Spiti Valley

Best of Spiti – Mani Stones

The first story in this series was published few days ago and can be read here – Best of Spiti – In Pictures.

The origin of ‘Mani Stones’ is as ancient as Buddhism. Buddhists began to mark stones with symbols, phrases and mantras as a means to express their faith for deities and spread positivity. Hence, you’re likely to find varied kinds of inscriptions, use of vibrant colors manifesting belief of the decorator. These are sacred, magical and mystic.

 These decorated stones make you feel not just happy but also exude positivity.

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Travelers to Spiti Valley (place inhabited by Tibetans) will encounter such stones / mound of stones pretty much everywhere. Since, we were on a road trip, we spent our maximum travel time on roads and every time we saw such beautifully and meticulously carved stones, we would stop to soak in beauty.

These ‘Mani’ stones come in different colors, shapes, sizes and also different inscriptions, texts or images but primarily one will find such stones inscribed with ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’.

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Fortunately, I found this profound explanation of the powerful mantra by ‘H.H Tenzin Gyatso The Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet’ in the sacred texts and I’m sharing the brief version. It is believed chanting of this mantra brings great benefits for mind and soul but one must contemplate on the meaning as well for the meaning makes the chant and its impact complete.

‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ 

‘Decoded’

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The first, OM, is composed of three pure letters, A, U, and M symbolizing the practitioner’s impure body, speech and mind. The development of pure body, speech and mind comes gradually as one transforms from leaving the impure state into the pure. Continue reading

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Categories: Adventure, Spiritual, Spiti Valley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Best of Spiti – In Pictures

The inviting roads, the terrain, the landscapes and topography…….

Making up our minds for doing the 11 days road trip with a little baby was not easy at all. It was the first time ever that we were so anxious about our ‘Travel’ plans!! Post baby, the lifestyle changed every bit and traveling together (particularly the adventure trips) were difficult to fathom. However, our zeal for road trips couldn’t keep us away for a very long time and after an occasional break of a year we decided to pack our bags and set out on a road trip along with our 11 months old little love to the revered Spiti Valley, the Land of Lamas in India. Interestingly, we discovered our baby boy shares the love for Travel 🙂 This trip wasn’t his first though, he had been on few short trips already before Spiti.

Spiti is as stunning as it name sounds!! Lahaul–Spiti lies in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Spiti is predominantly occupied by Tibetan refugees and hence the region has pretty much feel of Tibet.

We covered the region via Shimla. It was thrilling as well as challenging to drive on these roads. We were bracing ourselves for the drive on one of the most treacherous and deadliest roads of the world. This time it was the thrill of NH-22 and Hindustan-Tibet road. The hairpin bends, the narrow dimensions, encountering natural waterfalls, close encounters with trucks and buses, the frequent bad patches made us  feel ecstatic and sometimes insane:). Take a virtual tour of the roads here.

The region is heaven for photography enthusiasts, to hone skills and experiment with different styles, today I’m sharing the essence of the ‘Spiti Valley’ captured in pictures, a random compilation of awe-inspiring sightings. This is going to be a series of posts and I hope you travel along 🙂

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This is a landscape view of village – Dhankar. Dhankar stands tall at an altitude of 12,774 feet. Dhang/dang means cliff, and kar/khar means fort. Hence, the fort on a cliff is popularly known as ‘Dhankar’. The confluence of Spiti & Pin Rivers from this height is incredible!!!

Dhankar houses a 16th century old fort monastery; however one can see the new monastery now in the tiny village of Shichilling. The old monastery complex is also known as Lha-O-pa Gompa; it has five different halls and includes a number of multi-storied buildings. The highlight of the monastery is the a statue of Vairochana or Dhayan Buddha with 4 figures seated back to back. The monastery is associated with Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism and has around 150 lamas residing in it.

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Read more about Dhankar

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The natural settings are so beautiful here that we were compelled to take breaks and soak in the beauty, this capture is a humble attempt to share the beauty with the world. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Family Travel, Himachal, India, Spiti Valley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 69 Comments

Totally Tabo-ed!!!

