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Loops of the haunted!


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Its is one of the India’s most popular ghost stories. I wouldn’t say that this story originates at most unlikely of the places, as it is one of the most wilderness of places you will come across. It can unnerve you and mesmerise you, both at the same time. But I will certainly say that I am interested in ghost stories only for sake of reading thrill, not at the point of believing them.

Those who have travelled to Leh from Manali by road will have certainly passed through Gata Loops and would have heard story about it. Now a days those who ride or drive on this road, do good research before hand and hence have a fairly good idea of the place. On Manali-Leh road, after you cross Sarchu, 24 kilometres later you come across a series of hairpin bends or loops popularly called as Gata Loops. These loops take you to a climb of almost 2000 ft upto Nakeela pass.

Also read: Lonely at mighty Baralacha La pass

Actually Gata Loops are to Manali-Leh road what Ka zigs are to Shimla-Kaza road. Both are nothing short of engineering marvels. Ka zigs raise from level of Spiti river to Nako through various hairpin bends. Similarly Gata Loops start at 4201 metres or 13,780 feet and 21 loops take you to altitude of 15,302 feet. Both these roads have been created out of nowhere to get human access via road to most improbable of places.

But these loops are also part of India’s most popular haunted stories. Those who have been to this place might be well aware of the hearsay. I am just briefing it for the sake of those, who haven’t heard about it.

Also read: Himalayan Rides- Chandratal to Keylong

This story is about a truck cleaner who died here a lonely death when the truck broke down in increment weather and the driver walked to nearby village to get some help. Cleaner waited at truck to guard the belongings. But it was late October (as per stories) and no vehicles were passing through as behind that truck the Rohtang Pass  (which provides vehicular accessories to Lahaul & Spiti valleys) was already closed down. Moreover snowfall had blocked all approach roads. Driver got stuck in the village for days. Hence the cleaner was left to fend for himself without an help, food or water which resulted in his demise. Stories say about his ghost still wondering around loops and begging for water to all passerby. Locals have constructed a makeshift temple where lies a human skull and believing the story people leave water bottles at the place.

But as always happens with the ghost stories, there are many versions and another version says about a tanker finding it difficult to climb the loop and driver asked its cleaner to get down and put some stones behind the wheels so as to stop it from rolling behind. But accidentally cleaner came under the wheels and seeing this driver ran away with the vehicle, leaving the cleaner behind left to die.

Nobody knows when these so-called incidents took place. Nowhere I have even read the name of that so-called village where driver went to get the help. There are no accounts to corroborate and it is surprising as by any means story would have been just a couple of decades old. Irony is, now there are hundreds of plastic water bottles scattered at that serene place.

I went biking almost end of the season on this route. I was pretty alone in the sense that I was biking solo and that particular time that stretch was devoid of any other vehicles. I captures whole climb of Gata Loops on video. But I was not able to see or capture anybody or any abnormal activity. Though interesting, it was hard for me to believe that story! I will tell you another thing, while returning back from Leh to Manali I crossed this particular stretch alone in pitch dark as I had decided to take the night halt at Sarchu instead of Pang. But still there was no ghost on the way.

Beautiful landscape around

Well, such stories might keep your travel interesting. But even without this story this particular stretch of road is quite fascinating for the views it gives while climbing up. I will say, it is actually a photographer’s delight to be here. You can just stop at every bend and keep clicking. Its amazing how the landscape changes as you climb, down from the river bed.

Reaching the top

As with every part of this route, it is quite different in different seasons. End of the season in late September or early October would be without any snow but different colours.

Gata Loops actually takes you to a different topography, once you are through, towards what Ladakh is actually famous for.

You can just forget all the ghosts and wonder at this nature’s marvellous creation.

What you see across is actually a view point

You can see a view point in the image above. It also works as a resting point for travellers after all the effort taken to climb the Gata Loops and enjoy some beauty, which they would have missed in all labour to climb up.

