One night as I sat sipping on my favourite single malt with my boys in the porch of my farm house in Panvel, we got talking about how things have evolved (not sure for the better or worse) since we were kids.
Today people barely have time for their own family, leave alone friends and others. A few pegs down and we decided on re-living those times and do all that we ever dreamed of. We went a step further and decided to strike off all that we have on our bucket lists and as we read out our wishes, there was one common wish that topped all our lists.Going on a motorcycling trip with the buddies. In less than two weeks, all our bags were packed, our engines were fired, our biking gear was strapped and before we realized it, we were on the road on our way to the valley of dreams
Spiti Valley is a desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayan mountains in the north-eastern part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land”, the land between Tibet and India which possess a distinctive Buddhist culture. Out of the amazing stories, surreal experiences and a hoard of stories, I’d like to pick and highlight a few of the key experiences that changed me for the better
Key Gompa or key monastery is no lesser than a miracle which is now more than 1000 years old. Being sacked, attacked by different warriors and nature repeatedly, the monastery is still standing strong in its full glory. The restoration by ASI (architectural survey of India) has given it a shape of fort with multiple boxes on three levels. The significance of the monastery also lies in it being a reputed religious training center for the Lamas. We were fortunate enough to have got a chance to live in the monastery and there could be no better morning to wakeup other than sound of Buddhist chants. The place was sparkling clean, there was fresh and clean air to breathe, friendly faces of monks who greeted us with happy faces anytime of the day. The sounds of the chimes, the prayer wheels, the sound of the prayer flags fluttering in the cold wind was just one of a kind. Our stay may have costed us a meager amount of 200/- including food but the overall experience was priceless!
Along the way, we were welcomed by many local festivals happening around the valley. Since we were there almost in October, the onset of winter, we witnessed these festivals in full swing. These festivals are full of colors, dance and music. The ‘Thisu’ festival is about keeping the crops safe and saving it from excessive pours or draughts. A priest impersonates God by wearing different dresses, each dress belonging to a separate village/clan. They offer alcohol and grains to the Gods while worshipping which is followed by an exciting horse race among villagers. We wholeheartedly participated in this festival, so much so that even the locals didn’t feel like we were tourists anymore and soon started opening doors to their homes for us
As we rode through the beautiful and tiny hamlet situated at an altitude of 4400 meters called Langza, we were left totally mezmerised by its untouched beauty (hoping it remains untouched forever) Further up, there is another village called ‘Komik’ which is supposedly the highest village in Asia.. As soon as you enter the village, a Buddha sitting on the top of the village would bless you with peace and happiness. Here, we happily took our time capturing moments on camera like the wild children in the laps of nature along with herds of the Chamurti horses grazing in the fields or chasing the birds, the butterflies and bees who hum melodious tunes over the purple Himalayan flowers. Our hearts felt as young as little school boys as we ran through the beautiful fields
A one of a kind experience for all of us to cherish!
When we arrived in Dhankar, it surely felt like God has taken his own sweet time to craft this beauty, true to what we had heard about the place, Dhankar seemed like a dream location straight out of the movies with some unique visuals. The houses built on the face of rock look so unreal and mystic. The Spiti river flows close by secured under the wrap of chocolate brown mountains making it even more beautiful. Dhankar was the traditional capital of the Spiti Valley Kingdom during the 17th century and till date it has some features dating back to the 12th century. Dhang or dang means cliff, and kar or khar means fort. Hence Dhankar means fort on a cliff Visit old and new monastery and experience the warm hospitality of Spitians. Old and new monastery both are must visit specially in its golden hours.
Going on a roadtrip, camping seemed to be the next must-have experience for all of us Roadies. Chandratal or ‘moon lake’ is the first gateway to rediscover Incredible Spiti. It’s a majestic serene lake surrounded by the mighty Himalayan peaks. A naturally landscaped meadow works as the camping site on the banks of the enchanting lake. During springtime, it is carpeted with hundreds of kinds of wild flowers. 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. An overnight camp and the right camping gear is all you need to leave the stress behind. I was fortunate enough to have carried my Swiss Army Knife that came in handy especially when we decided to prepare a meal under the starry skies. Later that night, it got extremely cold and wet with the untimely rain but all our stuff remained intact inspite of the sudden downpour. This experience made us realize that sometimes things just happen unplanned but if we are well prepared, with the right stuff, then there’s just no looking back. I vouch for the top notch quality of OutGear Traveller backpacks for rough and rugged travels like these. They are durable, sturdy and so easy on the pocket
I am glad I got several opportunities to feel freedom gushing into my face from the sweet breeze of the valleys as I stood atop the Key Monastery, the Dhankar belt and every village and floral belt that we crossed. It felt like Nature was trying to whisper something in my ears - To stay rooted and close to my loved ones. What I felt while I was atop is a feeling that I cannot express in mere words…it felt like some divine intervention! That’s when I realized that all questions have solutions, all worries have an end… all we have to do is just look within!
I still get goose bumps each time I reminisce that moment. To feel this the way I did, I would say go and feel it in real… go Spiti!