Visiting the Ajanta of Himalayas -Tabo Village in Spiti Valley

Tabo (Ta- pho) is situated at a wobbly altitude of 3050 meters in the eastern region of Spiti Valley. Spiti is one awe-inspiring region that houses few of the greatest surviving monuments of Tibetan art and culture. Historically, Spiti Valley is believed to be part of the Kingdom of Western Tibet. The tiny divine village (Tabo) will catch your fancy for all the right reasons.

Visit to Tabo was part of our road trip to Spiti Valley. It seemed as if the incredible road trip had surprises in store for us at every corner. The vast expanse of land, flawless empty roads, and the Spiti River flowing by, filled us with happiness and wonder for nature. We were already in different world, albeit tired of all the driving throughout the day. Once we reached Tabo, the gigantic and colorful entrance re-energized us, the feel of this small settlement was so contagious!!!

Glimpse of Tabo

Glimpse of captivating Tabo village

That evening we settled in our rooms, gazing at the bright stars and stunning moon, excited about the next morning. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Discovery, Road Trip, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

The ‘Sakya Tangyud Monastery’ at Kaza

Kaza / Kaze is the largest township of Lahaul and Spiti Valley. Kaza is the sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti Valley, making it an important administrative and commercial center.In fact, Kaza was the only place in whole of Spiti Valley which had the hustle bustle of a town unlike Tabo, Dhankar or Komic and felt totally different from other places in the region. Kaza has strategic importance attached to it, primarily because of location. In you are entering Spiti via Rohtang Pass, Kaza is the first town of Spiti you will witness. There are myriad stay options at Kaza to suit one’s pockets. Mostly the travelers, prefer staying at Kaza and exploring the area around on a day tour. There is not much to see as such but the place has it’s own charm and known for the Tangyud Monastery.

The Colorful Monastery at Kaza!!

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If you would like to read more about Spiti and it’s villages, feel free to explore the first section on our blog.

To give you a glimpse of Spiti region, sharing a ‘A photo tour of Gue village in Spiti Valley’

Categories: Adventure, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Spiti, Revisited.

Spiti Valley Quotes 2017The road trip that I will never forget about, well for the good reasons but also for not so good ones. Reaching Spiti Valley is tough, the brutal journey might leave you exhausted but it’s all worth it!! The region exudes beauty, I could never get enough of the sightseeing and almost all the time I was peeking from the window (I vividly remember!!). Sharing a memory from our Spiti road trip…the beautiful landscape shot was captured while returning from Kibber Village. Hope you guys relish it 🙂

For further readings on Spiti –

The road trip from Delhi to Spiti and back!

Dhankar Heights !!This will make your heart go boom…

Totally Tabo-ed

Cheers,

Untraveled Routes

 

Categories: Adventure, Road Trip, Spiti Valley, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

A daycation to Key Monastery, Spiti Valley !!!

‘ Is this your first visit? ‘ A deep yet soothing voice distracted us.

A middle aged Monk clad in typical maroon colored attire was standing right besides us. His smiling eyes continued the conversation.

We were at the largest and one of the oldest monastery of Spiti region – ‘Key Monastery’, more commonly referred as Kye Gompa and it’s founded by Dromton around 1100 CE.

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Placed on top, the Key Monastery as visible from a distance!!

 

As is with other monasteries in the region, this also had impressive murals, paintings, artifacts and above all an extremely warm and friendly Monk who was more than happy to share information.

You might wonder the oddly pleasing structure of the Monastery, well the credit goes to repetitive Mongol attacks that began in 14th century. Not just that later the Monastery also survived the wars in 1830s and 1840s but stood strong resulting in box like structure. The formidable structure at an altitude of 4166 mtrs still looks impressive.

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Welcome to Key!! with Untraveled Routes

The monastery also serves as a training center.And close to 300 monks reside in the Monastery. And yes there is accommodation available for travelers, peace seekers and explorers alike.

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Behind the scenes!! Preparation for prayers in progress…at Key Monastery

The encore is that you might witness young cute looking monks playing a football match.

The Surroundings

Right before one enters the Monastery, there is a small restaurant serving snacks, tea etc.