Interested in ghost stories? Read: Haunted Fort of Bhangarh- Nothing Spooky about it!

You can see the video of my Gata Loops ride on my channel by clicking on the link below-


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Himalayan Rides : Chatru to Batal

In the last episode of Himalayan Rides, we (me and my readers) travelled from Gramphoo to Chatru on way to Chandratal. Now we are travelling from Chatru to Batal. Batal is a very important stopover. Once you move ahead of Batal there is a diversion. A road uphill takes you to Kunzum pass and then to Kaza in Spiti valley and another one moves deep inside the Chandra valley towards Chandratal.

Also see: Himalayan Rides : Gramphoo to Chatru

Moving between the himalayan walls!

Its a very small stretch in terms of the total ride but still I thought to devote a full post to this, as this one was very important in letting me know what to expect on the way ahead and what I need to do to keep myself better prepared.

Spiti valley Dhaba just a few kilometres from Chatru
Welcome to the territory unknown
Towards Chota Dara
Just before Chota Dara
Time for photography is time of rest for the machine!

Batal is just 31 kilometres from Chatru. Chhota Dara is 17 kms from Chatru and Batal is another 14 kms from there. But this 31 kms journey is no pushover, as it tests your riding skills. The route might not be too tough for four wheelers but it is tough one for bikes, specially the stretch from Chatru to Chhota Dara as at many places you have to ride through boulders and stones. This stretch can take a heavy toll on your vehicles, so keep them fit for it. There are few running streams to be crossed and one or two of them can be tricky for the first timers, more so if you don’t want to put your feet into the water.

Chota Dara: On paper this is a village, but there are only stones and stones around. A PWD pesthouse is there. Then there is also a Spiti Valley Dhaba on the way, which can provide you with some tents to stay and also breakfast and meals.

A milestone to announce a village!
Time to check the distances left!
PWD resthouse at Chota Dara
Alongside the whole route is work going on to lay optical fibre cables

I had a bit of uneasy experience on water crossing on the stretch. Actually, it was the first tricky one of the trip. I had brought a pair of water and snow proof shoes with me. But in the morning when I was packing the things at Chatru, I found that the sole of my both the shoes have not just only ripped off, but broken into pieces beyond any kind of repair. I actually tried to use the puncture solution to fix it but it only worsened. There was no alternative other than to how them. With heavy heart, I discarded them to dustbin. They had come to me all the way from Geneva, Switzerland.

Tips on hand!

But now there was an immediate problem for me. Till Chatru, I had not required to cross any stream, hence I didn’t fell any requirement for waterproof shoes and I carried on in my sports shoes. Now, if I required them then I can get a new pair only at Keylong. Till then I had to make sure that I don’t let my sports shoes get wet.

Beauty of the terrain
Along the Chandra River!
Valley widens up at many places
The view around always keeps us energetic!

And, I had a testing time just immediately. After I crossed Chota Dara, there was a stream flowing down from the mountains, crossing the road over to Chandra River. It was a tricky one as it was spread wide and it was tough for me to gauge the depth. Though, I was sure that it was not too deep but I had to ensure that I cross it smoothly so that I don’t have to touch me feet anywhere in between. Since I was bit weary of the stones and pebbles under the water, I was bit indecisive for more than a minute on which side to cross the stream. Luckily for me, a truck came from the behind and as it crossed the stream, I got an idea of the actual depth and concentration of stones, making it easier for me to follow and cross, that I finally did. Was I going to be equally lucky everytime till Keylong? Only time will tell.

Looks normal from a distance
Once I reached closer, I had to be careful
Passing truck guided me through

You can also see the video of this journey and my experience of crossing the stream by clicking below-

But it is definitely thoroughly enjoying as we pass through the beautiful Chandra Valley with snow-capped mountains all around from Indrasan, Deo Tibba, Ali Khan Tibba, White Sail, Papsura peaks and ranges. There is also a trek from Manikaran that brings to Chota Dara by crossing the Sara Umga pass. Stunning beauty around was actually reward for the tough ride.

