Lahaul and Spiti
The district of Lahaul and Spiti is situated in the north eastern corner of Himachal Pradesh, in India. The district, bordering Tibet, is made up of two large valleys of Lahaul and Spiti with Keylong as the district head quarters. Lahaul, on the western side of the district has the rivers Chandra and Bhaga flowing through it. The landscape of this region is very different from the other mountainous regions of Himachal Pradesh.
Lahaul is a barren place, with sparse vegetation, surrounded by high mountains on all sides and huge glaciers. Here we find nature at her wildest. The Rohtang Pass connects Lahaul with Kullu district while the Kunzum Pass separates Spiti from Lahaul. Spiti which is closer to the Tibetan border is known as the ‘middle country’, ‘palace where gods live’ etc. Key long, in contrast to the barren craggy, snow covered land of Lahaul and Spiti, is an ‘oasis of green’ with green fields, brown hills and snow capped mountains.
Lahaul with its fascinating mix of Buddhism and Hinduism has many impressive Gompas (monasteries) and temples. The gompas of Lahaul-Spiti are treasure houses of Buddhist art and culture housing ancient murals, wood carving and golden images of Padmasambhava. The Guru Ghantal Monastery, considered to be the oldest monastery in the Lahaul valley, is built of wood with a pyramidal roof, housing the idols of Brajeshwari and Padmasambhava. Built in the 12th century, the Kardung monastery, situated in the village of Kardung, at an altitude of 3500m, has a beautiful collection of thangkas, paintings, an impressive collection of musical instruments, and colorful frescoes and murals. A big library holding Kangyur and Tangyur volumes of Buddhist scriptures in Bodhi is another attraction.
Khosar which is 3140 meters high is a windswept region which is the gateway to lahaul. In winter Khosar is the coldest inhabited place in Lahaul.
Tandi, situated at the confluence of Chamba and Bhaga rivers is enriched by the romantic story of two lovers Chandra, the daughter of the moon and Bhaga, the son of the Sun god who met at Tandi to have their eternal celestial marriage performed. Gondla, 18 miles from Keylong, has an eight storied house of the Thakur of Gondla called the Gondla castle or Fort built in the seventeenth century. The gompa in the village is visited by a number of devotees during the annual fair held in the month of June. The Kunzum pass lying at an altitude of 4590 m is the entry point to Spiti from Kullu and Lahaul and affords an awe inspiring view of Bara-Sigri glacier, the second longest glacier in the world. For the enthusiasts of adventure sports, Lahaul is the place to be with scope for river rafting in the Chandrabhaga River, rock climbing, trekking, angling and para- gliding.
Lahaul has some famous trek routes like Manali-Chandratal-Keylong, Manali-Bara Sigri glacier-Keylong and Manali-Keylong-Suraj Tal-Baralacha. The mighty mountain peaks, the rugged terrain, the perennial rivers, glaciers and imposing monasteries make a visit to Lahaul and Spiti an unforgettable experience and unique Indian destinations.