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Duration: 12 days
Season: July to October
Max. Altitude: Rohtang Pass (3978 Mts) And Kunzum Pass (4551 Mts.)
Himachal’s main tourist resort, Manali stands at the head of the Kullu Valley. Majestic Mountain scenery and the areas seemingly limitless supply of inexpensive charm makes the place very popular among the tourists. Though it has gone a very fast change last 10 years but still the old charm does remain in Old Manali and nearby villages.
Resting on the stone platform in a dense stand of Old Deodar, Hadimba Temple is Manali’s oldest shrine (built in 1553) . It is a fine example of Pagoda architecture.
Old Manali, the village from which the modern Town takes its name, lies 3 Km. from the main mall. Unlike its offspring, the settlement retains an unhurried and traditional feel. There is a Temple of Sage Manu here out of which the name Manali has originated.
O/n in a Hotel
As we start our journey, leaving the lush green countryside of Manali towards Rohthang pass (3,978 Mts.). Rohthang Pass – Few places on the Earth can mark so dramatic a change in landscape as the Rohthang Pass. To one side, the lush green head of Kullu Valley; to the other, an awesome vista of bare, chocolate – colored mountains, hanging glaciers and snowfields that shine in the dazzlingly crisp fight. As we cross to the other side and at place called Gramphu we leave the main Leh – Manali Highway and enter into another Valley (Chandra Valley) and continue driving on a non-mettaled road, all along the Chandra River. Slowly the Valley opens and 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 – Nearly 28-Km 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. The entire track is devoid of a vegetative cover. High mountains surround this glacier on three sides. All around are the great peaks of Parvati headwaters – White Sail, Indrasan, further up the range, Kullu Makalu, and Parvati Peak itself. Further keeping the drive we reach Batal, the base of the Kunzum Pass (4,551Mts.), a nice place for a cup of tea. Then 12 Km of uphill drive gets us to the top of the Pass. There is a small temple with lot of prayer flags, dedicated to Kunzum Lamo (Local Deity) that is how the pass got its name. This Pass is the origin of Spiti River, Now the Spiti Valley begins and the landscape slowly embodies the desert look. We descend down the pass and reach the first Village of Spiti (Losar), the architecture of the houses surrounded by the fields of barley, peas and potato, and other vegetation has uncanny resemblance with Ladakh and Tibet.
We keep driving along the Spiti River and series of other Villages follow – Kyoto, Hansa, Morang, and Rangrik etc. We finally reach Kaza – The main town and headquarters of Spiti. The town lies in the core of the cold desert and hence is extremely arid. Arctic conditions prevail in winter and the Town remains under a thick blanket of snow. Sub zero temperatures are experienced for long periods during the cold seasons. July, August, September & October are the warmest months, with maximum temperature not rising above 21 degrees Celsius at Kaza. Overnight in a Hotel (Spiti Sarai) at Rangrik, 3 Kms before the Main township of Kaza, offering a nice view of Kye Monastery.
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 Tangyur 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.
Ki MONASTERY – 13 Km from Kaza is situated Kye Monastery at an elevation of (3969 Mts.). The Monastery consists of large irregular heap of low ceilinged 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. Overnight in a Hotel.
Spiti valley and its little villages we visit few ancient monasteries, situated in the middle of the beautiful village of Dhankar, Lahlung in the Lingthi Valley, and then continue to Tabo.
Dhankar (3890 mts) About 30 km from Tabo through steep hillside. The road slowly winds its way up to the village Dhankar, located at a height of 3890 mts. There situated 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. The location of the monastery is strikingly beautiful.
Lalung:- A small village in beautiful Lingthi Valley, consisting a cluster of 50 to 60 houses with a population over 300. The Gompa is situated on the top of the village, is invisible from the road. The main temple is decorated with unique Mandalas and statues with main statue of Bodhisattva in the center. A small but very attractive temple depicts the philosophy which originated in Western Tibet about 800 years ago. The monastery is over shadowed by a huge Fig tree. There is another small temple to the left of the main building, which houses a four headed clay idol of Buddha looking in to four different directions.
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 (3520 Mts.) 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. Overnight Hotel
Go via the little village of Kannum, ‘place of the sacred texts’, where the Kagyur temple was founded by the 10th century scholar Rinchen Zangpo. Follow the old Hindustan-Tibet road, if conditions allow. Reaching the beautiful village of Rarang, we will stay overnight in a small family home – or camp in the grounds. Evening Kinnauri Folk dances. Overnight in a fixed camp (Kinner camps)
Today we drive from kalpa to Sangla Valley, visiting ancient villages. In Sangla we will stay at Hotel. Overnight in a Hotel
A day exploring beautiful villages with striking forts and temples and meeting villagers – Here we visit the beautiful village of Baspa Valley such as Chitkul (3450 mts) – the route in this stretch is very narrow and steep till Chitkul, the last and highest village in Baspa Valley. It is situated on the Right Bank of Baspa Valley; there is a temple dedicated to local Goddess, Mathi, which is said to have been constructed some 500 years ago. The location of Rackcham – another village in Baspa Valley is striking as rocky cliffs of granite rocks and forests surround it. One can visit Kamru Temple and fort in Kamru Village, situated on a top of Sangla Village. The whole day is spending visiting all these beautiful villages and meeting their beautiful inhabitants. Overnight in a Hotel
Traveling through the gorges of the Satluj and Baspa, we reach Sarahan, with its significant Bhima Kali temple. Overnight in a hotel.
Continue to drive down the Satluj valley visiting villages – at Nirth there is a sun temple, and Dutt Nagar is of archaeological significance. We reach the old Raj hill station of Shimla, today the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. Overnight in a Hotel.
A day to explore, from the viewpoint on Jakhu Hill, to the Mall, via Kipling’s ‘Scandal Point’. Places of interest include the gothic Vice Regal Lodge, Christ Church with fine stained glass and the State Museum’s collections of Pahari miniatures, textiles and embroideries. Overnight in a Hotel
What to bring for the tour
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
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.
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.