Rising above everything!
A big glacier!

You can cover this stretch of 31 kms in about three hours, depending on your riding skills as well as on time you give yourself to enjoy the surroundings. Early morning departure from Chatru will give you good time at Batal to eat and enjoy.

Enjoy the journey from the start, read:

Milestones to Ladakh : Manali to Gramphoo

Next: Chacha-Chachi’s Batal!

Please feel free to share but not so free to copy and paste!

 

 

Milestones to Ladakh : Manali to Gramphoo

Although the number of bikers to Ladakh is constantly increasing every year, but even then biking to this terrain is no mean business. It is physically challenging and psychologically draining. The human & the machine, both need to be best of fitness. This journey can be divided in different parts. Although few bikers would try to do it the other way by taking off from Srinagar to Leh and then returning from Manali side, but still Manali-Leh is the most favoured route; and, there are various reason for this to be.

First part of the journey is from Manali to uphill Rohtang La and to downhill Gramphoo on the other side. Rohtang La at 13050 feet is the first mountain pass en route Leh.

It is a scenic journey throughout

Between Manali and Marhi, you may find some little waterfalls emerging out of melting snow and many tourists enjoying them, but bikers rarely get interested in them.

You will find many shops on the way renting out woollens, jackets, gloves and shoes to tourists going to Rohtang and wishing to play some games on snow. Though there is nothing for bikers in it, but it might still remind few of us to check, whether they have rain covers to protect from intermittent rains and shoes to steer them through some running streams on roads.

Shops renting woollens and gloves

Soon you reach to intersection which dissects road to two directions, one to Rohtang (towards the right in the image below) and another to Solang (one going straight in image below).

Solang valley intersection

Thereafter starts the steady climb. Its gradual till the top and enjoyable.

Rohtang is a favourite excursion for all tourists coming to Manali. This has often resulted in an unabated mess at the pass. With things going out of control, NGT (National Green Tribunal) has stepped in. It has made some strict regulations, permits are necessary and green tax has been imposed.

Vehicles lined up to get permits at Gulaba NGT check post

Check post is at Gulaba, which is roughly 24 kms from Manali. After this point, you can’t move ahead to Rohtang without a permit. But for bikers, permits are not issued here, it has to be obtained from Manali itself. Permit is issued for a fees of Rs 100 and you need a photo id card, PUCC for your vehicle, vehicle registration papers and valid driving license. Permits are separate for Lahaul valley (towards Leh) and Spiti valley (towards Kunjum and Kaza). Route has to be mentioned in application form. Permit for four wheelers can be obtained either from Manali or from Gulaba check post. Bikers going to Leh should be very careful about obtaining the permit, other wise one can loose precious time, energy and petrol, as I accidentally did. I missed the permit, was not allowed to go past Gulaba, had to go back to Manali to get permit. I lost almost four hours in the process and as a result could not reach my planned destination of the day.

Check post at Gulaba

From Gulaba we move towards Marhi. Manali-Rohtang is a scenic route of 52 kms and roads are perfect atleast till Marhi.

Just before Marhi

Marhi is an ideal point to have seem break before serious climb to Rohtang starts. You can even see the top from here. There are number of food joints here and lot of things to kill your time. People wary of cold, weather and thin air at Rohtang, like to spend more time in Marhi.

Marhi

After that roads start to deteriorate as we approach close to pass. AT many places, road is also being widened. Lot of construction activity makes riding challenging. Lets see what happens when the roads open this year.

Widening of road

Stretch from Marhi to Rohtang is also known for its traffic jams, prompting authorities to regulate movement of traffic. Narrow roads, high cliffs, bigger vehicles, potholes, streams, all these some times compound the chaos and for bikers it is a challenge to go past this mess.

