Himalayan Jeep Safari
(Through Shimla, Sarahan, Kinnaur, Spiti & Lahaul and Manali)
Region: Shimla, Sarahan, Rampur, Sangla, Kinnaur Valley, Lahaul & Spiti, Kunzum pass, Rohtang Pass, Rangrik, Kibber and Pin Valley.
Season: First Week of June to mid October.
Max. altitude: (4510m.) Kunzum pass.
No. of days: 10 days.
High passes: ‘Over 02 strenuous stages Kunzum Pass (4510m.) and Rohtang pass.
Gradient: In the beginning its gradual drives and bit scary road up to Sangla onwards little height gaining till Spiti. During drive in Spiti and one gets acclimatized easily generally easy Jeep Safari over Passes. Difficulties are not there, of course ups and downs. Jerk & jolts.
Grading: A reasonable degree of physical fitness is needed for this Himalayan Jeep Safari.
Special interest: Excellent view for photographers, ideal place for nature lovers, best spot for adventure lover, full of Monastic/Buddhism culture.
This Jeep Safari offers an incredible insight into the remote Spiti & Lahaul, Shimla, Kinnaur, and Pin valleys of Himachal Pradesh. From the lush green Shimla valley, enter the starkly beautiful Spiti valley, visiting ancient Gompa and scattered little villages. After crossing the Kunzum Pass, the landscape changes dramatically, with the barren lunarscape of Spiti.
Shimla (2205m.) has with Utteranchal, Sirmaur, Solan, Mandi, Kullu and Kinnaur. Shimla, the state
Capital, which had been once the summer capital of English Rulers, previously known as Mahasu Distt. It offers to the visitors, to Mall, Jakhu Hill, with Hanu- manji temple old and Historical Buildings, a golf course at Naldehra, Skiing at Kufri and Skating near Rivoli the Shimla during winter. The district is famous for its Lavi Fair, which is celebrated in the month of November. Apples of Kotgarh are world famous.
Kinnaur, the northeastern frontier district of Himachal Pradesh is a secluded region, rugged and mountainous and lies on both the banks of the Satluj. It commands uniqueness on account of peculiarities of language, history and natural phenomenon.
The erstwhile China tehsil, which during the princely regime was a part of the Bushahar State, adjoins western Tibet along the Zanskar Mountains.
Legendary Kinners, as a distinct race, some where between human beings and birds r with a human body and the head of a horse of vice versa. The epics describe them as heavenly musicians or celestial choristers. Such creatures are supposed to inhabit a semi-celestial region high in the Himalayas where earthly saints who have attained perfection consort with super-human beings.
They are great singers and dancers and they depict sorrows of their hard life in singing and dancing. More than a hundred festivals are celebrated in a year.
Spiti (locally pronounce "Piti"):
The sub-division of Lahaul &Spiti combine to make this trans Himalayan district of the India state of Himachal Pradesh (The abode of snow.) The district headquarters at Keylong in Lahaul, and the administrative seat of Spiti is at Kaza. Spiti is connected to the Lahaul by Kunzum Pass (4590m.) and to the state capital, Shimla, through the district of Kinnaur.
Translated, ‘Spiti' means the ‘middle country -a name obviously given as a result of its ties with both India and Tibet fed by several fast- flowing sub- streams, the river Spiti flows through area and joins with the other mighty river of the region, Sutluj, at Khab. With freckles of green over a dry, weather-beaten face, Spiti is a cold desert where the monsoon never comes. Stark beauty, narrow valleys and high mountains characterize it. A century ago, Rudyard Killing in Kim called Spiti' a world with in a world" and a "place the Gods live" a description that holds true to the present day.
The Lahaul, the Himalayas can be seen in all there mighty splendor. The valleys lie at a height of 2745m.above sea level. The barren landscapes oasis vegetation and dazzling mountains are magnificent. The Lahaul is also a fascinating area for Buddhist art and culture. The people of the Lahaul have their small Mongol eyes; prominent cheekbones and cheerful smiles give visitors an enthusiastic welcome.
Day to day description:
Day 01: Shimla - Sarahan (1920m.) 175kms from Shimla- another charming place via Nirth, Dutt Nagar and Rampur Bushehar through the Satluj Valley. At Nirth there an old Surya (Sun) temple, dedicated to Shiva & Shakti, to be build by Parshuram and the Dutt Nagar is known for its archaeological importance. Sarahan is little but beautiful village in which situated the historical Bhimakali temple, which is about 1500years old. One can also enjoy the best view of Srikhand Dhar and Satluj River.
Day 02: Sarahan - Sangla: - Sangla is about 95 kms from Saraham at an altitude of 2680m. It takes four to five hours via Karchham.
Day 03: Sangla - Same day back to Sangla: - The road on this stretch is very narrow and steep till Chitkul, the last and highest village (3450m.) in Baspa valley. It is situated on the right bank of the Baspa River. There is temples dedicated t local goddess Mathi, which is said to have been constructed some 500 years ago. The situation of Rackchham (2900m.) village is striking, as it is mohan surrounded by Rocky Mountains, Granite Rock and the forests. One can visit Kamru Temple and fort. Trout Fishing can be done in Baspa River with the permission from the Fisheries Officer. The snowy peaks surround the valley.
Through Shimla, Sarahan, Kinnaur, Spiti & Lahaul and Manali Sangla - Kalpa - Jangi: - Kalpa (2960m.) is the district Head quarter of Kinnaur on Hindustan Tibet Road and offer the nearest view of Kinner Kailash (Shivlingam) peak from Kalpa. One can visit to Ribba Gompa a 1000 years old monastery. Ribba Gompa is situated between the villages of Purbani and Rispa is known for Grapes orchards and the Alcohol district from grapes called ANGOORI is very famous.
