INDIA in July, 2019 (7)

INDIA in July, 2019 (7)

2019-08-04T07:08:00+00:00July 31st, 2019|Lee & Paul Update|

We are in Tabo, a remote village in the Spiti Valley with a very old monastery dating back to 996AD. Inside is surreal, everything perfectly preserved and still in use – dusty but ethereal.

The beautiful stupor in Tabo, the Dalai Lama’s favourite monastery

Kamal, our guide, tells us that fifty monks are in residence here and people in the village must give their second-born child up to the monastery – either to become a nun or a monk – so that Buddhism will not die out. He also tells us that if the Dalai Lama retires, he wishes to do so here in Tabo.

Tiny Tabo from our hotel balcony
Everything is made out of mud-bricks
The houses are now a familiar Tibetan style

The tiny town has a dramatic valley setting, hemmed in by scree slopes and less than 150 families (under 500 people). They store hay and firewood around the edges of their roofs for the winter. Indians must pay a land tax on the completion of their houses – one of the reasons there are so many unfinished buildings in the country!! The houses are starting to be a cross between Tibetan and Chinese and the food is also influenced as dishes have more heat to them now.

The road cuts through the massive scree slopes

We ride along the river once more and head up the mountain to Dhanker Gopma, an old monastery high up the mountain. The village spills down the mountain, defying the location and we feel like we’re in China again. The houses are very familiar as are the people. 

Approaching Dhanker Gopma – another oasis amongst the rocks
Crazy hairpins abound and the road looks half decent here!

The 16th century old fort monastery is locked between rocky spurs at an elevation of over 3,800 meters and is connected to the rest of the valley through a motorable road which is good for small vehicles only.

The sculpted land-forms are mesmerising
Spectacular views from Dhanker Gopma

The monastery and village cling precariously to the eroded cliff-edge rock pinnacle, high above the beautiful Spiti Valley.

They just work with the shapes when they build
The locals look very Chinese

Lunch in the town of Kaza is relatively busy to us now as we take in the shops and local sights. We are enjoying thukpa, a fragrant and hearty Tibetan noodle soup as well as momos, Chinese-inspired dumplings that have made their way to India from Nepal.

The main street of Kaza
You could stay here…
But we choose The Grand Dewachen Hotel

Our accommodation is out of the town of Kaza at Rangrik Village with a spectacular view of the valley and mountains and another truly unique location.  We are staying at the Grand Dewachen Hotel which has a large atrium covering the four stories so the tiles on the ground-floor level are warm from the sun. As with the Spiti Valley Road, it is only open 3-5 months of  the year depending on the weather. The final of the World Cup cricket is on and New Zealand is playing England…needless to say we don’t need any other entertainment! The Japanese guests tell everyone to be quiet so the nail-biting finish has to be watched with whispers!!

The Indians are great at building roads that go straight up mountains
No safety barriers yet again

We head up to Komic monastery and Hikkum village, the highest village in the province. The road is hair-raising, goes up 4500 metres with precarious drop-offs and as usual, no safety barriers anywhere!

The Grand Dewachen Hotel in the centre of this photo from the high road to Hikkum
A chai stop at Hikkum, the highest village in the province
The claims to fame are everywhere

In India you say namaste for hello but up near Tibet you say julley (pronounced jew-lay). We are on a tourist track so there seems to be a few about – mostly Israelis and domestic Indians. Kamal tells us that tomorrows ride is long and hard…it’s been pretty challenging to date so we wonder what we’re in for!

The logistics of the signs in the scree slopes is mind-boggling

14 Comments

  1. Jen Green August 1, 2019 at 3:54 am

    stunning scenery and it looks such a simplistic lifestyle. Jen

    • Lee August 1, 2019 at 10:30 am

      The best is yet to come….

  2. Susie August 1, 2019 at 1:01 am

    Wow, looking forward to hearing your stories about this trip.

    • Lee August 1, 2019 at 10:31 am

      Look forward to a catch-up guys xxx

  3. Sandra July 31, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    WOW! WOW! WOW! You two! What a fantastic trip. Loving it from an armchair! Smiles. X X

    • Lee August 1, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Thanks Sandy, nearly there…catching up with you two next February! Will send the details soon xxx

  4. Ken July 31, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    What do the Japanese know about cricket ?

    • Lee August 1, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Absolutely nothing! Some chill-pills would have been good!

  5. Sue Hird July 31, 2019 at 9:34 am

    Far out!! What a landscape – and those roads are mind boggling.
    I’m speechless really at what you’ve done – didn’t think you could get close to what you did and saw on your world trip but ……….

    • Lee August 1, 2019 at 10:34 am

      We’ve been saying the same thing Sue! Pretty surreal a lot of it xxx

  6. Marian Ferguson July 31, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Amazing. 🙂

    • Lee August 1, 2019 at 10:34 am

      Your next trip?!

  7. Jenni July 31, 2019 at 7:38 am

    Interesting that it is the second born up to the monastery…wow!

    • Lee August 1, 2019 at 10:35 am

      Crazy hey…affected a few of us just thinking about it!

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