Traffic chaos close to Rohatnag

It feels quite satisfying once we reach the Rohtang top, as it is first of the great passes on way to Leh.

Rohtang top

Its quite an atmosphere here with people all around, having fun.

Tourist vehicles at Rohtang top

Way to Rohtang is just prelude to the actual tough journey ahead. But it is still a major milestone.

Even army personnel like to pose here

After Rohtang only the locals going ahead or the adventures move ahead. Picnickers normally return from here.

Downhill ahead of Rohtang

Gramphoo is 15 kms downhill from Rohtang top.  Road from Rohtang top till 4-5 kms was good in condition but next ten odd kilometres to Gramphoo were terrible last year (2016) due to widening of road and large scale repair work.

Tough roads

One also needs to understand that road conditions on these two stretches is lot dependent on weather as well as month of travel. Early in the season (June) roads will be worse than what one will find towards the end (September-October). Month of travel will also decide the amount of snow and running water (nallahs) one might find on roads. Thats the reason, September end is considered to be one of the safest time to ride or drive on these roads.

Gramphoo

Gramphoo is the place where roads to Lahaul valley and Spiti valley bifurcate. Those going to Leh continue to move straight towards Keylong. And those going to either Kunjum Pass and Kaza or towards Chandratal lake take right turn at Gramphoo along the Chandra River. My final destination was Leh, but I also wanted to cover Chandratal lake, hence I took the road to Spiti valley.

Want to see a video of the route. Please click to the link below-

Changing colours of autumn… to be!

In India we miss colours of fall (autumn) as they are in many other parts of the world. Only place in India to come close to the beautiful golden colours of fall is Kashmir. Kashmir is indeed spectacular during fall. Fall colours are always amazing and to me they are as beautiful as colours of spring.

Autumn1

So, while on my solo biking trip to Ladakh this month I was looking everywhere for the changing colours as I was fully aware that autumn was just round the corner. And the difference in colours was very stark from Delhi to Leh. See for yourself:

These are the lush green fields of our Haryana, no signs of autumn-

Autumn2

The scene was quite unlikely to change until this side os the Rohtang Pass. But after crossing Gramphoo and moving towards Spiti, some wild flowers brought the joy-

Autumn3

But then, shortly after Gramphoo till Chandratal, the terrain is almost barren.

(You can read my post on Chandratal by clicking here)

It was life on hills to see, only when we reach back towards Lahaul and move towards Tandi and further to Keylong. Keylong, though still had some touch of green and colour. But with snow falling on surrounding hilltops, autumn might not be too far-

Autumn4

But the green was gone, once I entered deep into Lahaul valley. Just after the Gata loops, I could see this touch of golden yellow on bushes-

Autumn5

But it is quite different once you enter the Ladakh region. Even in Ladakh, the areas adjacent to Indus or Shoyok rivers are quite different from the ones away from them. But roads near Leh, started to give a glimpse of autumn, like this…

Autumn6

…and this-

Autumn7

This is a view from Thiksey monastery of surroundings-

Autumn8

Even this image from top of a hill of the tents pitched for the Naropa 2016, near Hemis monastery gives a shot of some golden bushes in green surroundings. Its changing, isn’t it!

Autumn9

Once you cross Khardungla and move towards the Nubra valley, you are in store for some more surprises. Texture gets further different from here. Its a long valley sandwiched between two mountain ranges-

Autumn10

Karakoram sanctuary near Diskit and Hunder has another round of flowers-

Autumn11

Autumn12

But its the sunset at Hunder which gives the hue of autumn-

Autumn13

In almost two weeks, the signs of autumn are surely making there mark in the Lahaul valley. The hills around Tandi and Keylong too have started to covert to golden hues. I actually missed some better shots than the one below to my folly and anxiety to escape imminent rains-

Autumn14

Back to the normal lands in hills overlooking Una, life was still green and a bit to early to call autumn here. Leaves would have turned yellow in Kashmir… to welcome the Harud.

