Lahaul

Some call Lahaul the “Himalayan Scotland”, and the locals say that the origin of the word ‘Lahaul’ is “Lho-Yul” meaning “Southern Country” or of Lahi-yul – ‘Country of the Gods’ . The valley of Lahaul is situated to the south of Ladakh. The original name given to the area by its neighbours in Tibet and Ladakh was Garza or Garsha. The locals call their home Swangla.

One of the highest highways in the world passes through Lahaul and connects Manali with Leh. This crosses four high passes – Rohtang La (3980m), Baralacha La (4982m), Lachlang La (5,066m) and Tanglang La (5360m).

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 valley lies at a height of 2745 metres above sea level. Summer in this valley is cool and pleasant with green grass and alpine flowers.

There are five physical zones in Lahaul. The valley of the river Chandra is called Rangoli in its lower section and has the four kothis of Khoksar, Sissu, Gondhla and Gushal – with Khokar as the first village of the valley.

Lahaul is surrounded by a series of high mountains. Main Himalayas lie in the north and mid Himalayas are to the sourth with joining ranges on the east and thewest. This gives a highly pinnacled topography to Lahaul.

Some of thefamous glaciers are: Bara Shigri, Chhota Shigri, Samundari.

Lahaul abounds with monasteries (gompas), the homes of lamas (buddhist monks); therefore Lahaul is often referred to as the ‘land of lamas’.

Lahaul is a land of fascinating Buddhist art and culture. The monasteries of Lahaul are rich repositories of ancient murals, wood carving. The valley lies at a height of 2745 metres above sea level. Summer in this valley is cool and pleasant with green grass and alpine flowers. There is little monsoon in the valley. This unique feature makes Lahul as an ideal destination for tourists and trekkers in the months of June to October.

Best Time To Visit

Best time to visit Lahaul is from June to October.

Whether In Lahaul

Summer : June – October. Light Woolens are recommended.Temperature can be Max 26.8 C and Min 1.38

Winter : November – May. Heavy woolens are recommended. Temperature can be Max 6.1 C Min (-)19.38 C

Monsoons : There is little or no rain in monsoons. The climate remains dry and invigorating. The days are hot and nights are extremely cold.

How To Reach Lahaul

By Road To Lahaul

By road the distance is 115 km from Manali which takes 6 hours, 188 km from Kaza, 373 km from Leh, 435 km from Chandigarh and 690 km from Delhi. Lahaul remains open during the months between June to September depending upon opening and closing of Rohtang pass (3979 m), the gateway to this valley. National highway 21 is passes through this valley enroute to Leh.

Due to closure of Kunzam Pass the road from Lahaul valley to Spiti i.e. Koksar-Batal-Kaza remains closed from November to June, however the road to Spiti valley from Kinnaur is almost all-weather road

Although one can opt for other approaches such as Shimla- Reckong Peo- Kaza – Kunzom – Keylong. Leh- Tanglangla – Baralacha la – Keylong.

Buses, Taxis are available from Manali in season. HPTDC also plies regular coaches to Leh via Keylong during July – September.

By Air

Nearest airport is Bhunter, 175 km from Keylong.

Tourist Attractions

Khoksar

Khoksar is the first village and gate way to Lahaul. This village is situated at an altitude of 3140 m. on the right bank of the river Chandra. H.P.P.W.D. rest house and Serai are on the bank of the river Chandra. Khoksar remains covered under snow during winters. During winters Khoksar is the coldest inhabited place in Lahaul. The river freezes during winters and is covered with snow.
Khoksar was on the old trade route from Indian plains to the West Asia.

Keylong

Keylong is situated at an altitude of 3350 m and located along the Manali and Baralacha passes above the Bhaga river, about 7 km north east of intersection of the Chandra Valley, the Bhaga Valley, and the Chenab Valley on the banks of Bhaga River. Keylong is the headquarters of the administrative district of the Lahaul and Spiti t .

Three of the best known monasteries Tayul, Kardang and Sha-Shur are within a few kms. from this village.

The annual Lahaul Festival is held here each July with a big, busy market and a number of cultural activities.

There is a Circuit House, a P.W.D. (Public Works Department) Rest House, a Sainik Rest House, a Tourist Bungalow, and a number of small hotels.

Shopping at Keylong

Keylong have excellent outlets to purchase the Carpets & local pure wool made Kullu shawls, Lois, Baby Shawls, Mufflers, Stoles, Ponchoos, Local Tweeds, Caps & other Kullu handloom/handicraft readymade garments in Merino wool, Angoora & Pashmina also Pullas (grass made bedroom slippers), Woolen jackets also Silver Jewellery etc. The items can be purchased from the Himachal Emporium, HP State Handicrafts Handloom Corporation, The Mall Keylong, Bhuttico, Bhutti Weavers Co-Operative Society Ltd. etc.