Day 05: Jangi - Tabo via Nako: - Chango (3658m.) is situated on the left bank of river Spiti. It is encircled on every side by high hills, which is a witness to the presence of a former lake. The village is under the influence of Buddhism, but there are local Hindu deities too namely Gyalbo, Dabla and Yalso. Nako (3664m.) is situated about 2 kms above the Hangrang valley road on the western direction of the huge mountain of Pargil. This is the highest and the largest village in the valley. To the north of the village is the monastic complex of four large temples belonging to the Dugpa order, the complex is called Locha-Lhakhang i.e. Lhostaba, Lhakhang, after the great Latsab Rin-Chen-Nagpo. Besides these temples are in a sad state of neglect and had suffered considerable from the 1975 earthquake.
Day 06: Tabo-Pin via Dhankar and Lalung: - Tabo monastery founded in 996AD, the Tabo ‘ Gompa' has exquisite wall paintings and stucco statues and is often called the Ajanta of the ‘Himalaya', after the almost legendry art treasure site in Maharashtra. In terms of area, this is the largest monastic complex in Spiti, and all old section has nine temples,'chortens', a monks' chamber and a nuns' chamber. There are several caves and contemporary structure that form a part of the Tabo complex. In transe Himalayan Buddhism, Tabo's sanctity is next only to Tibet's Tholing monastery. UNESCO has declared Tabo a ‘World Heritage Site'.
Dhankar monastery in local dialect, a 'Dhankar' in a fort and that is what this monastery once was. Standing high over the valley, this is a superb example of Spiti's traditional architectural skills. This was once a castle of the ruler of Spiti, the Nano and today, Dhankar is a repository of Buddhism scriptures in the Bhoti script. Overnight in camp at Sichichling.
A small village consisting a cluster of 50 to 60 houses with a population of 250 inhabitants. The Gompa, which is situated on the top of the village, is invisible from the road. The main temple is decorated with unique Mandalas and statues with main statue of Bodhisattva in the center. A small but very attractive temple depicts the philosophy, which originated in western Tibet about 800 years ago. The monastery is over shadowed by a huge Fig tree. There is another small temple to the left of the main building which houses a four headed clay of Buddha looking in to four different directions.
Pin Valley is formed by the Pin River, which rises on the eastern slopes of Pin- Parvati Pass (3500m.) and meets the Spiti River exactly opposite Lingti Village. On the way the Parahio Nala near Pokchung joins it. Parahio valley has several peaks and glaciers and it has been declared as a Nationaf Park. From Pin valley one can cross to the Kullu valley over Pin Parvati Pass; and to the district of Kinnaur via ‘shakar of Pass (5022m.) or Tarikhango Pass BAWA PASS (4866m.). Pin valley is much more rugged and barren than the main Spiti valley.
"Pin Valley National Park- Land of Ibex and Snow Leopard"
Day 07: Pin-Ki-Kibber and Takche: - Ki-monastery (4116M.), Kibbervillage (4205m.) Kaza (3600M.) 5 hrs. Drive up to Kibber and Kibber is the highest permanently inhabited village in the world connected by a motor able road .It also acts as the base for several high altitudes treks. At kibber in the winter temperature drops below -35degree c people still are surviving and persistently repeating the universal hymn 'OM MANI PADME HUM'. After having a look in the Kibber and approach down to Ki-monastery which is 11km.on the way to Kibber and adjacent to the road. Ki- Monastery has celebrated its 1000 years to commemorate the auspicious Kalachakra initiation by His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Aug.2000 for the world peace. Ki is the repository of rare ‘Thangka'paintings' and several ancient musical instruments are likely trumpets, cymbals and drums. Its library holds the manuscripts of the sacred Thangur text. The village of Ki is just short of the monastery.
Visit Kaza This has the administrative headquarters of the Spiti, a market place, medical facilities a filling station. It serves as the base for the odyssey trekkers. After looking Kaza drive to Takche is just below the Kunzam Pass, which provides the main approach to Lahaul from Spiti. Derives through the Rangrik, Kiato, Hanse and finally reaches campsite at Takche.
Day 08: Takche - Chandratal Lake (4270 m.) " The Lake of Moon" 3 hrs. drive. If road condition is good right up to the lake otherwise one has to walk to the Lake at the narrower point/ dangerous. A camp could be establish at the risky point then walk up to the lake for about two hours or less and same day back to the campsite.
Note: One can starts a trek from the Takche to Chandratal Lake " The Lake of Moon".
Day 09: Chandratal - Manali: - 7hrs. Drive back to the foot of the Kunzum Pass and at the foot of the pass the last village of Spiti valley is welcomes a small hamlet Losar (4079m.) with a couple of Houses. Stop for a while, get checked your passport. Spiti valley is formed by the Spiti River, which rises on the slopes of Kunzum Pass and ends at the river's confluence with the Pare Chu near Sumdo is about 150km. Over Kunzum pass to Batal, after that it starts the real drive up to Chotadara, Chhtru and Grampoo through the rugged and Chandra river valley. On the way left Hand side is Bara Shigri glacier. Bara meaning big and Shigri meaning glacier in Spitiand dialect. The Glacier is mountainous mass of solid ice, more than a kilometer wide and extending over a distance on ten kilometers. At Grampoo it divides the valley into Lahaul &Spiti. And turns right hand side at Grampoo towards Lahaul & Leh and left hand side turn to the Rohtang/Manali. From Grampoo, it also goes along the Chandra River with the magnificent view of the rugged valley and beautiful villages are full of greenry, finally reach over Rohtang pass to Manali.
Day 10: Sights seeing in and around Manali.
Day 11: Departure Manali - Dehli by air/bus.