Lahaul and Spiti are two remote Himalayan Valleys of H.P. lying on the Indo-Tibet border. Strange, exciting, primitive, these valleys are unsurpassed in mountain scape, in the rugged beauty of their rocky escapements and the splendour of their snow covered peaks. Lahaul is marked by a central mass of uniformly high mountains and massive glaciers. The two rivers, Chandra and Bhaga which rise on either side of the Baralacha La, flow through the narrow Chandra and Bhaga valleys. Lahaul is a land of fascinating Buddhist art and culture. The monasteries of Lahaul-Spiti are rich repositories of ancient murals, thankas, wood carving and golden images of Padmasambhava. The valley lies at a height of 2,745 metres above sea level. Summer in this valley is cool and pleasant with green grass and alpine flowers. There are little monsoon in both these valleys and this enables climbers and trekkers to enjoy a long and unbroken season in perpetual sunshine to explore the wilderness and grandeur of the inner Himalaya. This unique feature makes Lahul-Spiti as an ideal destination for tourists and trekkers in the month of July, August and September. Keylong is 115 Km from Manali and is the District Headquarters of Lahul-Spiti District. its character.
Language: Hindi, Punjabi, English, Bhoti are understood and spoken by the people engaged in tourism trade.
Temperature: Lahaul remains cut-off from outside the world till mid June due to heavy snowfall and closing of Rohtang Pass. There is little or no rain in monsoons. The climate remains dry and invigorating. The days are hot and nights are extremely cold.
Maximum temperature in summer is 26.8 o C and minimum is 1.38 o C
Maximum temperature in winter is 6.1 o C and minimum is (-)19.38 o C
Visiting Season: June to October
Clothing: Cotton and light woolens in summer and heavy woolens in winter.
Where to stay: Lahaul has accommodation to suit most types of budgets and tastes. HPTDC guest houses, rest Houses, hotels & home stays provide a comfortable stay at reasonable prices. Details are available from local tourist offices.
By Road: By road the distance is 115 Km from Manali, 188 Km from Kaza, 373 Km from Leh, 435 Km from Chandigarh and 690 Km from Delhi. Heavy winter snows cut off road connectivity to the region at Rohtang Pass for six months from November to June. Buses, Taxis are available from Manali in season. HPTDC also plies regular coaches to Leh via Keylong during July – September.
By Rail: The nearest station is at Shimla, around 290 Km from Lahaul.
By Air: The Nearest airport is Bhunter, 175 Km from Keylong.
How To Get Around: Local buses operate regularly. Taxis are also available
|Places to visit||Km|
|Guru Ghantal Monastery||12|
|Bara Lacha La||82|
- Visit the beautiful Monasteries of Keylong, Guru Ghantal, Gemur and others located at various parts of Lahaul.
- Visit the magnificent ancient forts at Gondla.
- At Sissu, on the bank of Chandra, 15 Km from Koksar, every spring and autumn wild geese and ducks halt here on their way to and from Siberia.
- Find peace and tranquility at the shores of lake Chandertal.
- Experience the many splendors of nature at the spectacular Kunzum La.
- Udaipur is a home of Mrikula Devi Temple and it is also famous for Wood Carvings.
- Seek holy blessings at the Trilokinath temple, a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists.
It is a religious – agrarian festival where the fields are blessed by the lamas. In January-February comes HaIda, the new year celebration. Along the valleys of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers, a few members of every household step out with lit cedar twigs to a west oriented place selected by the lamas. These slender branches form the first flames of a bonfire which is then dispersed. The goddess of wealth, Shiskar Apa is worshiped, flowers are offered by way of greeting and the festivities continue for a couple of days.
On a mid-night towards the end of the month of Paush (December-January), Phagli begins in the Pattan valley, with snow being packed in a conical basket – kiltas This is upturned on a roof and resembles a Shivalinga. Shiva, Naga and the goddess Hidimba are worshiped, and the younger generation also marks the moment by venerating village elders. Chhang and lugari, locally brewed liquors flow freely and ritual dishes are eaten.