Tandi

8 km, short of Keylong, on the Manali – Leh Raod, situated on the confluence of Chandra & Bhaga rivers. Last point to tank up if traveling north of Keylong as it has the last fuel station on this stretch.

There are atleast three mythological stories connected with Tandi. First, Tandi is believed to means Tan Dehi, i.e., giving up of the body. This is associated with Draupadi, the wife of Pandav. as, who left her body at this place. Second, this is believed that Rishi Vashishtha who meditated near the hot water springs of Manali was cremated at this confluence; hence named Tandi, i.e., body consumed. According to the third, Chandra, daughter of the Moon and Bhaga son of the Sun. They were in love with each other. To perform their celestial marriage they decided to climb the Baralacha-la and from there run in opposite directions encircling a vast tract of Lahaul. Thus flowing south-east and south-west both met at Tandi to enter the wedlock.

Sissu

This village is situated on the bank of the river Chandra at an altitude of 3130m. There is a swampy patch on the river side where every spring and autumn the Siberian wild duck and geese halt on their way to and from the Indian plains.

The temple of Lord Ghepan is in this village. The temple is not open to outsiders. Once in two/three years the deity is taken out of the temple in a procession.

There is a beautiful Sissu fall cascading over the cliff from the high valley between the two mountains. A suspension bridge over the river provides easy access to the fall.

There is one P.W.D. rest house.

Tayul Gompa

Tayul Gompa is 6 kms. from Keylong and is one of the oldest monasteries of the valley having a big statue of Guru Padmasamhava about 5 m high and houses library of Kangyur having 101 volumes. In Tibetan language Ta-Yul means the chosen place. There is an interesting story behind this. Local legend maintains that the main prayer wheel rotates on its own accord on certain occasions.

Gondla

18 kms from Keylong on the right bank of the river Chandra, situated at an altitude of 3160 m. The village is surrounded by thick foliage of poplars and willows. From Sissue to Gondhla the whole mountain side from the peaks over 6090 m. to the river bed below 3050 m. is awe-inspiring. Glaciers and snowfields overhanging the precipices make them one of the finest in the world.
Famous ancient Fort attracts a large number of tourists.
Every year in the month of July a fair is held for two days. On the first day the famous Chham or devil dance is enacted. Large number of people turn out to witness the performance.
In Gondhla there is a P.W.D. rest house which is surrounded by willows. No eating joint is available in the village.

Kardang

5 km from Keylong across the Bhaga river. With a backdrop of bare mountains, the monastery is believed to date back to the 12th century and is one of the most revered place of the Drug-pa sect and has large library of the sacred Kangyur and Tangyur texts. At Kardang, there are dozens of resident monks and nuns who stays 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 vallage of Kardang was once the ‘capital’ of Lahaul.

Jispa

This beautiful spot is 22 kms away from Keylong and 4 kms ahead of Ghemur. The village is situated at the junction of two nullahs with the main river Bhaga. Jispa has a very large dry river-bed, a rarity in Lahaul.
Just on the edge of the river Bhaga is a small PWD rest house. Near this the river is shallow and plenty of trout fish can be caught during summers. The place is virtually an angler’s delight. Good juniper plantation is around this village.

Shashur

3 km from Keylong. This monastery is surrounded by a rare patch of woodland and was founded in the 17th centry by Deva Gyatso – and the name ‘Shashur’ means ‘in the blue pines’. The festival of Shashur Tseshe is held every June/July whenmonks ddressed in masks and colourful costumes perform dances. The monastery is known for the images and paintings it houses.

Gemur

18 km from Keylong is a small monastery, but is held in great sanctity and is well known for its ‘dance-drama’ enacted every July.

Darcha

Darcha is situated at the junction of Yotche nullah and the Zangskar chhu which takes off from the Shinkun la. Both these nullahs meet with the main river Bhaga at this place. Darcha is 24 km from Keylong.. The Rough Guide to India describes it as “a lonely cluster of dry-stone huts and dingy tent camps”.
From Darcha trekkers start their trek to Padem, via Shingola as well as Baralacha/Phirtsela. There is a police check-post for assistance. Beyond this point there are hardly any trees. Yotche and Zanskar Nallahs meet Bhaga river here from different directions.
Darcha is the last village where one can see sparse growth of trees. Beyond Darcha not even a single tree can be seen on either side of the highway. Landscape starts looking desolate and absolutely barren. However no tourist bungalow or rest house facilities are available on either side of the nullahs. A police check post is also there.

Baralacha La

Baralacha La means ‘the pass with the crossroads on the summit’. Paths from Zanskar, Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul meet here. It is 8 kms long and is on the Manali-Leh route.

