Only for jeep-safari lovers ☺
July 11 — 25, 2020
End of the world. Spiti Valley, together with Ladakh, was once a part of Tibet but now it remains mainly beyond the reaches of a tourist map. This incredibly beautiful region with extremely harsh nature is cut off from civilization by snow which blocks the roads for most of the year. There is no airport here, only bad roads with mountain passes of over 4000 m.
The moon like landscapes. The naked mountains are devoid of refreshing green cover of trees, and because of this ‘nakedness’ the layers making the earth’s crust become visible — they are all broken, smashed, and pushed up while these mountains were created. One can feel with their skin, on a physical level, the energy and the might of the Earth.
Here and there the eyes can find tiny blocks of simple white washed houses, which constitute a harmonious part of the landscape. They are like tiny bread crumbs on a tablecloth of mountain slopes — so easy to just shake them off…
Russian spiritual seeker and painter, Nicolas Roerich, was passing through these lands during a horse expeditions he organized in the search of mystic Shambala. Having visited this region one realizes why the mountains are of violet and blue color on his paintings.
Dalai-Lama has said that it’s here where he is going to retire one day — far from the vanities of the world. Having visited this region one realizes what he means by ‘far from the vanities of the world’.
1000 years ago when Buddhism was persecuted by the authorities in Tibet, it was here where Rinchen Zangpo — the Great Translator of the buddhist texts into Tibetan — spread his teachings. This was where he founded many monasteries and was born to a new incarnation and nowadays he is the head of the Key Monastery.
Delhi — Shimla — Sarahan — Kalpa — Nako — Tabo — Dhankar Gompa — Key Gompa — Komik — Chandratal Lake — Vashisht — Naggar — Delhi
From Delhi we go to the capital of Himachal Pradesh — Shimla. The city was built by the British and interestingly situated on the top of the ridge trickling down both slopes. To get from the British part of the city to the Indian one you just have to take steps down the slope — the more you descend the more ‘Indian’ it feels.
In Shimla we get into our microbus / jeep which will be our friend and home for the next 9 days, traveling 650 km. That’s how long it will take us to cross Outer and Lesser Himalayas to see the snowy peaks and glaciers of the Greater Himalayas.
The first part of the journey (3-4 days) will take us through the Kinnaur Valley. Hinduism and Buddhism form a rather peculiar mixture at the valley and the further you go more they become intermingled. The mountain slopes are mainly green with fascinating rocky and snowy peaks above them. There are many fruit orchards and the famous trekking route to the abode of Shiva on the Kinnaur Kailash mountain starts there.
Then, we will enter drastically different nature zone — one of the Spiti Valley. The mountains and the people are different. This is Tibet, the same culture and the same dry high altitude desert. We will spend 3-4 days here — walking around small villages and ancient Buddhist monasteries and to high altitude lakes.
When our spirits become hardened by the harsh beauty of the Spiti Valley we will venture into even more difficult conditions of the Chandra River valley. No villages, no orchards, no monasteries — NOTHING will distract us from the pristine divinity of nature. Rocks, rivers, glaciers and divinely beautiful Chandratal Lake is where we will spend a night camping.
After these 2 days of emptiness we will strive to the lively green noisy joyous Kullu Valley. The hot springs of Vashisht and shopping will warm our bodies and Souls)). We will also visit the mansion of the Roerich family in Naggar. This is the end of our Trans-Himalayan expedition, time to relax a little before our journey back home.
Itinerary with photos.
Group — 3-8 человек.
Would you like to join us? Please drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here. I’ll be glad to answer any of your questions.
Day 1. July 11.
Arrive in Delhi. Check in at the guest-house. Short rest. Go to see a huge temple complex of Akshardham which demonstrates the intricacies of Indian architecture — lots of bas-reliefs and sculptures.
Night in Delhi.
Day 2. July 12.
Wake up early in the morning to catch the train to Chandigarh (5 hours). Visit Rock Garden and have a quick look at the architecture of the city built by Le Corbusier. Then drive in the car (3 hours) across the Outer Himalayan range of Shivalik to reach Shimla (2200 m), former British summer capital of India. The city spreads along the mountain ridge, the central part is closed to transport — we have to walk to reach the guest house.
Night in Shimla.
Day 3. July 13.
A day in Shimla. See the Jakhu Temple — the temple of the ‘monkey’ god Hanuman — with plenty of monkeys around. Walk through the city to the former official residence of Governor-Generals of India. Learn some facts from the history of Indian Independence. See the temple of the goddess Kali.
Night in Shimla.
Day 4. July 14.
