Thursday, 22 September 2016

Kaza – Hikkim – Komic – Langza – Kunzum Pass – Chandra Taal (14,100 Ft)

DAY 7 - KAZA- HIKKIM- KOMIC- LANGZA

Today we embarked our journey to see the other three villages near Kaza – Langza, Hikkim and Komic. All the three villages are near each other and not very far from Kaza. The drive was breathtaking and had relatively good roads.


Buddha Statue at Langza
Buddha Statue at Langza
We first headed to Langza which has a big Buddha statue just above the village. The Buddha statue is beautiful and from there you can enjoy 360 degree panoramic view. Langza is also known for its fossil stones. You will be very lucky if you found a fossil stone lying on the ground. If you want you can buy fossil stone which are sold by local people.


Langza - Buddha Statue
Buddha Statue - Up close

Langza
View from up there
Next we visited Komic, which is blessed with two monasteries. In one monastery, ladies are not allowed. The other monastery was quite and like other monasteries vibrant and colorful. It is the highest village in the world with a mere 200 people living there.


Komic Village
Komic Village

Let's just stay here forever!!
Next we headed to Hikkim, which has the world’s highest post office. Do visit the post office and send some post cards to your loved ones. When we went to the post office the manager had gone to Kaza to buy post cards and stationery and his son was in-charge of the post office. He asked us to write the required details (address, your personal message and mobile number) on a blank page and promised us that he will send the post card once the stationery is received.


World's Highest Post Office at Hikkim
World's Highest Post Office at Hikkim
As promised, I did receive the post card from Hikkim. Post card from the highest post office in the world is like a medal for a travel lover.

Spiti is full of picturesque villages. There is nothing much to see in these villages but to enjoy the natural beauty which I am sure is what you came for in the first place. Serenity and pristine beauty of the village will definitely fascinate your imagination.

After seeing these small villages in Spiti, few questions come in my mind. How do these people endure winters here where the temperature can go below -20 degrees? How do these people procure food and other items? There are no shops, nothing? What do these people do when they are visited by snow leopards in winters? There life is tough and full of hard work but you will find everyone with a smile on their face, happy and content.

During the last 2 days there were occasions we saw foreigners cycling the entire circuit (from Kaza to the villages). In the evening we were keen to try our hands at cycling a bit. But after a few minutes of cycling, we were out of breath!! This despite the gradient being largely flat and only slightly inclined.

This being our last night in Kaza, we chatted with our hotel owner (and also trip organizer) post dinner. He informed us that in winters, some people lock down their houses and go downhill where it is slightly warmer. Others who stay back, are the adventurous sorts (he being one of them). When the winter is just setting in, around December, they invite skiing experts and start adventure sport training for a few weeks. This is the only way they get to pass time and keep themselves occupied. 

The entire of Sakya Abode (Kaza) is extremely courteous and helpful. Though it may not be the best hotel in Kaza, in terms of facilities, it definitely makes up for it in terms of service standards.


DAY 8 - KAZA- LOHSAR- KUNZUM PASS- CHANDRATAAL LAKE

Today was a long day for us. We will be on road for about ten to twelve hours but we will be travelling through one of the most beautiful scenery of Spiti Valley. We will be crossing Kunzum Pass today to reach a high altitude lake – Chandrataal.

We started our journey early morning after a filling breakfast. The route to Chandrataal is very beautiful with breath taking different colours of mountains. As if a child had painted them and the teacher had not bothered to tell that the mountains can only be a boring brown or lush green.

After Kaza, at Lohsar do grab a bite to eat, as after Lohsar till Chandrataal you will not find any restaurant or Dhaba to eat. After Lohsar, the ascent to Kunzum Pass starts. Roads will again vanish and the roads will be no more than dirt tracks. From here till Rohtang Pass, there are absolutely no roads. These will be the worst roads you have ever driven on, so be ready for it.


On our way to Kunzum Pass
On our way to Kunzum Pass
Kunzum Pass remains close for most part of the year and is open for a few months only. It is the highest pass in the region and divides Spiti and Lahaul regions.  At Kunzum Pass, you will see few stupas and numerous colorful prayer flags fluttering, since the Pass is at a height it is very windy and cold. There is a temple just next to the stupas. We got off at the pass and clicked few pictures as the view from here is stunning.


