photos taken on the bus in the Spiti Valley. by Elena
Spiti Valley lies in the rainshadow of the Himalayas, high
above the rest of India. Irrigation is accomplished by channeling
the melting snow from the mountain tops. The elevation of the Spiti
Valley is over 3,000 metres. Traveling through Spiti is not easy
and should not be attempted quickly. One must acclimatize to the
high elevations little by little. The voyage is well worth it.
part of India, the Spiti valley is culturally part of Tibet. A part
that China has not destroyed. Life here is much as it has been for
the last 1,000 years. Foreigners have only been allowed into this
region since 1995. Part of the road passes within 12 kilometres
of the border with Tibet/China. You need a special pass to go through
the checkpoints on this part of the road. There are no TVs , not
much electricity and not much travel with the outside world. In
the winter months there is no travel with the outside except perhaps
by helicopter. Road travel is only possible after the passes open
to sometime in October when the passes close. You can get there
two ways. The Simla route is the first to open in the spring ( late
April). You must travel up the Kinnaur Valley. The pass above Manali
often doesn't open until June. Elena takes a guided trip in June.
I plan to take another guided
trip up there this coming September 2006. Below: Dankar Gompa in the Spiti
September, 2006 private trip with Elena to Kinnaur and Spiti see Golden-Heron Tours.
Gompa - Spiti Valley. photo Elena
The people, the isolation
and the harsh, dramatic landscapes of the upper Himalayas make a
trip into the Spiti Valley a marvelous opportunity to enjoy another
world in another time. The journey is mostly by jeep. It's not in
the guide books, nor should it be. There are places to stay along
the journey and restaurants to eat in. Nights are cold, days can
be very warm in the intense sun. There is good medical care in Recong
Peo ( Kinnauri Valley) only.
Kaza is the District
Center and principal shopping, medical and government facilities
are located here. Aside from the scenery and the people many people
come here on Spiritual Pilgramage to visit the many Tibetan Buddhist
Gompas (temples). You will be invited in to the ceremonies &
chanting. The monasteries still dominate village life. Tabo Gompa
created in 996 AD is the most artistically inspiring but they all
awe you. Tabo, Dankar, Ki, Chango and other gompas influence all
life and culture in the towns.
Tabo has the most outstanding murals of all the gompas. Built in 996 AD, it has not changed very much at all. Dankhar has the most dramatic setting, yet the art inside is barely preserved. Ki is the highest major Gopa, in altitude, in the Spiti Valley, located just above Kaza in the Valley.
The Tabo Gompa complex with 9 temples.
Spiti Valley ( borrowed photo)
Tabo Monk, about to open this temple.
Inside main temple Tabo. Clay statues on the walls.
Leopards of the Himalayas ( I did not take these photos!) Pin Valley
has an even higher elevation than the Spiti Valley. Below: a guest house in Gulling, Pin valley.. (no running water, just outhouses).
The road up to the Sangla Valley is a lovely side trip on the way to Spiti, but the road is something else. see photos of the road, opens new window.