A Countryside Dream – Places to Visit In and Around Kaza
Once in a while, away from accustomed monotony, you get your day of awakening. It is when your soul is smitten by the existence of fairy tale lands, mesmerised by the view of picturesque vistas and inspired embracing the reality of the moment. The forbidden land of Spiti Valley tuned the perfect sorcery as the gorgeous barren mountains soaked me into its charismatic essence.
Kaza is the perfect blend of countryside charm punctuated with a glimpse of civilised modernisation. The first flush of yellow flowers timidly peeked against the backdrop of mighty mountains, the gurgling water tenaciously slowed down its pace, patches of green etched on the motley landscape and perched remotely in Himachal Pradesh – Kaza is the gateway to remote villages whose existence was a faint idea until I experienced the magic is real. 🙂 🙂 In my previous blog, I have detailed out on how to reach Kaza, accommodation options and exploring the place. Kaza is a beautiful transit but, in and around there are gorgeous high altitude villages that definitely need to be explored.
A day in Kaza and you seriously cannot miss on these absolutely stunning villages, away from the maddening crowd and strive in solitude for years. I am glad I could finally complete my much-awaited road trip to Spiti Valley, to be able to explore such beauty.
Perched on the barren lands of Spiti Valley, it is only a few km from Kaza and tumultuous ride on the frenzied roads of Spiti Valley to Langza is an absolute delight. The remote village of Langza is situated at an altitude of 14,500 feet and sparsely populated. The essence of the village is immediately felt with Golden coloured Buddha statue waiting to welcome you in its engaging beauty. The signature styled house, tied colourful prayer flags flowing to the tune of air and glimpses of fossil & mud craft invokes an irresistible love for the place. Accommodation option is limited to basic home stays but what makes you want luxury in such surreal piece of nature.
Famous for “World’s Highest Post Office”, it re-kindled my childhood memories as I ran my fingers through the assortment of postcards that lay on the table. I looked out of the window and wondered, it happened too quickly – The change from postcard and letters to instant messaging, e-mail and Skype. The happiness that filled in receiving a letter from loved ones is now breathing its last. If you want to fuel the memories, this place is a certain visit while exploring the terrains of Spiti Valley. The post office was opened on 5th November 1983 and Rinchen Chhering has been in-charge of the post office since its inception. The letters and postcards are delivered to Kaza every day from Hikkim by runners on foot through an offbeat route. The mails go through Kaza-Reckong Peo-Shimla-Delhi and further distributed to the destination. Phew!! Such was the charm and memories of the place still ripe.
The absolutely gorgeous village perched at an altitude of 15,027 feet overlooking the stunning awe-inspiring Vista is considered to be the highest village connected via motorable road in Asia. It is roughly around 18 to 20 km from Kaza. The windy, rickety ride to the village is accompanied by patches of green beautifully synchronised with the rocky mountain. You can take the joy ride to the village stealing glances of the outlandish place it is. The land is not suitable for cultivation and there is a scarcity of water. Most of the villagers are shepherds and rear yaks, horses and sheep. There is a monastery in Komic Village and the population of the place is very less. Accommodation is limited to basic home stays and you will be welcomed by such warm hearted people.
PS: Langza – Hikkim – Komic fall in the same route and roughly takes 3 to 4 hours to explore the place depending on how much time you want to spend here. There are buses that ply on the route from Kaza twice a week if you choose public transportation.
The beautiful monastery is located around 14 km from Kaza. It is on a different route from Langza – Hikkim – Komic and perched at an altitude of 13,668 feet. It is situated in Key Village and the biggest monastery in Spiti Valley. Built on top of a hill, the picturesque monastery makes the perfect picture postcard click. The gorgeous murals on the walls and paintings make the monastery absolutely stunning. It has a priceless collection of Tibetian Silk Thangkas that are 800 years old and depicts life story of Padmasambhava. As you drive towards the Key Monastery, you cross Key Village first that has an old age home, do pay a visit and bring some smile on their face. To reach Key Monastery, you have to take an uphill route after crossing Key Village. Accommodation is limited to a guest house or you can also stay inside monastery room by paying a small fee.
The memories from this village are accompanied by the splendid and dubious roads it leads one through. It is around 9 to 10 km from Key Monastery and stole a part of my heart forever, pretty please? It is considered to be a highest inhabited village but there has been a lot of conflicting accolades to them. Nevertheless, as you approach the village, time stands still and embraces you in its alluring charm. It is remote yet has everything essential. The houses are made of stones that make it different from other areas where usually you will find mud houses. Soak in the hues of nature as the houses stand under the sky smeared with cottony clouds against the gorgeous barren mountains. Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary is home to snow leopards, Tibetian wolves, yaks, Ibex etc.
Tashigang and Chicham
Unfortunately, with limited time in hands, I could not manage to explore the surreal villages of Tashigang and Chicham. Offbeat is the word when it comes to Tashigang and Chicham and can be best explored through treks to fondle with the wildlife around. You can drive 7kms East of Kibber to Gette Village and the same route also takes you to Tashigang. Chicham is an idyllic hamlet and is extremely remote that can be only reached at the moment with heart thumping and adventurous local cable car ride above a 110m deep gorge. It has basic homestay options. The good news is there is a bridge being built to connect Chicham village to motorable which is not yet operational but expected to be soon.
You can trek to Chicham via Tashigang passing through Kibber Village and this takes you through Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary. Do not miss out on it if you have time to explore Spiti Valley, I missed on a big deal trust me.
Things You Must Know
- The public transportation frequency is very less. Make sure you find out the timings immediately after reaching Kaza if you depend on public transportation. There are buses that ply to the villages but only twice a week.
- If you don’t have your own vehicles, you can book cabs from the Kaza Taxi Union for day trips to the villages for sight-seeing. The rates are fixed by Union. The rate for Langza-Hikkim-Komic-Key Monastery-Kibber from Kaza to and fro is around Rs 2800 – 3000. You can also opt for a one-way drop to Kibber if you wish to spend some time exploring the villages around.
- The route for Langza-Hikkim-Komic is same while the route for Key-Kibber and from Kibber you can reach villages of Tashigang, Gette and Chicham.
- I recommend night stay at Kibber Village owing to the spectacular view it offers. There are basic homestay and guest houses in Kibber Village.
- I loved the food at Norling Guest House. The assortment of homemade pizza is delicious and something you must try.
- Everything is dealt in cash and there are no ATMs around the route. If you want to withdraw cash or refuel vehicles, Kaza is the only option. Make sure that part is taken care of.
- The only mobile network that works in BSNL but the signal is extremely weak. Switch off and stay at peace for while