SPITI ESCAPE (Part I)

My journey from Dehradun to Spiti Valley

On 28 September 2015, Srinagar Garhwal. It was an early morning when I got a call from my supervisor, he asked me to pack my bag and leave on that very day for Dehradun and next day for Manali so that I can join the team on time and together we all can travel to Spiti valley In Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh to work on rock art of the area.

Early orning at Manali

Early morning at Manali

A view from Manali bus stand, Early morning.

A view from Manali bus stand, Early morning.

On 30 September 2015. Early Morning, I reached Manali which was my first halt for my journey towards Spiti. Dr Norbu who was our coordinator of the team was already waiting for me in the hotel and was ready with all the schedule of our upcoming field work. Other team members were yet to come on the other day. As I reached before so I took the opportunity to roam in city of Manali. It was my second trip to Manali but the excitement was same, I had been here in 2007 on a school trip.

First day Manali.
Roamed in the  Mall Road of manali with Dr Norbu, at coffee table we discussed about Archaeology in Spiti valley and its scope.Spiti is an unexplored treasure of Petroglyphs, Rock Paintings and other archaeological sites which is hidden from the world. Very few scholars like Tucci, Franke, Belezza, Laxman Thakur have reached this area and worked on it. Traders, Religious Preachers, Archaeologists, Historians, Cultural Anthropologists, Geologists and Tourists have been drawn into Spiti since time immemorial. The ‘cold desert’ with minimal vegetation, stark landscapes, hospitable community and a rich historical heritage offers unending scope for research and exploration. It lies on the ancient route to Tibet which states its significance in the history of world. The renowned ancient monuments like Tabo monastery of 10th century, Kee monastery, Dhankar fort and monastery, Tangyud monastery narrates the rich heritage of the area. As Spiti is very less explored area in the terms of Archaeology, Dr Norbu wants scholars to visit this area and work on it. later we did some shopping in the area. We met his cousin Pasang for lunch and his brother-in-law Vijay for diner. Both were very Humble by nature. In lunch and dinner I tried Tibetan cuisine at chopstick restaurant, it is one of the renowned restaurant in Manali and serves very delicious food, a must try for every food lover. Except momos maximum things are new to me, specially the Timos which is a Tibetan bread.

Our food adda at Manali

Our food adda at Manali

Timos with veggies

Timos with veggies

Dr. Norbu at work

Dr. Norbu at work

On 1 October 2015.  Jigmet sir, who was the director of the team and belongs from IGNCA reached in the morning from Delhi. He took some rest till lunch, till then I went to see the famous Hidimba Temple in the city, along with Ghatotkach temple which is nearby. Hidimba and Ghatotkach are the two characters from Indian Epic Mahabharata. Hidimba was the wife of legendary character Bhima and Ghatotkach was their son.

Hidimba Temple

Hidimba Temple

Ghatotkach Temple

Ghatotkach Temple

After that I roamed in the city and had an essence of the life at this Famous hill station of Himachal Pradesh. Here are few glimpses of Manali.

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a roadside cafe

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a trend in the city

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jewellery shop with lots of attractive stuff

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a wooden temple at mall road

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a hotel

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german bakery

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center of the city

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boy painting wooden blocks

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local thukpa and momo’s shops

thukpa, a tibetan dish

thukpa, a tibetan dish

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Shawls

2 October 2015. Me, along with Norbu sir, Jigmet sir, Dorjee Sir( Retired ASI officer), Vijay sir (research scholar in Anthropology from Punjab university), our photographer Mannu, and videographer Acho ji, started our journey from Manali at 5.15 am.

First we stopped at Rohtang pass( which means mound of dead)at 7 am.It was  frosty over there due to high velocity of wind, directly coming from frozen mountains. One can’t stand much long over there.

with team at Rohtang Pass

with team at Rohtang Pass

Our second stoppage was at Chatdu at 8.30 am for breakfast at kunzum dhabha. There is a bridge which is said to be of colonial period. It’s beside river Chandra which originates from Chandrataal. Kunzum la is 43 km away from here. From Chandratal two rivers originates Chandra and Bhaga,  which later forms Chenab river at Tandi.

At Chatdu, halt for breakfast

At Chatdu, halt for breakfast

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A group of cyclist preparing their cycles for a ride from Chatdu to Chadrataal

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cycles at the bridge

The colonial bridge at Chatdu

 colonial bridge at Chatdu

At 12 in the afternoon we reached kunzum la, it’s an amazing feeling to be at that place. undoubtedly its a beautiful place to visit, it’s totally different experience to cross two major passes of India which is at such a height. I must mention it was on my bucket list since  teenage, and at that moment when I stood there it was like a dream come true moment for me.Many bikers, cyclist, traveler explore these two passes along with other passes in the area every year.

Kunzum la

Kunzum la

at kunzum pass

at kunzum pass

The landscape has many breathtaking views, and people like me, who were travelling for the first time in Spiti valley will feel amazed by its beauty, it feels like you are in totally different world, the appealing cold barren mountains,pleasing crystal clear water of river Spiti, will captivate you by its gorgeousness and magnetic effect . The landscapes are so alluring that you will be speechless while seeing the loveliness of the environment.

beside river spiti

beside river spiti

At 1 in the afternoon, we reached losar which is the first village of Spiti valley and had our lunch. The houses have their particular architecture, built of traditional mud type in the valley. the kind of uniformity that one can see in the type of houses(same colour, same architecture) gives an impression of equality and unity among the community.

Losar Village

Losar Village

Around 4 we reached Kaza. We went to the girls hostel which is under an NGO, Norbu sir was in charge of, had tea n biscuits and met his sister and few girls. Then we roamed in the market and saw the town of Kaza which is uniquely wonderful. There are many local cafe, shopping area, hotels, and a petrol pump, which is one of the highest pump in the world.tourist from all over the world can be seen here.

highest petrol pump in world, and only pump in the valley

highest petrol pump in world, and only pump in the valley

At Kaza

At Kaza

a cafe

a cafe

Ecosphere, a NGO working in the area

Ecosphere, a NGO working in the area

Books shelf at Girls Hostel

Books shelf at Girls Hostel

at market of Kaza

at market of Kaza

towards Tabo

towards Tabo

Around 5 we left from there and started our journey towards Tabo. Around 7 we reached at our humble abode at Tabo which is a rest house by Himachal Pradesh government. It’s a huge area with lots of rooms along with food facility. The people who work over there were very hospitable, humble in nature and cooked delicious food.

Butter tea(salty), very refreshing after a hectic day

Butter tea(salty), very refreshing after a hectic day

We met Michael sir who originally hails from Canada and works for a NGO over there and teaches computer to children and also met four girls(Yangzom, Folden, Cherring, Tomden)who were assisting Michael sir in his work and were going to help us in our work in the upcoming days. Along with dinner we had discussions on over schedule and many other interesting stuff about petroglyphs, environment, history, religion of the area.

With Michael Sir

With Michael Sir

Our adventurous journey of 10 day field work will be disclosed in my next blog along with beautiful pictures of the landscape of Spiti, till then stay tuned. 🙂

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6 comments

  1. om manori · October 21, 2015

    Hi….Ekta
    Congratulations for new travel story……
    There is some magic in your writing, you elaborate things so beautifully ……..
    Keep up writing …….
    There is great opportunity for you in creative writing…..

    Like

  2. Asifa · October 21, 2015

    Hey Ekta nicely articulated piece of writing

    Like

  3. Mudit · October 21, 2015

    Very nice I really like it.

    Like

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