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This trip takes you from the valleys of Kinnaur to the Spiti Valley. Spiti falls in the rain-shadow area with partial Trans-Himalayan Barrenness. Deep in the lap of the Himalayas, this region has preserved its history, culture and traditions of over a thousand years – no wonder it is popularly known as the Ajanta of the Himalayas. The ancient Hindu temple at Sangtha and the 1000-year-old Monastery at Tabo show strong presence of the two most important religions, co-existing in harmony since time immemorial.
You follow the Hindustan – Tibet Road (Hindustan is another name for India in Hindi) till Puh. From Puh, we do a sort of ‘turn around’ to drive towards Tabo. The whole valley has many beautiful monasteries and mountain scenery for the seekers. The awe inspiring landscape; serene and peaceful environment along with simplicity of the local culture, enables a visitor to come close to the heart of mother nature and rediscover oneself. Crossing the KunzumLa and Rohtang, we enter the beautiful green of Kullu valley. We shall also visit the exquisite ChandraTal lake.
Foreigners require a special area permit for the drive between Recong Peo to Tabo, on the Hindustan Tibet Road. (Easily obtainable at Recong Peo/Shimla).
By 12 Noon of Day One
All participants meet at a predesignated spot by 12 noon. Drive to Narkanda.
After breakfast, start the drive to Sarahan via Narkanda (2690m). Sarahan is a beautifully located town amidst the mountains with Shrikand Mahadev Peak (5155m) forming a perfect background. Visit the BhimKali temple, a rare combination of Buddhist and Hindu architecture. The main idol of the goddess is about 200 years old.
Today’s drive takes you to Sangla All houses here are built on the slopes with the Kinner Kailash peak (6600m) dominantly the skyline. Visit the nearby Kamru fort, now dedicated to Kamakshi temple.
Start very early in the morning for the drive to the Chitkul Pass (3436 m). This pass is said to connect with routes into the Garhwal Himalayas. After spending some time at the pass to enjoy the view, drive on to Kalpa.
Kalpa, known as Chini when it was the main town in Kinnaur, is the legendary winter home of Lord Shiva, the destroyer as per the Hindu mythology.
From Kalpa, we drive to the nearby town of Recong Peo. Close to the Tibetan border, Puh lies in rain shadow region, situated on the confluence of river Spiti and Sutlej. It is famous for grapes, woodcarving and Deodars. We will also stop enroute at Recong Peo – where there is a new monastery built to commemorate his Holiness, the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra sermon. We will be driving on the famous Hindustan-Tibet road.
Start early for the long drive in to the Spiti valley today. We shall first visit the Mummy at Giu and then drive on to Tabo 3200m to look at the beautiful monastery.
The famous Tabo Monastry is more than 1000 years old and home to many precious Thanka paintings, including the Pillar of a Thousand Buddhas. The entry to the monastery complex, spread over 6300sq m, is made of earthen walls with marvellous colourful frescoes inside. The Murals, Thankas and paintings are believed to have been made in a single night by the Gods themselves. The ancient paintings depict the life of Buddha and legends from the Jataka Tales (collection of Buddhist stories especially for Children). Tabo monastery is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is also called the ‘Ajanta’ of the Himalayas. It is believed that the present Dalai Lama will live here upon retirement. Designed in West-Tibetan style, the Gompa houses impressive murals, and sculptures. There is a painting school in the Gompa itself. In addition to this, there are some caves on a hillside, known as Dawang, with some famous murals.
We also stop at the Dankar monastery before reaching Kaza. The Dankar Gompa is perched on a hilltop and has a spectacular rocky setting. Drive on to Kaza – headquarter of Spiti region.
Drive to Langza 4400m; famous for its fossils and a statue of Buddha overlooking the mountain ranges. Fossils of marine creatures and plants are found in plenty under the sedimentary rocks. These fossils are around millions of years old and are mostly cephalopod (marine animals characterized by bilateral body symmetry – a prominent head and a set of arms or tentacles).
From here we carry on to one of the most photographed monastery of Spiti. Ki 4166m/ 13668ft (also spelled as Kye or Key). It is located on top of a mountain and belongs to the Gelugpa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery has an excellent collection of ancient paintings & scriptures and a school attached to it with approx. 100 monks. It also has some rare silk Thangka’s from Tibet that are said to be 800 years old.
Return to Kaza for the night.
After breakfast drive to Chandratal visiting the Kibber village enroute. Kibber is one of the highest habited village in the world at 4250m/ 13945ft. It was part of the overland salt trade centuries ago, and is a small but pretty place with friendly people.
Drive on to the KunzumLa pass 4590m/15060ft. from the base of the pass, we take the small rough road to ChandraTal. Check in to the tents. Later drive to the lake as the camping site is slightly away to conserve the environment.
After breakfast drive to Manali. Enroute we shall pass two high mountain passes – first the Kunzum La and then the Rohtang pass.
Departure from Manali. Room is booked till 12 noon today.