Lahaul and Spiti Information
The lahaul and spiti district adjoining Ladakh is an entirely different world snow bound and isolated from the outside world for over 9 months in a year. The inhospitable terrain full of glaciers and high altitude lakes is endowed with aweininspiring beauty. Buddhism was introduced here in 7th century and the people of the region have preserved their unique culture and heritage. The district is dotted with over 53 monasteries, which are not merely the seats of religion but the founts of power and repositories of art and religious manuscripts. The main towns of the district are Kyelang and Kaza.
Located at an altitude of 6,500m, the district of Lahaul and Spiti valley on the India-Tibet border has an undeniable charm. Lahaul is known for high mountains and mesmerizing glaciers. Spiti is closer to the Tibet border and is known by various names like 'middle country', 'world within a world' and 'place where the gods live.' The present district headquarters Keylong is in Lahaul. Kunzum la or the Kunzum Pass is the gateway to the Spiti Valley from Lahaul. It is 21km from Chandra Tal. This district is 21km from Chandra Tal. This district is connected to Manali through the Rohtang Pass.
This lush oasis amidst snow-clad mountains is the headquarters of Lahaul Spit district. It lies on the main road to Leh over Rohtang Pass at an altitude of 3340 metres. It is known for the three gompas Kardang Gompa (5 km), Shashur Gompa (3 Km) and Tayul Gompa (3km). It gets isolated from the outside world from November to April, due to heavy snowfall in the Rohtang Pass. Keylong faces the famous Kardang Monastery, the largest and most important monastery in Lahaul. It is truly a tourist's delight with eye-catching verdant fields, gushing streams and snow covered peaks.
Kyelang Tour Information
Tandi (8 km)
This ancient village on the confluence of Chandra and Bhaga rivers is associated with several myths and legends. It is said that Chandra, the dauthter of Moon and Bhaga, the son of Sun married here. The Guru Ghantal Monastery, 4km from Tandi is said to be the oldest Gompa of Lahaul. The monastery with pyramidal roof and exquisite carvings has idols of Padmasambhava and Brajeshwari Devi. The /Ghantal’ festival is celebrated here on the full moon night in mid-June.
The historical village on the right bank of Chandra river is famous for its unique eight storied castle of the Thakur of Gondla. The fair held in the month of July at the local monastery attracts a large number of visitors. About 18km from Keylong, the Lahaul valley is famous for its royal heritage. The eight storeyed residence of the Thakur of Gondla called the Gondla Castle or fort was constructed in the 17th century. There is also a gompa in this village, which attracts the masses, especially during the fair celebrated in June.
The village of Kardang is situated at an altitude of 3,500m and the Kardang Monastery is around 5km away from Keylong across the Bhaga River. Believed to have been built in the 12th century, the architecture of the monastery is typically Lahaul and Spiti style. There is a big library consisting of the Kngyur and Tangyur volumes of Buddhist scriptures in Bhoti. There is also a good collection of paintings, murals and musical instruments.
Located at a distance of 1.5km from Keylong, the Shashur Monastery was founded by Lama Deva Tyatsho. The term Shashur means 'in the blue pines.' The monastery houses a statue of Namgyal, a 15feet 'Thankha' and invaluable wall paintings depicting all the siddhas of Buddhism.
The monastery is located around 6km away from Keylong and is amongst the oldest monasteries in the Lahaul valley. The highlight of the monastery is a 5 feet tall statue of Guru Padmasmbhava and a library of Kangyur (101 volumes). The literal meaning of Ta-Yul, in the Tibetan language is the 'chosen place'.
Located at an altitude of 3,170m, this place is famous because of a spectacular waterfall. It is also famous, as it happens to be the seat of God Geypan, a deity revered in the Lahaul Valley.
This is an ideal place for trekkers as Darcha is located at an altitude of 3,360m. You can start off trekking from here to Padem passing through Shingola as well as Baralacha/Phirtsela. It is around 24km from Keylong and offers facilities for camping.
This stunning pass is situated around 73km from Keylong and is considered the best place for trekking. The beauty of the pass draws a large number of tourists. The name Baralacha la implies a pass that has crossroads at its top. Indeed, the paths from Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul join at the top of the pass. It is also the place of origin of the Chandra, Bhaga an Yunam rivers.
It is located on the confluence of Chenab and Mayar Nallah and is known for the intricately carved shrine of goddess Markula Devi, dating back to 10th 11th century.
Triloknath Temple (4km)
This famous shrine of Shiva as Triloknath, the Lord of the three worlds lies in a village on the banks of Chenab River. It also has a six armed image of Avalokiteshvara installed by Guru Padmasambhava and is sacred to Hindu as well as Buddhists.
Located in the Dhankar village, 25km off Kaza, this 1200 year-old monastery houses a statue of Vairochana, which shows four complete figures of Buddha seated back to back.
Accommodating about 100 Lamas, the monastery also preserves a few Buddhist scriptures, paintings and sculptures. You can stay at the monastery in a simple monk's room.
Kaza Tour Information
Kye (Ki) Monastery (12km)
Kye, the oldest and biggest monastery of Spiti valley is set in a picture postcard setting. It houses rare ‘thangka’ paintings, ancient musical instruments and manuscripts.
Kibber ( 8 km)
Kye village is preached at a height of 4205 metres and is perhaps the highest settlement in the world with a motor able road and electricity.
Tabo Monastery (50km)
This famous gompa was founded in 996 Ad and is regarded as the ‘Ajanta of Himalayas’, due to its exquisite wall paintings and stucco statues. It is the second most important gompa after the Tholing Gompa in Tibet and has been declared as a ‘World Heritage Site’ by the UNESCO. This large monastic complex has nine temples, 23 ‘chorten’ a monks’ chamber and a nuns’ chamber besides several caves and contemporary structures. It houses a large collection of scriptures, wall paintings and murals.
How to Reach Spiti Valley
There are bus services from Manali that connect Lahaul and Spiti Valley from May to October depending on the opening and closing of the Rohtang Pass, the gateway to the valley. The nearest railheads to Lahaul and Spiti are at Shimla and Pathankot. Kullu and Shimla are the two nearby airports that are well connected to other parts of India.