Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
ANSHUMAN CHANDRA, , Posted Date: 15th January 2008
Weathered and barren landscapes, monasteries perched on high mountains scooped into by glaciated.....
Weathered and barren landscapes, monasteries perched on high mountains scooped into by glaciated valleys, a bleak high altitude desert. This is Spiti – ‘Surely the Gods live here; this is no place for men.’ as proclaimed by Rudyard Kipling.
India’s been a backpacker’s destination for years, as crowds of twenty-some-things from all over the world, armed with maps, rucksacks and guide-books make a beeline for the mighty Himalayas. These species are found across the world in huge numbers and don’t believe in traveling down the beaten track. Spiti valley is one such destination which has a lot to offer to its visitors in respect to History, Geography, Paleontology, Culture and Geology. Spiti is a part of Himachal Pradesh, a state in India. This region falls in the rain shadow of the Himalayas.
Spiti has most basic facilities with Kaza, Kibber, Ki Gompa, Tabo and Dhankar Gompa as the main places of interest. Spiti is predominantly a Buddhist inhabited region with impressive monasteries and traditional Tibetan architecture. The language used in the area is Bhoti, very similar to Tibetan. The one magical word used in Spiti as well as other areas bordering Tibet and means hello, please, good-bye and thank you is jule (pronounced as joo-lay).
Lahaul, Spiti and Zanskar were part of the Guge kingdom of Western Tibet in the 10th century. It was in the 18th century that Ladakh was defeated by the Mongol-Tibetan armies. Since Spiti was more geographically isolated it remained untouched and still remained a part of Ladakh. In 1849, it came under the British Administration. When Chinese invaded Tibet in 1949, Spiti’s cultural links were severed. However, with the formation of Tibetan Government in exile a lot of work has been done to preserve the serenity and the art and culture of the ancient Buddhist gompas in the region.