Lahaul Valley, Himachal Pradesh
At an altitude of 6500 m, Lahaul and Spiti valley are two of the most remote valleys in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The two are located on the Indo - Tibet border and have an undeniable charm. Lahaul has high mountains and giant glaciers. Spiti is closer to the Tibet border and is known by various other names - 'middle country', 'World within a world' and 'Palace where the gods live'.
In Lahaul Valley
At an altitude of 3340 m, Keylong enjoys the status of a district headquarters of Lahaul Spiti. Verdant fields, flowing streams and snow covered peaks welcome you every where you go here.
Around 18 km from Keylong, this village of the Lahaul valley has some royal heritage as its prime attraction. The eight storeyed residence of the thakur of Gondla called the Gondla Castle or fort was constructed in the 17th century. There is also a gompa in this village which attracts a number of people, specially during the fair celebrated in the month of June.
Guru Ghantal Monastery
Believed to be the oldest monastery in the Lahaul valley, Guru Ghantal is a wooden structure with pyramidal roof. Housed inside are the idols of the Brajeshwari Devi and Padmasambhava. The annual festival of Ghantal is celebrated in mid June on the full moon night.
This monastery is located in the erstwhile capital of Lahaul, the village of Kardang. At an altitude of 3500 m, this monastery is around 5 km away from Keylong across the Bhaga river. The architecture of the monastery, believed to be built in the 12th century, is typically Lahaul and Spiti style. There is a big library consisting Kangyur and Tangyur volumes of Buddhist scriptures in Bhoti. Also to be seen are beautiful thangkas paintings and musical instruments such as lutes, drums, horns and old weapons. Colourful frescoes and murals are yet another attractions of the monastery.
Located at a distance of 1.5 km from Keylong, the Shashur monastery was founded by Lama Deva Tyatsho of Zanaskar, Ladakh. In the 17 AD, he was a missionary of the king of Bhutan, Nawang Namgyal. The term Shashur means 'in the blue pines'. The monastery houses a statue of Namgyal, a 15-feet 'Thankha' and invaluable wall paintings depicting all the siddhas of Buddhism. The building of the monastery is a three-storey tall structure which, despite certain deviations, conforms to the ancient mandala concept. The month of June/July sees Chham been celebrated in this monastery with much fervour.
The monastery is located around 6 km from Keylong and is counted amongst the oldest monasteries in the Lahaul valley. The highlight of the monastery is a 5 feet tall statue of Guru Padmasmbhava and a library of Kangyur (101 volumes). Ta- Yul, in the Tibetan language means the chosen place. You will get to know the story behind this monastery and its name when you visit it.
At an altitude of 3170 m, this place is famous because of a magnificent waterfall. Its fame is also because it happens to be the seat of God Geypan, a deity respected in the entire Lahaul valley.
Perched at a height of 3140 m, it happens to be the coldest place in the Lahaul valley.
Around 20 km away from Keylong, this place is wonderful for trout fishing and camping.
At an altitude of 3360 m, Darcha is ideal place for trekkers. You can start off trekking from here to Padem passing through Shingola as well as Baralacha/Phirtsela. It is around 24 km from Keylong and offers facilities for camping.
This pass is situated around 73 km from Keylong and is considered one of the best places to trek. The beauty of the pass draws a large number of tourists as well. The name Baralacha la implies a pass that has crossroads at its top. True, since the paths from Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul join at the top of the pass. Three rivers, Chandra, Bhaga and Yunam also have their origin from this point.
Around 118 km from Keylong, this place happens to be the last border point between Himachal and Ladakh. The Himachal Tourism department has set up tents for tourists to stay in the summer season. The experience of staying in tent at the border point can be really enjoyable.
This village is famous for a unique Shiva Temple which was given a Buddhist look by Guru Padmasambhava. So, along with a statue of Shiva, you can also see 6 armed image of Avalokiteshvar. The temple holds a significant place in the hearts of both Hindus and Buddhists who together celebrate the festival of Pauri with much enthusiasm. This festival is celebrated in the month of August and has people from other religion also participating.
The village of Udaipur, in earlier times was known as Markul. It is because of this that the goddess of this place is known by the name of Markula Devi. A temple dedicated to this goddess is quiet famous in Lahaul because of the wooden carvings in it. The village is situated at the point where the Chenab and Mayar Nallah meet, hence it also becomes a starting point of the Mayar valley.
In Spiti Valley
Kaza enjoys the status of sub divisional headquarter of the Spiti valley. At an altitude of 3800 m, it is located on the left bank of Spiti river. Roads from Manali and Shimla connect to Kaza all the time except in winter months.
Kunzum Pass, at an altitude of 4590 m, extends from Spiti to Lahaul. Apart from the magnificent view of the surrounding areas, you can also see a temple at the top of the pass which is dedicated to Goddess Durga. On your way to this pass, also enjoy the awesome beauty of the second longest glacier in the world, Bara-Sigri glacier.
Located at the meeting point of two streams, Losar and Peeno, this village provides some fantastic views. Moreover, it also happens to be the first big village in the Spiti valley. Other reason for visiting this valley is that it offers an opportunity of yak and horse riding.
This village is worth visiting as it is amongst the highest villages in the world. It is located at an altitude of 4205 m. The highest village, Gette, is close to Kaza at an altitude of 4270 m.
This monastery is located 25 km away from Kaza in the village by the same name (Dhankar). The monastery houses a statue of "Vairochana" which shows 4 complete figures of Buddha seated back to back. Also, in possession of the monastery are some Buddhist scriptures, paintings and sculptures. Around 100 lamas live in this monastery.
Kullu and Shimla are two closeby airports that are well connected to other parts of India.
The nearest railheads from Lahaul & Spiti lie at Shimla and Pathankot.
Manali is well connected by road to all part of the country. From
Manali, buses and taxis are available to reach anywhere in the Lahaul
and Spiti valley between May to October on the basis of opening and
closing of the Rohtang Pass, the entranceway to the valley.
Some important distances from Keylong are Kullu - 158 km, Manali - 118 km, Pathankot - 436 km, Jogindernagar - 284 km, Rahla - 102 km, Rohtang - 67 km, Khoksar- 46 kms, Gondhla-18 kms, Udaipur- 48 kms.