monastic site of the Padmasambhava days. Generally the Tibetan monasteries are built in a compact layout with all temples and apartments put together. But the Kungri Monastery is formed of three detached rectangular blocks facing due east. The Lhakhang being on the higher terrace on the North followed by Sampup – Chos – Ling in the middle and compact structure Tangyur and Gokhang. This belongs to the Nigma Pa sect. Buddhist Tantra called Bhusang.
Tabo Monastery – Tabo (3050 Mts) monastery is the seat of Buddhist learning, the Gompa is regarded as next in significance to the Tholing Gompa in Tibet. The Tabo monastery was established about 1000 years ago and was a part of Western Tibet School that originally designed different Mandala’s in the form of the statues hanging on the walls of the monasteries. However 800 years ago with the arrival of Guru Padmasambhava in Tibet and with the instructions of his new sect, old philosophy of Western Tibet School was lost and their unique philosophical practices almost died. Now Tabo is only living monastery outside Tibet, depicting similar Mandalas on the walls of the Dukhang.
Dhankar (3890 mts) – About 30 km from Tabo through steep hillside along a dusty road slowly winds its way up to the village Dhankar, located at a height of 3890 mts. There situated in the middle of Ridge in a striking location, a 6th Century Gompa, though not well preserved still has some magnificent original Thankas tucked away in dark. There are some beautiful murals. Unfortunately a part of monastery was destroyed during severe winter of 1989.
A late start, These Villages are all situated over the height of 4000 Mts. With striking locations and house some of the most interesting monasteries in the Spiti Valley. The ancient Monastery of Hikkim also known as the tangyug Gompa is of unique importance as this is one of the two Sakya Pa Monasteries In Spiti Valley second being situated at Kaza. This Monastery was responsible for the revision or propagation of Tantra teachings during the 14th Century. Abundance of fossils, comprising of Shells etc. takes one 50 millions years back when Indian subcontinent drifting northwards across the Ocean of Tethys on its tectonic plate slammed into the stationary mass of Asia and gave birth to the mighty Himalayas.
KYE MONASTERY – 8 Km from Kaza is situated Kye Monastery at an elevation of (3969 Mts.). The Monastery consists of large irregular heap of low ceiling rooms and narrow corridors, interconnected by dark passages and tortuous staircases, built on what must have been a crater of an extinct volcano. This is one of the biggest and the oldest monasteries belonging to the Ge- Lug – Pa sect in Spiti. It dates back to around 14th Century and is famous for its murals, valuable books and fabulous collection of Thankas. The instrument here deserves mention. There are two trumpets, two or three small brass instruments, a pair of large cyabals, a big deep voiced drum, and a pair of smaller ones. The prumpet, which is about three meters in length, rests on a triangular block of wood, placed on the ground, and rises in a long sweeping curve to the mouth of the player, who remains standing and blows into it with all his might. The sound produced by this magnificent instrument is surprisingly feeble. O/N Camp
We get introduced to magnificent Himalayan Ranges of Chandra & Bhaga, famously called as CB Range. This area in particular is very popular for Mountain Expeditions. The route veers to the left of the base of the immense Bara Shigri Glacier and several kilometers wide at its widest, the Bara Shigri is the largest glacier of the Lahaul Valley of Himachal Pradesh. It opens out onto the Chandra Valley and adds its waters to the River. It is located in a cirque on the middle slopes of the main Himalayan Range. Small tributary glaciers feed the main glacier.
Chandratal – The first sight of this wondrous lake takes ones breaths away, with its shores ringed with meadows carpeted with hundreds of varieties of alpine flowers. An excellent campsite surrounded by the massive mountain tops and the glaciers. Some time the road all the way till the lake is not open, in such cases you might need to trek to the Lake, depending upon the road condition. O/N Camp
We drive all along the Chandra River till Gramphu the other side of valley. From Gramphu we continue the journey over Rohtang Pass till Manali.
Manali (2050 mts) :- At the Northern end of the Kullu valley, Manali, means home of Manu, legend has that Vaivastava, the seventh incarnation of the divine law giver, Manu, once saved a tiny fish and cared for it till day it grew so huge that he realized it into the sea. Before departing, the fish warned Manu of an impeding deluge when the whole world would be submerged, and bade him to build a sea worthy boat. When the fold came, Vaivastava and the seven sages were towed to safely by Matsya, the fish – who is regarded as the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Manu’s ark first touched ground on the site and Manali is named after him.
Manali has high mountains surrounded by snows and deep boulder strewn gorges. Thick forest rise over a carpet of varied foliage and fauna.
Resting on the stone platform in a dense stand of Old Deodar, Hadimba Temple is Manali’s oldest shrine. Dating back to 1553, it is a fine example of Pagoda architecture.
Old Manali and Vashisht
Though the area has gone a very fast change in last 10 years but still the authentic charm does remain in the nearby villages of Vashisht and Old Manali, the village from which the modern Town takes its name, unlike its offspring, the settlement retains an unhurried and traditional feel. There is a Temple of Sage Manu (Hindu Mythological Hero) in the Village. The Village of Vashisht offers hot sulpher water springs and an ancient Temples of Rama.
At Model Town, the Tibetan Monastery is another major attraction hoisting the prayer flag. The Tibetan Monastery has a good collection of Tibetan paintings as well as Tibetan handicrafts ready for sale.
Shopping in Manali
Manali’s days as “authentic” pahari bazaar ended when the mule trains were superseded by Tata trucks, but it is still an excellent place for souvenir shopping. Woolen goods are the town’s real forte, particularly the brilliant patterned shawls for which Kullu Valley is famous. O/N at Hotel
What to bring for the trek
Good Warm internal clothing (woolen and fleece, thermals), water proof and wind proof clothing, Comfortable hiking boots with good resistance against the snow and water with a good grip, haversack, sandals, walking sticks, gaiters, woolen/tennis socks (quite a few pairs) and stocking, gloves, cap, sunglasses (very important), Sunscreen lotion, day sack, camera and binocular (OPTIONAL), water bottle, torch and batteries, though the water is very clean and pure and we do provide boiled water once you are in trek still in order to be extra careful you can get few chlorine pills as mountain water is supposed to be hard.
Day temperature in the sun is pleasant but windy but nights are cold. The temp at night in rain and snow can really go down; sometimes below zero so you have to be well prepared.
Trek logistics/Services provided during the trek
Accommodation in two men tent (high altitude alpine tents of good quality), heavy foam pad mattress, sleeping bags, Breakfast/tea, all meals (good quality food), services of experienced guide and cook, all the camping equipment, utensils and crockery, kitchen tent, and toilet tent, ponies or porters, adequate medical kit, Transportation during the Trek.
It is also possible that a route change may become necessary due to weather, inaccessibility through the mountain passes due to heavy snow, condition of the trail and physical fitness of the clients.