Spiti Tales- Mountains, valleys, lakes, and bridges.

After bidding farewell to the divine Kinnaur Kailash, we set out for  Tabo. This route is known for landslides and we knew the photo stops would be considerably reduced. We passed through Akpa, Morang, Spello and Pooh.The road conditions varied from smooth tarmac to narrow mud tracks.  On the way, there are some lovely bridges and waterfalls. This stretch has some of the finest bridges  I have ever seen, ranging from Bailey, suspension to massive modern ones.

The good roads

Mud roads.Don’t miss the Mummy rock. Pc: Ajay

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The Border Road Organisation (BRO) is responsible for the maintenance of these mountain roads and frequently we came across people engaged in clearing the rock_  strewn paths. They have put up a number of quirky sign boards all along the route doling out safety precautions. ‘If married, divorce speed’, ‘ Be gentle on my curves’,  ‘Mind your brakes or break your mind’ and ‘Be Mr.Late than late Mr.’  are a few I remember now.

Our first halt was at Khab. This is where the mighty Sutlej which originates from Tibet meets Spiti river coming from the Spiti valley. The landscape is barren, arid and vast. The greenery has almost vanished. Mighty mountains lead us to a narrow tunnel with overhanging rocks.  Though technically we are still in Kinnaur I  feel we have entered the surreal land of Spiti.

The gateway to Spiti

Khab Bridge adorned with prayer flags.

The confluence of Satluj and Spiti rivers. Satluj is muddy brown and Spiti river is ash gray.

The rocks show a range of colors and some of them have striations. Wish we had a geologist in our group!

This rock reminded me of a gargoyle with cold, evil eyes.

Rock art Pc: Ajay

Boulders perched precariously

Our convoy.

 

Khab has another significance. Shipki La-the high mountain pass and border post on the India-China border is about 40 km from here. You require special permits to go there.

A slice of the sky Pc: Mangesh

Face off! Mr.Snub nose and Ms.Sharp nose.

From Khab to Hangrung valley

From Khab, the road ascended through a series of switchbacks. There were no other vehicles in sight. It was like going into an alien, remote land. All we could see were the mountains in different colors and dimensions. The landscape is like Ladakh except that Ladakh is always bursting with tourists.

Ka loops

A patch of green.

The next stop was Nako -a beautiful village and often a night stop for the travelers. Nako is an important center of Buddhism. There are two main monasteries (gompas) and many temples in the Nako village. Guru Rinpoche is believed to have meditated in the caves seen up in the mountains.We could not go inside the monasteries as they were closed to the public.

Old Nako Gompa

After a quick lunch, we went over to Nako Lake. After the rocky, dusty, barren terrains, the shimmering lake was like an oasis. It looks more like a  large pond.

Enchanting Nako Lake

Nako lake is a natural lake and remains frozen during winter. The water was crystal clear and green reflecting the trees around the periphery.  The tranquility and silence all around was overpowering.  Though Nako has become quite popular on the travel circuit, there were not many people around.  I can imagine how this place would look with a bunch of noisy, selfie_ obsessed tourists.

Circumambulating the lake

DSCN0108IMG_5228

The walkway around the lake leads to the Nako village and its cluster of houses made of earth and stone. Fodder and firewood are piled on the wooden roofs and most houses have a pen for their cattle.   Prayer wheels, colorful prayer flags, and cairns with inscribed mantras seen among the winding lanes reflect the age-old Buddhist traditions.

Nako Village homes

A pen with no inmates

All peace and quiet here.

Where are the people?

I wanted to peek inside.

Mani stones

Prayer wheels and Mani stones

The premises are kept very clean. But where are the people?   Most people-both men and women work in the fields.Their main crops are peas, potato, wheat, and barley. The Himachal government has provided many houses with solar panels and they also have a helipad to transport people in case of an emergency. New concrete buildings are coming up beside the traditional homestays and small guesthouses. I did not see a school or a hospital.

Two sisters were seen out there enjoying the sun.IMG_5245IMG_5246

I had not even heard of Nako before coming here and now I am leaving with pleasant memories of a small, peaceful village.

 

 

37 thoughts on “Spiti Tales- Mountains, valleys, lakes, and bridges.

  1. Whew! Fantastic, Sidran. I’m very impressed with your brave spirit. I’m also happy about it, because of all these amazing shots you bring me of a place I will probably never get to go to. I’m still trying to see all of Canada! (3 territories and 3 provinces left to go!) Were you ever afraid up in those mountains?
    Well, it’s almost the weekend, and I hope you get a couple of lovely days off! _Resa

    Liked by 1 person

    • India is smaller but the cultural and geographical diversities are mindboggling. I wish I could see more! Canada is incredibly large and you have already seen 7 provinces, good luck, Resa!
      It was scary but I knew I could nothing about it so I decided to kick back and savor each moment.
      Have a lovely weekend, Resa.

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  2. What an incredible adventure ~ not just seeing these sights, but navigating the roads and bridges. The full feeling of this area…and I think the most exciting part is meeting the people, seeing the life and culture to get the full experience. One thing I really take away from this post is the absolute diversity in beauty and scenes. Nako being one of those incredible surprises that makes traveling worth it. Beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a lot of admiration for the villagers who strive to maintain the traditions and adapt to the changing times. Nako was definitely a surprise.Full marks to our amazing drivers who took us through such terrains. Thank you very much.

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  3. What a great adventure you had, Sidran. The contrast between the mountains, roads and bridges seems to be in direct opposition to the lake and the village. I imagine it would be a hard life, yet also peaceful and calm for the villagers. You certainly like the ‘road less travelled’… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You have to be a little adventurous to make this journey through rugged mountains and the dangerous roads and rocking bridges! It’s hard to believe that people live there! Therefore great admiration and deep respect for these people! But it is still calm and quiet there. Although I love nature, I’d rather see it a little greener. But if you’re there, the mountains force respect and to trust their good will! And thanks to your great pictures, we can also enjoy this landscape and the locals … 🙂 Thank you Sidran!
    Best regards, Heidi

    Liked by 1 person

    • Being with friends and the expert drivers made it easy to venture into such terrains.The life is hard and the remote villages are cut off from the mainland for 8 long months in winter. We can learn a lot from their simple, traditional and spiritual ways. Thank you very much, Heidi. Are you taking a break from blogging?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes indeed, we can learn a lot of them! But we are spoiled too much. I think, it would be difficult for us (myself and other people) to survive in this poor conditions and hard life! For that reason, my great admiration and respect to those people! No, I didn’t take a break from blogging. I have a big problem on my site! Apparently the links to my blogs aren’t visible to everyone, so most people (almost everyone beside a few people) can’t read and view my blogs! I regret 😦
        Best regards, Heidi

        Liked by 1 person

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