Autumn15

Mesmerising & captivating Chandratal Lake

It has been a long gap from the blog, for almost twenty days owing to a dream trip on my loving bike to some dream destinations of Lahaul & Spiti. Whatever one may say, it is one trip that for most of the travellers will rank quite high above any other in terms of sheer thrill and adventure. And so was it for me. So, basic motive of the trip was to  attend the Naropa 2016 but than it was always just a pretext. Biking to Leh was the implicit story. And, first highlight of the journey was indeed the Chandratal Lake. It was a dream fulfilled. Just the image below can tell it why. Isn’t it.

Chandratal14

Located in Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of 4270 metres, this is one of the most popular and visited high altitude lake in India. Its captivating beauty has made Chandratal a popular destination for trekkers and campers. This natural lake is about one km in length, half km in breadth at its widest part and has a circumference of 2.5 km. The total area of the wetland is about 49 ha. The lake owes its name either to the fact that it is the source of the river Chandra, or by virtue of its crescent moon like shape. It is surrounded by the mountain ranges of Moulkila and Chandrabhaga. You can images of few of the peaks of Moulkila range below.

The clean water of the lake with small marshy patches around attracts many migratory birds. Important species among them are Snow cock, Chukar, Black winged stilt, Brahmni duck, Golden eagle and Chugh, Hoopoe, Yellow Headed Wagtail, Jungle crow, Blue rock pigeon, Common rose finch, Black Redstart, Short toed Eagle, Common Sandpiper, Teal, Magpie Robin etc. The important wild life species found in the region are Marmota Bobak, Snow leopard, Red fox, Snow wolf, Capra ibex, Blue sheep and Lynx etc. Migratory birds were yet to arrive when I visited the lake and to spot the other wildlife, one has to be extremely lucky.

I paid my first visit to Chandratal, immediately after reaching the camp in the afternoon. Lake is said to look quite differently during different times of day. These are few images from the afternoon-

But then, the real charm of the lake is in the early morning when water is more still and light is just perfect for water to reflect the surroundings. The reflections of peaks and mountains around the lake in the crystal clear water of Chandratal is simply magical.  You can see for yourself.

The first set of images are just before the sunlight touches the lake-

And then, see just how the view transforms, as soon as the sunlight is all over there on the lake-

You can just be there for hours or even more… lost in the fascinating atmosphere. But as soon as the day rises and wind starts blowing, the stillness of the water is disturbed and reflections start getting blurred. That is why, you don’t get any reflections post afternoon.

Staying: A lot has changed in the past few years around the Chandratal region. Adventurers now have plenty of staying options and all of them are camps. Until a few years back, there used to be just a few tents at the camping site. But now there are more than 150 tents in all run by different camping operators. Tents are good, clean and cosy and with various size options. Operators also provide meals and breakfasts. Most of the prices of the tents included meals (preferably breakfast and dinner).

Chandratal3

Weather: At this altitude, it has to be cold- whatever time of year you go there. In the peak season time, it could be warm in the day when the sun is out, but things change rather quickly as soon as sun sets or even when there is a cloud cover. It can be chilly when the wind blows. At this altitude, there can be a snowfall at anytime of the year. So, never drop your guards… never. See, even in September I had a lot of frost deposited on my bike the next morning and stored water on the campsites had a layer of ice over them.

Chandratal6

Chandratal is one of the wetlands in country which have been included in Ramsar Convention, hence there is no activity allowed around the lake. Camping sites are good three kilometres away from the lake. Then there is a parking lot around one and a half kilometre before the lake. From there, one has to trek to lake. Alternatively, one can also trek directly from the camping site to the lake. And probably that’s all for good. We need to save the ecology of the place.

