Lahaul the largest district in Himachal Pradesh, is a vast area
of high mountains and narrow valleys bounded by Ladakh to the north,
Tibet to the east, Kinnaur to the southeast and the Kullu valley
to the south. Lahaul is often regarded as a midway point en route
to Leh and the Indus valley, but has more to offer travellers. Lahaul
is also a fascinating area for Buddhist art and culture. The monasteries
of Lahaul are rich repositories of ancient murals, thankas, wood
carvings and golden images of the Padmasambhava. The people are
charming, friendly and hospitable with their own traditional dances,
ballads, folk tales and legends.
Below the summit of the Baralacha Pass in the Lahaul division of
district Lahaul and Spiti. The Baralacha la connects Manali and
Lahaul to Ladakh and the lake which draws a considerable number
of visitors - especially in summer - lies by its head. This is the
source of the river Bhaga.
Guru Ghantal Monastery (3020 m)
This is on the right bank of Chandra river about 4 kms. above Tandi
and is believed to be the oldest Gompa of Lahoul having wooden structure
with pyramidal roofs, wood carving, preserving the idols of Padmasambhava
& Brajeshwari Devi. On the full moon night in mid-June a festival
called "GHANTAL" is celebrated by Lamas & Thakurs
Kaza is the administrative centre and transport hub of Spiti subdistrict.
Kaza's old town, around the new bus stand, is a maza of little shops,
hotels and whitewashed houses. The new town across the creek, is
a collection of tin-roofed government buildings.
Thang yug Gompa
It is located 13 kms. above Kaza serving western part of central
Spiti. Situated in a secluded place in the narrow gauge of Kaza
Nallah, it generally has a Lama from Tibet. Above this there is
a long plateau which leads to Shilla peak.
Ki and Kibber
Founded in the sixteenth century, the Kyi Gompa is the largest and
the oldest monastery in the Spiti Valley, supporting a thriving
community of lamas. It is located at a height of about 4116 meters
above sea level. Ki, the oldest and largest gompa in Spiti, about
14 kms from Kaza, was built by Ringchen Zangpo and belongs to the
Gelukpa order. The gompa is famous for its priceless collection
of ancient thangkas, including Tibetan silk thangkas upto 800 years
old and frescoes depicting the life of Padmasambhava. The Chaam
festival, held in the month of June / July, is a much-awaited event
of this gompa.
Tabo Gompa is one of the most important monasteries in the Tibetan
Buddhist world. It is 1,002 years old monastary. It was built in
996 AD. There are nine temples in the complex, at all ground level
and dating from the 10th to the 16th century. The main assembly
hall of th Tsuglhakhang is surrounded by 33 raised Bodhisattva statues
and houses a four-sided statue of Sarvarvid Vairocana, one of the
five Dhyani Buddhas.
Shashur Gompa is 3 kms from Keylong. Dedicated to a Zanskari lama,
it was built in the 16th century and is of the Gelukpa order. The
5m thangka is famous in the region. An annual festival, held every
June or July is renowned for the mask dances performed by the lamas.
It is situated about 25 kms. east of Kaza and serves eastern part
of central Spiti. Dhankar is a big village and erstwhile capital
of Spiti King. On top of a hill there is a fort which use to be
a prison in olden times. The Monastery has about 100 Lamas and is
in position of Buddhist scriptures in Bhoti language. Principal
figure is a Statue of "Vairochana" (Dhayan Budha) consisting
of 4 complete figures seated back to back. It has relics in the
shape of paintings and sculptures.
On the road from Kaza to Keylong is Kunzam, a mountain pass at an
attitude of 4551 meters, with a temple of Kunzam Devi. One can also
trek from here to the famous and beautiful moon lake Chandratal
(4070 m). Asia's biggest glaciers, Bada and Chotta Sigri, can be
seen from here. At Gondhla, one can visit the seven-storey castle
of the Thakur of Gondhla. The Guru Ganthal gompa, in Tupchiling,
4 km away, is about 800 years old and an important site to visit.
Tayul Gompa (3900 m)
Tayul Gompa is 6 kms. from Keylong and is one of the oldest monasteries
of the valley having a huge statue of Guru Padmasamhava about 5m
high and houses library of Kangyur having 101 volumes. In Tibetan
language Ta-Yul means the chosen place. There is an interesting
story behind this.
Pin Valley National Park
Pin Valley National Park is located in Lahaul & Spiti district
of Himachal Pradesh. The region is a cold desert, which is adjoined
to the Great Himalayan National Park in the southwest and Rupi Bhabha
sanctuary in the south. The park extends from the latitudes 31°45'-32°11'N
and longitudes 77°45'-78°06'E. The Pin Valley, south of
the Dhankar gompa, has been declared as a national park.
Delhi is the most convenient city to access the Indian Himalayas,
and there are flights to Shimla, Kullu, Leh and Chandigarh. The
final 30-minute approach to Leh is regarded as one of the most spectacular
flights in the world.
There are rail connections from Delhi to Shimla, Haridwar (near
Rishikesh), Kathgodam (35 km from Naini Tal) and Ramnagar. It is
easy to reach Manali from these places and then from Manali to Lahaul
and Spiti. Between Kaza and Keylong, there are irregular bus services.
Best time to visit : Mid June
to Late October
Conditions are generally cold and dry as the region has always been
a cold desert. It receives heavy snowfall in winter, the rainfall
being average. Best time to visit the park is from May to October.
The altitude varies from over 6,500 m in the high peaks to 2,740
m, where the Chenab River makes its exit from the region. The Lahaul
region is at an altitude of 3000-3900 m, the air is much rarified
and there are heavy snowstorms between September and May. Nevertheless,
since the rains here are very scanty, it is an ideal place for trekkers,
especially in the months between June and September. Beyond the
reach of the monsoon, the valley sees little rain in summer, when
the sun is strong, and the nights cool.
General Information & Accomdation info on Lahul city of Himachal Pradesh - India