The Land of the Tibetan Buddhist Gompas
with Elena September 2009
Step into another world and another time.
We provide ample opportunity to hike with local guides. We travel by jeep and stay in hotels each night. We stay in several temple guest houses which are modest but clean. We always stay in the nicest hotel in each town, these hotels are not luxurious. They are clean and the food we eat is safe. Some are quite comfortable, while others are very spartan, yet bedding is ample and warm.
Naturally, because the countryside is so marvelous, we do a lot of walking. No two people are alike in their hiking habits so, because of this, we travel with two guides. A young man from Kashmir who speaks English very well is the daily guide for those who wish to hike up and move more quickly. Elena is the guide who stays with those who prefer lighter walking and a more level path. Almost anyone can make this trip. We do take the time to adjust to every higher level and never sleep above 3,400 Meters. We don't push on until everyone has adjusted to each new altitude. We do this gently. Day trips only, to the higher elevations and back down to sleep at night. If you know you have difficulty adjusting to higher elevations, this trip is not for you. Age does not matter.
There is a hospital in Recong Peo and a helicopter pad (because the military consider this a sensitive area). We drive within 12 km of the Tibetan/Chinese border and will get special permits that allow us to pass. Articles about Spiti and Kinnaur
Incredibly clean air, mountain top views, commencing at 2,000M in Sarahan, 3,000M in Kalpa and go up gradually to 3,660M in Kaza. Day trips to the Ki Monastery and Pin Valley go up a little higher.
• Optional: The ancient temple complex at Sarahan. It is a town of beautiful roses perched on a hillside. This is our last stop in a land of the Monsoon. We go beyond the monsoon, but we cannot get there during the monsoon as the lower roads get washed away.
• Our first important stop is Kalpa, a small mountain town , for it's sheer beauty! A few days here helps us adjust to the higher altitude and taking daily walks helps prepare us for moving to the higher altitudes of the Spiti Valley. We may stay in the former summer house of Lord Dalhousie. Or in an apple orchard and just watch the clouds go by on the facing Himalayas mountain peaks. There is a wooden Hindu temple complex and a small Buddhist gompa. The Kinnauri language is very interesting. It has not been traced to any other language. It sounds very similar to Native American Cherokee!
• We do some hiking at all points along the way but nowhere as interesting (and totally unprecedented for foreigners) as Chango. Up to the old monastery on the ridge top.
• The hidden treasure of Tabo Monastery (which, hopefully always will remain somewhat hidden. (No photos are allowed of the art work) was created in 996 AD and remains intact. The Spiti Valley is in the rain shadow of the Himalayas - consequently no rain. Every inch of each wall and ceiling is painted on, incredibly preserved. The life size clay statues on the walls are unique. (Tabo may also be the retirement destination for the Dalai Lama). A newer monastery has been built along side the ancient one. You can join the monks for morning chanting at 6 am if you like, any of the monks will invite you. Tabo Monastery is of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism that proliferated in Western Tibet during the 14th century.
• Day trip up to the Dhankar Monastery - incredibly perched above the world. Magnificent location, interiors not so well maintained but still quite lovely.
This is the Dankhar Monastery and town high in the Indian Himalayas. Photo Elena
• From a base hotel in Kaza (3,500M) day visits to Ki Monastery.
• A trip into the beautiful Pin valley just to see the sheer beauty of it and the possibility of a Snow Ibex ( but not a probability). The Tibetan people here are living their lives just as they have for the last 1,000 years. They are very warmhearted and friendly.
All this driving is on some of the most interesting roads in the world. Just the ride alone is worth the trip!. Takes a little more than two weeks, not less than 17 days, sometimes a little more.
Some of the few things to buy are the wool Kinnauri shawls ( available in Recong Peo) and Spiti shawls, hand woven, with intricate border designs. There are also some beautiful wool sweaters and a few other local crafts .I urge everyone to put aside enough money ( about $200. US) to buy a shawl and a sweater, not only are they beautiful and unique, but your purchase goes a long way towards supporting local women and encouraging their sense of value.
Another website about an organization working to create developement in rural communities. SIDHI
Our tour starts in Simla. We spend the first night in Simla, in a fabulous old hotel built in the days of the British raj and now owned by a Maharaja. I recommend that you spend a few days at this hotel before the journey commences, both to see Simla and to get acclimatized. Simla is at 2,200M.
We may come back by way of Simla, but if we decide to cross the Kunzum-La pass we will come back to Chandigarh by way of Manali and Kulu Valley. Those of you who wish could extend your stay in Manali. A very touristy but still very lovely place.
'Mystical India' Tours • 17 days Travel from Simla into Spiti and Kinnaur
Contact Elena for itinerary, prices and more information: < email@example.com >
Satellite photo of the trip from Shimla.
Airfare New York to Delhi is approximately $1,600.00 RT. The 17 day ( Delhi to Delhi) trip will cost approximately $1,750.00 ( Entirely depends upon your choice of accommodations). . e-mail for details. There are many side trips you can add on from Delhi before or after the Himalayan trip. The Taj Ma hal in Agra, Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Khajurajo, The Ranthambore Sawai Madhopur Tiger Reserve, the exotic desert cities of Rajastan. You can pre purchase a 7 day "See India' air pass on Jet Air Airlines as well. Elena would be glad to help you plan a do-able itinerary.
Wonderful excerpts about the mythical, perhaps real, history of Kinnaur or the 'Land of Cina'.
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