Early in the morning leave for the Kinnaur Valley — the beginning of our Himalayan Expedition. The journey will take about 7 hours — along the mountain serpentine road. Arrive to Sarahan (2300 m). See the temple of Bhimakali.
Night in Sarahan.
Day 5. July 15.
Drive to Kalpa (2960 m) — 4-5 hours. Walk around the village spread on the mountain slope. Enjoy the panoramic views on the 6 000 m peaks, walk in the apple orchards and see the lifestyle of the locals.
Night in Kalpa.
Day 6. July 16.
In the morning we have to get the permits for the restricted area near the border with China which we will cross a couple of days later. In the afternoon — enjoy dramatic views while walking to the Rogi village.
Night in Kalpa.
Day 7. July 17.
Drive to Nako (3660 m) — about 6 hours. Nako is the last stop in the Kinnaur district. It’s a very cozy village near a lake. Traditional stone houses, narrow labyrinth-like passageways, stone walls with Buddhist mantras carved on them, prayer wheels, stupas, temples and monasteries and all this with the background of countless peaks disappearing at the horizon.
See the monastery founded by the Great Translator Rinchen Zampo who translated a lot of Buddhist texts into Tibetan and checked the already existing translations.
Night in Nako.
Day 8. July 18.
In the morning — drive to Tabo (3050 m) — 2,5 hours, the Spiti Valley. See the ancient monastery of Tabo, founded by Rinchen Zangpo in the 10th century. This monastery is protected by Indian Archeological Board and is included into the UNESCO World Heritage sights. See the frescos inside. Dalai-Lama expressed his wish to retire here, at the Tabo monastery.
In the afternoon drive to Dhankar (3890 m) — 1,5 hours.
Night in Dhankar.
Day 9. July 19.
See the monastery of Dhankar, perched like a swallow nest on the top of the rock. It’s listed under World Heritage sites in danger. Enjoy the breathtaking view on the confluence of the Spiti and the Pin rivers. Trek to the lake at the altitude of 4200 m above Dhankar. Spend some time in silence and meditative contemplation.
In the evening — drive to Kaza, the administrative center of Spiti.
Day 10. Juy 20.
Drive to the Key monastery (4160 m) — 1 hour. It’s the largest monastery in the Spiti Valley, an important educational center for Lamas. The head of the monastery is believed to be the incarnation of Rinchen Zangpo. Drive to Komik and Langza above Kaza. Incredibly beautiful places. See the ancient monastery in Komik.
Night in Kaza.
Day 11. July 21.
Drive to Chandratal Lake (about 4300 m) — 5-6 hours. Cross the Kunzum-La Pass at 4550 m.
Day 12. July 22.
Drive through the Lahaul Valley, cross Rohtang Pass (3978 m) which means ‘a pile of corpses’. It takes 6-7 hours to reach the green and friendly Vashisht (2200 m). It’s a relatively small, by Indian standards, village on the slope. Rest. It’s possible to bathe at the temple hot spring.
Night in Vashisht.
Day 13. July 23.
Walk to the Jogini waterfall. See Hadimba temple and Manu temple in Manali. Enjoy shopping in Manali.
Night in Vashisht.
Day 14. July 24.
Wake up early in the morning. Drive to Naggar to see the mansion of Nicolas Roerich and small Urusvati museum. See the castle and temples built in the traditional style of wood and stone.
Take a night bus from Manali to Delhi at 16.00 (570 km, 14 hours).
Night in the bus.
Day 15. July 25.
Arrive to Delhi in the morning. Short rest at the hotel. See the Lotus temple — one of the most famous Bahai temples where followers of all religions are welcomed.
Flight back to your country at night/early morning.
1. We go into the distant, difficult to approach parts of the Himalayas. There will be a lot of traveling by jeep/microbus. The mountain roads are unpredictable. Sometimes there is construction / repair work going on and the cars have to wait for a long time. Be ready for bumps and dust too.
2. We have only the daylight time to drive and to walk and to see the sights. That’s why it’s important to make the best use of daytime. We will get up at 7, sometimes at 6 a.m. and try to go to bed early. Let’s live together with nature, following the natural light cycle.
3. This is a journey beyond the reaches of developed city infrastructure. Be ready to use ‘open toilet’ in the middle of nowhere. Be ready for early breakfast before we start on the way in the morning or prepare some snacks to enjoy while we’re driving.
4. While in the mountains one constantly has to put warm clothes on and off. If the sun hides behind the clouds it gets cold, one has to put on a jacket. The next moment the sun is out again and it gets hot — one has to take off the jacket and put on a hat And of course, one should use sunscreen even when it seems to be cloudy. These are the peculiarities of such trip and one has to take them into consideration.