Kunzam La

This pass connects Lahaul with Spiti over the Kunzam range and the majestic Shigri peak is visible from its crest.

Suraj Taal

Suraj Taal or the lake of the Sun God is situated in the Upper Himalayan Zone just below the Baralacha la, pass (4,890m) and is the third highest lake in India, and the 21st-highest in the world. The Bhaga River (a tributary of the Chenab) originates from Surya taal. The lake is fed from the glaciers and torrential nullahs (streams) originating from the Bara-lacha-la pass, which is 8 km long. Rainfall precipitation is rare in the region. The average total snowfall recorded in a year is reported to be 12 m–15 m
Suraj Tal is 65 km from Keylong.

Chandra Taal

Chandra Taal (meaning the Lake of the Moon), is situated on the Samudra Tapu plateau at an altitude of about 4,300 metres between a low ridge and about nine kms from the Kunzom pass. The lake is about a kilometre in length and half of it in breadth. The name of the lake originates from its crescent shape.

Chandra Taal is a popular destination for trekkers and campers. The lake is accessible on foot from Batal as well as from Kunzum Pass from late May to early October. There is also a motorable road from Batal which is 14 km (8.7 mi) away from Chandra Taal. The road from Kunzum Pass is accessible only on foot, and it is about 8 km (5.0 mi) from Chandra Taal.

The most surprising thing about this lake is that there is no visible source of this lake but there is a visible outlet of this lake which means that water to this lake comes from underground.

Chandra Taal is a favourite halting place for the shepherds because of rich growth of grass. The water in the lake is so clear that stones at its bottom are easily visible.

Alpine vegetation grows on the surrounding moraines in summer. This lake freezes during the winter season. Its waters are crystal clear and free from pollution. A number of temples exist along the periphery of the lake.

The mountains peaks with snow caps and slopes around the valley rise up to 3000 meters to 6300 meters. The mountain ranges are called Moulkila and Chandrabhaga which challenge mountaineers.

According to legend, this lake is the location from where god Indra’s chariot picked up Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers. As a result, this lake is a revered one and draws a large number of devotees.

Udaipur

This sub-divisional headquarters is situated 53 kms away from Keylong near the confluence of Chenab and Mayar Nallah. Earlier Udaipur was known as Markul and so the name of local goddess is Markula Devi. The temple here is unique and famous for its wooden carving on its roof and ceiling. Its name was changed by Raja Udai Singh of Chamba. This place is therefore a starting point for Mayar valley and further on to Zanskar and other peaks. This is a green area. It has a rest house and some hotels and is a good resting place.

This place attracts a lot of tourists and pilgrims to its two unique temples, namely, Trilokinath and Markula Devi temples.

Sarchu

After the Tanglang La, this is the last point Himachal Pradesh on the route to Leh.

Trilokinath Temple

Trilokinath means the Shiva. A temple is situated in the village which is about 4 km short of Udaipur oon the left bank of Chenab river. The temple is built in the classical style introduced in the hills in the 7th and 8th C. As is typical to the style this temple consists of a curvilinear stone tower (shikhara) crowned with the characteristic ‘amalka’ (imitating a segmented gourd).

This Shiva temple was transformed into a Buddhist shrine by Padma Sambhava by installing the 6 armed image of Avalokiteshvar.. This temple continues to attract both the Hindu and the Buddhist pilgrims. In the centre of the compound one can still see the Nandi Bull of Lord Shiva.

Every year in the month of August a festival named Pauri is held there for three days when followers of both religions gather to offer prayers and to receive the blessings of Lord Trilokinath..

Markul Devi Temple

Markul is a small village in Chamba-Lahaul at the junction of ‘Miyar Nala’ with the Chandrabhaga. Local goddess is Markula Devi. The main deity of worship in the temple is a silver image of “Mahishasurmardini”. The temple here is unique and famous for its wooden carving on its roof and ceiling.

The wall panels depict scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Sunderkand, Yuddhakand, grant of ground by Raja Bali to Vaaman, three headed incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Churning of the ocean (Samudramanthan) Amritpaan, etc

The ceiling consists of nine panels of different size and shape. Eight of these border the big centre piece. The centre piece, is in the Lantern style. The ‘kirtimukha’ masks on this centre piece are characteristic of the 7th and 8th C.

Local population believes this temple to be the work of the master craftsman who built the famous Hidimba Temple at Manali for Bahadur Singh of Kullu. Historically this theory sounds plausible because Pratap Singh was the son-in-law and close fried and ally of Bahadur Singh. There is striking similarity between many figures and other details of the later wood carvings to the relief’s of the Hidimba Devi Temple.

 

Lahaul, Lahaul

Lahaul