It is celebrated in the Chandra and Bhaga valleys in the houses where a son has been born in the preceding year. Ritual dances and an unbelievably rich imagery mark Lossar in February.
Lahaul’s monasteries have some of the most spectacular dances – and the stylised chhaam dance, with elaborate costumes and masks, commemorates the assassination of the cruel Tibetan king, Lang Drama in the ninth century. In March and centred around the temple of Trilokinath, Char is celebrated in Lahaul.
|Tourist Information Centre, Shimla||0177-2654589, 2654589, 2832498|
|Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Shimla||0177-2625924, 2625864, 2625511|
Fax: 0177-2625864, 2625864
|HPTDC’s Marketing Office, Shimla||0177-2652561/2658302|
|Permits for Foreigners Travelling through Kinnaur to Spiti are issued by Resident Commissioner of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Bhawan, 27, Sikandra Road, New Delhi- 110001||Ph: 011-23716574/23716125|
|Deputy Commissioner, Shimla-171001||Ph: 0177-2655988/2653535|
|Deputy Commissioner, Kinnaur, Reckong Peo-172107||Ph: 01786-222252|
|Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul and Spiti, Keylong-175132||Ph: 01900-222501|
|Deputy Commissioner, Kullu-175101||Ph: 01902-222727|
|Additional District Magistrate, Shimla-171001||Ph: 0177-2657005|
|Additional District Magistrate, Kinnaur, Pooh-172111||Ph: 01785-232222|
|Sub Divisional Magistrate, (Urban), Shimla-171001||Ph: 0177-2657007|
|Sub Divisional Magistrate, Rampur-172001||Ph: 01782-233002|
|Sub Divisional Magistrate, Nichar||Ph: 01786-253201|
|Sub Divisional Magistrate, Kalpa||Ph: 01786-222253|
|Sub Divisional Magistrate, Kaza-172114||Ph: 01906-222302|
|Sub Divisional Magistrate, Keylong-175132||Ph: 01900-222225|
|Sub Divisional Magistrate, Udaipur-175142||Ph: 01909-222224|
|The permits are issued for groups of four or more persons and the tour needs to be sponsored by a recognised travel agent.|
The little town of Keylong is the headquarters of the administrative district of Lahaul & Spiti. It has a marketplace, filling stations and medical facilities. Keylong lies above the river Bhaga and is 6 Km from its confluence with the waters of the Chandra at Tandi.
Keylong was also the base of the Moravian missionaries – and the poplar trees still growing there, were planted by them.
Chandra Tal (4,270 m)
At a place where the Himalayan and Pir Panjal ranges meet, on a trekking path from Kunzam Pass (6 km, altitude 4337 m) are the turquoise and tranquil waters of Chandra Tal. Fed by snow waters, the meadows around the lake are spread over many acres and where shepherds are often spotted basking in the sun with their flocks scattered around. The lake and the adjoining area was declared a conserved international Ramsar Wetland site in November 2005. This reserve is a refuge for species like Snow Cock, Chukor, Black Ring Stilt, Kestrel, Golden Eagle, Chough, Red Fox, Himalayan Ibex, Blue Sheep, the rare snow leopard and others.
Kunzam La (4,550 m)
Marking the watershed divide between Satluj and Chenab river basins, this pass makes a connect for Lahaul with Spiti over the Kunzam range. From Kunzum La (4550m) there is a majestic view of Shingri Peak across the valley. On one side of the pass Chandra river flows down and on the other side, Spiti river is born. Spiti river meets Satluj river at Khab.
This pass connects Lahaul with Spiti over the Kunzam range and the majestic Shigri peak is visible from its crest.
Trilokinath (2,760 m)
Its shrine is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists and both pay homage to a single image. The Hindus regard ‘Trilokinath’ as Bhagwan Shiva, while the Buddhists regard the image to be that of Avalokiteshwara, the personification of compassion and infinite light. It is the site of an important fair called ‘Pori’ held in August.
