Manali to Moon
THIS ONE WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED BY ME at Sulekha.com:
Standing on the rocky crest, with the drops of sweat on the brow , chilly waves of wind piercing the fabric of my clothes, as if reprimanding me on my audaciously brazen act of defeating the Nature’s challenge to conquer the heights of this rocky mountain in Kinnauri Ranges , near Tabo monastry.
The Buddhist monasteries, the deep passes, the gigantic glaciers, crystal clear lakes and ferocious turbulent rivers are the major attractions of this Spiti Valley.
It will give you an opportunity to hike to some lakes, villages, monasteries, exploring one of the most remotest & virgin land of Himachal – The Spiti valley.
Historically, geologically, geographically and archaeologically (don’t think I am counting my matriculation subjects !!!!!), Spiti is a living heritage , a true innocent museum facing the odds of nature with brave bold audacity. The mountains are under a curse of being devoid of any vegetation, and the erosion caused by the tormenting wind, sun and snow over thousands of years has left a scenery of bare rocks.
The well polished or I may say rugged and rocky mountain slopes bending down to the riverbeds giving the landscape a moon-like appearance. The surface looks like those shown in star trek episodes
The harsh accessibility to this valley has proved to be a boon in disguise in preserving its Buddhist art and culture. The monasteries of Spiti are rich repositories of ancient murals, thankhas, woodcarvings and golden images of the Padmasambhava.
The people are charming, friendly and hospitable with their own traditional dances, ballads, folk tales and legends.
Take a taxi from Chandigarh to Manali (say 300km taking 8-10 hours) and you reach 2100m above sea level at Manali, before the sun says good night . And for the trekking freaks there is Sollang Nallah-Kothi trek of 8-10 kilometres……(which seem to be 20 kilometres….!!!). This hike promises the benevolent scenery set amid Beas river winding through villages, green fields and orchards embedded in beautiful valleys, forests & mountains. And ou reach the Solang Nallah at about 2500 m This is a captivating panorama, the verdant grasslands and the silent magic of the high-rising mountains, interrupted only by the sound of the icy waters of the river coming from the mighty glaciers above. From Sollang Nallah you can choose between walking further till Kothi or can drive . Its quite adventurous to stay overnight in tents at Kothi (2,600 m appx).
Then we travel from Kothi to Dadarpul, crossing over Rohtang Pass (4000 m) on our way. Today, if we feel tired of sitting in the vehicle and want to enjoy a bit more of the nature, we have the option of walking along the road. The road beyond Rohtang to Spiti valley does not have much traffic and the views are nice. This torturing journey (more torturing for the vehicles) would compel you to stay in tents at Dhadarpul.
Next morning with the sun promising a clear day we travel from Dadarpul to Batal. And since I trust my legs more than the wheels I tried the trek from Batal along the right bank of river Chandra to the Chandertal lake . Chandra means Moon and Taal means lake. I must say this Chandra Taal proves that its lorry is worth its name at that 4300 metre altitude.. This lake is a majestic sight, located between a lower ridge and the main Kunzam range, with an outlet into the Chandra River, and surrounded by meadows of flowers positioned on the banks of the lake.
FILLL YOUR LUNGS with the fresh cool air….you would not be having it in plains……
Across Chandra river peaks of Mulkila & Chander Bhaga ranges mock the limitations this uman race has…… posing a challenge to the hard-core hikers……
Today we get up early and continue our trek after breakfast. Initially the trek led us to steep ascend from the lake through moving towards the southeast, and then melting into Kunzam Pass (4,500 m), a pass that provides the main access to Lahaul valley by the great Kumzam range. The Bara Shigri glacier is seen in front in all its magnificence. The crest of the pass has been marked by a chorten of stones erected ages ago. I am sure you would wonder the art work of erosion through winds and snow. We wonders if some atist had designed those rocks……..
This stretch provides you a beautiful vista of the Chandra valley, the South and North Daka glaciers, Chander Bhaga ranges and some famous peaks of this range like Mulkila peak, most of which are above 6,000 to 6500 mts.(HOPE I had jotted down the correct details……) Please forgive me if some of the figures or spelling of the peaks are incorrect, though I rugged and raked the brain of my guide to its best possible utilization !!!!
From Kunzam Pass we travel by jeeps to Spiti valley and camp at Takcha (4,100 m appx), which is at base of the pass..
