The scenery of sky-piercing mountains, with a radiant sun shining in the backdrop, only soothes one’s soul. The view makes you forget every little stress of your hectic life and brings you immense peace. For such an experience, you do not have to travel too far. A flight or drive towards north, and you are here. I am talking about, of course, the eternally serene and surreally beautiful Spiti Valley. If you don’t trust me, and why should you, you haven’t even met me, will you take a respected novelist and poet’s word? Rudyard Kipling, the English writer, said the following words about the majestic place: “…a world within a world” and a place where the gods live.” Of course, this was a long time ago, about hundred years, but the place hasn’t changed since. It is still drenched in that same elegance as during that time. It is almost like none of the advancements in the rest of the world, or any person, place or thing have been able to touch and influence its tranquillity.
“Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains”. This famous quote by Jeffrey Rasley explains my situation right now! For some, mountains is just an escape for a while, but for me, it feels like home. Whenever I am bored with the city life, and the pollution takes a toll on me, I head to the mountains! I have always loved mountains. I read about Chandratal a few years back, and from that moment on it’s always been on top in my bucket list. Nothing can be more soothing and rewarding than admiring the bounties of nature and that too by doing a trek to a place which is still unaffected by the ever-increasing endeavours of human beings.
Even being a travel aficionado and an avid blogger, until recently, I didn’t get a chance to see the beautiful (a relatively modest adjective) Chandratal lake. Probably even now, the thought of visiting it would not have crossed my mind, had a colleague, who is an achiever when it comes to visiting some of the highest lakes and glaciers in the world, not mentioned it.
Everyone in their right minds would want their life to be peaceful, rather than full of turmoil. Some take to meditation, some shut themselves from the world, some perform yoga, some look to religion and some resort to travelling like a nomad. If you are indeed thinking of heading out in search of inner peace, alone or with a group, then you do not have to go too far. There are places within our “great country”, where you can be immersed in utter serenity, with nothing troubling you. You guessed it, such places are far from the city. Isolated from modern civilisation, these places are mostly in the mountains.
My personal choice for finding peace has been to head to the Spiti Valley and the adjoining Lahaul region, in Himachal Pradesh. Its significance for serenity seekers is twofold: there is nothing here except for untouched nature all around, and Buddhism pervades through it. When you combine these two aspects, you know you will never have to go anyplace else to find peace and may be even yourself. Peace, you can find at a plethora of Buddhist monasteries, called “gompa” in the local language, that are mostly perched atop mountains, making for a spectacular view. If you have seen Lord of the Rings, then these would look to you like the White Castle of Minas Tirith. Keep reading to learn about the gompas in the region. These alluring monasteries of Spiti Valley will surely leave you astonished!
Whether you are solo, or a group of friends or a family, it doesn’t matter, Spiti Valley is one landscape you must travel to, and if you don’t, you really are missing witnessing a lot in a lifetime. Why so? Well, you’ll know as you read through this.
Many of us might not know that Tibet is known as the roof of the world, as it is the highest inhabited land in the whole world, home to the mightiest Himalayas, the home of his holiness Dalai Lama, the land of mystic people and culture. If you have watched the movie Seven Years in Tibet starring Brad Pitt, you will know what I am talking about. And if you haven’t, then go watch it now.
The first time I traveled to Spiti Valley was in the year 2009 which was on a motor bike. Back then no one, including myself, had any idea about this valley and the history behind it. It was gruesome and rough, and I was just 21 years old. We started our ride from Manali and crossed through the rough plateaus of the valley over a period of 7 days including Gramphu, Chhatru, Batal, Chandratal, Kaza, Tabo, Nako and finally Rekong Peo. Back then there were very few Indian travelers on the highway; more of foreigners, and it did come to me as a shock that a hidden valley existed in such close proximity to us and yet most were not aware of this magical land. I knew that I was going to go back there soon again, didn’t know when, but I felt a deep connection with the land.