Lahaul and Spiti – A Travel Guide

Map-LS-Tourist


1. Baralacha La:
baralachalaSituated at an altitude of 4833 m, the Baralacha La is a mountain pass in the Zanskar Range connecting Lahaul to Ladakh. The pass serves as a natural divide between the Bhaga and Yunam rivers and is near the origination points of the Bhaga River and the Chandra River. The beautiful Saraj Tal Lake is near to the pass and adds to the natural beauty of the place. The pass is the origination point of many trekking expedition around the area and is known for its breathtaking views of the mountains all around.


2. Darcha:

dharchaDarcha is a picturesque village in Lahaul, located at a height of 3360 m on the banks of Bhaga River. The village is an ideal destination to experience village life and the breath taking landscape with the dry snowy desert beyond it. For trekkers, this is the starting point with many beautiful trekking trails around the district. The village is sparsely populated with less the 300 people residing here, and can be described as the northernmost permanent settlement in the state of Himachal Pradesh.


3. Tandi:

TandiTandi is a quaint village located around 8 km from the town of Keylong, and is known for its scenic location amidst the green valley. The village is known for the legend about the elopement and marriage between the mythological characters of Chandra and Bhara.
The place is an important tourist destination for its amazing landscape and is a popular spot in many trekking expedition. It is at the meeting point of the Chandra River and the Bhaga River.


4. Kunzum Pass:
kunjumLocated at a high altitude of 4551 m above sea level, Kunzum Pass or locally known as Kunzum la) is the pass leading to the Spiti Valley from the district of Lahaul passing through the Rohtang Pass. The pass is known for its terrain which provides an amazing view of the Himalayas.
The pass is quite popular among the adventure enthusiasts and trekkers, who can explore the rough yet exquisite terrain and the chilly environment. The pass remains open during the months of June to October. The rest of the year, the pass remains inaccessible due to the heavy snowfall.


5. Sissu:
sissuThe beautiful destination, Sissu on the banks of Chandra River is just 90 km from Manali. The beautiful ‘Palden Lhamo dhar’ waterfall is spectacular while just close to Sissu is Shashinis known for the deity, Ghepan Ghepang. The Labrang village has a Buddhist Gompa, Labrang Gompa. This panoramic gompa is dedicated to Palden Lhamo. Sissu is a beautiful village in lahaul valley, a camp site next to waterfall and a lake is called Goldrop. One can stay here while traveling Ladakh and visit monasteries of the valley and do some short trek and cycling.


6. Tabo Monastery:
taboKnown as the ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’, the Tabo Monastery is one of the well known and most visited monasteries in Spiti. It is located about 45 km from the town of Kaza. An ancient monastery, the monastery houses many Buddhist scriptures and documents, along with beautiful Buddhist statues and paintings.

Located at an altitude of 3050 m amidst arid and rocky landscape, the monastery is surrounded by a mud brick wall and has 9 temples, 23 chortens, along with monks’ residence and a guest house for visitors. Due to the many important scriptures it houses, the Tabo Monastery is considered a national historic treasure of the country and is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.


7. Koksar:

kosar1Koksar is one of the villages in Lahaul Mandal in Lahaul and Spiti District in Himachal Pradesh state in Northern India. About 21 km from Rohtang Pass, Koskar is the coldest region in Lahaul. It is mostly snowed in during winters but during the summer months, the HRTC rest house and eating places are in business. Isolated mountain areas, panoramic picturesque views and pathways for hiking can be seen.  It is 340 km from its state capital Shimla and 70 km from Manali. Nearby villages are Tailing (7.0 km) and Sissu(13.0 km).


8. Kardang Monastery:
kardang monestryThe Kardang Gompa is a 900 years old Buddhist Monastery of the Drukpa Kagyud order of Buddhism. The monastery stands across the Bhaga River and is close by to the town of Keylong. Situated at an altitude of 3500 m above sea level, the monetary is located in the midst of scenic landscape with greenery and mountains.
The monetary is known for its library which is known to be one of the largest Buddhist Library. The monetary is home to a large number of monks and nuns and is unique in the fact that the nuns and monks are considered equal and are allowed to get married and have a family.


9. Kye Monastery:
kya-monastery-500x374The Kye Gompa is a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in the district of Spiti and is an acclaimed research and study centre of Buddhists in India. It is located at an altitude of 4166 m by the Spiti River. The oldest and the largest monastery in Spiti, the Kye Monastery is home to around 300 lamas who receive their religious education here.
The monastery is the storehouse of some of the most important Buddhist scriptures and rare paintings. The famous “Thangka” paintings and a few beautiful ancient musical instruments are found in here.