Chandratal21

How to reach: Reaching Chandratal is only possible when Rohatng-La or Kunjam-La is open for traffic. Adventurers going to Lahaul or Spiti valley try their best to be at Chandratal, as it is something not to be missed. While going from the Manali side, 16 kilometres from Rohtang Top is Gramphoo. Here roads divide for Lahaul and Spiti valleys. Around 48 kilometres from Gramphoo is Batal. Around two kilometres from Batal after crossing river Chandra, there is another diversion. One of the road takes to the Spiti Valley via Kunzum Pass, which is 14 kilometres from this junction. Another road on the left takes to Chandratal which is 12 kilometres from this junction. Alternatively, one can reach Spiti via Shimla and Kaza and then reach Chandratal after crossing Kunzum pass. Road from Gramphoo to Chandratal via Batal on Manali side and then  from Losar to Chandratal via Kunzum pass on the Kaza side are bad and be prepared for some dirt tracks, boulders. It can be quite challenging drive on this route, specially when there are lots of water crossings to negotiate. If you are early in the season, then quite a fair amount of snow will also be there. So be prepared according to the weather and timing of the visit.

Trekking: One can trek to Chandratal from Kunzum pass directly. It is roughly a eight kilometre trek. Then there is also all-famous three day trek from Surajtal (from where river Bhaga originates) to Chandratal (from where river Chandra originates).

When to go: As I said, approaching Chandratal depends completely on the opening of two passes – Rohtang and Kunzum.  That happens in early June and lasts till end of October.  Actually, closing of roads depends on snowfall. Roads can get closed earlier, if there is an early snowfall. September is probably the best time to go. During August-September you can find the meadows around the lake and camping sites, carpeted with various types of wildflowers.

(You can write to me if you need any further details.)

Vagabond in Spiti : Kee Gompa

Kee (Key, Kye or Ki) monastery or gompa commands one of the most iconic views associated with Spiti valley.  It is considered to be the biggest monastery in Spiti valley. It is one of the highlights for anybody and must-visit place for any adventurer or tourist coming to Kaza. Kee gompa is one of the top monasteries in the region which include Tabo, Nako, Dhankar and Kungri (in the Pin valley) to name a few.

Kee Gompa1

Kee monastery is ahead of Kaza. Once you move pass the Kaza town along the spiti river, after couple of kilometres or so comes a diversion. There is a bridge across the river that takes to Loser and Kunjom pass. Loser is 56 kms from this point and Kunjom top is 78 kms.Kee Gompa2

One has to move ahead on the right side of the river towards Kibber and Kee. The view is spectacular and the road slowly drifts away from the river and climbs towards the mountains.

Once you reach the Kee (Kye) village than you get the first view of the monastery overlooking the village, perched on a small cliff.

Kee Gompa5

Moving ahead, there is another diversion, one on the left leads to Kibber village and on the right is Kee gompa. The view keeps on getting amazing- of the gompa as well as the Spiti valley below. The road to Kee from Kaza is generally good in condition, may be because of the high tourist value of the monastery.

 

The monastery of Tibetan Buddhism is located at an altitude of 4166 metres above the sea level. The monastery is more than thousand years old founded in 11th century. Despite being in such a tough terrain, this monastery along with other monasteries of the region has a history of attacks by the invaders and clashes among the different buddhist sects. Walls of the monastery are covered with paintings and murals developed in Chinese influence. It also houses a wide collections of ancient murals, manuscripts, and images. Monastery now belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism.

This monastery celebrated its millennium in 2000 when a new prayer hall was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama.  Besides this new prayer hall, there are four old prayer halls in the monastery. The monastery is so big that it can house around 450 lamas. Normally close to 150 lamas will always stay in the monastery. Even nuns stay here. The main monastery has three floors. Then there are different complexes for monks to stay, study and other activities.  It is a big teaching centre for lamas. There is also a cafeteria for the tourists.

Vehicles can be parked right at the entrance of the monastery. One has to keep sufficient time to move around, view the complex and enjoy the mesmerising landscape. Monastery holds its yearly festival normally in July every year. The monastery has already found its way into bollywood movies (Highway).

