Monday, October 31, 2016

Spectacular Spiti : Journey to Kaza (via Kunzum Pass and Losar)

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Day 4 - Aug 8th , 2016

By 8.00 AM, we bid good bye to this beautiful emerald lake and hoped to visit this lovely place once again.

While the charming Chandertal was still lingering in our heads, we set off to explore the interior Spiti valley. Our destination for the day was Kaza, which is an important economic district head of the Spiti valley.

The next pitstop was Kunzum pass, which was just 6-7 kms from Chandertal.

Kunzum Pass is a high mountain pass on the eastern Kunzum Range of the Himalayas some 120 km  from Manali. 

It connects the Kullu Valley and Lahaul Valley with the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is on the route to Kaza, the subdivisional headquarters of Spiti. 

The 'Congress Kadle Kai' from Iyengar bakery in Bangalore was a good companion for us in the trip. The cold weather and the tangy peanuts made a deadly combination. 

There is also a religious belief at Kunzum stupa, which goes like this. "If you place a coin on top of the main deity, and if the coin sticks to it, then your wish would be fulfilled"

The Buddhist prayer flags are tied everywhere. According to Buddhism, these prayer flags connect you to the almighty.

All your prayers will reach the god through wind is their belief.

The journey from Kunzum to Kaza is breathtaking. The arid yet vibrant mountains on both sides, high passes , cold winds , valleys and rivers make you feel blessed.

The roads on this route were better compared to the ones we travelled yesterday.

The spellbinding mountains filled with aroma of fresh air has to be only experienced and cannot be explained.

The Spiti river is seen flowing through the garden of Edens. Nature has its own version of Holi is what we felt after passing through such an amazing terrain.

By afternoon, we reached another small town called Losar which is enroute to Kaza. Losar has many small dhabas and homestays which serves you with basic needs.

Losar is a small village in the Lahaul and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Spiti Valley is located very close to the Indo-Chinese border and is believed to be the last mountain range before one reaches China through India. Spiti Valley is an extension of Ladakh and is a cold desert region. Losar is situated at an altitude of 13,400 feet above sea level.

The road leading to Losar has breathtaking beauty with magnificent views and different coloured mountains with waterfalls emerging through them. On any given day the weather is generally very windy and pleasant owing to its high altitude.

Losar is relatively unexplored, due to its remoteness and inaccessibility. Very few travellers spend the night at Losar, most stop for a meal and proceed to Chandra Tal Lake or the district headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti, Kaza nearby for a night halt.

Losar has very few accommodation and food options. The village houses have over the time been converted to home stays and guest houses to meet the needs of the travellers. The accommodation options are generally very basic with just a bed and bathroom. The food options are also generally very basic consisting of Chowmein, momo, dal, rice, chapati and vegetables.

The village is nestled in the centre bordered with mountains on all sides. The houses are generally made of mud and have prayer flags surrounding it. The prayer flags symbolise the Buddhist religion which is the main belief in the village.

To reach Losar one can either go via the Kunzum Pass which is a high altitude pass. Kunzum is considered to be one of the most treacherous passes in the world. One can also access the village via Kinnaur. The Kunzum pass is generally shut for most part of the year and can be accessed only during the summer months of mid-July to mid-September. Kinnaur is fairly open for most part of the year other than during winters when the temperature is sub zero.

The best time to visit Losar is from July to September when the road conditions are fairly better than most other months. To reach Losar one can either hire a private vehicle from Manali via Kunzum pass or via Kinnaur. One can also hire a private vehicle from Kaza which is 56 km. Although while traveling to Losar one must always do a prior check on the roads condition and also make sure to acclimatize properly to avoid falling sick. Considering there are no major medical facilities available at Losar the nearest hospital is situated at Kaza

The main occupation of the villagers is farming and animal husbandry but with the increase in the number of travellers each year tourism is on the rise.
The locals are also very welcoming towards the tourists. Losar is considered to be coldest place in Spiti valley and a night stay is sufficient to explore the village.

Within the village there is also a monastery which is decorated with paintings on its walls and prayer wheels around it. 

Himachal Pradesh government runs bus services from Manali to Kaza. The bus runs only once daily and halts at Losar while plying to Kaza. Bus booking has to be done much earlier, else the seats are not guaranteed (as there is only one bus per day)

We finally reached the main town of Kaza by 2.00 PM. Kaza is the district head quarters of Lahaul and Spiti valley district.

Kaza was more beautiful than I thought. It had green pastures , schools , monasteries , bridges and valleys. A small town with vibrant culture and hospitable people.

We checked in to the hotel called "Spiti Valley" which was run by Mr. Tanzin. It was a decent accommodation with pretty good food and WiFi facilities.

The evening was spent on the banks of the Spiti river by watching the sun go down. The sunset was one of the best that I had seen in my life.

We then roamed around the Kaza bazaar to check on souvenirs specific to the region and retired for the day.

Useful information / Tips to the travelers :

1. There are many hotels which provide you with accommodation at Kaza

2. Number of eateries are also on the higher side. You get to eat Indian , Chinese and other continental dishes.

3. Schools , hospitals, government offices , markets , Gompas , monastery and Petrol/Diesel stations are available here.

4. The best time to visit Kaza is from June to September. However, you can visit any time of the year.

5. Only one government bus runs per day from Manali to Kaza.

6. Mobile signals are very weak, and only BSNL works

7. Electricity is very scarce , so charge your batteries when available.

8. Manali to Kaza route will be closed in Winters. However, Kaza can be reached by the Kinnaur route from Shimla even in winters.

Thanks for viewing
To know more about the life and culture of Spiti valley, click on the link below!!

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Kaza and beyond
(Page 4)

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