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Lahaul Travel Guide

Stark & Forbidding

Kunzam PassAt once stark and forbidding Lahaul has an ethereal beauty. The word Lahaul is regarded as a derivative of the Tibetan Lho-yul 'southern country' or of Lhahi-yul 'country of the gods'. Its attractions include the Buddhist monasteries, passes, glaciers, lakes and rivers.

Patch of Green
Leave early for Keylong, district headquarters of Lahaul Spiti. This is over a rugged road past the Kunzam pass (4,551m). A chunk of green in an arid area, Keylong has willow lined watercourses, fields and a market.

En route, sights include a frontal view of Shigri peak from Kunzam pass, while a trek route brancehs off to Chandra Tal (4,270m), a lake almost a kilometre long and between a low ridge and the main Kunzam range.

Gramphoo (51km short of Keylong) is where the roads to Kaza,Keylong and Manali meet, and Khoksar (5km ahead) has a major festival every january. Sissu (3,120m , 28 km short of Keylong) has marshy plains that are a stopover for migratory birds and its monastery houses an image of Lahaul's patron deity, Geyphang.

Gondhla 3,160 m 16 km short of Keylong, has an eightstoreyed Chandertal Laketimber and stone tower and every July the village hosts a large fair and masked dances commemorating victory over the Tibetan King Langdarma, an enemy of Buddhism. Here a sheer cliff rises over 1,500 m from the riverbed and forms a spectacular sight. Keylong has hotels and rest houses.

Oldest Gompha
Based at Keylong, visit Buddhist gompas and savour nature's spectacular sights. Some suggestions are Guru Ghantal (8km) regarded the oldest gompa in Lahaul and said to have been founded by the religious leader Padmasambhava in the 8th century.

Kardang (5km) has a library of Buddhist scriptures and houses exquisite thangka paintings, Shashur (3km) is surrounded by a rare patch of woodland and its 17th century gompa hosts Shashur Tseshe festival in June. Tayul (6km) means the 'place that is chosen' and has a huge statue of Padmasambhave.

Baralacha La (4,890 m 75 km) is an 8-km long pass where the paths from Zanskar, Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul meet; Suraj Tal (4,800m) is a lake just below the summit of the pass and is the source of the river Bhaga. Sarchu, on the route to Leh, is the last point in Himachal and has a tented colony for tourists. Trilokinath (53 km) has fine stone carvings and Udeypur (53 km) has an ancient temple.

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