Kunzum Pass
Kunzum Pass

Kunzum Pass
Colourful Flags at Kunzum Pass
After spending sometime here we started again towards Chandrataal. The road was dangerously narrow and of not too great quality. As you get closer to Chandrataal, you will see various camping and tents accommodation. 

You cannot take your vehicle till the lake. So we stopped our vehicle around 20 mins before the lake and started trekking towards the lake. It is windy and therefore warm clothes are recommended. After trekking for some time we saw the first glimpse of Chandrataal Lake. No amount of Google images could have prepared us for the beautiful sight that lies in front of our eyes. I was smitten by this beautiful Lake.


Trek to Chandrataal Lake
Trek to Chandrataal Lake

First glimpse of Chandrataal Lake
First glimpse of Chandrataal Lake
Chandrataal Lake
The serene Lake
The lake was pristine blue, with mountains on all sides, the sand near the lake is white and soft as talcum powder. It was sheer bliss.


Isn't this pure bliss???

Some Craziness!!!
We wanted to just settle there. It was without doubt the most beautiful thing on our Spiti Trip. After spending around two hours at the lake, walking around the lake, taking pictures, lazing around, we started heading back towards our car as it was getting cold and windy.

Once back in our car we headed to our tents where we had made arrangements to stay overnight. This was the second time when we were staying in tents (first was in Jispa during our trip to Ladakh in 2011). Once we reached the compound of the tents we were immediately shown our tents and were asked to come to the kitchen to have hot tea. (By the time they bring tea from the kitchen to our tents, it turns cold!!) After piping hot tea we felt refreshed and again settled ourselves in one tent for numerous rounds of UNO.


Tents near Chandrataal Lake
Tents near Chandrataal Lake

Camps near Chandrataal
Camps near Chandrataal
Once inside the tent we were so warm that we didn’t want to step out for even using the washroom or having dinner. They serve dinner in a huge tent, where everyone from the camp assembles. They gave us garlic soup directly from the stove and it was not burning our tongue… just imagine how cold it was there in the month of July. God knows what happens there in December.

After a hot dinner we headed to our tents for a peaceful sleep, with Chandrataal Lake in our mind and thanking the Mother Nature for everything that she has gifted us.

Points to Note:

  • Book an Innova or a Xylo for a comfortable travel. As the roads are bad travel in Sumo or Maxx can be cumbersome.
  • Although the distance between places (at times) is not far because of the rough terrain it takes a considerable time to go from one place to another. So plan accordingly.
  • It is advised to start your day early and reach your destination while it is daylight. Please avoid driving once the sun sets. Driving in dark can be very dangerous.
  • Please carry warm clothes including sweater, jacket, cap, mufflers, socks and gloves. Wear shoes and not sandals or chappals.
  • Be easy on steps and while walking. Avoid brisk walk or running at high altitudes as the oxygen level is low.
  • If you are feeling mountain sickness have chocolate or popcorn. It helps. Make it a point of sipping in water regularly.
  • Please don’t litter and maintain the beauty of nature.
  • Do stop over at Kunzum Pass to appreciate the view and take the blessings from the stupas and temple there.
  • Chandrataal Lake is a 15-20 mins trek. Take your own time walking and appreciate the natural beauty. The lake is a beautiful sight, savor every moment.  
  • In Kaza we stayed at Hotel  Sakya Abode. The rooms were a little small but were built in accordance with old architecture. It is made of mud and is thus cold resistant. The staff and restaurant of this hotel is excellent. Must stay at Kaza. 
  • The monastery and the temple at Kaza is a three mins walk from the hotel.
  • At Chandrataal, we stayed at Parasol Camps. The tents are comfortable and warm. Bathrooms are not attached and the water is chilly.
  • It is very windy and cold at Chandrataal camps specially after sun set. Do carry windsheeters and warm clothes. Pls cover your ears.
  • Don't forget to stop over and appreciate the views. After all the journey is as important as the destination.