Udaipur (2,650 m)
Elevated as an administrative centre in 1695 by Raja Udai Singh, a ruler of Chamba state, the place is named after him. Udaipur (53 km from Keylong) was earlier known as Markul, after Markul Devi – an incarnate of Hindu goddess Durga. An ancient temple dedicated to Devi Durga with fine carvings here attracts Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims.
Baralacha La (4,890 m)
A ‘pass with crossroads on the summit’ is what Baralacha La means in the native dialect. From the pass (altitude 4890m) connecting the long Manali to Leh road distance, separate paths for Zanskar, Ladakh, Spiti, and Lahaul break out. The Baralacha Pass is about 8 km long and it marks the watershed between Chandra-Bhaga and the Yunan rivers. Baralacha is 75 km from Keylong.
Founded in the 17th Century by Deva Gyatso, this monastery (3 km from Keylong), is located in a rare patch of woodland in an otherwise treeless landscape. The very name ‘Shahsur’ means ‘in the blue pines’. The festival of Shahsur Tsesha, held every June/July, is a good time to witness the colorful mask and costume dance performed by the monks.The monastery is known for the images and paintings it houses.
Guru Ghantal Monastery (3,020 m)
This lies high over the confluence of the rivers Chandra and Bhaga and is regarded as the oldest monastery in Lahaul. Two great figures of Trans Himalayan Buddhism were associated with it – Padmasambhava and Rinchensang-po. The monastery enshrines and image of the goddess Vajreshwari Devi (Do-jeLha-mo), a wooden image of the Buddha and a marble head of Avalokitesvara – legend has that this head was seen emerging out of the sandbank where the rivers Chandra and Bhaga meet and without waiting for the rest of the body to appear, someone lopped this off. The faithful also believe that in the Guru Ghantal monastery, and sealed in a dark airless room, is the visage of the demon Tsedak who once ravaged that area till he was captured.
Visible from Keylong the monastery and village of Kardang lie across the Bhaga. With a backdrop of bare mountains, the monastery is believed to date back to the 12th century and is one of the most revered places of the Drug-pa (Red Hat) sect and has large library of the sacred Kangyur and Tangyur texts – and is also the repository of some exquisite thangka paintings, musical instruments and old weapons. For a long time the monastery was in a state of disrepair till it was revitalised by Lama Norbu in 1912. At Kardang, there are dozens of resident monks and nuns – and many more who are there for short periods. Several monks are believed to have undertaken marathon meditations – with the session lasting for the traditional period of three years, three months and three days. The village of Kardang was once the ‘capital’ of Lahaul.
‘Tayul’ means the “place that is chosen”, and so it must be for local legend maintains that the main prayer wheel rotates on its own accord on certain occasions. It has a huge statue of Padmasabhava and its library houses the one hundred and one volumes of the sacred Kangyur text.
This is a small monastery, but is held in great sanctity and is well known for its ‘dance-drama’ enacted every July.
This is a small monastery, but is held in great sanctity and is well known for its ‘dance-drama’ enacted every July.
Attractively sited near the confluence of two side streams of the river Bhagat this is a small village which also has religious significance.
After the Tanglang La, this is the last point in Himachal on the route to Leh.
Gondhla (3,160 m)
On the right bank of the river Chandra, this is en route from Manali to Keylong. Gondhla has level stretches of cultivated land and its most distinctive feature is the eight-storeyed timber and stone tower that was the residence of the local ‘thakur’, chief. The monastery has historical importance and every July, this is the site of a large fair where masked dances commemorate the victory over Tibetan King, Langdarma, an enemy of Buddhism. Opposite Gondhla, a sheer cliff rises over 1500 m and forms a spectacular sight.
Tandi (2,673 m)
This has the confluence of rivers Chandra and Bhaga. A folktale about the place speaks of Chandra, the daughter of the moon and Bhaga, son of the sun. Both fell in love and decided to have a marriage that would last forever and to sanctify this, they decided to circle of all of Lahaul and then meet. After great difficulty, they managed to reach Tandi where they were united.
The deity Gyephang is regarded to have been born here and a shrine is dedicated to him.
Located in the Pattan valley by the waters of the Chandrabhaga, this is considered to be the legendary abode of many of Lahaul’s deities.