Today we travel with our jeeps to Kibber, enroute visiting the Ki monastery, the oldest and biggest monastery of the Spiti valley, that acted both as a monastery and as a fort. It is a group of rooms and a labyrinth of corridors that do not follow any defined plan. Here are kept rare and valuable paintings and beautiful scriptures of Buddha and other gods and goddesses. Thankfully, till date they are protected from the wall writing skills of tourists……
Later we visit Kibber village and monastery. The Kibber village (4,200 m) is among one of the highest villages of this region which is permanently inhabited.In the evening we travel by jeep to Gete village and walk back to Kibber for overnight. And yeah staying in tents for overnight stays had become our routine by now……and yeah now I get the sleep in the tents as well….. for first few nights I could not even get a wink of sleep in those tents…… Always recommended to sip brandy before you say sweet dreams…..
After that we leave Kibber and travel to Langza village. The drive provides a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. Langza itself is a very small village and a hill on which a Buddha figure sits and overlooks the scenery. Here there is also the possibility of finding fossils of millions of years ago, which gives evidence of the dramatic climate change that Himalaya has been going through ever since it formed by the collision of India with Eurasia.
After visiting Langza, we start our small walk to Comik village, crossing through Hikim village on the way. From Comic we will finally get to Kaza. Kaza is on the bank of river Spiti. In earlier times, it was the capital of Nono, the chief of Spiti. It has Buddhist Monastery and Hindu Temple.
AT KAZA AT LAST WE HAD A GUESTHOUSE AS ACCCOMODATION >>>>>>>> WHAT A RELIEF >>>>>> MY CAPS WOULD SHOW THE RELIEF I FELT……
We keep driving by jeep to Sagnam from Kaza enroute visiting Kungri monastery, built around the year 1.300 AD. The impact of the “Tantric Cults“ of Buddhism can obviously be seen in the paintings and the art work. Rather one has a eeriery hollow feeling while seeing them . And all sorts of stories about the magic are in the air ……
Though many of the todays Buddhists say it is a different cult than the true Buddhism. We saw a few foreign tourists studying there…… yeah one from Germany , who knew Sanskrit and Hindi verywell as well as Tibtan language……!!!!
After visiting the monastery we start walking from Sagnam village to Mud village. This entire region is located in Pin valley and there is a chance to sight high altitude Himalayan wild animals like ibex, blue sheep etc. though we could not see even one of them…… bad luck !!!! Bad luck to those animals who could not have the opportunity to see a handsome man like me……hi hi hi hi …this was for making up the disappointment we faced as our guide had raised our expectations of ‘wild safari’ in this high altitude land….
Next morning or say late morning we took our jeep to Lalung. We visit monastery which has beautiful murals and wall paintings. From Lalung we walked to Dhankar.(By now you must be knowing me for my love for legs…..ooppsssss I mean legs for walking…….) This walk offers beautiful views of the Spiti valley and Manirang peak
And then NEXT morning after breakfast we will visit the Ajanta of Himachal Pradesh Tabo monastery, which is more than 1000 yrs old. Founded in 996 AD by the great teacher Richensang-po, Tabo is renowned for its breathtaking murals and stucco images
If you remember in 1996 Dalai Lama visited here along with the then chief minister Veer Bhadra Singh.
The largest monastic complex in Spiti, the old section has 9 temples, 23 chortens, a monks chamber and a nuns chamber. There are several caves adorned with frescoes and contemporary structures too. In trans Himalayan Buddhism, Tabo’s sanctity is comparable only to Tibet’s Tholing gompa. A proud possession of Himachal Pradesh.
Afternoon we traveled to Mane , a small village. There was a small fair being organized there with a Local Devta . And LOOOOOO you would find all Chinese articles and electronic gadgets there…..!!!!
Now our back journey started. And since mausam beimaan ho raha tha…… we traveled praying to the Gods for keeping the day clear. We traveled and trailed back to Dadarpul and then next to Rohtang .
Now the Surya had stopped playing hide and seek with clouds and we started off for our hike to Dashaur lake. At an altitude of 4,270 m and a depth of 3 meters.
Situated between high ranges , deep ravines and moraines, here the scenery is stunning, embedded in huge glaciers.
AT LAST we were back from the MOON to Manali.