Suggestions

Do carry a good pair of Binoculars. We covered Kye Monastery during a day visit from Kaza (16 kms approx), we witnessed Golden Eagle, The Red Fox, Yaks and many such beautiful sights to remember. We also visited Kibber Village, the highest motorable village in the world but will cover that in separate post. This one is dedicated to ‘Key’!!!

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Further Readings –

The 11 day road trip to Spiti with 11 months old baby boy!!

Super Seven Things about Spiti Valley you need to know!!

A virtual Road Trip to Spiti via Shimla!!

Categories: Adventure, Discovery, Experience, Himachal, Road Trip, Spiti Valley | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A prelude to story on Key Monastery

Even the rocks exude beauty at eternal Spiti Valley. This was captured right before one enters ‘Key Monastery’. Key is touted as largest monastery in Spiti Valley and is located at an altitude of 4166 meters!!  The crazy wind makes your car wobble so much here. 

Categories: Photography, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

The rising ‘Moon’!!

Moon has risen at Tabo tonight!!

Tabo (Ta- pho) village is situated at a wobbly altitude of 3050 meters (approx 10,600 ft) in the eastern region of Spiti Valley. The tiny divine village will catch your fancy for all the right reasons. It was Day 6 of our epic road trip to Spiti Valley.

The rocky mountains were striking beautiful, carved aesthetically by nature. Huge expanse of land adorned only by nature was so appealing that you would want it to never end. The roads are mostly well maintained with bad patches here and there. For us, it was very crucial to sustain a particular speed for two big reasons – with the baby we could not drive for a long time, it was just tough for Aayansh and secondly since Ashish himself was driving throughout, our objective was to reach some place safe before 5.00 pm. So that we could select a hotel, enjoy the stay and get prepared for the next day. From Kalpa to Tabo in one single stretch was something!!!

We reached Tabo in the evening, the strong chilly winds pushed us in our hotel room right away. However, there is not much to do in the night here.

So, while we were having dinner, the beautiful and bright moon enticed us. We decided to check out the night sky and stepped outside, ‘Oh God, the chilly winds were difficult to cope up with for sure’.  We headed to the terrace – the star studded sky against the backdrop of huge rocky mountain looked stunning and the superstar of the night was ‘Moon’ gazing at us from the corner of the mountain. We wanted to capture this moment and here is the attempt 🙂

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The Moon rising at Tabo village in Spiti Valley. I wish we had the Tripod as the chilly winds at a temperature of -2 C and an altitude of 10,000 plus feet made Ashish’s hands little shaky but still the picture has come out well. 🙂

The next morning we had a memorable experience at the Tabo Gompa, check out – Totally Tabo-ed!!

The best part about the ‘Road Trip to Spiti Valley‘ is that the surrounding views change in every few minutes leaving you with a feeling of surprise and appreciation for nature.

Happy Exploring!!

Categories: Adventure, Kalpa, Kinnaur, Nature, Offbeat Travel, Photography, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Little Haze in Kaze!!

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Kaze / Kaza is the sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti Valley. It also is the largest township in Lahaul & Spiti Valley. This place gives a more town like feeling unlike other places in Spiti like Dhankar, Gue and Tabo (which you can relate to villages). Nevertheless, the chocolate colored mountains dipped in vanilla-like icing will tempt you to say ‘Awesome’!!

Categories: Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti, Traveling with a Baby, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s on thy door?

There’s more to temples in India than the deity who adorns the walls and grants so much power to temple that culminates into fan following later. So many time we have heard such phrases –  Lord Krishna’s Maha Mandir; Mata ka bhavya Mandir or Shivji’s temple etc etc. The temple gets its identity and popularity from the deity it houses.

Though on our trips usually do not visit temples a lot but if some temple is known for commendable history to boast of as well as incredible architecture to induce awe we can’t keep it off our list 🙂

On our road trip to Spiti, we observed almost all the temples and monasteries had beautiful rather inspiring doors, sharing few glimpses via this post 🙂

Continue reading

Categories: Sarahan, Kinnaur, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti, Uncategorized, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

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