Journey Two / Chapter 5

Lahaul and Spiti

August 2016

The higher, more remote and more tranquil part of the Himalchal Pradesh - the valleys of Lahaul and Spiti. Beautiful high altitude deserts consisting of deep valleys with even taller peaks. Welcome to High Himalayas.

As we move from Kinnaur and through lower Spiti Valley we enter the Lahaul and Spiti district just before the village of Tabo. Upper Spiti is a just as beautiful as its lower counterpart, and even more remote - this is actually one of the most remote regions in all of India. There is no real city to speak of in Spiti valley - just few villages and great number of buddhist monasteries. The later include the monastery of Tabo, which is noted for being the oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in both India and the Himalayas (and a favorite of His Holiness Dalai Lama Himself); or the monastery of Ki, the largest and most beautiful monastery build around a separate hill that also serves as a training center of Lamas. Indeed, everything in Spiti valley is focused around Buddhism, specifically Vajrayana Buddhism similar to that found in the nearby Tibet Autonomous Region and the Ladakh.

After going though the uppermost parts of Spiti valley where settlements and green turn from scare to none we take the Kunzum La mountain pass that connects Spiti with Lahaul. Lahaul is noticeably greener and more developed than its counterpart Spiti, yet buddhism and monastic life are still very strong here. While upper part of the valley is still very untouched, at Grampoo Lahaul meets the Manali-Leh highway and that's where development starts. The Highway starts in Manali on other side of Rothang pass, and continues through Lahaul all the way Leh, capital of Ladakh. As one of the only two roads leading to Ladakh, it is build and maintained by Indian Army. At 479km it may take well 2 days to cross it due to the great number of high mountain passes that it crosses through.