10. Guru Ghantal Monastery:

guru ghantal monestryLahaul and Spiti form the largest district in Himachal Pradesh. They also border the Tibet highlands and the landscape of these places are more like that of Tibet than of India. The lush green vegetation you see all around suddenly transform into a desert-like barren expanse. There is very little vegetation and survival here is hard as very little grows and snow piles up on the area through most of the year. The Guru Ghantal Monastery, is situated here on the right bank of River Chandra. This gompa or monastery is 800 years old and overlooks the village of Tupchilling. It is known as the oldest gompa of Lahual. What sets Guru Ghantal apart from the other monasteries is that instead of the usual clay idols, the idols here are carved of wood. The monastery itself has pyramid shaped roofs, elaborate carvings and houses statues of Padmasambhava, the founder of the monastery and Brajeshwari Devi among others. There is also a black stone image of a dark Goddess some day is Kali. But although the gompa is more elaborately carved and decorated than most, it has fallen into disrepair and most of its statues carried off to the gompa in Tupchilling village. Still the leaking old monastery is worth visiting for its location and history.


11. Gondla:
gondlaThe village of Gondla is around 18 km from the town of Keylong and is situated on the banks of the beautiful Chandra River. The village is a popular tourist destination for its scenic landscape and the royal houses.

The eight storied building which is the royal home of the Thakur of Gonda is unique in its architecture and is visited for its magnificence. There is a fair that takes place in Gonda every year in the month of July which sees many tourists coming into the village.


12. Trilokinath Temple:
triloknaath templeTrilokinath Temple is one of the most beautiful temples in Lahaul-Spiti and is a popular pilgrimage site. An ancient temple, and a revered site for both Hindus and Buddhists, the temple is located on top of a hillock near the Chenab River. It is mostly noted for its scenic locale.
The temple is known for its exquisite wood carvings, and while it is worshiped as a temple of Lord Shiva by the Hindus, the Buddhists worship the beautiful white marble idol image of the Avalokteshvara. The closest town is Udaipur and thousands of tourists visit the temple in the month of August when a three day festival called Pauri is celebrated in the temple.


13. Tayul Monastery:
tayulThe Tayul Monastery is located in the village if Satingri at a distance of 6 km from the town of Keylong, and is one of the oldest monasteries in the valley. It is situated at an altitude of 3900 m and is famous for the beautiful 12 ft statue of Guru Padmasambhava, along with many other statues of his manifestations as Singhmukha and Vajravahi.
The monastery also has a very well maintained library which has many important books and scriptures, as well as some beautiful Tibetan paintings. Built in the 17th century, the place is home to the Drugpa or Red Hat Sect of Buddhist monks who are allowed to marry and to own their private property.


15. Sha Shur Monastery:

shashur1Sha Shur means ‘blue pines’ and what adds charm to this monastery is the fact that when you?re here, you can actually see blue pines surrounding you. The monastery was founded in the 17th century by Lama Deva Gyatsho of Zangskar, a missionary of the king of Bhutan. In fact, the sect of monks Lama Gyatsho founded are called the Drugpa sect, meaning’red hat’. The word Drugpa came from ‘Dug’ a word for Bhutan. Before this monastery was built, there stood a small gompa in its place, but it was renovated and now holds one of the biggest Thangka paintings in the world-over fifteen feet high. It also has gorgeous paintings of all 84 siddhas of Buddhism on its wall. There are certain things to look out for when you visit this monastery. For one there’s the black statue of Lama Gyatsho. As the story goes, when he dies his heart didn?t burn and that lies within this statue. Another spectacle worth seeing is the Chham. Held in June or July, this monastic dance goes on for three days. The monks dress up in elaborate clothes and perform the dance that simulates the vanquishing of evil and negativity. The Chham performed here is said to be the best in Lahaul and so is worth a visit!


14. Shansha:
sanshaShansha is situated in Lahul tehsil and located in Lahul & spiti district of Himachal pradesh. It is one of 140 villages in lahul Block along with villages like Rashil and Kirkircha. Just 27 km from Keylong on the Udaipur village road, Shansha is a picture book village that is known the shrine of Geypan, the powerful Lahaul deity who is said to be born here.


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One thought on “Lahaul and Spiti – A Travel Guide

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