Monday, April 15, 2019

Lahaul Valley

Lahaul Valley the “Himalayan Scotland”, Lahaul means the “land of Gods”. Lahaul is a bouquet of scenic mountain villages & fascinating Buddhist art and culture.

Lahaul Valley: Fast Fact-
Location: Near Indo-Tibetan Border, Keylong, Himachal Pradesh 175132, India
Best Time to Visit: June to October
Nearest Railway Station: Chandigarh
Nearest Airport: Bhunter Airport in Kullu
Lahul to Manali Distance: 114 km
Lahaul to Spiti: 178 km
Attraction: Keylong, Kardang, Rohtang La Chandratal, Kunzam La, Udaipur, Suraj Taal, Guru Ghantal Monastery, Tandi, Gemur, Sissu, Sarchu, Gondhla, Trilokinath, Tabo  Rock Art and Cave, Tabo Monastery

A place of wide contrasts on the Manali-Leh route, Miles of high flatlands, several glaciers and high peaks, sudden surprises in patches of verdant green and eighteen Buddhist monasteries, a few secluded Hindu temples, mountain passes that carry on for miles, some high lakes and two large rivers the Chandra and the Bhaga, that combine to form the Chandrabhaga and a touch of mystery over the origins of the place-name and you have Lahaul.

Lahaul Valley

The most beautiful picturesque Cold Desert of Himachal Pradesh is this place. The Monasteries and the culture of Lamas are so mesmerizing that one can feel the eternal silence for the same. Tibetan Culture and traditions can be felt here, the place is not accessible throughout a year as snow blocks the road and this place is totally cut off from the rest of the world.

This crosses four high passes the Rohtang La (3,980 meters), the Baralacha La (4,982meter), the Lachlan La ( 5,066 meters) and the Tanglang la ( 5,360 meters). The main mountain ranges of the area are sub-systems of the Himalaya. Some are the Pir Panjal that shapes high wings on either side of the Rohtang Pass, the Shigri extend towards Spiti and the Drilbu ascends on the lower area where the rivers Chandra and Bhaga move towards their intersection. Many of Lahaul’s peaks some place are still unclimbed and unnamed. Lahaul has three primary valleys the Chandra valley, the Bhaga valley and that of the Chandrabhaga when both rivers combine into one. The last is commonly called the Pattan valley and is well cultivated and inhabited. Chandra and Bhaga ascend on inverse sides of the Baralacha Pass. The town Keylong is the administrative capital of district Lahaul - Spiti.
In Lahaul you will see snow-capped mountains, green Meadows and clouds altogether. There will no phone connectivity or poor connectivity. BSNL is the best option.

Weather: Lahaul remains cut-off from outside the world till mid-June due to heavy snowfall and closing of Rohtang Pass. There is little or no rain in monsoons. The climate remains dry and invigorating. The days are hot and nights are too cold. Heavy / Light woollens are recommended. Dressing in layers works best. Both light and heavy clothing will be required.

Tourist Attractions:

  1. Keylong: The small town of Keylong is the district headquarters of Lahaul & Spiti. Perched on the bank of River Bhaga, along the highway to Leh, the township has a small marketplace, a petrol/diesel filling station and basic medical facilities. A confluence of Chandra and Bhaga at Tandi is just 8 km away. As you approach Keylong, the landscape starkly changes from rocky mountains to blending sands in different hues of brown which dramatically give way to lush green slopes. The outskirts of the town are a vast greeny patch of fields growing barley crops.
  2. Chandratal: At a place where the Himalayan and Pir Panjal ranges meet, on a trekking path from Kunzam Pass (6 km, altitude 4337 m) are the turquoise and tranquil waters of Chandra Tal. Fed by snow waters, the meadows around the lake are spread over many acres and where shepherds are often spotted basking in the sun with their flocks scattered around. The lake and the adjoining area was declared a conserved international Ramsar Wetland site in November 2005. This reserve is a refuge for species like Snow Cock, Chukor, Black Ring Stilt, Kestrel, Golden Eagle, Chough, Red Fox, Himalayan Ibex, Blue Sheep, the rare snow leopard and others.
  3. Kunzam La: Marking the watershed divide between Satluj and Chenab river basins, this pass makes a connect for Lahaul with Spiti over the Kunzam range. From Kunzum La (4550meters) there is a majestic view of Shingri Peak across the valley. On one side of the pass Chandra river flows down and on the other side, the Spiti river is born. Spiti river meets Satluj river at Khab. This pass connects Lahaul with Spiti over the Kunzam range and the majestic Shigri peak is visible from its crest.
  4. Rohtang La: The Tibetan Roh means a ‘dead body‘ while Tang is a heap or pile. La is a mountain pass. In earlier times, many people died while crossing this pass. Legend has it that the gods have himself created the pass. The force of the lash is regarded to be responsible for the high winds still encountered there. A variation of the story comes from the epic, the Mahabharata where the strongest of the Pandava brothers kicked the mountain aside to enable his mother to cross.
  5. Udaipur: Udaipur is a fertile, low lying land with orchards of apple, walnut and apricots. Founded by Raja Udai Singh, a ruler from Chamba, it served as an administrative outpost of the principality. A temple of local goddess ‘Mrikula Devi’, sitting in the middle of the settlement, is famous for its intricate wooden carvings, especially those on the ceiling.
  6. Tabo Monastery: Tabo Monastery is an antiquated cloister that was set up in 996 CE. It is considered to be an important monastery and is often referred to as the Ajanta of the Himalayas.
  7. Tabo  Rock Art and Cave: On the hill facing Tabo village, one can see a series of caves with beautiful Buddhist banners vacillating outside. At first, it is difficult to make out whether these are natural or man-made caves. Some of these caves are even multi-storeyed. Incidentally, one of the caves up there is also a part of Tabo Monastery complex that is now under the Archaeological Survey of India.
  8. Tabo is a small village situated on the banks of the Spiti River. It is well known for its monastery that is more than a thousand years old and has amazing Ajanta like paintings. Its caves show that monks lived here even before there was any settlement in the area. It is, however, the carvings on big rocks that tell us that this area was probably inhabited since pre-historic times. The carvings have not been documented so the exact time period is not known.
  9. Suraj Taal: Suraj Taal as the lake of Sun god is a beautiful natural amphitheatre near Baralacha La Pass. It can be easily reached from the Manali-Leh highway. In winters, the lake freezes and as summers approach, the lake returns to its full glory with blue icy waters forming a crystal clear mirror image of the beauty of snow-capped mountains around it.
  10. Guru Ghantal Monastery: This monastery is located on a hill above the Tupchiling village at the confluence of the rivers Chandra and Bhaga. This gompa was founded by Padma Sambhava and is more than 800 years old. This monastery has idols of Guru Padma Sambhava, Brijeshwari Devi and several other lamas.
  11. Tandi: This has the confluence of rivers Chandra and Bhaga and here form the Chandrabhaga River and as soon as it enters Jammu and Kashmir it is renamed as the Chenab River. The Bhaga River originates from Surya taal. The other major tributary of the Chandrabhaga, the Chandra originates from the glacier close to the Chandra Taal lake in originates from the glacier close to the Chandra Taal lake in the Spiti district. The village Tandi is situated above the confluence of the rivers Chandra and Bhaga in the Pattan valley some 8 km away from Keylong.
  12. Gemur: This is a small monastery, but is held in great sanctity and is well known for its ‘dancedrama‘ enacted every July.
  13. Sissu: Sissu village, on a broad flat ground overlooking Chandra River, with vistas of willow and poplar trees, green terraces and wildflowers make the village an unforgettable feast of colours. At a small monastery, Lord Ghepan is revered as the presiding deity to protect the village from demonic powers. A ‘dance-drama’ sequence enacted every July is a good time to be in Sissu. A little short of the village is the refreshing Sissu falls cascading over a cliff that bridges two adjacent mountains.
  14. Shahsur: A prominent learning centre that attracts scholars and pilgrims from across the world, Shashur Monastery is a highly revered Buddhist temple (Gompa) just 4 km from Keylong. Established by Deva Gyatso, the monastery is an architectural gem from the 17th century. Set in the midst of a green fix of pine trees in a generally desolate scene, the religious community is protected by transcending mountains on all sides that offer tremendous magnificence of the devout focus. The name 'Shahsur' signifies 'in the blue pines.' The three-storeyed structure remaining on a slope with diminish chambers lodging uncommon thangkas and delightful wall paintings emanate a religious appeal that doesn't stop to stun guests. The celebration of Shahsur Tsesha, held in the long stretches of June/July is a decent time to observe brilliant veil and ensemble moves at the religious community that are performed by inhabitant priests.
  15. Gondhla: This seven storey House of the Thakur of Gondhla, called the Gondhla castle or fort and attracts a large number of tourists. It is said that the fort was built in 1700 A.D. by Raja Man Singh of Kullu. The castle is an example of the indigenous timber bonded stone style of the Western Himalayas consisting of alternate courses of stone and wooden beams and cemented together with wet clay. Several weapons including bows, arrows, quivers, catapults, guns and canons beside other articles of antique value can be seen rusting in the apartment.
  16. Trilokinath: Its shrine is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists. The shining white temple, hanging by a cliff, is considered a pilgrimage with comparable sanctity of one to Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar in Tibet. It is the site of an important fair called ‘Pori’ held in August.
  17. Jispa: Just 4 km ahead of Gemur, near the confluence of two streams merging with Bhaga River, is the small village of Jispa. It notably has a very large dry river-bed for an extended courtyard.
  18. Sarchu: Sarchu (Sar-Chu) means ‘gold drop’, is a picturesque stopover on the Manali–Leh highway. The stopover marks the boundary of Himachal Pradesh with Jammu & Kashmir. Between the two Passes of Baralacha La and Lachlung La, Sarchu was an old trading station on the Silk Route. The barren splendour of the place is still a favourite with nomadic tribes and adventurers.

