At last they entered a world within a world – a valley of leagues where the high hills were fashioned of the mere rubble and refuse from off the knees of the mountains…. ‘Surely the Gods live here,’ said Kim, beaten down by the silence and the appalling sweep and dispersal of the cloud-shadows after rain. ‘This is no place for men!”
– Rudyard Kipling writes about Spiti in his book ‘Kim’
If you do not loath about:
a) travelling on narrow, treacherous, gravel roads with unnumbered waterfalls winding through the rough Himalayan terrain staring thousands of feet down into a violent river,
b) living at an altitude of 4250 meters,
c) living without hot water/connectivity (hail BSNL)/ internet (there is one café, running of which depends upon electricity and of course power is scarce) in a place unscarred by modernity,
Then Spiti valley is for you- the adventurer!
Spiti valley came under my radar during my last trip to the mountains. Ramesh- the child of the Great Himalayan National Park was insistent that I visit Spiti valley next time I plan to travel to the mesmerizing destination nestled along the Western Himalaya, Himachal Pradesh often synonymous with North India. I was keen on visiting Ladakh this time around but comparing the swarm of tourist cramming the place since the release of 3 Idiots to the remoteness of Spiti valley, choosing the latter was a no brainer!(at that point in time!)
Nestled high on the Himalayan mountain range at Himachal Pradesh, Spiti lets you savour the myriad colours of nature. Spiti literally translates into the “middle land” as it is the land between Tibet & India. Surrounded by villages resting on mountain crests, quaint old monasteries, clear deep blue skies, cascading rivers, strenuous treks, deep valleys- Spiti evokes strong comparisons with Leh-Ladakh and leaves travellers spellbound. Cut off from the tourist map & because of its tranquillity Spiti has been successful in retaining its pristine charm.
Here in the Desert Mountains, trees are scarce and the monsoons expansive. The sound of the river will soothe you in the night and whose ferocity will awe you when you travel alongside them during day time. Prayer flags fluttering in the wind and monks in their robes add to the mystic charm of this valley as you pass by yet another prayer wheel! The traveller is also struck by some of the most unusual clay and rock formations along the river bed and some of the most beautiful canyons.
Finally it’s the beautiful people of Spiti that lend the valley its divine soul. Despite the harsh environment and poor living standards you will be taken aback by the honesty spread across the valley. The simplicity in their livelihood is etched to your memory forever.
Ever thought of getting out of your seat and taking the high roads into the unknown? Ever thought of challenging your fears in a terrain over which you have no control? Ever thought what a sip of fresh water down your throat could do to your soul? What the touch of the cold water on your face could
do to your mind? Imagine a place that sets you free, free from all your possessions, thoughts, people, troubles and all that you keep carrying with you day in and day out. Think of stretching your eyes across the awe inspiring prodigious mountains staring at your face. Such is the beauty of the place that goes beyond the beautiful borders of your mind.
With a lot of help from the DOW community and Dheeraj himself (link for your reference) we decided to take the route via Rohtang pass to reach Kaza. Although I have not met him, but Dheeraj seems to be a person who is truly in love with the incredible bounties and innate charm of Himachal Pradesh. He is doing a great job in helping people like us travel and enjoy what India/ Himachal Pradesh has to offer.
The journey from Manali to Kaza epitomizes the beauty of the two passes- Rohtang & Kunzum and as much as you would want to stand still and explore the vast horizon of the landscape, you know there is a lot in store and you embark on your journey with a sense of hunger for what lies ahead. With Tsering guiding the wheels through the rough edges and telling his tales about the place we were travelling to, I was in dreamland. One of the most enchanting things about Spiti is the terrain and the experience the entire landscape offers you. And quickly looking back, now I feel that when you take the roads unknown and picture the world through your lens, you will find that beauty lies in the experience and not just the photos you click or the videos you make.
Yes, the challenges of battling the conditions, the crazy waterfalls giving you a whiff of what to expect in these landslide trodden areas, the ferocious river flowing by your side ever ready to engulf you the moment you take your eye off it. But the most beautiful experience that remains etched in your memory has to be the breath of beauty across the Himalayas, the smell of fresh air, the soul searching you end up doing across the temples and monasteries even if you don’t believe in the concept of God. Of course, your own journey is sacred. Your own experience is sacrosanct and what you view, dream, believe in is what you get to experience in this journey across the forbidden valley.