Kee Gompa also has facility for travellers to stay in lama quarters at a very nominal charge (around 200 Rs along with meals). That’s thoroughly enjoying and engaging. Gives a first-hand experience of the lives of the monks here. Worth it, but then you need to have some time in hand.

Vagabond in Spiti valley : Nako

On way to Kaza in the Spiti Valley, Nako, at an altitude of 3660 m is the highest village in the valley of Hangrang surrounded by barren and dusty landscape. Nako village is just 20 kms from Ka, once the zigs end. It is roughly four kms before Malling (Nullah) towards Kaza. Kaza is around 110 kms from Nako.

Nako Village

Nako is almost a customary stop-over for all adventurists (read: bikers, riders, drivers, tourists) going to Kaza. How much time to spend here? This is upto each traveller because there are different time constraints for everybody coming here. Those who are on a mission to complete Shimla-Kaza in a day, might even give this a miss. Others with more time may stop here for couple of hours and that will also depend on there last stop over and time left for them to reach to Kaza. But still there are few more like me who chose to stay here for night. And in hindsight, it is a wise decision actually to stay in Nako before reaching to Kaza, more so if you are planning to go ahead of Kaza towards Kunzum pass and don’t plan to return the same way. Because from Nako to Kaza driving itself will take atleast three hours. Besides, on the way before Kaza there are three spots that you will not like to miss- Mummy at Giu, Tabo monastery and Dhankar monastery. You will like to devote some amount of time at all these places. Hence, if you stay overnight at Nako then it will be late evening by the time you reach Kaza after visiting these three places. And then there are numerous other photo-stops.

Nako village2

Nako is known for its lake and the monastery as well. Lake is adjacent to village. Obviously, in the winters this lake is completely frozen and often used for ice-skating. Around the lake you can find willow and poplar tree plantations. It looks beautiful in summers when birds flock here and one can even find some boats to enjoy a ride in the ice-cool waters. Right behind the Nako village is Reo Purgyal mountain which, at an elevation of 6816 metres, is said to be the highest mountain in Himachal Pradesh.

Nako village3

The monastic complex in Nako is situated at the western edge of the town and comprises four temples apart from other buildings. Following the Tibetan school of Buddhism, Nako mastery is dated back to 11th century. The artwork in the monastery is related to Vajrayana Buddhism. Some images from the monastery and the surrounding areas.

From outside, the monastery exude a very simple appearance, but this is in contrast to what you will see inside. Two temples are of utmost importance here, the Main temple and the Upper temple. Both these temples are considered the oldest amongst all the structures and still preserve their original clay sculptures, murals and ceiling panels. Many paintings here still have the golden work on them preserved for centuries. The largest temple or the main temple is also called the Translator’s Temple. It also happens to be the oldest monument in the village. The third structure in the complex is the Small White temple, which though not in a good state, is worth visiting for its wonderful wooden door-frame with scenes of the Life of the Buddha carved on the lintel. The fourth structure is quiet the same size as the Upper Temple and is also situated besides it. The temple is today known as the Temple of Wide Proportions (rGya-dpag-pa’i lHa-khang). There is a lot of preservation and restoration work going on here with many international collaborations. Few years back a cultural centre was also established here by constructing a new building. All big monastic events and festivals are held here. Some images from this-

Nako village has beautiful surroundings which will change colours as per season. Although this is normally a barren and dusty landscape, but the area around the village will go green post summer. It rains here barely few times in July. Life gets tough here in winters when everything is frozen. Then you can feel the harshness of a cold desert.

Nako doesn’t have big hotels but there are a few budget accommodations and few luxury tents (below). Their availability depends lot on the season. Tents like this (Kinner Camps) come up only during the biking & driving season (May-October). I was a bit early in the season and that day only tourist to reach here.

Nako village17

A place worth a visit and a longer stay perhaps. I will be doing the the next time.