Lahaul Valley

How To Reach:

By Road: Lahaul can be reached from Manali, with the road leading to Keylong. Keylong is also the district headquarters of Lahaul. You will have to cross Rohtang Pass to reach Keylong and this road remains closed between November and May due to snowfall. It is a 9-hour journey and some roads are closed during the winters session. The valley is connected by road to the rest of Himachal Pradesh and other nearby states from between May to November.

BY RAIL: The closest Railway station is Chandigarh. From Chandigarh, you can reach Lahaul via Manali. The journey by road would be approximate of 5 to 9 hours. Alternatively, one can also reach Shimla by train and then take a cab for the onward journey.

BY AIR: The nearest airport to the Lahaul Valley is the Bhunter Airport in Kullu. Air India is the major service provider here and has regular flights connecting Kullu to large cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, and Shimla. The airport is situated at a distance of 160 km from Keylong. From the airport, Manali lies at a distance of 40 km. From Manali, the valley can be reached in 6 hours by road via cab or bus.

My Other Post Related Himalayan Tour Visit:


Hotel Sakya Abode
Address: Kaza District Lahaul & Spiti Himachal Pradesh, Kaza
Phone: 094595 24103

Hotel Ibex Jispa
Address: Jispa, Leh Manali Highway, Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh 175132
Phone-094180 36860

Hotel Deyzor
Address: Behind BSNL Office, Kaza, Himachal Pradesh 172114
Phone:094184 02660

Padma Lodge Jispa
Address: Leh Rd, Jispa, Himachal Pradesh 175132
Phone:094189 11164

Yak Hotel Jispa
Address: NH3 Leh Manali Highway, Jispa, Lahaul and Spiti, Jispa, Himachal Pradesh 175132
Phone:094181 61910

Homestead Hotel:
Keshing Home Stay
Address: Thupten Dorje S/o Sh. Dharam Chand VPO Koksar, Distt. Lahaul & Spiti.
Phone: 94183-18440

Sange Home Stay Sh.
Address: Phunchog S/o Norbu Ram Vill. Shashin PO Sissu, Distt. Lahaul & Spiti.
Phone: 94186-39330

Chandra Valley Home Stay
Address: Sh. Sonam Angrup S/o Sh. Ram Chand Vill. Shashin PO Sissu, Distt. Lahaul & Spiti.
Phone: 94182-60692

Tashi Khang Homestay
Address: Sh. Tashi Ram S/o Sh. Chhering Dorje VPO Sissu, Distt. Lahaul & Spiti.
Phone: 94187-73443

Snow Town homestay
Address: Sh. Sachin Kumar S/o Suresh Vill. Shashin PO Sissu Distt. Lahaul & Spiti.
Phone: 94184-87627

Drillbu Home Stay
Address: Sh. Norbu Ram S/o Sh. Dorje VPO Keylong, Distt. Lahaul & Spiti.
Phone: 94181-02745

Lahaul Valley is a treasure of lush green fields, tranquil lakes, snow-covered mountains and mountain passes that make a paradise in the earth for nature lovers. Captured spectacular views of Bhaga river from the top of Shashur Monastery. The Bara-shigri, Chota-shigri & Sonapani glaciers are located near Lahaul. The valley is perfect for trekking, hiking and adventure drives.

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